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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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Talking Turkey

ISTANBUL, Turkey- Evacuees from Beirut arrive daily in Turkey's southern port city of Mersin. A large passenger ferry, with a military escort, brought thousands of Australians yesterday. This brings to nearly 5,000 the number of Westerners who have escaped Lebanon with Turkey's assistance.

Turkey also offered to mediate a deal between Israel and Hezbollah and to contribute forces to any UN or NATO peacekeeping force. This would bolster legitimacy for such a force in mostly Muslim Lebanon. Turkey also has a history of military cooperation with Israel that includes joint training exercises.

On the other hand, Turkey's relations with the West have been under question recently. Last week Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul warned that there is growing anti-western sentiment among the Turkish people. The latest shot came from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he warned of a military incursion by Turkey into northern Iraq in pursuit of the PKK.

I saw the Prime Minister in Cyprus last week at photo ops and cocktail parties. During his speech at the Peace and Freedom parade he vowed to protect the Turkish people anywhere they live. And everywhere he went in Turkish Cyprus he was applauded like a football star.

The Turkish people have watched the EU talks stall and Cyprus admitted to the EU in 2004 with out its Turkish half and they have come to realize that Europe still dislikes the Turk. A Turkish woman from California even began her own magazine to counter negative impressions of Turkish people in America.

Europeans from Ireland, England, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Greece repeatedly warn me that Turks are Muslim, Turks are poor, and Turks have done brutal things in the past as the Ottoman Empire. Americans simply are not sure what a Turk is or where they come from.

This is despite the fact that Cyprus, both sides, and the Turkish Mediterranean coast in Anatolia, are prime vacation spots. Scandinavians regularly soak up the sun in a modern metropolis filled with glass towers and busy highways such as Izmir or at coastal Riviera style resort towns such as Alanya. Americans mostly visit Istanbul and find it exotic and pleasant.

These tourists have seen for themselves nearly naked women, both foreign and Turkish, sunbathing on the beach; they have sipped EFS, local Turkish beer; and picked up The New Anatolian to read wide-open news and political commentary as they sip coffee on their hotel veranda.

Yet none of this evidence that Turkey is instep with Western development and values can convince the European or American observer. They recall with horror how quickly Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq went from 1960's miniskirts to 16th century abayas. And they are sure that the coin can flip at any moment.

No one wants to tell Turkey "no" outright. Everyone admires their military prowess and finds it valuable to have a Muslim nation "on their side". As noted, Turkey will be a major boon to any NATO or UN force in Lebanon. Therefore EU membership and a resolution to the Cyprus Question are dangled just out of reach.

Meanwhile forces from the Kurdish zone harass Turkish soldiers and send bombers to Ankara and Istanbul. Turks watch the US and Israel chase their foes right over national borders and claim self-defense. So there is a growing grassroots call for action against the PKK and no Turkish politician can ignore this sentiment.

My waiter in Sultanahmet tonight served in the Turkish army ten years ago. He says they have 400,000 soldiers on the border and that they could cross just 5km into Iraq for only 10 days and solve the problem of the PKK. He says he has a Kurdish friend and has nothing against them, but could not understand the point of giving away territory.

However, an invasion of Iraq would mean running roughshod over the US military presence in the area or stealthy avoidance. Neither option is acceptable for NATO partners. The US is also Turkey's largest arms dealer. Good relations with the US are vital to Turkey, especially if it remains outside the EU.

The Iraqi Peshmerga military force is not the limited PKK presence it is inside Turkey. When I was there in March the professionalism and equipment level of the Peshmerga impressed me and every person that I spoke to about their Turkish cousins expressed a willingness to suffer losses to protect them. Any war for Turkey inside Iraq would be a dangerous venture with disastrous diplomatic damage.

All this worry may be for nothing. The Turkish military is still the guarantor of the Turkish state and they have remained silent on Iraq (as they have on Lebanon). At this point the Turkish PM's talk is for domestic consumption, as the Foreign Minister's is for international consumption.

In the end the status quo will probably continue to rule. Turkey will remain on the outside looking in to the EU. Meanwhile the people of Turkish Cyprus, Palestine, and Kurdistan will remain stateless while Beirut burns. People in all these areas will continue to suffer while the West and the Middle East redefine their relationship.

UPDATE: Miscommunication between Israel and Turkey leads to warning shots and a pitstop in Cyprus...

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Sean: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 [+] |

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