The Pathos of Politics – Glossary



1st Baron’s War (1215–1216): a civil war against King John I by major landowners (barons) (who were backed by France) for John’s refusal to abide by the Magna Carta.

2-round voting system (aka 2nd ballot, runoff voting, ballotage): a voting method to elect a person via ballot votes. If no candidate receives the requisite vote count in the 1st round, the top 2 vote-getters face off in a runoff election round. The 2-round system is used worldwide for electing members of legislative bodies and directly elected presidents.

3-age system: an archeological sequential periodization of human prehistory and early history, comprising the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age.

4th estate: the news media, particularly in regard to political coverage. Historically, the 3 groups, or estates, that had political representation were: the nobility, the clergy and commoners. The 4th estate, coined by Edmund Burke in 1787, meant those without an official voice, but with influence on public affairs. In the 19th century, the term came to exclusively refer to the press. It now refers to all forms of news media.

7 Years’ War (1756–1763): the largest-scale European war since the 30 Years’ War in the 17th century, involving every great power of the time except the Ottoman Empire. There were 2 coalitions: one led by Great Britain, the other France. France lost, and thereby Britain gained the bulk of French colonies in the New World, as well as colonies in Africa, and superior trading outposts on the Indian subcontinent.

12 Tables (~450 bce): the legislation that served as the foundation of Roman law. The Romans venerated the 12 Tables.

30 Years’ War (1618–1648): a war begun between various Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmented Holy Roman Empire which evolved into a general conflict involving the great European powers of the time, with the rivalry between the Kingdom of France and House of Hapsburg a focal struggle. The war abetted a major outbreak of witchcraft persecutions.

9/11: the aerial suicide bombing, via commercial airliners, by Saudi Arabians on September 11, 2001 of select US targets, including the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City (demolished), the Pentagon (damaged), and the White House (unscathed).

100 Years’ War (1337–1453): an intermittent series of conflicts between England and France for control of France. The struggle involved several generations of English and French claimants to the crown of France.


a fortiori: certainly; all the more (reason).

accountable: answerable to responsibility.

Achaemenid Empire (aka 1st Persian Empire) (550–330 bce): an empire in western Asia, centered in Iran. The empire at its peak (~480 bce) ruled 50 million people, then 44% of the world population; the greatest percentage for any empire in history.

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union): an American organization whose stated purpose is to uphold constitutional rights and liberties.

adversarial system (aka adversary system): a judicial system where advocates (lawyers) represent their parties’ position in a case before the court. Contrast inquisitorial system.

Afghanistan: a landlocked country in south-central Asia, bordered by Iran to the west and Pakistan to the southeast. Afghanistan had some of the world’s earliest farming communities.

Age of Enlightenment (aka Age of Reason): a cultural and intellectual movement in Western Europe during the last half of the 17th century through the 18th century that emphasized reason and individualism. The Age of Enlightenment was sparked in the late 17th century by various philosophers, including Spinoza, Locke, and Voltaire, along with Newton, whose musings promoting rationality met a receptive audience in some European rulers, who strove for enlightened absolutism. For one, Reason lessened the grip of the church on the body politic. The Scientific Revolution was engendered concomitant with Enlightenment. The reaction to the Age of Reason was Romanticism.

Akkadian Empire (2334–2154): the empire in Mesopotamia that, for a time, supplanted the Sumerian civilization.

al-Qaeda (translation: The Foundation) (1988–): a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden.

Algeria: a country in the Maghreb region; the largest country in Africa.

Allāh: the Islamic God.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): an American organization whose stated purpose is to uphold constitutional rights and liberties.

American Revolutionary War (aka American War of Independence) (1775–1783): The war by the confederation of states (now the United States) that successfully rebelled against its colonial master, Great Britain, thanks to intervention by France, which was smarting for revenge after its defeat in the 7 Years’ War.

Amnesty International (1961–): London-based international human rights non-governmental organization.

Anabaptism: a Christian movement that originated during the Radical Reformation in the 16th century. Anabaptists believe in delaying baptism until a person declares one’s faith.

anarchism: a political philosophy advocating stateless society.

anarchy: a society or state lacking effective legal authority.

Anarchy (1135–1154): the English civil war of succession after Henry I’s only legitimate heir died in the accidental sinking of the White Ship in 1120.

Angevin Empire: a hegemony held by English kings (Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John) in the 12th and early 13th centuries.

Anglo-French war (1202–1214): a war between King John of England and King Philip II of France, with John trying to retain domination of his ancestral lands in Normandy. Philip defeated John, ending John’s aspirational Angevin Empire.

Antebellum: before the US Civil War (1861).

anthrax: an infection caused by Bacillus anthracis.

anthropoid: a monkey or ape. Compare hominid.

apparatchik: Russian colloquialism for a Soviet bureaucrat or lower-level party functionary.

AR-15 rifle: a selective-fire rifle; the predecessor to the US military M16 rifle. Selective-fire rifles may be used in semi-automatic, multi-short burst, and/or automatic firing modes.

arbitration: a process for resolving disputes involving a presumably impartial 3rd party.

Arthashastra (2nd–3rd century bce): an influential Hindu text on societal organization, ethics, and economics.

Assize of Clarendon (1166): a set of ordinances that modernized criminal law procedures, issued by Henry II during a convocation of lords at the royal hunting lodge at Clarendon.

Assyria (~25th century bce–~599 bce): a kingdom in the Near East and Levant, with its greatest extent ~750–612 bce.

atheism: the rejection of belief in deities.

atomism: the philosophy that Nature consists of 2 fundamental aspects: atom and void. Atomism developed in both ancient Indian and Greek traditions.

atrazine (C8H14ClN5): an herbicide commonly found in American and Australian drinking water, owing to its widespread use. To mammals, atrazine is a hormone disrupter, known to engender birth defects in the offspring of pregnant women exposed to the chemical.

Australia: a continent and country in the southern Pacific, first inhabited by humans ~50,000 years ago.

Australasia: a region of Oceania comprising New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and neighboring islands.

authoritarianism: governance via a strong central power, with citizens having curtailed civil rights. Authoritarianism may appear irrespective of government structure.

autocracy: an absolutist government ruled by a single person.


Babylonia: an ancient civilization in central-southern Mesopotamia, centered in the lower Euphrates valley; beginning as a small provincial town in the 24th century bce, greatly expanding during the reign of Hammurabi in the 1st half of the 18th century bce, declining and reverting to a small kingdom for several centuries thereafter. In 539 bce, the legendary Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.

background extinction: extinction limited to relatively few species. Contrast mass extinction.

Bahrain: an island country in the Persian Gulf, famed since antiquity for its pearl fisheries. A former British protectorate, Bahrain became an independent kingdom in 2002.

Battle of Actium (2 September 31 bce): the decisive confrontation – a naval battle – between Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony & Cleopatra, on the Ionian Sea, near the promontory of Actium, on the coast of Greece. Octavian’s victory enabled him to take power and initiate the Roman Empire.

Bay of Pigs (mid-April 1960): a CIA-sponsored failed invasion of Cuba.

bce (acronym for Before the Common Era): the era before the supposed birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Year zero is unused. Dates before 1 ce (common era) are indicated as bce. ce dates are typically not denoted.

bench (legal): a reference to judges or the judiciary.

Benelux (1944–): the politico-economic union of 3 neighboring nations in central-western Europe: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Benelux Union began with a 1944 customs agreement and progressed with subsequent treaties.

Berber: the indigenous people of the Maghreb region in North Africa.

Bible, The: a collection of texts held sacred in Judaism and Christianity.

bicameral (politics): a legislature of 2 bodies. Contrast unicameral.

Bill of Rights (American politics): the collective name for the 1st 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, added to guarantee personal freedoms and rights, and provide clear limitations to government power. The Bill of Rights draws on several antecedents, including earlier declarations by individual states, and the 1689 English Bill of Rights, whose concepts date to the 1215 Magna Carta.

bishop (religion): a clergyman who supervises a number of churches or a diocese (an ecclesiastical district).

black (sociology): a dark-skinned person; in the US, typically a person of African descent (owing to the country’s slavery tradition). Contrast white.

Black Death: a devastating plague in Europe in the mid-14th century caused by the airborne bacterium Yersinia pestis.

bliss: tranquil contentment.

Bosnia (formally Bosnia & Herzegovina): a country in southeastern Europe; formerly part of Yugoslavia.

Boston Tea Party (16 December 1773): a political protest by American colonists against British taxation without compensatory political representation. In defiance of the 10 May 1773 Tea Act, which imposed a tax on tea, protesters destroyed a shipment of tea sent by the British East India Company.

bourgeoisie: upper middle class.

Britain: see United Kingdom.

Bronze Age (~3300–1300 bce): the middle period of the 3-age system, noted for the metallurgical production of bronze; the Stone Age preceded, the Iron Age followed.

bureaucracy: a conceptual model of departmentalized responsibilities and functions within an organization; coined by Jacques Claude de Gournay in the mid-18th century as a pejorative. Within a century, bureaucracy was being used in a neutral sense.

