Differences Between Left and Right, Part II

The difference between Right and Left addressed in this column concerns a fundamentally different method that each utilizes in order to improve society.

Conservatives believe that the way to a better world is almost always through moral improvement of the individual — by each person doing battle with his own moral defects. It is true that in particularly violent and evil societies such as fascist, communist and Islamist tyrannies the individual must be preoccupied with battling outside forces. Almost everywhere else, however, and certainly in a free and decent country such as America, the greatest battle of the individual must be with inner forces — that is, with his or her flawed character and moral defects.

  • Sir Roderick Spode

    This discussion goes on for ever with much heat and little new air. When I was a young man in the late 60s my work mates were in their 50+. Mining Industry. Many of these men had been forced by circumstance to leave school with the minimum reading skills. They worked hard days and long hours but valued education enough to burn a candle before going to sleep. They loved to discuss “book learned stuff” as taught by the State WRT that that you taught yourself. I sniggered the way the mispronounced all the words (boogoy!!?? har har) and names (Nitchee har har) till I realised they knew thier stuff far better than any University Lecturer ever taught me. There is your Conservatism.

  • Alex_D

    In part one of the essay Prager argues that leftists believe in the inherent good of the individual and tend to gloss over or deny entirely each person’s capacity for evil. He mentions that the majority of young Americans do not even believe in objective morality. So how can people be responsible for their evil deeds when their is no evil?
    Of course, leftists seem to try to have their cake and eat it too by claiming that there truly are ethical and objectively good actions. But if there is no objective evil then there is no objective good either and it is pretty well impossible to live in a consistent, coherent fashion with such a belief system. Leftist heroes such as say, BHO or Gore, deserve commendation and respect no more than the rioters in Baltimore deserve criticism. All these people are essentially acting in a morally neutral way, according to the leftist vision.
    Another way of framing the difficulty with the leftist view of the world is as follows. According to the Left, people like the Baltimore rioters are actually not responsible for their actions and choices, because outside forces like Poverty, Discrimination, White Privilege, etc are acting on THEM (so these impersonal, amorphous forces are responsible, not individual people.) But it then follows that the people doing “good” are not responsible for THEIR actions either (this is essentially a restatement of the argument from the previous paragraph). Moreover, “evil” folk like homophobes and racists (and white males!), are not responsible for their “evil” since they too are controlled by forces beyond their control. And so it is just as unfair, according to the leftist philosophy, to criticise conservative Christian white males (evil!) as it is to criticise the Baltimore rioters (good!).
    It seems to me that the leftist philosophy overall is actually a very pessimistic one in the sense that it minimizes the importance and freedom of the individual. According to it, yes all people are generally “good” but only in a vague and fuzzy manner. This “goodness” really isn’t important anyway since we’re all going to be pushed around by these gigantic, invisible forces like racism and poverty, which are outside of ourselves and beyond our control. And we’ll probably end up doing evil as a result.
    In the end, it is really only the group, society in general, the powerful and invisible forces like racism, that matter and decides things – not the lowly individual. Conversely, conservatives believe that the individual *can* make a difference and is important. She/he is free to choose her/his actions and choices. But with this freedom comes responsibility, of course – something to which many in our society have a profound aversion.

    • Sir Roderick Spode

      Your summary “In the end, it is really only the group, society in general,” is what repudiates it as a conjecture anyway. That is not true. It is only the Community at a local level that cares for it most vulnerable fights a common adversity and comes together to celebrate the high flyers and organisers. If a drug affected member of the community comes whining I “drank all my wages” the community “will say we will keep yer back so long as you sober up” and there is no bureaucracy “hand patter” to Talk bullshit to.

      Say you just need a hand with this and can give some help with that… dont need a gaggle of government employed community development officers to pin a pink ribbon on your compassionately tilting forehead.

      Say you wind up being the plutocrat in town. No way are you going to get to keep you flash house from burning down if you dont repay your due to the Community that made you by acts of joyfull philanthropy.

      • Alex_D

        I’m not sure I follow the last paragraph. If someone is empowered in society (the plutocrat) then they can remain so by using their power (wealth) to force/bribe/pay others to protect them. They don’t have to repay society with acts of charity.
        If you’re making the argument that acting ethically is always in the best interest of the individual, then I must disagree. There will clearly be times when it serves the individual best to lie, cheat, steal from their friends and colleagues, etc. … if they can get away with it. Sometimes it will serve the individual best to be “nice” to the others; sometimes not.

