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Right And Left

Discuss the politics, economics, sociology, and institutions of a free society.

Right And Left

Postby ChairmanMeow » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:50 pm

I hear people using expressions like "more right" or "drifting left" and yet none of the views represented on this forum are recognizably left or right in the strictest sense. I suppose this is sort of a continuation of my questioning the utility of hypenated anarchisms.

Exactly what do you personally mean when you refer to view as being right or left?
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Dadalama » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:32 pm

well... list some stereotypes of the "left" and "right" and you'll start answering your own question.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby ChairmanMeow » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:52 pm

Dadalama wrote:well... list some stereotypes of the "left" and "right" and you'll start answering your own question.


How about you do that? I asked what you thought. I already know what I think.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby RonaldMcDonald » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:58 pm

I'll just leave this here...
While anarchists oppose hierarchy in the name of liberty, right-libertarians support authority and hierarchy, all of which deny freedom and restrict individual development. This is unsurprising because the right-libertarian ideology...is fundamentally anti-life in its assumptions and anti-human in its method. Far from being a libertarian set of ideas, right-Libertarianism is a mechanical set of dogmas that deny the fundamental nature of life (namely change) and of individuality (namely critical thought and freedom). --AFAQ

Capitalists are vampires - parasites who view us as nothing more than livestock to feed off of and have dominion over. --manilaryceTLM
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Re: Right And Left

Postby lordmetroid » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:09 pm

I always use right and left according to the original etmyology, where the french aristocrats, nobles, etc. sat on the right side of parliament and the radicals who wanted to be free from the oppression sat on the left.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Birthday Pony » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:02 pm

lordmetroid wrote:I always use right and left according to the original etmyology, where the french aristocrats, nobles, etc. sat on the right side of parliament and the radicals who wanted to be free from the oppression sat on the left.


I go by that too, usually.

And for that reason I do actually think there is a small left-libertarian circle out there. There are definitely Anglican-style Libertarians that would have been sitting on the left in parliament. I consider them a continuation of classical liberalism.

But then there are Libertarians (and a lot of them are in the Libertarian party) that are much more reactionary than their namesake would imply. The disdain for democracy in all its forms, desire for institutions that have no accountability (like corporations), and intense hyper-nationalism are all part-and-parcel to their idea of a "free" society.

The hyper-nationalism one just struck me recently. I always appreciated that Ron Paul wanted to end US involvement in other countries affairs, but then I realized it was for all the wrong reasons. He would rather the US become an unaccountable, economic super-power with millions of minion-corporations using their private defense all around the world to exploit local peoples for natural resources than it end its actual empire, or at least that's the implication of his philosophy whether he likes it or not. All the while, the international world has no means to hold the US accountable.

Anyway, once libertarians drift left enough and realize that there isn't really a monarchy to support (making capitalism the default right wing position), they become Anarchists.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Le Fou » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:01 pm

Left = "Liberty. Equality. Solidarity."

Right = "Authority. Hierarchy. Competition."
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Re: Right And Left

Postby ctmummey » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:25 pm

lol at fascists competing
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Re: Right And Left

Postby ctmummey » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:33 pm

oh and what r. McDonald said, basically.

It's worth remembering that the r & l spectrum is only a conceptual too and it can elucidate or confuse depending on context etc
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Le Fou » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:40 pm

ctmummey wrote:lol at fascists competing

Well, they're always starting wars, aren't they?
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Birthday Pony » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:24 pm

Le Fou wrote:
ctmummey wrote:lol at fascists competing

Well, they're always starting wars, aren't they?


Durkheim's understanding of solidarity is actually kind of a basis for fascism: each person has their place in society and it functions as long as everyone understands and performs their function for the good of the whole. Then fascism adds on the unity of the people through the might of the nation-state.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Le Fou » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:52 pm

Fascists do claim to take elements from the left. As "national socialists," they seek to apply certain left-wing principles (perhaps solidarity is the main one) within the nation. However, between nations it's much more right-wing, with little emphasis on solidarity. The same could be said for corporatism, actually. Certainly corporations seek to promote solidarity within the company--each person with eir place, each looking out for the whole.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby RonaldMcDonald » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:39 pm

