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, October 25, 2004

Eternal Enemy?

John J Miller, author of "Our Oldest Enemy" (along with Harvard lectuer Mark Molesky), is interviewed by Front Page Magazine.

Many in France believe a one-superpower world is a dangerous world, even when the superpower is benign. So they talk of balancing American “hyperpower”--and for them “balancing” is a euphemism for “opposing.” This is what Francois Mitterand spoke about shortly before his death: “We are at war with America,” he said. “A permanent war ... a war without death. They are very hard, the Americans--they are voracious. They want undivided power over the world.” This hardcore anti-American outlook makes it possible for French leaders to say some pretty outrageous things. Just a couple of weeks ago, French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced, “The Iraqi insurgents are our best allies.” What kind of friend or ally talks like that?


"In Our Oldest Enemy, John J. Miller and Mark Molesky provide a provocative counterpoint to the dewy-eyed sentimentality that usually surrounds the history of U.S.-France relations. Instead of Lafayette and all that, they write about clashes from the French and Indian Wars, through World War II and Vietnam, and right up to the Iraq War. Sometimes the French have literally fought Americans, as in the little-known Quasi-War of the late eighteenth century. More often, they have tried to curb American influence in peaceful ways while furthering their own ends."

-- Max Boot, author of The Savage Wars of Peace


"If we grow exasperated at the French and demand gratitude, expect shared purpose, and wish friendship, we will probably grow only more exasperated--since John Miller and Mark Molesky show that French animosities are centuries old and derive from who Americans are rather than from what we do. Their romp through our shared history would almost be funny--if it were not so sad in the present post--9-11 world."

-- Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture and The Western Way of War; Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

**** Comprehensive, Fair and Accurate, October 21, 2004
Reviewer: elvindeath (Detroit, MI)

As a young undergrad majoring in International Relations, I had occasion to spend a year studying in Brussels, interning at NATO headquarters. I believed, in general, the myth of the French beign our brothers in liberty, ready to promote the cause of justice and equality for which the US stands.

Luckily over the span of several months worth of evening ales with my British instructor I was challenged to be more objective in my assessment of the NATO alliance, and France's role in world security. I arrived at many of the same conclusions raised in this book.

I certainly do not subscribe to the belief that the French, in and of themselves, are enemies in the sense of a concious, constant plotting to bring about harm to citizens of the US. Having spent a good deal of time in France, on a personal level I found them to be polite, engaging, and rather respectful.

However, it is clear that in the realm of international actors, the French care for naught but the French. I would not use words such as self-sacrificing, altruistic, courageous, or moral to describe the history of France's behavior on the world stage.

The emerging "oil for food" scandal (which might explain their objections to enforcement of the UN resolution on Iraq) is just the latest in a long line of illustrative incidents which support the authors' premise.


John J. Miller is national political reporter for National Review and the author of The Unmaking of Americans. Mark Molesky is Assistant Professor of History at Seton Hall University. He received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, where he was a Lecturer on History and Literature.

Well, before we get to irate with the French we might keep in mind that they invented Bubbly, The Follies, and topless beaches. They also gave us Alizee.


Sean: Monday, October 25, 2004 [+] |
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