Category Archives: Political Terms

Definitions of political terms and philosophies (All definitions are from Dictionary.com, unless otherwise specified)

Nullification

Posted January 14th, 2014

“Nullification: any act, or set of actions, that results in a particular law being rendered null, void or even just unenforceable within a particular area. So, for example, when a state passes a resolution denouncing a particular federal law, it is not nullifying that law on its own. Or, when a state or local government passes a law refusing to comply with a federal act, they haven’t nullified that law…yet. Or, even when a state or local government passes a law that includes criminal sanctions for federal agents trying to enforce a particular federal act in the area – the law may still not be nullified. What? You see, it’s less about the legislation and more about the results. So, on the other hand, when three-dozen states pass non-binding resolutions denouncing a federal act, swaying public opinion so strongly that the federal government simply stops enforcing the law – it has been nullified.”

Nullification Objections: Dismantling the Opposition

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Nihilism

Posted October 13th, 2012

1. Total rejection of established laws and institutions.
2. Anarchy, terrorism, or other revolutionary activity.

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Syndicalism

Posted August 27th, 2012

1. A form or development of trade unionism, originating in France, that aims at the possession of the means of production and distribution, and ultimately at the control of society, by federated bodies of industrial workers, and that seeks to realize its purposes through general strikes, terrorism, sabotage, etc.

2. An economic system in which workers own and manage industry.

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Monarchy

Posted June 14th, 2010

1. A state or nation in which the supreme power is actually or nominally lodged in a monarch. Compare absolute monarchy, limited monarchy.

2. Supreme power or sovereignty held by a single person. (monarch)

1. A hereditary sovereign, as a king, queen, or emperor.
2. A sole and absolute ruler of a state or nation.

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Altruism

Posted May 20th, 2010

1. The principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others (opposed to egoism).

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Egoism

Posted May 20th, 2010

1. The habit of valuing everything only in reference to one’s personal interest; selfishness (opposed to altruism).

2. Egotism or conceit.

3. Ethics. the view that morality ultimately rests on self-interest.

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Egalitarianism

Posted May 11th, 2010

1. Asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, esp. in political, economic, or social life. 

2. A person who adheres to egalitarian beliefs.

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Federation

Posted April 18th, 2010

1. The act of federating or uniting in a league.

2. The formation of a political unity, with a central government, by a number of separate states, each of which retains control of its own internal affairs.

3. A league or confederacy.

4. A federated body formed by a number of nations, states, societies, unions, etc., each retaining control of its own internal affairs.

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Confederation

Posted April 18th, 2010

1. The act of confederating.

2. The state of being confederated.

3. A league or alliance.

4. A group of confederates, esp. of states more or less permanently united for common purposes.

5. The Confederation, the union of the 13 original U.S. states under the Articles of Confederation 1781–89.

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Mercantilism

Posted March 12th, 2010

1. An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation’s wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire. (See also Adam Smith.)

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Individualism

Posted March 8th, 2010

1. A social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual.

2. The principle or habit of or belief in independent thought or action.

3. The pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests; egoism.

4. Individual character; individuality.

5. Philosophy.

a. The doctrine or belief that all actions are determined by, or at least take place for, the benefit of the individual, not of society as a whole.

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Collectivism

Posted March 8th, 2010

1. The principles or system of ownership and control of the means of production and distribution by the people collectively, usually under the supervision of a government.

2. The political principle of centralized social and economic control, esp. of all means of production.

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Oligarchy

Posted June 15th, 2009

1. An oligarchy (Greek) (oligocracy) is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, military might, or religious hegemony.

Wikipedia.com

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Draconian

Posted June 14th, 2009

1. rigorous; unusually severe or cruel:

2. exceedingly harsh; very severe: a draconian legal code; draconian budget cuts.


1876 (earlier Draconic, 1680), from Draco, Gk. statesman who laid down a code of laws for Athens 621 B.C.E. that mandated death as punishment for minor crimes.

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Capitalism

Posted June 13th, 2009

1. An economic system based on a free market, open competition, profit motive and private ownership of the means of production. Capitalism encourages private investment and business, compared to a government-controlled economy. Investors in these private companies (i.e. shareholders) also own the firms and are known as capitalists.

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Totalitarianism

Posted June 11th, 2009

1. Centralized control by an autocratic authority

2. The political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority

Merriam-Webster.com

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Fascism

Posted June 11th, 2009

1. A political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

Merriam-Webster.com

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Socialism

Posted June 11th, 2009

1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

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Communism

Posted June 11th, 2009

1. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.

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Progressive

Posted June 10th, 2009

1. One believing in moderate political change and especially social improvement by governmental action

Merriam-Webster.com

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Autocracy

Posted March 19th, 2009

1. Government in which one person has uncontrolled or unlimited authority over others; the government or power of an absolute monarch.
2. A nation, state, or community ruled by an autocrat.
3. Unlimited authority, power, or influence of one person in any group.

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