Tuesday 5 June 2007

The Left- Right Spectrum Myth

In the fevered brains of political theorists, party members and commentators generally, there exists this comforting fantasy.

We've all heard of it.

The Left-Right political spectrum.

The idea is that all our views can be placed conveniently on a simple sliding scale. Do you want to change everything, or live in the past?
And apparently, it's that simple.

Or it is, if you like to believe that we all fit in to nice little boxes. It would certainly make it easier for politicians if we did.

If you think about it sensibly, you realise that it's got to be a daft theory, and one that only serves political organisations who desire to streamline voting patterns.

Here's a couple of easy proofs that it's just not that clear cut.
Most Irish Catholics resident in this country vote Labour.
This might lead you to think that a country full of Irish Catholics, was quite a left wing country.
But no.
The Irish Labour party, traditionally to the right of it's UK counterpart, has never moved above third place. Both main parties in the Republic are practically indistinguishable on a simple Left-Right spectrum, yet the gulf betwen them, and between their supporters is as great, if not greater, than between Thatcher and Foot.
Irish Catholics in Britain don't actually vote FOR Labour, they vote AGAINST the Pro-Unionist, traditionally Anglican Tories.

Which is sometimes quite ironic.

The other problem with the Left-Right spectrum is in it's attempts to work in two dimensions, we find this nebulous concept of 'far right', which is usually taken to have its paradigm in National Socialism.
To say that large parts of the Nazi agenda WEREN'T Socialist, is clearly deluded. Yet here we have it placed at the opposite end to other forms of Socialism, with completely NON socialist ideas placed in between.

To compare conservative groups in America with conservative groups in Iran is likewise bizarre. They are conserving different cultures.

Yet we are asked to define our politics as being one label or another.

I am sure I am not alone in holding a plethora of different opinions, some of which would be defined as conservative, some liberal, some ultra-left.
What's wrong with that?

What's wrong with treating each issue on it's own merits?

OK, I'm going to share with you ten important beliefs of mine, each of which can determine my vote.
You guess where I usually cast my vote.

1. I think too little attention is paid to investing in Arts and Science.
2. I think EU membership is not beneficial to the UK.
3. I support Irish Unity and Scottish Independence.
4. I believe in full drugs legalisation.
5. I oppose ANY moves to increase police powers, introduce ID cards, or otherwise use this largely imaginary terror threat to take away fundamental civil liberties.
6. I oppose abortion for social reasons.
7. I think when this Queen has gone, we should consider becoming a Republic.
8. I think general taxation is far too high.
9. I believe Nuclear power to be the way forward.
10. I think any society that uses Absolute poverty as opposed to Relative poverty as a social indicator, creates problems for itself.

So who do I vote for?
Am a Fascist or a Trot?

You tell me.


Anonymous said...

So who do I vote for?

The Whigs? ;-)

Anonymous said...

The United Morris Dancing Party....apart from the nuclear power thing they believe in dance power!!

Anonymous said...

I prefer anarchy!

Anonymous said...

If you actually do vote it must be in another country. I think every party in the UK system is against most of the things you want.

Unless you have your own party. Don't tell me you have started Lib-An?

Anonymous said...

Take any political ideology you can think of and you will hold some portion of their characteristics in your own beliefs:

Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Feminist, Masculinist(?), Anarchist, Ecologist, Humanist, Individualist, etc etc

Anonymous said...

btw - what the hell does 'crushed by ingsoc' mean??

Anonymous said...


The political spectrum is more a rectangle than a straight line. Arsenal's old ground, Highbury, provides a good analogy.

At the Clock End stand various sinister looking types huddled in small groups - the Hizb-ut-Tahrirists, the Respect party members, the Communists and the Fascists, and the BNP - people with firm, unchanging views espousing a xenophobic, statist and authoritarian vision of Britain, all screaming at the referee to intervene.

My lot - the anarchists (no govt), the minarchists (police and defence only), the classical liberals (who believe in freedom because it works), the libertarians (who believe in freedom because all other states are immoral) and the Ayn Rand-devotees (greed is good) stand in the North Bank, pleading with the referee to allow the game to flow, diametrically opposed to this collectivist, racist viewpoint but equally puritanical and passionate in our beliefs.

The mass of wavering floating voters sit in the more populous sections separating the two ideological wings, praying that these two gangs will leave them alone when the final whistle blows.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautifully written and well thoguht out post. Your father would be so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

http://www.politicalcompass.org/ Have you tried this Crushed..its quite fun...I came out somwhere near Ghandi (!)

Anonymous said...

Kvatch- I would say vote for the person, not the party.
But at the next election, I would advise tactical voting.

Mutley- Have they issued a manifesto yet?

Poody- Well, it would be an imrovement on what we have now.
Seriously I think it's time they treated us like adults and stopped thinking the state knows best.

