The Illusion of Left And Right

What goes where?

You probably think that politics can be neatly divided into two sides. There is the Left and there is the Right. Everything has to fit in somewhere on that line. You probably think there is some clear and logical principle that will tell you where to put every political persuasion on that line.

A simple political spectrum

A lot of people do see it that way. 

The reality though is that things are not that simple. The reality of human thought and political belief can’t be captured on a single one-dimensional line. There are many dimensions by which we can measure political persuasions. 

Before we look at those other dimensions we need to understand where this one came from. It is a surprisingly simple story.

Left & Right comes from where people sat.

The terms “Left” and “Right” in politics come from where people sat in the French National Assembly leading up to the French Revolution in 1789. Those who supported the rights and privileges of the King, the aristocracy, and the clergy were on the right of the president  (the “Right Wing”). Those who were on the left (the “Left Wing”), angered by those same privileges for the elite sought to establish a more egalitarian society. 

That happened over two centuries ago. So how did that work out? 

It didn’t end well.

Not very well actually. The First Republic dates to 1792. In 1793 they executed King Louis XVI. The dictatorship of the Committee of Public Safety and the Reign of Terror soon followed with some 17,000 public executions. As many as 10,000 died in prison without a trial. After interminable turmoil, Napoleon Bonaparte took control in 1799, and was declared Emperor in 1804. This led to the Napoleonic Wars that finally ended in 1815 with the final defeat of Napoleon.

The French Revolution started out with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. It ended with a bloodbath, dictatorship, and wars that decimated France and Europe. 

In America

But again how does all of that apply to America today? This country has never had a legally established aristocracy. Churches in America have never had the privileges and power once held by the Catholic Church in France. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution specifically prohibits the granting of titles of nobility by the United States government. The United States Constitution was ratified in 1788, a year before the French Revolution. It has been a model for limited government and respect for individual rights since the ink first dried on it.

No one is arguing that it was perfect, or was perfectly followed in principle. It was a model of an enlightened government regardless of any criticisms of its implementation. It was the ideals in that document that eventually led to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the United States. 

Nevertheless, there is a clear principle to be drawn from the French Revolution. That principle can still have some applicability in the politics of the modern world. The principle is about conservation vs. change. The Right seeks to conserve and the Left seeks change. If we are to use this principle consistently then any political movement seeking to change the status quo is on the Left. Those seeking to preserve the existing regime are on the Right. Simple, right?

Neither protecting what is established or changing it into something else has in itself any inherent good or evil. We can only impute moral good or evil when considering what is to be preserved or the changes some wish to make. We also need to examine how likely it is that those goals will actually be achieved in reality. 

The road to hell

We need to consider the old proverb that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Nowhere is that fact more evident than in the French Revolution and in the Russian Revolution that followed in the 20th century. We have already mentioned the blood bath of the French Revolution. 

The Russian Revolution led to the Soviet Union. Estimates of how many died in the Soviet Communist Gulags vary from several million up to 12 million. Another 7 million victims are credited with state planned famines to collectivize agriculture in the Soviet Union between 1932 and 1933.

We will never know the exact numbers. The Soviet Union was certainly in the same league as Nazi Germany in murdering its own people. The Communists just had different reasons and techniques for murdering them. 

In their own minds many of the Russian revolutionaries, like the French revolutionaries, saw themselves as champions of humanity. The results, however, did not live up to their ideals and that is an important fact to consider. History teaches that good intention more often than not leads to disaster without plans grounded in the reality of human nature.

Up next

In this article, we have established where the political terms of Left and Right came from. In the next article, we will examine how far the modern political landscape has diverged from that simple picture. I will show how inadequate “Left” and “Right” are as a measure of the modern political scene. Also, I will attempt to show how these terms have become more tools of propaganda than of reasoned debate. Finally we need to look at some of those other dimensions we can use to more accurately gauge political positions.

E PLURIBUS UNUM – ONE FROM MANY

E PLURIBUS UNUM” is a Latin inscription on the Great Seal of the United States. It means “ONE FROM MANY.” This was one of those ideas that made America great; a land of one people united under the founding principles of liberty and freedom enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

 

The Great Seal of the United States
The Great Seal was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782 and for most of American history was the unofficial motto of the United States.

