What is the correct word usage and definitions? What do you think?

I have long since tired of people using tags and labels for people or movements that they do not understand. The term “socialist” is bandied about by those who haven’t a clue what they’re talking about. Our friend Scottie has taken it upon himself to do some research, to try to understand the differences between “Democratic Socialist” and “Social Democrat”. There are important distinctions that people need to understand if they’re going to use these terms. Thank you, Scottie, for opening this important conversation!

41 thoughts on “What is the correct word usage and definitions? What do you think?

  1. So many terms have different nuances depending on where one is on the political or religious spectrum. Where I suspect there are possible differences in interpretation, I prefer to flesh out my interpretation in the context of what I’m discussing. And of course being an English speaker on the opposite side of the world from most English speakers, I’m not only aware of
    different shades of meaning of many words, but a good many words have completely different meanings altogether. When I visited theUS, I was caught in some embarrassing situations and one threatening situation because of this. Online, it’s a more frequent occurrence, so I tend to be rather verbose at times in order to avoid ambiguity or misunderstanding.

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    • I do the same, for there is no single ideology that quite describes my own beliefs, which tend to be a combination of several defined ideologies.

      Ha ha … another friend who is a Frenchman living in Mexico was telling me a similar story about coming to the U.S. and asking for a ‘rubber’, meaning an eraser, but it has quite a different meaning here! And I have a few tales of my own regarding communications with various of my UK readers! Funny how the English language has taken on a different life from country to country.

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      • Yes, the rubber situation caught me out while attending a training seminar in Costa Mesa (CA) in 1999. Neither the woman nor her husband who was sitting on her other side nor the seminar coordinators saw the funny side even after a frantic explanation from me. I was saved from being expelled only when a Brit also attending the seminar came to my aide by explaining that rubber and eraser were synonymous in the UK as well.

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        • Seriously … they didn’t see the humour in it? I find it quite funny, just as when I told a UK friend once that I had ‘bonked’ myself in the head while cleaning shelves! I quickly found out what ‘bonk’ means in the UK! Sometimes it’s hard to believe we are all actually speaking the same language!

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          • Unfortunately not everone has a sense of humour. Bonk has both meanings here so context is important. But one that catches out amercan visitors to NZ is the verb ‘root’ which has the same meaning as the UK bonk. As in:
            NZ host father: What are your hobbies?
            Female exchange student: I root for the the high school football team.
            NZ host: [stunned silence, then] What?! The whole team?

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  2. Well I am a of course A Socialist!

    Unless you talk to other socialists then I am either:
    1. A traitor to the cause
    2. A guy with worryingly neo-Marxist tendencies.
    3. A Liberal Democrat in disguise.
    4. Someone who doesn’t understand socialism.
    5. A Kier Stammer suck-up.
    6. (That’s for when they don’t reply to me, because I have confused them).

    If I talk to UK Conservatives I am:
    1. A Remoaner who is willing to be ruled from Brussels.
    2. A guy with worryingly neo-Marxist tendencies.
    3. A Nanny State apologist.
    4. A snowflake (I don’t get enough of those, because they are so much fun to shoot down)
    5. (That’s for when they don’t reply to me, because I have confused them).

    If I was to talk to Americans on the subject…. I would worry everyone and they would find common cause. Because……
    I am…… A guy with worryingly neo-Marxist tendencies (Which is how you make Socialism work….)

    OK I’m done ‘scaring the horses’ Because the moral of this story is. Political Beliefs are messy and movements are an amalgam of varying views, and if you really care about Democracy, be prepared to compromise, not get all you want and disappointed from time to time.

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  3. A few years ago I saw a comment that began, “We the Sheeples”. Maybe that is the correct label, we follow the leader. Of course, having been on the farm so long, I know that cattle are worse than sheep when it comes to following the leader, even when they know the leader is leading them astray. You can hear the cattle protesting all the way, yet they still follow that lead cow who decided to go outside the pasture, leading the entire herd along for company. Kinda reminds me of some people I know. Now I’m going to go nuts if I can’t remember the name of the person who coined that phrase — We the Sheeple, indeed!

