Politics: Right vs Left


I get into many discussions where folks on the right, will say that other folks on the right are not really on the right but are on the left. For instance: “…it is oxymoronic to claim an ‘extremist’ like Spencer is ‘extreme right’ – because true ‘extreme right’ people would have LIMITED government, a government that actually follows the 9th and 10th Amendments”

This makes the infernace that right and left are simply philisophical ideas centered around big vs small govenrment. It then seeks to try and categorize where any given ideology falls on this spectrum. But while plenty of people see the terms “right” and “left” in this way, the ideology they reference varies widely. For some its size of government, for others its traditional moral values, and for yet others it is egalitariansim vs. hierarchy.

The more objective truth, I think, is that Right/Left lables are simply fluid designations for the two sides in any political conflict. Politics in any democracy are going to gravitate to a median point. To get a majority vote, you need a possition that more than 50% of active voters can agree on. That always nessesitates some kind of compromise and ally building. This naturally leads to an equilibrium of sorts between two opposing camps. Those camps are then referred to as the right and left and their principle divisions become the idological views that people on each side asoiate with the terms “right” and “left.”

These terms were coined in the French Revolution by those who sat to the King’s left and the King’s right in cout, the factions naturally gravitating to sit with one another in support. It’s the lunch-room effect writ large. From there it has been used in inumerable political contexts and the specific ideologies for both left and right are all over the political map.

Whatever my friend thinks of Spenser’s views (he dislikes him) the guy is firmly on the “right” in the sense that he is an ally of the Republicans and his supporters are firmly agaisnt the “left” faction in Americal politics. By distancing ourselves from some ideological claim, we can properly say what team a given person is fighting with. That doesn’t mean everyone on that team agrees with one another, far from it, but they chose a side and that is the side they are on.

And the thing with a democracy is, even if you hate some of the folks on your team, they are still supporting you and your team. You can’t really change that fact. Even if you try to aleinate them, they still may end up supporting you.

I think we should use different terms when we are actually discussing idiological views, and we should try to be more specific about them. Statist vs Anarchist, Progressives vs Small Government, Socialists vs Capitalists, Social Liberals vs Social Conservitives, Textualists vs Contextualists and so on.  And we should recognizt that these dicotomies cross left/right boundries at times because again, those are all about strategic alliance and confluence of interest on a given issue.


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