A reply to Owen @ https://r2030.org/2021/03/29/what-is-your-ism-ask-the-dictionary/
Today Jill on Filosofa’s Word directed her readers to the above post. It was a wonderful post, about dictionary meanings of various political isms, so that when people were discussing their beliefs about those isms, they might know what they are talking about in proper terms. Then Owen added some personal comments, discussing his understandings of the isms he took a look at, and stating his feelings towards the same. I thought it a very timely discussion. However, I am not one to praise something just because it is wonderful and timely, which this post was. I have to still be true to myself, and look at its shortcomings while singing it’s virtues. It is for that purpose I left the following comment, slightly altered for clarity:
Your cultural biases show through in your personal notes. I am not going to say you are wrong or right, though you are left of right and right of left (pun) in your personal ideology, if I may say so without rancour.
Liberalism promotes capitalism, but you do not mention this. Capitalism demands wealth inequities, which is not conducive to either peace or the greater good. You may prefer allows over demands, but that is a euphemism. Liberalism puts no controls over capitalists, and capitalism supports wealth for the few, and poverty for the many. I think this needs to be made clear.
Socialism does not in any way stifle innovation. That is a lie perpetuated by capitalists. Even in a socialist society there will be ideas to make improvements on established infrastructures, goods, products, etc. People to the right of socialism have this idea that no one in a socialist society will create innovation. That is what is stifling, the idea only capitalists can innovate. Anyone can do it. People are people no matter what the ism, and people like to improve what is improveable.
Communism as it is practised in the big three, Russia, China, and Cuba, do have totalitarian governments. This is not disputed. Nor have I ever read the Communist Manifesto, it does not interest me. But I cannot imagine anywhere that Communism demands a rulling party or ruling class. The idea behind communism is state ownership of production and distribution, but unfortunately it does not look at how the state itself is developed. Communist states are usually created as we know them by violent revolutions. This allowed the leaders of those revolutions to become totalitarian. But, were communism to be gently applied as an economic system that brought true equality to all people, there would be no reason to destroy democracy. Given the idea that state ownership is better than capitalism, more equitable in every human endeavour, there is no need for totalitarianism. There are more ways than one to gently guide a communist state. They have just never been tried.
Conservatism, or, in America, Republicanism, does not like change. Basically it is a servant of Capitalism, for, like my take on Liberalism, it demands that capitalism be the only way to run the economy, to the total wealth of the capitalists, and the total poverty of the workers, with a bit of room for a middle class that wants to become upper class. Bill Gates is an example of a middle class success story. But in reality, those examples are relatively few. Still, Conservatives want to maintain the status quo, which totally defies understanding by me of how the poor are willing to be dominated by them. But that domination exists, and it is perpetuated by the story that anyone can work their way into wealth–while reality shows they cannot. Most conservatives are quintessential liars!
Fascism, in my mind, should not even be included in a discussion of political systems, as it really has no connection to choice. (Neither does communism as we know it, but communism can be supported by democracy despite all evidence–fascism cannot be supported by democracy despite the fact Mussolini and Hitler both rose to power through democratic processes. Both leaders (sic) ran on platforms of extreme nationalism and extreme racism that spoke to their populations’ hopes and desires. Donald Trump recently tried to copy their successes (sicker) but fortunately just over half of Americans were unwilling to be misled.
Beyond that, I must take some umbrage at your statement: “[Fascism] is cause for abject terror for the liberals and progressives, who see this as nothing short of the total demolition of a lifetime of outreach and innovation.” By not assigning this “abject terror” directly to isms like socialism or communism is to imply those isms are willing to go along with it, to not fight against it. I think this is patently wrong, because most politically aware people in this world of 2021 are against fascism, no matter their actual ideology. I purposely did not mention conservatives/republicans, because as they are being practised in many countries today, conservatism is already halfway or more to fascism, and given the opportunity, they will become fascist. Just look at all the bills before state legislatures in America right now that want to restrict or constrict the rights of voters and their ability to cast their ballots. These are definite attempts to kill true democracy. As I understand it, the British Conservatives too are moving in similar directions. If these parties, Republicans and Conservatives, are not stopped immediately, the fate of the human race will lie in anti-human hands.
Another problem I have with your post is your trust in dictionaries. Yes, I said your trust in dictionaries. You stated you believe them to be neutral, and for the most part they are. But look at your definition 4 under communism: communalism.
How that definition was allowed to stand is beyond me, but there it is in black and white. But communalism has nothing to do with communism as a political ideology. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as 1. social organization on a communal basis. The Oxford dictionary defines it as 1. a principle of political organization based on federated communes. Your source, Dictionary.com, gives two definitions of concern here:
1. a theory or system of government according to which each commune is virtually an independent state and the nation is merely a federation of such states.
2. the principles or practices of communal ownership.
None of the above definitions come close to communism, and yet your source throws it in unquestioned as a lesser meaning of communism. This cannot be tolerated.
To be fair, all three dictionaries have another definition of communalism, but they are not pertinent to this discussion, therefore I ignored them. As it is, I only use this example to show even dictionaries make mistakes.
But, more importantly, while dictionaries are, to my knowledge, internationally accepted, we have to look at who is producing these dictionaries. They are being written by white Christian males living in democratic nations supporting capitalist economies, using the English language as the overarching method of communication. I am unaware of any dictionary completely and originally written, vetted, and published in any other language without being translated from English. I am not saying they do not exist, I only speak English, English is all I know. But any reference I have ever seen to a dictionary is never to one originally used to define words completely in the language of its creater if that language is not English. This implies bias, unintended I am sure, pretty much unrecognized, but nonetheless, undeniably biased to the underpinnings of English-speaking democratic infrastructures. Dictionaries may seem neutral, but they are not. And they are capable of giving biased definitions. They are only mostly harmless!
Owen, let me say, despite my many objections and hopefully constructive criticisms, I do thank you for this post. I think it was an incredibly good idea, a very much needed idea, but not a perfectly executed idea, for just like the dictionary definitions you used, they have biases written directly into them, and then we have your cultural biases added on top of that. I am not saying what I tried to add is not unbiased by my own biases. You asked where your readers stand on your political spectrum? I am not on it. For starters, I do not believe in government. I consider it to be one of the four worst-ever inventions of humanity, starting right from the earliest form of government existing–in the nuclear family–and reaching on up to the world government we are eventually progressing towards. Second, I believe people telling people what to do and how to live is just inherently wrong. (For your own edification, the other three worst inventions of humanity as argued by me are symbolised in the words god, gold, and guns.) So, those are the things that bias me. This world would be a much better place to be, had those things, and the things they represent, never been invented. But they were. In my mind, our task now as human beings is to evolve beyond them. Only then will we be able to live in true peace and true equality. That world is my dream.