Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Democratic Socialist are not Communist.

The Disparity and Deception of Labels and Party.

We often fail to see the many varied meanings and definitions of words. Especially words used in a religious or political context. This is why we sometimes promote bills, people and policies that we would never support if we looked beyond their titles and slogans to the minutia of their real intent.
We make the same mistake with people in politics by misinterpreting various labels attached to them:
liberal, conservative, progressive, socialist, social democrat, democratic socialist, communist… 
Can any of us give an informative and distinct definition of all these labels? I doubt it. In researching the difference between communism, socialism and social democrat I encountered 11 forms of socialism with an additional 23 sub-forms of those 11. Further complicating the labeling process is that most people who identify with the above labels and the additional labels of Democrat or Republican would be hard-pressed to define these labels to the satisfaction of everyone else who identifies with them.

It is the misuse of these labels that leads to applying the word socialism to any ideals that we find offensive. That, in turn, leads to the application of the word (as it suits us) to ideas that are not so offensive.
Case in point, the idea that welfare is socialism is an attack on welfare and any ideas that could be semantically traced back to socialism such as social security, tithing, charity, caring for the poor, public schools, etc. Consequently, this leads to defenders of welfare applying the same logic and semantics to point out the absurdity of linking everything to socialism. In truth, these ideals are all concepts that originated before the word socialism was ever spoken. But that is where we are. Labels like socialist, liberal, conservative are used to discredit a person or position in place of a convincing argument on the merits of a person or position.
With political labels comes a collection of people who are not monolithic in thought, in spite of their mutual acceptance of core principles differences will surface as they encounter specific solutions to the primary principle. While core principles may be agreed upon there are always layers of more nuanced thought. In other words with every specific issue there are varied position as to degree, commitment, solutions, etc.*

For decades, in every presidential election, Republicans have used the words 'leftist', liberal, socialist to describe every Democratic nominee. These words were 'dog whistles' for fears of communism and socialism. But socialism is not the same as communism and as mentioned above how do we accurately apply the label 'socialist'. We shouldn't because in the realm of politics even self-described labels are inaccurate and almost always used as a broad brush to misrepresent or denigrate.
What we should do is look at the party platform which is modified and restated every 4 years. We should also be familiar with their history. For individual candidates, we should look at their voting-record as well as their stated positions.

Labels and parties are meant to mislead us by accepting the whole without looking at the parts. Consider what they say about each other as less important than what they say on your issues, bolstered by their record. Decide based on what issues are important to you not by your impression of a party.

*All conservative republicans may think they agree on school prayer. That could almost be stated as a foregone conclusion except for one thing… Many religious people are actually in favor of the separation of church and state. If and when you get past 'we want school prayer' declaration there comes a more nuanced question, whose school prayer? Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Hebrew, etc. Once you go with the majority and decide on Christianity then you have to deal with which denomination,  Catholic or Protestant, and even after choosing between those two both include hundreds of denominations and sects to decide upon. In the end, the eventual solution will probably return us to where we started, which is not where there is no prayer allowed in school because prayer is allowed in school right now. The supreme court never outlawed school prayer. What they did do was the most reasonable and acceptable standard for school prayer possible: School prayer is allowable along as it is personal, not led by a school official, optional, and does not disrupt the objectives of the school, learning.

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