Discerning Left from Right

INTRODUCTION

 

Politicians who seek to control an unsuspecting populace need to disguise their self-serving aims.  A common strategy is to accuse political opponents of their own worst faults.  And the resulting propaganda from a complicit press can become so firmly entrenched in the public mind as to be nearly uncorrectable.  

 

Fortunately the histories of modern political movements are well documented and common trends apparent on any honest examination.  It behooves us therefore to recall the historical record so as to avoid past mistakes.  Or, as was famously expressed

 

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it [1].”

 

ORIGIN OF LEFT AND RIGHT

 

Historically the terms “right wing” and “left wing” originated in the 18th century French Parliament, les États Généraux, where those supporting the Church and King sat on the right and those supporting an overthrow of the established order sat on the left.

 

 

Policy disagreements involved state enforced atheism versus Christian moral principles, socialism versus private property rights, and whether to loot foreign nations to pay for a burgeoning domestic welfare state.  Despite the rhetoric, the cause of democratic liberties was not the pivotal issue.  Although the revolutionary period lasted for 22 years (1792-1814), the original constitution citing a “rule of reason” and the “rights of man” was suspended by the socialists at the very beginning (1793) and never reinstituted.  Indeed, the left-wing French revolutionaries created a government undeniably more dictatorial and repressive than the right-wing monarchy it overthrew.   Nor did foreign victims fare much better.

 

In no small sense, the French Revolution was the template for massive the welfare-state experiments of the 20th century.  The original horrors of the late 18th century were repeated in identical fashion by the left-wing ideologies of socialism, National Socialism (Nazis), Italian Marxism (Fascists), and Communism.  In striking similarity to these modern movements, events in 18th century France unfolded roughly as follows [2].
 

1.      The French Revolution began with an attack on religion and a denial of any absolute moral code.  Church interests and property amounting to 6-10% of all arable land was confiscated and priests and nuns expelled or executed (1789-1790).   The calendar was changed to a 10 day week eliminating Sundays.  Traditional names of Christian saints for children were forbidden and replaced with the names of vegetables and farm implements.

 

And finally to purge any remaining religious vestiges, French revolutionaries replaced Christian Sunday Services with an atheistic spectacle called a “Cult of Reason” featuring lewd displays of a living “goddess”.  Ironically, the violence perpetrated on religion was the antithesis of reason.  But in any event, the sale of Church property reduced public debt permitting increases in welfare benefits.  This initially bought the support of peasants but also disrupted agricultural production.

 

2.      To combat the rising price of foodstuffs, price controls were established on most basic goods (May, 1793) under the “General Maximum” with violations punishable by death.

 

The immediate effect was hoarding and theft threatening public order and leading to wide spread famine.  Nor has this simple minded left-wing tactic ever worked instead creating an underground black market with skyrocketing prices.  Nor did even basic foodstuffs return to the public market in revolutionary France for nearly a decade.   But in response, the left-wing revolutionaries ordered the army into the countryside to confiscate farmers’ crops outright and to distribute free food to the starving masses especially in the cities.  The devastation of rural communities, not to mention the virtual elimination of “seed-corn” for the next planting season, lead to a further collapse of the economy exacerbating the horror.

 

3.      The extreme level of unrest fostered the concentration of political power in the “Committee of Public Safety” (September, 1793) led by the revolutionary socialist Maximilien Robespierre.

 

 

4.      The infamous historical period known as the “Reign of Terror” was instituted by this left-wing dictatorship to silence opposition.   Thousands of the most vocal opponents, of whom less than ten percent were right-wing aristocrats, were murdered in prison or in public circus beheadings that made previous repression by the monarchy look like a Sunday school picnic.

 

5.      To divert public attention from the failed experiment in socialism, no less than twenty-two years of unprovoked war was inflicted on neighboring countries (1792-1802 and 1802-1814).  Grain, clothing, art treasures, religious records and indeed anything of value was looted with joyous abandon [3a].   What couldn’t be easily transported was often destroyed in place.  Armies were directed to live off the land with no provision for supplies from the government.  Revisionist historians are wont to claim these unprovoked wars were motivated by an altruistic desire to spread French culture embodied in the “rights of man”.  But the pillaging of neighboring countries, to include numerous examples of mass murder, to support the largesse of a domestic welfare state could only be viewed in a different light by foreign victims not eligible for such benefits.

