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Blind Men and the Elephant: see also Faction, Spirit of.
This is a familiar parable that is very relevant to political discourse.
The Story (source).
“Once upon a time there was a certain raja [king] who called to his servant and said, ‘Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind... and show them an elephant.’ ‘Very good, sire,’ replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, ‘Here is an elephant,’ and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.
“When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, ‘Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?’
“Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, ‘Sire, an elephant is like a pot.’ And the men who had observed the ear replied, ‘An elephant is like a winnowing basket.’ Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the tail, a pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush.
“Then they began to quarrel, shouting, ‘Yes it is!’ ‘No, it is not!’ ‘An elephant is not that!’ ;Yes, it's like that!’ and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.
“Brethren,” the raja was delighted with the scene.
“Just so are these preachers and scholars holding various views blind and unseeing ... In their ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome, wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality is thus and thus.”
Then the Exalted One [Buddha] rendered this meaning by uttering this verse:
O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name!
For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing.
To fully appreciate the story, it is not so much a lesson about the consequences of being blind (or over-relying on limited information), but an illustration of the nature of (spiritual) blindness. As it relates to the current political situation, we have to wonder who takes the place of the raja, laughing at our ignorance and benefiting by it.

Corporatism: see also Neo-Mercantilism, Oligarchy.
Also known as: Neo-Mercantilism, State Capitalism.
Definition: Whereas neo-mercantilism describes the broad situation in which government and private interests trade money influence, it may be appropriate to reserve the term “corporatism” for the most serious cases of enduring partnerships between members of government and powerful business interests. Over time, these enduring partnerships reshape the law in ways that are often too complex and subtle for the average voter to fully apprehend, and result in the increasing poverty and oppression and eventual ruin of the many for the benefit of a very few.
Corporatism exists when business interests can recruit the assistance of government law enforcement officials in promoting their business interests, and when business interests act in the capacity of law enforcement agencies.
Key Points:
Corporatism is not capitalism.
Corporatism is not compatible with liberty.
Case Studies
Environmentalists. The Department of Homeland Security cooperated with companies that engage in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to spy on members of an environmental group who had organized to protest fracking (source). Fracking has demonstrable adverse environmental impacts. More to the point, the right to peacefully assemble is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, as is the right to be safe against the prying eyes of government if one is free of any suspicion of criminal activity.
Animal Rights Activists. The FBI has been enlisted in the cause of protecting monied agri-business concerns against efforts on the part of concerned citizens to uncover, through lawful means, evidence of their inhumane treatment of animals and unsanitary meat-processing practices (source).   
Occupy Wall Street. Peaceful protestors were quickly labeled potential “domestic terrorists” by law enforcement officials (source).

"New documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy [in 2012] was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown ... was coordinated with the big banks themselves (source)." 
 Chevron Protesters: Chevron lays waste to Ecuadoran rain forests, asks for email and phone data of protesters (source).

Duopoly: see also Faction, Spirit of.
Definition: Borrowing loosely from Ambrose Bierce, a political duopoly manifests as periods of single-party oligarchy alternating with periods of bitter partisan warfare.
Context: The United States is one of the only large, wealthy, developed nations to have a two-party system. Multi-party systems are typical of most large, wealthy, developed nations. Jamaica has a two-party system, as does the tiny island nation of Malta. Some countries have a “two-and-a-half” party system, such as Great Britain and Australia, where two parties dominate, but a smaller third party has sufficient power to influence legislation and elections.
Pros: It has been alleged that when two parties represent large swaths of the electorate, it encourages party leaders to adopt centrist and moderate positions that will appeal to the greatest number of voters. This may have been true in 1950’s America.
Cons: If there are only two political parties, they can decide that it is better to collaborate than compete. If both parties want to please the same small group of extremely wealthy donors, they will place high importance on serving the interests of wealthy donors.  This happens in multi-party systems, but whenever additional political parties compete for votes, there is a greater chance of a party’s leaders deciding to seek out donors who aren’t quite so wealthy. In the process a larger share of voters are represented.  This is illustrated by the example of Germany, where labor unions and political parties have extremely close ties. Also, Germans reject “mass parties” that try to appeal to everyone (and hence, almost no one).
Case Studies
The New Independent Whig’s Editorial Position: The free-market principle which holds that spirited competition increases quality, value, and service applies to the marketplace of political ideas.

