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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. ...

    ...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.

Sound familiar for some reason?

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.
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*
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.

Originally posted to Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Lots of food for thought here - I hope you get (15+ / 0-)

    considered and civil comments.

    By the way, did you mean those terms were hollowed by time or hallowed? Either one could mean something legitimate so I thought I'd ask.

    ::blushing from the kind words::



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:05:15 AM PST

  •  I prefer no labels also. They limit and margina- (9+ / 0-)

    lize people. Nowadays, whenever someone seems to have a need to qualify themselves as a member of a Group before names are even exchanged I usually smile, how do you do and walk away..especially with religious and political groups.

    I just want to be a human with another human with no ands, ifs and buts.

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones." "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:30:34 AM PST

    •  I am an Oxford Comma American. (7+ / 0-)

      And I see you are not.

      We will forever be separated. But I would prefer to be separated with a comma

      / ;-)

      This better be good. Because it is not going away.

      by DerAmi on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:46:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Labels are useful (7+ / 0-)

      ... but properly labeling the important aspects of a situation is critics to their usefulness.

      I've long thought we divide politics on the wrong axis.  Instead of left <---> right, the real divide in American politics is top <---> bottom.  Looked at by this orthogonal view, everything makes a lot more sense.  Our two parties are generally on the same side, and most of the elite commentariat are perpetually bumping their heads on the ceiling.

      Economic populism -- the rise of those on the bottom -- is the obvious game-changing move in politics.  The reason neither party embraces it, aside from disingenuous shilling for votes, is that they're not on that side.

      Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

      by Dallasdoc on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:14:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mother Jones reports Obama's Job Council, (8+ / 0-)

        the one where leading job-exporters had the dominant position, is about to expire. http://www.motherjones.com/...

        Haven't met in over a year. A case in point.

        How is it possible, for all this talk of "elect more Democrats," that no leading democrat is shouting at the top of their lungs every day in every venue about the "Fierce and Burning Urgency of Job Creation." Nobody can name one thing which will get you more votes than being seen as relentlessly pushing to get America back to work.

        Yet the entire political class doesn't even mention it, outside of the speech at campaign time. So, obviously, they have other interests on their mind.

        I think you are right on the actual division, speaking from a materialist perspective. But try and build alliances on that and we'll be running into "class war" and "socialist" and "rightwing" labeling in an instant. Back to semantic reactions and divide-and-rule.

        That's what I'm looking to get away from. I have no trouble with rich people who are humanly decent, and I've known quite a few in my life. Since the agitation/propaganda machine has been pushing division and fragmentation of the electorate relentlessly for 2 decades now; emotionalism in place of normal human standards... I don't see a way out, except to redefine our politics along the lines proposed.


        Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

        by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:44:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Each party has it's cheerleaders (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dallasdoc, kck

          It's not just the Republicans who treat their voters like sheep.

          Case in point:

          Melissa Harris-Perry Buries The Lead Story on National Wave of Public School Closings

          If corporate school reform was something Republicans and Democrats disagreed on --- if elected Republicans were doing it and elected Democrats were against it, Melissa Harris-Perry might see fit to focus real intellectual wattage on the subject, and truly inform her audience. She and her guests have no trouble cackling at evil Republicans. But when the evil is bipartisan, and a black Democrat in the White House, her career is more important than the truth.

          “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

          by Sagebrush Bob on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:31:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I hope MHP responds as she's apt to do. (0+ / 0-)

            The degree of charters' and private schools' impact on the cases she cited did seem like an obvious and important oversight. I know you're making a larger point but your example was most interesting and the host should really follow up with more of the story since privatization really does seem to be impacting communities of color more.

        •  Frederick Douglass (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen, Jim P, pfiore8

          "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

          Of course, if people at the bottom organize to be politically effective, both Top parties will come after them.  We saw that in the 99% movement.  Doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, or that labels and false charges won't be flung in every direction.  