Fascists use myths of competition and struggle (like social Darwinism) to justify preexisting hierarchies. Hmmm, sounds familiar...
While anarchists oppose hierarchy in the name of liberty, right-libertarians support authority and hierarchy, all of which deny freedom and restrict individual development. This is unsurprising because the right-libertarian ideology...is fundamentally anti-life in its assumptions and anti-human in its method. Far from being a libertarian set of ideas, right-Libertarianism is a mechanical set of dogmas that deny the fundamental nature of life (namely change) and of individuality (namely critical thought and freedom). --AFAQ

Capitalists are vampires - parasites who view us as nothing more than livestock to feed off of and have dominion over. --manilaryceTLM
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Re: Right And Left

Postby neverfox » Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:13 pm

ChairmanMeow wrote:I hear people using expressions like "more right" or "drifting left" and yet none of the views represented on this forum are recognizably left or right in the strictest sense.

At least compared to other libertarian forums, we've got feminism, anti-racism, pro-labor, anti-corporatism, anti-capitalism, pro-socialism, anti-oppression, anti-subjugation, anti-hierarchy (exceptions to each but rarely all or most). Sounds pretty left to me, without much in the way of semantics but perhaps the occasional market talk throws things off. But that can be cleared up by talking about means vs. ends.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby ChairmanMeow » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:36 am

neverfox wrote:
ChairmanMeow wrote:I hear people using expressions like "more right" or "drifting left" and yet none of the views represented on this forum are recognizably left or right in the strictest sense.

At least compared to other libertarian forums, we've got feminism, anti-racism, pro-labor, anti-corporatism, anti-capitalism, pro-socialism, anti-oppression, anti-subjugation, anti-hierarchy (exceptions to each but rarely all or most). Sounds pretty left to me, without much in the way of semantics but perhaps the occasional market talk throws things off. But that can be cleared up by talking about means vs. ends.


So you equate left with the list of agendas above? This doesn't seem necessarily like a politics to me. So far as I can tell feminism, anti-racism, pro-labor, anti-corporatism, anti-oppression, anti-subjugation, anti-hierarchy are all matters of emphasis, and say nothing of what that these agendas should look like. But this is what I am attempting to drive at. Is the distinction genuinely political? Or is it one of priority? I am not convinced that these words are clearly defined.

If I talk to most people outside of this forum, Left will immediately evoke a picture of political interference in individual lives and forcible redress of social ills. Right will evoke a picture of protection of property, regardless of how it was acquired.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Francois Tremblay » Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:17 pm

If I talk to most people outside of this forum, Left will immediately evoke a picture of political interference in individual lives and forcible redress of social ills.


It's not a great definition, but it's vaguely correct, yes. Then again, you can say the same thing about any theocracy as well.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby RoyceChristian » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:39 pm

So you equate left with the list of agendas above? This doesn't seem necessarily like a politics to me. So far as I can tell feminism, anti-racism, pro-labor, anti-corporatism, anti-oppression, anti-subjugation, anti-hierarchy are all matters of emphasis, and say nothing of what that these agendas should look like. But this is what I am attempting to drive at. Is the distinction genuinely political? Or is it one of priority? I am not convinced that these words are clearly defined.


Politics is entirely composed of matters of emphasis. If you believe that the family is society's basic unit and that there are strict domestic roles that husband, wife and child should adhere to in the home, you're hardly going to be out supporting gay marriage as a matter of policy and instead you're going to be emphasising traditional domestic roles in your rhetoric. More to the point, these ideas are generally a matter of policy, where overarching principles like anti-hierarchy, anti-authoritarianism, prefigurative ethics, mutual aid (all specifically Anarchist concepts) can be applied. It is possible to trace a common theme through those ideas that gives the character of a distinctly Left politics, and someone who is probably not going to fit in well at the Republican National Convention.

If I talk to most people outside of this forum, Left will immediately evoke a picture of political interference in individual lives and forcible redress of social ills. Right will evoke a picture of protection of property, regardless of how it was acquired.


I am guessing you are American, right? Because this is largely a cultural development, a hang-up that began with Cold War era politics where the "good guys" stood in opposition to those "god-less pinkos" and was cemented under Reagan in the 80's. The more common application is that the futher left you go, the more a person's politics are opposed to and critical of authority. This is not to say that those inclined to Left wing politics can't be authoritarian -- there are plenty of examples to the contrary. It's possible to find a inherent cultural bias against anything remotely "Right" in countries that once lived under nationalist military juntas, and the same cutural bias in countries that were governed by "Left" dictatorships and revolutionaries.

