A rather fascinating discussion unfolded this last week under the comment thread under the “Were the Nazis Right Wingers” post. Severian was challenging some of my definitions, trying to figure out where I stood, making me go “hmmm” here and there; eventually he went back to the Rotten Chestnuts site, and jotted down some of his thoughts about the whole left-wing right-wing thing. Some of what I’m doing doesn’t quite fit in the orthodoxy, because with the left-wing you have to separate outcome from intent — the ideology has yet to achieve, in any significant measure, any of its stated goals. And I’m going by outcome.
This brings about a perception of orientation that has attracted some questions, since scholars tend to classify ideology by intent. Left-wing, according to that, should be about the elimination (or at least, the toning down of the effects) of social classes. In America, we see it always seems to follow the same pathway: “Social class” is re-interpreted to have something to do with actually working for a living, or not. Continuing on with that train of thought honestly would then mean, “Well then, let’s see to it that everyone who wants a job, has one.” Politicians on the left often say something similar to that, but their policies make it much harder for anyone to find work. So we see them taking the path of least resistance — raising the standard of living of those who choose not to work, and diminishing the standard of living of those who do work. That much “equality,” and that’s about all. As far as political power? That’s a bust. Sure, advocates on the left do work hard to increase the number of people who have power; but only insofar as bringing into the fold, people who are likely to agree with them. That’s not a real test of commitment, is it?
So as far as I see it, the distinction in ideology has something to do with maturity. At the extreme “left” people want what they want when they want it. If someone gets in the way, well, they shouldn’t be there. Toddler Rules. Dictatorships, therefore, are inherently left-wing, at least from an American perspective, because it is in our heritage that government power should be shared and not concentrated into a single point.
“Liberal,” according to the more orthodox definition, is supposed to have something to do with equal rights. It is a rejection of primogeniture. If you get a month in jail for jaywalking, and the son of a high government official gets just a stern lecture for exactly the same offense, that’s supposed to be an offense against liberalism. Doesn’t work, does it? We only have to recall how “liberals” reacted with Bill Clinton was caught in his shenanigans with a White House intern, to pop that soap bubble. Liberals are also supposed to reject absolute monarchy…which in the Age Of Obama also doesn’t work. Here in the United States, liberalism is associated with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, and all that went with that. And herein lies an irreconcilable contradiction with that “absolute monarchy” business, since FDR had to threaten to pack the Supreme Court in order to get his way. For his plans to be adjudicated impartially, wasn’t good enough for the American Caesar. This is the trouble with judging by intent; you have to go by stated intent when you do that, and in politics, statements of intent are so unreliable.
“Conservatives” are supposed to be all about retaining social institutions. This is supposed to make them more resistant to new ideas, which are welcomed by the liberals. Well, Greg Gutfeld came up with three good exceptions to that one, those being school choice, flat taxes and market-based health care reform. There are others though. Conservatives came up with the idea of welfare block grants to the states, teaching girls and women how to use guns, the Laffer Curve, and the Balanced Budget Amendment — many of which, like Gutfeld’s three, pose threats to liberal-friendly and liberal-favored “social institutions” like deficit spending and teachers’ unions.
In other countries, there is a distinction to be made between “liberal and conservative” and “left-wing and right-wing.” The Left Wing opposes social inequality and social hierarchy, is friendly to communism and socialism, as well as to anarchy. It is much friendlier to the welfare state. Again, because of the historical backdrop involving FDR’s programs, these terms “liberal” and “left-wing” mean much the same thing in America, although it’s important to remember that these meanings diverge in different directions once you start talking about elsewhere.
The “right wing” defends, not so much inequality itself, but rather the institutions that might have contributed to it: Natural Law, economics and tradition (as in, a royal blood line). Communism intends to create a classless society, the “right wing” opposes communism. But then, see, there is that problem again: Intent. What communist society was ever class-less? Ten, maybe twenty hippies toiling over a garden patch back in the sixties; any bigger of a “society” than that, you have classes. And just maybe, the “right wing” is resisting that because they can see where it’s going.