 

6.      To support this military aggression, a universal draft of all young men aged 18 to 25 into the army, i.e. a “levée en masse”, was instituted (August, 1793).  When rural populations revolted over the loss of farm labor not to mention loved ones and in a zeal of religious ferver, the left-wing government in Paris suppressed the civil uprising with the “War in the Vendée” unleashing unbridled barbarity. The final result was the gristly murder of no less than hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens by left-wing forces (Dec., 1793-March, 1796).

 

7.      Despite the manifest horrors and ultimate failure within the span of a single generation, the French revolution was both the inspiration and template for the no less disasterous experiment of the Russian Revolution [3b].

 

So what went wrong?  Why was the American Revolution so successful and the French Revolution only a decade later so monstrous?  The obvious difference is that the French were left-wing socialists while the American Founding Fathers created a right-wing republic based on “laissez-faire” capitalism.  And the practical results were never more evident nor have they been different in any subsequent experiment.  If this seems too simple, there isn’t another easy answer.

 

The classical struggle between democracy and tyranny in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations in which nearly all wealth was agricultural was radically transformed both with the advent of Christian moral principles and the consequent concepts of the “rights of man” as the industrial revolution (c. 1760-1820) created a large and stable middle class.  And so beginning in the last quarter of the 18th century with the American and French Revolutions, the two great political movements of left versus right emerged with clearly defined and divergent principles.

 

LEFT WING PRINCIPLES

 

The defining feature of a left-wing ideology is a big-government welfare-state.   From first principles, characteristics of left wing socialism include

 

1.      Denial of any supernatural basis for the creation of the universe or individual souls.  A person only has value in proportion to their potential contribution to society.

2.      There is thus no logical basis for an absolute moral code as envisioned by religion, especially Christianity.  Ethics are relative and convenience is the only guiding principle. 

3.      Individual rights are granted by the state for its own purposes and can be removed at will for the greater good.  Everyone has a duty to suborn their desires to the needs of the state guided by wiser political leaders who alone have a sense of the larger picture.

4.      Confiscation of personal earnings and private property to support government welfare programs administered by enlightened bureaucrats.

5.      Centralized governmental disbursement of the necessities of life equally to all citizens.

6.      Government alone should decide what is best.  Typically this translates to state control of the public narrative and suppression of dissent to maximize social harmony.   Criticism especially of those in power should be violently suppressed to maintain public order.

 

The defining principle is that government should use the absolute power of the state to regulate all aspects of life.  A defining motto [4] is

 

“From each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.”

 

Political movements entirely on the left-wing have been Socialists, National Socialists (Nazis), Italian Marxists (Fascists), and Communists (Soviet collectivism).  Today they call themselves liberals or more self-servingly, progressives.  In the United States they form the democrat party.  Historically their domestic support has come from slave owners running large factory plantations, labor unions, immigrants, and anyone benefiting from government welfare.  The left wing view is that those groups lacking the ability to provide for themselves should be treated as children and governed as permanent wards of the state.

 

Needless to say, considering the record of economic disaster and the loss of freedom, left-wing movements expend considerable effort to confuse their philosophical and historical roots.

 

RIGHT WING PRINCIPLES

 

In contrast, a right-wing philosophy advocates small-government free-enterprise capitalism.   The logical progression of a right-wing philosophy includes

 

1.      God created every human soul in His likeness with self-awareness and free will.   Everyone is equally endowed with a conscience and innate dignity.

2.      Absolute moral standards thus exist as reflected in a universal sense of right and wrong especially as enshrined in the Ten Commandments.

3.      Each individual has inalienable rights granted by a supernatural Creator which cannot be abridged or removed by the state.  Everyone has a reciprocal duty to respect the rights of others.

4.      Private property rights are paramount especially being allowed to keep what one earns.

5.      Individual responsibility for one’s own welfare or at worst dependence on the voluntary charity of family, friends, and church groups.

6.      Government derives its rights only from the consent of the governed which naturally protects freedom of conscience and free speech.  Typically this means anyone has the right to say what their neighbors and especially those in power don’t like to hear.

 

The defining principle is that coercion by the state should be limited to protecting individual rights against predation by one’s neighbors.  The security this provides allows the individual to prosper according to their own ability and effort.  The corollary is individual responsibility for one’s own welfare without demanding handouts from neighbors enforced by the government which itself produces nothing and has no resources.  A defining motto [5] might be

 

“Those who will not work, neither shall they eat.”

 

Political movements with a right-wing bent have been European settlers in North America and Christian religious congregations.  Today they are called conservatives (i.e. mainly conserving long standing religious tradition rather than resisting political improvement).  In the United States, they are Republicans.   Historically their domestic support came from abolitionists opposing slavery, families on small independent farms, entrepreneurs and small businesses, corporate interests, and Christian churches.