However the characterisation of the Right as standing for less state interference in personal lives is inaccurate if flat-out wrong. As far as it applies to parliamentary parties, the Right are just as, if not more so, okay with state interference in individual lives, so long as it conforms to their view of the world. In other words, the State should stay out of economy but should be allowed to interfere in social issues, like LGBT issues, abortion and migration issues.

Even in a broader sense, when you're dealing with political theories rather than political parties, this becomes more obvious. The recent bank bailouts are some the best examples of this, as banks, economists and the American Right have been quite loud in their calls for limits to regulation, and yet, when the system goes to shit, suddenly everyone starts saying "they're too big too fall, give them the money". Once the crisis is over and the bail-out's gone through, they immediately return to saying "don't regulate".

Most of all though, the strongest characteristic of the "ight is usally a strong desire to preserve the status quo. The idea is to prevent any real shock or threat to the system, which sometimes requires small concessions to safeguard the overall integrity of the system -- like Obama moving an initiative to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military.

When you actually scratch the surface, the idea that the Right stands for any sense of liberty becomes a little absurd. Of course there are many on the Left whose politics or political theories have been authoritarian. And then you have to ask yourself whether they were "Left" in form rather than substance.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby ctmummey » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:18 pm

'the right' doesn't stay out of economics at all either. so, yeah.

of course there are libertarian/decentralist strands on the left (though communitarianism can muddy the waters)
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Re: Right And Left

Postby ChairmanMeow » Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:57 am

RoyceChristian wrote:
ChairmanMeow wrote:So you equate left with the list of agendas above? This doesn't seem necessarily like a politics to me. So far as I can tell feminism, anti-racism, pro-labor, anti-corporatism, anti-oppression, anti-subjugation, anti-hierarchy are all matters of emphasis, and say nothing of what that these agendas should look like. But this is what I am attempting to drive at. Is the distinction genuinely political? Or is it one of priority? I am not convinced that these words are clearly defined.


Politics is entirely composed of matters of emphasis.


What you're saying is misleadingly true. Politics is social. If we want things from other people, then we must negotiate with them. Compromise is compromise of priority, and whatever people find most pressing will be addressed first. But all of the time, money, and energy spent trying to steer "public agenda" or a "country's priorities" are the result of the fact that they will be enacted by force. Additionally your money will be taken by force toward this end. Absent a state, there no need to "steer" anything - just persuade.

So what sense then does it make for an anarchist to call themselves Left or Right, if it only determines policy views under state?

RoyceChristian wrote:If you believe that the family is society's basic unit and that there are strict domestic roles that husband, wife and child should adhere to in the home, you're hardly going to be out supporting gay marriage as a matter of policy and instead you're going to be emphasising traditional domestic roles in your rhetoric. More to the point, these ideas are generally a matter of policy, where overarching principles like anti-hierarchy, anti-authoritarianism, prefigurative ethics, mutual aid (all specifically Anarchist concepts) can be applied. It is possible to trace a common theme through those ideas that gives the character of a distinctly Left politics, and someone who is probably not going to fit in well at the Republican National Convention.


Okay, but this sounds more like "liberal" versus "conservative", not Left vs. Right. A cultural conservative in any country, regardless of historical politics is going to have family centered and patriarchal views. This is how it was anywhere in the world for all of recorded civilization. I don't imagine if Lenin would have been supportive of gay marriage. In what sense can you then call support of gay marriage "Left"? Culturally liberal, yes, but how is it Left? It seems that this distinction only makes sense for statists.



RoyceChristian wrote:
ChairmanMeow wrote:If I talk to most people outside of this forum, Left will immediately evoke a picture of political interference in individual lives and forcible redress of social ills. Right will evoke a picture of protection of property, regardless of how it was acquired.


I am guessing you are American, right? Because this is largely a cultural development, a hang-up that began with Cold War era politics where the "good guys" stood in opposition to those "god-less pinkos" and was cemented under Reagan in the 80's. The more common application is that the futher left you go, the more a person's politics are opposed to and critical of authority. This is not to say that those inclined to Left wing politics can't be authoritarian -- there are plenty of examples to the contrary. It's possible to find a inherent cultural bias against anything remotely "Right" in countries that once lived under nationalist military juntas, and the same cutural bias in countries that were governed by "Left" dictatorships and revolutionaries.