It is a fact of history that Americans have not always lived up perfectly to those ideals. They were in fact difficult ideals to live up to. The vast span of human history is a witness that few had ever – before America – either understood or attempted to live up to these high ideals. Americans paid a heavy price for their failures. Over 2 million men in the Union Army died in the Civil War to end slavery in the United States.

Once upon a time people came to America for an opportunity to work and create a better life for themselves and their families. They expected to earn that new and better life through their own hard work and perseverance. For immigrants arriving in America in the 18th and 19th century America was an opportunity, not an entitlement.

One from many” was truly one of the ideas that made America great. If we want to make America great again then we need to focus on uniting, not on dividing. No matter our race, sex, or where our families may have come from in the past, or done to each other in the past, we are all Americans now. That is something that we as Americans have every right to  be proud of.

However one political party in America is doing everything it can to divide Americans into rival tribes, not to make America great, but to consolidate political power. The Left in general and the Democrats in particular have for some time been preaching Identity Politics where the principle is to divide Americans over claims of grievance and entitlement. If they had a Latin motto it would be “EX UNO PLURES,” meaning, “MANY OUT OF ONE.

In the Identity Politics of the Left your value as a person does not depend on what you have accomplished in life. In Identity Politics your value and worth as a person depends on the color of your skin, or your gender identity, or your national origin, or how you like to practice sex. It sets blacks against whites, gays against straights, and women against men.

The Left first divides people along lines of identity and grievance and then unites them under the umbrella of a political platform that promises entitlements and revenge against the perceived oppressors. Perhaps that is why so many on the Left get so angry over the phrase “Make America Great Again”? They perceive, correctly I think, that if we actually solved many of the problems in America while making it great again they would lose their hold on political power.

That makes me wonder whether the Left really wants to solve problems? Somehow I don’t think so. Their agenda is to keep people divided and angry at each other. That is where their power comes from.  They are simply practicing a very old tactic in politics, the tactic of “divide and conquer.”

As people who are still proud to be Americans we need to do just the opposite. We need to work to unite. “E PLURIBUS UNIM” should be our guiding principle.

DACA Amnesty Would Cost $26 Billion

CBO Report: DACA Amnesty Would Cost American Taxpayers $26 Billion

Giving amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who are covered and eligible for the President Obama-created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would cost American taxpayers a total of $26 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The DREAM Act, which is the most expansive amnesty being considered in Congress, would give potentially 3.5 million illegal aliens who are shielded from deportation by DACA and those eligible for DACA a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

-John Binder, READ MORE at Breitbart News


DACA Amnesty Chain Migration Would Exceed Four Years of U.S. Births

NEW YORK CITY, New York — The Democrats’ draft Dream Act amnesty would likely add as many chain-migration foreigners to the United States population as are added by the total number of Americans who are born in four years’ time.

As House and Senate Republicans, Democrats, the big business lobby, the cheap labor industry, and the open borders lobby have teamed up to push an amnesty for potentially millions of illegal aliens who are enrolled and eligible for the President Obama-created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the impact the move would have on Americans would be likely unprecedented.

-John Binder, READ MORE at Breitbart News


WSJ: There’s Mounting Evidence of 2016 Election Meddling Coming From the FBI

There is something rotten at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I mean all of this is just absurd. We have two FBI agents texting one another, one of which is having an extramarital affair with the other, cryptically talking about “insurance” against a Trump presidency. That text between these two agents was delivered on August 15, 2016. You also have Andrew Weissmann, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s top lieutenant, voicing praise for then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enact President Trump’s executive order on immigration, which got her fired. Then, there’s another DOJ official, Bruce Ohr, who was demoted for meeting the authors of the infamous and unverified Trump dossier, Fusion GPS; Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for that firm during the 2016 election. If there is nothing rotten at the FBI, then it’s credibility is definitely in question, something that The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board mentioned in their op-ed about this mess.

-Matt Vespa, READ MORE at Townhall


Decemember 16, 2017 In America