First, because discussion, debate, and decision on important subjects require agreement on the meaning of terms used. Failing that, misunderstanding, and therefore failure to reach agreement is the likely outcome. Depending on the topic, protracted disagreement can damage society or the government.
Second, because politicians, (among others), routinely use what are called “buzz words”, (see below), in their relentless effort to convince us that the opposition is taking the country straight to hell in a hand basket, and that only they can save us. The last thing these manipulators want is “an informed and educated electorate,” well equipped to see through them.
I don’t share their not-so-laudable motive…particularly as “We the people” brace ourselves for yet another avalanche of political hay-and-oats-processed-through-a-bull’s-gut, otherwise known as the 2020 election campaign. ¹
Therefore, on this page, you’ll find a growing list of definitions of terms likely to be used in self-serving ways by those who wish to gain our votes, the better to continue enjoying the power, prestige, and perks of some of the be$t jobs available in the republic.
I’ll also include philosophical ideas and other terms of more general utility.
Armed with definitions, you’ll be somewhat better able to sift through the impending avalanche of self-serving crapola to find the truth, (or a reasonable approximation thereof.)
God bless you in your efforts.
¹ Although the 2020 campaign has come and gone, this page still has general utility. Accordingly it will stay live, subject to periodic tweeking.
advocacy—public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.
ahimsa—(a-HIM-sa—harmlessness)—in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions, the principle of nonviolence toward all living things.
anarchism—political thought centered on the belief that government is both unnecessary and harmful. More on this later.
anorchous—(an-OR-kus)—lacking testicles. If used symbolically, a sometimes fitting description of certain government officers.
answer—anytime we look for an answer, the inherent assumption is that the answer isn’t already there. Thus do we deny the omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence of the Almighty.
apartheid—The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crimes of Apartheid (ICSPCA), Article 2,Part 3, defines apartheid as: “any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of the country, and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”
apartheid, crime of—ICSPCA, Article 2, Part 4, defines the crime of apartheid as “[a]ny measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves or ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups…[and] the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof.”
biodegradable—capable of ready decomposition by microorganisms.
blowback—CIA jargon for unintended consequences of covert actions, also, specifically, to reactions to operations carried out by the U. S. government that are kept secret from the American public and from most of their representatives in congress. Those on the receiving end include the people of: Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1959 to the present), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), Vietnam (1961-73), Laos (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-73), Greece (1969-73), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979 to the present), El Salvador, Guatemala, & Nicaragua (1980’s), Iraq (1991 to the present).
buzz words—create an impression or trigger an emotional reaction favorable to the politicians’ / the parties’ intentions. Politicians are specifically trained to load public statements with buzz words. Careful analysis of their speech frequently reveals they said nothing substantial, instead practicing a carefully rehearsed art form of deception—a verbal fog bank intentionally designed to cause you to believe they think like you, and / or enabling them to avoid real commitment and / or to conceal their true intentions. (Experienced reporters can smell this stuff 20 miles upwind. This well-honed ability makes them highly annoying to some politicians, who may retaliate by publicly questioning the character, integrity, intentions and truthfulness of our national press.)
capitalism—an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions; later evolving toward great concentration of wealth and the growth of huge corporations, with increased government control.
Christianity—“God against man. Man against God. Man against nature. Nature against man. Nature against God. God against nature.—very funny religion!” —Dr. D. T. Suzuki .
civil liberties—rights guaranteed to all individuals by law, custom, judicial interpretation, or other means; ability to speak or act as one likes without governmental interference except as required for public welfare. (See also liberty & political liberties.)
climate change—global warming. (See post titled “These days…” dated 02/01/2019, also greenhouse gasses below.)
conservative—the principles and practices of a conservative person or political party.
conservatism—conserving or tending to conserve; preservative; tendency to preserve traditions and/or institutions and to resist or oppose changes thereto.
constitution—the basic, essential laws and principles of a government. Also, the document or documents in which these laws and principles are written. Constitutions aren’t created by societies whose people feel that government is just. The mere existence of a constitution documents a time in the history of a people when the “felt necessity of the times” demanded effective limitation of the power of government.
cosmogony—the study of the origin of the universe.
cosmology—scientific study of the form, content, organization, and evolution of the universe. Similarly, in metaphysics, the study of the origin and structure of the universe.
cynical—(primarily)—believing that people are motivated in all their actions only by selfishness—(secondarily)—sneering, sarcastic.
deism—belief in the existence of God on purely rational grounds with no reliance on any “holy” book, revelation, or authority.
democracy—Forms of democracy include: Anticipatory, Athenian, Authoritarian, Cellular, Consensus, Cosmopolitan, Defensive, Deliberative, Direct, Economic, Electronic, Empowered, Ethnic, Grassroots, Guided, Inclusive, Industrial, Interactive, Jacksonian, Jeffersonian, Liberal / Illiberal, Liquid, Media, Multiparty, New, Non-partisan, Participatory, People’s, Pluralist, Popular, Procedural, Radical, Representative, Religious (Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Mormon), Sectarian, Semi, Semi-direct, Social, Socialist, Sociocracy, Sovereign, Soviet, Substantive, Totalitarian, & Workplace. See Wikipedia entry for further discussion.