Byzantine Empire (aka the Eastern Roman Empire) (330–1453): the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the eastern Roman Empire until annexed by the Ottomans in 1453.


canon (law): ecclesiastical rule or law.

cant (adjective): lively, vigorous.

capital: wealth that can be employed to produce more wealth.

carceral: pertaining to prisons.

Carolingian (aka Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karlings) (751–1120): a Frankish dynasty founded by Charles Martel, named after the medieval Latinized version of his name.

ce (acronym of Common Era): denoted years after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. See bce.

Ceres: the Roman goddess of agriculture, fertility, and motherly relationships; originally the central deity for Roman plebeians.

CEO (chief operating officer): the leader of a corporation. Compare COO.

China: the largest country in east Asia, with the world’s greatest population: 1.42 billion people in 2019. Over 90% of China’s people live in the eastern half of the country, which has most of the major cities and nearly all arable land.

China has one of the oldest extant civilizations. In only the relatively briefest of durations has the country been anything but run autocratically, usually dynastically. Over the course of more than 2 millennia, ersatz democracy existed for only a few decades in the early 20th century, while spans of widescale civil strife lasted, in toto, for a few centuries. Since 1949, China has been ruled by a dynasty that calls itself communist but is instead a privileged oligarchic dictatorship.

cholera: an infection of the small intestine by the bacterium Vibrio cholera.

CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) (1949–): American secret service for foreign intelligence. Compare FBI.

civil law (aka civilian law, Roman law): a judicial system largely reliant upon legal codes. Compare common law.

Civil Rights Movement (1954–1968): a US social movement to end racial segregation and discrimination.

Civil War (US) (1861–1865): the civil war between southern and northern states in the United States over the issue of slavery.

civilization: a culture which characterizes a society.

clan: a group of families or people of common descent. Compare tribe.

classical antiquity (aka classical age/era/period): a broad term for the cultural historical period of the intertwined civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, collectively called the Greco-Roman world.

classicism: the cultural principles and styles of ancient Greece and Rome.

Cod Wars (1958–1976): a series of conflicts between Iceland and Britain over Iceland’s desire to extend its marine jurisdiction to 200 miles, providing an exclusive fishery zone. Iceland won.

Code of Hammurabi: Babylonian law dating to 1754 bce, under King Hammurabi.

Code of Ur-Nammu (~2050 bce): the earliest known codes of law, from the 3rd Sumerian dynasty. The prologue decreed “equity in the land.”

Cold War (1947–1991): the political and military tension after World War 2 between the United States (and its allies) and the Soviet Union (and its minion nations).

Collective: the great mass of humanity. The Collective are psychologically and behaviorally defined by their beliefs. Politically, the Collective believe that their abstractions represent the actual world: a wellspring of self-delusion that has driven polity from the birth of civilization to present day.

collectivism: an outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of humanity.

colonialism: the practice of population subjugation. Compare imperialism.

common law (aka case law): a judicial system that extensively relies upon precedential court decisions. Compare civil law. See natural law.

communism: a theory advocating eliminating private ownership of property and capital. Historically, politicians have touted communism but never delivered, producing instead totalitarian regimes enforcing an estate system. Compare socialism.

compurgation: an early common law trial method in which a defendant could be acquitted via sworn oath of innocence endorsed by a required number of people, typically 12.

Comstock Act (aka the Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use): an 1873 US federal law prohibiting distributing sexually oriented information or materials through the US mail; named after its chief proponent, US Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock.

Concert of Europe (aka Congress System, after the Congress of Vienna, which met from November 1814 to June 1815) (1815–1914): a negotiated balance of European power from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of the 1st World War.

consequentialism: a class of normative ethics theories holding that consequences are the ultimate basis to judge moral acts.

Conservative Party (aka Tories): the dominant centre-right party in the UK. Contrast Labour.

conservatism (politics): views, beliefs, and principles that generally favor the status quo, with modest tinkering at most. Compare radicalism, liberalism, reactionism.

constitutionalism: the idea that the authority of government derives from a fundamental body of law.

consumerism: a socioeconomic order engendering material acquisition; the idea that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is good for the economy.

In modern civilized communities, the members of each stratum accept as their ideal of decency the scheme of life in vogue in the next higher stratum. ~ Thorstein Veblen

COO (chief operating officer): corporate executive responsibility for daily operation of a company. Compare CEO.

Corn Laws (1815–1846): a British trade system to restrict grain imports and impose tariffs on imported grain to keep grain prices high and favor domestic producers. The politics behind the corn laws was their imposition by landowners, who were heavily over-represented in Parliament, against the economic interest of urban workers, who were grossly underrepresented. Only in the face of severe famine in Ireland and food shortage in Britain were the laws repealed.

corporatism (aka corporativism): the sociopolitical organization of a society via interest groups.

Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law): 4 books of civil law compiled under Byzantine emperor Justinian I that originally issued 529–534: Codex Constitutionum – a 10-volume collection of Roman ordinances; Digesta (Pandectae) – a collation of case law from authorized jurists; Institutiones – a textbook of legal institutions, intended for 1st-year law students; and Novellae Constitutiones Post Codicem – new ordinances issued by Justinian himself 534–565, after publication of the Codex.

corruption: impairment of virtue, integrity, or moral principle; depravity.

Court of the Hundred: a judicial assembly of local villagers under Salic Law.

credentialism (aka credential creep): an increasing demand by employers for educational degrees for specific occupations.

Crusades: a series of medieval military campaigns sanctioned by the Catholic Church for control of the Holy Land (the Levant).

Cuba: an island south of Florida, where the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and Caribbean Sea meet.

cultural materialism: an anthropological perspective which posits that the best way to understand human culture is through examination of material conditions, such as food supply, surplus distribution, geography, and climate. The term and concept were coined by American anthropologist Marvin Harris in 1968.

custom (political economics): monies collected via tariffs.

cynicism: an ancient Greek school of philosophy which proposed that the purpose of life is to live virtuously, in harmony with Nature.


Dark Ages: the 5th–10th centuries in Europe; the early Middle Ages following the decline of the Roman Empire. The term Dark Ages is generally disparaged by contemporary historians, owing to its critical overtone. Yet the aptness of its cultural attribution cannot be denied. Italian scholar Francesco Petrarch coined the metaphor in the 1330s, when writing of the previous historical period:

Amid the errors there shone forth men of genius; no less keen were their eyes, although they were surrounded by darkness and dense gloom.

DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (C14H9Cl5)): a crystalline organochlorine which acts as a potent insecticide.

de facto: in fact. Compare de jure.

de jure: by right; according to law. Compare de facto.

Deep South: states in the southern US dependent on plantation agriculture and slavery in the pre-Civil War era: Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

deism: the religious belief that God is a non-intervening part of Nature.

democracy: a state having government by its people.

Democratic Party: the dominant moderate-conservative party in the US. Contrast Republican Party.

demagogue: a politician who seeks to gain power by exploiting popular prejudices and making false or extravagant claims and promises.

deontology (philosophy): measuring morality by inherent goodness, not result. See moral absolutism.

descriptive ethics: the study of people’s beliefs about morality. See normative ethics.

despotism: the exercise of absolute political authority; dictatorship. Compare monarchy.

devolution (legal): a statutory grant of power by a sovereign state to a subordinate level of government; a form of governmental decentralization.

dialectic (aka dialectical method): logical argumentation based upon the interaction of juxtaposed ideas, aimed at affirmation of one and refutation of the others; determination via conceptual contrasts. The Socratic method, advocated by Socrates, is one form of dialectic.

diocese: an ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop.

direct democracy: a form of democracy where citizens directly decide policies. Compare representative democracy.

Dissolution of the Monasteries (aka Suppression of the Monasteries) (1536–1541): a series of edicts by Henry VIII which disbanded monasteries, priories, convents, and frairies in England, Wales, and Ireland, and robbed the church of its assets and income. Henry’s dissolution was one of the most revolutionary events in English history and was unpopular.

ducking stool: a chair in which an offender is tied and plunged into water.

dynasty: a sequence of rulers from the same family or clan.


East India Company (EIC) (1600–1708): a British company established to pursue trade with the East Indies, but which ended up dealing mainly on the Indian subcontinent and with the Qing dynasty in China.

East Indies: a historical term for the lands of south and southeast Asia, from India to Malaysia. Late 15th-century Portuguese began using the term Indies to refer to what was later called the East Indies, as contrasted to the West Indies (the Americas).

Eastern Orthodox Church (aka Orthodox Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy): the Catholic church established in Constantinople when the city was founded in 324. The Orthodoxy split from the Roman Catholic church in ~1054. The Orthodoxy does not have a pope. It has instead ecumenical councils to interpret the scriptures, with a patriarch as 1st among equals.

econometrics: problem solving via statistical and mathematical techniques.

economics: the study of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, and the material well-being of humans.

Economist, The (1843–): a British weekly news magazine, started by Scottish businessman James Wilson, to advocate free trade, particularly the repeal of the Corn Laws.

egalitarianism: belief in the equality of all people, especially in the political, social, and/or economic spheres.

Egypt: a Mediterranean country in Northeastern Africa with a semi-presidential political system established after a revolution in 2011.

