Humans are social creatures. We rely on each other for virtually everything, from survival to merely having a reason to live. We are not omnipresent or omnipotent. Our natural capabilities are extremely limited, as is our knowledge. We require resources to survive, all of which are limited as well. It takes all of our first 25 years of life simply for our brains to finish developing. On our own, we are rather pathetic creatures, and this is why we rely on each other for nearly everything we need and want. But to live together, we must know exactly how. This is where politics – a necessary evil – comes in.
Before getting started, please support me monthly or yearly here. The more support, the more and better the content. I wish to do this full-time. Yearly plans have benefits; click here to see.
Most agree that political views are a spectrum, and this spectrum is divided into two categories: The left and the right wings.
Right-wing politics is defined as: Holding that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition. Nearly every definition of ‘right wing’ that I could find, except the one I provided, could not define it without the word ‘conservatism.’ I reject the idea of ‘right wing’ and conservatism being one and the same. For lack of a better word, I will define ‘right wing’ as structuralism. I use structuralism as all-encompassing for right wing because of the words used in the definition above, with terms like ‘social orders and hierarchies’ said to being ‘inevitable, natural, desirable,’ etc.
Left-wing politics is defined as: Supporting social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. In short, left-wing politics and egalitarianism are one and the same. Egalitarianism is defined as: Belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, social, or economic life. The active promotion of this belief. Those adhering to left-wing politics believe that some form of uniformity among any people, or all people, is possible and preferred.
Right wing claims, “We are not all the same and never will be, and/or shouldn’t be.”
Left wing claims, “We can all be equal to at least some degree.”
Finally, we have centrism, which is defined as: The belief that elements of left and right wing politics both hold certain truths. Centrists actively espouse what they believe are the best of both philosophies.
As stated, political views are a spectrum. The left and right wings are only sides of the spectrum. Numerous groups exist within both sides of the spectrum. In America particularly, and I can’t speak on behalf of other countries since I have never lived in other countries, it seems most people, regardless of political affiliation, believe that ‘right wing’ always means conservative, while ‘left wing’ always means liberal. This is a fallacy. Both sides of the spectrum exhibit a wide range of schools of thought.
‘Conservative’ is a subjective and contextual term. It is defined as: A political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization.
Examples of conservative thought include a belief that tradition should not be ignored, or that a culture should not change too quickly. Theocratic religions are generally practiced by conservatives, since the overwhelming majority of the world’s theocratic religions are based on hierarchy (ex. God – his angels – his prophets – human males – human females – animals).
Since ‘conservative’ is a contextual term, it asks the question, “What are you trying to conserve?” This is why what classifies as ‘conservative’ varies by geography. American conservatism has always drastically differed from middle eastern conservatism, likewise middle eastern conservatism with Chinese or Japanese conservatism. American conservatives seek to preserve the British liberal values installed in their constitution, middle eastern conservatives have Sharia-Islamic values, and Japanese conservatives may wish to restore the Imperial order where the emperor was deemed truly a god and was the absolute head of state.
As such a subjective word, ‘conservative’ has countless variations both of content and severity. Conservatives can be authoritarian or moderate.
Liberalism is defined as: A political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. In America particularly, ‘liberalism’ gets muddled with simply being left wing. Liberalism is a form of egalitarianism, but it does not cover all aspects of left wing politics. Liberals are frequently in conflict with authoritarians, including those from the left such as socialists, merely for being authoritarian. Liberalism, as evident by its prefix liber, is strictly anti-authoritarian.
Liberals generally support limited government, individual human and civil rights, free markets, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
The Authoritarian Right
The difference between conservatives and other right wing groups is that conservatism seeks to maintain what is, or revert to what was, and other right wing groups can – and often do – seek social structures that have never existed. Advocates of ethno-states, for example, are inherently right wing but rarely do their desires for a single race to occupy their country have any basis in historical fact. Usually, advocating for an ethno-state inevitably implies that your nation currently is not one.
For example, the white supremacist organization Ku Klux Klan advocates for the elimination of non-whites and Jews from America, but at no point in United States history has it only been occupied by Caucasians. In fact, white supremacists in America have come to be called the ‘Alt-Right,’ meaning alternative right-wing, because America’s right wing is dominated by conservatives, who are majority against white supremacy.
Authoritarian right wingers don’t strictly always seek an ethno-state, but can seek a complete overhaul of the structure of the government and culture. For example, currently in the United Kingdom, there is fear among many citizens of the dominance of Islam, via the open borders policy implemented in the country for decades. Islam has never been a dominant religion in the United Kingdom. Seeing that Islam is a religion, not a race, it is an example of right wing policy that is outright opposed to conservative values of the land.