 

The founding principle of the Republican Party was that slavery was immoral and must be abolished.   The very first Republican President was Abraham Lincoln who famously opposed the democrat slave owners of the South and fought the Civil War to end the treatment of people as property.  And following this tradition today, Republicans believe that minorities are not best served by welfare and dependence on the modern-day slavery of trickle-down crumbs from the government table.

 

Rather the playing field should be leveled so everyone has an equal chance.  Note this emphatically does not mean an equal outcome.  But the right-wing concept of free market capitalism based on Christian moral principles has been the only system in history to provide unassailable freedom, to naturally eliminate inequities, and to maximize the standard of living for everyone.

 

COMPARISON OF LEFT AND RIGHT WING IDEOLOGIES

 

Some distinctions between left and right wing ideologies are given in the following table.

 

ISSUE

LEFT WING

RIGHT WING

Goals

Equal results.

Equal opportunities.

Tone

Emotional or motherly.  Acts on impulse.  Everyone deserves a comfortable living regardless of effort.  Redistributes wealth.

Rational or fatherly.  Methodical and disciplined.  People only deserve what they personally earn.  All else is charity.

Time Horizon

Demands quick fixes for immediate relief and so necessarily discounts long term consequences.

Prefers permanent solutions and so sacrifices immediate gratification for long term benefit.

Approach

Alleviate symptoms of suffering.  Concerned with appearances.  Ignores any and all failings of human nature.

Alleviate causes of suffering.  Concerned with results.  Humans are flawed so must balance ambition against ambition with checks and balances.

Responsibility

State is responsible for personal welfare.

Individual is responsible for personal welfare.

Change

Wants to increase government control and thus discounts the incremental loss of personal rights. Looks backwards to a utopian ideal of our earliest hunter-gather extended family. 

Wants to decrease government control and so looks forward to adaptively roll back the inevitable creep of government regulation to protect individual rights against encroachment by power hungry politicians and greedy neighbors.

Structure

High Taxes.  Extensive Regulation. Massive government spending on social services and welfare.

Low Taxes.  Minimum Regulation. Privatization of Social Services to extended family and churches.

Family

Family unit is easily replaced by state-run social services.   Marriage is an unnecessary and out-dated custom.   Single mothers should be supported entirely by state welfare.

Family unit is essential for social stability.  People are happiest in a stable marriage. Divorce is discouraged.  Parents and not society should be required to support their children. 

Types

Favors total control by central government.  Tends towards well funded socialistic bureaucracies.  At the extreme creates a totalitarian police state dictatorship.

Favors local and minimal government.  Tends towards poorly funded democracies with laissez faire capitalism.  At the extreme eliminates government entirely.

Religion

Anti-religious bordering on atheism.  Democrats initially purged references to God in 2008 platform.

Religious in sense of Judeo-Christian principles.  Support for moral principles in public leaders.

Rights

Individual rights are granted by the state and can be removed at any time for the greater good.  Government exists to foster social harmony through enlightened governance by an elite bureaucracy.

Individual rights are absolute given to each individual by God.   Government exists only to protect those rights from predation by one's neighbors, foreign and domestic.

Immigration

Favors unrestricted entry with open borders with the incidental benefit of increasing the voter base for liberal welfare programs.  Values low cost "slave" labor.

Favors legal entry only if vetted to be not a criminal threat or welfare burden and conditional on assimilation of American cultural norms.  Values highly skilled technical workers.

Abortion

Legalization.  People exist for the good of the state.   Anyone to include babies in the womb, the handicapped, and the old and infirm can be eliminated for convenience.

Prohibition.  Each individual, at every stage of life, has inalienable rights, especially to life, which cannot be removed by the state for any arbitrary reason to include convenience.

Drugs

Legalization.  Drug dependence makes society more compliant and easily controlled.   All other rights are more easily removed.   Provides a safety valve on government repression and control.

Prohibition.  Statistically, drug use destroys individual incentive leading to poverty and crime.  Addicts do not accept responsibility to provide for themselves or their families and are a financial burden on neighbors.

Wage Equality

Socialism creates non-economic structural inefficiencies in the economy and a privileged class that leads to income inequality.

Free enterprise creates a middle class and wage equality in a Gaussian distribution.  Extremes of income are naturally smoothed out

Racism

Historically supported slavery as enriching more citizens than it oppressed.    Today democrats greatly benefit from the political support caused by the inter-generational poverty of minorities whose very lives depend on trickle-down crumbs from the government table.  Effectively refuses educational resources to minorities.