Egyptian (civilization) (3150–30 bce): an ancient civilization in Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower Nile.

electoral college: a set of electors who elect a candidate to a political office. Electoral colleges originated with early Germanic law, for election of the German king, and with the Catholic Church. The US employs an electoral college to indirectly elect its president, with electors representing the 50 states and the federal District of Columbia, roughly based upon popular vote.

eminent domain: the power of the state to take private property for public use, commonly with compensation to the owner.

empiricism (epistemology) (aka verificationism): the presumption that knowledge derives solely from sensory experience. See neopositivism.

empiricism (philosophy of science): the belief that Nature may be entirely explained by physical forces.

England: a country in the British Isles until 1707, now part of the United Kingdom.

English Civil War (1642–1651): a series of armed conflicts between factions respectively advocating despotism and parliamentary government. The monarchy survived, albeit checked by parliament.

enlightened absolutism: a form of monarchy inspired by the Enlightenment, whereby despots declared a fondness for rationality, which tended to translate into religious toleration, relatively free speech (albeit not against the monarchy), private property rights, and fostering education, the arts, and science. The controversial concept was delineated by German historian Wilhelm Roscher in 1847. Reflecting current political thought, enlightened absolutists held that royal power derived not by divine right, but from social contract theory which obliged a ruler to govern wisely. Several 18th century European rulers are associated with the notion, including Frederick II of Prussia; Louis XVI of France; Catherine II of Russia; Joseph I of Portugal; Carlos III of Spain; Frederick VI of Denmark; Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor of Austria; Gustav III of Sweden; and Maria Theresa, ruler of the Habsburg domains (Austria, Hungary, Croatia, et cetera).

enlightenment (aka quietude or quiet consciousness): the state of consciousness with abiding connection to the unicity of Nature, albeit not its realization.

Enlightenment (cultural period): see Age of Enlightenment.

entail (legal): limiting the inheritance of real estate to a specific line of heirs.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): the US federal government agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment from the externalities of corporate excess. The EPA was created by President Richard Nixon in 1970 by executive order.

EPA: see Environmental Protection Agency.

Epicureanism: the philosophy of Epicurus–that pleasure and pain are the metrics of good and evil.

equity (sociology, politics): fairness.

estate system: an economic and political system of control of societal resources by an elite group.

ethics (aka moral philosophy): a branch of philosophy concerning systemizing distinction between right and wrong action; a system of moral principles.

Etruscan civilization: the culture of ancient Italy in the regions roughly corresponding to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio, from 800 bce until Roman times.

eugenics: beliefs and practices aimed at improving the genetic quality of humans.

Eurasia: the continental landmass of Europe and Asia, including Borneo and other nearby islands. Compare Australasia.

European Coal and Steel Community (1952–2002): a European supranational organization ostensibly aimed at sharing resources for steelmaking, but ultimately aimed at European union.

eusocialism: a totalitarian, egalitarian polity.

exogamy: the custom of marrying outside the immediate social group.

externality (economics): an unintended byproduct of making something. Waste and pollution are exemplary externalities.


false flag: a covert operation designed to deceive as to who carried out an attack. The term originated in naval warfare, where a belligerent would use a flag that was false to its true allegiance.

fascism: a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe, originating in Italy during World War 1. Economically, fascists favor state control of capitalism, with policies designed to achieve autarky (self-sufficiency).

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) (1908–): the US domestic intelligence and security service.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) (1906–): the US federal agency responsible for the health and safety of ingestible products sold in the country. The FDA was established with the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act. Its mandate expanded as processed foods with additives became more the norm, and as the food system became more consolidated and globalized. In its performance, the FDA is exemplary of (perhaps) well-intentioned government incompetence.

federalism: a federal system, where a nation is a union of states under a central government that is distinct from state governments.

feudalism: a societal system prevalent in medieval Europe, of socioeconomic hierarchy based upon land holding. Feudalism usually emerged from decentralization or disintegration of an empire.

Fidesz (1988–): a right-wing populist party which has dominated Hungarian politics since its landslide victory in 2010.

first-past-the-post (election): a voting system in which the candidate who receives the most votes among a plurality wins.

folkway: a traditional behavior that is a norm. Compare more.

Fox News (1996–): an American right-wing news television channel created by Rupert Murdoch.

France: a nation in Western Europe that emerged as a political power in the Late Middle Ages. France has had an outsized influence on Western culture.

Francia (aka Kingdom of the Franks): the territory of the Franks from Late Antiquity into the Early Middle Ages; the geopolitical realm roughly corresponding to modern-day France.

Franconia: the region in south-central Germany where the Franks settled in the 6th century.

frankpledge: a pledge by someone out of jail that he would be responsible for producing someone in jail to the court for trial, so that the accused may be released.

Franks: a confederation of Germanic tribes that occupied the Lower and Middle Rhine river valleys during the 3rd century. Some Frankish tribes raided Roman territory, while others joined Roman troops in Gaul.

French and Indian War (aka 7 Years’ War (the term used by Canadians and Europeans)) (1754–1763): the North American theater of the larger 7 Years’ War, where the British fought the French and various native (Indian) tribes.

(French) Wars of Religion (1562–1598): a series of 7 religiously-fueled wars that killed 2–4 million and resulted in granting the Huguenots a degree of political freedom.

French Revolution (1789–1799): a decade of social and political upheaval in France. Widely regarded as one of the most important political events in political history, the French Revolution triggered the decline of theocracies and absolute monarchies around the world.

functional psychology (aka functionalism): the psychological philosophy that cognition and behavior afford adaptation to circumstances. Historically, functionalism was a response to structuralism, which considered the mind as components which could be understood via introspection.


G20 (Group of 20): a forum for the European Union and 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, and the US. Spain is a permanent guest invitee.

game theory: the study of strategic interaction between rational decision-makers; specifically, theorization of outcomes and dynamics in situations involving parties with conflicting interests. Modern game theory was developed in the early 1940s and further evolved in the 1950s. Compare decision theory.

Gaul: a region of western Europe inhabited by Celtic tribes during the Iron Age, including modern-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, and parts of northern Italy. Gaul was ruled by the Romans 103 bce to 486 ce, when it fell to the Franks, becoming Francia.

GDP (gross domestic product): a distorted monetary measure of the value of all final goods and services produced in an economy for some period (usually yearly or quarterly). GDP measures are wildly off, as they fail to measure much economic activity. (gross domestic product): a distorted monetary measure of the value of all final goods and services produced in an economy for some period (usually yearly or quarterly). GDP measures are wildly off, as they fail to measure much economic activity.

General Strike of 1926: a nationwide strike throughout Britain 4–13 May 1926.

Georgism: an economic philosophy holding that the natural resources should be belong equally to everyone in a community, but that the value people add belongs to them. Named after its proponent, Henry George.

German Peasants’ War (1524–1525): a widespread revolt in German-speaking areas of central Europe, provoked by popular desire for political influence and greater liberty, as contrasted to the serfdom suffered. The aristocracy ended the revolt with a bloodbath, slaughtering ~100,000 of the 300,000 uppity, poorly armed farmers and peasants.

Germany: a nation in northern central western Europe that has shaped European politics since the fall of the western Roman Empire. Germany has 82.2 million people (2018).

gerrymander (US): the dividing of an electoral district so as to give one political party majority power while concentrating the voting strength of other parties in as few districts as possible, so as to give them as little power as possible.

glasswort: an annual halophyte.

Glorious Revolution (1688): the overthrow of King James II of England by Dutch stadtholder William of Orange, who was invited by English Parliamentarians to dispose of the king. England’s ruling class was Anglican. Parliament had the dire concern that continued rule of James, a Catholic, could lead to a Roman Catholic dynasty aligned with France. This would, it was feared, eviscerate Parliament’s power. William’s invasion of England led to his ascending of the English throne as William III of England, jointly with his wife, Mary II of England, in accordance with the 1689 Bill of Rights, which was an act of Parliament that set the limits of monarchial rule.

God: the myth of an immortal supreme being who is omniscient and typically omnipotent, albeit often inexplicably reserved in exercising such power in moral ways comprehensible to mere mortals.

government: a group which has the power to make and enforce laws for an area or country. See state.

grand jury: a legal body empowered to investigate accusation of criminal conduct and determine whether charges should be brought.

grapheme: the smallest unit (such as a letter) of a writing system.

Great Depression (1929–1939): the longest and most severe economic downturn experienced in the industrialized world prior to the 21st century. The financial shock that sparked the depression originated in the United States. Its contagion quickly spread to Europe.

Great Recession (2009): a sharp, severe worldwide economic downturn caused by financial speculation, especially in real estate. While official statistics define the recession as global for only a single year, the recession in many countries begin in 2008 and lasted into 2011 or later.

Green Party of the United States (GPUS) (2001–): American left-wing party favoring social equity, democracy, and environmentalism.

Grenada: an island country in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, northeast of Venezuela. Grenada is a leading exporter of the spices nutmeg and mace.

gross domestic product: see GDP.

group (sociology): an association of people with some degree of affinity bonding.

Guardian, The (1821–): a British national newspaper, known until 1959 as the Manchester Guardian.