Yes, I live in the U.S. Certainly, if you went to Chile, the word "Right" would send a shiver down people's spines, but so far the posters in this thread have suggested that Left is ultimately anarchist, in which case, Lenin and Trotsky weren't Left. I am trying to get to the bottom of what these words really mean and if they are cardinal or ordinal.


RoyceChristian wrote: However the characterisation of the Right as standing for less state interference in personal lives is inaccurate if flat-out wrong. As far as it applies to parliamentary parties, the Right are just as, if not more so, okay with state interference in individual lives, so long as it conforms to their view of the world. In other words, the State should stay out of economy but should be allowed to interfere in social issues, like LGBT issues, abortion and migration issues.

Even in a broader sense, when you're dealing with political theories rather than political parties, this becomes more obvious. The recent bank bailouts are some the best examples of this, as banks, economists and the American Right have been quite loud in their calls for limits to regulation, and yet, when the system goes to shit, suddenly everyone starts saying "they're too big too fall, give them the money". Once the crisis is over and the bail-out's gone through, they immediately return to saying "don't regulate".

Most of all though, the strongest characteristic of the "ight is usally a strong desire to preserve the status quo. The idea is to prevent any real shock or threat to the system, which sometimes requires small concessions to safeguard the overall integrity of the system -- like Obama moving an initiative to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military.

When you actually scratch the surface, the idea that the Right stands for any sense of liberty becomes a little absurd. Of course there are many on the Left whose politics or political theories have been authoritarian.


No disagreement here except for one point and then a couple observations. The banking bail-out bill was sponsored by and voted for by a Democrat majority. So far as I can tell, too-big-to-fail is as much an outcome of Progressivism as it is Republican crony capitalism. The government's job is to "fix" the market - to grease the wheels and keep the engine of productivity running. To what extent that is Left or Right, remains my question.

Additionally, since we are speaking of the U.S., here Right still contains seeds of Classical Liberalism. Many of them are strongly anti-government. This is where the Republican Party is an odd marriage between working class people and wealthy elites.

The farmers are anti-authoritarian and strongly communitarian. They are typically community oriented in the sense of family, church, and helping their neighbors. They want outside forces out of their lives. Their racist undercurrents and nativism are, so far as I can tell, a simple outgrowth of a suspicion of outside agencies. They border on tribalism. Now, that doesn't mean they subscribe to a coherent and consistent theory of rights. After all, the consensus of a tribe is a very dangerous thing for a lone individual.

Accordingly, they have an uneasy alliance with wealthy elites who on the surface want to limit government interference, but only in so far as it privileges corporations, so they are frequently patsy to the wealthy elites. This is parallel to how minorities and cultural liberals are patsy to the Democrats, who wouldn't have a platform to get elected with if they actually fixed any of the social problems they campaign on.

RoyceChristian wrote: And then you have to ask yourself whether they were "Left" in form rather than substance.


So this is what I am taking issue with. And someone please correct me if I am wrong. What I am seeing so far in this discussion is:
1) Claims that Leftism is ultimately anarchist
2) Anytime a self-described or historically described Leftist is authoritarian, to say that they weren't really Left

This seems intellectually dishonest to me or confused at the very least. My goal is to understand these categories more clearly.

So what do you make of the Nolan Graph? Breaking things up in terms of Left/Right and Authoritarian/Libertarian?
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Birthday Pony » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:24 pm

ChairmanMeow wrote:1) Claims that Leftism is ultimately anarchist


No, no, no. As far left as you can go is Anarchism. Plenty of other leftist ideologies are not anarchism.

2) Anytime a self-described or historically described Leftist is authoritarian, to say that they weren't really Left


I won't say that. I think it is important to read left and right in context, however. Vaguely, leftists challenge some sort of status quo with the idea of moving forward on some sort of linear progression (a notion I don't particularly like), and rightists wish to maintain the status quo or move backwards on some sort of linear progression (regression to monarchy, for instance in the case of reactionaries).

