Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:

 

Conservative:

Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.

 

Liberal:

Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.

 

Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.

 

Reactionary:

Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.

 

Radical:

Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.

 

The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.

 

The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.

 

Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income

 

Capitalism:

Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

 

Socialism:

Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

 

Communism:

Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.

 

Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.

 

Democracy:

Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.

 

Republic:

Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.

 

Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President

 

Fascism:

Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

 
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Monday, March 31, 2003

How Many Rich Communists Does It Take To... fail in a protest?


Buenos Aires, Argentina

This month we have seen the advent of a new form of peace protest . It involves the citizens of relatively wealthy democracies taking full advantage of their civil rights to protest the Allied effort to bring these rights to others.

The protest method is called a "die in". Under this model a bunch of Lefties put on their most worn out pair of Guess jeans and Banana Republic t-shirts and spread soy based ketchup on their shirtfronts and lie down pretending to be dead. Idealy they would "play dead" in the middle of Broadway in NY City, mere blocks from Ground Zero.

The idea is to stop business as usual in an attempt to wake up the public. Ostensibly this message will be heard by frustrated commuters and stymied shoppers. These upset citizens will turn to their elected representatives and demand that we bring our troops home. And Peace and Justice will have been served, in the American Way.

A recent article reposted by Common Dreams explains these new protests.

Aaron Unger, one of the coordinators of the protest for a group calling itself the M-27
Coalition, said demonstrators broke the law to drive home a point.

"We believe the war against Iraq is a violation of international law," Unger said.

"And the media is not telling people the whole story. I know people see what we're doing as a nuisance. But what's happening to the people of Iraq is much more than a nuisance."

"We believe extraordinary measures are required," said Kim Flynn, a spokeswoman for the M-27 Coalition. "We feel compelled to act out of conscience."


I want to make it clear that I support the exercise of Free Speech. After 9-11 I paid a visit to my local Army recruiter. Later I was at a party and one of my good friends complained about protestors against the Afghan campaign. I reminded him that I was willing to fight, and die, and kill to protect the right of those people to complain about the mission.

Making a nuisance seems fine to me, so long as these people are willing to accept responsibility for "civil disobedience", by that I mean going to jail and paying fines. But I would suggest that annoying people usually drives them AWAY from your position. So, I have to wonder why they choose this method of communication.

An article from the Green Left gives us insight into the motivations of the protestors.

United for Peace and Justice [is] the coalition responsible for calling the massive February [protests].

San Francisco was the site of the largest demonstrations, with activists blockading streets and buildings. The intense emotions of protesters... led [them to confrontations with police and] literally thousands of activists being arrested.

Many activists chose sites representing the government or staged sit-ins to disrupt traffic in major cities. "I like the idea of shutting down commerce and the city to counteract Bush's economic motives for this war", said Eric Anholt, 19, of Portland.

And in Detroit, one woman stated her reasons for demonstrating were to protest the existence of an economic draft, citing the disproportionate numbers of minorities who enlist in the armed forces as the only means of supporting themselves and their family.

"We're outraged", said San Diego resident Steven Skoczen. "We have a government that is making a war on Iraq against the will of the United Nations, people worldwide and the people of this country. It's unjust. It's immoral."

Jennifer Abu-Awad expressed her frustration at the lack of attention from the Bush administration to the mass of people taking to the streets: "Bush may not consider us important enough to pay attention to, but the rest of the world will."

"People are just upset. They don't want this war and Bush won't listen", protester Margaret Jackson said.


Eric has accepted the common wisdom of his clique that a war conducted by Bush has economic motives, automatically. But events as major as a war usually have great numbers of motivating factors. Any one of these does not necessarily overrule the others. Let us accept that there IS an economic motivation. This doesnt change the fact that Saddam Hussein is a monster and that the Iraqi people are his slaves. I think playing political football with war is dispicable. Hoping to harm the US economy as a way of "getting back" at Bush is a disgusting abuse of the people who are impacted by both sides of the issue.

The unnamed woman from Detroit cites issues of social justice for her protest. She claims that minorities enlist in a disproportionate number and are thus being sent to war unfairly. However, the recent surveys have found that poor whites are much more represented in the Army. Not to mention it appears that black enlistees are much more likely to pursue vocational training and to utilize military service as a steppingstone to economic and social achievement after service. Black soldiers become officers at a greater rate than whites. When it comes to war, black soldiers are far more likely to serve in highly trained rear echelon, command, and support roles while white soldiers make up far more of the front lines.