Gupta Empire (India): the 2nd successful attempt to create an empire in India, after the Mauryan Empire (322–185 bce).


habeas corpus: a legal recourse against unlawful imprisonment.

halophyte: a plant that thrives in saline environments, such as seacoasts and salt marshes.

hard news: media coverage of current events. Contrast soft news.

Haymarket riot (4 May 1866): a riot in Chicago incited by police during a labor demonstration.

Hebrews: early Israelites, especially in pre-monarchic times, when they were still nomadic.

hegemony: influence exercised by one nation over others.

heliocentrism: the theory that the Sun is the center of the solar system around which planets orbit, including Earth.

Hellenistic period (323–31 bce): a period in ancient Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great and the emergence of the Roman Empire, signified by the Battle of Actium.

hemlock (Conium maculatum): a poisonous plant in the parsley family, with purple-spotted stems, finely divided leaves, and umbels of small white flowers; a powerful sedative when used medicinally.

heuristic (psychology): a simple, efficient rule employed to form judgments or make decisions.

HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus / acquired immune deficiency syndrome): an enveloped RNA retrovirus disease, termed for the immune system deterioration it causes, leading to AIDS, which is progressive immune system failure, allowing opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. HIV is primarily transmitted via unprotected sex and blood transfers, such as contaminated transfusions and sharing hypodermic needles during drug abuse.

Holocaust (1941–1945): the genocide of Jews (6 million) (and others (5 million)) by the German Nazi regime during the 2nd World War.

Homeland Security: the US federal agencies responsible for fighting terrorism.

hominin: the hypothesized clade that descended into humans.

hominid: an ape descendant, some of which became hominin. Compare anthropoid.

honor: integrity in one’s beliefs and actions; concern for a positive reputation about adhering to mores, notably honesty and fairness.

House of Plantagenet: a royal British house which originated in the lands of Anjou, in northwestern France. The family held the English throne from 1154. Its reign planted the seeds of democracy that evolved in England, beginning with royal charters, notably the Magna Carta.

Hugenot: a 16th–18th century French Protestant inspired by the writings of John Calvin (Calvinism).

Human Rights Watch (1978–): an international non-governmental organization dedicated to human rights under sway of natural law principles.

humanism: an ethical stance emphasizing the value of human beings. The meaning of the term has fluctuated. In modern times, humanism is associated with secularism.

Hundred Years’ War: see 100 Years’ War.

Hungary: a central European country, run as a parliamentary democracy.

Hutterites: a religious group of Anabaptists that practiced socialism and pacifism, founded by Jacob Hutter.

hydrochloric acid (HCl): a clear, colorless, highly pungent solution that is highly corrosive. Hydrochloric acid has many industrial uses.


ideology (politics): a doctrinal sociopolitical belief system about an ideal social order and how to attain it.

ignorance: a state of unknowing. There are 2 types of ignorance: fact-ignorance (fignorance) and perspective-ignorance (pignorance). Fignorance is not knowing the salient facts of a subject. Pignorance arises from incognizance of reality.

imperialism: a state acquiring the territory of another nation. Compare colonialism.

in-group: a group generally viewed positively. Contrast out-group.

India: the 7th-largest country (3.3 million km2), with 1.3 billion people (2018); on its own subcontinent in central southern Asia. India is an ancient civilization that once was a font of spiritual wisdom that has since gone dry, at least where governance is concerned. India has a rapidly growing population matched by a rapidly deteriorating natural environment. The former won’t last long but the latter will linger for centuries.

Indies: a historical term for the lands of south and southeast Asia, from India to Malaysia. Late-15th-century Portuguese began using the term Indies to refer to what was later called the East Indies, as contrasted to the West Indies (the Americas). The New World was discovered by accident. Columbus was looking for a shortcut to the East Indies and insisted he had found it–hence the West Indies.

individualism: an ideology that emphasizes the moral worth of individuals.

Indus Valley Civilization (aka Harappan civilization) (~7,000–~1500 bce): a peaceful, prosperous civilization that flourished in the basins of the monsoon-fed Indus River, extending from northeast Afghanistan to northwest India. At its peak, the civilization may have had a population of over 5 million.

Industrial Revolution: the era of industrialization that began in England in the mid-18th century. English economic historian Arnold Toynbee popularized the term in describing England’s economic development from 1760 to 1840. Industrialization engendered 3 complementary social dynamics: 1) rapid urbanization, 2) a population boom, and 3) the destruction of the existing social hierarchy headed by landed aristocracy, which was gradually replaced by a dominant social class of wealth inherited or made from manufacture, finance, and/or trade.

industrialism: a societal economic organization built largely on mechanized industry rather than agriculture and craftsmanship.

infidel: non-believer.

inquisitorial system: a judicial system where the court actively investigates the facts of cases. Contrast adversarial system.

intellectual property: granted governmental protection to certain abstractions, notably creative works (copyright), commercial brand names (trademark) and technical inventions (patents).

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): US federal tax collection agency.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (1944–): an international organization tasked with goals oriented toward stable capitalist economic growth. The IMF was ironically born from the understanding that capitalism is inherently instable. Funded by member contributions through a proportionate quota system, the IMF acts as a lender of last resort to countries in dire straits. Most countries in the world belong to the IMF, though relations are sometimes touchy: Argentina, for example, refuses to let the IMF monitor its finances. Nonmembers include Andorra, Columbia, Cuba, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Nauru, North Korea, Taiwan, and Venezuela.

International Office of Public Health (1907–1948): a Paris-based European public health organization, absorbed into the World Health Organization when it was founded.

internationalism: the principle of inclination toward international cooperation as promoting the common good, irrespective of nationality. Contrast nationalism.

Internet (1983–): a global public computer network.

Investiture Controversy: a conflict between church and state in medieval Europe during the 11th–12th centuries; began between Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII; ended in 1122 (the Concordat of Worms), when Emperor Henry V and Pope Calixtus II agreed to a Gelasian compromise on whom bishops owed their allegiance to.

Iran: an oligarchic Shiite Islamic state in the Middle East with a rich historic legacy.

Iraq: the Western cradle of civilization (from ~10,000 bce), now a failed state in the Middle East.

Iron Age (roughly 1300–500 bce): the last principal period of the three-age system; noted for widespread use of iron, and the development of steel. See Stone Age, Bronze Age.

Islam (religion): the religion founded by Muhammad and informed by the Koran, with the basic principle of absolute submission to the god Allāh.

Islam (sociology): the societies predominantly practicing Islamic religion.

Islamic State (IS): an extremist Islamic terrorist group.

Islamism: an ideology embracing the Islamic religion and emphasizing implementation of Sharia (Islamic law).

Israel: the Jewish-led nation in the Levant, founded in 1948 by Jewish takeover of land specified by the United Nations in 1947 for both an Arab and a Jewish state. Israel is a thin slice of a country, 21 thousand km2, with 8.4 million people (2018).


Japan: an island nation off the eastern coast of China, comprising 6,852 islands.

Jew: an adherent of Judaism.

jihad: an Arabic word meaning struggle or striving, especially toward a praiseworthy goal. Jihad has had many nuances in an Islamic context. In classical Islamic law, jihad meant armed struggle against unbelievers.

Jim Crow laws: legislation in the Southern United States following the Civil War designed to segregate and subjugate the black population. Jim Crow laws stayed on the books until Federal legislation overruled them in 1964 (Civil Rights Act)–1965 (Voting Rights Act), though it took decades after that to unravel institutional discrimination. Northerners did not bother with Jim Crow laws. Segregation there was achieved through various private socioeconomic mechanisms, including job discrimination and bank lending practices.

Jordan: an Arab kingdom on the east bank of the Jordan River.

Judaism: the monotheist religion of the Jews.

judiciary: a country’s judicial/court system.

July Revolution (aka French Revolution of 1830): a popular revolt 27–29 July 1830 which overthrew King Charles X over attempted repression of the press and established a constitutional monarchy. Though an anti-monarchist rebellion by Parisians in June 1832 (the June Rebellion) was suppressed, the Parisian 1848 Revolution succeeded in overthrowing the monarchy and establishing the 2nd Republic.

jurist: a person educated in the law (e.g., lawyer), though typically used to indicate a judge, sometimes a legal scholar.

justice: retribution for wrongdoing.


kleptocracy: government conducted by those who chiefly seek status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.

Koran (aka Qur’an): the holy book of Islam, analogous to the Judeo-Christian Bible. Muslims consider the Koran unique in being directly written by the God Allāh, through the prophet Muhammad.

Korean War (1950–1953): a war that started when North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea. Within 2 months South Korea was on the verge of defeat. The US provided 88% of the military personnel and almost all of the armaments in the UN-sponsored fight against North Korea. The war ended in a territorial stalemate, with an armistice signed, but to this day no peace treaty.

Ku Klux Klan (aka KKK): a US white supremacy organization that flourished in the Old South in the 1860s, dying out in the early 1870s, but reviving in the early 1920s in the Midwest and West. The KKK are opposed to immigration, Jews, and Catholics. The 3rd incarnation of the KKK arose in the 1950s as unconnected groups which opposed the civil rights movement.

