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{This was a post of mine on a Yahoo! Group in August 2009. It was brought to my attention shortly thereafter that it was being passed around by email to others, with the preamble, “I thought this was a very astute posting, worth passing on.” With that encouragement, I am passing it on to you today, leaving in references and subtle meanings of certain words used by the culture of those I was speaking to, with a few clarifications in brackets.}

There is no comparison between the “liberals” of the Revolution and the modern reality of the term. The labels “right” and “left” didn’t even exist at the time and if they did, the roles would have been reversed from today. A simple word clearing [researching denotation] won’t work because the definitions are inconsistent with their connotations, not to mention the change in the connotations over time. The use of liberal as change-driven (“progressive”) and conservative as clinging to status-quo shows only a single axis of differentiation. It requires a multi-faceted understanding, not just across value sets, but the knowledge that the values and positions (and demographic compositions) of the two groups have been swapped several times since colonial times.

Currently, the Republicans are Jeffersonian and the Democrats are Hamiltonian, somewhat the opposite of their historical roots.

But [a suggestion that] the opposite of “liberal” [is] “authoritarian” came out of left field (pardon the pun) — a linguistic faux pas, where “liberal” is taken at its other, independent meaning of “to be free”? Again, word clearing is useless if you can’t separate DIFFERENT definitions of the same word, and therefore unfounded conclusions abound. That is how propaganda works, though I don’t accuse anyone of doing this intentionally — just passing on the error: You take words with multiple meanings and use them as synonyms. It’s like a math equation where you use “x” for two different values and reach answers that are simply wrong but look right.

And ironically, while authoritarianism is associated with the right, it always historically comes from the left, unsuspected (and then takes on “conservatism” once achieving power). That doesn’t make the left “wrong” but certainly shows us a lesson or two about how fascists operate — they cannot function where individual rights are strong, but instead require a strong collective “responsibility” to coagulate power. Only when the group’s goals take precedence over the individual more often than not, can the group be controlled by whomever creates the scene.

If I recall correctly, [L.Ron] Hubbard said something like “the best way to enslave people is to offer them freedom” … and he was right. You don’t go totalistic on a group of people by simply seizing power or being a bully — you make them think they need to embrace authority under the guise of collective necessity (survival), social justice, etc.. So while people are worried about seemingly power-hungry leaders (and therefore heading them off at the pass), the gentle, loved, unifying leaders have the real power — and can get away with everything from wholesale theft to holocausts.

I think it is wise that I fear government only when it isn’t feared enough.