          I think Occupy was a false dawn, a precursor of a more powerful and long-lasting populist movement that will emerge at some point, probably around the next economic downturn.  I do not expect that movement to arise within either party, or be welcomed with anything but scorn and alarm by them.  But ever-increasing income inequality, and the economic instability that always results from it, will make such a movement inevitable.

          Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

          by Dallasdoc on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 04:15:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  perhaps we are putting stress on the wrong things: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim P

            what if it isn't income inequality, but stability provided by sane and good governance that looks after equality regarding a right to reliable and safe food sources first... and then kill the idea that "cheap" is good, when fair pricing/fair trade is what we need.

            what is wealth? what do we value? i'm hoping for a coming evolution of resource sharers and stability/sustainability seekers.

            i also think we have to throw out the old paradigms; ie, income equality... the way we think of health care (which as it now stands is not health care but almost solely centered on disease maintenance)... the law and how to squeeze justice out of it... and to be able to share with and care for all of the creatures with which we share the planet.

            hello Dallasdoc my virtual and good friend.

        •  Regarding Orwell and labels (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dallasdoc
          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.
          Orwell, of course, used many labels. By no means did he think them all to be some sort of meaningless uselessness. As a writer, he chose his labels carefully, no doubt.

          Few people seem to be aware that Orwell fought against the fascists (a rather potent label Orwell used in his book, Homage to Catalonia, which narrates his experience fighting against the fascist Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War).

          So passionate was his anti-fascist, for-the-people political views that he was willing to risk his life for the cause of the working people. He fought in the POUM militia (which organized from the anti-Stalinist Trotskyist communist worker's union - another label) and he admired and sympathized with the Spanish anarchists to the point that he later thought it would have been better to have fought with them (more potent labels) and he despised the Stalinists so much that it led to writing Animal House.

          Orwell understood labels, and never thought they could be heaped into some catch-all meaningless equivalency.

          And as to Washington and factions, he was during his time the wealthiest of all Americans, having enormous tracts of land the size of small states, and he was part of the small minority of individuals who were allowed to actually vote, being a member of the class of white, male, landowners. Talk about factions! Tell me, did Washington fight for equality at the voting booth?

          No, none of these you quote were somehow aloof from having ideologies, or of representing definite political philosophies.  

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 04:39:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Still, beside the point. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau

            Today, in our nation, the DeadSpeak we use exists mainly to serve the divide-and-rule agendas of the 1%.

            Who could deny it?

            That's pretty much all that they are there for; and to signal which tribe one favors. And, for the Elites, the more tribes, the merrier. For them.

            Tribalism is the death of us all. Our political language is effectively dead.

            Read again the part of Washington's address where he describes how the spirit of Party will, and inevitably, lead to tyranny. That's what I'm talking about.


            Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

            by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 05:15:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  To address what you wrote more directly: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc

            Political philosophies we have now were developed in the 16th through 19th centuries. It started out with questions of how God wanted politics done mixed in with mercantilism and how to protect the caste system, and how castes were to be determined.

            By the 19th C. God and morality were banished from "rational" discourse, and replaced with a materialist, and amoral, Realpolitick. The castes, especially in Britain, were firmly defined and enforced.

            The main themes we use now were determined by a class of intellectuals, and financiers who either funded them or adopted them. These intellectuals had to come up with "scientific" sounding shit (you can't write morality into a formula), because that's how you furthered your career and came to hob-knob with the upper caste.

            So, you can't underestimate the influence of social-status as an underpinning all the theories most commonly known to us today. Money and intellectuals set the parameters of discussion about politics.

            That writers of 70 years ago were influenced by their milieu is no surprise. What we have now is a hang-over of that time when, to be a "Serious Person" you had to use sophisticated-sounding speech.

            So, that's the point of the diary. Our political "sophistication" is actually a truncated, and largely meaningless, pseudo-science. It serves little purpose of our own, and all the purpose of the worst people.

