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Verbiage: Rightists, Leftists, Centrists

Chacham (981) writes | more than 8 years ago

User Journal 36

In politics, many people are consider "rightists", "leftists", "right of center" or "left of center". Specifically, in the US, The Republicans are "conservatives" or "right of center" whereas the Democrats are "liberals" or "left of center". But, what is this "center" anyway?

In politics, many people are consider "rightists", "leftists", "right of center" or "left of center". Specifically, in the US, The Republicans are "conservatives" or "right of center" whereas the Democrats are "liberals" or "left of center". But, what is this "center" anyway?

There are two types of "centers". The first is the actual center, the second is the average. If US politics were moved to Canada or England, the Democrats would most likely be "right of centre" and the Republicans "ultra-conservative". If the US was a fascist state the Republicans would be "leftists". But being the US is where it is, the Republicans fall on the right side of the center, and the Democrats the left.

In actuality, however, the US itself is "left of center". The Republicans are actually "centrists", and the Democrats are "leftists". If the Libertarian party was run by mature people it'd be Rightist, and the National Taxpayers Party (or Constitution Party, or whatever they decide to call it today) would be fascist. The Socialist Party would be "supra-liberals" (it seems to be that "ultra" is never applied to liberals).

But, what is the definition of "left", "center", and "right"?

In my view, a centrist wants to keep the status quo. A rightist idealizes individual rights, that is, having a state only use its power where necessary. A leftist idealizes collective rights, that is, having a state use its power unless there is no benefit.

So, the Libertarians wants to have the State only do defense but leave the people alone, makes them rightists. The Socialists want the State everywhere, making them leftists. The Democrats want some individual rights, but high taxes and a great deal of regulation and welfare, makes them in between center and left. Republicans want to keep many regulations, taxes, and some welfare, but want to move towards less of it all, makes them centrists, leaning to to the right.

Or something like that.

cancel ×

36 comments

Liberatarians (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615277)

The Libertarians are just a bunch of cooks, neither right nor left.

The one thing that communists, fascists, conservatives & liberals have in common is their desire to control government and thus weild the power needed for their cause.

The central facet of libertarianism is that of an emasculated government with no power. It makes for a marginally interesting debate and little else.

Re:Liberatarians (1)

superyooser (100462) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616448)

The Libertarians are just a bunch of cooks

Hey, some libertarian cooks [amazon.com] are cool.

In US polotics (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615575)

I believe Middle is about .25 to the right , Right is .25+ and left is 0.10 to 0.25 (on a scale of -1 to +1 , 0 being truly balanced ).
As for the liberal /authoritarian .. I think again liberal over there means slightly less authoritarian .. just slightly above middle .
Though trying to measure political view points on a two dimensional scale never really works in the real world .

Re:In US polotics (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615651)

Though trying to measure political view points on a two dimensional scale never really works in the real world .

That may be due to the mix of financial and social views. The Republicans were always financially conservative but used to be socially liberal, thus falling more correctly under "individual rights". The Democrats were always financially liberal (see for example the fight over the gold standard) but were socially conservative. The social aspects have switched making it a bit peculiar, but the financial aspect is much more clear.

Re:In US polotics (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616179)

Always hard to find a good balance in a party .. this is why i prefer voting for independents where applicable (That and I despise partisan politics)
My views are socially liberal and my economics are liberally socialist ;) , though I do believe in a strong free market in many sectors .

The old republicans in the days of Lincoln really were a very different party from the party of today .. IIRC the democrats were just a bunch of gits (smear campaigns and pro slavery ).
The conservatism in the days of Lincoln were still trying to conserve the beliefs on which the USA was founded , that of freedom .

Re:In US polotics (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616241)

Always hard to find a good balance in a party

But there is usually a general core belief.

though I do believe in a strong free market in many sectors .

Mayhap there is hope for you yet. :P

Re:In US polotics (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616385)

;) Novus ordo secolorum(correct spelling i believe) heh , I do belive a new system is required . As I think the two major world systems are both rather flawed .
Free markets can be great , though greater controls are required to keep them free and even (Im no laissez faire nor a communist) GPL economics ;)

corrections... (1)

Timex (11710) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615657)

Specifically, in the US, The Republicans are "conservatives" or "right of center" whereas the Democrats are "liberals" or "left of center".