Also known as: Revolving Door Politics
Definition: An emolument is a personal benefit (rank, wealth, or influence) that is given in exchange for a service. It does not necessarily have a negative connotation, but among the Founders, it usually did. Observe the context in which the word is used in the 1776 Pennsylvania State Constitution: “[G]overnment is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community; and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single man, family, or set of men, who are a part only of that community ...”
In modern America, a private interest (such as a financial firm or other corporation) will shower political candidates with campaign contributions. This is one form of emolument. After a political leader or well-placed political staffer retires from office, he or she may be hired by said private interest, at a very high salary. This is another form of emolument. In exchange, the retired political leader or staffer will return to the precincts of Congress and plead on behalf of the private interest.
Example: Henry Paulson, former employee of the criminal enterprise Goldman Sachs, is made Treasury Secretary (source).
Pros: Lifetime employment and prosperity for the most destructive human beings in America.
Cons: The American people must watch, helplessly, as their abusers stalk the once sacred precincts of Capitol Hill.
Common Misconception: Democrats believe that Republicans are guilty of aiding and abetting revolving door politics, and Republicans believe that Democrats are guilty of aiding and abetting revolving door politics, but both parties are guilty of this practice.
Case Studies

Goldman Sachs (of course!)
Ernst & Young: one-time partner in the frauds committed by Lehmann Brothers, later hired by Obama to advise on how to administer TARP.
The New Independent Whig’s Editorial Position: The continuing practice of revolving door politics is proof that members of federal government are above the law. We recommend tougher rules prohibiting these blatant conflicts of interest, and an independent body of law enforcement personnel to punish violations with terms of imprisonment.

Faction, Spirit of: see also Duopoly.
Definition: A “spirit of faction” or “spirit of division” exists when citizens form into political parties or interest groups and fight amongst themselves on ideological grounds. There is nothing inherently wrong in being passionate about a particular set of beliefs, but “ideology” implies a certain rigidity and desire to bend others forcibly to one’s own way of thinking. And, it should be noted, “passion about a particular set of beliefs,” even if it does not rise to the level of “ideology,” is dangerous, because it is very easy to become attached to one’s views, and as a result, one fails to listen to people who hold different views. If plugging one’s ears at the first indication of opposing points of view becomes a habit, it will lead to ideological rigidity or at the very least ignorance.

Historical Context: An English Whig named Joseph Addison wrote, in 1711, “There cannot a greater Judgment befall a Country than such a dreadful Spirit of Division as rends a Government into two distinct People, and makes them greater Strangers and more averse to one another, than if they were actually two different Nations.” Addison is referring to factions in government. “The Effects of such a Division are pernicious to the last degree, not only with regard to those Advantages which they give the Common Enemy, but to those private Evils which they produce in the Heart of almost every particular Person. This Influence … sinks the Virtue of a Nation, and not only so, but destroys even Common Sense.” 

George Washington warned of the dangers of relying on political parties to represent the will of the people. He recognized that the primary reason for which a political party exists is to place its members in positions of power. Therefore, a party organization will go to any length possible to seek more money and power to help it achieve its ends. This, in turn, “opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.” Today, the threat comes from transnational corporations that hold allegiance with no country, and their influence over the politicians of many countries. For example Monsanto is as much a blight on African nations as it is a blight on the United States. 

Case Study: The continual bi-directional exchange of money and power between private interests and government (see corporatism) is one of the central threats, if not the greatest threat, to American liberty. Sadly, many Americans who are aware of the dangers of corporatism fail to unite in common cause but mistakenly see one another as being on opposite sides of the liberal / conservative partisan divide. When conservatives decry “regulations,” they are seeing only a part of the problem. When liberals extol the benefits of regulations and “big government,” they fail to appreciate how regulations and expansive government tend to benefit large corporations at the expense of small firms, and benefit interest groups at the expense of individuals. The point here is that the illusion of sharp differences between liberals and conservatives disguises an underlying consensus on many of the key issues of the day. As discussed in a very insightful blot post located here, and as shown graphically below, the seemingly disparate Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party groups are seemingly at odds, but in fact, both are grappling with the evils of corporatism.

Also known as: State Capitalism, Corporatism
Definition: A system in which wealthy and influential businesses seek and obtain direct support from the government to promote their own financial interests.
Example: United States diplomats grant political favors to foreign countries in exchange for purchasing Boeing aircraft, because Boeing is based in the United States (source).
Pros: This **might** result in the net creation of American jobs.
Cons: This may result in companies becoming so dominant in the marketplace that smaller competitors cannot enter the market. This will lead to higher prices of products, the loss of American jobs through consolidation and outsourcing, and undue influence of private interests over public policy. Systemic neo-mercantilism means that the government is acting on behalf of wealthy and influential businesses, and the interests of these groups (such as tax incentives for off-shoring American jobs) do not always coincide with the public interest. These concerns do not imply an “anti-business” sentiment. Instead, these concerns arise from the common-sense understanding that people, and people who benefit from belonging to corporate and business interests, will seek to pursue their own interests. And the role of government is to ensure that no private interest achieves undue influence at the expense of other interests.
Case Studies
Related Topics

Low Corporate Tax Rates do not benefit the public, but do benefit private business interests.
The New Independent Whig’s Editorial Position: Neo-mercantilism violates the spirit of the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law, because organized monied interests can assert greater influence over the political process than ordinary voters.