In the United States, we have additional meanings for these terms since we have federalism, or at least, are supposed to have it. Liberalism, in the U.S., has a lot to do with undermining that particular constitutional concept. This gets back to that thing about a dictatorship again, the Toddler Rules. If the feds say it should be a certain way, it should be that way — nice and simple. The right wing, pain-in-the-ass that it is, keeps going on about “states’ rights” which the left wing says is just a code-word phrase for re-instituting slavery, or racism, or something. The right wing, on the other hand, points out that when the federal government can practice supreme authority over the states in all transactions, interstate or not, it invites abuse and that’s why the left wing likes it that way. Which side to believe? Well…we know abuse flourishes in the U.S., whereas slavery has been abolished. But I guess that’s a side-issue. Again, these are uniquely-American complications, so it’s important to maintain an understanding of whether we’re talking about global left/right-wing, or U.S. left/right-wing.
What is written above has to do with definitions made, or recognized, elsewhere. What follows has to do with the observations we can make about the events around us, and how they may affect those definitions.
We see certain behavioral characteristics in those who affiliate with The Left, of course. Joe Biden, before he became Vice President, let loose a famous “racist slip” when he talked about how you can’t go into a 7-Eleven without an Indian accent or something like that…yeah, that’s stereotyping, something left wingers aren’t supposed to do. But he stereotyped because he was grasping at straws for something positive to say that might have a connection with the person he was meeting, and he seized on a group, not an individual, accomplishment. And that’s textbook American left-wing thinking, that groups accomplish things, individuals don’t. Furthermore, that the accomplishment is decidedly bereft of any true excellence, just “fastest growing” and that’s it. It’s just one of many examples. On Planet Lefty, groups, not individuals, accomplish things; and groups, not individuals, have rights. This is distinguished from Classic Liberalism, which is concerned with the rights of the individual.
Rights, in turn, are not necessarily “rights” as you and I know them to be. You have a “right” to a free college education, if we can make enough people angry that this right doesn’t exist yet, nevermind that someone else has to provide it somehow. Or a right to get married, which actually isn’t a right at all. And far from obliterating social classes the way liberals and the left are supposed to be wanting to do, all around the world, American lefties are power-drunk on group privileges. It’s their bread and butter. Chief among these privileges is the privilege of bellyaching about statistical deprivation. Example: Female engineers are paid less, on average, than male engineers — that’s a thing. Heterosexuals are, on average, less well-educated and paid less than homosexuals. That’s not a thing, not worth mentioning. So there is a “bellyaching privilege” enjoyed by some classes and not other classes. And that privilege, in the Lefty Pocket Universe, is a “right.”
If defining is all we want to do, and we only need the definition to work in the United States, we can define the Left Wing around a sort of fairy tale, the Leftist Fantasy that is never quite told all the way. There is the status quo, in which the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; all is despair and darkness. Then comes the revolution. A hero, or band of hardy compatriots, busts open the walls of the treasury with their battle axes and sledge hammers and what not, inviting all of the poor, oppressed villagers to gather around and scoop up as much of the golden coins as might be practically carried. Which the villagers do, then they haul the lucre off in their aprons back to their humble mud huts. After that, all is lightness and good, and there is equality. The defenseless are defended, the guilty are punished, everybody is on equal footing and all is right with the world. That’s the fantasy.
Their difficulty is, it’s hard to keep an awareness of the concept of time while you’re telling this story. The Toddler Rules say, they want everything the way they want it, all of the time. So if the revolution is happening tonight, then that means tomorrow there won’t be one. It’s like trying to drug yourself into a high without crashing afterwards, or trying to have sex without a real orgasm. That darn “time” thing, it says that if this is your moment, then the moment’s going to end soon. They can’t quite get with that part of it, so they live out their entire lives on a hairpin-turn of sorts.
Because a “right” is whatever a regional society declares it to be, The Left has an awful lot of trouble with the whole “good and evil” thing. They have a deserved reputation for failing to see evil when it’s right in front of them. And when the job is one of confronting it, these are not the guys you want leading the sheriff’s posse. They’re great for when non-aggression is the right answer, the problem is they can’t tell when it stops being the right answer. The enmity that they bear, as an ideology, against George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq is a lifetime superlative. Political anger isn’t supposed to be something that’s measurable, but by any measurement, this is at the top. And the funny thing is, they can’t say why. “Illegal, unjust war” they say. Illegal how? They can’t answer. What would’ve happened if the U.S. hadn’t invaded? They can’t answer that either.
