The Illusion of Left And Right

What goes where?

You probably think that politics can be neatly divided into two sides, the Left, the Right, and everything else fits in somewhere between. You probably think there is some clear logical principle that will tell you where to put every political persuasion on a simple line like the one below.

A simple political spectrum

Most Americans do. To put it gently, most people haven’t got a clue on the truly meaningful dimensions of politics. That is what I hope to convince you of. It may take a couple posts to cover all the ground that needs to be covered.

I deliberately left everything off of the line above other than “Left” and “Right” because we need to think about what principle we should use to decide where each political persuasion goes. So what principle do you think we should use?

Traditionally Socialists and Communists have been seen as being on the far Left. Democrats and Liberals were also seen to be on the Left, but just not nearly as far to the Left. Republicans and Conservatives have traditionally constituted the Right, although after World War 2 the Left sought to portray Nazis and Fascists as the extreme Right wing opposite of the Communists on the far Left.

The modern political spectrum as the Left sees it

There are serious problems with the above conception. A skeptical observer might see that the Left puts itself on one side (the side of “right” belief you might say) and simply lumps everyone else as being on the Right (“wrong” belief) where they can be conveniently condemned by association with Nazis, Fascists, White Supremacists and other Deplorables.

That was the game plan of the Soviet Communists after World War 2, to portray themselves as the opposite of the Fascists and the Nazis so none of the stink of the Holocaust, the stink of German concentrations camps like Auschwitz and Dachau would rub off on them. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn however refuted that claim in the The Gulag Archipelago . The Soviet Communists had their own concentration camps and methods of “liquidating” those deemed not fit to live.

In terms of repression and mass murder it is doubtful the victims of Nazism and Communism would quibble over whether their murderers were on the Left or the Right. Death has a finality that transcends politics.

Numbers are not exact but the Nazis in World War 2 have been credited with murdering upwards of 17 million people, 6 million of them being Jews in the Holocaust. What is not often remembered is that the Soviets were also mass murderers on a huge scale. They just used lower tech methods like famines and Gulags and had decades to practice their craft unlike the Nazis who were brought to an abrupt halt in 1945.

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 but the Soviet Communists were certainly in the same league as Nazi Germany in murdering people. They just had different reasons and techniques for murdering them.

The Communists in the Soviet Union and the Fascists in Nazi Germany were both totalitarian dictatorships that committed mass murder for the purposes of ethnic or political cleansing. If one uses principles of repressive, dictatorial government and mass murder then the Nazis, the Fascists, and the Communists all belong on the same side of any imaginable political spectrum, whatever you choose to call it.

In reality the death toll of Communism also has to include Communist China where it is estimated that the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962) resulted in tens of millions of deaths. Pol Pot, a Cambodian Communist, killed as much as a quarter of the population of Cambodia in an attempt to create an agrarian Socialist society (1976-1979). These are just some of the better known examples of Communist mass murder and genocide.

So do you still feel comfortable placing Communism on one side, the Left, and Nazism/Fascism on the Right? By what principle? Certainly not on any principle of human rights vs genocide and repressive totalitarian government. On that scale they both have to be on the same side. Under both Communism and Nazism you could literally end up very dead for politically incorrect speech or actions – just like in North Korea today.

Defenders of Communism today will tell you that these Communist regimes weren’t really true Communists. They didn’t really practice a true and pure version of Communism (or Socialism). They don’t seem to question if such practice is really possible without repression. Obviously they think so, but history is not kind to that belief.

The word “Nazi” is a shorthand for National Socialism which was the political party of Adolph Hitler. In German it was the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party). Again defenders of Socialism will tell you that it wasn’t real Socialism. In part they are right, but the part they miss is that given human nature you can’t practice Socialism or Nazism very easily without a powerful government that ultimately arbitrates who gets what, and who lives and who dies. We will talk about that in more detail later.

So where in the heck does this idea that politics can be neatly divided between Left and Right come from in the first place? That is what we will look at next. There is actually a very logical principle involved and there is a context in which it can make sense. It just doesn’t fit the modern narratives of the Left or Right very well.

Net Neutrality – The Internet Was A Success Without It!

A lot of techies and millennial types are going apoplectic over the FCC’s current move to roll back provisions for Net Neutrality adopted under Obama. A lot of people I know who are technically literate consider it blasphemy to be against Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality

I guess then I am a blasphemer.