Founded on the principle of "all men being created equal" and went to war to end slavery.  Wants a level playing field and especially in secondary education.  Republicans support a school "voucher" program to bypass failing public schools and extra classroom hours as in "no child left behind".  These initiatives are opposed by democrat teacher unions and democrat politicians.

Segregation

Segregation was instituted by democrats (Govs. Faubus, Wallace, Sen. Robert Byrd, etc.) who blocked student entry, were leaders of the Klu Klux Klan, and had previously enacted  "Jim Crow" laws.

Segregation was outlawed by Republicans Chief Justice Earl Warren and President Eisenhower who activated the National guard to protect minority students (e.g. Little Rock, AK).

Downsides

Massive taxation and crushing national debt destroys the economy leading to widespread poverty.   Need violence to silence opposition to include Anti-Fa thugs (to enforce Pro-Fascist programs) and eventually secret police forces.

Imperfect social safety net leading to isolated object-lesson tragedies.  Occasional periods of economic depression with large scale disruption.  Frequently annoying circus of free speech excess.

 

 

 

LINEAR RANKINGS

 

Despite some confusing academic rhetoric, political ideologies can be easily classified in a linear order from right to left.   In all cases the political systems listed below differ to the same degree in religious beliefs, in respect for individual versus collective rights, in support for individual responsibility verses massive welfare services, in economic principles of free enterprise versus state control, and to the extent which secret police forces are thought necessary for social order.  And in no small part, these proclivities are the direct result of their defining principles as described above.

 

Note that left-wing governments necessarily develop large bureaucracies to collect taxes and administer social services inevitably evolving towards dictatorial control.  It is not therefore reasonable to claim that left wing politicians, because they create massive welfare states are all goodness and light; and then to claim in the same breath that the consequent overregulation, economic ruin, and police state terror needed to maintain these same left-wing politicians in power is a result of their simultaneous embodiment of right wing principles. 

 

The point is that while right and left wing societies have many similarities, i.e. modern cities and technology and whatnot, their basic principles and policies remain diametrically opposed.   As for some of these differences, the right wing is religious and the left is not.  The right wing believes in individual rights and the left in the collective good.  The right wing favors capitalistic free-enterprise and the left in state control and outright ownership of industry.  The right wing believes in individual responsibility and the left in welfare state largess.  The right wants less government and the left wants more.   The right wing installs constitutional republics and the left always devolves into dictatorships.

 

And so despite liberal claims that the further ideologies move apart on the political spectrum, the more similar they are, the obvious truth is that differences rather increase.  The obvious problem with believing in convergence is that the National Socialists (German Nazis) and Marxists (Italian Fascists) movements both had identical policies as Soviet Communists (Russians).  All three were atheistic, massive welfare state, big government totalitarian regimes.  They all rejected individual rights in favor of a collective good.  And they all persecuted minorities and engaged in aggressive foreign wars to buy the continued support of the majority when the founding “seed-corn” money ran out.

 

So the trick to hide these similarities is to claim that Nazis, who were ardent Socialists, and the Fascists, who were unabashed Marxists, somehow had secret right wing sympathies.  Considering the historical record, this is not easy to demonstrate.  The right-wing as we may recall believes in Christian moral principles, the dignity of the individual, inalienable rights, lassie-faire capitalism, and small government republicanism.  But by shifting the National Socialists (German Nazis) and Marxists (Italian Fascists), who incidentally described themselves as left wing socialists, to the right side of the spectrum and noting their uncanny similarity to Communism, which for some unknown reason remains on the left, an “amazing” illusion of a circular convergence is created.

 

An additional benefit of this liberal revisionism is that distinctions between “left” and “right” dissolve in a mishmash of convoluted if erudite fuzzy-mindedness.   The only thing certain in this alternate universe is that whatever good happened was the result of left-wing benevolence; and whatever bad things left wing psychopaths did to stay in power was the fault of simultaneous right wing thinking.  And unbelievably, this is a widespread published claim and popular belief.  You just cannot make this stuff up.

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the truth is that police state terror is a universal characteristic of the left, because that is a logical and necessary consequence of their founding principles, and not the right.  And in practice, the historical record could not be any more clear.

 

CHANGE VERSUS PROGRESS

 

Change is not always progress.  It can obviously be for better or worse.  So the direction is important.

