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Definitions

October 19, 2011

And that is a very good video, the thing is though, its really all about definitions. And I really don’t think his basic definitions are that good or accurate.

Liberal and Conservative are really only useful when they are used in the context of a given government/religious/whatever system. For example, I sometimes like to confuse folks by claiming to be a “classic liberal” and then espousing vehemently what are now “conservative” issues. (remember back in 1776 it was “conservative” to hold to a totalitarian monarchy and “liberal” to espouse the idea of self governance, these days the roles have switched) because what I mean and what they think I mean is ruled by the definition and context of the words ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’. And 230ish years ago it was a vast departure from the established form of governance to think that the individual had the right to self determination (aka, personal freedom and liberty) and it was therefore liberal to hold to those views and conservative to be loyal to the monarchy in Great Briton.

When seriously talking to folks I try to avoid the terms of “conservative” and “liberal” and try to stick to terms like “traditional American xyz” or “leftist” etc.
However the problem you run into when your practicing apologetics on a daily basis is that we have really lost not just the culture war for the past 100 years or so, but the definition war.
The idea that Nazis were/are a “right wing” group is a great example of a total loss for those of us on the right/traditional American values side because of course Nazis were a radical left wing group just like the Communists. (If you want to get your blood pressure up check out the history of that idea and how it came from the Communist Frankfurt school while it was in exile from Frankfurt Germany here at Columbia University). But because of the assignment of the Nazis to the “right” with really no context or reason other than, “oh they are Nazis they are right wing” has been hammered into folks for the past 60 odd years, people take it for granted that if you go far enough right your a Nazi. Which is of course patently absurd. If you go far enough right, your an every man for himself Anarchist, but because of the redefinition of terms in our culture Anarchists have been assigned to the left and totalitarian Nazis have been assigned to the right. Its really quite an amazing bit of propaganda.

The same is true of just about all political or religious terms, the left in academia and the media has been granted by the virtue of American indifference the ability to define the terms of the conversation as they see fit.

So traditional American values right wing conservatives are Nazi racists, left wing socialist racists are the champions of individual freedom (because if it has consequences its not something your free to do) and equality, and the folks who fought for years to get suffrage and equality for black folks (that would be the Republican party) are racists, and those who fought to keep them “in their place” are their heroes (that would be the Democrat party). Why? because the left has been able to control the context and definitions used in the conversation.

Because when the rubber meets the road, what shapes the ideas in our society is the definitions behind various words, not the dictionary definitions, but the working definitions people carry around with them.  And we on the side of individual freedom have been losing that fight for quite some time.

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