This is not entirely true. There are conservative Democrats, and there are liberal Republicans. It's just that the tendency is for the GOP to be on the "right" and the Dems to be on the "left".

Re:corrections... (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615817)

Yeah, probably.

But a "conservative Democrat" is usually called that. Calling him a Democrat, although technically correct, without explanation can be somewhat misleading.

Re:corrections... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617416)

There are conservative Democrats, and there are liberal Republicans. It's just that the tendency is for the GOP to be on the "right" and the Dems to be on the "left".

Behold an error of grammar.

Democrats and Republicans are in some ways the defining aspects of "right" and "left" in American politics. (My personal metric is to have the right be "righteousness over liberty" and the left be "liberty over righetousness", but that's just me.)

The words "conservative" and "liberal" are reflection to how ready either side is for change -- that is, how much they call for things that are not currently used to be implemented, or how much resistance they give to changes in the status quo.

The two best examples of this grammatical foolishness are calling Social Security a "liberal program", when it's really a conservative leftist program, and the "neocons" using the word "conservative" at all, when they're really "liberal rightists."

Re:corrections... (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13621688)

My personal metric is to have the right be "righteousness over liberty" and the left be "liberty over righetousness", but that's just me.

I prefer [slashdot.org] "logic over values" and "values over logic".

The words "conservative" and "liberal" are reflection to how ready either side is for change -- that is, how much they call for things that are not currently used to be implemented, or how much resistance they give to changes in the status quo.

Sounds good.

But i also think [slashdot.org] it has to do with how they view people as being currently superior or inferior. Perhaps that is then why they end up wanting to stay the same or to change.

Re:corrections... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13633791)

I prefer "logic over values" and "values over logic".

That places too much weight on mere rationality. Two days listening to the media and leaders on both sides will show ample rationality (logic) and irrationality (illogic) on either side. And, of course, both a "pro-choice" advocate and a "pro-life" advocate have rather clear values.

(Both words also prejudge the discussion by substituting one's own political leaning to the discussion. If I agree with leftist assertions, it's logical for me to be a leftist.)

Better terms might be "formality" and "empathy." The right-wing values formality over empathy, while the left places empathy as more important than formality.

But i also think it has to do with how they view people as being currently superior or inferior. Perhaps that is then why they end up wanting to stay the same or to change.

That could explain the left wing / right wing divide -- the basic goodness or lack thereof of man is one of the ancient political divisions, after all -- but it shouldn't be applied to the words "liberal" or "conservative."

Part of me keeps insisting that better words to describe the left/right divide are "fools"/"liars", "good"/"evil", and "christian"/"heathen", but only the first one can be reached without my own bias being quite evident.

Re:corrections... (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13645485)

Better terms might be "formality" and "empathy." The right-wing values formality over empathy, while the left places empathy as more important than formality.

In a sense, yes. But, formality/empathy, in this case, are merely the extraverted application of logic/values. Which is why i prefer the non-projected terms logic/values.

Two days listening to the media and leaders on both sides will show ample rationality (logic) and irrationality (illogic) on either side.

Depends how you translate the words. To Jung, both logic and values are rationals because they make decisions. Sensing and Intuition are the two irrational functions.

That could explain the left wing / right wing divide -- the basic goodness or lack thereof of man is one of the ancient political divisions, after all -- but it shouldn't be applied to the words "liberal" or "conservative."

Yes, however, it doesn't do a bad job. Conservatives believe in the basic goodness of people, and that if they exert effort, they will strive for the highest goals. So, conservatives want to help less and expect more. Or, change very little per person, taking a "conservative" (less change) approach.

Liberals believe people are intrinsically stupid, and must be taught what to do, else they will destroy themselves. So, liberals want to help more and expect less. Or, change a great deal per person, taking a "liberal" (more change) approach.

