Political terminology thread

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Peregrin Toker
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Postby Peregrin Toker » 2004-07-28 08:59am

I feel this one has been missing for far too long:

Nationalism: Umbrella term describing a variety of related ideologies which all have one thing in common - that they regard a government's primary goal to secure the sovereignty and the independence of the country which it governs. Nationalism does not necessarily mean automatic obedience to the current government, especially not if said government appears to compromise the country's independence. In general - nationalists are a very varied bunch. Some are complete isolationists, others are quite expansionist (in that they consider the independence of other countries to be completely expendable if it is sacrificed for the home country) while most of them fall somewhere between these two extremes. Since nationalists usually consider their own country (and ethnicity) to be superior to others, a significant number of them are racists too.
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Postby Stark » 2004-10-19 02:25am

Ahhh, nationalism. The Age of Reason sure needed a replacement for religion as a way to motivate the plebs to war :)

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Postby SCVN 2812 » 2004-11-21 08:35pm

Howedar wrote:
Tom_Aurum wrote:Bother. I just thought I'd point out (again) that:

Communism and Marxism are not the same thing. I could get into the whole lengthy discussion of french communism but... <sighs>. Already did that. Anyways, Marxism is a very unsuccessful spin on communism, but, isn't the whole of communism.
From my standpoint, you have it the wrong way around.


Actually he doesn't have it the other way around. Socialism and Communism predate Marxism. Marxism is a more Machiavellian offspring of the socialist movements of the 19th century.
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Postby Lord Zentei » 2005-05-18 11:52am

It should be noted that there is more to communism than the abolition of capital investment and the market society in favour of a collectivist economy where all share in the total wealth according to their need. Often, though not always, the ultimate objective is an abolition of all authority through revolutionary strategies with an emphasis upon the working classes in this endeavour.

Various branches of Communism exist, including notably:

Marxism, which advocates the assumption of the monopoly of state power by the working classes in order to further the communist ideal through a Communist Party. Also, Marxism advocates the materialist philosophy of history, which states that history is a conflict of ideas as resolved through class struggle.

Anarcho-Communism, which reject the idea of the intermediate statist phase claiming that this would merely create a new overclass, thus failing to complete the transition to the utopian ideal.

Historically, small communist communities have existed from time to time, often based around religious communities and under the inspiration of a literalist interpretation of scripture.
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Postby Lord Zentei » 2005-05-18 03:00pm

It should be noted, however that most versions of Communiism in the 19th century and onwards have been anti-religious.
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Postby Jason » 2005-06-03 08:12pm

anarcho-capitalism/(free) market anarchism/etc. - A political philosophy which advocates a society without a state, or government.
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Postby Marcus Aurelius » 2008-09-30 06:18am

Jason wrote:anarcho-capitalism/(free) market anarchism/etc. - A political philosophy which advocates a society without a state, or government.


I would like to point out that anarcho-capitalism is an extreme Libertarian ideology. The slightly more moderate Libertarian model is the night watch state or minarchism (also minimal state etc.). This is what most people understand Libertarianism means, but in fact it's just one Libertarian faction just like Marxism originally was just one communist faction.

Other corrections or perhaps clarifications to Wong's original post:

Fascism: more properly refers just to the Italian fascism under Mussolini and some other related political movements in Europe at the time. Does NOT refer to National Socialism, i.e. nazism! Nazism was a strongly racist ideology in its core, while fascism was not. In fact the Italian fascists were not any more racist than right wing conservatives in Europe at the time. The origins of nazism and fascism were largely separate as well, although both were revolutionary ultra-nationalist ideologies and Hitler personally admired Mussolini.

Broadening the meaning of fascism should be avoided, since it's completely unnecessary: the appropriate term for all extreme authoritarian governments is "totalitarian". This includes also Stalinist and Maoist communism and other totalitarian forms of communism, as well as traditional right wing dictatorships. Theocracy can also be totalitarian: Afghanistan under the Taliban is a good example. The line between "ordinary" authoritarian and totalitarian government is quite blurry: for example Spain under General Franco is usually considered merely strongly authoritarian but not totalitarian.