As easy as it is for The Left to proclaim brand new “rights” here and there, even when they cost actual money, they’re not quite so quick to figure out if they’re affordable rights, or who is going to be affording them. It doesn’t even rate an afterthought to them. Health care is a right that should be free? You’ve just revived the institution of slavery, and imposed it upon health care workers. College education is a right that should be free? You’ve just done the same thing, to the college professors. Oh wait though, no…doesn’t quite work that way for the profs. But anyway, this is yet another adequate distinguishing characteristic of the Left Wing in the US of A. Such-and-such is a right, we don’t know who’s paying for it, and we don’t very much care.
They do, though, put some thought into sticking the bill to classes of people they don’t like. “The one percent,” in the case of the video clip linked above. So there’s that.
Their level of commitment with running a check on the distribution of politcal power, or lack thereof, ties into this. You don’t have to study this very long to figure out their game plan: If the indigent have more power at election time, democrats win more elections. This creates, for us, another distinguishing characteristic. Anyone with some common sense, and a desire to see the republic endure, would have to have some feelings of dread about “One Man, One Vote”: Should work out fine as long as a majority of people can see fit to back some plans that are good for the community as a whole, and resist plans that are not good for the community as a whole. But as long as there are economic classes, it stands to reason that the classes with the greatest class membership will be the ones more further removed from actually producing anything. What is to be done to protect this system of government from the wreckage that may result? The Left Wing may be distinguished by their answer to this: Nothing, and isn’t that great? And, by their desire to exacerbate the problem. Greater political influence is to be placed on those who don’t actually pay the bills. All in the spirit of “One Man, One Vote” of course. But The Left would be plum-peachy with the idea of depriving the producers in society, of that one vote, so that isn’t really what motivates them.
And you see this, all throughout the modern world. Wherever you have a “leftist regime,” you’ll see a configuration that has become most familiar to us throughout the twentieth century: One man has all the power in the country. And still, there is some sort of phony charade going on, where they can pretend it’s all about one-man-one-vote. In fact, the dictator just recently won 100% of the vote in some sham election. I’m talking about who, exactly? I haven’t even offered enough criteria to narrow down these regimes just yet — could be any one of ’em. One guy, self-promoted to Sooper-Dooper Field Marshal Ten-Star-General Supreme Blah Blah Blah…sinuses long-ago eaten away by cocaine, mind half-gone with venereal diseases, since the whole damn country exists solely for his amusement, and men like this are running out of ways to amuse themselves. If any one of his entourage looks at him funny, he has them shot or worse. Thus, my remark that led to the question that is the title of this post.
The American Left, far from being in favor of any sort of “equality,” is all about castes. The apex of the power pyramid, with his syphilitic problems and his weird military title and funny hat, is the dictator. Easily identified — “no one is above the law,” but if the law ever comes into conflict with his will, the law changes on the spot. He’s in charge of separating the nation from reality. If the question is “square root of sixteen” and he says five, the answer becomes five. Then you have his entourage, climbing all over each other for the coveted position of second-in-command. And then, within the enclave, those who support the dictator — and, those who do not. Those are the four castes in a leftist regime. Dictator, entourage, supporters, pariahs. Again, I’m talking about who exactly? A plurality of regimes, and far more than just a plurality in fact, fit; so it’s a generalization, but as generalizations go it’s not unsafe.
Lack of critical thinking is a key ingredient of the Left Wing, a core requirement. They live in the ad hom, even while they project this onto their opposition. Many who have endured the frustration of arguing anything with them, or merely discussing anything with them, have seen this-or-that subtopic come to an abrupt halt within a cul de sac of sorts, with “Oh you can’t put any credibility on that, it came from Fox News!” or, “Are you seriously going to question this, when 97% of climate scientists say it’s the right answer?” Point after point after point they throw out there, for which there is no rebuttal — and no way to agree, either, really — and you’re constantly asking yourself “Yes maybe, but what can we do with that within this discussion?” The question does have an answer: Nothing. These are weighty matters, for the Pharaoh and his entourage to solve, not fit for discussion among the riff raff. Our place, in the leftist universe, is merely to support what the powerful have decided. Remember our place. The science is settled. In fact, any definition of the decisions made by the powerful elites, more granular than what the elites are willing to provide, is anathema. Definition of their strategy is very often not forthcoming, and it is wrong to ask the question. It isn’t even fitting to ask for a qualify definition of the problem they’re trying to solve. The Left, in general, is opposed to definitions. They like ’em so long as they may lead to broader and/or more passionate public support. Outside of that, the process of defining anything is to be shunned, along with anyone who calls for it. Quoting myself on where the definitions fit into it:
What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.
