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Category: Thoughts

Right & Left in Politics

The fashionable polarisation between ‘democrats’ and ‘republicans’ or ‘liberals’ and ‘the right wing’ in politics, particularly in the US, with the accompanying ‘free market’ vs ‘socialism’ arguments is as useless and inane as a discussion of whether food or drink is better for you.

The way forward to building a better society (in whatever way you choose to define it) must surely lie in the spectrum of elements of all of these perspectives. Until we mature enough to clearly articulate our goals for society (particularly in terms of ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’) and then discuss the nuances of what policies and perspectives will get us there, we are just monkeys slinging poo and deserve the politics we get.

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Why is the American Right antisocial and against freedom?

Why is the American Right antisocial and against freedom?

I use this headline partly as a play on words but also as a way to focus a question: What does the left and right agree on and how can their shared goals be met?

Anti Social

It seems that socialism is mostly equated with communism, with the democratic socialism of Scandinavia being ignored. A key point here is that the term ‘capitalism’ is used to describe the western economic model but capitalism is simply the system of putting the money (capital) where it can generate the most capital in return, in other words it is a system prioritising the creation of wealth, which inherently has the opposite effect of increasing the citation of workers since the money is free to go where it can procreate and under no obligation to do external good, such as invest in communities. The language I used in the last sentence is a bit strong but the fundamental aspect is the movement of money for its most effective deployment.

When many use the term capitalism it looks like what they really mean is simply ‘free market’ and it is clear that free markets have contributes significantly more to humanity’s well-being than state controlled economies. It is also clear that markets, when left unchecked, turn into monopolies quite quickly and consumer and environmental protections are externalised since they do not fit on balance sheets and reputations are too slow to seriously affect companies. To achieve effective, open markets require strong government oversight when some companies become too dominant or too destructive but it is also important to have a robust public debate as to where those limits should be and how they should be enforced.

Freedom

The term freedom is often bandied about without explanation or clarifications; freedom for what and freedom from what? The word ‘liberal’ derives from ‘liberty’ of course so when some on the right decry that that liberals are against freedom it sounds a bit odd but of course the meaning is that they view their priorities of freedom differently. For example, the freedom to own a firearm vs. the freedom to live in a society without firearms being prevalent.

Just a few thoughts on language. Both sides share a desire to be free but have different perspectives on what is and how to go about achieving and sustaining it. In many cases the ideal might be in the middle somewhere and in other cases it might become clear to the extremes of either sides that their notion of freedom is based on layers of beliefs and impressions which may not be in sync with present reality and should be allowed to mature.

How can you and I both be free, without imposing on each other is one question. How can we be free while supporting each other is another. What are the deepest questions we can ask for the betterment of ourselves and our species? If we can get together to work to define better questions, we can build better answers together.

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