            I'm not proposing a new theory or creating an ideology. I'm saying reintroduce the human heart, the heart of the decent and informed adult, as the thing which weighs politicians and their deeds and claims.

            We've got liberals who want to cut the safety net while conducting wars of aggression running our politics. Identical to the conservatives. We've got democrats who hold protecting the criminal bankers is key to saving us from depression (little late on that, eh?) just like we have republicans.

            Sure, you can point to the liberal, the democrat, the republican, the conservative who doesn't, say, support Bankers über Alles. But that exception itself highlights that their terms are meaningless for all practical purposes.

            There was a reason that Washington warned the public to suppress factional feeling. And that amounts to the reality that it makes the public manipulable.

            So tell me, is the public manipulable these days in the US by the spirit of party, or not? To me, it's not a second to get the right answer.


            Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

            by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:11:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  It's not so much that they (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim P, Dallasdoc

          have other things on their mind, it's that all those other things are extremely useful for distracting the people from their insistence on jobs. Because neither party plans to do anything real about jobs in this country, the Masters of the Universe like things on the labor front just as they are. Ever cheaper indentured servants and ever bigger profits!

          ~15% real unemployment/underemployment is the "new normal," there are no plans for that ever to change.

  •  I Am a "Pragmatic" "Progressive" "Asshole" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DerAmi, Jim P

    But I forget what the actual number scores are... something like... 7.2... -4.1... 11.

    Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

    by TooFolkGR on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:43:42 AM PST

  •  Everything has to be labelled in America (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kickemout, Jim P, mrkvica

    How else are you going to sell it?

    Anyone still thinking that wanting to own a gun is normal? Wanting to own a gun is an immediate indicator that you should be the last person to have one.

    by pollbuster on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:59:11 AM PST

  •  I agree that labels aren't all that useful (7+ / 0-)

    As many here know, I call myself "conservative" and I'm also still a registered Republican.  Based solely on my self-ascribed labels of "conservative" Republican people here could infer a wide variety of things about me and very few of them would likely be true.

    For example.....

    I voted straight ticket Dem in 2012.
    I support the 2nd Amendment but with much stronger gun restrictions.
    I support low taxes but think we needed to raise taxes and Obama's compromise probably didn't go far enough.
    I favor ending the war on drugs.
    I am pretty sure I favor single payer healthcare (not 100 percent sure but having a good, fact based discussion is hard and healthcare isn't really on the agenda now).
    I favor cutting our military significantly.
    I think we need to dramatically alter our energy consumption (amount and type) due to the twin influences of peak oil and AGW.

    Based on these policy stances I can understand why many conservatives and liberals would say I'm not a "conservative" but I think that goes to show the relative meaninglessness of labels.  

    And the diariast makes a good point about labels holding us back.  Check out any comment section on, say, CNN, and the mindnumbing and petty (and often racist) discussions that ensue all tend to devolve down to "liberals suck"...."nuh, uh, conservatives suck".  It is quite depressing at times and shows the wisdom of setting up a republic instead of a democracy.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:04:04 AM PST

  •  If we don't know what conservatism is, (5+ / 0-)

    or if "conservatism," as a label, is near on to meaningless or useless,

    Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, ...

    George Orwell

    how do we struggle against conservatism?
    •  Struggle against Pure Dickishness instead. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mary Mike, Garrett

      Support Human Decency wherever you find it.

      The natural divisions of human temperament, one side cautious, accepting, and narrow, the other adventurous, questioning, and broad, will always be around. Some people come up one way, others the other.

      The Rulers trick is to turn these temperaments into identifications with Flag-Groups and get everyone trying to play King of the Hill while they work to fuck us all over. Including their supposed allies.

      Fight Whacked Out Vanity. It's essential, imo, to realize that we are not dealing with massive invisible historical forces, but the actions and sentiments of real humans.