Such passion The Left holds against definitions, that it seeks to obliterate definitions that don’t even pose any sort of a problem for it. Like gender. They hold that this is nothing natural, nothing more than an artificial societal construct, and yet at the same time there is one gender that is vastly superior to the other one. How to reconcile all this? You don’t. You’d have to define things to recognize the problem in the first place, and they’re opposed to defining anything. They think, correctly, that definitions get in the way of what they want to do, which creates fascinating conundrum because the question that naturally arises is, what exactly is it they want to do? And you’re not allowed to ask it. Not unless you’re prepared to take their stock answer word-for-word, and move on to the next question like a good leftist, with total apathy about the conflicts kicked up as this stock answer brushed up against reality. The People, it turns out, are just a bother when they ask too many questions. In fact, people are a bother anyway, a pestilence upon the planet. Children are to feel good about themselves, all of the time, but what are they really? Just an expense. They don’t have jobs, paying or otherwise, other than to sit, do as they like, feel happy. But they cost an arm and a leg. When they reach adulthood, they become what the rest of us are: A blight. A plague upon the planet. Not really part of nature.
Because they refuse to define anything to any useful level of detail, and are perpetually intent on dismantling the definitions we already have, they are a hot mess upon what they themselves call “the economy,” which they constantly brag about strengthening — somehow. A typical argument between a right-winger and a left-winger about the economy, in the Age of Obama, might go something like this:
Right: It stinks.
Left: You think so, because you won’t stop watching Fox News. Truth is, we have X many more jobs this quarter than last quarter.
Right: Yeah, that’s because if someone lost a good full-time job due to ObamaCare, they have to take 2 part-time jobs and that counts as 2…
Left: You just have to stop watching Fox. And anything else I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.
What’s interesting in this exchange is that the Right Wing antagonist has left himself open, with some speculation entirely (or mostly) unfounded. We don’t really know that this is what’s happening, we just have some data that supports parts of it. A good enlightening discussion could unfold from that, probably with some good points made on both sides. But The Left will have none of it. They’re missing the mark of the educated mind:
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
They can’t manage it. They’re fanatics. Control-freaks, too: “Don’t watch anything I’ve decided you shouldn’t watch.” Just like a controlling husband telling his wife which friends she shouldn’t have.
The idea that the economy is doing better when there are more jobs, is one that has outlived its usefulness. You don’t have to be a practicing economist to see that this has done us great harm, by being what it is: A metric that is just plain wrong. It’s not unlike pulling a car out of a ditch by attaching a cable to a part of the car that’s not part of the frame. Is it possible to construct a scenario in which this flawed metric is doing just great, while the “real” economy is capsizing? Absolutely. In fact, it’s easy. We’re living it now. You just have lots of people “employed,” busting their butts doing work that doesn’t actually help anyone — provides no useful service, manufactures no valuable product. Then you leave the citizenry to wonder, year after year, why the standard of living seems to be on a long, slow decline, even though they’re working their fannies to the bone. Sound familiar? And here we have another distinguishing characteristic: The Left thinks that’s just wonderful. They think the “economy” is “strong,” when there is a lot of activity.
Part of that is because their appreciation of “hard work” is nothing more than fakery. They don’t really believe in it; if they believed in it, they’d have been doing it at some point. You haven’t long to wait to listen to an impassioned leftist describe, in graet detail, the evilness of the “Koch Brothers,” but so many of them couldn’t even get started on telling you what the Koch Brothers did to make their money. The truth is, they don’t think there’s anything noble about making it. They think the nobility is in being impoverished — not just in poverty, but dependent. That’s important. A mountain man who has figured out how to get by on zero dollars, therefore labors under the burden of poverty but not dependence, brings them no value. They value the inner-city dweller, the panhandling bum. Same income level, different level of dependence. The panhandler is the yardstick by which we measure the compassion of society, as such he possesses infinite importance. The mountain man, on the other hand, can be ignored. It’s all about getting democrats elected. So their value system is fixated on the impoverished, so long as they’re properly dependent.