Kuwait: a tiny state on the northeastern edge of the Arabian peninsula, on the Persian Gulf. Oil reserves discovered there in 1938 led to economic modernization while maintaining the typical Arabian monarchial rule, with the population bought off from democracy by oil wealth. An attempted annexation by Iraq in August 1990 was seen off by American-led forces in the brief Persian Gulf War.


Labour Party: the dominant centre-left party in the UK. Contrast Conservative Party.

laissez-faire: the doctrine that government should not interfere in commercial affairs.

Late Antiquity (284–650): the transition period from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, applicable to both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean region.

law (polity): a legally codified norm or proscription against a taboo; state codification aimed at administering justice and the affairs of the state to which the law pertains.

League of Nations (1920–1946): a supranational organization between the 1st and 2nd World War; ineffective for lack of support by member nations, and especially by the failure of the United States to join.

left wing: a political philosophy supporting social equality and egalitarianism, typically opposed to social stratification. Contrast right wing.

Lesotho: a mountainous country enclaved by South Africa.

Levant: the geographical region encompassing modern-day Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. The term Levant first appeared in English in 1497, originally meaning “the East.” The Levant has been characterized as the “crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and northeast Africa.”

liberalism: historically, a political philosophy advocating the freedom of individuals, albeit with some concern for social equality. Classical liberalism stressed liberty (libertarianism), whereas later social liberalism sought a balance between liberty and social justice. The term neoliberalism refers to a strain of laissez-faire economic liberalism that arose in the 1970s. In Spokes, liberal or liberalism is used in the classical sense (in historical context), but when discussing modern ideologies, social liberalism is intended, with its principle concern of societal equity. Compare radicalism, conservatism, reactionism.

Libertarian Party (United States) (1971–): American political party favoring minimal government and laissez-faire capitalism.

libertarianism (historically classical liberalism): a political philosophy that places individual liberty as its principle objective.

Libya: a country in the Maghreb.

Low Countries: the coastal region of northwestern Europe, where much of the land is below sea level. The Low Countries comprised Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.


Maat: the ancient Egyptian holistic concept of universal harmony. Maat’s polar opposite was Isfet: lies, chaos, and violence.

Maghreb (previously known as Barbary Coast): a region of western north Africa comprising the Arab countries of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. The Maghreb was originally inhabited by the Berbers.

Magna Carta (Latin for great charter) (1215): a negotiated charter between King John I of England and his barony, who were at the point of revolt–and did so the next year in the 1st Baron’s War. The myth of the Magna Carta as a declaration of inalienable civil rights grew from later misinterpretation.

Mānava-Dharmaśāstra (aka Manusmriti, Manu Smriti, Laws of Manu) (~200 bce): an influential Hindu text on ethical governance.

manifest destiny: the widely held belief by American settlers in the 19th century that they were destined to expand across North America.

manorialism: an agrarian estate feudal structure.

Marbury v. Madison (1803): a landmark supreme court decision that established the principle of judicial review in the US, a power not clearly granted by the constitution.

mass extinction: the indiscriminate extinction of many species during an extinction event. Contrast background extinction.

materialism (psychology, economics): a worldview valuing material consumption and possessions.

matterism (aka (philosophical) materialism): the monistic belief that reality is made of matter. Matterism supposes that the mind is a figment of something substantial.

Mauryan Empire (India) (322–185 bce): an empire centered in northwestern India, founded by Chandragupta Maurya. One of the largest and most populous (~55 million) empire of its time, and the 1st political unification of India.

Medicaid (US): a US national health insurance program for the poor.

Medicare: (US): a US national health insurance program for those 65 and older, and the disabled.

Medieval period: the Middle Ages.

Meiji era (aka Meiji period) (1868–1912): the period in Japan immediately following the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Edo Period). The emperor was restored preeminence while the country modernized economically in the wake of threat of foreign incursion, especially by the United States. Japan became the 1st industrialized Asian nation.

Melanesia: a region of Oceania, extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. Melanesia including the countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji.

mercantilism: the economic theory and praxis dominant in Europe in the 16th–18th centuries, promoting governmental regulation of the economy so as to augment state power. Today’s vestiges of mercantilism are termed economic nationalism.

Merovingian (~450–751): a Salian Frank dynasty.

Middle Ages (aka Medieval period) (~467–1400): the period of European history between the 5th and 15th centuries, beginning with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages.

Middle East: a region of western Asia, albeit including Egypt.

Migration Period (aka Völkerwanderung) (376–800): a period of intensified human migration in Europe.

militarism: subordination of civil society to the military as a virtuous ideal.

monarchy: absolute sovereignty by an individual. Compare despotism, autocracy.

monetarism (economics): the school of thought that emphasizes a government role in controlling the amount of money in circulation.

monopoly (economics): a market condition where there is only 1 seller, with the power to set price and supply. Compare oligopoly.

moral absolutism: the principle that acts are intrinsically right or wrong. See deontology.

morals: principles or habits relating to virtuous versus wicked conduct.

morality: a branch of philosophy focused on differentiation between right and wrong as a code of conduct; a doctrine or system of morals. See ethics.

more (sociology): a folkway of central importance.

Mormonism: a Protestant Christian sect, founded by Joseph Smith in western New York in the 1820s. The term Mormon is derived from Smith’s Book of Mormon, which he claimed to have translated from golden plates with divine assistance. Unlike most other Christian denominations, Mormons have several canonical texts other than The Bible. Mormons consider polygyny favorably and believe in exaltation: eternal life in God’s presence, continuing to live as families (eternal marriage).

Morocco: a monarchy at the northwestern tip of Africa.

Mosaic Law (aka Law of Moses): ancient Jewish law, spelt out in the first 5 books of the Jewish Bible (Old Testament).

mujahedeen (singular and plural): a Muslim guerrilla fighter, especially in Afghanistan and Iran.

mustard gas (sulfur mustard; (ClCH2CH2)2S): a cytotoxic and vesicant chemical warfare agent developed by Germany in 1916.


NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People): a United States civil rights organization supporting equity for ethnic minorities.

nanny state: British idiom for a government with protective policies that interfere in personal choices. Conservative British MP Iain Macleod referred to the nanny state in 1965.

Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815): a series of conflicts between the French Empire, led by Napoléon Bonaparte, and other European powers in various coalitions. The wars were a continuation of the Revolutionary Wars which broke out in 1792, during the French Revolution. Owing to mass conscription, battles were on an unprecedented scale: a warm-up for the total world wars of the 20th century. French dominion in Europe was finally extinguished with the ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812.

narcissism: an inordinate fascination with oneself; vanity.

Nassau (Duchy of) (1806–1866): an independent Germanic state in the Rhineland.

nation: a political territory. Compare state. See nation-state.

nation-state: the government (state) of a nation; the concept of a nation and its governance as integral.

nationalism: devotion and loyalty to one’s own country; patriotism. Contrast internationalism.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) (1949–): a Europe-oriented intergovernmental military alliance, though NATO also includes the US and Canada.

natural law: a philosophy of law premised upon the belief that there a universal morality associated with fairness.

natural philosophy: the precursor of natural sciences.

natural science: natural philosophy coupled to the scientific method.

Nature: the exhibition of existence.

Near East: a geographical area of southwest Asia and northeast Africa. The term has generally been applied as being the area of the Ottoman Empire at its apogee in the mid-1500s. Since the mid-1900s, the terms Near East and Middle East have been approximated as synonymous.

neocon (neoconservative): a conservative that advocates pushing Anglo-American values and institutions onto foreign nations.

Neolithic (aka New Stone Age) (10,200 bce–[4500–2000] bce): a technological era in human prehistory marked by the development of metal tools and by the domestication of crops and animals.

New Deal (1933–1939): the domestic policy of US President Franklin Roosevelt to pull the nation out of the Great Depression through government economic activities. The New Deal embraced the concept of a government-regulated economy.

New World: the Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas and nearby islands; sometimes Oceania is included. The term originated in the early 16th century by European explorers expanding their worldly horizons. Contrast Old World.

New York Times, The (NYT, nicknamed The Gray Lady) (1851–): American daily newspaper published in New York City. The print edition of NYT has the 2nd-largest circulation in the US, behind The Wall Street Journal, another New York City newspaper.

Nicaragua: the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua has had a rocky political history.

nitrate (NO¯3): a polyatomic ion used in fertilizers and explosives.

norm: a behavioral practice conforming with culture. See folkway, more, taboo.

Norman conquest (1066–1072): the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by the Normans (French), led by William the Conqueror.

Normandy: a region on the northern coast of France.

Normans: the people of northern France, descended from Viking conquerors, mixed with the native Merovingian culture. Their distinct identity emerged in the 1st half of the 10th century.

normative ethics: the study of ethical action. See descriptive ethics.

Nuremberg trials (1945–1946): a series of military tribunals held by Allied forces following the 2nd World War to purge the leadership of Nazi Germany.


obiter dictum: an incidental, collateral opinion.

Oceania: a region centered on the islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean, including Australasia.

Old South (aka Dixieland): the rural, pre-Civil War society of the southern United States.

