Far Left And Far Right Are Not Very Far Apart
The political divide is typically envisioned as left versus right, with the Democrats on the left and the far left being socialism, and Republicans on the right, with the far right being fascism. While there are obvious and significant inadequacies with that paradigm, if we accept that spectrum, rather than being a straight line between them, they both fall along a closed loop. The loop has totalitarianism on one side and individual liberty on the other. As you move away from individual rights and freedom, you can move in one direction or the other, but either way, the further you go from liberty, the closer you get to totalitarianism.
The twentieth century was rife with examples of both so-called left and right totalitarianism, with the usual examples of the Nazi version of fascism or the Soviet version of socialism. In both of these examples, however, as well as the dozens of others, the overriding mentality of each one was that of collectivism, the idea that society is a collective of people of whom the leaders possess all knowledge, wisdom, and moral character to do what is best for the collective. Under this arrangement, the individual has no value other than what he or she can be used for in service of the state. He or she is just a cog in the wheel. He or she must do the bidding of the political class or else be reeducated or eliminated.
The political left and right are, however, rather amorphous terms. They mean different things to different people. Most normal Americans, left and right, just want to live their lives in peace, the best they can, and tend to vote for whoever tells them what they want to hear, based on their particular biases. Historically, when the terms first arose around the time of the French Revolution, the right supported the king, with important themes of order, authority, duty, and tradition, and the left supported revolution and change, with the themes of freedom, equality, fraternity, rights, and such things.
In a twist of history, today the right is most often associated with limited government scope and power, individual rights, economic freedom, and individual responsibility, whereas today’s left tends to view big government as the savior and solver of all problems, wanting to expand the state, increase spending on programs, and regulate the economy, a kind of role reversal from the original. This creates a lot of confusion, because both the historical and the modern meanings get intertwined and blended, making them mean whatever is expedient.
The left purports to be in support of the poor and oppressed, but cronyism and corruption are just as prevalent in the Democratic camp as in the Republican, and Democratic politicians pander to the ultra-wealthy as much or more than the Republicans. The right purports to be for limited government, economic freedom, and so on, but government has grown and spread its tentacles as much or more under Republicans as under Democrats.
Today we face an ascendant left, but one whose leadership has become radical and revolutionary, with the goal of tearing down society as we know it. It has become enamored with Marxism and anti-capitalism of various stripes and strives to induce division. The riots are just the latest volley.
As the saying goes, the issue is never the issue, revolution is always the issue. It is the ultimate goal. We need to be very concerned, not because it is the left, but rather because few violent revolutions end well for the people, or even for the actual revolutionaries. Soviet and Chinese Communist genocides and murders were greater human disasters than the Holocaust. Whether it is the left or right boot on the neck, totalitarianism feels the same.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Daniel J. McLaughlin is the author of “Compassion and Truth-Why Good Intentions Don’t Equal Good Results.” Formerly a finance executive, he is now focused primarily on writing on economics, business, and politics. You can find him at daniel-mclaughlin.com.