 

Basically, left-wing liberalism seeks to revert to the dawn of humanity when society consisted of isolated families or small groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers.  Food and the basic necessities of life were shared more or less equally.  If a hunter was fortunate or a gatherer stumbled on an abundance of roots, these individually rare events were sufficient to sustain the group in aggregate.  Private property rights were practically unknown and everything was effectively held in common.

 

Eventually humanity advanced to form permanent settlements and early civilizations. These city states found it necessary to invent a rule of law.  Natural rights of revenge were vested in an unassailable Prince who wielded the absolute power of the state to settle scores and prevent destructive civil strife.  Within this protective cocoon individuals were free to become specialists with greatly increased productivity and to trade their particular wares in a central marketplace which provided all other necessities.  In this environment, right-wing concepts of private property rights and self-reliance became an absolute necessity.   In time, the efficiency of vesting the power of the state in a single individual was found wanting.   Right wing thinking progressed to develop less efficient but constitutional democracies and republics in order to preserve individual freedoms [6]. 

 

Unfortunately as society becomes increasingly complex, individual rights to privacy, intellectual property, internet access, and a host of other novel challenges are endangered by the ever present greed of fellow citizens and especially power hungry politicians.  The challenge of a right-wing ideology has always been to look forward and to continuously adapt to protect individual rights against predation by one’s neighbors, foreign and domestic.

 

Liberalism on the other hand has a mantra that is static and looks backward to our earliest times.  The collective good is the sole unchanging and defining principle.  Unfortunately in practice this means an “enlightened” bureaucrat or dictator is necessary to enforce compliance.

 

The illusion that liberals want change to correct the ills of society is because they initially buy votes with a one-time gift to the poor creating massive disruption.  Those, who by whatever means have acquired wealth, resist this redistribution.  Unfortunately it is the most productive citizens in a right wing capitalist society who accumulate the most wealth.   The forced and inefficient redistribution of goods by left wing liberals destroys individual initiative, discourages investment, and of necessity reduces the total economic output forcing ever more people into poverty.  In fact, the number in need always increases exponentially.   The downward spiral is self reinforcing as left-wing socialists desperately try to confiscate more resources with ever more regulation to continue to provide free stuff to their constituents.

 

Basically the left looks backwards in a retreat to simpler times while the right celebrates the increased complexity of modern society and looks forward to continuously adapt to protect individual rights.  The difference is that the left wing espouses unworkable and unsustainable equality of results while the right wing promotes equal opportunity which in practice is sustainable and which has always worked.  And the backward looking philosophy of the left to some imaginary and non-existent utopia where harmony rules in an elementary state of nature invariably builds a road to hell, paved with the well-known good intentions.

 

MONARCHIES, TYRANNIES, AND REPUBLICS

 

Nationalism by itself is neither left nor right wing and this has been true since the very invention of the terms.  While the right-wing French monarchy (Ancien Regime), and to some extent the French Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church, might thought to have been national institutions, the left wing armed forces, "Armée Révolutionnaire Française”, which were intended to spread the benefits of liberal enlightenment and French culture to neighboring countries, was no less so.   And only the most extreme of double-standard thinking could confuse this manifest truth.

 

While antiquated systems of both war lords and hereditary peerage had both left and right wing features, the distinguishing differences especially in modern times are that the left wing wants big government control and the right wing wants as much independence from government as possible.  In practice this means the right-wing installs protective limits and structural barriers to governmental coercion while the left-wing installs outright or bureaucratic tyranny.  

 

Historically, early societies were governed by a tribal chieftain or king leading naturally to the nepotism of a dynasty.  In the first city states, the right wing concept of private property rights evolved from a more primitive left-wing hunter-gatherer collective socialism.   Unfortunately humans have fallen from grace and tend to indulge their baser instincts to take from others rather than to produce for themselves.    Left-wing socialists encourage these disordered appetites by confiscating goods from more productive citizens and engage in foreign wars to buy domestic support by the distribution of spoils.  And in practice, this left-wing largess destroys the very societies on which it is necessarily forced.

 

To combat self-destructive left-wing forms of government, the right wing attempts to limit government, as in the Magna Carta or the English parliament to counter-balance the House of Lords, or the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution with its concept of inalienable rights, evolved to protect individual liberties.  In many societies, especially in Christian Europe, the authority of the Church acted as a brake on the excesses of the monarchy.   Indeed “clerical immunity” had protected religious scribes from the jurisdiction of civil courts and provided a moral standard which was often in conflict with royal prerogative.

