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Thread: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

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    The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Can someone explain to me exactly what the terms mean please?

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by camthebam View Post
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    Can someone explain to me exactly what the terms mean please?
    Nope , i haven't a clue either

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    I wouldn't like to say what my take on the difference is between the two, as it definitely varies from person to person what their take on it is, but this article kinda explains the basics...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-right_politics

    No doubt EGB, Colr, Wee etc. will all have varying views on this!
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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    No I can't either............ it's the opposite extremes of the political landscape I guess.

    I think it originated from the (very long time ago!!) French govt practice of having the lib/lab types on the left of the 'house' and the conservatives sat on the right.

    But I may be (as usual) entirely mistaken.


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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Shrink View Post
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    No I can't either............ it's the opposite extremes of the political landscape I guess.

    I think it originated from the (very long time ago!!) French govt practice of having the lib/lab types on the left of the 'house' and the conservatives sat on the right.

    But I may be (as usual) entirely mistaken.

    Well done my good doctor.. I hope you didn't google that one....

    Quote from Wikipedia....

    "The terms Left and Right have been used to refer to political affiliation since the early part of the French Revolutionary era. They originally referred to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France, specifically in the French Legislative Assembly of 1791, when the king was still the formal head of state, and the moderate royalist Feuillants sat on the right side of the chamber, while the radical Montagnards sat on the left."
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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Hmm...

    Having read your posts (thanks) and the wikipedia article I'm not that much further on. I knew labour was left and tories right but wasn't sure what it meant. My take now is that the left is more radical and sticks up for "the people" whereas the right is more practical and attempts to implement measures allowing "the people" to control their own destinies?

    Murky, murky world this politics lark.

    At least I don't feel so dumb now I know I'm not the only one scunnered by the ambiguity of it all.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    The Zapatista's Subcommandante Marcos has a different take on this:


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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    I was under the impression that it went back to the year following the Dutch conquest of britain in 1688. The whigs who supported the new regime on one side of the debating chamber, the tories on the other.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by camthebam View Post
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    Hmm...

    Having read your posts (thanks) and the wikipedia article I'm not that much further on. I knew labour was left and tories right but wasn't sure what it meant. My take now is that the left is more radical and sticks up for "the people" whereas the right is more practical and attempts to implement measures allowing "the people" to control their own destinies?

    Murky, murky world this politics lark.

    At least I don't feel so dumb now I know I'm not the only one scunnered by the ambiguity of it all.
    On the scale of things far left and far right are both extremes;

    From left to right


    Communism Socialism Labour Lib Dems Tories National Democrats Nazis/Facists


    Lib dems and lab traditionally round about the centre

    The basic ideas of left and right wing are illustrated best at the extremes;

    Far Left; all people are equal, all people have same rights etc

    Far Right; Some people are better than others, and deserve everything, whilst those different people deserve next to nothing


    Obviously towards the centre these are nothing like the views, but the above gives you a clear definition of what left and right politically really means.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Muchos gracios my weedgie friend. That explains it quite intelligently and it's easy enough for me to understand.

    You can't really be from Glasgow, can you?

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by camthebam View Post
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    Muchos gracios my weedgie friend. That explains it quite intelligently and it's easy enough for me to understand.

    You can't really be from Glasgow, can you?
    I think this has done the rounds on these boards before but take the test and see where you are, on the left/right/authoritarian/libertarian scale.

    http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    first off, it's a good question Cam, one i have asked on here before, because i don't know either. one way of identifying those on the left though, even when you can't delineate 'left' more precisely, is 'true believer' type statements such as:

    Quote Originally Posted by GlesgaeHibby View Post
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    The basic ideas of left and right wing are illustrated best at the extremes;

    Far Left; all people are equal, all people have same rights etc

    Far Right; Some people are better than others, and deserve everything, whilst those different people deserve next to nothing
    cam, i'm not sure why you're so impressed because, whatever the qualifications about extremities, this is very much a partial (in both senses of the word) appraisal.

    for example, one could say with no less (and indeed considerably more) accuracy:

    Far left; subordination of the individual to a nominal collective, but in reality, an oppressive and elite governing party, and philsophically and economically predicated on demonising and looting designated scapegoats classes - jews, kulaks etc, as the situation befits.