Part of me keeps insisting that better words to describe the left/right divide are "fools"/"liars", "good"/"evil", and "christian"/"heathen", but only the first one can be reached without my own bias being quite evident

Heh. :)

Re:corrections... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13645882)

Yes, however, it doesn't do a bad job. Conservatives believe in the basic goodness of people, and that if they exert effort, they will strive for the highest goals. So, conservatives want to help less and expect more. Or, change very little per person, taking a "conservative" (less change) approach.

To get exactly back to my point--no, they don't. RIGHT WING folk want to "help less and expect more." But there's nothing "conservative" about this, especially when it means changing the status quo. In fact, when you have politicians that want the government to help even less than it does now -- such, as, oh, those proponents of "welfare reform" -- you have clearly liberal right-wingers.

(And, to be concise, I want to point out that the first line of your "liberal" and "conservative" contrasts betrays unnecessary bias. And it also calls to mind the free speech advocate (nominally leftist) and the legislate-religion advocate (nominally right wing), both of which tear up the "natrually good" vs. "natrually evil" alingment, suggesting a third axis.)

Re:corrections... (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13647414)

RIGHT WING folk want to "help less and expect more." But there's nothing "conservative" about this, especially when it means changing the status quo.

This much is true, in that perspective. In which the conservative aspect appplies more to the person not being helped, than the government changing policies to get to that point.

(And, to be concise, I want to point out that the first line of your "liberal" and "conservative" contrasts betrays unnecessary bias.

Yeah, but i couldn't resist. :) Just like you wrote "even less" as opposed to just "less", which shows as much, though not outright, bias.

And it also calls to mind the free speech advocate (nominally leftist)

Free speech is actually rightist in the US. The left only allows free speech that supports their views. However, when a rightist wants to speak, the leftists are very against it. The right-wing, however, is much more fair in this regard, but perhaps isn't as "liberal" in scope. In that, if it is considered "radical" the right wing will be against it. The left wing doesn't care about it being radical or not, as long as it is their opinion.

and the legislate-religion advocate (nominally right wing)

That much is true in the US. This used to be the Democratic party, but with so many Xians moved over to the Republican party, this has become a thrust of many Republicans over the past fifty or sixty years.

both of which tear up the "natrually good" vs. "natrually evil" alingment, suggesting a third axis.)

I do not see the third axis. I think the same people that act out of religion, would have acted the same way otherwise.

Re:corrections... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13648452)

Just like you wrote "even less" as opposed to just "less", which shows as much, though not outright, bias.

I'll readilly admit my bias. Although I was going off of the "help less and expect more" line for that "even".

Free speech is actually rightist in the US. The left only allows free speech that supports their views.

I'd be interested in the facts that you use to back up that argument. I'm guessing the throttling of anti-abortion protestors and the recurrant "hate crime" style laws, which I'll admit do contrast with the left's famous defenses of rather amoral views in the name of free speech.

Do you have an example of a right-wing action in support of general free speech that isn't directly tied to one of their hot-button issues?

I do not see the third axis. I think the same people that act out of religion, would have acted the same way otherwise.

Here are the three axis I see:

"Government do more" / "Government do less."

"Change is good" / "Change isn't good."

"People are evil" / "People are good."

Some big-government types believe that people need to be controlled, while some believe that they just need a chance to do good. Some small-government types believe that government, of the people, can't be trusted. Other small-government types believe that people should be trusted without the government.

Re:corrections... (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13650240)

Although I was going off of the "help less and expect more" line for that "even".

Ah, i hear. Still though.

Do you have an example of a right-wing action in support of general free speech that isn't directly tied to one of their hot-button issues?

No. Certainly not off-hand. The right-wing most definitely doesn't *ask* more opposing opinions, i just don't see them stifling them (presidential vists may be a different story, unfortunately).

Just in my experience, i found it to be that way. Fox News talk shows which is mostly conservative always look for the left-approach in their shows and gave even speech to both. I'm specifically thinking of Hannity and Colmes. When talking to friends that are Liberal i find they use ad-hominem attacks whenever i mention a conservative idea. For example, when i would mention that Newt Gingrich had some interesting ideas about rewarding schoolkids, the response generally was "Newt Gingrich that idiot" or the like. Yet when having conservative friends listen to liberal ideas, (IIRC) i never heard such attacks outside of a retort to one.