        • Sir Roderick Spode

          That came out wrong and I was trying to whittle down the narrative and I wrong footed myself. The fact is that the plutocrat is equal to the drunk and the house holder. Equally a part of the community. I have had a bit to do with small community social history. My feeling is that the imperative is to “give as good as you get” in the mix but the crux of it is – if the X tribe you dont know – there is no capital for a social contract . You’re Mum isnt going to knight booties for the guy next door new born who is planning on cutting your jugular.

          • Sir Roderick Spode

            My point was every member of the Community who for what ever reason breaks the rules of the Social Contract .. the “no hoper” by ever extending his due for Charity and the Plutocrat by forgetting his need for belonging to a community and taking pride in it. The Leftist teaching assumes the Plutocrat will behave like a blood sucking vampire. If you ever study Canadian American History you may find it is the exception.

            If you really want extortion and social inequality.

            Try doubling down on being clever.

            Despite you they might ream wads of cash out of you to make you feel virtuous for sending your’e stupid soft arse kids to College.

        • Sir Roderick Spode

          That came out wrong and I was trying to whittle down the narrative and I failed.

    • Sir Roderick Spode

      I do apologise I ot carried away with my home spun Robert Frost glurge. And wasn’t he a supercilious patronising old bastard.

      The bigger point is I have spent much time on Boolean Algebra. What it teaches you to do is to remove mathematical arguments that mean nothing or are short circuited. So much of this conjecture as to the merits of Socialism and it’s whithering dispersal by right wing Valkyries turns on its inherent lack of mathematical simplification and it’s need for over pumped self justification over a complex topic that turns to nonsense over the barstool. That would be Political Science.

      All it leaves is Volunteerism and Social Capital.

      At least we could make up a readable hand book on something like that !

  • canminuteman

    The terms “left” and “right” were coined during the French Revolution. They are pretty much meaningless in any other context.

    • Alain

      Agreed and using incorrect labels only adds to the confusion. I find that the division is between two main groups: one believes in personal liberty, freedom, accountability and responsibility, while the other sees all these things as a threat and therefore supports big government and in short totalitarianism. The problem is that there are far too many of the second group claiming to be “right-wing” and belonging to a so-called conservative political party.

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        I am conservative therefore my socialist friends say I am a right wing nut.
        Not true, I say to them.
        Right and left wing were attributed to the Nazis and Soviets.
        Conservatives are freedom loving capitalists.

        • Alain

          It isn’t that I disagree, only that we continue to be plagued by pretend conservatives who like all good statists love to regulate everything possible, including peoples’ lives, and see no problem with corporate socialism. I know the argument made by their advisors and all the talking heads that they can never get elected on a truly conservative platform and values. I have my doubts about that and would like to see just once before I leave this world a political party with the courage and honesty to state clearly what they stand for and what they will do if elected while giving the polls the bird.

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            Just a quick thought before I ponder it more.
            Stephen Harper has done a lot in his time as PM.
            Incrementalism is not as bad as conservatives think.

          • Alain

            Yes, he has, but the danger of his incrementalist approach is that neither he nor his party have the benefit of enough time in office to finish the job. Firearms are a good example where he is trying to do what I call patch-work changes and still a long way from repairing the damage. The Liberals’ Firearms Act should have been repealed and replaced. As it is should they lose the next election, we shall be back to just about square one if not totally there on this issue. So yes incrementalism is great if you have the benefit of an unlimited amount of time.

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            My favourite premier ever, Sterling Lyon, was not an incrementalist and he paid for it.

  • Billy Bob Thornton

    I agree very much with the saying that I learned in school in that all parties nowadays claim to be left, right or centre but are very much all supportive of neoliberal economics. Every era has its own version of parties and they have factions, so it is difficult to position them anywhere on the spectrum. Frankly, I love nationalist parties because they want the Bank of Canada to create our money rather than the large banks, who for the most part are greedy, make record profits and create debt for the nation. Money is finite in the type of system that we use. Debt is the main thing a nation should be worried about, yet ideology to me is just a way to divide. The only way for me to have true freedom is to have parties propose unity rather than divide based on foreign policy, economic policy, wars, debt and many other issues. Debt is caused by monetary policy plain and simple because the money is borrowed at interest from the big banks. That is all I care about. People on here believe it is a spending problem and now we have to pay for the debts caused by overspending? No. That is not the case. After 1974, when we stopped using the Bank of Canada, to create our money, then we got into debt as a nation. It is possible for nations to create interest-free money. Just look at Russia. They have a near-zero debt nation. The same with China. The same with Iran. To me, the left-right spectrum is just a dividing tool. There is no such thing as freedom in a nation. The government has to be there to create the conditions all the time, or else the nation is going to be left to deal with corporate forces. Yes, to me corporations serve no purpose to assist the nation. Which is why nationalism creates the best conditions for full employment.

  • Reader

    Time for some folk music from Johnny Cash