    Far right; hyper individualism and economic and social liberalism, where everyone's freedom is maximised but with a corresponding lack of safety nets.

    you could also rearrange glesgae's spectrum, as follows - because it's really a circle, not a line from pole to pole:

    Fascism Nazism Communism Socialism Labour Lib Dems Tories Libertarians

    so, where does that leave us?

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Left is a student. Right is 10 years later when he's with KPMG.

    Left is 11. Right is 7.

    Left is clumsy and careless. (Gauche). Right is skillful and deft. (Adroit)

    Left is gissajob. Right is loadsamoney.

    Left is the foot a catholic uses on a spade. Right is the foot proddies use.

    Left is red on a boat. Right is green on a boat.

    This left and right lark is everywhere!

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by egb_hibs View Post
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    cam, i'm not sure why you're so impressed because, whatever the qualifications about extremities, this is very much a partial (in both senses of the word) appraisal.

    you could also rearrange glesgae's spectrum, as follows - because it's really a circle, not a line from pole to pole:

    Fascism Nazism Communism Socialism Labour Lib Dems Tories Libertarians

    so, where does that leave us?
    I was impressed because it simplified a very complicated subject. I'm a simplistic beast. Simplification impresses me. I'm in my 34th year and have never discussed politics in my life before here so it's good to get a grounding in the basics.

    One thing I've learnt from this thread though is that the definition of left/right is also a matter of personal opinion. And yours is as valid and as appreciated as Glesgae's was. Glesgae's spectrum made more sense to me than yours though, I have to say. Libertarianism far right and Facism far left? Simplistic beast that I am I've maybe picked that up wrong but I'm (edit:camthe)bamboozled by that.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by GlesgaeHibby View Post
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    On the scale of things far left and far right are both extremes;

    From left to right


    Communism Socialism Labour Lib Dems Tories National Democrats Nazis/Facists
    Wouldn't dispute that, at a high level, this is pretty valid. Problem comes when on a whole series of issues the views of the 2 extremes of this spectrum are closer than they are to the more moderate groups closer to them in the scale - most obvious example in Britain in recent decades usually being the views of both extremes towards Europe.

    Interwar Nazism/Facism was also a strange hybrid of left and right, with some decidedly left wing views on economic planning and welfare. Granted, their contemporary successors today are more attracted by their extreme right wing policies.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by camthebam View Post
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    Can someone explain to me exactly what the terms mean please?
    I heard John Redwood saying that the terms are now irrelevant.

    He would say that, though, as a paid up memeber of the unelectable right wing.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by camthebam View Post
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    One thing I've learnt from this thread though is that the definition of left/right is also a matter of personal opinion.
    nail on the head there - and you'll find definitions as widely variable in debates on other political themes. Just look at the spin/personal opinions within egb's definitions - can you spot his own leanings by any chance?

    Way back in the days of the old cooshed alot of us took the political compass test which attempts to tell you where in the political spectrum you are - helpfully as well it also introduces a libertarian/authoritarian dimension to the analysis.

    Although its easy to denegrate the test, it probably does provide a reasonably fair reflection of where your own sympathies lie within the political spectrum, if you have that understanding then it'll hopefully be easier to understand where everyone else is - the site attempts to put your own results into some context too.
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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hampden_Hibby View Post
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    Right is skillful and deft. (Adroit)
    Also left is sinister, right is dextrous.

    (Latin: sinister = left, dexter = right)

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by camthebam View Post
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    I was impressed because it simplified a very complicated subject. I'm a simplistic beast. Simplification impresses me. I'm in my 34th year and have never discussed politics in my life before here so it's good to get a grounding in the basics.

