THE LEFT vs. THE RIGHT: A Book To END The Political Divide
Updated: Mar 12
In today’s politically divided world, people often recognize themselves with either one of the political spectrums called “THE LEFT”, “LEFT-WING” or with “THE RIGHT” or “RIGHT-WING”. People use it so often without even caring to clarify what do they mean about it. The chances are they are identifying with the wrong political spectrum given their stance upon the given subject.
I take here example of BJP, the current national ruling political party of India. The party is always identified as a “right-wing” party given the accusations made against the party of promoting “Hindu Nationalism”. But when one analyses the party’s economic policies, one would get really confuse as mostly all the party’s economic policies excluding the Privatization and few
others, gives the sense of socialism than the obvious right-wing capitalism.
When people find themselves falling over both the political spectrums, they often describe themselves as “Centrists” with little bit of twists as on which spectrum they mostly identify themselves with, as the “Centre Left” with more appalling to the left-wing ideologies and as the “Centre Right” with more appalling to the right-wing ideologies.
This whole political divide started during the historical “French Revolution”, with the creation of National Constituent Assembly, the main task of the assembly was to draft a constitution. Now, while France is probably republican today and any trace of royalty has long been guillotined away, that wasn’t always the case and a large portion of the
population supported the King, or at least those who represented that population. As such when on November 11th, 1789, the assembly had to vote on whether the constitution would grant the king an absolute veto or a partial veto, those who favoured an absolute veto were asked to sit on the right of the President of the Assembly and those who favoured a partial veto, which was the more radical position, were asked to sit on the left. This wasn’t done particularly to identify them with the sides but to make the vote count easier for the President of the Assembly who felt a bit overwhelmed by the 1,500 deputies. And just like that, France started this idea of change vs. tradition, of liberalism vs. conservatism which still shapes the political landscape of the day!
In the following months, the deputies would maintain that distinction not
out of ideology but rather necessity. Furthermore, those who were on the same side of the political spectrum were far from having the same ideologies – it is often forgotten that the French Revolution started as Bourgeois revolution. The Bourgeois were somewhat republicans and thus considered left wing. However, more Bourgeois also supported free-market reforms and liberalism, in the classical sense, and thus when you have proto-communists like Gracchus Babeuf who were also considered left-wing, because the alternative meant support of the king.
It would take another century before the left vs. right spectrum became popular outside of France. In the beginning of the 20th Century, as revolutions were sprouting actress the world, the press and academics needed a quick way to categorize the different
ideologies, both left and right, became increasingly radical. For example, the Bolsheviks, who loved anything related to the French Revolution, immediately embraced the left-wing versus right-wing spectrum. Although, they considered themselves the centrist position.
In today’s times, on the left side of politics, you tend to see ideas like liberty, equality, progress, and nationalism. On the left side of politics, you often see ideas like authority, hierarchy, tradition and nationalism. On the left side of politics, you often see reform, while on the right, you often see reaction. The left wants more government involvement to make the society better. While those on right, they want less of government involvement to make society better. Ideas on the left are often called “liberal” and ideas on the right are often called
“conservative.” These generalizations are incredibly misleading, which is why this political spectrum is total waste.
People rarely fit into this political spectrum as a person might think the government generally messes everything when it gets too involved, yet but absolutely hates nationalism. Then people identify themselves as “centrists.”
So, different scholars came up with different political spectrums trying to define people’s political stance using political freedom spectrum, economic freedom spectrum and social freedom spectrum.
The additional spectrums are:
• Communitarianism vs. Individualism
• No Separation of Church and State vs. Complete Separation of Church & State
• Interventionist Foreign Policy vs. Non-interventionist Foreign Policy
• Multilateralism vs. Unilateralism
• Globalization vs. Protectionism
• Pacifism vs. Militarism
• Centralism vs. Regionalism
So, where do you find yourself?
Well, it depends on the issue. It’s not static. Chances are you are constantly moving around the larger spectrum of the left vs. right. It’s probably a good thing because it shows that you are more open minded and have not fixated identities and have not build boundaries around you.
But calling someone or yourself “Right-Wing” or “Left-Wing,” is almost always an oversimplification. However, when someone define themselves with either
of the sides ask them what they mean when they say that. Chances are they mean whole other thing than you might think. My view here is and many have already said that identifying people with their political ideologies with the names of the long gone historical political accidental phenomena is totally absurd and can do more harm than good. As we can already see around us the hate in different forms, one of which is “Cancel Culture” is dividing us further and so we must stop using them.