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Postby ArcturusMengsk » 2008-10-09 06:58am

Marcus Aurelius wrote:Broadening the meaning of fascism should be avoided, since it's completely unnecessary: the appropriate term for all extreme authoritarian governments is "totalitarian". This includes also Stalinist and Maoist communism and other totalitarian forms of communism, as well as traditional right wing dictatorships. Theocracy can also be totalitarian: Afghanistan under the Taliban is a good example. The line between "ordinary" authoritarian and totalitarian government is quite blurry: for example Spain under General Franco is usually considered merely strongly authoritarian but not totalitarian.


Garbage. This sort of post is usually made by one attempted to make invent moral equivalency between Marxism and fascism, usually in defense of neoliberal economic policy. Stalinist Communism was a world away from National Socialism. One of the primary differences between the two, for instance, was the existence of competing bureaucratic organizations under the aegis of Nazism, such as the legendary rivalry between the SS and SA - this counterintuitive creation of rivalries between similar bureaucratic organizations would have been anathema to the Marxist planners. Furthermore, fascism properly defined can be said to be any radical right-wing movement which advocates revolutionary measures against both bourgeois liberalism and Communism, as opposed to mere reactionary policies designed to check it. And while it's true that Franco wasn't himself a fascist (I agree with Paxton when, in his Anatomy of Fascism, he calls Francist Spain a "failed fascism"), he most certainly came to power on the back of a fascist organization, the falangista, which he subsequently had neutered. There is no overarching 'totalitarianism'; each must be treated reductively.

I cannot recommend The Anatomy of Fascism more highly to anyone interested in a scientific approach to the subject.
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby Rogue 9 » 2008-10-12 01:35pm

"Totalitarianism" isn't overarching in the sense that it describes every aspect of a government; it simply means a political system wherein the citizen is subject to absolute state control. It doesn't take Marxism, fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, theocracy, or anything else into account. If a government exercises authoritarian control over every aspect of life, then it is totalitarian, regardless of any of its other attributes or motivations.
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby ArcturusMengsk » 2008-10-13 08:47am

Rogue 9 wrote:"Totalitarianism" isn't overarching in the sense that it describes every aspect of a government; it simply means a political system wherein the citizen is subject to absolute state control. It doesn't take Marxism, fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, theocracy, or anything else into account. If a government exercises authoritarian control over every aspect of life, then it is totalitarian, regardless of any of its other attributes or motivations.


And it's still an inaccurate and misleading label applied in a lame attempt to posit moral equivalency where no such thing exists. Afghanistan under the Taliban was autocratic; Stalinist Russia was autocratic. Hence they are united under your scheme as totalitarianisms. But what, exactly, does this tell us about the implementation of their (wildly divergent and mutually incompatible) ideologies, or the political implementation thereof?

Absolutely nothing.

The word 'totalitarianism' contains within itself a bias: that liberal democracy is the most perfect system of governance devised by man; that all totalitarianisms are equally morally culpable; that totalitarianisms are interchangeable. Moreover, it is vague - many feudal European fiefdoms and kingships were essentially dictatorial; the Russian Tzar even adopted the title of 'autocrat' in their royal title. Were they totalitarian? Many of them exerted massive control over the daily routines of their inhabitants. Russian rulers, to use a well-worn example, had the power to forcibly evict serfs from their holdings, to seize and possess their property, and to bind them legally to their land so that they could not leave. Were the Kingdom of Muscovy and Imperial Russia 'totalitarianisms'? What of the Roman Empire, where certain Emperors such as Caligula and later Maximus Thrax had both an almost-party like structure to their domains (often associated with totalitarianism) and the total backing of the military elements? However, just as many Emperors were very weak politically, even if nothing else had changed.