Bag- Maybe it's time we did.

David- True in my case.

Pommygranate- You are at the right end by the sound of it.
Seems we have a movement growing here.
Ingsoc is the totalitarian ideology in 1984.

Miss Uber- I doubt it, I'm afraid.

Lilith- I think I might have done it at some point, but I'll go check it out again.

Anonymous said...

how ironic, i was speaking about this on saturday. they should make some kinda equation using (x,y) coordinates to determine where you fall on the l-r spectrum. then they should brand it on your forehead like a serial number so if the politician lies (c'mon a politician lies?), they can scan his number and see what he always believed prior to money, fame, lobbys, mistresses, etc. not that news articles, videos, bills, etc. don't reiterate and hold proof of those things today, but people overlook them and forget about them the next day.

btw, ingsoc from 1984 was a totalitarian body, and referred to "english socialism"

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I'm not a political person. Which you probably already are aware of from my complete lack of commenting on political blogs.

I do have to say that I agree with most of the last few points to be made. Except for two;

1)Nuclear power isn't the (sole) way of the future. We do need to come up with more sustainable methods of energy production, but these are likely to be wind, water and solar related.

2) Abortion shouldn't be outlawed, but there should be methods put in place to open womens options and help them through. Its a very tricky subject. I think you can't judge it until you've been in a situation where its been an option.

Anonymous said...

Super post, has made me think about how and why I vote

Anonymous said...

Raffi- Blair's original election address as a candidate in 82, said he believed in withdrawal from Europe and Nuclear disarmament. I am often surprised that people don't recognise ingsoc- esp with the Big Brother picture at the top.

Phishez- As I said, those ten points are determining factors in how I vote, not necessarily how you should.
Abortion is a personal sticking point for me. Not only am I Catholic, but I have been in the situation where it was an option and was unable to prevent that option being taken. That still affects me today.

BB- If people did, it would be a start towards breaking the mould of party politics. Which is necessary to establish proper democracy.

Anonymous said...

Good post Crushed although I disagree with 2 of the comments you made.

1) Abortion should be a womans decision not anyone else's and certainly NOT the decision of the Catholic Church.

2) I DON'T think drugs sould be legalised as I'v only just found out today that a friend of mine died last week from what we think maybe a drugs overdose. What on earth do people get out of sticking needles in themselves and putting something into their body which it doesen't need, but all the other points I agree with.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your thoughts, Dark Angel.
To clarify, I could never cast my vote for a candidate who persued an agenda I regarded as immoral.

Personally, I regard all abortion as murder, plain and simple.
To me, conception is where life begins. The strength of my conviction is compounded by the fact that, in my eyes, a son of mine was murdered with NHS connivance.
I do not expect you to share the strength of my feeling on this, but I do give money to SPUC.

As for drugs, I think heroin is a blight on our society- I have never touched it myself, but I think the war on drugs is failing and it would be wiser to let grown adults to make their own choices.

As regards most other 'drugs', I think most of them pale behind alcohol in terms of social ill. I think I can speak with a degree of expertise on this...

Anonymous said...

I have emailed with Ms S... I don't know if she will reply... I hope she is OK..

Anonymous said...

She will reply to you, Mutley.

I think she just needs a little reassurance from people who read her blog for reasons other than cheap salivation.

Sometimes a kind word can make all the difference.

Anonymous said...

Crushed - what you believe in your list is not the issue, the point is that there is no party to represent you. Join the club.

In answer to this look no further than your own post - the diversity of options and opinions, open to all, far greater than ever before. The blurring of social groupings and customisation of our lives, from pick 'n' mix religion to pizza toppings. It is extremely ironic that the more individualistic we have become the less representation we have. The result is divide and conquer by an overweening authority whose only aim is power for its own sake. This is the price we pay for non-conformity - a nation of truly free thinkers cannot possibly be represented which begs the question: was there ever democracy as we like to think of it ?

Crushed by Ingsoc indeed !

Anonymous said...

The United Morris Dancing Party - certainly has my vote...

Anonymous said...

CBI you're going on and up at the moment.

As it happens I agree with you about abortion, but it's one of those subjects, like faith itself, where it seems impossible to have a sensible discussion without reverting to insults, so much does it polarise people.

Hence I try not to talk about it.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if Miss S will reply to me...she has left her blog to run for ages before, when she was busy, thats when I kidnapped her to shoot porno in Devon. But she never stopped the comments before. I fear something is seriously wrong.

Anonymous said...

I had a response from her, Mutley. She just says she needs a break from blogging. She's probably been away from the computer and not picked up emails.

Anonymous said...

E-K- You can have true democracy.
But not if you have political parties.

Muse- Wise electoral choice

TD- I am usually a big supporter of the feminist cause- and I still think it has a long way to go before women get a fair deal.