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    • Well, let’s see … I did a quick Google search and found T-shirts, books, comics, et al using “We the Sheeple”!
      https://www.newyorker.com/cartoons/blitts-kvetchbook/we-the-sheeple

      And that’s just two of the many! I am not a fan of labeling people, but sometimes there really isn’t any other way to describe them. And, political ideologies will all be labeled something … it’s just that people need to agree on the definition for those labels, else they lose their meaning AND are used improperly as the Republicans are showing us.

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    • I do like that explanation and the observations on cows.
      It seems that the folk who use ‘Sheeple’ most are those who like to parade their ‘democracy’ credentials and yet are willing to be disparaging about folk in general….bit of a mixed message there.
      As regards sheep, we used to watch a UK TV programme ‘One Man and His Dog’ in which famers and their border collies endeavoured to move groups of sheep into pens, or separate on from the rest. Those sheep weren’t exactly co-operative, in fact there was often one who would have a stand off with the dog.

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  4. Left this comment on Scottish Toy Box, partially in response to N
    an:
    Atheism, as we all know, is loaded by religious authorities to mean wild-living (anarchists out to destroy religious hegemonies. Likewise, socialists and
    their big brother communists are anti-capitalists out to destroy those who provide the .working class with their fantastic slave-wage jobs. Their messages: Without religion, society will fall apart into little cells continually battling against one another. Without cspitalists, the economies of white-led nations will come apart at the seams, and no one will want to work if they can get welfare cheques.
    Obviously, neither message is true, but they have been beaten into the public consciousness for so long and so repeatedly people have come to accept both messages as truth. And we do not have the money to counteract all the costly advertising that the wealthy can pay for.
    In an election in Canada a number of years ago, with one week to go to election day, the Liberals (what Americans call Democrats) were 30 points ahead of the Conservstives (what American call Republicans). Suddenly the public was bombarded with media messages that Canada would be made Socialist by the Liberals. Economic prognostications were that the economy would fail, and we would all be jobless. Seven days later that 30 point lead dissolved, and the Conservatives won a majority government. MONEY TALKED, and the wage slaves listened to it. The Conservatives ran the country into the ground, stripping away as many social programs as they could, and increasing capitalist wealth manyfold. But the people did not stand up until the Conservatives threatened to do away with our Universal Public Health program. We are still suffering today from that 7 Day Media Bombardment those many many years ago. And half of Canadians are happy for it, believing they are better off for it.
    It”s all ih how you present your political ideologies. Many Canadians no longer vote for anyone, rather they vote against those whom they are told are the villains.
    But Scottie, when it comes to clarifying labels, I feel no more knowledgeable about Social Democrats as opposed to Democratic Socialists than before I read this post?. Didn’t Hitler lay claim to one of those labels? He used it to make the German people believe he was carrying out their will, by telling them what to think. That is called dictatorship.
    I am all for destroying capitalism, it hurts 99% of the people of this world. But it seems the people still want it, so I would be willing to settle for controlled capitalism. But even that takes a rebellion, if not a revolution. People need to want it in big numbers with lots of activism involved. Otherwise we are sheep to slaughter.
    But the proper label, I have no idea which is which.

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    • You are so right about the perception of atheism … it is seen by the religious community as paganism, as the very evil that they’ve been warned against. Imagine their surprise when they find out that their favourite teacher or co-worker is an atheist!

      I’d stop short of supporting the destruction of capitalism, but I think that capitalism and democratic socialism can work hand in hand to build a better world that couples economic growth with humanitarianism. But alas, the wealthy are greedy (yes, that’s a blanket statement, but one that I believe to be true … I welcome any who can prove me wrong) and aren’t about to give up a single penny that doesn’t earn them two in return.

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