Old World: Africa, Europe, and Asia; the part of the world known to Europeans prior to their sojourns to the Americas. Contrast New World.

oligarchy: a form of government where power is vested in a relative few.

oligopoly (economics): a market condition where there are few sellers, giving them the power to set price and other market factors. Compare monopoly.

Oman: an Arab absolute monarchy on the southeastern rim of the Arabian Peninsula.

Opium Wars (1839–1842, 1856–1860): 2 wars waged by Britain against China to allow it to continue to import and sell opium in China so as to reduce its balance of trade deficit. France joined in the 2nd war, and the United States engaged into some incidents. China lost both wars and was thereby forced to accede to foreign demands to open trade. In the Treaty of Nanking (1942) that concluded the 1st Opium War, China ceded Hong Kong to the UK in perpetuity.

organochloride: an organic compound with at least 1 covalently bonded chlorine atom that provides a dominant functionality.

OSS (Office of Strategic Services) (1942–1945): American military intelligence organization during World War 2.

Ottoman Empire (1299–1922): a contiguous Euro-Asian transcontinental empire, first established as a state in northwest Anatolia (Turkey) by Turkish tribes led by Osman I. The state ascended to empire with the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The Ottoman Empire attained its apex in the mid-16th century under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent: controlling much of western Asia, north Africa, and southeast Europe. The Empire lasted through threats, stagnation, and decline until its dissolution as an aftermath of the 1st World War. Ottoman Empire Turks had an exaggerated reputation for violent rapacity in Europe. They were instead rather benign toward their subjects, as long tax revenues rolled in, and the populace was subdued. No wholesale attempts on Christians were made to convert to Islam. Jews were tolerated, to the extent that when Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or face banishment from Spain in 1492, many skilled artisans and educated professionals happily accepted service under the sultan.

Ottoman Turks: the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who were the base of the state’s military and ruling classes.

out-group: a group generally viewed negatively. Contrast in-group.

overclass: the highest social stratum in a society, having the most prestige, influence, and wealth. Compare underclass.

overcriminalization: the misuse of the criminal sanction.

Oxfam International (1942–): a British-founded international organization interested in human rights and equity.


Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979): the secular ruling house of Iran, founded by Reza Shah Pahlavi, who deposed the previous Shah of Iran. In 1941, he was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was overthrown by an Islamic revolution in February 1979.

Pakistan: a nation created via partition from India in 1947; politically secular, though with Islam as the state religion.

Palestine: a geographic region in the Levant, centered in the nation of Israel.

Pan American Sanitary Bureau (1902–): an international public health agency for the Americas which morphed into a regional sub-agency of the World Health Organization in 1949.

Panic of 1857: a US financial panic from an over-expanded domestic economy and declining international trade.

Papal Schism (aka Western Schism) (1378–1417): a political discord in the Catholic church, whereupon several men simultaneously claimed to be the pope.

papalism: the papal system.

papalist: a supporter of papalism.

paraquat ([(C6H7N)2]Cl2): a toxic organic compound classified as a viologen because of its ability to reversibly change color upon reduction and oxidation.

pathos: a quality evoking pity.

patrilocal: the custom of a female going to live with her husband’s family.

Patriot Act (2001): a US law granting the government broad authoritarian powers to combat terrorism and surveil anyone.

patriotism: passion for one’s own country. See nationalism.

Peloponnesian War (431–404 bce): the war between Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League, which was a confederation in southern Greece led by Sparta.

penury: severe poverty.

Permanent Court of Arbitration (1989–): a supranational arbitral tribunal.

Persia (the Achaemenid Empire; 1st Persian Empire): an ancient empire in west and southwest Asia founded by Cyrus the Great, with its greatest extent 550–330 bce. There were 2 other ancient Persian empires, Parthian (247 bce–224 ce) and Sasanian (224–651), but reference herein is to the 1st Persian Empire.

Philippines: an archipelagic country in Oceania comprising ~7,641 islands, run as a republic, with a presidential system similar to the United States.

philology: the study of language in written historical sources.

philosophy: a rational investigation into the facts and principles of reality.

phonics: a method of teaching reading via learning the phonetics of letters and syllables.

Pinocchio: the protagonist of the children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by the Italian author Carlo Collodi. Pinocchio was a wooden puppet that dreamt of becoming a real boy. Pinocchio was prone to fabricating stories and telling lies for various reasons.

plenary (politics): attended by all members.

plutocracy: political rule by the wealthy.

polis (plural: poleis): an ancient Greek city-state.

political economy: the macroeconomic study of the economies of polities. Political economy evolved from moral philosophy, evolving in the 18th century into the study of the economic dynamics of nation-states. In the late 19th century, the term simplified to economics; an effect of the influential textbook Principles of Economics (1890) by Alfred Marshall. The term political economy is still used to specifically indicate the effects of governments on economies.

politics: theories of government and the practice of governance.

polity: a particular form of government.

polygyny: a mating system where a male mates with 2 or more females.

Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1936–): the scientific academy of the Vatican City, sponsored by the Papacy of the Catholic Church.

Pope: the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church. The primacy of the Bishop of Rome derives from his role as the traditional successor to Saint Peter, to whom Jesus mythically gave the keys of Heaven, and the powers of “binding and loosing,” naming Peter, and ostensibly his successors, as the “rock” upon which the church would be built.

potash: potassium carbonate (K2CO3), a water-soluble potassium salt.

predeterminism (aka fatalism): the idea that events are determined in advance.

prima facie: on first appearance.

primogeniture: the system of succession by the firstborn son.

prisoner’s dilemma: a game theory situation where 2 individuals acting in their own self-interest do not produce an optimal outcome compared to cooperation; originally conceived by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher in 1950.

Profumo affair: a 1962 British political sex scandal involving the politician John Prufumo.

Progressive Era (1890s–1920s): a period of widespread social activism in the United States aimed at political reform, particularly corruption.

prohibition (legal): the legal act of prohibiting alcoholic beverages.

Prohibition (US) (1920–1933): the outlawing of alcoholic beverages in the United States as a result of a successful campaign by the temperance movement. Prohibition was initially mandated on a state-by-state basis before the adoption of the 18th Amendment to the constitution, and the passage of the National Prohibition Act, informally known as the Volstead Act.

Prohibition did not stop the imbibing of booze. Instead, it stimulated the business of bootlegging, much of which was run by organized gangs. This was ironic, in that an advertised aim of the temperance movement was to reduce crime.

The rise of spectacular gangland killings impelled the repeal of Prohibition. The 21st Amendment ended America’s experiment with ridding society of the scourge of alcoholic beverage.

proletariat: the struggling working class, especially those who earn their living by manual labor, or are dependent upon casual employment.

Prometheus: Greek Titan (2nd-order deity) who made man out of mud, whereupon Athena breathed life into his clay figure. Athena was the goddess of wisdom and war, as well as of constructive crafts. Prometheus defied Zeus by giving mankind the gift of fire, for which he was tortured.

proportional representation: an electoral system which reflects regional population differences among political districts.

Protestant Reformation (1517–1648): a doctrinal schism from the Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther.

psychopathy: a mental disorder characterized by impaired empathy, lack of remorse, and bold, disinhibited egotism.

Puritan Revolution: see English Civil War.


Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE): the 1st imperial dynasty in China, named after its heartland of Qin (modern-day Gansu and Shaanxi provinces). Qin state power was augmented by legalist reforms in 4th century bce, during the Warring States period. Qin unified the country by conquest, whereupon it sought to create an authoritarian imperial state, fueled by a stable economy able to support a large military. The Qin central government minimized aristocratic power, gaining direct control of the mass population of peasants. This afforded ambitious projects, including a wall on its northern border, now known as the Great Wall of China.

Quakers: an evangelical Protestant group which believes in the innate goodness of humanity, and the personal ability to contact God. The Quakers first arose in England during the mid-17th century. Frugal and plainly dressed, Quakers privately pursue a direct religious experience with divinity. Their fastidious discipline makes them “natural capitalists,” as the BBC opined. Quakers founded several English financial institutions, including Barclays, Lloyds, and Friends Provident. Those with a sweet tooth established what are now the big 3 British confectioners: Cadbury, Rowntree, and Fry’s.

quitrent: rent paid by a freeholder in lieu of performing required services.


Radical Reformation: a Protestant movement in the 16th century, reacting against the perceived corruption in the Catholic Church and the Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and others. Magisterial Protestants essentially wanted to substitute their elite for those in the Catholic Church. Radical Reformists rejected this institutionalized authority in favor of egalitarianism. Most of the Radical Reformers were Anabaptists.

radicalism (politics): belief in extreme views or principles. Compare liberalism, conservatism, reactionism.

random competence: the common characteristic of the Collective in being able to nominally perform adequately but challenged into random results by unusual situations. Contrast random incompetence.

random incompetence: those uncommon characters who manage to perform at least decently even in unusual or stressful situations. Statistically, those of random incompetence occupy the shiny tail on the bell curve of practicable intelligence among humanity. Contrast random competence.

rational (psychology): agreeable to reason, good sense, and sound judgment.

rationalism: the epistemology that knowledge is attained deductively; an epistemology that regards reason as the source and test of knowledge. Rationalists believe that reality has an intrinsically logical structure. Hence, rationalists contend certain truths exist and the intellect can directly grasp these truths.

reactionism (aka reactionaryism, reactionarism) (politics): belief in extremely conservative views or principles; favoring regressive change and opposing progressive change. Compare radicalism, liberalism, conservatism.