    One thing I've learnt from this thread though is that the definition of left/right is also a matter of personal opinion. And yours is as valid and as appreciated as Glesgae's was. Glesgae's spectrum made more sense to me than yours though, I have to say. Libertarianism far right and Facism far left? Simplistic beast that I am I've maybe picked that up wrong but I'm (edit:camthe)bamboozled by that.
    well this comes back to your question of what left and right is.

    fascism is only usually described as right because of it's nationalist element, and because most of the commentary on the subject has been by it's sectarian enemies on the far left.

    outside of the sectarian context, the neutral observer might find in the larger package of statism, progressive taxation, female emancipation, anti-bourgoisiem, anti-capitalism and so on, to have more in common than in difference. even attributing 'wings' based on nationalism and internationalism is questionable - with all the communist states being, in practice, highly nationalistic, while some fascist theoreticians were scornful of nationalism. as for the fascists accomodation with business when in power - not so different really from Lenin's compromises after the failure of the NEP. certainly the two have more in common than either do with what is meant by right wing today; ie capitalism and classical liberalism / libertarianism.

    As for libertarianism - not sure what your question is there - I don't think you'd find anyone who would label that other than right wing these days, including the left themselves? libertarian socialism / anarchism is the exception of course, but as ever, this is a minority interest - it is though a good example again of the point we're making.

    it seems to me that anarchists should have more in common with right wing libertarians than with statist socialists, but in practice i'd expect them to favour the latter. i think this is the result of irresolvable contraditictions inherent in the label libertarian socialism - these are mutually incompatible propositions.

    ps - cam, if ever there was a subject where grasping for simple answers was ill advised, i humbly suggest it's this one!

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by theselkie View Post
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    nail on the head there - and you'll find definitions as widely variable in debates on other political themes. Just look at the spin/personal opinions within egb's definitions - can you spot his own leanings by any chance?
    you've never been able to spot em Selks

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by egb_hibs View Post
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    it seems to me that anarchists should have more in common with right wing libertarians than with statist socialists, but in practice i'd expect them to favour the latter.
    any favouring on my part would be circumstantial - it becomes a difficult choice in theoretical realms - you could be right but arent necessarily so! i suppose traditionally it might be easier to identify with marxists because nominally at least their aim of the authoririan state was supposed to be transitional towards an end not too disimilar - the end result has obviously been different however and that may be because it was a story sold to the niave or it may make the anarchists point for them - that power corrupts. The libertarian right on the other has historically (to my mind) used "freedom" as a mask to allow them to get away with doing whatever they want (including - crucially - impinging upon the freedoms of others).

    as to the contradiction of libertarian socialism i think we've been over that ground before, suffice to say its easy enough to pick out the contradictions in any theory and no doubt in particular my own viewpoints (hell i even identify them myself) but I dont see libertarian socialism as being anymore flawed by contradiction than any other "brand" of politics. The supposed conflict between freedom and equality is spurious - the idea of equality isnt based on making us all identical its more about equality of opportunity and common rights - individualism can be celebrated within that.
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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by theselkie
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    any favouring on my part would be circumstantial - it becomes a difficult choice in theoretical realms - you could be right but arent necessarily so! i suppose traditionally it might be easier to identify with marxists because nominally at least their aim of the authoririan state was supposed to be transitional towards an end not too disimilar - the end result has obviously been different however and that may be because it was a story sold to the niave or it may make the anarchists point for them - that power corrupts.
    I'm not an expert on the subject by any means, but it appears to me that marx might have imagined this transition (but if so, what was the basis for the original differences between anarchists and marxists? (genuine question) was it just about priorities or did the anarchists foresee what would happen?). in any case, I think lenin, trotsky and everyone that followed, harboured no such illusions or pretensions.
    The libertarian right on the other has historically (to my mind) used "freedom" as a mask to allow them to get away with doing whatever they want
    but isn't that the point? is that not what libertarianism - rightly or wrongly - actually is?
    (including - crucially - impinging upon the freedoms of others).
    what do you mean by this?

