For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Check Your Concepts
Before you finalize your manuscript, check some of your concepts:

We have found that the words on this short list tend to be over-used, and used thoughtlessly at that. They are red flags that indicate to us that the writer's brain probably turned off for a moment. When used casually, they are meaningless, emotion/judgment-laden terms that reflect certain prejudices and propaganda language, and are precisely the kind of vague and un -examined assumptions that we expect our writers to oblige their readers to analyze rationally.

If you have used these words, or their equivalent, please check whether you have used them responsibly. If you have used them more than a few times, you almost surely need to be more precise in expressing what you mean. To challenge your thinking, let us propose:


Freedom, Liberty

No one believes unqualified liberty is a good thing, or we would not have laws to limit child abuse. What do you have in mind?


Democracy is not an exact synonym for “representative government” and, while parliamentary forms of government do not provide what we like to think of as direct elections, they are “representative” and they do provide for elections. What about affirmative action? When you refer to democracy, do you know what you mean?

About Elections

Let us remind everyone that in most parts of the world (the US/UK almost uniquely excepted), the electoral process is practiced more democratically than the so-called democracy of the two-party system allows. This proportional representation provides for a multi-party parliamentary system where people are voting for representative parties and not for individuals. If you state that Slobodan Milosevic was never elected that is factually false. He, as well as Romano Prodi, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Junichiro Koizumi, Helmut Kohl, François Mitterrand, Olof Palme, de Gaulle or Nicolae Ceausescu were elected officials without having campaigned for their personal election. But they were personally elected as leaders of their respective parties, which parties then won control in their respective Parliaments. Here, only the details diverge.


Most of those who you might call “dictators” got there by legitimate political process. True, most of them provided “leadership.” When they were in power during turbulent times, when their countries were under attack or when were being subverted from within by an undeclared war, their opponents found it convenient to resort to name-calling. Nevertheless we expect you to refer to an official person by his official title rather just name-calling. After all, you are a political scientist not a heckler at the street corner.


The intellectually dubious notion of “evil” could be used if you write about Hell or demons. It even might be a good piece of political pandering but it is not a good piece of academic work.