Oligarchy: see also Plutocracy
Definition: “Any system of government in which virtually all political power is held by a very small number of wealthy but otherwise unmeritorious people who shape public policy primarily to benefit themselves financially — while displaying little or no concern for the broader interests of the rest of the citizenry (source).”
Example (1): “The 400 wealthiest Americans now own more than the 'lower' 150 million Americans put together. Nearly two-thirds of net private assets are concentrated in the hands of 5% of Americans (source).”
Example (2): “the banks ... are the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place” -- Senator Dick Durbin (source)

Pros: It is possible that our oligarch overlords are wiser than the rest of us, and dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans.
Cons: Many oligarchs achieve their wealth by means of deleterious practices such as vulture capitalism, in which they use their wealth to buy a company, give themselves huge salaries, lay off workers, sell assets, take out loans, and then abandon the company once they have made it impossible for the company to continue doing business. Oligarchs need to acquire political power either through direct influence, buying political office, or launching propaganda campaigns to fool the public; if they did not take these steps, the American people would know what to do to them.

Samuel Adams: “some will say, is it a Crime to be rich? Yes, certainly [if it is] At the Publick Expense.”

“Much as the economic giants of the Gilded Age developed such enormous influence that they could dictate basic political conditions, today's Wall Street bosses and CEOs have successfully arranged extensive deregulation for their industries. Indeed … this is the only thing that can explain how hedge fund managers suddenly started making billions of dollars a year. Former Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill, for example, kept a framed pen in his office as a symbol of his influence. It was the pen President Bill Clinton -- at Weill's instigation -- used in 1999 to sign into law legislation repealing the provisions in the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that separated the transactions of investment and commercial banks (source).”
Related Topics

President Obama is “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats”
-- Cornel West.

Plutocracy: see Oligarchy

Definition: Whereas oligarchy implies rulership by a small clique of influential people, plutocracy refers specifically to a system of government in which political leadership is decided based on  wealth. There are some oligarchs, in theory, who are not unusually wealthy ... although one strains to find a good example. The term plutocracy comes from the Roman god Pluto, their rendition of the Greek god Hades, the god of Death. The comparison is apt because Pluto lived in an underworld kingdom, and the ancients understood the underworld to be underground, and gold, jewels, and varied sources of wealth all find their origin in the earth. But some have argued that the connection between vast wealth and death is not incidental. To love wealth is to care more about things -- gold coins, etc. -- than about people. And many of the fabulously wealthy have acquired their wealth -- or more importantly, protected their inherited wealth against incursions by tax-collectors -- at the expense of common folk. Thus, plutocracy has a pointed connotation that is lacking in the term "oligarch." 

Holbein's 'Death and the Miser'

 State Capitalism: see Neo-Mercantilism

Also known as: Manipulation of stock prices and financial markets, particularly when it adversely impacts the public interest
Definition: One who speculates in public funds for (private) gain (from Webster’s Dictionary of 1828); also: unscrupulous dealing in financial products.  Note: the term “stock-jobber” is admittedly archaic, but conveys the meaning more concisely than any contemporary word or phrase of which I am aware.
Example: Large banks can manipulate interest rates to conceal the fact that their reckless speculation has made them vulnerable to failure. When they fail, they demand public money as a “bail-out” (source).
Pros: Enriches a very small number of individuals who are already dazzlingly wealthy. 
Cons: Said enrichment comes at public expense. 
Case Studies: 2008 Bail-Out Recipients and Stock-Jobbers

2008 Bail-Out
Stock-Jobbing Behavior
Other Misbehavior

“The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
CEO Jamie Dimon, almost certainly lying under oath
According to the U.S. Senate, JPMorgan Chase “hid losses, did not share information with its regulators, and misled the public”" and generally engaged in “make believe voodoo magic” to fraudulently enrich its executives.

Exec Joseph Cassano, almost certainly lying under oath
Shilling the Keystone XL project , which will boost their profits but will harm American interests

Related Topics

The top 10 banks hold 77% of the banking industry’s domestic assets, a greater percentage than before the economic calamity of 2007.
The New Independent Whig’s Editorial Position: Stock-jobbing is a crime. Punishment should be certain, swift, and severe.  

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