Then there is fascism. With fascism, there is usually a dictator with absolute authority and bound by no law of the land. Additionally, fascism is systemic hierarchy in which a specific race, usually the dominant race of the nation, has more rights compared to other groups, some of whom may not have any.
The Authoritarian Left
On the left, authoritarians usually come in the form of socialism. The word has varying definitions. Its definitions always center around the idea of control and ownership of a nation’s means of production being removed from individuals, and being given to the community, though this inevitably results in ownership and control going to the government. Many believe socialism, despite its many historic examples, has never been done correctly. Counterarguments to this is the fact that socialism is inherently authoritarian, as it definitively grants total control and ownership of property and production to the government.
Socialism is driven, with arguably religious fervor, by a utopian vision of the future called communism. Most socialists argue, “True communism has never happened.” This statement is technically true, as a truly communist state is one in which money does not exist and neither does a government. Socialism is always the means in which to bring about a communist vision as a first step to redistributing wealth. Many socialists see socialism as a first step to communism, where first and foremost the wealth is equally distributed. The second step is assuring wealth cannot allocate into the hands of too few ever again.
The Failure of Extremism
The way conservatives in America oppose fascism, liberals in America oppose socialism. Both see each as the extremes of their sides and completely antithetical. For example, liberalism (which is a definitive ideology and not contextual like conservatism) is an ideology centered around freedom. Socialism, by its core definition, is authoritarian, the opposite of freedom.
Personally, I see both the left and right wings as having truths and accurate perspectives. Are there inescapable and preferable differences between peoples, races, sexes, ages, and cultures? Absolutely. Is it also possible that people regardless of differences can coexist peacefully? Yes.
Here are the failed systems we have seen throughout history:
- People most commonly see Adolf Hitler as the prime, and sometimes only, example of fascism in history. Of course, there was Mussolini’s Italy, but I would go as far as to say imperial systems (such as the Roman Empire, ancient Chinese dynasties, and Imperial Japan), and even monarchies as fascistic. All of these systems are hierarchical, with little to no chance anyone can advance to a class they were not born into, and with one person at the top with all the power. Of course, monarchies made their kings and queens beholden to at least some laws, so they weren’t outright dictatorships. Still, I deem monarchies as a sort of ‘fascism lite.’ Nonetheless, all of these systems ultimately failed, and today are on the verge of extinction, with outright fascism truly being extinct.
- The first nation to attempt a communist utopia was Russia, who dragged in other states to form the Soviet Union (USSR, or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). Of course, the USSR collapsed in 1991, with every state once part of the union abandoning socialism. However, socialism is far from extinct, with states such as North Korea, Cuba, China, Venezuela, etc., currently socialist. Where communism fails is that it ignores facts about society that physically cannot change, such as the scarcity of resources (nothing is infinite), and human nature. People do their best work when it is work they choose, and they reap the benefits of their hard work. Communism assumes all people are completely selfless and would rather work for the benefit of all instead of the benefit of self and local community. Another reason communism is impossible to achieve is because only authoritarianism can pave the way to it, and no authoritarian regime has ever desired to lose its power. Dictators always arise from socialist regimes for a number of reasons, the reasons for which I will cover in a future blog post. Ultimately, socialism always has an inevitable pattern of 1), wealth is redistributed and economy booms, 2), the money stolen from the middle and upper class becomes virtually worthless now that everybody is ‘wealthy,’ and 3), now that an authoritarian government is in place and the people no longer have control over their own lives, misery abounds among the people, and the government never gives up its power. This is why socialist regimes still exist, but none ever seem to truly die. Their governments will sacrifice their people before falling themselves.
- The greatest form of freedom – no rules at all. Anarchy is an even bigger failure than socialism, because there is no such thing as anarchy. Humans will always organize themselves into groups, and these groups will always have leaders. There is always a stronger individual whom the others look up to, or at least have to obey because it’s easier or because they are forced to. Thus, even if a nation could somehow vote or revolution its way to anarchy, the people will still reorganize themselves into societies with leaders, and thus, no anarchy. In other words, government is inevitable, always.
Every authoritarian system, with fascism, the most radical form of right wing government, and socialism, the most radical form of left wing government, all proving to inevitably fail. Then, absolute freedom, anarchy, is impossible to exist even for a moment. So, what is humanity to do? Well, there is a system that works: Liberal democracies.
Remember the words “small government” in the definition of liberalism? Believe it or not, that is the key element to liberalism. It is not big government, it is not non-existent government, it is the perfect balance of the two, which is small government. Liberalism accepts that leadership (government) is inevitable, and at the same time even deems it necessary. Without enough rules, without the correct rules, humans will be savage. But, people should not be ruled by dictators or warlords. Laws should be fair, and apply to all, including the leaders.
