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A Political Street Dictionary for a 21st Century

Each of us stands at a new crossroads of geo-political importance as to shape the entire span of history and events for the rest of the 21st Century. There is no more "normal" in American politics and government. Our new reality of life is rapidly spiraling back to the beginning of the 20th Century. Most experts will agree that history does repeat its events and trends exactly. Yet, history can and does reflect the events of 100 years ago.

The forces unleashed in the time period of 1900 through 1920 set and framed the energy of the entire 20th century politics, government, economics, resources, and war. The millennium wave carried forth over the threshold of the century mark in the year 1900, anarchism and capitalist empire building. Add to this landscape the energies and forces of communism, fascism', national socialism (Nazism), robber barons, militarism, and poverty. These movements were the foundation for the Boxer Rebellion in China (1904) Russia Japanese War (1904), World War 1, Russian Revolution (1918), World 11, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Cold War of the 1950s and 1960s.

It is estimated that over 100 million people died in the 20th Century due to the events listed above.

As a spectator to the unfolding of 21st Century history and events, you will need a new understanding of all the players in local, state, national, and international geopolitical events and uses of power. For a new century, many events will be framed by 100 to 250 year old rules and definitions of use of power and engagement for change.

The words and definitions below are offered as a guide to many of the key forces colliding with each other in 2017 through 2027.


  1. A doctrine urging the abolition of government or governmental restraint as the indispensable condition for full social and political liberty.
  2. The methods or practices of anarchists, (often referred to as Anarchy) as the use of violence to undermine government.


  1. Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
  2. A state having such a form of government:

Example: The United States and Canada are democracies.

  1. A state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
  2. Political or social equality; democratic spirit, Democratic Party
  3. The common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.


  1. An advocate of democracy
  2. A person who believes in the political or social equality of all people.
  3. Also called democrat wagon: a high, lightweight, horse-drawn wagon, usually having two seats.
  4. Member of local, state, national Democratic Party.


An economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.


  1. A theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.
  2. A system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.
  3. The principles and practices of the Communist Party.


  1. A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
  2. The philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
  3. A political movement that employs the principles and methods of fascism, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922-43.
  4. Any ideology or movement inspired by Italian Fascism, such as German National Socialism; any right-wing nationalist ideology or movement with an authoritarian and hierarchical structure that is fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism.
  5. Any ideology, movement, program, tendency, etc, that may be characterized as right-wing, chauvinist, authoritarian, etc
  6. The political movement, doctrine, system, or regime of Benito Mussolini in Italy, which encouraged militarism and nationalism, organizing the country along hierarchical authoritarian lines in 1922, originally used in English 1920 in its Italian form (see fascist). Applied to similar groups in Germany from 1923;

"A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

[Robert O. Paxton, "The Anatomy of Fascism," 2004] Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

  1. "A system of government that flourished in Europe from the 1920s to the end of World War II. Germany under Adolf Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco were all fascist states.

As a rule, fascist governments are dominated by a dictator, who usually possesses a magnetic personality, wears a showy uniform, and rallies his followers by mass parades; appeals to strident nationalism; and promotes suspicion or hatred of both foreigners and "impure" people within his own nation, such as the Jews in Germany.

Although both communism and fascism are forms of totalitarianism, fascism does not demand state ownership of the means of production, nor is fascism committed to the achievement of economic equality.

In theory, communism opposes the identification of government with a single charismatic leader (the "cult of personality"), which is the cornerstone of fascism. Whereas communists are considered left-wing, fascists are usually described as right-wing."

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
© 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

National Socialism

(German history) the doctrines and practices of the Nazis, involving the supremacy of Hitler as Führer, antisemitism, state control of the economy, and national expansion Also called Nazism.


The system of economic and political thought developed by Karl Marx, along with Friedrich Engels, especially the doctrine that the state throughout history has been a device for the exploitation of the masses by a dominant class, that class struggle has been the main agency of historical change, and that the capitalist system, containing from the first the seeds of its own decay, will inevitably, after the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, be superseded by a socialist order and a classless society.

Manifest Destiny

The belief or doctrine, held chiefly in the middle and latter part of the 19th century, that it was the destiny of the U.S. to expand its territory over the whole of North America and to extend and enhance its political, social, and economic influences.

"A popular slogan of the 1840s. It was used by people who believed that the United States was destined -- by God, some said -- to expand across North America to the Pacific Ocean. The idea of manifest destiny was used to justify the acquisition of Oregon and large parts of the Southwest, including California. ( See Mexican War.)"

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition


  1. a strong military spirit or policy.
  2. the principle or policy of maintaining a large military establishment.
  3. the tendency to regard military efficiency as the supreme ideal of the state and to subordinate all other interests to those of the military.


