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Objectivism

The original meaning of object is from Latin, ob, against+ jacere, to throw, to present, oppose, cast in the way of, thence the meaning of object as in the verb oppose. In 14th century Middle Latin, objectum, thing put before (the mind or sight): a tangible thing, something perceived or presented to the senses, giving rise to the noun at the basis of objectivism.

Objectivism is the belief that there is an objective reality that underlies our perception and consciousness. All of science is based on this premise, while all of religion stresses that there is more to reality than objective reality.

In philosophy, objectivism harks back to Aristotle’s emphasis on arguments that address the world we perceive, rather than a posited realm of the Ideal.

The label, objective, has always been attractive to those who wish to place their position on more solid ground than their opponents – for example, the appropriation of the term Objectivism by Ayn Rand to describe Randianism.


Nanny statism

Nanny: an 18th century familiar form of the name Ann – a popular choice for nannies.
Nanny statism is an extreme form of statism, where the state is perceived to be taking the over-protective role of a nanny. The term is bandied about most frequently when traditional vices or familiar but unsafe practices are cracked down on in democratic states. In addition to public health and consumer protectionism, it can also extend into economic protectionism: for example, government procurement skewed towards indigenous firms.
Just as statism is at the far end of the political spectrum from libertarianism, the direct opposite of the nanny state is known as the night watchman state: a form of state which cannot minize further without becoming anarchism.
State intervention can be subjectively interpreted: a classic example is the tobacco smoking ban now prevalent in many countries. In federal states, the level of nanny statism can vary widely: in the US, some states (read: California) allow motorcycling without a helmet, whereas others (read: Vermont) ban cycling without a helmet.


Ecotourism

Greek, oikos, house, dwelling place, habitation (root of all things eco) + Old French, tour, a turn, a shift on duty (root of tour of duty, tourism).

    Ecotourism refers to a practice: tourism that emphasizes minimization of impact on sensitive ecologies and beneficial effects to the local environment (both human and non-human). This can include the development of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and economic opportunity. Successful ecotourism can demonstrate to local inhabitants that living plants and animals have long-term, sustainable economic value.

    The jury is out on ecotourism as a marketing concept: many ecotourist operations inevitably increase stress on pristine environments. Very few local regulations or laws stand in place as boundaries for the investors in ecotourism. Nor is there any recognized system of accreditation internationally.

    Ecotourism works better as an approach to how we take our holidays:

    • awareness of the impact of our travel on the planet as a whole (such as global warming)
    • awareness of the impact on the places we visit;
    • support for local ecotourism initiatives


Holism

Greek, holos, whole. Holism is an approach that emphasizes the unitary nature of systems, rather than their “two-ness” (the dualistic approach) or “three-ness” (the triadic approach), or other numeric systems. In popular culture, holistic is most often used to describe an approach to healing that emphasizes the unitary nature of beings (rather than mind/body dualism or mind/body/spirit triadism).

Dualism has always been an important aspect of philosophical debates (good / evil, light / dark, energy / matter, order / chaos, among many others.)

Triadic viewpoints are most frequently encountered in religion (the Christian Trinity, Hindu Trimurtis and Tridevis, Three Jewels of Buddhism, Three Pure Ones of Taoism, Triple Goddess of Wicca).

There should be an ism for the tendency of the human mind to map belief systems onto numeric systems: 4-, 5-, 7-, 9-, 10-, and 12-based systems all have their adherents. Suggestions are welcome.

The holistic approach is a balance against which all numeric-based systems can be evaluated.

Animism

Latin, anima, breath. Animism is the belief that natural things possess a soul, and that a common spirit informs the physical universe. A living spirit may also be ascribed to a sacred location: “spirit of place”. The earliest and most primal form of religion, often associated with tribal peoples, animism also pervades the work of philosophers such as Plotinus, Leibniz, and Schopenhauer.


Cronyism

Greek, khronios, long-standing, as in friend. (We have other uses for this time-related word, such as chronological: measuring time, and chronic: occuring over time).

Cronyism means looking after your pals when you’re in power.

Cronyism is not confined to Government but it thrives best in a poorly regulated mixed economy, where the State manages significant spending intiatives, not all of which reflect the common good. The public responds to this with requests for:

  • transparency in government, a request but rarely honored
  • freedom of information legislation, which exists in most open economies, but which can be snipped back by Government on the basis of foreign policy – for example, war – or “commercial sensitivity”

The benificiaries may also be a politician’s voter base (rather than businessmen). This spending practice is known in American English as “pork barrel” governance, but is by no means confined to the US.

Cronyism is a term applied derogatively to “golden circle” setups, such as builders and bankers. Its results are corruption and a failure to encourage merit in the ranks of government.

Its close relative, crony capitalism, exists because cronyism is not confined to capitalist societies. For example, Maoism established a track record of looking after business friends of Party beaurocrats. But once again, the US remains the market leader in crony capitalism.


Americanism

The Americas are named after the explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. An Americanism is a word or phrase that is typical of American English or a trait peculiar to the land or people of the Americas.

Widely exported through the media, Americanisms are in constant flux, with modern dialects such as hacker-speak, gamer-speak, hip hop and gangsta rapidly gaining global currency.

While regional differences are smaller in the new world, there are at least 5 major dialiect / pronunciation variations in American English: while mainstream media tends towards standard American English, some of the regions (for example, the American South) have become widely known through film and music.

At a more workaday level, anyone outside America who writes for an American audience or works for an American company needs to be aware of the main differences between American and UK English.


Redneckism

American English: c. 1830 – from the red necks associated with white people of European origin who are used to spending time outdoors – labouring, or engaged in outdoor pursuits such as hunting – in the strong sunshine of the Southern states of the US.

Redneckism refers to a provincial, conservative and bigoted world-view, associated with a particular stereotype of individuals living in Appalachia, the Southern United States, the Ozarks, and later the Rocky Mountain States. The word can be used either as a pejorative or as a matter of pride, depending on context.


Malapropism

French, mal à propos, ill to purpose. A malapropism is an incorrect usage of a word by substituting a similar-sounding word with different meaning, usually with comic effect.

The term comes from the name of Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy, The Rivals (1775).

An example from Sheridan:

“He’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.”

Mahdism

Arab, mah’di, guide to the truth. Mahdsim is an Islamic belief that prior to a Golden Age of peace and universal Islam, the world will be riven by strife and war, and a prophet, the Mah’di, will appear. The concept is not dissimilar to the Judaic (rather than Christian) idea of a Messiah.

The aspiration is  that the Mahdi will unite the sects inside Islam, implementing true Islamic morality based on the Qur’an and even uniting Christians, Jews and Muslims in a single faith.

The Mahdist vision is that this takes place against an End of Days background: that is, in the run up to a Day of Judgment.

More controversially, Mahdism is associated with Islamic militarism. The most famous historical figure to bear the name was Muhammad Ahmad, the Mahdi who carried war against the British forces led by Gordon of Khartoum.