 

In recent times beginning with the American and French revolutions, the right wing continues to evolve towards free-market constitutional republics while the left wing tends to revert to communistic big government welfare-states typically run by a dictator.

 

SIMILARITY OF LEFT WING MOVEMENTS

 

In a desperate attempt to distance modern liberalism from its identification with similar 20th century left-wing socialistic movements, to wit National Socialists (Nazis), Marxists (Fascists), and Communists, fine distinctions are drawn but more to obfuscate than clarify.   The argument is that while all left-wing movements are characterized by a big government welfare state, they differ to the extent they exhibit overt racism, jingoism, and xenophobia.

 

Unfortunately what cannot be denied is that the institution of slavery necessary to make large plantations profitable, the demonizing of minorities to create a domestic mandate, and the invasion of foreign nations to provide spoils of land and loot and foreign slave labor, all stem from a fundamental rejection of the right-wing concept of inalienable individual rights.  And all left–wing dictatorial groups find domestic violence necessary to retain power and the perks of privilege.

 

As a consequence, apparent differences between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy on one hand and Communism as practiced by the USSR were only superficial.  All three left wing movements eliminated ethnic minorities for political expediency, pursued aggressive war to acquire new territory as in North Africa, Poland and the Ukraine, and all were based on the same philosophical roots.  Again it is not reasonable to claim that the good things left wing dictators do, like distribute tons of free stuff and make the trains run on time [7], is because they are good, and then to say the bad things they do to stay in power like mass murder tens of millions or institute police state terror or invade other countries, are because of their simultaneous right wing beliefs, whose defining principle is a respect for innate individual rights based on the Christian concept of brotherly love.

 

This was especially true of the National Socialists (Nazis), Marxists (Fascists), and Communists whose socialistic economic failures led them to the unifying distraction of WWII.   And it was only in the decade after WWII, that revisionist liberal academics invented the theory that the largess of these left wing movements demonstrated inherent virtues while their murderous hubris demonstrated a simultaneous and incredible embodiment of right wing vices.  

 

Putative evidence for this nutty delusion is that while 20th century left wing dictators systematically eliminated right-wing opponents, they initially massacred their left-wing competition as well.   But this was only because, if the times and public mood favored the election of left-wing social saviors, other liberals were the greater immediate threat.  Nor were these tyrants any more accommodating to foreign nations especially if they espoused similar ideologies.  Communist dictator Vladimir Lenin in sentiment famously referred to his fellow left wing but non-communist colleagues as “useful idiots” who he ruthlessly removed in the early stages of his rise to power [8].    The Asian communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, routinely betrayed fellow anti-French revolutionaries for monetary reward and to eliminate competition.

 

This is in dramatic contrast to the right-wing views of the first American President George Washington who noted in 1796 [9].

 

“Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

 

In 1798 John Adams echoing the right-wing Christian principles on which America was founded and which today form the bedrock of the Republican Party, put it more clearly [10]

 

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our [American] Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

 

LIBERTY IS NOT LICENSE

 

A lot of confusion in political discourse is associated with the word “free” which means very different things to democrats and Republicans.  Basically liberals want free access to someone else’s money collected by the government which produces nothing while conservatives want everyone to have the freedom and responsibility to pursue their own desires on a level playing field. 

 

In the world of the left-wing liberal, free means the unqualified distribution of nearly everything to each and every citizen by sole virtue of their existence.   The idea is that all food, housing, health care, education, a minimum hourly wage, guaranteed income for the unemployed, retirement benefits, free Obama-phones, and a whole host of luxuries should be gifted from the unlimited stocks of free money otherwise languishing in government warehouses.  What is missing of course is the fact that the government produces nothing but only taxes those who do produce the goods and services necessary for life.  Every government dollar gifted to the unemployed or the student or the lobbyist or politician comes directly out of the wallet of some working man or woman who necessarily has less of what they themselves earned.

 

On the other hand, the Republican concept of “free” is that every citizen has equal rights under the law and should be free to exercise those rights to the extent they do not harm others.  In practice this means everyone should have an equal opportunity to succeed and be happy to the extent their effort and ability and wit and luck takes them.  The right-wing is distinguished from the left by some the following precepts:

 

1.      The hardest path in the short run (e.g. staying in school, working hard, staying sober and drug free, etc.) is the easiest path in the long run.

