Democracy——a subjective term that has conjured many different visions of life….democracy is a funny thing……an opinion piece that is well written………….
Personally, I want to believe that it is dying……and logically, it should…….an interesting piece…..
The GOP is trying to be a milder, kinder face on the party these days….well at least the supposed leaders, that is…….mellowing their message and trying to appear more “populist” than they really…..they are jumping on the minority voter bandwagon, the immigration and the women’s bandwagon…..but after listening to them for a week or so…I ask just what part of their plans sound “populist”?
Do you even know what a populist is?
Populism–any of various, often antiestablishment or anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies.
Digest that for a minute.
One of the most famous populists of all time was Huey Long, governor of Louisiana and here is what he ran on…………
Number one, we propose that every family in America should at least own a homestead equal in value to not less than one third the average family wealth. The average family wealth of America, at normal values, is approximately $16,000. So our first proposition means that every family will have a home and the comforts of a home up to a value of not less than around $5,000 or a little more than that.
Number two, we propose that no family shall own more than three hundred times the average family wealth, which means that no family shall possess more than a wealth of approximately $5 million—none to own less than $5,000, none to own more than $5 million. We think that’s too much to allow them to own, but at least it’s extremely conservative.
Number three, we propose that every family shall have an income equal to at least one third of the average family income in America. If all were allowed to work, there’d be an income of from $5,000 to $10,000 per family. We propose that one third would be the minimum. We propose that no family will have an earning of less than around $2,000 to $2,500 and that none will have more than three hundred times the average less the ordinary income taxes, which means that a million dollars would be the limit on the highest income.
Does any of that sound like populism of today? Personally, I do not like the word populist because it has been misused for too long. Likewise the use of progressive to describe a liberal……it may be PC today but they are two different political animals….
In the truest sense of the term, the GOP can never be a populist movement, not with the issues it champions today.
I know we all hold our ‘democracy’ up as something to be strive for in the future by many countries….but can it be a dangerous move? Or is it the only answer for the government of a country?
A couple of countries that are trying the democracy thing come to mind……Pakistan and Indonesia……..
Indonesia and Pakistan are plagued by sectarian violence despite their embrace of democratic ideals—but why? According to Pankaj Mishra, writing at Bloomberg, their democracy is actually the problem. While officials secretly wield power through extremist groups and conservative Islamists flame religious tensions, elected officials are only making things worse: “In the absence of substantive democracy,” writes Mishra, leaders “cynically deploy radical groups to practice power politics.” In Pakistan, for example, mainstream leaders allegedly pay off a Shiite-killing terrorist group because it gathers votes for elections due this year. In Indonesia, lighter political restrictions have allowed militias and terrorist organizations to be officially recognized. Governments, meanwhile, are too fragmented to face extremists or grapple with poverty. And progressive parties have been unable to overcome decades of crushing blows from the ruling elite. “One day, this dyad of dupes and extremists may well be regarded as a byproduct of a particularly unstable and grim phase in the evolution of democracy,” writes Mishra. “But that day will come only if democracy amounts to something more than … a way of further empowering the rich and the powerful.” Click for Mishra’s full column.
And that is why democracy can be a dangerous thing…..corruption and empowering the rich to do as they choose with no regard for the country and its people……but is what they have really democracy?
College of Political Knowledge
Subject: Political Philosophy/Political Theory/Ideology
Back at the end of the Ice Age, when I was in college I studied political philosophy and ideology….they were not the same course…it was separate studies….that has vanished in today’s political world. There is NO longer political thought or philosophy only a political ideology…..again, in my day….not the same thing.
Political philosophy was such writers and thinkers like Burke, Machiavelli, Mill, Paine, Ricardo, Aquinas, et al…….today ideology is dictated by such organizations as Heritage, Family (whatever), Demos, strategists and campaign managers…..there is NO deep thinking anymore….just shallow nondescript issues….petty thoughts for petty minds…….
Political philosophers looked at the state, the nation, rights and duties and obligations of those that chose to participate……..Great works like Leviathan, Common Sense, The Social Contract and Natural Rights Of Man….great thinkers from the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries…….ideas that shaped all of mankind….and then the pea brains started speaking, from the 20th and into the 21st century….no real political thought just a montage of slogans, one liners and sound bites…that is the “great” thinking of today.
After the French Revolution, Antoine Destutt de Tracy created a branch of study concerned with ideas……and it became ideology….he wanted to establish ideals of thought and action based on an empirically verifiable basis where both criticism of ideas and a science of ideas could see the light of day.
A helluva idea! Taking the formation of ideas, mostly political, and turning it into a science. And for about a hundred years it was so……the formation of ideas that could be verified and debated….but then something went horribly wrong.
