Lets kick off by quoting (myself) from the exchange which prompted this, because I kind of liked where it was going.
Another interesting sociolingusitic point. Its probably to do with the nature
of applying such a label not just to a political belief or cause but to an
actual person - its a kind of polarising act. When I hear the words
feminism, capitalism, environmentalism, socialism, etc, I tend to think of the
great contributions these ideas have made to what I consider the worth of
our society. When I hear feminist, capitalist, etc, I think of people,
usually self-identified, who are always seem committed to their particular
cause's supposed agenda, regardless of the merits of any
e.g. Capitalism has raised the entire world's
standard of living. Capitalists think human beings can be reduced to
consumptive agents, and that totally unregulated markets are always a good
idea. Environmentalism has made us all aware of the need to conserve
precious resources like energy, water and clean air; environmentalists are
opposed to anything with the term 'nuclear' in it, up to and including
'nuclear medicine.' Socialism gave us free universal healthcare and education;
socialists are often batshit crazy.
I'd like to clarify words written in haste. Captialism has raised the developed world's standard of living. Obviously its yet to help the people of sub-Saharan africa very much.
I stand by the rest of the comments.