Left Wing, Right Wing, all this talk about wings is making me hungry! - an anon. vegan.

 

Check out this post I found. A Libertarian/Independent
woman gives her take on the Left/Right, Dem/Rep issue.
Really funny.
Click here.

 

Basic explanation:

Politics can be characterized as liberal (as the Democratic party in the USA), middle of the road, or conservative (as the Republican party in the USA). These are moderate parties or viewpoints on a wider spectrum that ranges from communist (or far left wing) to fascist (Italian Socialism) to Nazism (Socialist Workers Party of Germany) to Neo-Liberalism (the far right). The expressions left wing and right wing come from the French Parliament in the 1700's, when the aristocracy sat on the right of the Speaker (traditionally the seat of honor) and the commoners sat on the Left, hence the terms Right-wing politics and Left-wing politics. Of course, liberal parties and people may have some conservative ideas, and vice versa. The words "fascist" or "fascism" come from the symbol of the Fascist party in Italy before WWII, an ax in a bundle of sticks, which was called a fasces.

I think there has been some misinterpretation of the terms. The http://politicalcompass.org/ shows clearly what is needed to be explained in greater detail. Besides the well-talked Left and Right, there are also the "upper" Authoritarian pole and the "lower" Libertarian or Anarchist pole.

I believe that far more people that are called either Left or Right may be Centrists with either Authoritarian or Libertarian/Anarchist viewpoints.

There are many mistakes made in pigeonholing politicians by pundits and mud-slinging political analysts. Communism, Fascism, and Nazism, are all left leaning socialistic types of governments. Modern examples are also all Totalitarian in nature. Totalitarian is a modern autocratic government in which the state involves itself in all facets of society, including the daily life of its citizens. A totalitarian government seeks to control all economic and political matters. As well as the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population, erasing the distinction between state and society. Various totalitarian systems, however, have different ideological goals. For example, of the states most commonly described as totalitarian—the Soviet Union under Stalin, Nazi Germany, and the People’s Republic of China under Mao—the Communist regimes of the Soviet Union and China sought the universal fulfillment of humankind through the establishment of a classless society; German National Socialism, on the other hand, attempted to establish the superiority of the so-called Aryan race. A dictator generally leads the party and, typically, participation in politics, especially voting, is compulsory. The party leadership maintains monopoly control over the governmental system, which includes the police, military, communications, and economic and education systems. Dissent is systematically suppressed and people terrorized by a secret police. --Definition from Bartleby.com.

Fascism comes from hard-line Communist Benito Mussolini. He saw that nationalism exerted a stronger pull on the working class than proletarian brotherhood. He also saw that the ferocious opposition of large corporations made socialist revolution difficult. So he invented Fascism. As under communism, the state would exercise dictatorial control over the economy. But as under capitalism, the corporations would be left in private hands. Hitler followed this plan as well.

So for some pundit to call a Republican a "right-wing Nazi", he is just using an oxymoron. Nazism is clearly left leaning. Nazism has more in common with our modern left-wing. Hitler preached class warfare, agitating the working class to resist "exploitation" by capitalists - particularly Jewish capitalists, of course. Their program called for the nationalization of education, health care, transportation, and other major industries. They instituted and vigorously enforced a strict gun control regimen. They encouraged pornography, illegitimacy, and abortion, and they denounced Christians as right-wing fanatics. This sounds exactly like Al Franken and Michael Moore not Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. So the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (i.e. liberal socialism). And the opposite of communism (i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy). Learn more at the PoliticalCompass about left, right, and social compass points. Learn alot about Hitler, Nazism, Socialism at RussP.org.

I found this pretty straight forward definition left by a teacher at Amazon in a book review someone sent me:

When asked about the word liberal, I give all the positive virtues of forward thinking, and open mindedness; when asked about the word conservative, I extol the virtues of guarding what is good in life and conserving resources and wealth thoughtfully. It is divisive to present these terms as antonyms and it is an indulgence in rigid thinking to use stereotyping as a form of definition.

Nice!


From the Encyclopedia of Marxism: It is usually clear in any given political context which is the left and which is the right-wing position on a given question, but political deception aside, sometimes even an objective view of what is right and left is obscure. For example, is it left or right for hospital workers to take pay cuts to provide lower costs of medicine? What about gun control and citizen participation in maintaining law and order? Furthermore, over time the concrete, day-to-day meaning of left and right changes. For example, in the earliest days of capitalism only the right-wing of the workers' movement would look to the state for social support, while the left-wing looked to independent workers' organization for social support; during much of the twentieth century however, the idea of the state taking responsibility for everything from workers' health and education through to economic management was a left-wing position. At the onset of the 21st century, the political forms of the left-right axis are continuing to change.

At first sight it would seem that certain values, such as community or equality, are more valued by the left than the right. However, this is hard to sustain. While the left may support communitarianism against individualism, it may also counterpose class struggle to community, and individual autonomy to moral conformity - it depends on the context. Everybody is for freedom and equality, but these values are subject to different definitions - free trade, free enterprise and free speech may all be right-wing policies, for example, because they are freedoms that consolidate the existing power relations. The left traditionally opposes censorship, but favours government regulation of foodstuffs. The Left generally supports emancipation, but this by no means supporting "freedom" in every instance (e.g. the "freedom" to exploit others). - 2003 Jim Loy

 

Definition from Wikipedia.org:

Meaning of the terms:
Despite the prevalence and durability of these terms, there is no clear consensus on what it actually means to be Left or Right. There are various different opinions about what is actually being measured along this axis:

Whether the state should prioritize equality (left) or liberty (right). Whether the government's involvement with the economy should be interventionist (left) or laissez-faire (right). Whether the government should be secular and separate itself from religious beliefs (left) or should take a stance of religious morality (right). Fair outcomes (left) versus fair processes (right) Whether one embraces change (left) or prefers rigorous justification for change (right). This was proposed by Eric Hoffer. Whether human nature and society is malleable (left) or fixed (right). This was proposed by Thomas Sowell. Support for the economic interests of the poor (left) or the rich (right).

