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, December 01, 2003

Fear And Loathing In Iraq

CNN reports on the "bloodiest day since May 1" in Iraq.

Oddly this is the picture they chose to lead the article, with the caption "A bullet damaged this mirror in Samarra, Iraq".

I had to immediately ask aloud, boo hoo, who fricken cares? My gawd, so a mirror, evidently outside, got shot during a fire fight... why is this important?

So often the media seems to get lost in their own news, missing the significance for the signifier, the forest for the trees.

I guess this is why Mark Twain called anyone who got their knowledge of the world from newspapers more ignorant than someone who didn't read at all. Sigh.

CNN's money line:

Two convoys came under attack Sunday in Samarra, about 120 km (75 miles) north of Baghdad. The convoys were delivering new Iraqi dinars to two banks in the area under armed military escort.

Early reports had been that as many as 54 insurgents had been killed, a figure later revised by the military to "about 46."

U.S. officials have suggested that the old, easily counterfeited dinars and U.S. dollars have been used by insurgents to pay bounties for attacks on coalition troops.

Replacing the old dinars -- which feature images of toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein -- is crucial to establishing economic stability in Iraq, U.S. officials have said.


What they failed to seize on is the obvious fact, obvious from what they DID tell us here, that the move to replace the old currency might very well put these terrorists out of business as the funds that they have now would be worthless.

Then again, the NY Times took the same info and concluded : "the American display of force was among the most deadly for Iraqi fighters since the occupation began."

And follow this up with "an honest conversation" (TM).

Mr. Jasim: "Nonsense! Saddam's regime is not collapsing; Saddam is still there, he is still fighting, he will come back."

Mr. Alawi: "By the grace of Allah, peace be upon him, Saddam will kick the Americans out. . . . Saddam was brave; he was the emir of the Arabs, he was our leader, he was our king."

Mr. Jasim: "Well, O.K., we didn't love Saddam, we have to be honest about it. He was a man of war, and only war. And it is as a result of that men like me have seen their lives waste away."

Mr. Alawi: "You're quite right, Saddam really destroyed us... Right up to the end, it was war, then more war, then still more war."

Mr. Jasim: "O.K., let us be honest here. Whatever we may say to foreigners like you, the truth is that we were never really with Saddam; in our hearts, we were always against him. But he is gone; what we are against now is America. It is different. We want the Americans to go home."

Mr. Hussein: "That's right. We wanted America to get rid of Saddam, but we didn't want Americans to trespass in our land. We didn't want the soldiers to come into our villages and break down our doors and defile the honor of our women."

Mr. Jasim: "So tell the Americans that what we want is for them to bring a suitable man to power, an Iraqi the people can trust, a man who will govern us well. Only when they have done that should they leave, and they will do so with our blessing. We don't want them to leave now. It would be chaos."

Mr. Alawi: "Look, we really don't have anything against the Americans. We just don't want them in our homes, in our villages and towns and cities. Perhaps if they pulled back to their military bases, and just stayed to guarantee the peace, things would start to get better."

Mr. Hussein: "Yes! The truth is, Saddam gave us nothing but cruelty, he looked after nobody but his own family. He was a tyrant. He gave us nothing."

Mr. Farhan: "Saddam saturated us in blood, and with weapons. Why would we ever want him back?"

Mr. Jasim: "Tell the Americans everything depends on jobs. Look at us; not a single man among us has a job, not one of us can feed his family properly. . . . So tell the Americans to find us jobs, then everything will begin to improve."


So, in the end, its all about money.


Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Sean: Monday, December 01, 2003 [+] |
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