Does that mean they don’t want the economy to do well? Why yes, it does; it means exactly that. How are you going to get democrats elected, when the average American citizen sees a pathway to his own prosperity, by way of thinking for himself, and providing valuable products and services to others?
They don’t think money is earned. They think it’s distributed. They themselves will have no qualms about admitting this, since with each new election cycle, the economic plans put forward by their politicians are concerned mostly with tinkering with the distribution. Tinker, tinker, endlessly; so-and-so has “slipped through the cracks” and we need to “shore up” something. Oddly, this doesn’t mean we should ever revisit any plans of theirs that were implemented before. They can’t ever bring themselves to admit that reality fooled them. I suppose that’s true of all politicians, but The Left is an interesting case study because their politicians are essentially trotting out more-or-less the same plans every two to four years. So if they could ever bring themselves to admit, hey we tried fixing this, our fix didn’t take because of this thing we’ve learned since then; it would sound perfectly credible. I think they avoid doing this because they know if they’re going to do that 2 or 3 times about the same problem, they might as well do it 30 times, and by the time you say it that many times people will start to figure out you’re either lying, or don’t know what you’re doing.
Those would be the two messages The Left wants to avoid most avidly, because there is some truth to both of them. Truth is dangerous to a leftist.
No, each new plan has to be inspired by new outrage. The classifications of the outrage do not change: Someone died in police custody, or someone else has too much money, or power, or racism still exists, or women aren’t making as much money as men. Fresh anecdotes bring value to the leftist, because their real estate is limited there, and as the election cycles tick by they can’t keep feeding on the same ground. They need these stories of discrimination lawsuits getting thrown out of court, so they can stir up fresh, new outrage.
Those are the distinguishing characteristics of The Left; the politicians, advocates and voters. The Right comes into conflict with them, mostly because The Right — being composed of people who actually work for a living, build things that have to work properly so they can get those things sold — is concerned with something that doesn’t even rate an afterthought to The Left: Sustainability. The Right looks further down the road. Their mindset is the one that says: “If I paint this brick and sell it as a gold brick, it might work one time but that buyer won’t be back, so what good does it do over the long term?” Their understanding of human nature is vastly superior to The Left’s, which doesn’t say very much at all really. They may be repulsed by the newer generation’s music, but they’re not going to write angry letters to the radio station to stop playing it. They’ll just turn the dial and listen to something else. Partly because that’s practical, but partly because they know that if Katy Perry fans go months or years without being able to get access to her music, those fans will just start to miss her and they’ll like her music even more. This sets them apart from The Left, which is constantly inundating us with things they want us to learn to like, and scheming to deprive us of things they want us to learn to dislike. We’re looking for distinguishing characteristics to support our proper definitions, and in this case we get two-for-one. The Right is more mature; they understand absence makes the heart grow fonder. And they don’t work so hard to try to control others.
The Right is much less likely to be satisfied with “experts say” statements, even when such statements happen to be friendly to their pre-existing biases. If the details are missing behind such a statement, rightward-leaning people are going to want to have those details; they’ll at least go through the trouble of initially wondering about them, which is another characteristic that distinguishes them from The Left. The latter, upon hearing “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists believe in global warming” will ask very few questions about that. This gets them into trouble over and over again, as they use the “hammer” for its intended purpose, ending arguments once and for all, only to be confronted with these bothersome questions for which they’re unprepared, like: Do 97% of climate scientists agree we can head off a calamity by moving money around the way Al Gore wants us to move it? The Right Wing is much less likely to make this mistake, although it still does occasionally. It has nothing to do with intellectual capacity or intelligence. It is the curiosity that naturally arises when you build something upon which you, yourself, will be depending later. Did I tighten the lug nuts on this wheel? They understand that the same goes for any effort to build anything that possesses genuine value: You have to define things.