      All political ideologies exist as a justification for their core mood and intention. Fascism, is not a real thing, as much as it is organized fucked-up pricks. Let someone come along with the "Communist" flag, and when in power what you get is organized fucked-up pricks. But the people in the middle -- wave the official labels around and they get confused, ignore the core heart of reality.

      In other words, the trick of materialistic, pseudo-sophistication is to remove morality from the forefront on considerations. To pretend to have some ultimate, objective basis.

      But the only objective basis in reality is what people value and intend, and whether it's humanly decent or not is all that matters.

      Fascism, btw, is organized dickishness.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:16:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Political tags - such as royalist, communist, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, Wee Mama, prfb

    democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.  The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”
    ― Robert A. Heinlein

    •  Heh. Not a big fan of Heinlein, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      rightwinger that we was (and only so-so a storyteller) but he did have some insight into people.

      It all comes down to personal values and intentions. Labels in politics are often just masks for disguising when things are really "off."


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:19:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remember the Golden Rule (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Jim P, mrkvica
    He who has the gold makes the rules

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:35:41 PM PST

    •  And it's really the original interpretation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky, Jim Tietz

      of the Golden Rule that's at the root of this diary.

      Funny, in a crying sort of way, how "gold-bugs" keep imagining that getting back on a gold standard will result in something other than absolute tyranny by the largest holders of gold. A group of which they themselves will not be included.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:48:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Washington's point was to identify threats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    to the national interest on the assumption that democratic government constitutes the nation.  Parties are suspect, when viewed as aggregating special interests. The civil war established national control over the threat from a quasi-criminal sectional interest. Similarly the nationalist progressives' contained plutocracy, and as TR identified it, equal opportunity is our core national interest. With extreme wealth disparity today, partisanship could bring a breakthrough on the example of FDR.  Effective national economic development can be expected to be widely disparaged, given the unlimited resources of special interests under Citizens United and media deregulation. Compromise does not seem to be a strategy for success, rather incorruptability in the face of corrupting partisanship.

    •  His whole address is worth reading. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Musial

      And I had to leave out 95% of it. He specifically cites geographical factionalism as a grave danger. And points out that for the American enterprise to work everyone has to accept the Laws arrived at through collective decisions, agree or not with them, as their guide to behavior.

      Exactly the thing the current Republican faction declares it will not do, working in every way to subvert either the letter or the spirit of the law.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:06:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sumner, Emerson, Thoreau (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P

        give you the Transcendental approach to politics. Sumner, paired with Lincoln, shows how to follow the Declaration of Independence in Washington's footsteps.

        •  Could you write a diary on that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Musial

          I don't know Sumner at all, and not a total fan of Emerson and Thoreau, though there is virtue in each.


          Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

          by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:25:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Labels are a form of shorthand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    they have their downside for sure but it would be very hard to have a political discussion without them.

    •  Yes. So let's use meaningful tools and terms, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, Jim Tietz, bsmechanic

      instead of the ones established elites have used to manipulate the public -- and completely successfully, look at the US today.

      We're in permanent deadlock as people, as the media acts to bring us to 50-50 splits on almost every issue. Or as close as they can get.

      Vitriol and contempt for our fellow citizens has replaced reason, agreement, and justifiable reservations and compromise.

      So, is the proposed thing/rhetoric/position Humanly Decent? Or Self-Absorbed Pathology? Most people can recognize the difference when looked at through that lens, but walk into a meeting of any of the "-ists" and state the opposite "ism" and everyone will just shout you down.

