Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Definition a Day Keeps the Muddle Away

 So have a few.

As Republicans like to brand the centrist politics of Clinton and Obama as socialism, the Bush years brought a demonization of the word "liberal", and the word "liberal" doesn't even mean what it does in other countries, political terminology in the US often gets confused.

So, here, let me begin a growing list of political definitions.

Common Sense: Used to imply that a recommended policy proposal is the only possible one which rational beings could reach through discussion, with all other proposals being no more than the ramblings of fringe lunatics.  "Common sense" proposals when common are often not sensible, and when sensible probably are not common.

Corporate Liberalism: A historical thesis coming out of the New Left in an attempt to explain the failure of socialism in the US.  Describes a reform ideology in which reformist liberals work together with big business to ensure market provision of public goods, guaranteeing a market share to a small group of businesses and undermining socialist alternatives. See Affordable Care Act.  See also the history of US broadcasting.

Elite Centrism: the combination of slightly socially liberal and economically conservative views whose adherents like to view themselves as superior to partisan “bickering” and whose political ideal is manifest in the belief that all of the nation’s problems could be solved if only we could just get a group of Ivy League graduates (preferably with private sector experience!) to sit in a room and figure out how to slash the welfare state together.    Anything slightly left or slightly right of their view is “ideological” or, if too far away, “radical.”  To the elite centrist, politics is not about morality or ideology; it is simply the sound management and assertion of power by educated aristocrats.  At its most annoying, see Thomas Friedman.  At its least annoying, see The Economist.  For historical reference, see Max Weber.

Republican Party: an authoritarian anti-communist "populist" alliance of petty bourgeois shopkeepers, corporate titans, and certain segments of the working-class prone to irrationalism and anti-intellectualism unified by a cult of heroic violence and a myth of a past national greatness under attack by an effete and degenerate liberalism and the encroachment of outsiders. 

Tea Party: “the revolt of a malignant petty bourgeois rabble” (to use the words of Thomas Mann)

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