The Right doesn’t see the “leaders” or the experts as part of any sort of deity class. They just see these people as people with jobs. And they see them as strangers. Trust is earned, not given. Politicians, climate scientists, pundits — if these people have influence, that just means these people have the ability to break things, just as much as the ability to make them any better. So these impressive offices filled with these impressive people with impressive titles, to the Right Wing, are just nothing more than responsibilities. Which might not be met. And We, The People also have a responsibility, to keep an eye on those people. They’re our servants. They work for us. It’s a tradition that goes all the way back to George Washington. No royalty here; we don’t need it.
The Right is further distinguished from The Left, in that its adherents are much more likely to have actually read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. As such, they know this country is not founded on any sort of fundamental premise that government provides our rights; it is the place of government to merely recognize that we have them. The way The Right sees it, humans are sacred, dignified creatures; we are a part of nature, in fact we’re the most important part of it. And children are not just expenditures, or cudgels to be used against estranged fathers by vindictive mothers. Children are precious. You put them all together, and you have the generation that will be living in, and leading, the world of tomorrow. That’s another natural consequence of The Right looking two steps down the road, whereas The Left can see only as far as one step.
Because people are sacred, it logically follows that the work they do is also sacred. This puts The Right in the position of being far more open to the likelihood that work can help others. The Left very often envisions The Right as retrograde, some sort of throwback to a past time — “conservative.” This is as fitting a situation for that observation as any other: The Right hails from an earlier chapter in our developmental history, in which profit was a way of assessing the net value of work. The Left seeks to depart from that plane; and this isn’t helpful. Profit is how we figured out what activities were worthy of blossoming into businesses, and what businesses were worthy of launching leviathan industries. The Right still sticks to that, and assesses the performance of the economy by how easy it is to make a profit. That’s our “yes” and “no” signal, it tells us where to steer the economy, allows us to figure out what is worthy of greater investment, and what should die on the vine. The Right Wing dreads the day when, anytime and anyplace an investor makes the inquiry by participating in some new venture, the answer that comes back is always no. They understand that on that day, the oxygen supply will have been cut off for all of us. It comes back to definitions, again. If you invest in something and make a profit, not only do you know that there must have been a demand for that product or service, but you also know there had to have been some quality work and some good decision-making involved too. You have to have all of those things to make a profit.
If there aren’t any profits, that’s exactly like a network device acknowledging every single packet with a failed checksum. With the behavior unaltered, the sending peer will re-send so many times, and then come back with an error that the transmission couldn’t be completed. Then you could reprogram it, but how do you alter the behavior? There’s no right answer. Network no go. The same is true of our economy, and The Right is unique in understanding this. Some things, every now & then, are going to have to work. “Investment” is really nothing more than a question, “Profit or Loss” is an answer. That’s how we find our way around, figure out where to go. On The Left, these are dirty words.
Because you can only make a profit if you make correct decisions, there is a certain nobility about being able to provide for yourself. Like the network packet checksum, it shows everything is aligned and working, in the correct sequence. There’s no such thing as “excessive profit,” because more profit simply means more productive, hard work, and more correct decision-making, more investments that are possible. See, The Left has spun this highly successful deception, this Big Lie, that because they’re looking forward and the Right Wing is looking backward, they must be the ones for progress. But you can’t be for progress if you see profits as evil, or good only in certain situations, in which the level of the profit has to be contained beneath some limit. That’s not progress, that’s anti-progress. Also, the Right Wing’s political leaders are not committed to selling more social programs for the benefit of the indigent classes in order to ensure their longevity — therefore, there’s no vested interest in increasing the population of the indigent classes. This is supposed to be heartless, or lacking in compassion, or some such. That’s actually the way it’s supposed to work. Successful, strong economy, that means more rich people, easier to make a profit, fewer indigents. That’s the desired outcome.
Because The Right has this check routinely run against their suppositions, whereas The Left only has its beliefs, its zealous statements in support of those beliefs, and navel-gazing self-appreciation for how it makes these statements, it follows that The Right is much more strongly tethered to reality. Anybody who’s ever tried to do anything that relies on a strong tethering to reality, will be able to attest to the fact that it isn’t always easy to maintain one. Constant testing and re-evaluation, these are important things, the most precious tools in the toolbox. And you can’t continually test and re-evaluate without the strong definitions, mentioned previously. Gender is not something to be “re-assigned” or re-thought or torn apart, or anything of the like: It is a part of nature. Our place is not to meddle with it, but to accept it for what it is. The Right, also, has a much better understanding of this thing we call “science”; they understand that it is a method. It’s not a club of credentialed elites, it’s not a great dusty thick sealed-shut book full of engraved catechisms. It isn’t a seal of approval affixed by some authoritarian body. They understand that science is a means of discovery, and they understand that when someone says something asinine like “The Science Is Settled,” that person is either trying to hoodwink someone else, or has been hoodwinked himself.
