Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Political Spectrum

It was the French Revolution
that gave us the concept of
a left-right political spectrum
One of the most interesting, and flawed in my opinion, is the left-right political dichotomy.  In one forum, radio, and television programs you see individuals raging against the 'socialists' in power and in an entirely different forum, radio, and television program you could see an someone raging against the 'corporate fascists'. Its even more interesting when you consider the conventional political spectrum that considers these ideologies as diametrically opposed to each other, they really aren't, but more on that later.  Here is a little chart of the left right spectrum, on the American political axis, on how it breaks down, generally.

I found this post difficult precisely because you could get very in depth what each political classification means, and whether or not that classification would be accurate, but that could take multiple posts.  Instead I'm going to give you a brief blurb on how socialism, communism, Nazism, and fascism is defined, via wikipedia no less, and then tell you why the differences really don't matter.

The definition of socialism is very broad, too the point of being almost useless in my opinion. On the one side you have democratic socialism, many European states are given as an example, and on the other you have the command economies of the USSR, the internationalist militant revolutionary socialism called Lenninism , and the other varieties such as Maoism and Stalinism, so forth and so on. 

Facism, summarizing the Wikipedia article, is a nationalistic ideology that uses totalitarianism as a ways unit the populace of nation culturally.  What should be noted is that nationalism isn't really that different from a militant form of nationalism. In fact, the only reason we call this 'form' of government fascist rather than militant nationalist, is because of Mussolini.  Seeking a way to define what was really just militant nationalism, he used ancient Roman imagery to galvanize the Italian people.  Often pronouncing the rise of the new Roman empire.  He called this ideology facism because in ancient Rome the symbol of power and authority was the facses. It was a symbol of the power of life and death held by the two consuls elected each year. Think of it as a something akin to the scepter carried by the nobility of the feudal era, or a badge carried by officers of the law today.  This is why we call it facism militant totalitarian nationlism, because that is what it was, and nationalism in and off it sled isn't necessarily totalitarianism.

Next you have National Socialism, or Nazism. It is listed as a strain of fascism with a particular bent on anti-antisemitism. But economically it was all over the map.  While it supported private property it initially started out as an anti-big business ideology and anti-capitalist. It was also anti-marxist, though I suspect this  had much more to do with Hitlers fear of the Communist Russians more than to any real ideology.  When looking at the Nazis you see an ideology that doesn't neatly fit into the conventional political paradigm, and the Nazis themselves also rejected to being a right wing or left wing ideology according to the conventional political spectrum.

It is very fascinating to read and wade through all the political ideologies and their nuances. However, over time, you will notice that there is a common theme throughout all of these ideologies in that they end up being totalitarian.  This brings me to the second political ideology chart that is makes its rounds on the internet.

 This takes into account that militant nationalism (fascism) and militant socialism (leninism and its variants thereof) are essentially the same in result, even if they differ in rhetoric.  However, I am not a fan of this chart because, in my mind, you cannot separate economic and personal freedoms. Moreover the chart isn't accurate even according to its own metrics.  There are plenty examples of socialist and conservatives restricting personal or economic freedoms, even though the chart should indicate that the opposite the farther along the political spectrum you go.  The fact is, that there is no one item, policy, or hot button issue that is just a social issue or just an economic issue, life doesn't work like that. For example, if you pass a law banning smoking you will affect businesses that cater to patrons who smoke.

I personally like to distill items into their simplest components, and for me the simplest component is control to the state. Does an ideology, or government, give the state more or less control over your life?

Here is a revised graphic I made.  On the far left are ideologies, or organizations that wield the most control over your life.  Under fascism, communism, or nazism the state controls your life. It tells you how to think, what you can do, who you can associate with, and even how you spend your free time. Under these societies not only is freedom of speech outlawed, but certain behaviors, such a homosexuality, severely punished; moreover, you have no say in the matter unless your a member of the ruling group in good standing.  What many will find interesting is that I place the GOP as a left leaning party.

The reasons for that are simple.  When liberty, or lack of state control in your life, is your political metric then the GOP belongs as a center left party.  They are just as willing as the democratic party is to flout free market economics when it suits them, and the republicans have the same propensity for using government for social engineering. They have also shown they are unwilling to come even close to honoring their small government and fiscal responsibility promises  And as the Captain has said on many occasion, we heavily on the path of socialism or are already there.  When Paul Ryans budget, which simply slowed the rate of increases, is considered an economic travesty by our media; and the budgets of Paul the Elder and Younger are virtually ignored, then you know you have reached that point.

1 comment:

  1. The concept behind the left/right spectrum is that on the right is the protection of property and on the left is the protection of personal freedom. So really the ultimate far right government were the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and the ultimate far left society is something akin to a pre-agrarian society or a modern Amish community.


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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.