Deconstructing political jargon.

Progressive.

The term progressive is thrown around a lot in discussions of politics and sociology, but it is never defined or explained. It kind of sounds beneficial and good, but does it actually mean anything?

The literal definition is simple: it means related to going forward, or advancing. But the problem is… going forward or advancing toward what? There is no specific or even general objective or context involved in the definition of the word.

That lack of objectives and context is precisely why people use it in discussions of politics and sociology. Lacking any actual objective, people can use it to rally support for whatever they want. Everyone thinks of their own ideology or objectives as progressive. Bob and Fred could have diametrically opposed objectives, but each perceives their own as progressive, and so each is exactly as entitled as the other to use the term progressive for such purposes.

In modern Western politics, the left wingers (I’ll get to that soon) like to consider themselves progressive, and throw that word around frequently. However, the only thing progressive about their ideology is that any step forward they make is a progression toward whatever the heck they want. It is not objectively progressive in any way. Consider the many examples in recent times of self-proclaimed Liberals trying to ban ideas and words of which they disapprove. That is not at all a progression towards liberalism, freedom, or anything warm and fuzzy like that; it is a progression towards fascism.

In short, in discussions of politics and sociology, progressive simply has no meaning. It’s nothing more than a rallying cry, a meaningless banner, around which like-minded people will congregate.

Left versus right.

In my estimation, the most common assignment or accusation of political and social ideology (apart from the idiotic cry of “Racist!”) is referring to people or groups as left or right. But as with so many similar terms, the actual meaning is rarely if ever given; it is merely assumed.

As for history, people generally assert that the terms referred to the side of the room on which people sat in the French Assembly. I’ve never seen any serious historical references for this, but it is very commonly assumed. But whatever the historical roots of the terms, the reality is that the meanings have changed a lot over the years to suit the purposes of whichever people and groups have been throwing the terms around.

If you doubt that the meanings of left and right wing politics have changed to suit the narratives and goals of the people using the terms, consider more recent history. Prior to World War Two, Germany saw the rise of the National Socialist Workers Party (NAZIs). There are a couple of big clues in that political party’s name. First, they were socialists. Socialism is traditionally associated with people and ideologies labelled as left wing, such as rights of blue collar workers and poor people. Second, there’s that “Workers” word in the name, which, again, kind of indicates an association with workers. Political groups which (at least nominally) associate themselves with workers traditionally seek the support of the lower and larger socio-economic classes, which politically has generally been the province of what is most often referred to as left wing politics. But now we have the completely reversed situation, wherein those steadfastly declaring themselves leftists in Western nations are referring to anyone who doesn’t agree with them as racists, NAZIs, or even Hitler. Meanwhile, the USA’s right wingers or conservatives are struggling to conserve (hence the name) the fundamental freedoms upon which their nation was established, such as free speech, against the left wingers who have been ferociously (sometimes violently) trying to silence any words and ideas of which they disapprove (an activity embraced and utilised wholeheartedly by the fascist regimes of 1930s and 1940s Europe).

That quick and easy, you can see how the meanings can be twisted within a few decades to suit whatever political narrative is being pushed by one group or another.

Given the lack of association with historical facts, and the lack of concrete association with any specific ideology (as we’ve seen, it changes and even reverses over time), it seems reasonable to see the whole left versus right appellation as nothing more than another set of Us versus Them labels.

Political inclinations and the propensity for violence.

Note the lack of Le Pen supporters rioting following their loss in the French election. Le Pen and her supporters are generally labelled right wing. Right wing… no riots. When Donald Trump and the Republicans won in the USA, those opposing them (generally labelled left wing) rioted, bashed people in the streets, and destroyed small businesses owned by their neighbours.

I suspect there is a correlation here. Those who vote for politicians and parties labelled left wing tend to be young, inexperienced, full of beans about their ideology, and rabid about the idea that their own people and society are evil. That mindset is what leads them to vote left, and also what leads them to lash out with violence against anything they perceive as unjust, unfair, or just not in their favour.

Real reporters and hacks.

The difference between reporters and hacks is this: reporters give the facts, and only the facts; hacks slant it all (through their choice of tone, mood, word choice, and even silly facial expressions) to push an agenda.

Meeting with Russians.