      The shorthand, in practice, is making us Brain Dead, slaves to semantic reactions. And thus manipulable. Only one way out, that I can see, and that's adopted a sane criteria, not traditional cant, for political discussions.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:02:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Historic context for the tools and terms (0+ / 0-)

        There is a lot of value in revisiting the social aspects of many different periods of history for their lessons.  In some of these cases the terms that are so meaninglessly flung around today were actually coined.  The trouble comes with the subsequent deliberate obfuscation so that no word or term contains any meaning.  Certainly not a clear definition that we can agree on, since we've all learned slightly different versions of the meaning for, say, "plutocracy".  (Not to mention trying to lift a word from its history context and wedge it into a new situation that's similar, but unavoidably different.)

        There is an interesting tradeoff, I think.  When you said,

        I see little ambiguity in either of the extremes.
        it occurred to me that there is also great variety at the ends.  Toward the middle, the distinctions get blurred, the stances muddied, and the entire comparison of decent/dickish becomes washed out into gray.  Highly emotional gray, of course, because everyone loves a circus!  Gray, nonetheless,  in any useful manner for deciding between good and bad.

        It devolves to a huge, built-in system for defusing the will of the people.

        Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

        by Jim Tietz on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 03:21:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nah. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim Tietz

          Chimpanzees and gorillas understand what's fair, sign it amongst themselves, and treat other members of their community accordingly.

          This is hard-wired shit. Only the worst psychopaths can't tell the difference between dickishness and decent behavior, once the results are in. Hell, even most psychopaths and sociopaths CAN tell the difference, if only from just knowing what most people would think of an event.

          And this is not trivial, just because I brushed past it:

          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.
          There you pretty much have the entire spectrum of human relation to political realities. (I should have said "either ignorant or lazy or both or neither" to cover all the permutations.)

          This is not only not-gray. It can be quickly determined with extemely high precision where a body falls with a couple of questions and a check of their typical moods.

          As to your conclusion of where my angle would lead:

          It devolves to a huge, built-in system for defusing the will of the people.

          Huh huh. And what exactly is it that we have right now?


          Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

          by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:28:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I apparently lost clarity by reaching for imagery (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim P

            My conclusion was that I agreed with you that the system as currently practiced spends a lot of time confusing terms, redefining sides, redividing loyalties just the way that you've suggested.  I tried to point out that it leads to a homogenous middle where the labels used no longer map to any specific moral direction.  Our moral compass breaks down because "both sides do it".  Faux balance from journalists suggests it doesn't matter which side you pick -- they're equally valid choices.

            What's a soul to do when the signposts to heaven and hell are obscured? (Hint: Read Jim P's diary and start to use decent/dickish instead of the false choices you're presented.)

            It just seems that the mixing of messages gets directed mainly on the inside of the Overton Window, where clear ideas are most threatening.  If you're outside the window, by definition you're loony to most everyone and will be "safely" ignored by the mainstream mechanisms of mendacity.

            Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

            by Jim Tietz on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:54:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you for clarifying. (0+ / 0-)

              And for taking the time to write cogently, as you have in all your comments.

              I probably just reacted to what I felt was a negation of what I was saying, without looking too closely. That dang ol' "semantic reaction" thing affects even people who try to stay alert to it.

              Thanks again.


              Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

              by Jim P on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:11:43 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I have thought long on Conservatism.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, Jim P

    ...since I noticed that Conservatives are not very conservative.
    They spend tons of money for little benefit to the general public. That rules out fiscal conservatism. Need a reference? See the amount of debt run up during "conservative" presidents since Reagan.
    They don't seem to care about destroying our earth, our water, our atmosphere. That rules out environmental conservatism.
    Though they claim to be religious, they always seem to be getting caught fooling around with a mistress, or taking a break in an airport bathroom, or whatever. I know there are a few Democrats who do these things too, but they are vastly outnumbered by the "conservative" culprits.
    So my theory is that they call themselves "conservative" because they want to conserve everything for themselves. All the rights. All the money. All the education. Everything.

    Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

    by Icicle68 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:57:29 PM PST

  •  Huzzah! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    Humans have some sort of compulsion to pigeonhole everything. The universe does not. Except: quantum.