Here are the three axis I see:

Ah, i was putting the axis on the voters interests. You are changing it to a more philosophical approach. IOW, these axises can make the person want the ones i mentioned.

"Government do more" / "Government do less."

"Change is good" / "Change isn't good."

"People are evil" / "People are good."


Sort of. I just think these miss the mark. Many times the first or the third are irrelevant. And, the second can change per the perceived importance of the issue.

Re:corrections... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13662586)

When talking to friends that are [Left-Wing] i find they use ad-hominem attacks whenever i mention a [Right-Wing] idea.

True. The ignorant left-wing base certainly seems to be more vocal than its right-wing counterpart. I've noticed the same thing in the (very small) cross-section of both political sides I've seen.

OTOH, I live in Upstate New York, so it might just be the majority effect.

Re:corrections... (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13666428)

The ignorant left-wing base certainly seems to be more vocal than its right-wing counterpart.

I am tempted to make the remark that "ignorant left wing" is redundant, but i'd rather do it surreptitiously. :P

I do find that most left-wingers do that, "ignorant" or not. I only know of two otherwise. One is younger than me, but he knows why he believes what he does and is comfortable with them. IOW, he knows his political beliefs are not based on logic, which sets him *miles* above the rest. The second one, is older than me, and would have had a discussion, but wasn't going to fight. (He is much more mature than me.)

so it might just be the majority effect.

That much could be.

One axis is not enough (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615906)

I say we need three: liberal to conservative, authoritarian to anarchist, athiest to polytheist. As somebody who falls VERY close to center on all three of those axis and yet is still relatively radical and creative in my thinking- well all I can say is that from some points of view, the center often looks to be the opposite side. Especially if you yourself are rather radical.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616190)

I don't think religion is too important here. Sure it may be *why* the person is conservative or the like, but the other two should be indicative enough.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616354)

Religion plays a far larger role than you would think; for religious dogma can get a person to vote against their own concience and against their own interests. Not to mention, of course, that many religions are either not democratic or openly anti-democratic (just look at the names used for God- titles of nobility all around!). But the point is more that human beings are three dimensional in their politics- and very few can be limited to the single axis the media wants to portray.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13621715)

I don't think that removing religion allows people to have greater freedom.

If there is a deity, things will keep the same way.

If there is no deity, religion was made up based on people's beliefs.

Ultimately, i don't think it'll have too much persuasion to be called an "axis".

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13623545)

I don't think that removing religion allows people to have greater freedom.

Depends on the religion involved, and how authoritarian it is.

If there is a deity, things will keep the same way.

No, because human beings are finite, and the deity is infinite- so we'll all have our own narrow view (ob Ref:The Blind Men and the Elephant Zen Koan) of that deity.

If there is no deity, religion was made up based on people's beliefs.

Whether a deity exists or not has NOTHING to do with religion- Religion is always based on individual subjective beliefs anyway.

Ultimately, i don't think it'll have too much persuasion to be called an "axis".

Just wait until the Catholic Activists finally find a political party that is willing to support them- 62 million people all voting the same way would be a heck of a persuasion in our system (there is no such political party currently- because Roman Catholics are too far outside of the two-axis or single axis political spectrum).

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13623802)

You have a point, but i still do not see it being an axis.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13623912)

The reason it's an axis is the same reason why no political party has yet arisen to take advantage of the Roman Catholic Voting Block- it's because those in a different place on that axis than you are almost invisible- their values are so incredibly different than yours.

For instance, Pope Benedict was widely decried in the American Press as a Conservative- but internal to the church, we have the range from Liberation Theology to the Traditionalist Latin Mass- and on that scale, he's dead center. It's not an axis to you because it's yet another case of the center looking to be the other side.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#13625092)

I guess, perhaps.

I just don't think the religiosity of a person will change his politics. I think attitude towards religion and attitude toward how to vote are the same attitude.