“destiny is what happens when circumstances meet character.”—April Elliot Kent
ecocide—destruction of the environment or of ecosystems by the use, for example, of defoliants of by the emission of pollutants. (See also ecologism, environmentalism, and environmentalists.)
ecologism—(a term used by André Gorz), seeks an end “to the fetishism of commodities and consumption.” (See also ecocide, environmentalism, and environmentalists.)
elitism—the advocacy or existence of an elite as a dominating element in a system or society.
enriched—(as in “enriched flour”)—lets say you are walking home with $5000.00 cash in your wallet. A thief robs you of all of it, but gives you back $50.00. You are the flour. The thief is the food manufacturer. The $5000.00 represents the original nutritive value of the unprocessed flour. The $50.00 represents the nutritive value of the processed flour after it’s “enriched.”
environmentalism—preservation of the environment through recycling, and renewable sources of energy. (See also ecocide, ecologism, and environmentalists.)
environmentalists—people working to resolve such problems as pollution of air, water and soil, and exploding population increase. (See also ecocide, ecologism, and environmentalism.)
fascism—an uncompromising one-party dictatorship, suppression of political opposition by force, private economic activity under government control, belligerent militarism, racism, and nationalism.
fundamentalism—See my post discussing this term. A brief definition just won’t suffice.
general social survey—“…a sociological survey created and regularly collected since 1972 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. It is funded by the national science foundation. The GSS collects information and keeps a historical record of the concerns, experiences, attitudes, and practices of residents of the United States.” —Wikipedia
greenhouse gases—heat-trapping pollution, typically carbon dioxide, but also methane. (See also climate change.)
“happiness—is when what you think, what you say, and what you do, are in harmony.” —Mahatma Gandhi
hatch act—bars federal employees from using their office positions to engage in partisan political activities.
history—a fable agreed upon by the winners.
ideologue—zealous exponent or advocate of a specified ideology.
invasive species—an organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native.
liberalism—a political philosophy advocating personal freedom for the individual, democratic forms of government, gradual reform in political and social institutions. (Also, a movement in Protestantism advocating a broad interpretation of the Bible together with freedom from authoritarianism and rigid doctrine)
liberty—freedom from any form of arbitrary control; the sum of rights and exemptions enjoyed by an individual or a community of any size. (See also civil liberties & political liberties)
lies —can be told at least three ways:
First —the whole statement is false in every detail.
Second —a careful selection of facts, true only as far as it goes, has the net effect of a lie.
Third —total suppression. The truth, in every detail, is completely concealed.
myth—traditional story by author(s) unknown, sometimes with a historical basis, but oftentimes explaining natural phenomena, origins of humanity or of specific peoples, or specifics of their culture, for example customs, religious rites, or governmental/other institutions.
paradigm—the totality of how a person or a culture views reality.
paradigm shift— occurs when previously unnoticed truth is recognized. The truth is not new. It always existed, but was unrecognized because purpose and attention were focused elsewhere.
polarized society—a relative term; the state of social polarization we experience just now relates to the state of polarization we experienced in 1861 as a popping balloon relates to the explosion of a hand grenade.
political liberties—the right to participate in government by, for example, selecting the form and officials of government, and making of laws. (See also liberty and civil liberties.)
political party—a vehicle to express the political and economic aspirations of a social group or groups.
progress—which benefits only a favored few is not progress.
racket—activity conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the majority. (See also war.)
reciprocity—a one-word summary of morality = put out what you want to take back; the basic moral principle taught by seven major religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism.
republic—a state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote (the electorate) and is exercised on their behalf by representatives elected directly or indirectly by them, and who are responsible to them for their conduct in office. (Obviously, “We, the people” have been quite lax, of late, in holding government to account.)
security / insecurity—A society’s definition of security / insecurity is inseparable from its definition of threat. Definition of threat may vary by individual, by group, by community, by social class, employment status, cash on hand, point in time, geographic position—(the dam just broke…how high up the mountain do you live?)—by age, state of health, religion, and so on. So any attempt to produce a one-size-fits-all definition opens an institutional-size can of worms. From the viewpoint of a psychiatrist / psychologist, security / insecurity might be defined as a feeling one has about ones circumstances and surroundings. The feeling may or may not be accurate. (More on security / insecurity later, maybe. For now, this is the best I can do).
security forces—so frequently mentioned in news, are frequently more honestly to be called repression forces. Security for the state against its own people is not security for the country. (See sedition.)
sedition—stirring up of discontent, resistance, or rebellion against the government in power in illegal ways, (as distinguished from lawful political agitation and debate), or perhaps, the government’s arbitrary, self-preserving redefinition of certain conduct as sedition. (Few things are more dangerous to the people than a government that fears for its own survival. (See security forces)
self interest—(per Oxford online dictionary)—personal interest or advantage, especially when pursued in disregard for others.
socialism—an economic or political theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. Policy or practice based on this theory.
state—one definition, (from the writings of German sociologist Max Weber), describes the state as “a relation of men dominating men by means of a self-declared monopoly on the use of violence.” This monopoly is declared to be legitimate, and must be accepted as such by the citizens in order for the state to survive.
tariffs—a list or system of taxes placed by a government upon exports, but especially upon imports. The country which is the source of the goods does not pay the tariff. The company buying the imported goods pays it, and usually passes part or all of this increased cost on to customers in the form of higher retail prices.
war—possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious racket. It is international in scope. Profits are reckoned in money, and the losses in lives. (Based on the writings of U. S. Marine General Smedley Butler in War Is A Racket.) (See also racket above.)
worry—a prayer for what you don’t want. ( “Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.” )