Redefining the Center (Evaluating our Terms).

The past few months have been dividing, I think, to anyone involved in politics. Some Trump supporters are growing tired of this political/cultural Stalingrad, and leftists too becoming less interested in the hysteria of their own side; and like Stalingrad there are platoons of debaters on either side, standing behind their forces willing to shoot if their side retreats. In the middle of a conflict where no middle ground seems reachable I think the problem lies in a barely definable center.

If you Google the left-right denominations it will appear similarly to this, starting from the left;

Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, Conservatism, Libertarianism, Fascism,

-and I suppose a more complex system, taking into account the two forms of Liberalism and a far-Liberalism, would be displayed as follows;

Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Social Liberalism, Conservatism, Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, Fascism.

For those wondering, even The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics [1] has Classical Liberalism (the belief in freedom of expression/association and the reduction of government to uphold fundamental liberties) under “right wing”, I place it here next to Libertarianism (the belief in very limited government) given the considerable amount of overlapping principles, where Classical Liberalism is almost just a moderate Libertarianism.

So, first, if anyone is unfamiliar with these terms I’m going to briefly describe each one of them, from top-down, starting left (top) to right (bottom);

Communism: seizing the means of production to share amongst the people evenly by a larger government party.
Socialism: use of government to redistribute wealth evenly amongst the people.
Progressivism: the use of government to prohibit non-left leaning values e.g. certain phrases deemed “politically incorrect”, including no-platforming speakers or writers for having a conservative political position.
Social Liberalism: the use of government to enforce left leaning values e.g. affirmative action, diversity quotas, socialized institutions like the NHS and increased welfare.
Conservatism: the use of government to enforce right leaning values e.g. abortion restriction, easing on welfare for fear of a welfare cliff (an economic argument where people stay in poverty as a result of a higher disposable income provided to them by welfare payments).
Classical Liberalism.
Libertarianism.
Fascism: use of state to enforce right leaning values to an authoritarian degree, often religiously motivated.

It is important to note, regarding Fascism, that it’s use as an extreme right wing term comes from its supposed opposition to Socialism, even though they share a lot of similarities, at least in terms of outcome. The term Fascism was invented by Benito Mussolini derived from Fasces meaning “a bundle of rods”, referring to large state which proposes that the majority should never rule, and so holds itself as anti-democracy, in a sense it is similar to advocating a de-facto Monarchy, whereas Socialism/Communism is the use of government to distribute means and control its populous and so often ends up in a similar place, where the government is irremovable by democratic vote.

So, now the basic terms have been defined I would like to add something in to the mix, that being a divide of Conservatism as there is now for Liberalism, one which also takes into account the moderate Conservatism and the extreme Conservatism. This divide will go as follows between the moderate ideologies:

…Progressivism, Social Liberalism, Social Conservatism, Religious Conservatism…

In this divide, Social Conservatism, like Social Liberalism, seeks to use government to enforce right leaning values where Religious Conservatism, like Progressivism, seeks to use government to prohibit non-right leaning values. In this, the Religious Conservative would seek to make abortion illegal for example, whereas the Social Conservative would merely want to put greater restrictions in place.

Do you notice now, however, looking at the spectrum, an inconsistency? Obviously a center currently would be one between Social Liberalism and Social Conservatism, holding positions on either side or moderately one or the other. The inconsistency occurs in the rise and fall of government power as you move from far left to far right. From Communism to Social Liberalism, there is a natural decline in government power as you become more moderate, where the extreme (Communism) is all government. However, on the right, the same cannot be said, government power increases as conservatism becomes less moderate and then all of a sudden you have “limited to no government” with Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism, and then suddenly the extreme (as one up from these two, Fascism), all government.

I would propose the following denomination between the left and right, and to make it even we’ll add two other terms to the mix: far-nationalism, meaning overt pride in one’s state and people, often to the prohibition of foreign cultures in some way, and Constitutional Conservatism, the belief in a reduction of government to constitutional rights.

(From left to right, center divided by ‘//’)

Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Social Liberalism // Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, Constitutional Conservatism // Social Conservatism, Religious Conservatism, Far-Nationalism, Fascism.

In this model, the center is defined as Classical Liberal (left-leaning), Libertarian (base center), and Constitutional Conservatism (right-leaning). In this model, then, the right increases naturally in government control, just like the left, as it becomes more extreme but with opposing moral stances. Far-Nationalism, just as Socialism seeks to use government to distribute wealth, seeks to use government to distribute culture. And the center, where I think a lot of people can come together on, is the reduction of government to upholding people’s fundamental freedoms and constitutional rights; freedom of expression, speech, association, religion etc. there will still be disagreements to the extent of that limitation and to what it covers, which is why a separate left/center/right system is in place for this “new center” as well, but I think under these definitions we can find a lot of common ground between the left, who are now realising that large government is only ever good if it’s your guy in charge, and the right who are seeing a backlash from their own side if they dare retreat or question this Conservative counter-revolution, particularly if you’re a non-Trump supporting right-winger (this is coming from a Trump supporter as well).