So if a leftist ideology takes power and establishes a new status quo, they become more right wing if they try to preserve it, becoming leftist in form and not substance. Seems confusing, but it's actually quite helpful. If it was just left or right with no shifting then we'd create the illusion that we can be "done" at some point. If an Anarchist revolution happened over night and I woke up in some sort of Anarchist commune, I wouldn't just drop everything and start skipping through the fields. There'd still be work, and there will always be work.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby RonaldMcDonald » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:40 pm

What you're saying is misleadingly true. Politics is social. If we want things from other people, then we must negotiate with them. Compromise is compromise of priority, and whatever people find most pressing will be addressed first. But all of the time, money, and energy spent trying to steer "public agenda" or a "country's priorities" are the result of the fact that they will be enacted by force. Additionally your money will be taken by force toward this end. Absent a state, there no need to "steer" anything - just persuade.

So what sense then does it make for an anarchist to call themselves Left or Right, if it only determines policy views under state?


I don't really understand what you mean here. What do the things that neverfox listed have to do with "steering" a state's agenda, or with mere emphasis? Not everybody agrees with these values in the first place!

Okay, but this sounds more like "liberal" versus "conservative", not Left vs. Right. A cultural conservative in any country, regardless of historical politics is going to have family centered and patriarchal views. This is how it was anywhere in the world for all of recorded civilization. I don't imagine if Lenin would have been supportive of gay marriage. In what sense can you then call support of gay marriage "Left"? Culturally liberal, yes, but how is it Left? It seems that this distinction only makes sense for statists.


Well, I think "conservative" and "liberal" are far more vague and misleading than Left vs. Right, since they have no real meaning, unless they are simply defined as the same as Left and Right, which doesn't make much sense. Sexual freedom is as good a marker of the difference between "Left" and "Right" as any, since it is generally connected to one's views on other issues. Many 20th century authoritarian movements were against sexual freedom, not because they wanted to conserve the past, but because it threatened their vision of a disciplined society.

Yes, I live in the U.S. Certainly, if you went to Chile, the word "Right" would send a shiver down people's spines, but so far the posters in this thread have suggested that Left is ultimately anarchist, in which case, Lenin and Trotsky weren't Left. I am trying to get to the bottom of what these words really mean and if they are cardinal or ordinal.


I'd say that Lenin and Trotsky were indeed not Left, using the Karl Hess piece. Their supporters might argue that they were using right-wing means to achieve left-wing ends, but they should be judged by their actions.

No disagreement here except for one point and then a couple observations. The banking bail-out bill was sponsored by and voted for by a Democrat majority. So far as I can tell, too-big-to-fail is as much an outcome of Progressivism as it is Republican crony capitalism. The government's job is to "fix" the market - to grease the wheels and keep the engine of productivity running. To what extent that is Left or Right, remains my question.

Additionally, since we are speaking of the U.S., here Right still contains seeds of Classical Liberalism. Many of them are strongly anti-government. This is where the Republican Party is an odd marriage between working class people and wealthy elites.

The farmers are anti-authoritarian and strongly communitarian. They are typically community oriented in the sense of family, church, and helping their neighbors. They want outside forces out of their lives. Their racist undercurrents and nativism are, so far as I can tell, a simple outgrowth of a suspicion of outside agencies. They border on tribalism. Now, that doesn't mean they subscribe to a coherent and consistent theory of rights. After all, the consensus of a tribe is a very dangerous thing for a lone individual.

Accordingly, they have an uneasy alliance with wealthy elites who on the surface want to limit government interference, but only in so far as it privileges corporations, so they are frequently patsy to the wealthy elites. This is parallel to how minorities and cultural liberals are patsy to the Democrats, who wouldn't have a platform to get elected with if they actually fixed any of the social problems they campaign on.


I think there are major differences between the average "progressive" and the average "conservative" that are overlooked by assigning equal blame to the ideologies. Policymakers of any stripe are pretty much scumbags that want to increase their own power -- that's a given. But personally I notice a substantial difference in talking with progressives, who afaic are basically well-meaning but start from several mistaken premises and assumptions, than right-wingers, who imo suffer from what could better be described as a personality disorder than an ideology that happens to be wrong. This is where a distinction between Left and Right, based on fundamentally different worldviews, suggests itself as useful, and hence I think the Karl Hess line is more or less useful, though it doesn't have to be taken religiously.

So this is what I am taking issue with. And someone please correct me if I am wrong. What I am seeing so far in this discussion is:
1) Claims that Leftism is ultimately anarchist
2) Anytime a self-described or historically described Leftist is authoritarian, to say that they weren't really Left

This seems intellectually dishonest to me or confused at the very least. My goal is to understand these categories more clearly.

