Misuse of words

Misuse of words

There is an awful lot of misuse in words that creates too much confusion. We explained how the words liberal and libertarian are misused both in USA and Europe. What is a progressive? The most common answer that we will get is “someone who is on the left but not too extremist”. It is not completely inaccurate but it is wrong. What is a conservative? Again most people will answer something like “a right wing person who is religious and has traditional values”. This answer has some merit but is wrong.

The words progressive and a conservative describe the stance on change. There are four alternatives, radical, progressive, conservative, reactionary. A radical wants abrupt and even sometimes violent change. A progressive wants slow and non-violent change. A conservative wants things to remain as they are and a reactionary wants to go back to a previous situation. They can all be on the left or the right.

Someone in Soviet Union that wanted things to remain as they were, would be a communist and a conservative. Today, someone in  ex-communist country that wants to go back to communism would be a communist and a reactionary. Scandinavian countries are considered liberal and democratic. Someone there who wants things to remain as they are would be a conservative.

Now why these words ended up having a different meaning? There is an explanation. It comes from the time when in western countries, there were mostly center right governments with traditional values. A conservative would want to keep things as they are, a left progressive would want to change things slowly and non-violently while a left radical would want to change things abruptly and violently.

Traditionalism and conservatism are different. Tradition goes back to centuries. Conservatism has to do only with change in current situation. When traditional values exist, a conservative is also traditionalist. When they do not exist, a conservative would be non-traditionalist and a reactionary traditionalist.

Progressivism is not about progress but how someone approaches change, gradually or rapidly. The assumption is that it is towards something new as opposed to going back to a previous situation. Progressives, radicals and reactionaries all want change. Only conservatives want things as they are. There still needs to be some more refinement. Going back to a previous situation could be radical or progressive. A more accurate distinction would be;

  • 1) Conservation
  • 2) Change
  • a) New Situation
  • i) radical way
  • ii) progressive way
  • b) Previous Situation
  • i) radical way
  • ii) progressive way


Now it is believed that progressiveness is good and conservatism, reactionism and radicalism are bad. We should change only things that are bad or not working. Of course, what is good and working well is judgmental. When we change something and we realize that it was working actually better before, it is not bad to go back. Change and preservation are not good or bad but indifferent. There are things that need to be changed and others that do not. When things need to be changed and it is impossible to do them gradually and non-violently, a radical change is better than no change.

Another word that is being misused in nationalism. Forefather of nationalism and socialism was Rousseau. He meant to see a nation as a whole, a big collective that is not hostile to other nations but respects them, coexists and cooperates with them. This is liberal nationalism. There are many kinds of nationalism. Hitler’s nationalism was imperialistic and expansive. Today the world nationalism is used for that type which is wrong.

There is too much misconception. A straight line depictment of ideologies creates a lot of confusion. Nazism and fascism are placed on the far right while these are types of socialism which is placed on centerleft. Misuse of words creates a lot of confusion.

There is an effort for understanding at a global level among not only ultraglobalists but altglobalists as well. How can that be possible when two people that are in the same town and belong to the same political party, internal fraction, race, sex, educational level, economic level, age group, religion, religious denomination and culture can’t understand each other? Clarification of things is absolutely necessary.

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