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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Definition of Terms from Modern History Project

Modern History Project

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Definition of Terms
Definitions of common political and philosophical terms
-- by: Editor,

MHP hypertext version for non-profit educational use only
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Individual Perspectives People tend to have a reflex response to certain terms as the result of long-term programming. Those biases serve to keep them polarized, often for superficial reasons. The "Red Team" is trained to hate the "Blue Team", but do we ever think about the Game itself?
Combinations of these perspectives form the basis of an individual belief system.

Perspectives on Consciousness

The view that human intellect is the measure of all things, and that no higher consciousness exists.
The view that a transcendental consciousness exists in the form of one "God" (monotheism), multiple "gods" (polytheism), or "god in everything" (pantheism)
The view that man himself can achieve god-like transcendent consciousness through a process of spiritual self-improvement and "illumination".

Perspectives on Origin

The view that the physical world is infinite and eternal, that life "evolved" from a series of random physical processes, and that human consciousness is a product of physical processes.
The view that the physical world, the process of life, and human consciousness were created by the intentional design of a transcendental consciousness.

Perspectives on Morality

The view that morality is relative, based on the ethical value judgements made by an individual or group.
The view that morality is absolute, based on long-standing social traditions and religious teachings.
The view that morality is normally based on proven teaching and tradition, but also subject to ethical judgement in certain cases.

Perspectives on Society

The view that individuals exist to serve group or collective goals, and that individual concerns are secondary.
The view that individuals exist to serve the goals of an inherently superior group, and that individual concerns are irrelevant.
The view that groups are formed to serve common individual goals, that individual concerns are primary, and that no group is inherently superior.

Perspectives on Government

The view that government power should be used to advance economic and social equality, mainly for the benefit of the lower classes.
The view that government power should be used to maintain social order and the status quo, mainly for the benefit of the upper classes.
The view that government power should be limited, and that the use of force for the benefit of any group is immoral.
Society and Organization The basic organization of society reflects the worldview of the individuals involved at each level.

General forms of organization

A pyramid-style social and economic control structure. The freedom and authority of one group of individuals is limited by a smaller, more powerful group at the next higher level.
The operational levels of a hierarchical control structure, either government or corporate. Success in the organization is based on obedience and conformity.

Collectivist forms of organization

A theoretical form of Socialism where all individuals are equal, all property is jointly owned, and all decisions are made by consensus of the collective without the need for "the State".
A form of Democracy where all property is owned by "the State", and all decisions are made by public committees sometimes known as soviets. Degenerates into an Oligarchy with top-down control via the central committee and the bureaucracy.
A system in which the collective will of the majority is considered absolute. Property may be owned collectively or privately. It is dominated by political activists and financial interests who mobilize majority groups to exercise control over minority groups on specific issues. Degenerates into an Oligarchy as the most successful manipulators consolidate their wealth and position.

Individualist forms of organization

A non-hierarchical system in which each individual exercises complete self-government. An ideal and unstable condition that rapidly degenerates into a Democracy for any group larger than a few individuals.
A system in which a charter defines certain rules and limitations on the will of the majority, safeguarding individual and minority group rights. Most property is owned privately rather than collectively. The upper levels of the hierarchy are selected by and accountable to the public, and their power is limited by the charter. Degenerates into an Oligarchy as the charter is gradually bypassed, and power and property are concentrated.
A group of Republics acting together for mutual advantage, while maintaining their independent authority. Degenerates into an Empire as the constituent Republics yield power to a central authority which eventually assumes control.
An economic system based on individual ownership of property and capital, compatible with individualist forms of political organization. Tends to degenerate into an elitist system as capital is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands (monopoly capitalism).

Elitist forms of organization

A hierarchy where the top level is comprised of a "royal" family which exercises absolute control and owns all property. The upper levels are comprised of "noble" families which receive and maintain their titles at the discretion of the royalty. Control and property are passed on to bloodline descendents of these families.
A hierarchy where the top level is comprised of an elite group of individuals which are united by ideology in addition to family bloodlines. The upper levels are comprised of corporations, foundations and other long-lived entities controlled by this group. Control and property are passed on to group members chosen for their loyalty.
A hierarchy which permits a certain degree of "private" business ownership and operation under its oversight, as opposed to a Socialist system where all production is directly owned and controlled by the State.
A hierarchy where the top level is controlled by a single strongman who maintains his position by force and terror. Tends to collapse due to corruption and lack of internal support.
A hierarchy spanning multiple regions. Normally the result of a hostile takeover of one or more weaker entities by a stronger and more aggressive one. The weaker entities may continue to exist as client states without independent authority.
A rigid hierarchy which is especially intolerant of individual freedom or dissent.
A rigid hierarchy under the authority of a single ruler (eg: Emperor, Dictator)
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