Monday, October 02, 2006

Beyond Left and Right




Americans across the left-right spectrum are being sold a bill of goods. While we are locked in fierce debate over left-right issues, the greatest threat to our freedom is being implemented with hardly a word of protest. This is the increasing trend of politicians across the political left-right spectrum to adopt statist solutions to all problems confronting society. To preserve our freedom, we need to move beyond left-right evaluations of political leaders and parties and also consider where they are on the limited government-statism spectrum.

The ultimate goal of the political left is “tolerance”. To them that is the ultimate good and all other moral imperatives must yield to that aim. For the right, the goal is “morality”. Tolerance on most counts may be a part of that picture, but for those on the right there are some things that are evil (besides being “intolerant”) and the aim of government should be to restrain evil.

But there is more than a left-right component to one’s political outlook. There is also an up-down component. A leftist who believes that the job of government is to encourage tolerance has two ways to do that- a limited government way and a statist way. The limited government way is called libertarianism and the statist way is called socialism.

(continued- click MONDAY below and scroll down for rest of article, or if sent straight here just scroll down)

12 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

On the libertarian side, the government encourages tolerance by tolerating everything but the initiation of force. Literally everything else you can think of, including spreading mayonnaise on your naked body and going door to door selling magazine subscriptions or worse, is legal.

The statist view of leftism is socialism or communism. Here not only are traditional moral codes thrown out, but the government actually sets up programs that rescue one from the negative consequences which result. Instead of the government simply “tolerating by example”, the government actually rigs social policy so that it penalizes citizens who fail to display the desired attitudes. It commits government to an official program to educate children to desired attitudes and “re-educate” adults with programs like “sensitivity training”.

What about the two ways of implementing right wing goals? That would be fascism and concentrism. When critics of the right fear that they will “impose their morality” they are, to the extent they have a point, referring to fascism. Fascism is much the same as socialism and communism, in fact the long version of the name of the Nazi party was “National Socialist”. The political goal is the opposite of leftism, but the means are the same- statist. In both the needs and desires of the individual are subordinated to some supposed “greater good”. This explains why some people refer to the Nazis as “far right” even though the Nazis considered themselves a type of socialist. They were “right-wing” in their goals- to impose a new, though flawed, moral order. They were statist in their methods.

You can be a right-wing statist and consider yourself a type of socialist (fascist), and you can be a left-wing advocate for limited government (libertarian). That is why we need to move beyond left and right. While we are focused on the left-right struggle, both our left and right wing politicians are advocating and advancing statism. This will lead to slavery regardless of which side wins the left-right debate. I’m right wing, but slavery is bad regardless of its flavor.

What about the limited government side? The tendency of government, unless watched very closely by its citizens, is to grow. Because of that, there is a tendency for all governments that are not simple dictatorships to move towards the statist end of the spectrum. What is less common is what we see on the other end, the limited government end. For example, we have never seen a full Libertarian government at work in a society of any size. The difficulty of limited government is that a high degree of virtue must be practiced by almost all of the population for it to work. The tendency of limited government is to either slide toward anarchy, or to go the way of all government and grow over time so that it is no longer limited.

A concentric government is one in which power is divided up into different spheres or jurisdictions, with the widest jurisdiction being the closest to home and the most distant and central having limited powers. Examples would be America prior to the civil war and Switzerland. It has been called federalism, and anti-federalism, so I thought it best to give it a more descriptive name. This is a form of limited government which includes the rights of individuals and families to form communities with like-minded folks who can agree on common standards of behavior. If an individual finds the rules too oppressive in one community, they are free to move to another.

This is contrasted with the libertarian model in which freedom of the individual is held so paramount that it would even prohibit like minded persons from forming communities with their own rules for morality. In the libertarian view, the freedom to form into a like minded community is trumped by the freedom of the individual to rebel against the community rules.

The thing they share in common is the idea of limiting government so that there is more freedom. The difference is concentrism balances individual with community freedom while a libertarian approach focuses exclusively on radical individualism.

Regardless of where you are on the left-right specturm, I would urge all who love freedom to work together to resist statist means- even when we agree with the ends those means are applied to.

7:43 PM, October 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark,

Very interesting discussion. I assert that the National German Socialist Worker's Party, otherwise known as the NAZI party was LEFTWING.

They didn't try to impose moral order they tried and succeeded in imposing paganism, specifically, state worship. In the mid 30's the NAZI party systematically removed all religion from public venues (schools, etc.) as other left wingers have subsequently done here in America. Over time the German people did worship the state and hitler.

