Saturday, March 13, 2010


A great deal of confusion and frustration occurs in discussing politics. While there are many causes, one important cause we can alleviate is getting our definitions straight. Far too often, we talk past each other or use the wrong abstract phrase or fail to actually understand all of the implications behind the words. Here I intend to create a list of political words I find misused or vague and give my best interpretation of the word.

State: A state consists of any being that creates its own set of rules and holding legitimate use of force delegated to it voluntarily. While there are some 200 nation states recognized today in the world, the true number of "states" are far, far greater. Mafia's that develop their own set of rules and derive their use of force from its members is, in a sense, a state, as are separatist groups, terrorists, and lone criminals. While a state must treat its own members well (that is the reason they join the state in the first place), unless they have created a contract known as a treaty they are under no obligations to treat members of other states well. In this way, a state may arrest, imprison, or execute a criminal in their own society because that person has, in effect, declared themselves their own state.

Right: Any subset of actions an individual may demand another perform or not perform. For example, in the United States it is our right that the government not infringe upon our liberty of free speech. With the exception of the parent/child relationship, all natural rights are of a negative quality, i.e. others shall not do something. All positive rights (i.e. you shall do this) derive from contracts.

Liberty: Any action permissible to the individual. Inherent in that individual's being, not derived from any other person or group but himself, and hence owed to no one.

Power: Any action permissible to the government, delegated to that government by the consent of the governed.

Freedom: Living in a state that is not tyrannical; all actions that may be lawfully taken in a legitimate state.

Politics: A subset of ethics. Whereas ethics determines what actions are good and bad, politics determines which actions are sufficiently good or bad as to be encouraged/discouraged by the use of force.

Ethics: The study in philosophy of what actions are good or bad in a moral sense.

Contract: A voluntary exchange of rights, goods, or liberties. That which is given without a voluntary expectation of a return is called a gift; that which is decided without the consent of both parties is theft.

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