The 1912 presidential election still had some political philosophy or an ideology….but it was on the wane……but not before some strong, valid points were made by TR and his Bull Moose Party……..to include…………..True to Roosevelt’s progressive beliefs, the platform of the party called for major reforms including women’s suffrage, social welfare assistance for women and children, farm relief, revisions in banking, health insurance in industries, and worker’s compensation. The party also wanted an easier method to amend the constitution.
By the last of the 20th century……ideology was being re-defined as slogans, insults and one liners…..it became more about elected a certain strain of individual and not about ideas to make the country a better place…….the big thinkers of this period were Newt, the Speaker of the House and here is his big political thought……
………In 1995, Gingrich, then speaker of the House, wrote a memo for GOPAC, which trains Republican candidates, citing language as “a key mechanism of control used by a majority party.” In his inimitable, insufferable fashion, he went on to say that his videotaped GOPAC courses had elicited a “plaintive plea: ‘I wish I could speak like Newt.’
“That takes years of practice. But we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases,”..
He went on to give those Republicans who wanted to “speak like Newt” a list of “contrasting words” that he urged them to use in their campaigns: “These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.”
The list included several words and phrases that are by now routinely batted about in the course of public commentary about the opposing party, usually by Republicans against Democrats..: “betray,” “bizarre,” “cheat,” “corrupt,” “destroy,” “endanger,” “greed,” “hypocrisy,” “ideological,” “incompetent,” “liberal,” “lie,” “machine,” “mandate,” “pathetic,” “radical,” “sick,” “taxes,” “traitors,” “unionized,” “waste” and “welfare.” There were many more listed.
Newt’s influence is still being felt and used…..and America is NO better off!
And the Dems were no better………Bill Clinton and his cronies at the Democratic Leadership Council were the “big” thinkers on the Left…..they were the ones that made globalization, outsourcing and financial manipulations possible……with all their free trade agreements that did little for the middle class to their repeal of Glass-Steagall which made the 2008 collapse possible…….theirs was not about the country either….it was about the creation of wealth not the governing of the country and its people……
The DLC has not going away….it’s influence is still a hard part of any Democratic platform…..and America and its people, the majority, are NO better off!
Political thought was dying slowly but by 1995 the pace quickened and as it is today….true political thought is dead! Now all we have is regurgitation of insulst, slogans and one liners….true thought of how to make the country a better place is over….for the last 20 years the whole process of electing a president is pathetic and a joke.
America will return when real political thinkers gain the upper hand but until then we will be governed by amateurs and posers!
College of Political Knowledge
The closer we get to the general election, the more savage the insults toward people on the opposite end of the political spectrum….that is both sides…there are NO innocents when it comes to verbally assaulting another person for the political beliefs….me? I just try to help.
Before too many get excited that I may have strayed away from my more Leftist positions….sorry….No can do! I hope that people will take this post for what I intend, an explanation of a term that is in use liberally (no pun intended) in the media and among pundits.
In these days of anonymous insults via Twitter, Forums, etc, much has been said about the parenthood of liberals, and the mental capacity of said people and best of all the socialist thing….but I will talk about just what a liberal is……not from a media based definition but rather from a political philosophical position. And yes there is a difference.
The media looks for ways to explain complex theories in 30 second sound bytes. So what you know about conservs and liberals may be a bit off the point. I would like to remind readers that I am speaking from a political philosophic point. I am NOT condemning any philosophical point of view….only trying to help people understand the more complexities to political philosophies……
To all my conserv readers and friends….do you believe in the following?
Privatization of public enterprises
Deregulation of the economy
Massive tax cuts
“Monetarists” solutions to keep inflation in check even with the chance of increasing unemployment
Strict control of organized labor
Reduction in public expenditures especially social spending
Down sizing government
Expansion of international markets
Remove controls on the flow of global financial markets
Answer these questions realistic, please. If you agree with most or all of these proposals then you are a LIBERAL….granted it is neo-liberalism…..but a liberal none the less.
Bill Clinton is a neo-liberal….I wish pundits would STOP calling his a liberal!…….look back at his presidency and his membership in the DLC he fought for damn near everything on that list and succeeded on numerous occasions and thanx to that success we have the economic crap we are suffering with today.
My point in this post is to show that in the strictest philosophical sense, that in this world of political correctness, you may be mistaken when you are trying to pigeon hole others. The list is pretty much the whole agenda of today’s conservs, at least that is what we call them…..when in actuality they are a neo-liberal and not a conserv in the classic sense.
I want people to think….not tell them what to think…..
