L. Neil Smith on the inadequacy of “left” and “right” to properly describe the political spectrum:
When I took my one and only Political Science course in college, in 1966, the instructor told us that when certain opinions show up in the polls he and his colleagues conduct — chiefly those of admirers of Ayn Rand, or followers of Henry George — their opinions have to be thrown out, since they don’t fit anywhere on the traditional political spectrum.
This is science? When the data refuse to fit the model, throw out the data, rather than the model? If this is “science”, it’s exactly the same “science” that brought us Global Warming. And it is from at least forty years of corrupt, lazy, irresponsible academics like this poli-sci instructor that we get our present generation of news media “personalities”.
Let’s throw out the model, instead, and see what happens.
Imagine a triangle, with a lower right corner, a lower left corner, and a corner, or apex, at the top. Even at this stage — when the picture is far from complete — such a diagram comes closer to representing the real shape of our political landscape than a simple line.
Label the right-hand corner paternalistic. Those who occupy this corner, and the positions they take, tend to be autocratic, strongly oriented to the past, concerned with what they believe (often falsely) is history and tradition, and with, above all, punishment, which they offer as a cure for every social ill. Their mysticism tends to focus mostly on an ancient, angry father-god. In their view, others should be adequately organized, even regimented, properly disciplined, and controlled. They maintain a posture of perpetual threat-display. People of the right either want to be spanked, or to do the spanking, themselves.
Think of the patrician George F. Will or the late William F. Buckley.
Individuals who occupy the left-hand corner are inclined to be maternalistic, majoritarian — as long as the vote goes their way — oriented toward the present (they call it “living in the now”), and prone to medicalizing social problems and “healing” everybody whether they wish to be “healed” or not. They substitute animism and other mystical nonsense for traditional religion. They believe people must be watched over, taken care of, institutionalized, and medicated. When their veneer of altruism is stripped away, they become hysterical and violent. People of the left either want to be mommied, or to be Mommy, themselves.
Think of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or the repulsive Elizabeth Warren.
Inhabitants of the upper corner of the triangle typically think of themselves as self-determined, self-motivated, individualistic, and oriented toward the future. It is less common for them to be mystical or religious than otherwise. They display a live-and-let-live attitude of respect toward others — believing they should be left alone rather than meddled with — and favor restitution rather than punishment or therapy in the case of wrongdoing. The other two positions, right and left, are basically infantile. The apex is the only place for real adults.
Good examples would be LeFevre, Robert A. Heinlein, or Dr. Mary Ruwart.
It should be reasonably clear by now that the left-hand corner is where socialism lives — if you want to call it living — the ethical view that the rights of the group come before those of the individual. However the right-hand corner is often misidentified, as with the case of Mussolini, Hitler, and the Nazis. Look over the characteristics associated with it: the correct political expression of the right is monarchism. Long after revolutions in the 18th and 19th centuries, loyal advocates of the king are still out there, pressing his royal case.