Leftist! Rightist! STOP! Those terms are meaningless.

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ShackledNation, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. ShackledNation
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    ShackledNation Libertarian

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    The terms "left" and "right" in the sense they are used today in America are completely meaningless and useless when discussing anything.

    What is left? What is right? These terms to not refer to any foundation of principle, because they constantly change meaning over time. In fact, in many respects what was once left has become right, and vice versa. Placing people on a spectrum of left to right is like trying to measure an object using a ruler with the space between each unit of measurement constantly changing.

    Conservative once meant restoring the "Old Order" of the Ancien Régime (i.e. statism, feudalism, big government, and mercantilism). The terms "liberal" and even "progressive" meant removing government interference from all aspects of human life, advocating economic liberty, personal liberty, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

    Furthermore, having a spectrum of left and right assumes that one is the opposite of the other. Yet it is impossible to argue that complete government control over personal life (radical social rightist) is the opposite of complete government control over the economy (radical economic leftist). The two both involve giving government power over the individual. How can the same means be viewed as polar opposites?

    We should instead use a system of measurement that is consistent throughout time. On one end you have anarchy, the other you have totalitarianism.

    If you view politics this way, you will realize how completely inconsistent both Republicans and Democrats are in their views, which vary on the spectrum depending on the issue. Ultimately, we have two big goverment parties paying lip service to the old "liberal" (meaning freedom) ways of the past. Until people realize this, there is no hope for changing anything.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  2. ShackledNation
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    ShackledNation Libertarian

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    Thoughts?

    How do you define left and right, if at all?
     
  3. occupied
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    occupied Gold Member

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    The political compass is an enlightening look at the more modern two axis way of looking at political ideology. I have tried in vain to bring it into similar discussions many times but conservatives have a difficult time adding a dimension to their one dimensional thinking.

    The Political Compass
     
  4. ShackledNation
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    ShackledNation Libertarian

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    The political compass is definitely a much better way of looking at things. My only problem with it is that it still uses terms like conservative and liberal in the traditional american sense, and the actual test itself is full of questions with premises I disagree with.
     
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  5. dblack
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    dblack Gold Member

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    I tried taking the test, but couldn't really get very far. Almost all the questions were based on assumptions I disagreed with. For example:

    "Controlling inflation is more important than controlling unemployment."

    I don't think government should be doing either. How am I supposed to answer? More than half the questions posed a dilemma that seemed irrelevant to me.
     
  6. occupied
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    occupied Gold Member

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    It uses left-right as an economic scale as in the degree an economy is planned by the government and authoritarian-libertarian as a social scale as in how much a government is involved in the personal lives of it's citizens. Most self described conservatives flatly deny it because it shows America's politicians to be almost entirely in the right-authoritarian quadrant.
     
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  7. ShackledNation
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    ShackledNation Libertarian

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    I agree, I had the same problem.
     
  8. occupied
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    occupied Gold Member

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    Here is another along the same lines with far fewer questions that nevertheless produces much the same results.

    Advocates for Self Government
     
  9. dblack
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    dblack Gold Member

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    Right, that's the Nolan Chart that Libertarians have been using for decades. The quizzes are suspect on almost all of these though. It's really hard to not inject bias of one form or another. Overall though, I think it's important to recognize that the usual 'left/right' nonsense is gross oversimplification at best. At worst, it's flat-out misleading.
     
  10. ShackledNation
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    ShackledNation Libertarian

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