  •  What about the group that labeled themselves no (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, Icicle68

    labels? When I check out their website or see them on yak shows, they read and sound very conservative to me on everything from education to trade, and very much the creatures of Wall St and the 1%. Same with 3rd Way, or Terza Via, as some Italians used to style themselves. To me both groups seem to hiding conservative and neo-liberal policy promotion behind a facade of neutral pragmatism.

    Labels are useful. To name a thing is to begin to know it.

    •  You've got that "no labels" group down for sure. (0+ / 0-)

      Labels are useful. False labels can be lethal. And most of our current labels are just used to divide-and-rule.

      That's why I'm saying keep the labels to "Human Decency" or "Whacked Out Sociopathology." In between you can say "good hearted people with low-information." Or "lost souls in confusion."

      Most people pretty much can recognize when a thing is good or really messed up if they aren't confused by emotional and identity-labels.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:24:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have never met a self identified libertarian who (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P

        didn't think allowing people the freedom to die in a ditch wasn't  a higher plane of human goodness than helping them out of the ditch and feeding them.

        Washington, bless his memory, got lots of things wrong. He thought his countrymen would eventually give up horses for the mule and its obvious utilities intelligence and strengths. He also thought America would become a country carpeted in hemp plantations and farms. Again the obvious utility from animal feed to powering the sailing ships of the world and the resource for every rope used for leading a cow to lifting granite to build his monument.

        And Jim P, he got this faction wrong. How else do we sort ourselves out? One man's good is greed to another after all.

        I think I understand your frustration though and your urge to break free of self dealing people who can make words mean whatever they want them to.

        •  Exactly, with the Libertarians. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim Tietz

          We've got Liberals in DC who are trying to cut back the safety-net, and condone bombing funeral processions and wedding parties. Same as the Conservatives.

          Washington was wrong on material projections, but he wasn't wrong on how humans act in regard to government. So, those things you mention are beside the point.

          Human decency isn't as subject to arbitrary definition, at least to most ordinary people as would be, say, "what is the proper level of greed." Too lazy to link to last weeks story about how even chimpanzees are able to demonstrate a sense of fairness. Fairness as you or I would recognize it.

          Shift off the definitions-are-necessary notion, and use the terms as they suggest their meaning to you. We can come up with hours of fun making up examples where what "human decency" is, is open to gray areas. But people know it when they see it, and they know self-serving prickishness when they see that. If they aren't befuddled by language.

          It's certainly a less manipulable framework than the DeadSpeak we've been drilled to use.


          Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

          by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 02:40:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree there are many examples of altruism in (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim P

            nature, and very few examples of intentional cruelty for cruelty's sake. Also, there are very few examples of hoarding while denying other group members some access to resource.

            But our Brains, big enough to get us into trouble but not big enough to get us out, have distanced us from the common sense behaviors other cousin critters apply. We have normalized some very disturbing behaviors.

            I thought your point about George's judgements in the area of the material as opposed to the human interesting enough to make me want crack a book on him again.    

            •  Well, that's what I'm trying to open up. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Grabber by the Heel

              Our Brains are too big. And easily bamboozled. And especially by language and labeling and mimicry.

              So go back to the Heart as the criteria. That's the last thing our oppressors want, because if you go to a heart of honest intent... the bullshit detector wakes up and runs pretty well.


              Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

              by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:33:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Decent vs dickish... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim P

            also brings the debate back to thinking about people, rather than concepts.  One of the most effective tactics for those dedicated to dividing we-they is to dehumanize "they".  Happens all the time.

            Great diary.

            Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

            by Jim Tietz on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 03:26:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Are you limiting yourself only to political (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    labeling? As part of our social identity we belong to separate tribes depending upon which sector you want to emphasize..school name, university, football club, religion, politics, income class, race, country of origin, nationality, et al,...
    Sometimes our collective self as humans get lost amidst all of these tribes we belong to...