Reconstruction Era (1865–1877): the political period in the United States of policies designed to engender reintegration of the southern states back into civil union with the North. Most historians consider the endeavor a failure: the south remained an agricultural, poverty-stricken backwater, where whites reestablished dominance over blacks via violence and Jim Crow laws.

Reformation (aka Protestant Reformation) (16th century): a Christian reform movement that spawned the schism between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Renaissance (14th–17th centuries): the European intellectual and cultural movement from the mid-14th century (after the Black Death) into the 17th century, characterized by collective nostalgia for classical antiquity, though it ended up with skepticism toward traditional thought. The Renaissance affected the arts, religion, politics, philosophy, and science.

representative democracy: a form of democracy where citizens elect representatives to decide government policies. Compare direct democracy.

republic: a state which reflects the will of its citizenry.

Republican Party: the dominant conservative-reactionary party in the US. Contrast Democratic Party.

republicanism: the ideology of governing a state or society as a republic, where citizens hold popular sovereignty.

right wing: the political philosophy that certain stratified social orders are natural, desirable, or inevitable; typically associated with conservatism and socioeconomic inequality. Contrast left wing.

Roman Curia: the Roman Catholic Church’s administrative organ.

Roman Empire (27 bce–395 (undivided)/476 (Western)/1453 (Eastern)): the ancient Roman civilization after the Republic. Theodosius I was the last Roman emperor to rule an undivided Empire. The Western Roman Empire fell when Romulus Augustulus was deposed by Flavius Odoacer in 476. The Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire crumbled into feudal kingdoms before finally falling to the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks in 1453. See Byzantine Empire.

Roman Kingdom (753–509 bce): the monarchial period of ancient Rome, before the Roman Republic.

Roman Republic (509–27 bce): the period of ancient Roman civilization that began with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom and ended with the establishment of the Roman Empire under Octavian.

Romans: the citizens of the ancient Roman Republic or Empire.

Romanticism (aka Romantic Era): the intellectual and aesthetic movement which originated in Europe at the end of the 18th century and was the strong intellectual current there until 1850. Romanticism emphasized the subjective emotions behind the aesthetic experiences of life. Romanticism revolted against the aristocratic norms of the day, as well as taking a swipe at the scientific rationalization of the natural world, in favor of admiring the beauty and power of Nature. Romanticism weaved a complex set of effects; politically, it fostered nationalism. See Age of Enlightenment.

Russia: the world’s largest country (17.1 million km2), with 146 million people (2019); a late economic developer with a history of thuggish governance.

Rwanda: an agrarian nation-state in central east Africa; a former German colony (1884–1962); one of the smallest countries on the African mainland (26,338 km2), with one of the highest population densities (11 million in 2015).


Salafism (aka Salafi movement or Salafist movement): a revivalist branch of the Sunni that emerged in late 19th-century Egypt as a response to European imperialism. The Salafist doctrine is reactionary: looking back to 12th-century Islam.

Salic Law: ancient Germanic legal code used by the Frankish kings during the Old Frankish Period in the early Middle Ages. Salic Law was a confluence of Germanic tribal justice traditions and Roman law. Salic Law included statutes for both criminal and civil law.

Sandinista (Sandinista National Liberation Front): an ostensibly democratic socialist political party in Nicaragua with an authoritarian bent.

Saudi Arabia: the largest Arab state in western Asia; a Sunni monarchy; into the early 21st century, the largest exporter of oil in the world.

Scholasticism: the theological and philosophical teaching methods in Christian universities from the 12th century through the 16th.

SCOTUS: Supreme Court of the United States.

secret service: an intelligence organization.

secularism: the principle of separation between religious and governmental institutions.

self-organized criticality: a property of dynamic systems where a critical threshold (tipping point) exists that, when passed, sets off a substantial reaction.

separation of powers: a model for governance that divides the functions of the state into branches.

Sharia: a body of Islamic law based upon the Koran.

Shia: a doctrinal branch of Islam which holds that Muhammad designated Ali as his successor. Contrast Sunni.

Shogun (1192–1867): Japanese samurai dictator.

Slavs: an Indo-European ethic group, native to Eurasia.

smog: lingering foul air; a portmanteau of smoke and fog.

social contract: a theory granting rightful authority of the state over individuals, based on the idea that states are formed by the collective will of its citizens.

social security: the idea, enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), that humans are entitled to freely mature in their particular cultural milieu.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality. ~ Article 22 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

Social Security (US): a federal program for basic income upon retirement age, funded by worker contributions; 1st enacted in 1935. 20% of elderly Americans are kept from poverty via this program. In 2016, US social security consumed 24% of the federal budget.

socialism: a doctrine advocating that wealth be shared among the community; a societal and economic system of sharing, typically characterized by public ownership of enterprises.

sociopathy: antisocial psychopathy; antisocial behavior stemming from a lack of morality or social conscience.

soda ash (aka washing soda, soda crystals): sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), a water-soluble sodium salt of carbonic acid.

soft news: media coverage of human-interest stories or background information. Contrast hard news.

solipsism: the irrefutable argument that only the self can be proven to exist; universally ignored.

Solomon Islands: an island nation in Oceania, east of Indonesia, comprising 6 major islands and over 900 smaller islands.

Sons of Liberty (1765–1783): an American terrorist group during the American Revolution.

sovereign: a person or group with supreme authority or power.

Soviet Union (aka Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)) (1922–1991): a union of subnational Soviet republics formed from the former Russian Empire (1721–1917), governed by the Russian Communist Party, with Moscow as its capital.

Spanish Inquisition (formally: Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition) (1478–1834): an institution established by the Spain’s monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella I to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdom, and, in its origination, to replace the Medieval Inquisition, which had been under Papal control. Jews and Muslims were ordered to convert or leave. The most intense period of persecution was 1480–1530. All told, about 150,000 people were charged and tortured, and ~3,000 executed. An untold number of Muslim and Jewish subjects were exiled. The Spanish Inquisition withstanding, Spain had more political freedom than other contemporaneous European absolute monarchies.

Spanish-American War (1898): a short conflict between the US and Spain, in which the US won possession to Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and other islands, and temporary control of Cuba. American involvement was assured after sensationalist journalism agitated for war against Spain after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor.

stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by things decided”): the legal doctrine of following principles or rules previously ordained unless they contravene justice.

state (politics): an abiding political institution represented by a government. Compare nation.

statism: the belief that a strong centralized government is the best way to organize society.

statute: an established law, typically by a legislative body.

Stoicism: a Hellenistic philosophy emphasizing self-control as a means for a virtuous life.

Stone Age (roughly 3.4 mya–3300 bce): the 1st principal period of the three-age system; noted for use of stone tools, prior to the advent of metalworking. See Bronze Age, Iron Age.

Stuart (Stewart in Scottish contexts), House of: a European royal house of 9 sequential monarchs that ruled Scotland from 1371 until 1603.

suffrage: the right to vote.

Sumer (~5000–1900 bce): an ancient civilization of at least 12 city-states in southern Mesopotamia. Sumer was first settled by a non-Semitic people. The later-arriving Sumerians (~3300 bce), immigrants from Anatolia, referred to themselves as the “black-headed people.”

Sunni: a doctrinal branch of Islam which holds that Muhammad did not designate a successor. Contrast Shia.

supply-side economics: a political-economic theory which posits that economic growth is most effectively generated by laissez-faire and low tax rates, which supposedly actually increases government revenues via economic growth. Supply-side economics developed in the 1970s in response to Keynesian economic policy, which had predominated since the Great Depression. Ronald Reagan touted supply-side economics. His economic policy became known as Reaganomics.

supranational: free of or extending beyond the political limitations of nation-states.

syndicalism: an alternative economic system to capitalism, where workers own the industries.

Syria: a nation in the Levant. The 1st civilization in Syria was established in the 3rd millennium bce. From March 2011, Syria descended into a civil war which devastated the country.


taboo: a behavior contrary to mores.

Taliban: an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan, noted for its strict interpretation of Islamic law and brutalization of women.

talionic: the retaliation principle of “an eye for an eye”; from the Latin lex talionis (law of the talion). The English term talion refers to retaliation authorized by law, where the punishment corresponds in kind and degree to the injury.

Talmud: an ancient compendium of Jewish ethics and law, philosophy, history, customs, and lore, with the 1st portion compiled 200 ce.

The Talmud is a conglomerate of law, legend, and philosophy, a blend of unique logic and shrewd pragmatism, of history and science, anecdotes, and humor. It is a collection of paradoxes: its framework is orderly and logical, every word and term subjected to meticulous editing, completed centuries after the actual work of composition came to an end; yet it is still based on free association, on a harnessing together of diverse ideas reminiscent of the modern stream-of-consciousness novel. ~ Talmudic scholar Adin Steinsaltz

taqlid: an Islamic term for conforming to accepted religious law, and thereby stifling innovation via conservatism; a stricture increasingly enforced from the 16th century on.

tariff: a governmental tax on imports or exports.

taser (aka tasar): an electronic weapon designed to painfully incapacitate someone; developed by Taser International (hence the name).