Steven claims that the war is "against the will of the United Nations, people world wide, and the people of this country". Steven has overlooked the fact that the UN authorized the first Gulf War, set the terms of the cease fire, and passed dozens of resolutions over the last 12 years in an attempt to bring Saddam into compliance with these rules. Meanwhile, it is a fact that the majority of nations represented in the UN are not liberal democracies and do not elect their governments or their UN representatives. On the other hand, we DO have open elections in the US, and frequent private pollings, and it is a fact that the President enjoys over 60% approval ratings covering this war. Steven also overlooks a point that he makes himself... marching in the streets, attacking police officers, and destroying public property is widely held by Americans to be immoral, illegal, and just plain wrong; but this didn't stop Steven.

Meanwhile, Jennifer must not be aware that the majority of Earth's residents do not have free and open access to media, news, and information. Only the citizens of other Liberal Democracies might notice her protests and a majoprity of these people disagree with her. Poor Margaret puts her finger directly on the issue: some people dont want this war, indeed, but polls show that a majority of other people do. What really bothers Margaret, and others, is that Bush didn't listen to her group.

If the peace movement was not able to influence enough people to stop the war before it started, then what is the aim of their protests now? Why do they protest the Allied effort to remove dictator Saddam Hussien, but have largely been silent for the last 30 years of his rule? Why is it a moral duty to protest against the removal of tyrants and the furtherence of Democracy?

These activists are being marshaled by shadowy umbrella organizations. They cite tired rhetorical arguments and engage in antisocial behavior. The arguments are bogus and the tactics are counter productive. So, just what are the umbrella organizations up to?


New Mexico

An article by David Horrowitz on Front Page Magazine gives us some clues.

[At a recent Colombia University peace rally Professor] De Genova [asserted]: "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military. I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus."

This was a reference to the ambush of U.S. forces by an al-Qaeda warlord in Somalia in 1993. The Americans were there on a humanitarian mission to feed starving Somali Muslims. The al-Qaeda warlord was stealing the food and selling it on the black market. His forces killed 18 American soldiers and dragged their bodies through the streets in an act designed to humiliate their country.

The same professor said, "If we really [believe] that this war is criminal ... then we have to believe in the victory of the Iraqi people and the defeat of the U.S. war machine." [this echoes the rhetoric of David's own days of protest during the 60's and 70's]. John F. Kennedy was President and had been invited to speak on the campus. We picketed his appearance. Our slogan was, "Kennedy s Three R s: Radiation, Reaction and Repression." [But] We didn't want peace in Vietnam. We wanted a revolution in America.

We realized we couldn t attract large numbers of people by revealing our deranged fantasies about America (although that of course is not how we would have looked at them). We realized that we needed the support of a lot of Americans who would never agree with our real agendas if we were going to influence the course of the war. So we changed our slogan to "Bring the Troops Home." That seemed to express care for Americans while accomplishing the same goal. If America brought her troops home in the middle of the war, the Communists would win. Which is exactly what happened.

Until now, the largest organization behind this movement has been "International ANSWER," which thanks in part to the efforts of the War Room and www.frontpagemag.com has been revealed as front for a Marxist-Leninist party with ties to the Communist regime in North Korea. According to a comprehensive (but partisan and sympathetic) report in The New York Times, some factions of the left became disturbed that the overtly radical slogans of the International ANSWER protests were "counter-productive." Last fall, they met in the offices of People For The American Way to create a new umbrella organization called United for Peace and Justice that would present a more palatable face to the American public.

According to the Times, since that meeting, the left has been hiring Madison Avenue firms to shape its messages and has been putting up billboards with the slogan "Peace Is Patriotic" to make its point. The war in America's streets is not about "peace" or "more time for inspections." It is about which side should lose the war we are now in. The left has made crystal clear its desire that the loser should be us.

Even if the left had not made this explicit, a "peace" movement directed at one side makes sense only as an effort to force that side to retreat from the battle and lose the war. Which is exactly what the Columbia professor said. If this is patriotism, what is treason?



New York

What really bothers me about the "Die In" protests is that these protests mock the suffering of their supposed benefactors. These protestors are well dressed, well fed, and well educated. They are being guarded and ultimately arrested by police who answer to elected governments. The authorities in the cities they disrupt would never think of shooting them on the spot, raping them back at the police station, or threatening their children. But that is exactly what the Iraqi people have faced for 30 years and what they would surely face if the protestors aims were reached and the US suddenly recalled its soldiers. Furthermore, the lands that play host to these protestors have not always been so tolerant. Especially in Latin America and in Asia, just one generation back no one would have dared to block a city street in a mockery of slaughter. These people have the right to make these protests because someone else faught and died to gain their freedom.

Sean: Monday, March 31, 2003 [+] |
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