    as to the contradiction of libertarian socialism i think we've been over that ground before, suffice to say its easy enough to pick out the contradictions in any theory and no doubt in particular my own viewpoints (hell i even identify them myself) but I dont see libertarian socialism as being anymore flawed by contradiction than any other "brand" of politics.
    good, honest comment selks. I beg to differ though - i think it's a more profound contradiction than usual. You could almost rephrase libertarian socialism as invidiualism collectivism, which perhaps highlights the point. They are two fundamentally opposed aspirations imho. at least communism has been consistent in a vision of a command society (never mind economy) where a self appointed bunch of queen bees run the hive for - even in the most charitable interpretation - their own view of what is good for the drones. Libertarianism is also reasonably consistent - we'll do what the feck we like within minimal strictures (how minimal depending on levels of swivel eyed ideology) that protect us from each other. LC seems to be something more than the compromise from either vision which is inevitable in implementation; it seems to be two horses pulling different ways from the get go.

    The supposed conflict between freedom and equality is spurious
    no it's not. it's fundamental to the idea of freedom, that i am free to pursue my aims without being limited by the fact that it must result in me being 'equal' to anyone else.
    - the idea of equality isnt based on making us all identical its more about equality of opportunity and common rights
    that sounds more like liberal democracy tbh Selks
    - individualism can be celebrated within that.
    I get worried by terms like that; what do they actually mean? 'celebrating' individualism sounds to me like the kind of thing you don't actually need if you have individualism.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by egb_hibs View Post
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    what do you mean by this?
    this is way off topic now and thats prob my fault so apologies to Cam

    I'd have thought the answer was self evident - If freedom is to truly mean anything it must be enjoyed by everyone surely?

    All too commonly it is described as being able to do whatever you like, without adding that there is also a responsibility in exercising that freedom to not allow your actions to impinge apon the freedoms of others.

    For example a system that allows private property (as opposed to personal property) restricts access to resources not on a democratic basis but through the power of (in most modern examples) the state. If you are free to buy all the housing available in my town and are also free to charge whatever you like as rent how does that affect my freedoms? If I am employed do I have less or more freedom than if I am work for myself or mutual associations?

    the rightist interpretation of liberty is usually only concerned with economics - free trade and markets - and less so with individual freedoms and their protection.

    good, honest comment selks. I beg to differ though - i think it's a more profound contradiction than usual. You could almost rephrase libertarian socialism as invidiualism collectivism, which perhaps highlights the point. They are two fundamentally opposed aspirations imho. at least communism has been consistent in a vision of a command society (never mind economy) where a self appointed bunch of queen bees run the hive for - even in the most charitable interpretation - their own view of what is good for the drones. Libertarianism is also reasonably consistent - we'll do what the feck we like within minimal strictures (how minimal depending on levels of swivel eyed ideology) that protect us from each other. LC seems to be something more than the compromise from either vision which is inevitable in implementation; it seems to be two horses pulling different ways from the get go.
    collectivism is different to libertarianism though...so you cant really "almost" rephrase it so - it becomes an entirely different beast if you do.

    I get worried by terms like that; what do they actually mean? 'celebrating' individualism sounds to me like the kind of thing you don't actually need if you have individualism.
    I just dont get this point - you think i am refering to some form of edict defining a celebration day/week/year?? if we substitute celebration with appreciation would that help remove the sinister connotations for you?
    "The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms can appear"

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by theselkie View Post
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    this is way off topic now and thats prob my fault so apologies to Cam
    That's ok. I went to that polical compas point web-site you suggested and it made for interesting reading. Its still pretty confusing but I'm getting there. I think. Will have to read it all again.

    FWIW I came out the test in between Gandhi and The Dalai Lama territory!! Kindness, clarirty and inight my fellow bouncers. Peace be with you.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by theselkie
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    this is way off topic now and thats prob my fault so apologies to Cam

    I'd have thought the answer was self evident - If freedom is to truly mean anything it must be enjoyed by everyone surely?
    Ideally yes, the point of my question was how do libertarians impinge on others freedoms which you address below...

    All too commonly it is described as being able to do whatever you like, without adding that there is also a responsibility in exercising that freedom to not allow your actions to impinge apon the freedoms of others.
    Indeed. Total freedom is incompatible with society. Only the most extreme libertarians would argue for it - the index of bonkerness amongst them is the size of the strictures they would accept. But the majority of libertarians are perfectly happy with the notion of sensible strictures.

