Two hundred years ago, nobody would have had a clue what could hide behind the title of this article. Today, everybody has a very specific idea about what is meant by it. What is common terminology today, is actually a very recent development. Without going into much detail about how we came to view the world through this binary lens of left and right, this article is concerned with the ideational infrastructure of the two sides that seem to exclude the beautiful variety of thinking our minds are biologically capable of. By doing so, it is shown where the structural problems of the two sides lay and what we need to change, in order to move away from viewing politics within this primitive juxtaposition. Further, breaking the idea that politics and normative frameworks are to be located on a one-dimensional axis also enables us to develop our own characters by basing it on more than just one of two ideational options. Especially considering that many strive to be viewed as individual and very special, this article will aid personal self-reflection and maybe trigger a rethinking process of their own ideas.
Though it is assumed that everyone has an idea about the differences between the concepts of left and right in political terms, it does not follow that those ideas are also correct. Further, just because many perceive concepts in a certain way, it does not mean that the truth about the concept changes. Accordingly, it needs to be defined what constitutes the core of this left-right divide. In most basic terms, the juxtaposition of the concepts describes two endpoints on an axis that measures economic redistribution. On the left side of this axis, ideas of the political left defend a maximum redistribution of economic resources, in order to achieve material equality among all members of a society. On the right side of this axis, ideas of the political right defend that no authority should intervene in economic conduct, regulate it or redistribute economic resources. Basically, this juxtaposition started to emerge with the age of industrialisation which first uncovered certain behavioural patterns of humans through the dynamics of capitalism. Please note that capitalism in itself is not to be viewed as a bad way of economic organisation. It rather just leads humans to behave in different ways. In this case, it quickly became clear that this system disproportionately favours able people, but also hinders the development of the weak.
Based on this, the beginnings of the left and right debate were limited to the economic realm. As the decades went on, the dynamics from the first generations that began to think in left and right changed. Since wealth and reproductive capacities were carried onto the next generations, the discrepancies between the camps of left and right gained normative dimensions. Today, we widely perceive the political left as liberal. It is grounded in the idea of non-restrictive freedom. Together with its origins, we can summarise today’s political left as an ideology that aims for socio-economic equality through non-restrictive freedoms and high redistribution of economic resources. On the other side, the political right developed normative ideas in a generational knowledge transfer. Because the political right was usually constituted by winners of industrialisation, they naturally preferred little intervention in their dealings. With the success they achieved in the first generations, the following generations oriented their behaviour around the principles of their elders. Hence, the political right is based on enabling freedom: by sticking to seemingly restricting principles, such as discipline, family, religion and so on, they were able to enable the achievement of goals that are difficult to reach, like wealth, power and honour.
A Senseless War
Now, those two sides compete for moral and political high ground in their decade-long struggle for power. Both are grounded in the same phenomenon but approach it differently. Today, the camps deal with very different topics and the economic aspect is only one of many points on the agenda. Questions today are about cosmopolitanism/patriotism, tolerance/isolation, moral wars/preventive defence, impersonalisation/strengthening identity. However, both sides need each other to survive. Without the political right, the political left would not have its own agenda. Many of the aspects that the left challenges and wants to change are direct opposites to the fiercely defended aspects of the right. The political agenda of the left is reactionary to the principles of the right. This makes particular sense when we think about the statement above that the right defends its principles as they made the right successful. To reverse the success, the left challenges those principles. On the other side, the right radicalises in the defence of their principles. As the left challenges the fundamental beliefs and norms of the right, it tries to strengthen its ideational fort through excessive depth. Patriotism and nationalism transform into racism in an attempt to shield off the ideas of the left to establish a borderless world – both utmost primitive thoughts.
The above is concerned with the left-right within a society. But also internationally, states are either rather left or right-oriented. Especially, the western nations of Europe and North America are to be seen as rather left-leaning states. Internationally, they try to challenge other nations and create a social separation through the establishment of opposite cultural trends. Surely, there are many different motivational factors behind this, which are worth own articles, but here, too, the left defines its political agenda in terms of the existence of the right. Whereas the right defines its political agenda in terms of the depth of its existing agenda. This is also why they are called conservatist as they want to conserve what has been there already – the left comes up with new agendas all the time.
Break the Cycle
Frankly, if someone’s definition of their ideas is limited to left or right, this person cannot be expected to produce valuable contributions to society. Categorising our thoughts is in itself problematic as it limits not only the existing scope of ideas but also prevents the development of new, original directions of thought. When we label things, the linguistic definition of the frame is so strong that we are seldom able to exceed the boundaries of this word. But if there are only two broad categories that the common person uses to structure her thoughts, then she is surely not capable to produce meaningful knowledge. Being limited to the thinking that there are only two boxes and thoughts need to be in one of them is practically an insult to our historic achievements and our biological capability. Having more boxes to categorise thoughts makes the situation only slightly better. Political scientists have a variety of definitions for sub-streams of left and right political thinking but also broadly stick to the labels of left and right. In any case, our contemporary thinking is enslaved by the need to label things as left or right. So, what do we need to do?
The answer is simple: do not think that way. We have all the freedom there is to view the world as it is. We do not need to put it into context. We do not need to form political parties around those concepts or other sub-orientations of this binary worldview. We can simply analyse a policy course in terms of its content without categorising it. We can pronounce redistribution without the association with communism. We can talk about patriotism without thinking about racism. It is possible. The reason why we do not do so is that we believe that those concepts often appeared together, they also belong together. They do not. We can discuss the role of men and women without a moral judgement of others with labels – saying “you are wrong” is perfectly sufficient. We can talk about democracy without discrediting other forms of rule. We can discuss the pros and cons of social security without accusing others of malevolence. According to the teachings of DEVLET, this is not only the most effective way to approach politics but also necessary as different situations require different courses of action. While one policy course might make sense at one point in time, the exact opposite could be beneficial at a different time. But we need to overcome the left-right juxtaposition. It is limiting and detrimental behaviour and probably one of the biggest obstacles in contemporary politics. If there is anything to label in the realm of politics, then it is that binary left-right thinking is beyond primitive.
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