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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rethinking the Political Spectrum

Based on recent blog entries, there would appear to be some discrepanacies insofar as what constitutes left-wing or right-wing ideologies. One way to get the ball rolling on this discussion would be a very basic question. Would the readership here be in agreement that Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy would appear to the left of the political spectrum? Likewise, for the most part, could Ronald Reagan rest over to the right side? The term Fascism has come up for discussion and the meaning of the word has become so muddled over the years that author George Orwell (1984) once wrote "The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desireable' ".

I found an article which , although not complete, begins to explain my understanding as to what makes up left or right wing ideologies.

"Indirectly yet powerfully, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is responsible for the classic political spectrum commonly used to show the relationships between schools of political thought and the systems they engender. This is what happened:

Adolf Hitler's National Socialist movement was, as the name clearly says, a party of the left. While not explicitly Marxist-Leninist, National Socialism accepted the essentials of that worldview while adding Germanic racial supremacism to the mix. This is not the place to lay this out in detail, but it is part of the historical record. Jonah Goldberg's (pictured above and whose archive is accessible via a link on the right margin) Liberal Fascism includes the best recent treatment of the subject. Thus it was not astonishing that in 1939 Hitler and Stalin found ample common interests to establish an alliance, nor did it astonish that Communist Party members in the West almost unanimously took up support for Nazi Germany. The alliance simply recognized the ideological kinship between the two.

Then in 1941, Hitler turned on his fellow socialist and invaded the Soviet Union. How was Stalin to explain or rationalize this turnabout? What ideological signboard could he put around Hitler's neck that would make sense in the Soviet political context? Certainly Stalin could not let it appear he had been duped by a fellow socialist, nor could he allow Hitler to give socialism a bad name. The solution was to label the bad guys, Hitler and the Nazis, as polar opposites of the good guys, Stalin and the Communists. Fascism - a leftist, socialist doctrine - was abruptly and absurdly labeled a phenomenon of the extreme right.

From 1941 onward into the postwar era, Soviet propaganda, diplomacy, and scholarship consistently depicted Nazism as a right-wing phenomenon, communism on the left, with the Western powers arrayed on a vague spectrum somewhere in between. Western academics and journalists fell into the same practice, often but not always because of their own leftist sympathies. Few bothered to contest the analysis and assumptions that underlay the new model, and it was a convenient way to depict and describe political camps. Thus the classic political spectrum of the 20th century became second nature to everyone, not just to communists."

Again, this is just a starting point to discuss
the topic for now. Feel free to post your thoughts on the way you define ideologies in the comment box along with why you define terms as such.


Ginx said...
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Ginx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JD Curtis said...

Sorry Ginx. As per my last thread, you can either..

A. Provide evidence that I am a racist

B. Retract your statement, or

C. Go away

I'll stack my list of links on right margin of this page up against anybody in terms of diversity. Please address this before posting anything else. If you don't, all future posts by you will be deleted.

JD Curtis said...

Speaking of racism, I couldnt let this one pass by. Who was quoted last weekend saying, in regards to President Obama, that he's ..."a nice person ... very articulate" but an ineffective leader who "couldn't sell watermelons if you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic."

A. Michael Savage

B. Rush Limbaugh

C. Sean Hannity, or

D. Lion of the Left, Dan Rather


Glen20 said...

I found an article which , although not complete, begins to explain my understanding as to what makes up left or right wing ideologies.

The Socialist parts of the Nazi Party were murdered in the early thirty's on the Night of Long Knives. Then Hitler declared the party a party of the right. That's before 1941. This article is nonsense.
As Himmler said in 1938: "We are of the right, of the establishment, and merged with the capital businesses and industries of the Reich."

They had no Socialist policies after that and declared Socialism as Jewish.

And point two, Fascism is a right wing ideology. Some people may not like that fact but it is so.

Let's look the the Wikipedia article for Fascism. Notice the numbers after each statement. Those are references. The better the references the more likely the preceding statement is true. You can examine the references to see how likely the statement is to conform with reality.

Fascism, pronounced /ˈfæʃɪzəm/, is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology.[1][2][3][4] Fascists seek to organize a nation on corporatist perspectives; values; and systems such as the political system and the economy.[5][6] Scholars generally consider fascism to be on the far right of the conventional left-right political spectrum,[7][8][9][10][11][12] although some scholars claim that fascism has been influenced by both the left and the right.[13][14]

Ok, now that you have followed the references, you can see that the Fascists said they were right-wing, had right-wing policies, are considered right-wing by the vast majority of scholars.

Do I think Barack Obama belongs to the Left? I think anyone involved in European trade unions wouldn't think so. The European liberal wouldn't think so. But when you're looking from extreme Right field, even the Center is to your Left if you know what I mean.

JD Curtis said...

The Socialist parts of the Nazi Party were murdered in the early thirty's on the Night of Long Knives

Glen, the Night of the Long Knives occurred when the Brownshirts, commonly referred to as the SA, Hitler's private goon squad under the leadership if Ernst Rohm (a homosexual BTW) was deemed too large and powerful for the comfort of the military.