So what do you make of the Nolan Graph? Breaking things up in terms of Left/Right and Authoritarian/Libertarian?


Yes, I believe the Left is "ultimately" anti-authoritarian, simply because it should be defined as such. I think it's safe to say that, say, Marxist ideology started out as the right wing of the Left, but fossilized into plain old right-wing nationalist/capitalist shit when it took power. While this mapping isn't perfect, I think it's better than the Nolan Chart, Political Compass, etc., since it's misleading to suggest that authoritarianism/libertarianism and left/right are completely unrelated.
While anarchists oppose hierarchy in the name of liberty, right-libertarians support authority and hierarchy, all of which deny freedom and restrict individual development. This is unsurprising because the right-libertarian ideology...is fundamentally anti-life in its assumptions and anti-human in its method. Far from being a libertarian set of ideas, right-Libertarianism is a mechanical set of dogmas that deny the fundamental nature of life (namely change) and of individuality (namely critical thought and freedom). --AFAQ

Capitalists are vampires - parasites who view us as nothing more than livestock to feed off of and have dominion over. --manilaryceTLM
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Re: Right And Left

Postby RoyceChristian » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:26 pm

ChairmanMeow wrote:
RoyceChristian wrote:Politics is entirely composed of matters of emphasis.


What you're saying is misleadingly true. Politics is social. If we want things from other people, then we must negotiate with them. Compromise is compromise of priority, and whatever people find most pressing will be addressed first. But all of the time, money, and energy spent trying to steer "public agenda" or a "country's priorities" are the result of the fact that they will be enacted by force. Additionally your money will be taken by force toward this end. Absent a state, there no need to "steer" anything - just persuade.

So what sense then does it make for an anarchist to call themselves Left or Right, if it only determines policy views under state?


My point was that being political requires a person to emphasise certain ideas or goals over others. Being able to articulate what you want to see happen in a manner consistant with your basic principles tends to be a matter of emphasis. More to the point, I am using "policy" in the broadest sense possible to refer to those things which people want to see happen and not meaning the first steps in enacting legislation. The whole point is that Left or Right does not "determine policy views under the State", but rather describes the core of a political theory or political party. It goes to the core principles or values rather than the mere expression or application of those principles to social problems. However, these expressions of the principles may help identify those core principles and where they lie on the spectrum.

A cultural conservative in any country, regardless of historical politics is going to have family centered and patriarchal views. This is how it was anywhere in the world for all of recorded civilization. I don't imagine if Lenin would have been supportive of gay marriage. In what sense can you then call support of gay marriage "Left"? Culturally liberal, yes, but how is it Left? It seems that this distinction only makes sense for statists.


Precisely. Opposition to gay marriage is to challenge the status quo, but a group, movement or theory is not "Left" just because it supports gay marriage. You need to look at what it says about other issues and what is written by those who self-identify with the label in order to understand what its core principles are. For that reason, a liberal progressive will fall Left of a cultural conservative, but not as far Left as the politics of Che Guevara or Ghandi.

ChairmanMeow wrote:
Yes, I live in the U.S. Certainly, if you went to Chile, the word "Right" would send a shiver down people's spines, but so far the posters in this thread have suggested that Left is ultimately anarchist, in which case, Lenin and Trotsky weren't Left. I am trying to get to the bottom of what these words really mean and if they are cardinal or ordinal.


Right, and if someone on the streets in the US is asked what they think, chances are they'll talk about "Right and Left" in terms of political parties only. And it is also true that to an extent the people on this forum collapse economics and attitudes towards authority down into a Left/Right spectrum where "Right" is descriptive of politics that defends and preserves the status quo. Personally, I actually like the idea behind the political compass in that splits both these measures across two axes.

However, as Birthday Pony pointed out, it's not that the ultimate expression of "Left" is Anarchism, Anarchism just falls at the farthest end of the measure. Both Lenin and Trotsky's variety of Communism are still Left, primarily because they rejected the status quo, but they do not fall as far Left as Anarchism and other expressions of Marxism, because they were still fundamentally authoritarian.

I do concede that my argument relies on essentialism, but BP makes an interesting point which may either compliment my own or contradict it, depending on how you look at things;

If a leftist ideology takes power and establishes a new status quo, they become more right wing if they try to preserve it, becoming leftist in form and not substance. Seems confusing, but it's actually quite helpful.