    For example a system that allows private property (as opposed to personal property) restricts access to resources not on a democratic basis but through the power of (in most modern examples) the state.
    I have to disagree. Surely not the state, surely it's the opposite?

    If you are free to buy all the housing available in my town and are also free to charge whatever you like as rent how does that affect my freedoms?
    You're really getting into questionable definitions of freedom here Selks. Freedom means being free to become economically affluent or not, amongst many other things. State intervention here is a curtailment of freedom. Now I'm not saying that's wrong, just that's it's not about liberty - here we approaching the fundamental contradiction between liberty and egalite I mentioned.
    If I am employed do I have less or more freedom than if I am work for myself or mutual associations?
    Your freedom is in your decision to choose where to work dude.

    the rightist interpretation of liberty is usually only concerned with economics - free trade and markets - and less so with individual freedoms and their protection.
    That's simply not the case. The libertarian right is immensely preoccupied with individual freedoms, again, on the extremes, to utterly barmy levels.

    The libertarian position is largely authentic and quite different than some forms of contemporary (as opposed to classical) liberalism for example, which are not about liberty, but about establishing 'acceptable' thoughts and conduct. If you are troubled by libertarianism those are concerns that are concerns over liberty. And you're right to have them. We only differ, I imagine, on where we'd draw lines.

    collectivism is different to libertarianism though...so you cant really "almost" rephrase it so - it becomes an entirely different beast if you do.
    you do if you rephrase it that way! Libertarianism is restatable as (a form of) invidualism, socialism as (a form of) collectivism.

    I just dont get this point - you think i am refering to some form of edict defining a celebration day/week/year?? if we substitute celebration with appreciation would that help remove the sinister connotations for you?
    no; it still sounds likely empty politico speak - what does it mean?

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by egb_hibs View Post
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    well this comes back to your question of what left and right is.

    fascism is only usually described as right because of it's nationalist element, and because most of the commentary on the subject has been by it's sectarian enemies on the far left.
    So not because of the racist ideology which underpins it which is the complete antithesis of egalitarianism which is at the root of left wing ideaology then?

    Just as a matter of interest EGB, has there ever been such a thing as a right wing dictatorship? The reason I ask is because any single form of government which appears oppressive to you to is either of the left or has encompassed left wing elements in it. Just off the top off my head you have described; Iraq under Saddam Hussein (a fascist dictatorship), present day Iran (a theocracy), Nazi Germany (a fascist state), Spain under Franco (an ultra nationalist state), Italy under Mussolini (the original fascist state), the various Juntas of South America in the latter half of the 20th century, Zimbabwe under Mugabe, Cuba under Castro, and Venezuela under Chavez which you've described as heading towards dictatorship.

    So has there ever actually been anything bad that happened because of the right?

    BTW Kudos for actually admitting that the main enemies of fascism as an ideology have been on the left. Think that's the first time I've ever seen you saying that.

    Anyway.
    In my opinion the terms left and right are ones that are best seen as economic. I would say that the further right you go the less influence that government is going to have on the economy. So in a complete right wing state (which I do not believe exists or ever has) there would be absolutely no controls over anything and there would be zero taxation. Basically complete anarchy. In a absolutist left wing government (which I would add the same caveat to re its existence) then a central government would control all aspects of the economy. It would be fair to point out that anarchism as an economic ideology is left wing despite there being no role for a centralised government due to the same sort of thing on a minute scale.
    The other thing which is often described as being left or right is social policy with libertarian and authoritarianism at either end respectively.

    The whole terminology of political positioning is completely outdated imo.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by wee162
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    So not because of the racist ideology which underpins it which is the complete antithesis of egalitarianism which is at the root of left wing ideaology then?
    fascism is not inherently racist, nor has racism always been absent from what you'd call left wing either.

