LEFT WING VERSUS RIGHT WING

INTRODUCTION

 

In politics the terms “right wing” and “left wing” originated in the 18th century French Parliament, the États Généraux, where those supporting the Church and King sat on the right and those supporting a peasant uprising sat on the left.

 

Interestingly, the policy disagreement was extreme socialism to include land reform versus private property rights which were largely but not entirely to the benefit of religious institutions and the aristocracy.  Despite the rhetoric the cause of democratic liberties was not the defining issue.  Indeed, the left-wing French revolutionaries created a government undeniably more dictatorial and repressive than the right-wing monarchy it overthrew.

 

In no small sense, the French Revolution was the template for the horrors of left wing movements of the 20th century.  In this vein, events unfolded roughly as follows.

 

1.      Church property was confiscated and priests and nuns executed.   Land reform initially bought the support of the peasants but also disrupted production with the change in land management.

2.      To combat the rising price of foodstuffs, price controls were established on most basic goods under the “General Maximum” with violations punishable by death.

3.      The immediate effect was a widespread famine with consequent hoarding and theft threatening public order.  In response, the left-wing revolutionaries ordered the army to confiscate farmers’ crops outright and to distribute free food to the starving masses especially in the cities.  This, of course, lead to a further breakdown of the economy exacerbating the horror.

4.      The extreme level of unrest fostered the concentration of political power in the “Committee of Public Safety” led by the revolutionary socialist Robespierre.  The infamous historical period known as the “Reign of Terror” was instituted by this left-wing dictatorship to silence opposition.   Thousands of the most vocal opponents, of whom less than ten percent were right-wing aristocrats, were murdered in prison or in public circus beheadings that made previous repression by the monarchy look like a Sunday school picnic.

5.      To divert attention from the failed experiment in socialism, no less than twenty-two years of unprovoked war was inflicted on neighboring countries.  Art treasures, religious records and especially food was looted with joyous abandon.

6.      To support this military aggression, a universal draft of young men, i.e. a “levée en masse”, was instituted.  When rural populations revolted over the loss of farm labor not to mention loved ones, the socialists responded with the “War in the Vendee.”  The final result was the gristly murder of no less than hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens by left-wing forces.

 

So what went wrong?  Why was the American Revolution so successful and the French Revolution only a decade later so monstrous?  The obvious difference is that the French were left-wing democrats and the Americans were right-wing republicans.  That is to say the French were socialists and the American Founding Fathers created a limited government republic based on “laissez-faire” capitalism.  And the practical results of each, was never more evident.  If this seems too simple or self-serving an explanation, there is no other easy answer.

 

LEFT WING FROM FIRST PRINCIPLES

 

The defining feature of a left-wing ideology is big-government welfare-state.   Characteristics of left wing socialism include the following.

 

1.      Denial of any absolute moral code as envisioned by religion, especially Christianity.

2.      Individual rights are granted by the state and can be removed at will for the greater good.

3.      Confiscation of personal earnings and private property to support government programs.

4.      Centralized government disbursement of the necessities of life equally to all citizens.

5.      Government has a natural right of the absolute power of the state and should alone decide what is best.  Typically this translates to state control of the public narrative and suppression of dissent.

 

The defining principle is that government should use the absolute power of the state to regulate most aspects of life to maximize social harmony and happiness.  A defining motto [Karl Marx, “Critique of the Gotha Program”, 1875] is

 

“From each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.”

 

Those historically advocating left-wing policies have been Socialists, Nazis [National Socialist German Workers’ Party], Fascists, and Communists.  Today they call themselves liberals or more self-servingly, progressives.  In the United States they form the democrat party.  Domestically their support has come from slave owners with large plantations, labor unions, immigrants, and anyone needing government welfare.

 

The convenience of slavery making large plantations profitable as well as demonizing minorities as a road to power both stem from a disbelief in inalienable rights.  Needless to say, considering the historical record of economic disaster and police state terror, left-wing movements expend considerable effort to confuse the philosophical basis of their political theories.

 

RIGHT WING FROM FIRST PRINCIPLES

 

In stark contrast, a right-wing philosophy advocates small-government free-enterprise capitalism.   Some defining policies include

 

1.      Absolute moral codes exist, especially as found in the Ten Commandments from the Bible.

2.      Individual rights are inalienable because they are granted by a supernatural Creator. They cannot be abridged or removed by the state. 

3.      Private property rights are institutionalized especially being allowed to keep what one earns.

4.      Individual responsibility for one’s own welfare or at worst dependence on the private sector of family and friends to include church groups.

5.      Government derives it rights only from the consent of the governed which protects freedom of conscience and free speech, meaning anyone can say what their neighbors don’t like to hear.