Now, I do not dispute that there exists authoritarianism, which can simply be defined as equivalent to the Latin auctoritas, or, simply, "authority (of government)". The Senate held auctoritas in Rome, as opposed to imperium ('power' as a personal attribute or characteristic, which was vested onto military leaders and governors and, later, emperors), and as 'the People' do in America today; it ruled by sheer right of itself. The same holds true of authoritarian states: their sole similar characteristic is the imposition of authority by coercion or force, without reprieve for dissent. But authoritarianism is an attribute of governance (just as auctoritas was among the Romans), not a form of government itself. And so we can dismiss the notion of 'totalitarianism' by divining the one and sole element each 'totalitarian' state held in common and discarding the rest.

One can only afford to take a nominalistic stance towards systems of governance. Anything else creates false equivalencies where they do not properly exist.
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby Rogue 9 » 2008-10-30 10:18pm

ArcturusMengsk wrote:
Rogue 9 wrote:"Totalitarianism" isn't overarching in the sense that it describes every aspect of a government; it simply means a political system wherein the citizen is subject to absolute state control. It doesn't take Marxism, fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, theocracy, or anything else into account. If a government exercises authoritarian control over every aspect of life, then it is totalitarian, regardless of any of its other attributes or motivations.


And it's still an inaccurate and misleading label applied in a lame attempt to posit moral equivalency where no such thing exists. Afghanistan under the Taliban was autocratic; Stalinist Russia was autocratic. Hence they are united under your scheme as totalitarianisms. But what, exactly, does this tell us about the implementation of their (wildly divergent and mutually incompatible) ideologies, or the political implementation thereof?

Absolutely nothing.

No, and it's not intended to. Do you have a point? The word is meant to convey the idea of total government control, which is not the same as autocracy, since autocracy necessitates the concentration of power in a single man, while a totalitarian government could be a junta, central committee, single dictator, or even a democracy. The Athenian democracy was authoritarian in the sense that it had no limits on its power; if the citizens voted to do something, that thing was done. The only thing preventing totalitarian control was the citizens' lack of interest in imposing it upon themselves. Just ask Socrates.

What the word does not do, as you so astutely point out, is differentiate between ideologies. The Taliban was a totalitarian theocracy, the Soviet Union under Stalin was a totalitarian Communist state, et cetera. The word "totalitarian" is not meant to convey properties of government unrelated to its definition, and there is no reason why it should; describing concepts unrelated to a particular word is what the entire rest of the English language is for. The difference between totalitarian and authoritarian, if there is one (it's interesting how you accept authoritarian but not totalitarian, despite the fact that it shares all the same lack of description that you complain about in the subject at hand) is simply a matter of degree; authoritarian describes the concentration of power without obligations to the citizens in the hands of the state, while totalitarian describes a state exercising that power to the utmost extent to control its citizens and all aspects of life, including means of production. Is it too widely applied? Possibly, even probably. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have a legitimate definition.

And only a moron would see a single property that Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia had in common and immediately think that illustrating it is an attempt to "invent moral equivalency between Marxism and fascism." First, moral equivalency is not ideological equivalency. Secondly, moral equivalency between Stalinism in particular (not Marxism in general) and Nazism in particular (not fascism in general) hardly needs inventing; that they were opposed does not mean one of them was morally superior. Inconvenient classes of citizens were scapegoated and murdered en masse by both regimes and they both engaged in blatant wars of conquest and oppression of the conquered, just for starters. Were their ideologies different? Yes, they were, but that's not the be-all, end-all of morality. Their results were strikingly similar; the main difference from the American point of view is that one declared war on the United States and the other did not. Whether they did it for the glory of the Fatherland or for international socialism is purely academic; in the final count, millions of people were murdered and tens of millions more oppressed by both countries. That has nothing to do with the term "totalitarian." It's historical fact. There's your moral equivalency.
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby Ba'al's Thunderbolt » 2008-11-08 01:21pm

And it's still an inaccurate and misleading label applied in a lame attempt to posit moral equivalency where no such thing exists. Afghanistan under the Taliban was autocratic; Stalinist Russia was autocratic. Hence they are united under your scheme as totalitarianisms. But what, exactly, does this tell us about the implementation of their (wildly divergent and mutually incompatible) ideologies, or the political implementation thereof?


