The Problem with the Left-Right Spectrum

In political discussion if one wants to quickly identify a person they describe them as ‘left’ or ‘right’. However this scale is woefully inadequate in properly discussing the array of ideologies. For one people will describe Donald Trump as “far right.” However he supports ideas that would not be described as right traditionally. He supports ‘fair trade’, a protectionist economic policy that runs contrary to previous norms of the Republican Party. He supports LGBT rights, breaking years of social norms within the Republican Party. He wants to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act. If he was ‘far right’ he would only go with repeal and not implement a replacement.

When the phrase “far left” is used Communism or Socialism is inferred. When “far right” is used Nazism and Fascism is inferred. However how could two opposite ends of a spectrum both result in authoritarian styles of government? If it were to be sensible Nazism and Communism would be at one end and Anarchism at the other.

The current mode of describing political positions needs to be replaced with one that can more properly take into account various positions.

The above chart is a far better one to go off. It takes into the account the various forms of authoritarianism and liberty based angles. It judges your overall position by your views on social and economic questions. It is possible to be socially liberal and authoritarian while being economically liberal and socially authoritarian.

It is important to remember the true meaning of the word ‘liberal.’ Liberal derives from the political school of thought classical liberalism. It is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as the following.

  1. a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard
  2. a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy (see autonomy 2) of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (such as those involving race, gender, or class)

In both we see that it advocates both economic and social freedom. The modern use of the world liberal then is a degradation to its original meaning. This just shows the laziness of the left-right spectrum that fails to take into the account all aspects of a belief system.

The above chart displays where I fall on the political spectrum after taking a test on https://www.politicalcompass.org/ . We should strive to broaden our understanding of political identity so we can have better discussion. These tests may not be perfect, but it’s a start.

 

Try for yourself and post your results!

https://www.politicalcompass.org/

https://www.isidewith.com/

Venezuela on the Edge of the Abyss

Venezuela is spiraling further out of control as the economic and social situation worsens by the day.

Unlike previous months of protests April has been sadly made different from the rising death toll of civilians. This month alone twenty two have died, with six dying in the first two weeks of April. According to Venezuela’s minister of communication nine were killed by electrocution while trying to rob a bakery. Three others were fatally shot the same day, with six others suffering from gunshot wounds.

Armed groups of civilians called colectivos have been confronting protestors with violent tactics to suppress their demonstrations. Colectivos are pro-government community organizations, with members that have received police training and according to experts are armed by the government. Being outside the government they have been able to more violently suppress protests through force. They have also vandalized the homes and work areas of civilians that they perceive as against the current government.

Protests have continued to increase in scale as the Maduro government continues its oppression. The Supreme Court of Venezuela absolved the legislature in an attempt to give itself the power to write laws, but later revised the decision. Opposition leaders have been routinely jailed and the Venezuelan president Maduro is quick to blame the ‘evil’ capitalist United States for its problems.

Inflation is Venezuela is the largest in the world at 741%, causing massive economic harm to the people. Not helping the worthless money is the massive lack of basic commodities such as food. A survey by three of Venezuela’s universities has revealed that 72.7% of the people have lost 19 pounds in the last year.

General Motors said on April 19th that authorities had illegally seized its plant. Due to a lack of resources currency control many plants are producing few products. This is also accompanied by other US companies such as Clorox leaving the country due to the financial crisis in Venezuela.

With the mounting social and economic despair, accompanied by an increasingly authoritarian government the future of Venezuela remains uncertain. If the protests grow increasingly violent it could make those displeased with the government believe that a peaceful solution is impossible. Especially if at the same time Maduro once again tries to gain more power. A civil war in Venezuela would be disastrous for an already oppressed people, but may be the only way out.

If Maduro were to be replaced peacefully the country would have to undergo massive reform to change the Socialists programs of the government. And there is no telling on where people would stand when it comes to reform. Those who dislike Maduro may also support the Socialists principles he advocates. Whether there would be protests then as well would also remain to be seen. It is also important to remember that the military and colectivos stand behind Maduro, and it is unknown how they would react if he was removed.

We can only hope that Venezuela manages to avert any more harm and that their situation improves.