Friday, February 26, 2010

Glossary of Political Ideology

Below I have composed a list of definitions of political ideologies. This is merely a reference guide to political ideology and does not attempt to define any philosophical, economic, or other specifically Marxist terms. If one wants to read such things, I recommend the book What is Marxism All About?

Below is merely a listing of the various schools of political thought in the United States, first among socialists and secondly among capitalists. (I made a special point of not going into “ists.” You won’t find any definition of “Trotskyist, Maoist, Stalinist, Hoxhaist etc.” as such things are hard to define. Below are merely the schools of capitalist and socialist thought which are historically in existence and are often self-proclaimed excepting a few of the entries.

Socialist – One who advocates societal control of the means of production and the major “commanding heights” of the economy.

Ideologies Among Socialists

Social-Democrat – This is a wing of the Socialist movement that arose under the leadership of Kautsky and Bernstein. It argued that socialism could be achieved through elections, and that when “universal suffrage” i.e. voting rights were achieved, the government became a neutral entity that could be controlled by one class or another. This wing argued that workers could vote their way into Socialism as they had the same number of votes as the capitalists. They sought to “build socialism one step at a time” through reforms. The largest Social-Democratic organization in the U.S. is the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

Communist – Those who call themselves Communists are usually those who identify with the wing of the socialist movement that rejected the ideas of the Social-Democrats. Communists argue that the state is inherently a tool of the capitalists, no matter what suffrage rights exists. Lenin established a “Communist” Party in 1917, when the Bolsheviks sought to distinguish themselves from the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, the Social-Revolutionaries and other groups in Russia and eventually abroad, calling themselves “Socialist” and embracing the ideas of social-democracy. There are a large number of Communist Organizations in the United States, including Workers World Party.

Impossibilists – This is a wing of socialist ideology that rejects any activities other than propagating socialism. Impossibilists generally oppose unions, voting, elections, strikes, mass protest movements etc. Impossibilism is somewhat common in the United States, and was defined by Daniel DeLeon founder of the Socialist Labor Party, though many who call themselves "communists" practice impossibilism without knowing it has an ideological distinction from Communism.

– Anarchism is a wing of the Socialist Movement that rejects the need for a centralized state. They call for small, independent autonomous collectives and local committees to run a socialist society. Students for a Democratic Society has many anarchists within its ranks though many other socialists are within the organization as well. Often Anarchist form “Black Blocs” at protests that fight police officers and conceal their faces with masks or bandannas.

Syndicalists – Syndicalism is a wing of the socialist movement, closely affiliated with anarchism. Syndicalists oppose politics and all political parties. They instead seek to organize trade unions, and establish worker’s control of all businesses. However, they seek for these collectives to compete and trade amongst each other, and not be subject to any state, community, or outside regulation. The Industrial Workers of the World is the largest syndicalist organization in the United States.

– Utopians are socialists who advocate socialism, but do not accept that classes exist. Utopians are often motivated by religious or extreme moral feelings. They often have complicated blue-prints for what the ideal socialist society would be. Often Utopians form communes of settlements in foreign countries based on their complex vision of the ideal socialist society. Utopianism was common among 1960s “communes” and also among early U.S. religious movements like the Zoarites, the Shakers, and various wings of the Society of Friends. The word “socialism” was invented by a Utopian Socialist named Robert Owen.

Capitalism – A system in which the “commanding heights” of the economy are operated to make profit, and controlled by an elite few.

Ideologies Among Capitalists:

Conservative – One who opposes any reforms to capitalism, and sees its current existence in the United States as ideal. The Republican Party has long been a bastion of Conservatism, though it increasingly evolving into a reactionary party.

Reactionary – One who supports removing the various reforms to capitalism that have been won over the years. The Tea Party movement is led by Reactionaries. The Moral Majority is a large reactionary organization that was effective in the 1980s.

Progressive – This was a movement of capitalists in 1900s who supported various reforms to the system such as the creation of public libraries, the Federal Reserve System of Banking, Voting Rights for Women, Health and Safety Laws, the Food and Drug Administration, etc. Currently those calling themselves “Progressives” are capitalists who consider themselves “socially conscious.” They advocate measures to combat global warming and other forms of environmental destruction, as well as the nationalization of healthcare. Often Progressives are highly critical of the leaders of the Democratic Party, though they often vote for them acting as their “loyal opposition.” The Progressive Democrats of America, led by Howard Dean is the largest Progressive Organization in the U.S., and acts as the “left-wing” of the Democratic Party.

Liberal – Modern “Liberalism,” not to be confused with the use of the term in other epochs, is a political ideology of those who support capitalism, but advocate various moderate reforms. Unlike Progressives, Liberals tend to oppose any drastic or radical reforms, and often tend to believe the status quo is generally acceptable, as long as occasional tweaks and alterations are made in order to make it efficient and tolerable. The Democratic Leadership Council, founded by Bill Clinton in the mid 1980s is the largest liberal organization in the United States. It dominates the leadership of the Democratic Party and is the primary rival of the “progressives” who make up the majority of rank-and-file Democrats, but do not hold leadership positions. Progressives often dub liberals “corporate democrats.”

Fascist –
Fascists are a wing of capitalists who support the extra-legal use of force to suppress anti-capitalists, and to attack various oppressed groups of people, scape-goating them as responsible for all societal ills. Fascists claim that liberals and progressives are secretly "socialists", and call for a revolution to restore "the republic", "capitalism", and the greatness of the country. When fascists win control of the government they abolish all democratic institutions and turn the state into an unapologetic terrorist movement against oppressed people, anti-capitalists, and all other ideologies. Fascists in the United States are varied. Timothy Mcveigh, a former member of the Michigan Militia was a fascist. The Montana Freeman, who assassinate abortion providers such as George Tiller are fascists. The Tea Party movement has many fascists within it. The Minutemen, an organization which wages violent acts of murder against immigrant workers is also a fascist organization. Fascism is not restricted to its open supporters, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the National Alliance, the Aryan Brotherhood, and the Council of Conservative Citizens.

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