College of Political Knowledge
First of all, I am not here to condemn anyone from being a conservative….I just want to point out a few things that may not be known……in this world of political correctness we tend to be damn right ignorant when it comes to true philosophy……take conservatism for one….
But what is conservatism…….in politics, the desire to maintain, or conserve, the existing order. Conservatives value the wisdom of the past and are generally opposed to widespread reform. Modern political conservatism emerged in the 19th cent. in reaction to the political and social changes associated with the eras of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. By 1850 the term conservatism, probably first used by Chateaubriand, generally meant the politics of the right.
The original tenets of European conservatism had already been formulated by Edmund Burke , Joseph de Maistre , and others. They emphasized preserving the power of king and aristocracy, maintaining the influence of landholders against the rising industrial bourgeoisie, limiting suffrage, and continuing ties between church and state . The conservative view that social welfare was the responsibility of the privileged inspired passage of much humanitarian legislation, in which English conservatives usually led the way. In the late 19th cent. great conservative statesmen, notably Benjamin Disraeli , exemplified the conservative tendency to resort to moderate reform in order to preserve the foundations of the established order. By the 20th cent. conservatism was being redirected by erstwhile liberal manufacturing and professional groups who had achieved many of their political aims and had become more concerned with preserving them from attack by groups not so favored. Conservatism lost its predominantly agrarian and semifeudal bias, and accepted democratic suffrage, advocated economic laissez-faire , and opposed extension of the welfare state. This form of conservatism, which is best seen in highly industrialized nations, was exemplified by President Reagan in the United States and Prime Minister Thatcher
in Great Britain. It has been flexible and receptive to moderate change, favors the maintenance of order on social issues, and actively supports deregulation and privatization in the economic sphere. Conservatism should be distinguished both from a reactionary desire for the past and the radical right-wing ideology of fascism and National Socialism. (Thanx to the Free Dictionary for the definition)…….
In today’s political world, at least in the good ole US of A, when one calls themselves a conservative they are not completely accurate….they are more something else than a classical conservative….in the US of today we have several types of conservatives………
hard-hat A working-class conservative, so called from the protective metal or plastic helmet worn by construction workers.
A “Hard Hat” is a construction worker, but his helmet symbolizes all those beefy blue-collar workers who have suddenly become the knuckleduster on the strong right arm of President Nixon’s silent majority.
redneck An ultraconservative. This disparaging term usually refers to the poor white farmers of the Southern backwoods who are notorious for their purported intolerance of liberals, intellectuals, Blacks, and hippies. Redneck, originating as an allusion to a farmer’s perennially sunburned neck, is now an epithet for any person who shares similar prejudices.
right-wing Reactionary, conservative; averse to change, die-hard. The term reputedly arose from the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, in which conservatives sat on the right side, or wing, of the chamber. As used today, right-wing, like left-wing, has pejorative connotations of extremism—in this case, of bigotry, prejudice, moneyed interests, anti-humanitarianism, etc. Both terms are used primarily to denigrate and stigmatize one’s opponents; a political conservative would not call himself a right-winger, just as a liberal would not call himself a left-winger; yet each might well label the other with the appropriate epithet.
But what is a classical conservative?
mixed view of human nature
self-interest eventually harmful
society is organic whole
equality is not important
society is hierarchy of layers
elites have right to rule but responsibilities for welfare of others: “noblesse oblige”
stability of society paramount
law & order
customs & traditions are important
responsibilities & civil liberties of citizens, plus privileges for elites
mixed views on economy
Some of the traits of the classical branch are common in today’s political world but it all comes down to interruption…….and the mouthpiece spouting the perceived “truth”….in today’s world those calling themselves conservatives are more like neo-conservs……meaning?
limited government involvement in the economy
very limited range of social welfare programs
increased government protection of morality
emphasis on populism
maintain traditional social values
distrust of trade unionism
Once again let me emphasize that I am NOT condemning or demeaning conservative thought…..My only thing is trying to point out the differences in the beliefs and that NO one ideology is worse or better than another….only that there are different ways of approaching a political problem and that common ground should be found if there is to ever be a continuing of the political success of the country.
(For further explanation please check out next week’s post on neo-liberalism)
Do you recognize the above? Contrary to popular belief it is NOT a flag. Not the same as the irritating Gadsen flag. But rather a political cartoon published by Ben Franklin asking colonist to unite behind the idea of independence…the colonies needed to join together or die as a dream of an independent country….where freedom and equality would rule.
This cartoon shows a snake cut into eight pieces, each labeled with the name of one of the colonies. The position of each colony in the snake corresponds to the geographic position of the colonies along the American coast, with the snake’s tail pointing south and the head pointing north. The colonies, from tail to head (south to north), are: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England (New England referred to the colonies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire). The caption reads, “JOIN, or DIE.”