    •  Well, I'm mainly thinking about political (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      louisprandtl

      factionalsm. But that would also overlap into religion and race, nation....

      Mind you, I'm not trying to negate the idea that there are real factions. Just, along the lines Washington noted, trying to counter it as the quasi-religion, with the attendant emotionalism, it becomes. Which makes us very malleable to the darker sort of soul.

      But things like school and sport, hey! we can have some fun. For instance, it is a scientific fact, revealed in the Bible, that the New York Yankees, and their fans, are superior to the rest of humanity. And anyone who says different is a liar and crazy, as we all know.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:17:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But that's wrong in many ways (0+ / 0-)

    "I'll never believe in human-made global warming, but..."

    How can we have an open dialogue when one side gets to pick and choose its facts?

    I understand, in a perfect world, labels would be useless. I know democrats and liberals aren't beyond reproach, but for my entire lifetime I've observed them as being the party of open-mindedness and compassion. I see well-reasoned arguments instead of confrontational bs and logical fallacies. (FFS look at the Benghazi fiasco. Did democrats do this every time a consulate was attacked? Did they do it even ONCE?)

    From the top down, Republicans are actively trying to instill a culture of idiocy and servitude. Democrats may be complacent in this, but they aren't spreading lies from the top down at every available opportunity.

    I don't have a good solution to this problem. All I know is that Republicans are getting louder and prouder in labeling themselves. Despite dwindling numbers, they run the country. If you see that the democratic party is most affected by gerrymandering, voter suppression and outright election fraud, I think you'll see that both parties aren't created equal. For better or worse I rarely see democrats pursue evil so much as have it forced upon them reluctantly.

    I'm not proud that I have to cling to my label so tightly. But goddammit, everything I've seen on this earth tells me that the democrats have the right ideas. I refuse to back down from defending my party as long as they support what is right. I will not back down, and while I encourage others to be compassionate and reasonable with their republican brethren, I will scream at the top of my lungs: DO NOT BE AFRAID TO DEFEND WHAT IS RIGHT

    •  In summation (0+ / 0-)

      Only a fool thinks a label truly defines a person. However, we live in a foolish world.

      Republicans have promoted outright insanity since the Reagan years, and we're to consider them equal to democrats because our democratic politicians disappoint us from time to time?

      See what Republican majorities have done to many states, and I think you'll see that labels are not meaningless.

      •  The labels are not meaningless because (0+ / 0-)

        they are used to manipulate people. Republicans get majorities when they can deceive enough people into thinking that their motives are humanly decent, and not sheer dickishness.

        Washington warned us to not heat the fires of factionalism precisely because it leads to the outcome you, and I, bewail.

        Corrupt power-holders, of whatever self-designation, fear the people undivided more than anything, way more than anything, else.

        Refer to the part of the diary where I describe why the DeadSpeak we use holds some weight.

        Again, the labels might be plausible, be valid, but they are not true. We have to drop labels, and semantic reactions, to get to what's true.


        Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

        by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:39:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The man told you where he stands. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      geez53

      Who assigned either of us the mission to correct him?

      'll never believe in human-made global warming, but..."

      How can we have an open dialogue when one side gets to pick and choose its facts?

      We don't need the type of open dialogue where the object is to convince the other person they are wrong after he told you what he is certain of.

      Why not spit in his eye and call him asshole at that point. Or you could listen to him. What is important is that he can fight pollution, and we can fight global warming and both of us can get what we want. Not that he is in the same mind as you. That'll never happen in the real world.

      Work with him as you can, and in the end he'll get something he didn't even know he'd want. Where's the harm?

      The Democrats do indeed have the right ideas, but somehow we end up with, whether Democrats or Republicans, a rapidly declining nation. At home, economically, in terms of rights, in terms of official corruption, in terms of suicidal interventions around the whole world. So what's the value of having the right ideas if they're not backed with humanly decent actions?