What it tells us is that it doesn't particularly matter how you arrive at Dystopia, but it sure does suck ass when you get there.

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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby kinnison » 2009-01-04 01:27pm

This is one of my minor hobbyhorses, but the "Myth of the Mean" also has a subtext, and it's one that is only noticeable to someone who has fairly decent maths education - which is possibly one of the reasons why mass education in Western countries is being sabotaged, but I digress.

It's the question of which mean to use. Politicians like to use the arithmetic mean, although the mode and median would probably be more accurate as an indicator of economic factors. Why? I'll use a concrete example. Imagine calculating the average income of Seattle, excluding one person. You come up with a number. Recalculate the number, this time including the person you missed out. You come up with a wildly different answer. Why? Because the one person is Bill Gates.

The point is that the arithmetic mean is strongly influenced by extremely unusual individuals. Which is probably why politicians use it.

Apologies if this is a derail.

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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby Zixinus » 2009-02-08 02:47pm

Question: how do you call someone that supports the immediate and violent overthrow of current, existing government?

"Revolutionist" or "idiot"?
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby Rogue 9 » 2009-02-12 05:35pm

That depends entirely on the government, his reasons for wanting to do so, and less importantly but still present his means for achieving his aim.
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby kinnison » 2009-02-16 08:25am

I have a comment about the fallacy of the average. It might be beneficial to someone's argument to carefully choose which average to use; there are at least three that are easy to calculate - arithmetic mean, mode and median. The arithmetic mean is almost universally used by governments trying to make the numbers look better, and here's why:

Take a concrete example, and I am making at least one assumption that may not be warranted. The mean income per year of Seattle is (for the sake of argument) $50,000, if one leaves out one individual from the figures. Put him back in, and the mean jumps upwards substantially. Why? Because the man you left out is Bill Gates. The assumption? That he actually lives in Seattle, and whether he does or not has no bearing on the argument.

This is an illustration of the fact that way-out-there outliers distort the arithmetic mean very greatly indeed; the fact that there are 400 or so billionaires in the USA makes a substantial difference to the average usually used, although it makes very little difference to anyone else. Were the median used instead, the figure would undoubtedly be a lot lower.

All that is the reason why statistics ought to be taught in schools - and also the reason why it is not.

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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby kinnison » 2009-02-19 02:43am

Apologies for the double post earlier - board glitch I think.

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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby The Yosemite Bear » 2009-03-07 04:32am

Alge(sp): The dominate trait of the american two party system, focused on doing nothing but photosensisizing money into hot air.

coined by yours truely back in high school.
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby Zixinus » 2010-06-03 06:28pm

How and what criteria does define someone as a fascist? What kind of fascists are there?
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Re: Political terminology thread

Postby General Mung Beans » 2012-08-03 06:25pm

Neoconservative: Conservatives whose defining feature is support for an interventionist and hawkish foreign policy. They are more diverse on economic (although generally pro-free trade) and social issues. Neocons were dominant in the Republican Party during the Bush Administration but with the rise of the Tea Party have been increasingly marginalized.

Paleoconservative: Conservatives of a pre-Eisenhower/Pearl Harbour mentality who are isolationist in foreign policy, economically protectionist although otherwise laissez-faire, and in social issues downright reactionary (opposing things like civil rights legislation). Includes nowadays both formerly Midwestern/Great Plains isolationists and Dixiecrats.

Neoliberal: A largely economic ideology supporting globalization and free trade but supporting some social services programs. Variable on foreign policy and social issues although most support more multilateral foreign policy than neocons. It is the dominant ideological economically in most mainstream First World parties to-day-both conservative and liberal.
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