Do you agree? Disagree? let me know your thoughts on this “new center”, or if you have a different view on the terms I’ve set out. I’ll be posting an article soon on how to tell which political ideology you likely fall into if you’re unsure, so stay tuned for that!

NOTE: Alt-right, and anarcho movements like Anarcho-capitalists or Anarcho-communists are removed from this analysis because I think they represent fringe elements of other ideologies rather than mainstream political leanings, particularly anarcho beliefs since they advocate for the removal of the current system of politics altogether.

[1] McLean, Iain; McMillan, Alistair (2008). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Outcome Fetish: Examining the Left.

I maintain the view that leftism, as defined by social liberalism, progressivism, socialism and communism, are more concerned with outcome than opportunity, where the right doesn’t care much about outcome at all, and would cease to use it as a proof of in-opportunity. For the right, as defined by conservatism, classical liberalism, libertarianism and protectionism, inequality is a part of life so long as no inequity has taken place.

Equality, and Egalitarianism.

I used to see egalitarianism only in terms of base equality of opportunity. It is not a bad thing in my mind that there are rich and there are poor, nor is it a bad thing that some are better off than others; so long as that richness is achieved and that poorness is achieved, and so long as one did not create the other. However, I have recently been told that this belief makes me un-egalitarian. I have been told that an egalitarian speaks in terms of distributive equality, backed up by questions used to define this ideology; “Are all persons of equal moral worth? Is variation in income and wealth just?” My answer is no, and “it depends”. Certainly morality should not be tied to conversations of wealth, not because wealth is immoral, but because it has nothing to do with it; wealth is a means of survival and the acquisition of luxury, am I moral or immoral for owning a television? Am I moral or immoral for starving to death or binge-eating? There is no moral action involved.

I think the left has taken this term hostage, and uses it to justify a redistribution of outcome. And I will explain, in simple terms, why outcome is irrelevant; If I get an A in an exam, and you get a C, has inequity taken place? Is it fair to say that because I have a better upbringing, on discipline and hard work, and because I have a more stable home life, that my A is undeserved, and that too, your lack of these things makes your C undeserved? Should the solution be to give us both Bs? No, because we took the same test, with the same examiner, with the same teacher, and with the same textbook. Or what if we had the same upbringing? Would we both receive As, or is there a disparity in intelligence or enthusiasm or memory?

It is the right that asks these questions, it is the left that assumes if one person received an A, and the other a C, then injustice must have taken place.

Priority.

Prioritarianism, a subset of utilitarianism, is originally defined that “benefiting people matters more the worse off these people are.” A base interpretation of which would imply that anyone in society that is seen as “worse off” should be paid special attention to, although some modern prioritarians have interpreted this as being more about the value of the benefit itself. I would argue that it is exactly the base interpretation the left has adopted (and maybe adopted falsely). It is this argument that is used to justify welfare states and socialised healthcare. Ironically of course both of these hurt the people who are  worst off, but unintentionally (from the welfare cliff to a demand-pull as people who can afford healthcare unnecessarily drain the resources).

On this, the progressive movement falls into identity politics, on “marginalised” people, a term which implies motive when is really only used to mean “minority” characteristics, and they assume that because of these characteristics, whether black, or disabled, or trans, or gay, or Muslim, or women (even though that is not a minority group), these people are worse off in society and therefore must be protected. More moderate, social liberals however fall into a similar trap of collectivism only on an economic level. They use wealth as a measurement of need, if you do not have money, by definition you “need” it, and if you do, by definition, you don’t “need” it (while all the while claiming there is more to life than money). Well that isn’t true for one reason, and it wouldn’t matter if it was for another. First, it depends entirely on what people spend their money on, a rich man may need money to start a business (which may require more than he has, although he would still be considered rich), and needs to make money from that business in order to sustain the investment, to avoid losing money – or perhaps to appeal to the humanitarians reading this, he needs money for a certain cause. Equally, a poor man may not need money if he spends it unnecessarily, also he may not be looking to make money but just to live within his means – this brings us to the reason why it wouldn’t matter either way. It will never be true on a collective level that those who need money should be given it, nor those who don’t need money should be impeded from earning more; this is because for some people earning your money is important (and living within your means), for others the opportunity to have more money can work as an incentive.