I mean, i hear what you are saying, i just don't see it being of any practical importance. While it may be an indicator of a person's views, the the other two seem to be complete.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#13625621)

"Seem" is not is. My guess is that you're just about dead center on the religious axis. It doesn't affect your life or your views. Not so for many people out there though- just saw this morning in the paper a story about an artist who strongly feels the disconnect [oregonlive.com] . One of his paintings was a church, on top of a mountain, teetering. Above it was a scale- on one side it said "Turn the other cheek", and on the other "Pre-emptive strike". Voting for a Roman Catholic pro-life point of view leads one to a pro-death point of view no matter which way you turn- both the Republicans and the Democrats are really pro-death just in different ways. It's amazing how much religion does influence people- and how badly all of the major parties and most of the minor parties are dealing with this.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13630778)

Let's say it does affect it. But putting that on the side, and just knowing their views towards money and social interaction seems to define the bulk of their views. Making religion an instigator, but not an axis.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#13631296)

Let's say it does affect it. But putting that on the side, and just knowing their views towards money and social interaction seems to define the bulk of their views. Making religion an instigator, but not an axis.

Does it? In Roman Catholicism, the Love Of Money is the Root of All Evil- but 53% of Roman Catholics voted Republican last election. I pick on them because I am one- and also because they've got the greatest disconnect between what names are on the ballot and the political portion of their religious views (even when a Catholic is on the ballot- it's usually a guy like John Kerry who in complete disregard of current Vatican teaching says that his own pro-life views shouldn't affect how he votes in Congress). That's why I say religion is the third axis- for those of us who have a huge religious component in our psyche, the dual axis simply isn't enough- it doesn't cover those of us who are socially conservative and fiscally liberal, for instance.

Re:One axis is not enough (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13645404)

I think the church voted Democrat because they like to help people, but switched to Republican because of the higher sense of morality.

I have spoken to some church goers, and they simply either agree or disagree with the church's views mand vote their own way. IMO, the (overwhelming majority of) people who vote and say they listen to the church would have voted that way anyway.

Politics is two dimensional...take the test (1)

desNotes (900643) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616545)

Re:Politics is two dimensional...take the test (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13619835)

Hm I appear to be getting more liberal and left wing as I grow older
Economic Left/Right: -8.00(very left wing)(used to be -5 and -2)
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.87 (very Liberal).. I have a problem with them using the term libertarian as well .

Though the test fails in many areas , I do agree with a free market outside of infrastructure and I should be -10 liberal though some of the questions which define liberal are loaded . I agree in peoples rights to choose always , but i do believe a parents primary responsibility is to their children ..etc.

God I appear to be an anarchist from this .. but I just anti-partisan free market liberal socialist.

actually (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616859)

If you go back to the origins of left-wing and right-wing (french revolution), there is, by definition, no such thing as The Center. You MUST be either left-wing (revolutionary, help the poor, smash the state, down with the elitist ruling class, yadada), OR right-wing (status quo, ancien régime).

Why US politics bothers with this left/right paradigm I don't understand. It hasn't the faintest thing to do with how politics actually works here. There basically are no more revolutionaries in the historical sense of the word, and indeed I would argue just about everyone is in favor of maintaining the status quo (that being a powerful, centralized federal government). The whole country basically is right-wing, from the perspective of that particular paradigm.

Having said that, although we may be right-wing today we're still radically far left as a country compared to most other countries, in so far as we have done many of the things the french revolutionaries (supposedly) set out to do. Although not actively revolutionary any more, the underlying foundations of our country remain revolutionary even in the 21st century.

So the US can't be pigeon-holed into this left/right paradigm that everyone tries to pigeon-hole us into. We've transcended that and really should use new political descriptors, rather than trying to redefine old ones that no longer apply, and which can no longer be made to fit.

Re:actually (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13621740)

I think your harping too much on the word "revolutionary".
Simply because the US is somewhat left-wing, it would be the right-wing that is revolutionary.

Re:actually (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 8 years ago | (#13622035)

And this is why the left/right paradigm doesn't work in the US. Those who call themselves right-wing are closer to being left-wing, while those who fancy themselves left-wing are far more reactionary, i.e. right-wing.

It's all back-asswards here, and nobody quite gets it. Even the "nuanced" troll in my journal almost certainly wouldn't get it :-p

We need a new way of describing politicial affiliations in the US. Left/right is broken. What should we replace it with?
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