But I will not stand by and let women try to sneak in being allowed to kill their own children because it's not convenient, as part of some supposed 'choice'.

Society goes out of it's way to defend a woman's choice on that front. Breaching it is one of society's most serious offences. It is called rape.

I don't have a problem with calling abortion what it is; murder.
Until those of who know that really understand that we really DO have right on our side on this, we will allow this Nazi Infanticide to continue on the scale it does.

Mutley and E-K, don't worry. All will be OK, I am confident.

Anonymous said...


I see! thanks. been a long time since i read that book.

not with you on abortion though. its a woman's right to choose not us playing God.

Anonymous said...

In fact, since we're on the subject

i) Science, yes. Arts, no. let the market pay
ii) yes
iii) whatever they want
iv) yes
v) yes
vi) no - choice is paramount
vii) NO - no more politicans please!
viii) yes. did you know that Gordon Brown could have entirely abolished income tax by now, had he merely kept spending constant?
ix) yes - especially if you're green
x) both important

Anonymous said...

I don't think we're so much worried about Ms Smack (she seems perfectly able to stick up for herself)as keen to let her know how much we appreciate her.

Anonymous said...

Crushed, I never discuss rape or abortion with men. But I will say that whilst we have the former we will need the latter.

Anonymous said...

Pommygranate, Lilith- See my earlier comments abortion. I don't really want to get into too much of a debate on this, but please not I specificaaly said Abortion for social reasons.

I think most people know how babies are conceived.

If you engage in an activity, the biological purpose of which is conception, then you have to accept you may conceive.

Agreeing to partake in that activity means accepting that possibility and taking steps at that poin to prevent conception, if you do not wish to conceive.

If you later regret the results, it is not the fault of the unborn- but still living- child.

Sorry to sound strident on this, but to me infanticide and abortion are mutually interchangeable terms.

But anyway, let's move on from such unhappy topics.

E-K- I'm sure she knows.

Anonymous said...

I agree with no 6,7, 8 and 10. Don't know enough about the rest to say. When you say 'social reasons', what do you mean? My reason for agreeing isn't so much reason-based as impulse-based, so I can't really guess...:-)

Anonymous said...

WOW. You have stirred up the hornets nest with the abortion comment! Yes. I do agree that abortion is murder. And yes, I do think that BOTH parents need to be in on the decision. I am also a Catholic. So have been raised to see abortion as one of the lowest things a person can do.

A year ago I would have said flat out, abortion is murder. But now I have changed my mind. I know that if I hadn't lost my baby I probably would have aborted it. Or in the very least given him up for adoption. I was (and still am) in no position to raise a child. I'm not financially, environmentally or emotionally stable enough right now to be able to take full responsibility and shape for another life. I, personally, am heading somewhere with my life and I know that having a child would interrupt that heading, and possibly make it impossible to get back onto the right track. The father still hasn't spoken to me about it. I can only imagine how much of a struggle it would have been to do it alone. Because now, I know I would have been doing it alone. Australia has a really crappy child support system.

I think that there needs to be more OPTIONS to avoid this kind of thing. Like, you can't have an abortion unless you've had x hours of counselling, and you have to have counselling afterwards. If you fail to attend these counselling sessions, you will not be eligible for another abortion. This type of thing *should* stop serial offenders.

Ultimately, the decision to abort does lie with the female. There are no words to express my sorrow that you have missed out. But the fact lies that women do more of the raising of kids, and if you weren't in a stable relationship with her, then chances are that she would be doing most of it by herself.

I don't know your situation, I don't know your relationship with the other person, or what she was like. But I think that any sane, rational, reasonable person wouldn't take it lightly. But there are times when we need to have these options available to us.

Anonymous said...

Geez, that was long. Maybe I should have done that as a post on my own blog!

Anonymous said...

Following on from Pommygranate

1. Yes
2. Not sure.
3. Not sure, outside of sport.
4. Mixed feelings. One way or another, the government has its take.
5. As a matter of principle, government powers need to be rolled back.
6. Disagree. That is a decision for the woman
7. Living in Australia, definitely.
8. Definitely.
9. Not sure about this one.
10. ???????

But thanks for asking. Interesting post.

Anonymous said...

Eve- By social reasons I mean because it's just not convenient.
We agree on 4 out of 10 points- That's more than most couples!!!

Phishez- Didn't realise you were Catholic too.
It's a controversial issue. One of the few that can bring tears to my eyes.
I certainly don't judge anyone else for they decisions they have made.

The real point of including the issue was that it's often seen as a conservative stance, whereas some of the other points of view I have are the opposite.

Colin- I doubt you'd find many people who agreed with me on all ten, or who agreed with Pommygranate on all ten, or yourself on all ten. But the Left-Right spectrum assumes that you would.
Our views are silenced by parties.

Anonymous said...

LOL! :-D I congratulate myself, then...;-)