2.      Not just the individual but society at large benefits from hard work and a moral attitude.

3.      Government bureaucrats are our hired servants and not our friends or our superiors or our masters. 

4.      Government has no inherent right to anyone’s money especially without our consent.  

5.      Nor can left-wing politicians spend our money better on our behalf than we would ourselves. 

6.      And fellow citizens who fail to provide for their retirement or home fire insurance or health care have no unqualified claim on the money of their neighbors who did so provide for themselves.  It is not practical, but might put things in perspective if those seeking welfare were required to first solicit a sufficient number of their immediate neighbor’s signatures.

 

The right wing point is that we may be and perhaps should be charitable but not coerced.  We only deserve what we ourselves earn, all else is a gift. 

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

In general, liberals trade individual freedom for the unconditional motherly care of the state while conservatives prefer individual rights and the attendant responsibility.

 

The appeal and problem of liberalism is that it wraps itself in the flag making grandiose promises impossible to fulfill.  It caters to the gullible, the young, the uneducated, and especially to the desperately downtrodden.  Unfortunately in practice, left-wing policies invariably destroy an economy uprooting the social structure, especially of that of the family.   The plight of the poor is not improved but rather everyone is reduced to poverty.  If promises are too good to be true, they usually are.  So to get and maintain power, liberals find it necessary to confuse the issues.   Some ubiquitous but absurdly false left-wing claims include

 

1.      The claim that liberalism improves the lives of the poor rather than impoverishing everyone.

2.      The claim that liberals are altruistic and want what is best for society rather than for an enlightened cadre of politicians and technocrats. 

3.      The claim that when liberals institute massive state welfare programs, the resulting regulation and control is somehow democratic rather than tyrannical.

4.      The claim that the liberal tendency to use the absolute power of the state to violently silence reasoned dissent is in the best interest of everyone.

5.      The claim that giving free stuff to everyone is a left wing virtue while the resultant economic ruin and police state terror necessary for left wing dictators to remain in power is because they have suddenly acquired right-wing proclivities.

6.      The claim that because left-wing governments invariably and preferentially eliminate competing left-wing demagogues, their police state abuses are a right-wing philosophy.

7.      The claim that left-wing police states which look backwards to a utopian ideal are “progressive”, akin to technological innovation, while conservatives who must continuously adapt to preserve individual freedoms are not.

 

The difficulty for liberals is that in youth the idealism of perfect forms is the enemy of many practical and beneficial endeavors.  Only as the realities of life sink in, are the simplistic assumptions of liberal left-wing ideologies found wanting.  Note that right-wing conservatives do not to say that solving problems is impossible or undesirable, just that it is hard.   In any event, some arrogant left wing assumptions that tend to fall by the wayside with maturity include

 

1.      The world is a simple place and age old problems can be easily solved.

2.      Liberals are smarter than everyone else and as a consequence should be put in absolute charge of everyone’s money and lives for efficiency.

3.      Liberals only want what is best so any opposition needs to be violently silenced or eliminated.

4.      There is a titanic struggle involving massive forces of good and evil so extreme measures are justified to make the world a better place in the end.

5.      Quick fix left-wing solutions, which have uniformly and disastrously failed throughout history, can be made to work this time by a new generation of smarter liberal-progressives.

 

Despite the differences between the American and French Revolutions, some convergent truths emerge.  The famous quote, originally from American Revolutionary and President John Adams (1735-1826) and independently expressed by French Premiers Francois Guizot (1787-1874) and Georges Clemenceau (1849-1929), can be paraphrased as [11]

 

“If you are not a left-wing liberal when you are young, it means you have no heart; but if you do not become a right-wing conservative as you get older, it means you have no brains.”

 

REFERENCES

 

1.      “The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress”, by George Santayana, (1905-1906).

2.      “The French Revolutionary Wars, 1787-1802”, by T.C.W. Blanning,  St. Martins Press, New York, 1996, ISBN 978-0-340-56911-5; ISBN 978-0-340-64533-8.

3.      (a) “The Guillotine and the Cross”, by Warren Carroll, Christendom Press, (October, 1991).

The first ten years from 1792 to 1802 were known as the French Revolutionary Wars and the last eight from 1802 to 1814 as the Napoleonic Wars in which the gifted military genus operated at the direction of the French revolutionary socialist government.  In succession the history of the French Revolution included

a)      April, 1792                  - France declares unprovoked war on Austria, Prussia, and Sardinia

b)      November, 1792         - France occupies Belgium

c)      February, 1793            - France declares unprovoked war on Great Britain, Holland and various German States

d)      March, 1793               - France declares unprovoked war on Spain

e)      October, 1793             - Constitution suspended and left-wing Revolutionaries empowered for “the duration of the war”

f)       1794                            - Widespread famine throughout the entirety of France

g)      1796                            - France declares unprovoked war on Italian City States

h)      1798                            - France declares unprovoked war on Egypt with its abundant stores of grain

i)        etc.                              - and many more

(b) Ibid. pages 27, 198-201.