 

The defining principle is that coercion by the state should be limited to protecting individual rights against predation by one’s neighbors, domestic and foreign.  A defining motto [New Testament Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:10] might be

 

“Those who will not work, neither shall they eat.”

 

Historically, supporters of a right-wing philosophy have been European settlers in North America and Christian religious congregations.  Today they are called conservatives.  In the United States, they are Republicans.   Domestically their support has come from families on small independent farms, entrepreneurs and small businesses, Churches, and abolitionists opposing slavery.

 

The Republican Party was founded on the principle that slavery was immoral and should be made illegal.   The first Republican President was Abraham Lincoln who opposed the democrat slave owners of the South and fought the Civil War to end slavery.  And today Republicans believe that minorities are not best served by welfare dependence and the modern-day slavery of trickle-down crumbs from the government table.

 

COMPARISON OF LEFT-RIGHT IDEOLOGIES

 

The differences in practical application between the left and right wing societies are compared in the following table.

 

ISSUE

LEFT WING

RIGHT WING

Goals

Equal results.

Equal opportunities.

Tone

Emotional or motherly.  Acts on impulse.  Everyone deserves a living regardless of effort.  Redistributes wealth.

Rational or fatherly.  Methodical and disciplined.  People only deserve what they personally earn.  All else is charity.

Time Horizon

Demands quick fixes for immediate relief and so necessarily discounts long term consequences.

Prefers permanent solutions and so sacrifices immediate gratification for long term benefit.

Approach

Alleviate symptoms of suffering.  Concerned with appearances.  Ignores any and all failings of human nature.

Alleviate causes of suffering.  Concerned with results.  Humans are flawed so must balance ambition against ambition with checks and balances.

Responsibility

State is responsible for personal welfare.

Individual is responsible for personal welfare.

Change

Wants ever increasing government control and regulation and thus discounts the incremental loss of personal rights and liberty.

Wants to decrease government control and so continuously tries to roll back the inevitable creep of government regulation.

Structure

High Taxes.  Extensive Regulation. Massive government spending on social services and welfare.

Low Taxes.  Minimum Regulation. Privatization of Social Services to extended family and churches.

Types

Favors total control by central government.  Tends towards well funded socialistic bureaucracies.  At the extreme creates a totalitarian police state dictatorship.

Favors minimal local government.  Tends towards poorly funded democracies with lassie faire capitalism.  At the extreme eliminates government entirely.

Rights

Individual rights are granted by the state and can be removed at any time for the greater good.  Government exists to foster social harmony through enlightened governance by an elite bureaucracy.

Individual rights are absolute given to each individual by God.   Government exists only to protect those rights from predation by one's neighbors, foreign and domestic.

Abortion

Legalization.  People exist for the good of the state.   Anyone to include babies in the womb, the handicapped, and the old and infirm can be eliminated for convenience.

Prohibition.  Each individual, at every stage of life, has inalienable rights, especially to life, which cannot be removed by the state at any time or for arbitrary reason.

Family

Family unit is easily replaced by state-run social services.   Marriage is an unnecessary and out-dated custom.   Single mothers should be supported entirely by state welfare.

Family unit is essential for social stability.  People are happiest in a stable marriage. Divorce is discouraged.  Parents and not society should be required to support their children.

Drugs

Legalization.  Drug dependence makes society more compliant and easily controlled.   All other rights are more easily removed.   Provides a safety valve on government repression and control.

Prohibition.  Statistically, drug use destroys individual incentive leading to poverty and crime.  Addicts do not accept responsibility to provide for themselves or their families and are a financial burden on neighbors.

Wage Equality

Socialism creates a privileged class and structural inefficiency in the economy that leads to wage inequality.

Free enterprise creates a middle class and wage equality.  Extremes of income are naturally smoothed out.

Downsides

Massive taxation destroys the economy leading to crushing national debt and widespread poverty.   Need violence to silence opposition to include Anti-Fa thugs and eventually secret police forces.

Imperfect social safety net leading to isolated object-lesson tragedies.  Occasional periods of economic depression with large scale unemployment.

 

Basically, left-wing liberalism seeks to turn back the clock to the dawn of humanity when society consisted of isolated families or small groups of nomadic hunter gatherers.  Food and the basic necessities of life were shared more or less equally.  If a hunter was fortunate or a gatherer stumbled on an abundance of roots, these individually rare events were sufficient to sustain the group in aggregate.  Private property rights were practically unknown and everything was effectively held in common.

 

Eventually humanity advanced to form permanent settlements and early civilizations. These city states found it necessary to invent a rule of law.  Natural rights of revenge were vested in an unassailable Prince who wielded the absolute power of the state to settle scores and prevent destructive civil strife.  Within this protective cocoon individuals were able to become specialists with greatly increased productivity and to trade their wares with others in a central marketplace which provided everything else.  And the right-wing concept of private property rights became an absolute  necessity as inter-city trade blossomed.