Take corporations for example, the corporation tax is designed and morally defended because, as a recent panel on BBC question time discussed, “why should the rich be getting richer?” What is not understood is that repealing or lowering tax on businesses and corporations incentivises them to invest in that country, to do more business in that country, which ultimately trickles down with job opportunities and lower prices (because the supply is easier to meet).

So back to the question of outcome, if outcome is greater across the whole, it doesn’t matter if there is a disparity in outcome individually, especially if no disparity may reduce the outcome across the whole. This is why providing opportunities to everyone, exempt from priority, can greater benefit everyone.

Privilege.

Privilege is one of those words used to invert the prioritarian stance by focussing on those who are “best off”. Again the distinction can be drawn between the progressive identity politics, that being white is a privilege or being male, and the social liberal view on economic privilege. First, to get the former out of the way, any notion that someone is “privileged” because of an arbitrary characteristic is as collectivist, and as bigoted, as saying that someone is a victim because of an arbitrary characteristic, remember the whole “judge people not on the colour of their skin but the content of the character”? It also operates on the assumption that western countries at least are systemically racist and sexist enough (even ran by black or female politicians) that a poor white man in a rust belt state or working in a factory 13 hours a day is more privileged than some of the most powerful people in the world.

On economic privilege, I would argue that money itself is only a privilege if you have been afforded it (by definition), which is why I find it so unusual how many people who claim that rich people are privileged enter the lottery, which, to win, would be the ultimate privilege. But obviously this is more used in relation to what can be done with the money, that money grants privilege rather than is a privilege itself. In which case… so? Everything people want grants a privilege of some sort, otherwise they wouldn’t want it, so if we’re framing things in terms of privilege, anyone who achieves something is afforded the privilege in question and every one who doesn’t, isn’t. That’s how society works, what’s your solution? Allow people the privilege without the achievement? Wouldn’t that eliminate the need for that achievement?

Going back to the earlier analogy, I want to get an A in order for the privilege of a higher chance of getting into university. If I work hard, and achieve it, and you have not, should you be offered an equally high chance as me of getting into that university? If so, why would I bother trying to achieve an A?

Consequentialism.

The finally topic I want to cover on the left’s desire to resolve “outcome” disparity, is the means by which that resolution is achieved. Consequentialism is a philosophy defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the belief “that whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act or of something related to that act, such as the motive behind the act.” This view of the ends justifying the means is very dangerous, and something adopted by the left in almost every area of modern leftist policy. It is the politics of morality over rationality.

The more extreme proponents of this view will use it to justify violence in the name of political activism, see UC Berkeley, or warrant the punching of “Nazis” on moral grounds because the action is forgivable by the morality of the actor. Why both of these are dangerous is because anyone can have a different moral opinion, and how often are people referred to as “Nazis” or “white supremacists” unjustly because they’re right wing, or voted for Trump? If the left can make an enemy out of you on moral grounds, even if you’re on their side politically but disagree, it can justify any action to stop you under consequentialism.

Now, think of the two dividing factors I’ve outlined previously, the progressive “identity” line vs. the social liberal “economic” line. Any action, however extreme, which resolves a disparity on race or gender by the progressives will be seen as morally justifiable. And any action which resolves a disparity of income or wealth will be seen by social liberals as morally justifiable. In extreme cases, the former leads to misandry, and anti-white violence (especially if privilege is a defining factor); the latter leads to socialism. In moderate cases however, it would be the use of government policy to affect outcome, which prioritises in favour of the worst off, punishes the privileged, and framed in terms of “equality” to make any refutation of the action or policy comparable to being anti-equality, and therefore immoral (for which action may be taken against you also). This is the recipe for a totalitarian state.

Conclusion.

People say I lack compassion because I’m not a liberal. They say I don’t care about people, that I’m robotic when it comes to how the world should run, and yet I am the only one it seems who would feel bad for a white man who grew up dreaming of success, and maybe holds some more conservative positions, having his money forcibly taken away, refused a job on the grounds of race or gender in the name of “diversity”, told that he only succeeded because of his race or gender or economic upbringing, told he’s privileged and that he should be grateful for all that is being done to him, told that he’s not doing enough to help others, forced into permanent government programs, told that he’s living in a country which benefits him the most, and then called a Nazi for wanting to limit the size of the state.

I think we can find common ground on the protection of people’s rights and freedoms, limiting the size of the state, and wanting truth in the media. But I don’t think any of us can come together until we resolve the dispute between those who want equal opportunity and personal responsibility, and the “morally superior” proprietors of outcome resolution.