    Just as a matter of interest EGB, has there ever been such a thing as a right wing dictatorship?
    I thought that all dictatoships were usually held to be right wing, even socialist ones? that's what it says in the guardian anyway
    The reason I ask is because any single form of government which appears oppressive to you to is either of the left or has encompassed left wing elements in it. Just off the top off my head you have described; Iraq under Saddam Hussein (a fascist dictatorship), present day Iran (a theocracy), Nazi Germany (a fascist state), Spain under Franco (an ultra nationalist state), Italy under Mussolini (the original fascist state), the various Juntas of South America in the latter half of the 20th century, Zimbabwe under Mugabe, Cuba under Castro, and Venezuela under Chavez which you've described as heading towards dictatorship.
    Well it depends on what we mean by left and right doesn't it?

    Personally I'd say that francoist spain (as opposed to parts of pre franco falanagism) and Pinochet's argentina are examples of clearly right wing dictatorships. Don't know enough about Mugabe to comment there. Iran can't be framed in western terms, although the guy whose name i can never spell, has certainly got aspects of western leftism about him.

    Germany and (especially) Italy meanwhile, can be either right or left depending on what attributes you prioritise.

    So has there ever actually been anything bad that happened because of the right?
    absolutely - but what do you mean by 'the right' - today it usually refers to the individualist current within classical liberalism which is an awkward fit with dictatorship, so it isn't surprising there aren't many examples. If otoh you mean old fashioned patriarchy, then there's been innumerable non-democratic regimes, which to varying degrees could be described as dictatorial, tsarist russia being a good example the more extreme end of the spectrum.

    BTW Kudos for actually admitting that the main enemies of fascism as an ideology have been on the left. Think that's the first time I've ever seen you saying that.
    I've said what I've said many times; that it's a sectarian conflict - I view it as richard dawkins would an OF match. They think they're so different but from where I sit they're almost indistinguishable. I don't think they've been the main enemies as such but they do produce the most commentary both due to domination of the academy and due to reasons of sectarian preoccupation - other people only get involved when either lot become a real issue. however, credit where it really is due - where fascism has been in control, one needs deep alternative convictions to resist it, whether those are other political religions or traditional ones. And so socialists were among the main resisters of fascism in germany, while solidarnosc were in poland, to give but two examples. The ivory towered types of today with their self styled dinner party moralities wouldn't - and didn't - resist it for the blink of an eye.

    Anyway.
    In my opinion the terms left and right are ones that are best seen as economic. I would say that the further right you go the less influence that government is going to have on the economy. So in a complete right wing state (which I do not believe exists or ever has) there would be absolutely no controls over anything and there would be zero taxation. Basically complete anarchy. In a absolutist left wing government (which I would add the same caveat to re its existence) then a central government would control all aspects of the economy. It would be fair to point out that anarchism as an economic ideology is left wing despite there being no role for a centralised government due to the same sort of thing on a minute scale.
    The other thing which is often described as being left or right is social policy with libertarian and authoritarianism at either end respectively.

    The whole terminology of political positioning is completely outdated imo
    broadly agree, but i think the left and right labels for social issues are arguably inverted if one looks at it historically, or indeed considers what happens to social policy under your hypothetical model, ie you can't have authoritarian anarchy nor a govt so powerful economically that doesn't meddle further.

    But this is to quibble. I agree with what you say, although I'd appreciate if you can expand on your point about anarchism, which I don't quite get - no doubt because, as you know, I think the idea if fundamentally contradictory.

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by egb_hibs View Post
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    You're really getting into questionable definitions of freedom here Selks. Freedom means being free to become economically affluent or not, amongst many other things. State intervention here is a curtailment of freedom. Now I'm not saying that's wrong, just that's it's not about liberty - here we approaching the fundamental contradiction between liberty and egalite I mentioned.
    if I am free to become economically affluent by charging exhorbitant rents to you and yours does that mean freedom for everyone which we have agreed as an ideal or does it simply mean that i have the freedom to exploit those worse off than me and even limit their freedoms? in short - can you be free when others have the power to control large elements of your life?