4.      Karl Marx, “Critique of the Gotha Program”, 1875.

5.      New Testament Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

6.      The quote by Winston Churchill (House of Com­mons, 11 Novem­ber 1947 as quoted in “Churchill by Himself” edited Richard Langworth (2008), page 574) comes to mind, to wit

 

“Many forms of Gov­ern­ment have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pre­tends that democ­ra­cy is per­fect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democ­ra­cy is the worst form of Gov­ern­ment, except for all those oth­er forms that have been tried …”

 

7.      Left-wing big government would want to nationalize railroads and transportation.  This is part and parcel of left wing thinking to let a central government control all aspects of life.  The right wing wants to let private industry compete in a free marketplace and believes that unaccountable government bureaucrats have no business or expertise or real interest in dictating train schedules.

8.      “The Khrushchev Pattern”, by Gibney, Frank (1961), published by Duell, Sloan and Pearce.  "Lenin's Private War" by Lesley Chamberlain (2007), published by St. Martin's Press.  Note that this quote is not literal but reflects a lifetime summary of writings and policies.

9.      “Farwell Address” by President George Washington given on September 19, 1796.

10.  “Address to Massachusetts Militia”, John Adams, 11 October 1798, given in Quincy, MA to the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts.

11.  President Thomas Jefferson recorded this quote by John Adams in personal correspondence.  It was also attributed to French Premiers in William Gurney Benham‘s Book of Quotations.

 

APPENDIX: ANARCHY

 

Anarchy (literally “without rulers”) is the result of moving to the far right sometimes called “rugged individualism”.   But because of left wing attempts to obfuscate their policies and especially their results with amorphous propaganda, it may be useful to consider the term in greater detail.

 

Strictly speaking, “anarchy” is a society without a formal structure of laws.  But to the extent this paucity of government is chaotic, that is a derived and not a primary meaning.   The point is that even though right-wing anarchy and left-wing socialism (e.g. Nazis, Fascists, and Communists) both create miserable living conditions, that does not make the two similar beyond the most superficial consideration.

 

If there is any doubt, consider the differences.  The right is deeply religious and the left is atheistic.  The right believes in inherent rights of the individual and the left denies them entirely.   The right-wing has few laws and fewer police and the left-wing supports massive bureaucracies that regulate every aspect of life with alphabet soup names like the KGB or FBI or CIA or MI6.  The remedy for the right is minimal taxes for the protection of individual rights and for the left is the elimination of regulation, confiscation of wealth, and secret police forces.

 

Only the fuzziest of thinking could equate the two.  What the left wing wants you to believe is that liberal-progressive policy disasters are not their fault because extremes on both sides, like left-wing socialism and right-wing anarchy, are somehow convergent.   Or that there are so many shades of grey that left and right wing differences are indistinguishable.  This is self-serving nonsense.

 

One attempt to confuse the issue is a fanciful left-wing theory called “anarchism” which sounds like right wing “anarchy” but is entirely different.  Basically anarchism is a rejection of government control for that of a less well structured but no less coercive collectivism as might in practice be experienced in an idealized labor union or hippy commune.   Basically laws would be not committed to writing but instead would depend on citizens of good will coming to harmonious and unanimous agreement as the need arises.   Note this does not mean coercion is absent but only that it is limited to those features of life in which one has a vested and perhaps transitory interest.

 

While small and isolated examples of both such societies have briefly existed, they were more idealized utopian experiments than any sustainable form of government.   The fundamental difference is the left wing’s rejection of any right wing religious basis for absolute individual rights and such concepts as private property, not to mention a fundamental disagreement over the perils of human failings.  The results are invariably divergent social norms and institutions.

 

APPENDIX:  CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

 

Another misconception is to confuse early Christian communities with superficially similar Communist farming collectives.  Christians in small enclaves and subject to dedicated persecution by the state banded to together to share the necessities of life from common stores.   The communists on the collective also enforced the sharing of everything.   The crucial and deciding and profound difference was that the one believed in the dignity of the individual which no earthly force could remove and the other denied that entirely.   But this small spark of light made all the difference.  From this humble beginning the right-wing Christian community prospered and evolved into the American Constitutional Republic while left-wing socialism has always dissolved into dictatorships and police state terror not excluding the occasional mass genocide.