In principle I rarely support increasing the scope and power of government unless someone can show a large, unambiguous, and clear benefit of government regulation. There are good arguments for regulation and government oversight, sometimes. One example of where government regulation clearly fits is in assuring that large enterprises be 100% responsible for cleaning up the messes they make instead of passing the buck to taxpayers which is clearly a subsidy for those enterprises.

A lot of the arguments I hear for Net Neutrality come down to something like “big powerful corporations controlling access to the Internet will block access to those sites they don’t like.” So I guess the Koch brothers are scheming to buy large ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and block access to Left leaning websites?

In reality if you want to see real examples of businesses discriminating against a particular point of view you don’t have to look much further than Google, Facebook, and Apple, all heavily Left leaning corporations heavily in favor of Net Neutrality.

Josh Steimle made a lot of good points in Forbes back in 2014 when Net Neutrality was first being discussed. He wrote that:

“I don’t like how much power the telecoms have. But the reason they’re big and powerful isn’t because there is a lack of government regulation, but because of it. Government regulations are written by large corporate interests which collude with officials in government. The image of government being full of people on a mission to protect the little guy from predatory corporate behemoths is an illusion fostered by politicians and corporate interests alike. Many, if not most, government regulations are the product of crony capitalism designed to prevent small entrepreneurs from becoming real threats to large corporations.”

In the long run more regulation more often than not ends up favoring the largest corporations which can most easily deal with the red tape (and then pass the cost on to you and other taxpayers). Josh Steimle goes on to say that:

“Free speech cannot exist without privacy, and the U.S. government has been shown to be unworthy of guarding the privacy of its citizens. Only the latest revelation of many, Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place To Hide reveals that the U.S. government tampers with Internet routers during the manufacturing process to aid its spying programs. Is this the organization we trust to take even more control of the Internet?”

We can with some version of Net Neutrality guarantee some version of Internet service that some perceive as “fair,” but I prefer the idea of competition. We don’t know what clever people will come up with in the future if we regulate the opportunity out of existence today.

The Left often views everything as a zero-sum game where there is only so much to go around and everyone is trying to get the biggest share of the pie. The other point of view held by proponents of free markets is that we need to keep on building bigger pies so there are ever growing opportunities and resources for everyone (and yes, the pie is still not evenly distributed).

Communism and Socialism are in effect zero-sum games. Capitalism, whatever the practical faults in its historical implementations, is a non-zero-sum game dedicated to building bigger and better pies. Net Neutrality is the group-think of zero-sum thinking.

The Internet came about originally from a government project called ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) but it soon spread to the private sector with explosive results in information sharing (and stealing) that heralded in the modern Information Age. The world changed. It would have changed whether or not the government started out with a Defense Department project we now call the Internet. It would have changed because it was time for it. Period.

The major principle was freedom, a “Wild West” of opportunities. What some people don’t seem to understand too well today is freedom also applies to the businesses that work and scheme to bring the Information Age into our homes and businesses. We can shackle them with a mantle of government regulation today to try to preserve what we think is good about the Internet today, but we sacrifice at the same time the opportunities for innovation that originally birthed the Internet.

If we can keep government hands off the Internet, at least as much as possible, then some truly clever folks are going to create things no one has yet imagined.

 

DACA Is Not What the Democrats Say It Is

More facts about DACA and other interesting stories.

DACA Is Not What the Democrats Say It Is. Here Are the Facts

Some members of Congress are threatening to block government funding unless Congress provides amnesty to so-called Dreamers—the illegal aliens included in President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump is ending.

Responsible members of Congress should not give in.

Such an effort would be fundamentally flawed and would only encourage even more illegal immigration—just as the 1986 amnesty in the Immigration Reform and Control Act did.

Hans von Spakovsky, READ MORE at The Daily Signal


Hallelujah! Trump Will Recognize Jerusalem as Capital of Israel Wednesday, Begin Moving Embassy

President Donald Trump will announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will begin a process to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump will first announce that the “United States government recognizes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” according to one of three senior administration officials who spoke with reporters on Tuesday.

MIichelle Moons, READ MORE at BREITBART NEWS


I Hate The New York Times

My hometown paper drives me crazy.

I read The New York Times because it often has good coverage. The newspaper pays to send reporters to dangerous places all around the world.

But mostly I read the Times because my neighbors read it, and I need to understand what they think.

John Stossel, READ MORE at Townhall


December 6, 2017 In America