    Your freedom is in your decision to choose where to work dude.
    but it is also more than that isnt it? its surely also about the conditions under which I am expected to work, how my labour is valued etc etc....?

    you do if you rephrase it that way! Libertarianism is restatable as (a form of) invidualism, socialism as (a form of) collectivism.
    disagree - liberty isnt directly linked to individualism as i thought we agreed before? its about society (i.e. freedom from coercion for everyone). Anything that recognises the value of society (and uses it as a baseline for measurement) is collectivist (as opposed to individualist). In liberal democracy, state socialism and the like it is the elite that determine the laws defining what is good for society as a whole (and what isnt). Often what actually occurs is that the elite determine what is good for themselves but thats still collectivistic in nature.

    in libertarian socialism (as i understand it) this decision making is devolved to different concerned communities and as such is perhaps a compromise between the individualist and collectivist particularly as they are voluntary in nature. This contrasts with state governanace.

    no; it still sounds likely empty politico speak - what does it mean?
    to my mind - it means not trying to subvert forms of individual expression & creativity but actively encourage them by recognising their value to society.
    "The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms can appear"

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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by theselkie
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    f I am free to become economically affluent by charging exhorbitant rents to you and yours does that mean freedom for everyone which we have agreed as an ideal or does it simply mean that i have the freedom to exploit those worse off than me and even limit their freedoms? in short - can you be free when others have the power to control large elements of your life?
    in libertarian theory this shouldn't happen as market forces would deliver alternative housing stock if rents were exorbitant. However I'm sceptical of this and so don't favour unregulated markets.

    However, I still don't think it's an issue of freedom, this is an aspect of egalitarianism we're talking about. Perhaps we need to define freedom; what i mean is that you are free to be who you are, within the minimal social constraints that are possible. That does not mean providing compensators to deal with your environment; this may in itself be worthwhile, but it's not generally an issue of liberty per se, although in extremis it could be, if the sitch got so bad that their were no alternatives available. But I think that highly unlikely.

    but it is also more than that isnt it? its surely also about the conditions under which I am expected to work, how my labour is valued etc etc....?
    This is egalitarianism. Unless I am prevented from working for myself, then no employer is impinging on my liberty. They may be exploiting my position but this is an issue of egalitarianism not liberty.

    disagree - liberty isnt directly linked to individualism as i thought we agreed before? its about society (i.e. freedom from coercion for everyone). Anything that recognises the value of society (and uses it as a baseline for measurement) is collectivist (as opposed to individualist).
    I disagree. Freedom is at the personal level. However, in practice you are right that that means us coercing each other, so some degree of liberty must be forfeit by those who would participate in a society, which will inevitably be to their advantage. The key - and the point of most political dispute in advances societies - is where the balance is struck. Libertarians favour minimised controls to the point it can legitimately be called individualist in my opinion, as can liberal democracy, usually.
    In liberal democracy, state socialism and the like it is the elite that determine the laws defining what is good for society as a whole (and what isnt). Often what actually occurs is that the elite determine what is good for themselves but thats still collectivistic in nature.
    In state socialism, yes, but in liberal democracy - i don't think so at all. sure there are snouts in the trough as at all levels of life, but one can proceed as far as one's merit and drive will take one; this is liberty. Artificial constraints imposed to equalise people's positions is not, it's contra-liberal, and is about egalitarianism. Again, not saying it's wrong, just that it's not about liberty and in fact pulls in the opposite direction.

    in libertarian socialism (as i understand it) this decision making is devolved to different concerned communities and as such is perhaps a compromise between the individualist and collectivist particularly as they are voluntary in nature. This contrasts with state governanace.
    I appreciate the model - I just think it is misnamed. In practice such systems can have very little accomodation for personal liberty; if you can show me a self sufficient commune based system where the individual is not very much subordinate, and i'll be very surprised. And I don't mean some hippy commune embedded in a capitalist society, i mean something self sustaining.

    to my mind - it means not trying to subvert forms of individual expression & creativity but actively encourage them by recognising their value to society.
    Whether individualism is a net gain to society is a key question of political philosophy. I say it is, collectivist systems from sparta to prussia to moscow to berlin, would have disagreed.
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    Re: The terms "left" and "right" in politics.

    Go to the site www.politicalcompass.org It exsplains it pretty well.

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