Our Lexicon: Left-Statists and Right-Statists

I'm attempting to discontinue my use of the following labels . . .

  • Liberal
  • Progressive
  • Conservative
  • Socialist
  • Fascist

In their place I plan to consistently use the terms Left-Statist and Right-Statist. You may want to consider doing the same thing. Here's why . . .

I believe the terms liberal and conservative are mostly meaningless.

In the past we could (somewhat) reliably depend upon . . .

  • Liberals/progressives to protect civil liberties.
  • Conservatives to protect economic liberties.

This is no longer true. Here are two crucial examples of the problem . . .

  • The supposedly liberal/progressive Barack Obama, when he was still a Senator, voted to legalize warrant-less wiretapping. No true liberal would ever have done this.
  • The supposedly conservative George W. Bush created the prescription drug benefit, the largest new entitlement program since Lyndon Johnson created Medicaid and Medicare. No true conservative would ever have done this.

Sadly, these are hardly isolated examples. Instead . . .

Most politicians constantly claim to be one thing (liberal or conservative), but act in an opposite way. Even worse, the members of their parties make excuses for them . . .

I will never forget the supposedly liberal Keith Olbermann of MSNBC making excuses for Obama's vote. Many supposed conservatives likewise defended President Bush and the wild-spending Republican Congress of that era. So . . .

Do hypocrites deserve to choose their own titles? More importantly, do I have to honor their choices? I think not.

In practice, labels like Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, are no more meaningful than "shirts" and "skins" in a game of pick-up basketball. The labels tell you who is pitted against whom, but little more.

I suggest that you will benefit if you stop playing this rigged game. Instead, you should do the defining, using accurate descriptive labels.

Here's the bottom line . . .

Most political labels are about tribal loyalties, and psychological dispositions, NOT bedrock coherent principles. These tribal loyalties and psychological dispositions can be designated by the traditional terms "left" and "right." These simple if meaningless direction pointers are more than enough to show us that there are two feuding factions, just like in a pick-up game between shirts and skins. But, in addition to this we can add . . .

The word Statism to acknowledge what the left and the right have in common -- their love of monopoly coercion as embodied in The State. That's why we should call them . . .

  • Left-Statists
  • Right-Statists

If you decide to do this you will end up with two powerful descriptive terms where before you had 5 abstract and vague labels. Speak more descriptively and you will become more powerful.

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Copyright (c) 2010 by Perry Willis. Permission to distribute this blog post for educational purposes is granted, if done with attribution to the author and the Downsize DC Foundation. Permission to use for commercial purposes is denied.