The cartoon appeared along with Franklin’s editorial about the “disunited state” of the colonies, and helped make his point about the importance of colonial unity.
If you already knew this I apologize but I felt I needed to give a bit of the back story for this post……
It is election time and what an election it will be……both sides of the joke we call the political system will be going negative….that is they will be highlighting the negative aspects of the others candidates….yes….I know this is nothing new….but it has began to get worse and worse to the point that absolutely nothing is getting done beyond re-naming a couple Post Offices………
As a political analyst I feel that this situation is getting more pathetic by the day, week and year….we, Americans, are no longer looking for a leader but someone who is NOT the current leader…..and look what that has gotten us in the last 20 years……
Back to the Franklin cartoon…..it is as important today as it was back in the 1700′s…..we do not have a unified country…..we do not have a country that is about the DofI anymore…..we are about a system, a 3 tier system, that is for sale to the highest bidder….all this influence from organizations other than the people is going down a road that will bring about the end of the system that our founder’s were willing to die for…….
Has anyone today asked….what is best for the country? Oh sure…this candidate is better than that one….but NO one says why…other than some God ignorant crap about a political ideology…….it is a rel shame that our Founding fathers cannot see what a pathetic joke our system, that they designed, has become….
Please before someone reads every other word and starts lambasting me with political do-do….I am not choosing one ideology over another….bother these clowns are as responsible as the other…..and as soon as all Americans realize this can we get back to being the nation our founders foresaw……
But until then we will have a nation run by people that are out of touch with average citizens…..that are paid spokepeople for a wealth of special interests…………
On a side note: Dems blame Repubs, Liberals blame Conservs, candidates blame the president……….. civil discourse is dead in this country and that is the biggest contributor to the demise of the system……and since it is the strongest in the Congress….we need to vote for “NONE OF THE ABOVE”……I have absolutely NO confidence in the leaders of our government…..and the sooner we can replace ALL of them the better….but someone from another party is going to do NOTHING to fix our problems…..Washington is the problems and NOT the solution…….politics in America is ‘poli’ meaning many and ‘tics’ meaning blood sucking insects……that is the BEST I can say about our politicians!
The words of the cartoon is as true today as they were in the 1700′s……we Americans need to join together for a better country or we will DIE!
College of Political knowledge
Since the SCOTUS judgment on the “Citizen United” case there has been a massive argument or exchange or debate on the values or not of letting special interests buy the government (in case there is any doubt….I think the ruling was the most detrimental ruling in a century)……..I have given my readers lots to think about…at least I hope they are thinking and acting……over the years many political philosophers have seen the harm that could be done by special interest cash flowing to politicians……
In case there is any doubt…..I have been a radical from most of my adult life and have studied the radical theories and writings throughout history….I happen to remember something written by an English radical, James Mill not to be confused with John Stuart Mill (that is a post for another day)……however James was his father.
The Utilitarian and Philosophic Radical James Mill (1773-1836) wrote a series of articles for the Supplement to the 1825 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In the article on “Government” he warns of the dangers of the selfish and “sinister interests” all those who wield power, unless checked by an informed people:
We have seen already, that if one man has power over others placed in his hands, he will make use of it for an evil purpose; for the purpose of rendering those other men the abject instruments of his will. If we, then, suppose, that one man has the power of choosing the Representatives of the people, it follows, that he will choose men, who will use their power as Representatives for the promotion of this his sinister interest.
We have likewise seen, that when a few men have power given them over others, they will make use of it exactly for the same ends, and to the same extent, as the one man. It equally follows, that, if a small number of men have the choice of the Representatives, such Representatives will be chosen as will promote the interests of that small number, by reducing, if possible, the rest of the community to be the abject and helpless slaves of their will.
In all these cases, it is obvious and indisputable, that all the benefits of the Representative system are lost. The Representative system is, in that case, only an operose and clumsy machinery for doing that which might as well be done without it; reducing the community to subjection, under the One, or the Few.
When we say the Few, it is seen that, in this case, it is of no importance whether we mean a few hundreds, or a few thousands, or even many thousands. The operation of the sinister interest is the same; and the fate is the same, of all that part of the community over whom the power is exercised. A numerous Aristocracy has never been found to be less oppressive than an Aristocracy confined to a few.
The general conclusion, therefore, which is evidently established is this; that the benefits of the Representative system are lost, in all cases in which the interests of the choosing body are not the same with those of the community.
Since the beginning (well almost) men with far reaching thinking have seen the damage that money and special interests can do when it drives the political agenda…..and what that agenda can do to the health of democracy….WHY CAN’T WE?