      We've democrats proposing chained-CPI, and eligibility-age increases on Social Security and Medicare. So, you're in the same club, we all have a donkey tattoo and posters on the wall, you're going to say that's all we need?

      Okay, like who you like, but don't get bamboozled just because they claim to be in the same club as you. Remember, the main aim of the Elite is to keep us as divided as possible. This has been the case since the Year Dog.

      Going to a core value system, one that is hard-wired and hard to manipulate using language, is a healthy and political wise thing. Playing into factionalism just gives the worst of us the upper hand, as Washington explains quite clearly in the quote.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:07:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've come to a similar veiw of ideology ....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    If you have one, you're wrong. Or you were wrong yesterday. Or you will be wrong tomorrow.

    Ideology, over time, just ossifies to dogma and you lose as much as you gain by following it.

    That's not to say that we shouldn't have general, guiding ideals, chief of which should be the sustainable perpetuation of the species. After that, i'm game for whatever works for all of us.

    Good bunch of words Jim P. ;}

    •  Thank you. The "ideology" "dogma" connection. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      geez53

      There's something, if I had written this better, I would have used. And of course, as you say, we have general guidelines.

      But the trick is to not be manipulated into emotionalism by our guidelines. To be able to revise them on a daily basis if that's what the objective world indicates. Factions are no advantage to a democracy nor a republic in the long run.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:12:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very correct on "emotionalism" ....unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P

        it's the predominate factor in this flash media era. I'd much rather live in an age of reason, rational thought and pragmatic problem solving, but i was born in '53 and i don't see it on my time horizon. ;}

        I've always felt that balance was key. eg: It's highly probable that you'll find me railing against corporations (it's in vogue in some circles), but i do recognize their utility and likely continued existence. The key is to re balance the obscene and thoroughly corrupting power they now enjoy. We should start by stripping all forms of person-hood from the pile of paper and ink titled letters-of-incorporation.

        •  That we've become the way we are in (0+ / 0-)

          the media era is no accident. It's the consequence of a systematic propaganda effort dating back to the Red Scare following WWI, and before that WWI itself.

          And since refined through literally billions spent by corporations, government, and psychologists.

          Very eye-opening series on the topic from the BBC, download at http://archive.org/...

           


          Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

          by Jim P on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:25:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's a simple choice in my opinion. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    geez53, Jim P

    Reason and science vs fear and ignorance. You need go no further than that.

    Why isn't it obvious to everyone?

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:33:24 PM PST

  •  It's a matter of being willing to meet people (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    where they are, in mutual respect, but at the same time not giving in to the lazy temptation to engage in moral relativism.

    Pour yourself into the future.

    by Troubadour on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:48:08 PM PST

    •  I'm old enough to have had conversations (0+ / 0-)

      with pre-Reagan, but non-Goldwater, Conservatives. We'd attack each others positions with vigor and even with mockery, and at the end of it, shake hands, give each other a big smile, and wish each the other well.

      What we have now comes from precise manipulation of the public. And George Washington's projection of what happens when the heat of factionalist feeling takes over -- the eventual triumph of tyranny -- is precise and accurate.

      FYI, just because you have an appetite for knowledge, I think you'd be interested in the BBC's Century of the Self. Which goes into the history of how propaganda has influenced society very deeply from, and deliberately, for almost 100 years now. http://archive.org/...

      Example: A tobacco exec went to Bernaise (Freud's nephew) in 1920 or so. "Dang! Everyone disapproves of women smoking, even women. What a lost market share! Help me." So Bernayse (sp?) paid a couple of hundred young ladies of class, who were marching in a Thanksgiving Day Parade, to light up together. Huge shock! Top story in newspapers across the nation. The line Bernaise prepared: They were lighting Torches of Freedom for Women.

      Sales rocketed.


      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:33:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very important diary, Jim. Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    Couldn't agree more. If the "sheep" effect could only be diminished it stops getting used.  

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