[pp.int.general] Our ideology

coretx coretx at piratenpartij.nl
Fri Jul 31 21:33:13 CEST 2009


> Go back further and the distinction between left and right is  
> different again.
> left = reduce power of the monarch (and other institutions, like the  
> church)
> right = retain power for the monarch
> The original categorization between left and right came from France  
> and the upheaval of the French Revolution.  It was originally about  
> how much power you thought the King should have, with people  
> favouring the King sitting more to the right.  This explains why it  
> is possible to associate the 'left' with freedom.  However, you  
> quickly morph the debate into one about 'positive' and 'negative'  
> freedoms, what freedom really means and hence whether freedom means  
> nobody having power over anyone else or freedom means somebody  
> having power over other people in order to secure freedom.  Freedom  
> can mean laissez-faire capitalism, which ends up looking like what  
> you now call the political right, though its roots were in  
> liberating individuals, and hence markets, from impositions of an  
> arbitrary ruler.  The British Whigs were nominally on the left (by  
> the standards of that time) because they wanted to reduce the power  
> of the King, and the USA's Whigs called themselves Whigs because  
> they were opposed to concentrating power in a President.  Stepping  
> back a little earlier, the American Revolutionaries were radicals  
> who removed the power of the British King to impose taxes on their  
> economic activity, and they consequently believed in strictly  
> limiting the power of the state to intervene in all aspects of civil  
> society, whether economic or personal freedoms.  The result is  
> considered, by European standards, to be a constitution and civil  
> society that is now weighted heavily to the right of the political  
> spectrum!  So in the American revolution, 'leftist' thinking ended  
> up with a conclusion that is now described as being on the 'right'  
> because of the freedom given to the market.
> It can go the other way too, when it comes to leftism and freedom.   
> J.J. Rousseau was a leftist thinker.  He influenced the French and  
> American revolutions, and emphasized the delivery of freedom via a  
> social contract, where some freedoms must be given up in order to  
> secure other freedoms.  Robespierre, who tried to implement the  
> philosophy of Rousseau, interpreted this as a mandate to kill his  
> political opponents on the basis that they were essentially  
> rejecting the social contract, and hence were a threat to it.   
> Robespierre's political enemies were hence killed, without this  
> being seen as a violation of the principles of freedom!  Hence, you  
> can go full circle, and argue that you need authority - and further  
> still, you need authoritarian powers - in order to secure freedoms.   
> In this way, you go from the left being the pole in favour of  
> freedom (from the King) to the left being represented by a  
> government that will kill people opposed to its will.  Sad to say,  
> Robespierre was not the last leftist politician to treat his enemies  
> as enemies of the people, and hence to justify the need for  
> repression in order to secure freedom.
> I prefer Aristotle's analysis to the left-right categorization that  
> came out of the French Revolution.  Aristotle thought governments  
> either reflected the will of the many, the will of a few, or the  
> will of one.  He said if it was a good government, the government of  
> one was best, but if bad, the government of one was worst.  In  
> contrast, he said the government of many was least best if good,  
> least worst if bad.  In balancing freedoms in the real world, that  
> analysis does a lot to explain why democracy, the least bad of the  
> bad governments, the least good of the good governments, is so  
> successful.  Karl Popper's analysis in the Open Society and its  
> Enemies includes a critique of Aristotle's counterpart, Plato.   
> Popper argues that authoritarian systems are not derived from a left- 
> right division, but from an unwillingness to tolerate alternative  
> points of view and an insistence that one point of view can be shown  
> to be comprehensively right, with no possibility of revision or of  
> allowing people to change their minds.  That can equally well occur  
> with Kings, or with those who claim to speak on behalf of 'the  
> people'.   On this analysis, trying to link the political left with  
> increasing freedom, and the political right with reducing freedom,  
> is fundamentally flawed.
> Cheers,
> E
> On 31 Jul 2009, at 13:25, Reinier Bakels wrote:
>> tranditionally:
>> left = believers in government intervention for more justice in the  
>> devision of power and income.
>> right = believers in the free market
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