Teddy Boy: a 1950s British subculture of young men wearing clothes inspired by the style of dandies in the Edwardian period. Savile Row tailors re-introduced this style after World War 2. There were also Teddy Girls: working-class women wearing elegant styles which rejected post-war austerity.

temperance: a social movement against drinking alcoholic beverages.

theocon (theological conservative): a conservative who advocates a Christian ideology and government.

theocracy (aka ecclesiocracy): a polity in which a deity is the supposed source from which political authority arises.

theology: the study of religious faith and practice; a theological theory or system.

Thomism: the philosophic school that arose as a legacy of Thomas Aquinas.

three-age system: see 3-age system.

tipping point: the critical threshold of a self-organized criticality.

Toryism: a British conservative ideology, advocating traditional values (traditionalism), including natural law.

totalitarian: dictatorial; autocratic; relating to a centralized government that does not tolerate dissent and exercises control over many aspects of life.

tragedy of the commons: an economic theory about the inevitability of a shared, nonrenewable resource, where individual users, acting in their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common weal by depleting that resource. The term was coined by American Garrett Hardin in 1968, who warned of the dangers of overpopulation.

Transportation Security Administration (2001–): US agency responsible for the security of the traveling public.

tribe: a social group with a shared culture. Compare clan.

Tunisia: a small country in the Maghreb region. Tunisia was home of the Berbers in ancient times, before Phoenician immigration in the 12th century bce and the founding of Carthage. The country became a major mercantile power and military rival to the Roman Republic, which defeated and occupied Tunisia in 146 bce. Arabs conquered Tunisia in the 1st wave of Islamic expansion (7th century). The Ottomans took over in the mid-16th century and held sway for over 3 centuries. Colonial French conquered in 1881, holding on until 1957. Tunisia then became a republic with a repressive regime. In 2011, revolution resulted in a parliamentary democracy.

tyranny: unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.


underclass: the lowest social stratum in a society, usually comprising disadvantaged minority groups. Compare overclass.

unicameral: a legislative assembly with a single chamber. Contrast bicameral.

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) (1947–): a United Nations humanitarian program.

United Kingdom (UK; aka Britain): a European island nation, northwest of the continental mainland, comprising the 4 countries in the British Isles: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland; sans Ireland, which is a separate nation. The UK is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary governance system.

United Nations (1945–): an intergovernmental organization promoting international cooperation. The UN replaced the ineffective League of Nations, which the United States refused to join (hence the League’s ineffectiveness).

United States (US; aka America): a federal republic of 50 states founded constitutionally in 1787 after gaining independence from Great Britain in 1983, following a war of independence (1776–1783).

U.S. News & World Report (1948–): American media company publishing news, opinion, and consumer information. United States News (1933–) and World Report (1946–), both by conservative newspaperman David Lawrence, were merged to become U.S. News & World Report.

usufruct: the right of enjoying something without destroying or degrading it.

usury: lending at an exorbitant interest rate.

utilitarianism: a normative ethics theory, that right action is the one that maximizes utility – either in bringing happiness or reducing suffering. According to utilitarianism, the moral worth of an act is solely determined by its outcome. Utilitarianism is essentially statistical hedonism. Contrast moral absolutism.

utility (economics, psychology): satisfaction; usefulness.


Vedas, The: a collection of hymns and other Sanskrit spiritual texts written 1500–300 bce; the earliest literary record of the Indo-Aryan civilization. The Vedas become the canon of Hinduism.

Venezuela: a country on the northern coast of South America; politically, a presidential, federal republic with a rocky history.

Vichy (1940–1944): the common name for the French state under German occupation during the 2nd World War. Vichy is the town in central France where the provisional government resided.

Victorian era (1837–1901): British history during the reign of Queen Victoria (1819–1901). Britain had a long spell of peace (Pax Britannica), prosperity, refined moral sensibilities, and national self-confidence during the Victorian era. Cultural movement was away from the rationalism of the Georgian era (1714–1830), and toward romanticism and mysticism.

Vietnam War (aka the American War (to the Vietnamese)) (1955–1973): a continuation of the Indochina War (1946–1954), with the US stepping in when the French failed. Like the Korean War, the fight was to prevent communist North Vietnam from taking over non-communist South Vietnam. North Vietnam won, routing the Americans.

vizier: a high-ranking political minister or advisor.

voir dire: the trial-within-a-trial of selecting members of a jury.


Wall Street Journal, The (WSJ) (1889–): a pro-business New York City-based international daily newspaper, with an emphasis on corporate doings. By circulation, WSJ is the largest newspaper in the US.

War of 1812 (1812–1815): a war between the US and Britain over British violation of US maritime rights. The US declared war for several reasons, including trade restrictions and British support to Indian tribes fighting encroachment by American settlers on the frontier. The war ended in a stalemate (Treaty of Ghent).

War of the Pacific (1879–1884): a war between Chile and an alliance of Bolivia and Peru for possession of the nitrate-rich Atacama desert. Chile won and gained the disputed territory.

Wars of the Roses (1455–1487): a series of dynastic wars for the throne of England, between 2 rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the Houses of Lancaster and York.

Watergate scandal (1972): a major political scandal resulting from the 17 June 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC by Republican operatives.

President Nixon had authorized various “dirty tricks” against political opponents, including harassment and wiretapping. Nixon did not hesitate to abuse his power of office.

The attempted cover-up of the Watergate break-in by the administration was compromised by the discovery of Nixon having taped his White House Oval Office conversations. The tapes provided smoking-gun evidence of Nixon’s culpability. Nixon resigned on 9 August 1974 rather than face certain impeachment.

welfare state: policies where the state plays an active role in promoting the well-being of its citizens; coined by Anglican Archbishop William Temple in 1942.

welfarism: a school of thought based on the premise that policies and acts should be evaluated on the basis of their consequences.

Westphalia: a region in northwestern Germany.

white (sociology): a light-skinned Caucasian. Contrast black.

White House: the official residence and principal workplace of the US President since John Adams in 1800–1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC.

White Ship: a newly refitted vessel that sank in the English Channel after dusk on 25 November 1120 after striking a submerged rock called Quillebœuf. Onboard was Henry I’s only legitimate heir, William Adelin.

There were only 2 survivors of the sinking, both of whom survived the night by clinging to Quillebœuf. Adelin was not one of them. According to one chronicle, the ship’s captain surfaced after the sinking, but, upon hearing that Adelin had not survived, let himself drown rather than face the king.

World Court (International Court of Justice) (1946–): the judicial branch of the United Nations. The earlier World Court (1922–1946) was attached to the League of Nations.

World Health Organization (WHO) (1948–): the public health agency of the United Nations.

World War 1 (aka WWI, 1st World War, Great War) (1914–1918): a war fought in Europe between 2 nation-state alliances: Great Britain, France, and the Russian Empire (Allies) versus Germany and Austria-Hungary (Central Powers). The war was over simmering territorial disputes and was triggered by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 2014. As the war wore on, Italy, Japan, and United States joined the Allies, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers. Over 9.7 million combatants and 10 million civilians died from the war.

World War 2 (aka WWI, WW2, 2nd World War) (1939–1945): a global war between 2 opposing alliances – the Allies and the Axis – that involved over 30 nations. The primary Allies were Great Britain, the United States and Russia. Germany, Italy, and Japan were the Axis powers. ~85 million people perished. Germany and the United States indulged in genocidal actions: on Jews by Germany, and on the Japanese and Germans by the US. The Allies prevailed; hence the Germans and Japanese were tried for war crimes, but the Americans were not.

writ of mandamus: a judicial remedy in the form of a superior court order.

Wyatt’s rebellion (1554): a popular uprising in England by Protestants against Queen Mary I’s determination to marry Catholic Philip II of Spain.


Yamnaya (~3300–~2600 bce): a people of hunter-gatherers and nomadic herders, native to the steppes north of the Caucasus Mountains and Caspian Sea.

yellow journalism: a type of journalism that presents little or no well-researched news, instead using eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Yellow journalism predominates media worldwide. The famous American journalism prize – the Pulitzer (1917–) – emanates from an endowment by yellow journalist Joseph Pulitzer.

Yemen: an Arab country on the southwestern rim of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen’s strategic location as a sea border bequeathed a rich political history, exemplary of man’s avarice and pettiness. In the 2110s, Yemen was racked by a prolonged civil war, sponsored as a proxy war between a Saudi-led coalition and Iran (between Sunni and Shia Arabs). The toll on the Yemeni population has been horrendous.

Yugoslavia (1918–late 1980s): a 20th-century country in southeastern Europe that began as a monarchy before becoming a communist state in 1946 under Josip Broz Tito, who was popular both internally and abroad. Tito was widely viewed as a benevolent dictator. The breakup of Yugoslavia along the lines of its 5 former states led to ruthless ethnic conflicts (the Yugoslav Wars (1991–2001)) featuring ubiquitous rapes and genocide.


Zimbabwe: a landlocked country in southern Africa with a presidential polity.