 

Unfortunately as society becomes more complex, individual rights to privacy, intellectual property, internet access, and a host of other novel challenges are endangered by the ever present greed of others.  The challenge of a right-wing ideology is thus to continuously adapt to protect individual rights against predation by one’s neighbors.

 

Liberalism on the other hand has a mantra that is static and looks backward to our earliest times.  The collective good is the sole unchanging and defining principle.  That in practice this means an “enlightened” bureaucrat or dictator is necessary to enforce compliance, is just an unfortunate side effect.   And in all cases, backward-looking left wing experiments, which deny human nature and social progress over many millennia, horribly fail.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

Given the above clearly stated descriptions, we can easily order political ideologies in a linear fashion.   In all cases these differ to the same degree in religious beliefs, in respect for individual versus collective rights, in economic principles of capitalism versus socialism, and the extent to which government police forces are necessary to control society.

 

 

Note that societies based on left wing principles necessarily develop large bureaucracies inevitably evolving towards dictatorial control.  It is not reasonable to claim that a left wing movement, because it creates a massive welfare state, is all goodness and light; and then to claim in the same breath that the consequent overregulation, economic ruin and police state terror needed to maintain left-wing politicians in power is a result of their sudden switch to right wing principles.  This was especially true of the extreme domestic socialism of the Nazis and Fascists who then created the unifying distraction of WWII.  The point is that while right wing and left wing societies often have many similarities, i.e. they both have cities and modern technology and whatnot, their fundamental principles and evolving forms remain diametrically opposed.

 

As for some of these differences, the right wing is religious and the left is not.  The right wing believes in individual rights and the left in the collective good.  The right wing favors capitalistic entrepreneurism and the left in state control of industry.   The right-wing wants less government and the left wants more.

 

And so despite liberal claims that the further ideologies move apart towards the extreme ends of the spectrum, the more similar they become, the truth is that the further apart they are, the more DIFFERENT they become.  The liberal claim of a circular convergence is an illusion and a logical absurdity. 

 

The truth is that police state terror inherent in big government socialism is a universal characteristic of the left wing and not the right.  The historical record could not be more clear.

 

APPENDIX : ANARCHY

 

Anarchy is the result of moving to the far right sometimes called “rugged individualism”.   But because of left wing attempts to obfuscate their policies and especially their results with amorphous propaganda, it is useful to consider the term in greater detail.

 

Strictly speaking, “anarchy” is a society without a formal structure of laws.  But to the extent this paucity of government is chaotic, that is a derived and not a primary meaning.   The point is that even though right-wing anarchy and left-wing communism both create miserable living conditions, that does not make the two similar beyond the most superficial consideration.

 

If there is any doubt, consider the differences.  One is deeply religious and the other is atheistic.  One believes in the inherent rights of the individual and the other denies them entirely.   One has no laws or police force and the other supports massive bureaucracies that regulate every aspect of life with alphabet soup agencies like the KGB or FBI or CIA or MI6.  The remedy for one is taxes for a police force and the other is their reduction or even elimination.

 

Only the fuzziest of thinking could equate the two as claimed by the left-wing.  What the left wing wants you to believe is that their policy disasters are not their fault because extremes on both sides, like left-wing communism and right-wing anarchy, are somehow convergent and thus identical.

 

APPENDIX: THE SELLING OF LIBERALISM

 

The appeal and problem of liberalism is that it wraps itself in the flag making grandiose promises impossible to fulfill.  It caters to the gullible, the young, the uneducated, and especially to the desperately downtrodden.  Unfortunately in practice, left-wing policies invariable destroy an economy uprooting the social structure, especially of that of the family.   If promises are too good to be true, they usually are.  So to get and maintain power, liberals find it necessary to confuse the issues.   Some ubiquitous but absurd left-wing claims include

 

1.      The claim that liberalism improves the lives of the poor rather than impoverishing everyone.

2.      The claim that when liberals institute massive state welfare programs, the resulting regulation and control is democratic rather than tyrannical.

3.      The claim that giving free stuff to everyone is a left wing virtue while the resultant economic ruin and police state terror necessary to remain in power is the defining characteristic of their right wing opposition.

4.      The claim that liberals are altruistic and want what is best for society rather than for an enlightened cadre of politicians and technocrats.

5.      The claim that the liberal tendency to use the absolute power of the state to violently silence reasoned dissent is in the best interest of everyone.

6.      The claim that because liberals preferentially attack competing liberal ideologies, their police state abuses are the fault of a right wing bent.

7.      The claim that liberalism wants social change, akin to technological innovation, while conservatives who want to roll back the invariable creep of government intrusion do not want change.