What Is ‘Left’ and What Is ‘Right’?

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The German liberal-conservative magazine Junge Freiheit (Young Freedom) published a  survey in 2018 about how the Germans see themselves politically on the left-right scale. The survey goes from ‘one’ (very far left) to ‘ten’ (very far right). The statistically calculated average number was 4.7 – slightly left of centre.

Followers of far-left parties dared to put themselves far left on that scale, but even followers of the AfD – Aktion fuer Deutschland (Action for Germany) positioned themselves around six, a very moderate right. The AfD is actually quite a normal right-wing party, with a mix of conservative, libertarian and patriotic ideas and followers. Until the 1990s, this political position was mainstream in Germany. It was the natural position among the liberal and Christian democratic parties. Even the Social Democrats then possessed a strong patriotic wing. But today the mainstream media and the publishers of politically correct opinion consider this as extremely right – ‘Nazi’ and all that jazz.

As we know, the Germans and especially the grandparents of all the followers of this politically correct cult had Hitler. The followers of the AfD are surely correct in classifying themselves as centre right, but then we have to ask how far left has the political spectrum moved if that is seen and denounced as extreme right?

That leads to the question: What is, by rational analysis, actually right and what is actually left?

I’d like to give examples for left and (right) attitudes and positions. The benign reader is invited to look for more and add terms.

Left (right)

the devil (God)

chaos (order)

the collective (the individual)

manipulation (respecting free will)

moral emptiness (moral consciousness)

slavery (liberty)

suppression (freedom)

carefree (responsibility)

rentseeking (readiness to work)

unrooted (family)

no border, no nations (fatherland)

centralism (federalism)

people’s courts (independent judiciary)

revolution (constant reforms)

command economy (free economy)

high taxes (low taxes)

expropriation (secure property rights)

lumpen-proletariat (people living and enjoying rich traditions)

arbitrary rule (the rule of law)

demagogic rule/tyranny (constitutional regime/monarchy)

barbarians (Greek/Roman/Christian traditions and values)

egalitarianism (elitism)

vulgarity (elegance)

finger food (fine restaurants)

couch potato (reading and studying books)

sloppiness (style and form)

rap/hip-hop (classic music)

theoretic calculations (ongoing pragmatic reforms)

nonsense (sense)

atheism (faith or a sense for the metaphysical)

corner boys (hierarchy)

laziness (discipline)

brutal concrete bunker architecture (classic architecture up to art nuveau)

submission (independence)

conformity (plurality)

bureaucracy (entrepreneurship)

adoration of the masses (respect for the person)

corruption of law (fundamental rights and duties)

propaganda (scepticism, according to Popper)

blind belief in a cult (method of falsification)

materialism (idealism)

Among all the eminent thinkers who tried to sum up what is left and what is right, two are worth quoting. The first is the American philosopher Russell Kirk, who defined six elementary positions of a conservative mind:

  1. Believing that a superior (godly) intention guides society and the individual consciousness forming an eternal chain of rights and duties. The charm of this argument is that with this belief, we are immune against tyrants, communists and social engineers, as we will be more averse to totalitarian or perfectionist constructs. Political challenges are at heart religious (metaphysical) and moral challenges.
  2. Opting for the creative, diverse and enigmatic traditional life against narrowminded conformity, egalitarian and utilitarian aims of radical systems.
  3. Convinced that society needs order and classes. The only true equality is moral equality.
  4. The firm belief that property and freedom are inseparably interwoven.
  5. Belief in providence (or common sense) and a hearty distrust against sophists and calculators.
  6. Recognizing that change and reform are not the same and that reform is an ongoing, meaningful process compared with change just for the sake for itself.

A free society with a limited government and a free economy with independent stakeholders can easily be founded on and justified with these fundamental principles.

The second one was William S Schlamm. When questioned about his political program, he quipped “it is the ten commandments, basic calculation and Mozart.” This meant standing for a metaphysically-founded order, rules, freedom, common sense, elegance and beauty.

I achieved a ten on the political survey’s scale. This is no surprise, as we knew right is right and left is wrong!

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