In the discussion thread: Again, Right Wingers are wrong about a definitionů [View all]
Response to MrScorpio (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 11:48 PM
happyslug (14,588 posts)
17. The right wing has be redefining words since at least WWII
Prior to WWII, Capitalists were happy with the term "Capitalist" but as it fell out of favor due to how Capitalists caused the Great Depression and new term was looked for. When FDR did his Four Freedoms Speech it was a huge success, so huge that right wing commentators decided to latch onto it with a new word "Free Enterprise", Capitalism with a new name. Today all you hear of is "Free Enterprise" from the Right Wing, they try avoid using the term Capitalism.
The heart of the Right wing has always been the Upper Middle Class, that group just below the 1% and make up the top 10% of the population (excluding the .1 % who are the truly rich). For centuries people in this group were the "Middle Class" and the rest of us, over 80% of the population were either peasants or working class (The bottom 10% are the truly poor). After WWII and during that period where for the first time in American History the rich did NOT increase their share of the Nation's wealth, but the 80% between the poor and the traditional Middle Class did, commentators started to talk about the Working Class as reaching up to Middle Class Standards, and from these comment arouse the present popular definition of what is the Middle Class today, the Working class AND the traditional Middle Class.
There have been problems with this change in definition, in surveys most people call themselves "Middle Class", if the choice is Poor, Middle Class or Rich (or if they are asked what class they are in, without mentioning the classes). On the other hand when the option of Working Class is given, 1/2 of those who call themselves Middle Class switch to they identification to Working class.
Now, the right wing avoid mentioning the above, and stay with the fact over 80% of the population call themselves "Middle Class" (I have had people on Welfare in my office who considered themselves "Middle Class", that is how bad the message is, everyone is "Middle Class" including the people on Welfare"). Given how many people call themselves "Middle Class" it could run up to 99% of the American Population (and by that means has become a meaningless term). On the other hand, the advantage to the above is any time a right winger uses the term "Middle Class" when he means the top 10% of the population, most of the bottom 90% hears a term they think includes them. This is how bad the re-definition of the term "Middle Class" has become and it is a product of the right wing so when that term is used, working class hears it and assumes it includes them, when it does not.
The Right Wing has done the same with the word Parasite, redefined it to exclude true parasites, and then extended it to include people who need support. The right wing implies that a true Middle Class person will NEVER need that support and people who do need it are parasites. The problem is most of the Working Class will need some support sometime in their life, and thus will become "Parasites". The Right Wing does it best to convince people that will NEVER happen to them and thus no need to provide such support (And such people are shocked at how low the support is when they do need it, but by then it is to late).
Liberalism is another term that has had a change in definition since the Great Depression. in 1932 Hoover asked FDR to a debate on who was the better LIBERAL. The reason Hoover asked this is he maintain he was more liberal then FDR, for FDR opposed Freedom of Contract (which including the concept that people should be able to agree to work for any wage, no matter how little), Freedom to live anywhere you wanted to (FDR was for getting rid if Slums), Freedom to do any work (FDR was for increase Unionization), Freedom to sell what you produced (FDR was for Support for farmers, even if that meant restricting what and how much they could produce), low taxes (FDR was for higher taxes so he could pave roads and do other improvements) etc.
FDR did not take up Hoover's offer, but if you look at Hoover's definition of Liberalism it is one that valued individual freedoms more then improvements from Government spending, even when such spending improves the lives of most people in society. In many ways, this is still the definition of Liberalism in most of the word (And why Liberal and Liberalism is a common war in names of Conservative Parties outside the US). Due to the communist movement in the late 1800s (and especially the General Strike of 1877), the word Socialism had became a word worse, to right wingers, then even the Devil incarnate, thus in the 1890s people who wanted to help the poor, the working class, improve society as a whole, helped the farmer started to call themselves "Progressives" in the US. The word Liberalism could not be used, but they wanted improvement in society, socialism had become a nasty word, so Progressive filled the niche nicely. It became a word hated by the Right Wing, but a word they tried but never succeeded in making the equal to Socialism or Communism. One of the reason is the progressive movement was an independent party movement and thus kept the name out of any two party race, and in the Democratic Party, the progressive wing was directly tied in with William Jennings Bryan and the GOP just preferred to attack him personally (if your impression of Bryan is based on the Scoops Monkey Trial, your opinion is the result of those attacks, Bryan was a Fundamentalist, but he was also a progressive and it was for the later he was attacked even during the Scoops Monkey Trial).
Anyway, prior to the 1930s the Term Liberal was a GOP word for itself and they bragged they were the more liberal of the two parties. Democrats conceded that point, for liberalism included attack on unions, attacks on aid to farmers, attacks on aid to the poor, and anything else you can think of if the from of the modern Welfare-State (Unemployment Compensation, Social Security, Collage assistance etc. al were viewed as things liberals should oppose).
Now, discrimination against African Americas was opposed by Liberals, when the GOP was Liberal, but so were any laws to protect African Americans other then general laws (i.e. something like the 1964 Civil Rights act, was something Liberals would have opposed in the 1920s). Remember most segregation laws permitted public accommodations (Restaurants, hotels, Inns, trains, buses, etc) to do what was illegal under the common law, segregate by race. In simple terms, segregation gave people who provided public accommodations the freedom of choice as to who they would serve. Freedom is a basic concept of Liberalism and one of the reasons opposed Jim Crow laws. On the other hand, abolishing such laws would restore the Common Law Rule, and that rule interfered with the Freedom of people to do as they please.
In many ways the treatment of African Americas showed most liberals that their position of complete freedom was just wrong. You can NOT oppose Segregation, but also oppose any law that makes treatment based on race illegal. i.e. do you support the laws keeping the races separate, or do you support a law to end such separation, even if that means FORCING people to serve people they do not want to deal with? Remember the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited such segregation, but it is also a Government MANDATE and liberals hate such mandates in theory for it interferes with freedom.
Race thus became a dividing issue in liberalism. Due to the need of the Democratic Party for support from the South, the Democratic Party of the period 1890-1960 had a hard time dealing with race, and did its best to avoid the issue. On the other hand, the Democratic embrace of the Progressives economic changes, lead to many liberals abandoning traditional liberalism for a more progressive attitude.
On the other hand, the Right Wing saw the move of the Democratic Party to embrace those economic reforms as attack on its embrace of economic liberalism and hated FDR saying he was a liberal when he was for the above progressive demands that were in opposition to traditional liberalism.
In response the Right Wing came out with the Term "Free Enterprise" to try to get some traction from FDR's Four Freedom Speech (Which itself was a rejection of traditional economic liberalism) and after seeing many of their fellow liberals abandon the GOP for the Democratic Party started to attack liberals, trying to gather some of people who had opposed economic liberalism from the 1870s to WWII and get them into the GOP. Thus the GOP redefined liberalism starting in the 1950s as a left wing dogma as the GOP embraced even more tightly Economic Liberalism, but this time called "Free Enterprise". Democrats had avoided the term liberal after FDR, preferring to call themselves Democrats. It was the GOP who started to call the Democrats Liberals in the 1960s, for most liberals, both social and economic liberals supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was increased under Nixon under his Southern Strategy, for Liberalism had always been a bad word in the South, even as they were supporting progressive improvements from the 1890s till after WWII.
Just a comment that the right wing has change definitions of word when they wanted to do its. the left wing has done so, but not to the degree of the right wing and more in response to the right wing change of definition then any other reason.
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|The Magistrate||Jan 2013||#2|
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The right wing has be redefining words since at least WWII
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