This is a problem that arose for many Communists. When they discovered that Stalin was a dick and the Soviet Union wasn't the wonderland they were promised, Communists were left with trying to work out what to do next. And so there was a debate. The option that seems to have won out is usually expressed as "The Soviet Union was actually State Capitalist", which to me seems like a bit of a duck and weave, although it is more or less the argument that the Soviet Union was Communist in form only.

Though, this is less of a problem for Anarchist. It doesn't necessarily matter to use whether Castro is a raging homophobe or that Mao killed millions more people than Hitler. They're generally all considered authoritarian, even if they do fall into the "Left".

ChairmanMeow wrote:No disagreement here except for one point and then a couple observations. The banking bail-out bill was sponsored by and voted for by a Democrat majority. So far as I can tell, too-big-to-fail is as much an outcome of Progressivism as it is Republican crony capitalism. The government's job is to "fix" the market - to grease the wheels and keep the engine of productivity running. To what extent that is Left or Right, remains my question.


That's assuming that the Democrats are, in fact, any different to the Republican. At this point in time, the Democrats are behaving more like the Republican Party is supposed to, as the Republican Party moves further and further to the Right in order to gain any sort of support against Obama. I mean, Bush didn't quite get so far as to put American citizens on a anywhere-in-the-world-drone-strike-assassination-list. He just kinda stuck to torture.

Additionally, since we are speaking of the U.S., here Right still contains seeds of Classical Liberalism. Many of them are strongly anti-government. This is where the Republican Party is an odd marriage between working class people and wealthy elites...


No doubt, because there has been this recent effort to rebrand various Right wing political groups. Whether it's the Republican Party, the Tea Party and even various strands of Libertarianism (or on the extreme end, White Nationalists and the National Anarchists), you find this reworking of rhetoric to emphasise "limited government involvement in people's lives" and the idea that "we/our values are under attack". The question is whether this is meaningful or reactionary.

Accordingly, they have an uneasy alliance with wealthy elites who on the surface want to limit government interference, but only in so far as it privileges corporations, so they are frequently patsy to the wealthy elites. This is parallel to how minorities and cultural liberals are patsy to the Democrats, who wouldn't have a platform to get elected with if they actually fixed any of the social problems they campaign on.


Interesting observation.
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. -Aesop
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Birthday Pony » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:51 pm

RoyceChristian wrote:I do concede that my argument relies on essentialism, but BP makes an interesting point which may either compliment my own or contradict it, depending on how you look at things;

If a leftist ideology takes power and establishes a new status quo, they become more right wing if they try to preserve it, becoming leftist in form and not substance. Seems confusing, but it's actually quite helpful.

This is a problem that arose for many Communists. When they discovered that Stalin was a dick and the Soviet Union wasn't the wonderland they were promised, Communists were left with trying to work out what to do next. And so there was a debate. The option that seems to have won out is usually expressed as "The Soviet Union was actually State Capitalist", which to me seems like a bit of a duck and weave, although it is more or less the argument that the Soviet Union was Communist in form only.

Though, this is less of a problem for Anarchist. It doesn't necessarily matter to use whether Castro is a raging homophobe or that Mao killed millions more people than Hitler. They're generally all considered authoritarian, even if they do fall into the "Left".


My understanding is that politics do not end. We don't establish such-and-such and thus do away with any and all problems that may divide us into groups based on a certain outlook. Case and point, every anarchist group running a collective space anywhere.

I wonder if political essentialism gives rise to reactionary politics in Libertarian circles. I can certainly see it in the US mainstream libertarian current. The idea that leftism ultimately results in authoritarianism (because of the USSR) and therefore we must go back to the days of the American Revolution, repeal all laws but the constitution.

The question is up for grabs. The spectrum is based on a society in which monarchism was a legitimate and semi-popular ideology. Seeing as how some states still have monarchs, while in others the bourgeoisie has actually won their revolution, the waters certainly look muddy.
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Re: Right And Left

Postby Francois Tremblay » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:42 pm

As for left and right, here is a rough idea of where each ideology is on the spectrum.

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Re: Right And Left

Postby Birthday Pony » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:01 pm

I really don't like AnCap being considered anti-authoritarian. I would actually place it center or left of center on a flat ideological spectrum. It's just classical liberalism.

Some individuals I would place far right.
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