HELPFUL GRAPHIC: Political Left and Right Properly Defined

While I don’t agree with all of its characterizations, The Objective Standard offers an interesting illustration of the political spectrum.

…the terms “left” and “right” are already widely used to denote the basic political alternative, and because that alternative is in fact binary, the best approach for advocates of freedom is not to reject the prevalent terminology but to clarify it—by defining the relevant terms.

The problem with conventional approaches to the left-right political spectrum is that they either fail to define the alternatives in question, or proceed to define them in terms of non-essentials…


…fascism, far from having anything in common with capitalism, is essentially the same atrocity as communism and socialism—the only difference being that whereas communism and socialism openly call for state ownership of all property, fascism holds that some property may be “private”—so long as government can dictate how such property may be used. Sure, you own the factory, but here’s what you may and may not produce in it; here’s the minimum wage you must pay employees; here’s the kind of accounting system you must use; here are the specifications your machinery must meet; and so on…

….The essential issue in politics is not the size but the function of government; it’s not whether government is big or small but whether it protects or violates rights…

The proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights by banning the use of physical force from social relationships and by using force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. A properly conceived political spectrum must reflect this fact. Whatever terms are used to identify the positions of political ideologies or systems must be defined with regard to the fundamental political alternative: force vs. freedom—or, more specifically, rights-protecting vs. rights-violating institutions.

Whether you are an objectivist or a Constitutionalist in the mold of the Framers, on this we can agree: those who paint the right as “Nazis” are either ignorant or lying.

‘I am a Socialist,’ Hitler told Otto Strasser in 1930, ‘and a very different kind of Socialist from your rich friend, Count Reventlow’.

No one at the time would have regarded it as a controversial statement. The Nazis could hardly have been more open in their socialism, describing themselves with the same terminology as our own SWP: National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

Almost everyone in those days accepted that fascism had emerged from the revolutionary Left. Its militants marched on May Day under red flags. Its leaders stood for collectivism, state control of industry, high tariffs, workers’ councils. Around Europe, fascists were convinced that, as Hitler told an enthusiastic Mussolini in 1934, ‘capitalism has run its course’.

One of the most stunning achievements of the modern Left is to have created a cultural climate where simply to recite these facts is jarring. History is reinterpreted, and it is taken as axiomatic that fascism must have been Right-wing, the logic seemingly being that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists were nasty. You expect this level of analysis from Twitter mobs; you shouldn’t expect it from mainstream commentators.

…I just hope that Lefties who have read this far will have a sense of how conservatives feel when fascism is declared to be simply a point further along the spectrum from them. Whenever anyone points to the socialist roots of fascism, there are howls of outrage. Yet the people howling the loudest are often the first to claim some ideological link between fascism and conservatism.

Simply listen to Democrats like the unhinged progressive Tom Harkin, who says that income and wealth needs to be “reallocated” — by force, presumably — and you can hear the echoes of fascists past.

Doug Ross @ Journal