Those are the available distinguishing characteristics between Right Wing and Left Wing; at least, the ones that come to me, and apply in the United States. Again, you see (thanks to FDR) we here in the U.S. have the luxury of conflating “liberal” with “left wing” and “conservative” with “right wing,” which doesn’t work so well in other countries, for a lot of reasons. Primogeniture never really was much of a thing here, so we don’t have “conservatives” harkening back to a bygone era in which the firstborn son got to live in the castle and pass the title down to his firstborn son, etc. etc. If anything, they’re merely “harkening back” to the bygone era in which people aspired to work for a living.
Still and all, it’s a bit wordy. So I would distill all of those paragraphs down to the following three broad categories of distinction.
Cultural Drive: The Right Wing seeks to drive our culture in one direction, where the Left Wing seeks to drive our culture in the opposite direction. We could pose to each side, or to an opinionated-person of unknown orientation, the following question: Is work just for suckers? This lacks the virtue of tact, but certainly does get right to the heart of the matter. Leftists will certainly object to it, but it would be silly and counterproductive to try to deny that they look at “work” very much differently compared to their Right Wing counterparts. To them, if someone has to work in order to survive, and work harder than they’d like to be working in order to survive, that means something is broken and needs fixing. The Right Wing, on the other hand, figures that if it’s “work” it goes without saying that you’re going to have to do some work, and you’re going to have to do some things you don’t want to do — that’s why they call it that. If you got to pick everything, it wouldn’t be work.
Relationship Between People and Government: One of my left-leaning Facebook friends said he doesn’t believe there is any such thing as “Natural Law,” and as I mulled over this I realized this is a good way of locating the surveyor’s twine, to draw the boundary. Is there such a thing as N.L.? This leads up to a question that has been asked, for ages, by Americans who couldn’t be bothered to read the Declaration of Independence: Do our rights come from government? And that leads to: What is a “right,” anyway? Is a right a right, if someone else has to pay for you to have it?
Foreign Policy: Where the above two have to do with domestic matters, The Left is divided from The Right (as well as from common sense) when it comes to overseas situations, and how to handle them. Having been born in the sixties, I’ve often had the impression I’d have a better idea how this came about, if I were born, oh, somewhere around three decades earlier. Liberals don’t define “peace” the way normal people define it. They seem to understand that for a peace to endure, someone has to do some compromising; but they don’t want to be the ones doing it. So if there is peace, but they’re not getting everything they want, then there can’t be any peace. Somehow, this means every military conflict that comes along is the fault of their opposition. It’s all unnecessary. They seem to go so far as to say, without saying it, that the military itself is a useless relic from an earlier time, and if we work at it we can get rid of all armed conflict, like Smallpox. They don’t say so; and this would directly contradict their hero-worship of FDR, who “won World War II” and so forth. But such a belief would pose no contradiction whatsoever, against the ideas they have for the problems that confront us in the present. In fact, going by the policy proposals they advocate for foreign policy today, it’s difficult to see any use they have for international borders, at all. And that would make sense. Borders are, among other things, definitions.
So these are the meanings I have in mind; the long and the short of it, literally. Severian objected, at least at first, to the realization that under this perception of what the ideologies really mean, every dictatorship in the history of the human race, going all the way back to the Pharaohs, would be “left wing.” To which I say, yes of course this is true, how can it go any other way? “Right Wing” is a belief in, among other things, Natural Law — which would get in the way of a good, honest dictatorship.
To which he replied, with his description of the five buckets. This is great stuff. Had to Facebook it right away. His explanation of it:
Imagine that we set a whole bunch of famous leaders down and gave them a pop quiz: “What is the purpose of government? What is the State for?” Then we sort them into buckets.