"Hitler had always liked Röhm — he was one of the first members of the Nazi Party, and had participated in the Beer Hall Putsch. But Hitler was under increasing pressure to reduce the S.A. influence. Hitler's industrialist supporters were concerned over the S.A.'s socialist leanings — socialism had been useful for the Nazi rise to power, but the ideology stood in contradiction to nationalist Nazi goals. Likewise, military leaders were alarmed by Röhm's proposal that the German army, which was limited by the Treaty of Versailles to 100,000 men, be absorbed into the larger S.A., which in early 1934 numbered 2.5 million. Some leaders of the Nazi party also joined in the dislike of many conservative officers expressed over the overt homosexuality of Röhm and some other S.A. leaders" Link

It would appear that certain SA men were vocal about their tendency toward Socialism, but apparent in the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler decided that he needed the military and it's leadership more than his SA.

JD Curtis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glen20 said...

So you are agreeing that the Socialist wing of the Nazi party was 'removed' in 1934?

JD Curtis said...

Fascism: definitions

From Answers.com..: "A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism"

From merriam-webster.com..: "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition"

Now, from the same 2 sources, Conservatism defined (Note the differences in BOLD...

merriam-webster.com..": a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change; specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage)"

From Answers.com.."A political philosophy or attitude emphasizing respect for traditional institutions, distrust of government activism, and opposition to sudden change in the established order"

It would appear that these 2 sources got it right. If in fact, Conservatism is on the right side of the political spectrum, then it calls for less government power and interference and thus greater freedom for people.

Glen20 said...

Did anyone say Fascism was Conservatism?

JD Curtis said...

Glen, reread my post from 2:22. One paragraph has been rearranged as to change the meaning of that entry. Let me know what you think of those definitions before we move on.

Christ Follower (no longer) said...

It's the Transitive Property of Nazism!

Since Nazis == bad
Then political ideology of Nazis == bad
So if the wing of your political ideology is the same as the Nazis' wing
Then you and your ideology == bad

It's a stupid argument and not worth having. Just because you are right-wing and the Nazis were right-wing, it doesn't mean you have anything in common with Nazi ideology. Unless you're into genocide, racism, racial purity, etc.

Christ Follower (no longer) said...

And fascists not being conservative - you must know that there's a whole bunch of conflicting political ideology on both wings of the political spectrum.

Would you say the right wing is the wing of
-Rhetorically appeals to tradition?

Fascism uses all those.

JD Curtis said...

Allright CFNL, exactly what reputable political science professor has ever equated Conservatism with expanding goverment control and regulation?

As for your other points, here's a chart that shows what ideologies share traits with others. I would argue that conservatism has even less in common with fascism than they chart would indicate.

JD Curtis said...

I thought this guy over at answers.yahoo.com had a good comparison...

"Communism has never existed on a large scale, but is an economic system in which all production is pooled and then equally distributed as needed among the populace. It is not inherently a political system, but a political system is needed to administer it, and such systems have always been abused.

Fascism is a political system in which rights are granted - or not - by the State. This contrasts to the concepts stated in the Declaration of Independence recognizing that the people hold all rights naturally, and government is only granted permission to carry out legitimate functions. Under fascism, since the state holds all rights, it also retains control over the production of goods, and services. Unlike communism, fascism openly uses the resources to pursue the interests of the government."

Christ Follower (no longer) said...

Somehow instead of showing Fascism was not right wing, you have decided to show Fascism is not Conservatism.
Now to quote Glen20: "Did anyone say Fascism was Conservatism?"

JD Curtis said...

Sorry, but I'm a huge Thomas Sowell fan. He ad this to say about the Obama administration a little while back...

"Socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production. Fascists believed in government control of privately owned businesses, which is much more the style of this government. That way, politicians can intervene whenever they feel like it and then, when their interventions turn out badly, summon executives from the private sector before Congress and denounce them on nationwide television"

JD Curtis said...

"Did anyone say Fascism was Conservatism?"

More accurately, it was said that Fascism was right-wing. We're still at the point where we are trying to define terms.

I've provided numerous definitions so far. I'd like to hear from some of you. Why is Fascism right wing? Fascism would appear to be to the right of socialism, but far to the left of Conservatism. If fascism is closer to the right, like Conservatism, why is that so?

Froggie said...


Do you consider yourself right wing?

JD Curtis said...

Froggie, on a political spectrum like this (from left to right)...


I think the ideologies on the right equate to less government interference/regulation of our lives and more personal freedom and thus better systems then those on the left.

ATVLC said...

Do the world's smallest Political Quiz

There's some great reading on this subject on these wiki pages.

ATVLC said...

90% Liberal.
Unfortunately I live in a country where the conservative political party is named "Liberal" or should I say one of the conservative parties because Labor is surprisingly conservative too.

Ginx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JD Curtis said...

There's liberalism and then there's classical liberalism. There's a difference. Classical liberalism is more conservative. Go figure.

JD Curtis said...

Yes Ginx, I did. To reiterate, you can either..

A. Provide evidence that I am a racist

B. Retract your statement, or

C. Go away

If I were to go on you blog and accuse you of racism, I would be expected to back that up.

Glen20 said...

Yes, the website printed it in all capital letters.

Anon said...

You deleted Ginx's comments, but leave up Marcus's?

You are racist, and you hate atheists.

ATVLC said...

Even if JD deletes Marcus' comments, no-one will know if it's because of racism or because you called him out.

JD Curtis said...

Ginx has access to every entry I've ever made on this blog and cn feel free to construct an argument showing my alleged racism.