Heads of state, diplomats, military personnel, and intelligence agencies share intelligence with other nations daily. It’s not news.

Patterns of human behaviour: The clique implosion.

Recently an Internet community or clique (including some fairly well known Youtube video producers) had a bit of an implosion, resulting in one or more of the group leaving that community. I won’t go into the specifics of the people involved, or their various disagreements, and complaints about each other. I’ll just focus on the pattern of human behaviour to which they have fallen victim.

Any time a community forms, whether on the Internet, a tribe in a sparsely populated land, a subculture in a city, or any other community, there is at the core some common interest which brings the members together. That’s a fundamental aspect of the whole thing: common interest. Generally that means the members of the community agree with each other, at least to the extent that co-operation for mutual benefit is possible, more often than not.

However, in any community, individual interest plays a part, as per Maslow’s famous pyramid. Sooner or later, spikes of self-interest rise above the general level of co-operation and mutual benefit. These spikes of self-interest cause friction, as they are points where one suddenly appears outside the norm. Whether the individual exhibiting such self-interest has good or bad reasons for doing so is irrelevant. The fact is they cause friction. Anyone still in the mainstream or more communal level will automatically see that outlier as the outlier he or she is, of course. That unavoidably creates an Us And Them division, or an adversarial relationship; it’s inevitable. Regardless of the reasons for that spike of self-interest and differentiation, once it occurs, it causes the adversarial relationship, and any social interactions on either side motivated by self-interest result in exacerbating the variance. And when I say self-interest on either side, remember that when that adversarial relationship is established, those not in the outlier position, those in the mainstream of the community, are then acting on self-interest in their thoughts, words, and actions intended to reinforce the validity of the mainstream community. This exacerbation of the adversarial relationship can be cut off simply by recognising what is happening and forgoing the need to act on such self-interest.

So, the result of all that is: the pattern results in the ejection of the outlier, for the psychological or other safety and validation of the mainstream. That’s the pattern.

I’m not saying that, in all cases, the pattern is a bad thing and should be avoided. The reason it happens is because it served our evolution by helping to keep communities strong and secure. Not right, not good, but strong. What that means is that the individual arguments or positions of the outlier or the mainstream are not necessarily right or wrong in any way (other than the might/survival/evolution aspect) simply because one is the outlier or the mainstream.

It’s for the greater good.

Any time anyone tries to take away anyone’s right to think or say anything, claiming that it’s “for the greater good”, it’s not for the greater good.  It’s just another attempt to initiate another form of tyranny.  When politically correct people try to outlaw various ideas or words, that’s what’s happening.

GDP as an indication of economic health.

GDP is not, and never has been, a reliable or useful indication of a nation’s (or its citizens’) economic health.  Consider the massive growth of Nigeria’s GDP after oil drilling started there.  GDP went through the roof.  But most people were still dirt poor.  In Australia, you might say our GDP is growing, and based largely on services and retail.  Now add a dollar to the cost of every product and service.  That forces a growth in GDP.  But it doesn’t indicate a healthier economy at all; it only inflates the GDP based on spending.  But given the increasing household and personal debt (due to that spending), that increase in spending does not indicate an increased ability to afford things; it only indicates more debt.  And as we saw with the Great Depression and the GFC, increasing debt is not good.  The only truly valuable and worthwhile economic indicator is the median capacity for savings (i.e. the difference between median income and median cost of living).  A nation and its people prosper and grow when they aren’t absolutely enslaved by debt and necessity, when they earn enough to progress and improve their lives.  Savings capacity is the means by which that growth happens.  Then people are free to spend more, if they wish, which means more economic activity.  And yes, lower taxation results in greater savings and therefore economic activity, but our politicians have traditionally been too stupid to realise it.

Economic growth and regulation.

An inverse relationship exists between economic growth and government regulation. As nations grow from infancy, government regulation is minimal, and both creativity and jobs growth are maximal. As a nation reaches its peak, government regulation takes over from growth, and begins to choke development. As development wanes, regulation becomes the main source of revenue, and the nation declines.

Those who wish to restrict civil liberties.

Anyone who advocates restrictions upon fundamental civil liberties of the entire population, such as free speech, for the sake of protecting some portion of the population from having their feelings hurt, lacks the intellectual competence to comprehend the importance of the civil liberties they wish to eradicate.