I have long heard that the NAZI's were rightwing. They were socialists, and pagans. I'd say they sound much like modern day left wing liberals here in America and that they have successful in rewriting history to lump the NAZI's with the right.

5:39 AM, October 04, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Ok, you have a good point, but step back and look at the larger picture. The "moral order" the NAZIs were imposing was a flawed one based an Darwinistic principles about race, but it was still a moral order. They wanted to replace Christianity with a race-based neopaganism. That is still a moral order.

They are like the modern left in that they are STATISTS, but different from the modern left in that the modern left is, like the commies, materialist-athiests. (This is a thumb rule, I know nature abhors a vacuum and yesterday's athiests can become tomorrows new-age spritualits).

They are like the modern right in that they desired to impose a moral code- but the traditional right wanted to do that in a limited-government way, through concentrism. I am afraid the new right is drifting to statism as well.

Step back, and get beyond the idea that Nazis must be either left or right. Start with the up-down axis and then you will see they are not like traditional conservatives who believed in local and limited government, but the are similiar in that they did not value "tolerance" but had a "program" they were willing to enforce.

The new bunch of "conservatives" are centralizers, and when you combine that with a desire to impose a moral order YOU BETTER IMPOSE THE RIGHT ONE because there is no system of checks and balances to correct you when you don't.

My personal view is strictly concentrism. I don't trust ANYONE to impose the correct moral order from a distant capitol, but I recognize the need for one to be imposed- with the option of moving to the next county if the one I am living in goes "Taliban".

6:58 AM, October 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark,

I still cannot see enough of a distinction between the ideology of todays' liberals and yesterdays' NAZI party. For instance:

1. The NAZI party had a moral code which was based on paganism. Today's liberals also have a moral code based on paganism/humanism. Both advocate(d) state worship. Every human has a moral code (atheism/humansim/pagansim of all forms are examples of moral codes for instance) but there is only one true moral code, God's. So the fact that the NAZI's had a moral code does not necessarily make them right wing.

2. The NAZI party's sacrament were innocent Jews (and others). Today's liberal's sacrament is unborn children, the sick (i.e. Terry Schaivo), and elderly (libs wanting euthenasia). Both thrive(d) on death and destruction. Death, destruction, and depravity are the end result of implementing either of their moral codes.

3. The NAZI party advocated state control and ownership of EVERYTHING. Today's liberals are no different. They just haven't been as successful (at least not yet).

I think if one can call the NAZI party "right-wing" then the same case could be made to call today's liberals "right-wing." If not why not? And by the way today's liberals do not value tolerance either. They are especially intolerant of Christians views/values.

10:55 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Excellent points. Let's try and work through them. I'll start with your last point first. Of course the worshippers of "tolerance" are in reality just as intolerant of the people they condemn. Tolerance worshippers are relativists, and by definition relativism denies the truth of all transcendent truth claims. They would eventually be equally the enemy of orthodox judaism, islam, and Christianity. Any code that makes absolute truth claims- including Nazism and their doctrines about survival of the fittest. I am not arguing that tolerance worshippers are any more tolerant than the Christian right, they aren't. I am just arguing that when they are STATIST tolerence worshippers they want to use the power of the government to suppress all transcendent truth claims in order to promote a radical individualism in which each person defines their own truth. The Nazis did not do that. They imposed their version of truth on everyone and the desires of the individual were subordinated to the glory of the nation.

I guess the part about the modern socialist state advancing radical individualim also explains the paganism in today's liberals. THe Nazi's had a single type of paganism they were trying to impose. With the left, there is a specturm of it because what is really being practiced is radical individualism. In practice the communists and the nazis acted alike because the Soviets were hypocrites. In true communism the state is supposed to melt away once it has remade all men.

Today's liberals are like the Nazi's in that they are statist, but different in that they are for radical individualism verses a state-imposed greater good. Todays conservatives are becoming statists who also want to impose a moral order. Their order is better than that of the Nazi's but they would be on the same part of the diagram.

7:57 PM, October 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We may just have to agree to disagree on this one.

The way I see it the Nazis were in fact very similar to modern liberals in that they also suppressed all truth claims. As evidence I pointed out earlier that they expelled all religeous expression from public schools and from the government beginning in the mid 30's. Later their persecution on the church was more severe.

And I definitely disagree that today's modern liberals advance radical individualism. They seek the same state imposed greater good the Nazis did. For instance liberals want to socialize health care "for the greater good." They desire people to be incompetent so that they can "take care of them." They want to impose euthenasia on the elderly who soak up resources "for the greater good." They subvert the will of parents and teach values in public schools that are Godless "for the greater good."

