Pertinent Political Definitions


The American South of the late 1850’s was a distinct culture, with traditions, economics, and language which set it apart from the North; its people, through their elected legislatures, asserted that they should have a change in legitimate government with the consent of the governed.  Because of this desire for national self-determination, they suffered genocide, colonialism, cultural imperialism, police state, dictatorship, totalitarianism, and propaganda at the hands of a jingoist imperialist nation. The South’s foremost leader was relegated to a non-person, though some of its leaders were rehabilitated. The American South is now part of a large welfare state.

Bernhard Thuersam

Pertinent Political Definitions:

“Colonialism: The control of one nation by “transplanted” people of another nation – often a geographically distant nation that has a different culture and dominant racial or ethnic group. A classic example of colonialism is the control of India by Britain from the eighteenth century to 1947. Control that is economic and cultural, rather than political, is often called neocolonialism.”

“Consent of the Governed: A condition urged by many as a requirement for legitimate government: that the authority of a government should depend on the consent of the people, as expressed by votes in elections.”

“Cultural Imperialism: The imposition of a foreign viewpoint or civilization on a people.”

“Dictatorship: Government by a single person or by a junta or other group that is not responsible to the people or their elected representatives.

“Genocide: The deliberate destruction of an entire race or nation.”

“Imperialism: Acquisition by a government of other governments and territories, or of economic or cultural power over other nations or territories, often by force.”

“Jingoism:  Extreme and emotional nationalism, or chauvinism, often characterized by an aggressive foreign policy, accompanied by an eagerness to wage war.”

“National Self-Determination: Creation of national governmental institutions by a group of people who view themselves as a distinct nation (for example, because they have a common language). National
self-determination is opposed to colonialism and imperialism.

“Non-Person: A former political leader whom a government wants the people to ignore, because the former leader’s views or actions are considered unacceptable by the current government. This unusual practice is most commonly used in totalitarian states…”

“Police State: A nation whose rulers maintain order and obedience by the threat of police or military force; one with a brutal, arbitrary government.”

“Propaganda: Official government communications to the public that are designed to influence opinion. The information may be true or false, but it is always carefully selected for its political effect.”

“Rehabilitation: In politics, the restoration to favor of a political leader whose views or actions were formerly considered unacceptable. See Non-Person.”

“Totalitarianism: Domination by a government of all political, social and economic activities in a nation. Totalitarianism is a phenomenon of the twentieth century; earlier forms of despotism and autocracy lacked the technical capacity to control every aspect of life. This term is applied both to fascist and to many forms of communism.”

“Welfare State:  A state or government that promotes public welfare through programs of public health, pensions,  unemployment compensation, public housing and the like. The expression “welfare state” is often used by those hostile to government intervention in these areas.”

(The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsch, Joseph Kett, James Trefil, Houghton Mifflin, 1988, pp. 290-304)