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:



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.



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.



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



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



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



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.



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.



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.



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



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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Thursday, March 06, 2003

A poem In the New Yorker sums up the Left-Left for me...

It is by K C Williams and is called The Hearth. Sounds all warm and fuzzy, no? It is in two parts. In the first part he sets you up by describing him burning a plastic cup in the fire (not very eco-friendly, is he?). In the second one he moves on to the image of an owl capturing prey and disappearing into the night. He rather clumsily starts sneaking in military images about here.... something about a helicopter and a search light as the owl. He then launches into the now "classic" Leftist Lament. P>

"But in truth, I wasn’t listening. I was thinking, as I often do these days, of war. I was thinking of my children, and their children, of the more than fear I feel for them. And then of radar, rockets, shrapnel, cities razed, soil poisoned, for a thousand generations. Of suffering so vast it nullified everything else. I stood in the wind, in the raw cold, wondering how those with power over us can effect such things, and by what cynical reasoning pardon themselves."

This passage works on many levels to deconstruct the Left right now. Lets take the first section... the speaker doesn’t hear the cries of the ACTUAL pained creature, the mouse, because he is busy wallowing in his own noble fears and criticism. Oh, how ripe! I am sure there are more than a few Iraqi political prisoners who would agree with him!

Then there is the passage about his fears. "Radar, rockets, shrapnel, cities razed, and soil poisoned for a thousand generations." What war is this guy fearing and who does he picture waging it? The US isn’t in the business of "razing cities" and hasn’t even contemplated burning a village down for over 30 years. Poisoned soil? Well, most of the Iraqi battlefield is a dessert. But as far as the Tigris and Euphrates valley I think me can rest assured that the very LAST thing the US wants to do is dirty the "the cradle of civilization". As last explained, or is that re-re-explained, on CNN last night... the current US military planning is to leave bridges, roads, power plants, water treatment facilities, schools, residential areas, and hospitals strictly of limits... mainly because we will need these things when we are running Iraq and also because the destruction of this infrastructure is usually what starts refugee exoduses.

But when the author pictures himself standing "in the wind, in the raw cold" I begin to see what he is really up to... his poem is the Liberal Lament, that cry against all things bad, that, like a Vegan at the dinner table advising his host as they serve up a steak "I don’t slaughter baby cows, I'm a Vegan, don’t you have anything soy based?" It is the cry itself, rather than any concrete actions, that marks the Lefty as "more moral than thou". This man sees himself in heroic terms standing against all things noisy, smelly, and dirty… ie war.

In the same issue there is also an informative piece on Kofi Annan and the UN. There are two wonderfully illustrative passages…

"On his way back to New York from the Balkans, just before Thanksgiving, Annan stopped in Paris for a lunch of red mullet, squab, cheeses, and terrific twelve year old wines, with President Jaques Chirac, at the Elysee Palace. They finished off with a mandarin ice, and descended for a brief “press encounter” in the baroque ballroom, ornately plastered and gilded, with lots of cherubs in the ceilings….”

Ok, do I even bother with this one? You know, I still recall G Bush senior being caught out on TV not knowing the price of milk in the grocery. Do you think that Annan, in his Manhattan penthouse apartment on Park Avenue and Chirac in his gilded state palaces have ANY IDEA what you go through to get the kids off to school, clean the house, pick up something for dinner, and meet the needs of your work weary spouse? Or for those who still have a job these days, do you think their 9-5 mirrors yours in ANY WAY?! Oh, and I loved the part about the cherubs.

This is followed sometime later with this fine passage…

"Annan spoke of a peaceful way out of the crisis, as long as everyone involved stuck to the technical and legal terms of the Council’s resolutions… He spoke of the EU and NATO not as independent centers of global power, but almost as if they were subsidiaries of the UN, whose tussels were getting in the way of the broader international cause. “If they had accepted the primacy of the Security Council and said, ‘the Council is dealing with it, and we don’t have to get involved here,’ they wouldn’t have had all these divisions,” he told me. He used what were, for him, particularly sharp words about Washington and London’s assault on Baghdad. “Quite frankly, some of the recent arguments about wars of liberation, and of moral law… these are issues that the Council has never discussed. For the Council, the issue is disarmament, and all these other issues muddy the waters, and the public gets confused, and the Security Council and the UN members get confused”."

Ahh… I see… well, this explains a lot. Now the UN soldiers shining search lights on fleeing Bosnians so that Serbs could shoot them in the back makes some sense. The case where an Iraqi scientist jumped in a UN humvee and begged for amnesty, only to have the UN official ignore him until Iraqi guards drug him off to who knows what fate doesn’t seem at odds with the principles of the UN at all. The UN HAS NO PRINCIPLES!!! This is what Kofi just revealed to us all. The UN is about preserving order among nations, not justice. The Security Council finds issues of liberation, justice, and other moral issues simply “confusing”. But the most frightening thought here is that all nations and international alliances should be subordinate to this value-less diplomacy machine. That NATO, the WWII Allies that it represents, is not the military arm of the world’s democracies, but merely a schoolboy having a “tussel” on the playground…. Wow!

I think it is more than past time for the US to rethink the UN lease in NY.

Sean: Thursday, March 06, 2003 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


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