Evolution of the terms:
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Left was often characterized by not just a commitment to equality, but also by a belief in the ability and responsibility of the state to ensure that equality. This reflected the belief that laissez-faire capitalism -- initially embraced by the Left -- often, perhaps inevitably, led to greater inequity. This resulted in the Left being closely identified with socialism, and by implication Marxism (at least in its economic assumptions). The Bolsheviks were certainly "of the left," and the advocates of Stalinist, Soviet-style communism considered themselves to be "leftist". Most Western leftists would dispute at least the Stalinist claim to Leftism, due to the gross inequities communism created in practice, though many Leftist parties in Europe allied with Communist parties in order to oppose the Right. In practice, much Cold War era Leftism in the west seems to have been defined as much by its opposition to State Communism as their shared assumptions; since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this has led some on the Left to suggest the need for a new, third way approach, perhaps focused on institutionalism or systems such as parecon rather than state socialism.

Modern use of the terms:
Today, these terms are widely used, but without any firm consensus about their meaning. They are probably more often embraced by those who would characterize themselves as being "of the left" than "of the right", although there are exceptions, such as the Romanian neo-fascist group Noua Dreapta ("New Right"). Today, the term "left" would be happily embraced by nearly all communists and socialists and by most (but not all) anarchists. In the United States, few others would happily accept the characterization (except in a relative sense), with the moderate left preferring terms like "progressive" and even shying away from being characterized as "liberal". In general, left implies a commitment to social equality, support for the class interests of the less privileged, and support for a liberal social policy of individual cultural freedom, though not necessarily equally concerned with individual economic freedom. In contrast to the original meaning of "left", the contemporary Left is usually characterized as having a willingness to engage in government regulation of business, commerce, and industry, and in government intervention on behalf of the less privileged (the poor; racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities; et cetera). In recent years, even some representatives of the anarchist tradition have argued that government regulation may be a lesser evil than what anarchist intellectual Noam Chomsky characterizes as the "private tyranny" of the corporations.

The contemporary right is usually defined by its opposition to economic redistribution, social liberalism, and/or cultural diversity, usually either in the name of tradition (conservatism or nationalism), of personal freedom and the rights of private property, or of pessimism about the possibility of governments successfully achieving positive effects by legislation. Doubt about the contemporary relevance of the terms: Some contemporary political positions, such as the position known in the US as "libertarianism", are very hard to characterize in left-right terms. The libertarians tend to be socially liberal, but reject the leftist advocacy of government regulation of business. Arguably, their politics are the most similar to those of the bourgeois French left of 1789. Many modern writers question whether the left-right distinction is even relevant in the 21st century. After all, in most countries left-right appears more a matter of historical contingency and local politics than any coherent statement of principle. After World War II, in order to remain politically relevant, the Western European right embraced some traditionally "leftist" aspects of government intervention in society. Similarly, many on the left went along with privatization during the Reagan-Thatcher era; more recently, in post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe, even the parties of the left all seem to advocate a relatively limited state role in the economy. We also see the emergence of movements such as the Green party and feminism which certainly have more in common with the traditional left than the traditional right, but are defined largely by their rejection of the leftist tendency toward reductionist economism.

However, the nature of democratic politics implies that there will always be polarizing issues, and at least on a regional basis the historical Left and Right parties will likely find it expedient to adopt opposing sides. Also, there will always be the temptation to tag your opponents as Right-wing or Left-wing extremists in order to position yourself as moderate. Thus, even if the terms aren't as globally meaningful as they used to be, they are likely to remain part of our political vocabulary for the foreseeable future. It remains to be seen whether groups advocating consensus-oriented approaches, such as Radical centrist politics, will be able transcend that historic polarization.


From TheAmericanThinker.com: The difference between left and liberal. It's a good article; read the whole thing.

"The left in this country includes large numbers of academics, journalists, human rights activists, environmental and animal rights activists, entertainers, and some church groups, women’s groups, racial advocacy groups and unions. There are also liberals who are members of these same groups. I distinguish between leftists and liberals by one key test: how they feel about the country in which they live. If you tend to regard America as a primarily flawed, evil, unjust, racist country (or at least when Republicans are running it), and most importantly, believe that the US is the primary threat to world peace internationally, then you are a leftist, and not a liberal. Of course, many leftists are perfectly happy to be living here, amidst all their complaints about the country, and regrettably all too few Hollywood artists carried through with their threat to leave the country after the 2000 election.

But liberals, as distinguished from leftists, do not think America is a bad country. Most liberals think America is an improvable country, if only we made the tax system more progressive, spent more money on social services, and worked more through multilateral organizations abroad. Liberals tend to support overseas military missions when our effort supports a human rights concern, and much less so if the military engagement is claimed to be in support of a strategic objective. Liberals, by and large, supported American military involvement in the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti, and now Liberia, while opposing the two wars with Iraq."

Historical breakdown of some "left" terms.

Historical breakdown of some "right" terms.