Saturday, 14 July 2007

Left or Right

We use the terms but how valid is the designation of left or right today? Historically the concept may come from the time of the French National Assembly during the time of the French Revolution, those who sat on the right of a chamber supported the King, on the left they thought all men should have power. After the revolution these concepts were already questionable, as the winning leftists made Napoleon first citizen and then Emperor.

Since the cold war things have become more confused, with the world dividing along support of the USA or the Soviet Union. The USA is usually said to be on the right but are a democracy and anti-royalist. The Soviets had a totalitarian regime that kept power among the elite, so were theoretically right but they were said to be left. Is China now left or right? They may claim to remain on the left, but its traits are elsewhere characterized as right, supporting national cultural traditions, the interests of wealth and privately owned industry.

Mostly left wing is seen as leaning towards socialism, right wing towards fundamentalist/traditional rule of some kind. The aristocracy has been replaced by new business wealth, the working class are harder to find as traditional jobs such as manufacturing disappear. No longer are people defined by being factory owners or workers, now the owners are often shareholders. Most people now are either middle managers or in service industries or part time work; who today defines themselves as working class? Perhaps we need new words or definitions, as this may help to explain the difficulty in distinguishing between the main parties in this and other countries. Many people have trouble identifying with either left or right and this may prevent some from engaging in politics.

Some others have written on this subject:

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