One common answer would be “the State exists to create Utopia here on earth,” and guys like Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Obama would be in that bucket. Their Utopias would all look different, and they’d employ different means to get there, but all those guys would agree that their governments are trying to create a perfect world.
Another bucket contains guys like Oliver Cromwell, Suleiman the Magnificent, Charlemagne, and Ferdinand and Isabella. Their answer is something like “government exists to give greater glory to God, and/or punish His enemies.”
A third bucket is full of guys who answered “the purpose of the State is to give me and my entourage the highest possible standard of living” — Genghis Khan, Louis XVI, pick your ancient empire-builder.
A fourth bucket reads “the State exists to keep the natural world in balance.” Egyptian pharaohs and Confucian emperors fit here — they have to do their daily rituals or the world falls out of whack.
A fifth — very small — bucket reads “Government exists to protect its people’s life, liberty, and property.” Here you find George Washington, Jefferson Davis, William Pitt, and (arguably) guys like Pericles and the consuls of the Roman Republic.
I’d argue that the guys in the “state as utopia” bucket are the Left, and the “protect the people’s rights” bucket are the Right. That leaves the vast majority of all governments that have ever existed in the middle three buckets. Doing it this way, I think, helps clear up some of the confusion about behavior and attitudes — Obama, as you note, behaves as if he believes His presidency has kept the seas from rising, but I don’t think He actually does. Nor do His followers.
Here, I think we are wrestling with another question that, although it might not serve adequately as a distinguishing characteristic, nevertheless highlights the difference between how left-wingers and right-wingers think: Believe. The more we look into it, the more we return to that pivot-point, like a homing pigeon, which is the difference in consequence. The Right Wing has to work with it, the Left Wing does not. It’s almost as if…I would say, exactly as if…the Left Wing formed its relationship to reality, when it got busted by its mom for taking cookies out of the jar, and pulled a fast one on her with a bit of nonsense about “Actually, I was putting it back.” And that worked, either because the small-em mom wasn’t into confronting them about the obvious falsehood, or she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the drawer.
Whereas the right-winger, in the same situation, ended up having to carve his own switch.
Truth, therefore, to a left-winger is whatever successfully sells the pitch. Belief is a dedication to whatever that “truth” is. It is only the right-winger — and, true, genuine centrists — who see truth as truth, something that is inextricably fastened to consequences. This brings us back to the analogy of “Did I put the lug nuts on the wheel the right way?” It inspires a whole different way of thinking, a whole different direction of thinking.
So it is belief, but not as we know it. Over here. They do “believe” that Obama has something to do with the rising of the seas. They’re willing to say it…and there’s nothing more to it than that, in their world. Say this thing, get to keep my cookie.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning, Severian found the topic sufficiently engrossing, as do I, to go over to the “daughter site” and jot down a few extra thoughts. “Three Signs You Might Be a Secret Leftist.” The three signs are:
1. You think the world is perfectible.
2. You never trust your own lying eyes.
3. You claim dictatorial powers for yourself, because you’re the victim in everything.
It seems to me that he and I disagree about the “Pharaoh,” because we see different things in that example. It’s too late to psychoanalyze Ramses The Great, but we can put together some crude profiles of dictators more recent, and the traits we see in dictators we know are pretty much the traits we should expect to see. Toddler Rules. There is an atrophied ability to resolve conflict, or no ability to resolve conflict at all, because there’s never been any need to do so. “I want what I want when I want it.” They do a lot of twiddling once they’re in charge of things, but they don’t grapple with consequences, don’t spend a lot of time wondering “did I tighten the lug nuts,” since they don’t put in a lot of lug nuts, and in any case won’t be the ones driving the car.
I should say something about their destructive impulses. Somewhere I noted that the leftist regimes we see here in the U.S. recently, over the last forty years or so, all have it in common that they make a big show out of building something great and grand, but can never quite articulate what exactly that is. If you were to ask them “All fine and good, but what are you destroying?” they’d be able to tell you. Now if someone can tell you what he’s destroying but can’t tell you what he’s building, doesn’t seem to have that figured out himself, that might be a good tip-off that this person is a destroyer and not a creator. The Left Wing, in our country, can’t quite make that leap. They want to think of themselves, and be thought-of by others, as creators and not destroyers; but, that seems to be nothing more than spinning a wild yarn about putting the cookie back in the jar.