The Seven Isms

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Dragon, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. Dragon
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    Dragon Senior Member

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    I developed this system of categorization of American political thought years ago, but I don't think I've ever posted it here. It's based on the widespread perception that a simple two-pronged liberal/conservative or left-right axis is not sufficient to describe all of the main currents in political thought in this country. But I also find the two-axis schema often favored by libertarians less than perfect.

    Think of this schema as a center with six single-direction rays emanating from it rather than any bipolar axes. The center is, in classic dictionary-definition usage, "conservatism," but to avoid confusion I'm going to call it "moderation." That's the first ism: protect the status quo, don't rock the boat, don't go out on a limb. The other six are defined according to core values as follows:

    Liberalism -- democracy, limited inequality, human rights, social justice.
    Profitism -- opportunity for personal enrichment, the bottom line, corporate prosperity
    Socialism -- economic equality, eradication of poverty
    Environmentalism -- protection of nature, sustainability
    Nationalism -- pursuit of military strength and national power
    Fundamentalism -- political pursuit of a religious ideal or doctrine

    Three of these (liberalism, socialism, and environmentalism) are "leftist" in conventional two-pronged thought, while the other three (profitism, nationalism, and fundamentalism) are "right-wing." But clearly, someone may be a liberal without being a socialist or an environmentalist, and one may be a profitist without being a nationalist or a fundamentalist. In fact, take any of these views to extremes, and they run into serious conflicts with the other two positions of the "left" or "right" (as appropriate), not just those of the opposite side of the two-pronged schema. For example, there are ultra-extreme environmentalists who reject civilization itself or want to see the extermination of the human species, which no liberal or socialist would go along with; similarly, extreme Christian fundamentalism is incompatible with corporate profit-taking and with militarism.

    A political majority must achieve a consensus encompassing more than one of these poles, and so must necessarily reject the extremes of any of them.
     
  2. naturegirl
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    naturegirl Silver Member

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