"Poverty is general scarcity or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money.] It is a multifaceted concept, which includes social, economic, and political elements. Absolute poverty or destitution refers to the lack of means necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

Absolute poverty is considered to be about the same independent of location. Relative poverty occurs when people in a country do not enjoy a certain minimum level of living standards as compared to the rest of the population and so would vary from country to country, sometimes within the same country." From Wikipedia,


  1. A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
  2. A procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
  3. In Marxist theory, the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.


  1. The policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies.
  2. Advocacy of imperial or sovereign interests over the interests of the dependent states.
  3. Imperial government; rule by an emperor or empress.
  4. An imperial system of government.
  5. British-the policy of so uniting the separate parts of an empire with separate governments as to secure for certain purposes a single state.
  6. The policy or practice of extending a state's rule over other territories.
  7. An instance or policy of aggressive behavior by one state against another extension or attempted extension of authority, influence, power, etc, by any person, country, institution, etc: cultural imperialism -1826, "advocacy of empire," originally in a Napoleonic context, also of Rome and of British foreign policy, from imperial + -ism. At times in British usage (and briefly in U.S.) with a neutral or positive sense relating to national interests or the spread of the benefits of Western civilization, but from the beginning usually more or less a term of reproach. General sense of "one country's rule over another," first recorded 1878. Picked up disparagingly in Communist jargon by 1918.

"It is the old story of 1798, when French republicanism sick of its own folly and misdeeds, became metamorphosed into imperialism, and consoled itself for its incapacity to found domestic freedom by putting an iron yoke upon Europe, and covering it with blood and battle-fields." [Francis Lloyd, "St. James's Magazine," January 1842]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper


Historically, the meaning of nationalism has been the acquisition by the state of any property, such as the steel industry, the railway system, the chemical industry or the land.

  1. Spirit or aspirations common to the whole of a nation.
  2. Devotion and loyalty to one's own country; patriotism.
  3. Excessive patriotism; chauvinism.
  4. The desire for national advancement or political independence.
  5. The policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.
  6. An idiom or trait peculiar to a nation.
  7. A movement, as in the arts, based upon the folk idioms, history, aspirations, etc., of a nation.



A new movement to celebrate the popular contraction of the name National Democratic Socialists, the party led by Adolf Hitler. The term arose as a parallel to the word "Sozi" (the first two syllables of "Sozialisten"), with which the German Socialists had been labeled by their opponents in earlier times. National-Socialists were first styled Nazi-Sozi, but the second half of the term was late abandoned. Today groups sympathetic to the 1933 National-Socialists aims (ideas of founder Adolf Hitler) are called Neo-Nazis. Penguin 4th edition of "A Dictionary of Politics"


From the Latin word nihil, meaning nothing; an intellectual movement in Russia in the middle of the 19th century, which became famous through Targentv's novel, "Fathers and Sons", 1862.

"Nihilists recognize no authority, doubt every general principle and valve, often confused with anarchism, it is a philosophical and literary outlook rather than a political doctrine."

Penguin 4th edition "A Dictionary of Politics"

Robber Barons

  1. History/Historical: a noble who robbed travelers passing through his lands.
  2. A ruthlessly powerful U.S. capitalist or industrialist of the late 19th century considered to have become wealthy by exploiting natural resources, corrupting legislators, or other unethical means.
  3. Origin of robber baron first recorded in 1875-80
  4. A term applied to certain leading American businessmen of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. The term suggests that they acquired their wealth by means more often foul than fair.


Word Origin and History for republican (adj.) in 1712: "belonging to a republic, of the nature of a republic, consonant to the principles of a republic," from republic + -an. The French republican calendar was in use from Nov. 26, 1793 to Dec. 31, 1805.

(noun.) one who favors a republic or republican principles"

(or, as Johnson puts it, "One who thinks a commonwealth without monarchy the best government"), 1690s; see from republican (adj.).

With capital R - Republican refers to a member of a specific U.S. political party (the Anti-Federalists) from 1782, though this was not the ancestor of the modern U.S. Republican Party, which dates from 1854.

Republican Party

  1. Of, relating to, or of the nature of a republic.
  2. Favoring a republic.
  3. Fitting or appropriate for the citizen of a republic: a very republican notion.
  4. Relating to the Republican Party
  5. A person who favors a republican form of government.
  6. A member of the Republican Party.

With the creation of language, words became powerful. Ancients believed that words could cause physical harm or they could heal. They still can. Understanding the movements of the nineteenth and twentieth century starts with defining the words that describe them.

History doesn't repeat itself exactly but the ideas of prior times echo across the 21st century.

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