Liberals do not seek radical individualism they seek Godless minions of the state just like the Nazis did.

5:56 AM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Mark M said...

Ooops, are you back to thinking two dimensionally? Not all liberals want government health care, the libertarians are liberals who don't. Only the statist liberals want that. They want to socialize costs. Health care to them advances radical individualism by freeing individuals from the responsibility of providing their own health care. It shifts costs for risky behaviors unto the population as a whole- freeing the individual from the consequences of their choices.

I agree that statism and radical individualsim are ultimately incompatable, but that is what they want. They can travel the same road for a while.

And Bush is the one with the biggest healthcare entitlement since medicare. In Arkansas, Huckabee has expanded government control of health care with ARKids. So they are liberals, right?

The Nazi's are like the liberals in that they suppresed Christian truth claims, but they had their own truth claims that they were holding up. They did not place tolerance as the highest value. Liberals do, and statist liberals will use the power of the state to supress ANY truth claims.

Nazis had a truth claim of their own and since they were also statists they also suppressed truth claims. The Nazis did not suppress truth claims on the basis that each there was no absolute truth, they did not suppress them on the grounds that each individual can make their own "truth", they suppressed them on the grounds they were rivals to the truth claims that nazi philosophy put forth.

8:40 PM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Rob Richard said...

I'm only half-way down, but I'm interjecting a mid-way comment... I do not applaud where it says "Libertarians on the left and fascists on the right" and then immediately goes into breaking the left-right paradigm as if libertarianism is a leftist stance. I've never once in my life, I do not believe, heard someone not a fascist portray libertarianism as leftist. . . .

I just got further down the article and I can see where Mark missed the Mark, no pun intended. Libertarianism is NOT on the left. Libertarianism is a centrist view. It is in the center and at the top. Anarchy is in the far upper left corner, with concentrism on the upper right.

A true Libertarian believes in the rule of law and a Constitution and would not tolerate a concentric or an anarchistic government.

6:16 AM, June 25, 2009  
Anonymous Rob Richard said...

Libertarians are not "liberals" or "conservatives"

I've been a Libertarian all my life. I grew up around the Paul Jacobs (literally) and the fellow founders of the party here in Arkansas.

Libertarians are a happy mix of a paleoconservatism and classic liberalism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoconservatism

Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman, are credited with influencing a revival of classical liberalism in the twentieth century after it fell out of favor beginning in the late nineteenth century and much of the twentieth century. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism

6:31 AM, June 25, 2009  
Anonymous Rob Richard said...

I've always liked this chart: http://humanknowledge.net/PoliticalSpace.jpg

6:37 AM, June 25, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I like your chart too. It expresses many of the same concepts that this one does, except that it leaves no room for the Constitutional philosophy of a limited (Libertarian even) central government with few and defined powers whilst state and local governments are allowed powers to regulate denied to the Federal authority.

The Constitution itself reflects a concentric philosophy. Not that any states HAD to have rules concerning "personal behavior", but they COULD have such rules (and did). I could have used "Federalism" instead of concentrism, but opted against it because the term has come to mean the opposite of what it was originally intended- a limited central government with state governments that could decide for themselves how much reach they could have into citizen behavior.

Note that your chart and mine both have a similar relationship between libertarianism and anarchy. You say that anarchy ought to be on the upper left of my chart, rather than libertarianism, but anarchy is already on the chart, where it ought to be, above both libertarianism and concentrism. Your own chart puts it in a similar position in relationship to libertarianism (and does not show concentrism).

Libertarianism is on the left, if you define left and right on the basis of enforcement or non-enforcement of traditional moral values. It is an attempt to truncate morality to the least common denominator of a ban on the initiation of force. It would make that the one binding moral absolute. But the only secure basis for any moral absolute claim is Divine backing. So if no other morality is binding, we might find that in practicality this one is not either.

But you seem to be focusing on where this piece touts concentrisim over libertarianism, while the main point of the article, the very central point, is that no matter where you are on the left-right portion, you ought to at least be on the up part of the graph. Taken as a whole the piece shows why concentrics and libertarians ought to work together against the statists of all flavors. What do you think of that unifying point?

10:39 PM, June 25, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Much of the confusion comes from the Christian Right's failure to realize that economic issues are also moral issues. God says "thou shall not commit murder" so they are pro-life, but He also says "do not steal", "do not envy", and "do not covet". Yet they too often support programs that are theft-by-government based on coveting.

9:12 AM, June 26, 2009  

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