At least the labels are. I'm not seeing much practical use in them. Nor in any of the other tags various theories of society and government like to put on people.
Actually, there is at least one practical use, and that's for the 1%'s ability to play divide-and-conquer.
George Washington's farewell address warned against faction. And he described very precisely the path it must inevitably take:
All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests. ...Sound familiar for some reason?
...Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally....
...The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension... is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty....
...[factionalism] serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another....
...it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
So I'm going for a political scale that runs from Humanly Decent on the good extreme, and Whacked Out Vanity on the other. [Maybe "Pure Dickishness", I'm still debating. -- jp] Somewhere in the middle go the various good-hearted, preoccupied, and/or lost souls; and each can be either ignorant or lazy or neither... the details aren't really that important. I'm going for a rule-of-thumb, not an ideology.
I see little ambiguity in either of the extremes.
The problem is, almost all of these Dead Terms in common usage come basically from materialist, and cynical, traditions about power. We can add to the terms already listed; left, right, middle, proletariat, capitalist, socialist, progressive, ...
These kind of terms have a deceptive appeal: they are hallowed by time; they can actually be a useful, and accurate, shorthand for people to communicate positions and moods; they carry an aura of sophistication about them. Of course, the "sophistication," the "pragmatism" properly named, is often merely a mask for an amoral, and over-hungry, over-fearful, spirit.
Yes, these and similar terms can evoke a plausible reality. Even a valid one.
But not necessarily a true one.
And in our time, hardly a useful one. Well, except for the 1% and their divide-and-rule, of course.
Their nightmare is the day 80% of Americans agree on something which hurts their interests. Some might remember when the FCC, under Colin Powell's son, was going to allow radical consolidation of the media. And the entire political spectrum, no exceptions, flooded Congress with 2 million or so contacts: "Do not do this." And Congress stopped the FCC.
But today, we don't do politics as much as we do soap operas with orchestrated roles. We do characterizations. Of ourselves and others. People fanatically adhere to their DeadSpeak, oblivious to the reality that all that follows is just semantic reactions. The hearers feel happy or upset according to their customary emotional charges the word evokes. And here's the important part to our rulers...
End of discussion.
This is not only boring. It's stupid. It doesn't work to create a good place to live. How come? See George Washington, above.
I especially liked the part, going back to the quote:
...[the pernicious spirit] make[s] the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.My mind keeps going back to some rightwinger writing on Global Warming I read a few years ago. Paraphrased: "I'll never believe in human-made global warming. But I can see the pollution, and I know it's bad for me and my kids and my town. So why do you insist I believe in Global Warming like you do? Just approach me about pollution. We can both meet our concerns without forcing our beliefs on each other."
Now, there's an example of "Human Decency" to me. And the reason we are stymied, a large part of the reason, is that he's a global-warming change "denier" and I'm a "believer." Yet the same lousy results falls on both "factions," whoever is right or wrong.
So whether an action, a statement, an effort lies at one end of my idiosyncratic spectrum, or the other, or in between -- that's all I'm looking at from now on.
I think my spectrum is in harmony with George Orwell's understanding of political language. What he had to say was:
Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.*
h/t to Wee Mama -- and this does not imply she endorses what I've written here in the least, she might even hate it -- for her priceless signature line:
Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?. . . and respect the dignity of every human being.