A small government exists only to prevent pandemonium. People should not be permitted to kill each other. See, with too much freedom, you then have the ‘freedom’ to do whatever you want to others. A small government, though it is still technically a body of authority, exists to actively prevent the freedoms of others from being infringed. This means no one, literally no one, has the right to take your belongings, enslave you in any way, or outright kill you. Now, none of those things are absolute. Seizing possessions, stripping one’s freedoms, and even execution are all things that can be necessary depending on the circumstance, but never can they be done for no reason at all.
Think about it: The job of a small government is to make sure everyone remains free. Nobody has the freedom to violate anyone else’s freedom. That’s it. That’s all a government is for in a liberal democracy. Think of liberal democracies as playgrounds. The kids are allowed to play however they want, wherever they want on the playground. They can trade Pokemon cards, they can sit and talk, they can have competitions with each other, etc., etc. While the kids play, some school staff keep watch on them to make sure nobody gets beat up, and that the games are played fair, but overall the staff pretty much stay out of everyone’s business. The staff can make kids sit in time-out, or remove them from the playground entirely, but only when necessary. That’s how nations should operate. That is the essence of liberalism.
Liberalism is a harmonic unity between the general ideologies of left- and right-wing thought, as well as resting directly in the middle between authoritarianism and anarchism. It is egalitarian (left wing) through its tenet of treating all people as individuals, and it is structuralist (right wing) by allowing, and preferring, differences between individuals.
Liberalism is empowerment to the individual. Everyone, from the homeless to the richest and most powerful, is an individual. Every individual’s choices belong to them, and they are solely responsible for their choices. As such, the law also treats everyone as individuals. Your actions are not the actions of a group, your actions are simply yours, period. With liberalism, you, as an individual, are free to make your choices and walk your own path, so long as it does not infringe on the individual rights of others. You can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t prevent anyone around you from also being able to do whatever they want.
Personally, I hate the term ‘capitalism,’ which sounds like a slur against the more accurate term for the exact same system, free markets. One’s labor in a free market is either emboldened or diminished by what the people want. If there is demand for the work you produce, you will benefit. If there is not enough demand, you must try something else. That’s allowing the people and natural outcomes, not government, decide what is desired and important. Best of all, free markets require people to come together and peacefully coexist, for mutual benefit. It requires people to only do what is beneficial to everyone else, again without government forcing anything.
Secularism is also a key tenet of liberalism, but not in the sense of forcing or even promoting secularism. Around half the founding fathers of America were irreligious while the other half were theists. When they crafted the constitution, the bill of rights, and really America itself, they were keen on the separation of church and state. Both the theistic and irreligious founding fathers supported this idea. The irreligious ones didn’t want religion corrupting the government (like it had in England), and the religious ones didn’t want government to corrupt their faith. So, having a strictly-secular government that permitted its people to practice whatever religion they pleased was the proper balance, allowing both the state and any particular faith to remain pure. Also, a secular government allowed people of various faiths to be part of the government, whereas a one-religion government would not permit such individuals to become public servants.
Democracy comes into the picture to prevent the government from ever growing too large. In a liberal democracy, not only does the law also apply to all figures of authority, but no authority can figure can even remain in power for too long. Best of all, the people choose who rules over them. Rulers are not above the law, they cannot remain in power for life, and they are elected instead of their power being inherited.
This is why I have claimed for years that America was founded by liberals. One could say liberalism itself came from England.
The more liberal the nation, the more prosperous its people. When the government is kept small, when everyone is treated as an individual, when a peoples’ leader is chosen by them, and everyone has the freedom to walk their own path in life, nations prosper. It is no coincidence that the south lost the American Civil War. It is not a coincidence that the Soviet Union collapsed in just 69 years, while America is still going strong after 243 years, and during that time it became the greatest economic and military power the world has ever seen. China has existed for at least 5,000 years … it still couldn’t reach this level of success, even to this day.
History itself has proven liberal democracies are superior.
No liberal democracy, including and especially America, ever has or ever will be perfect. The United States was the world’s first attempt at a liberal democracy. Being the first, and doing something humanity itself had never done before, it was inevitably going to make mistakes along the way. Slavery, for example, was inherited from England, since America was a bunch of English colonies before its independence. Despite liberalism coming from England, England still maintains its monarchy (to an extent), but it did give up its slave trade before America. Slavery, being something America already had as a large part of its culture, was something that it had to learn to let go of. The spirit of ‘All men are created equal’ was certainly there, but implementing it would take some time. Change is never easy, not for individual people, and especially not for entire nations. Still, the spirit was there, and the spirit ultimately won, after 89 years.
No system run by human beings will ever be perfect, not even liberal democracies. The system itself is not perfect and does not answer all of a society’s inherent issues, but it is still the best system we’ve yet come up with. We can always try, but we’re never going to be perfect. It took us thousands of years to even conceive of the idea of liberalism. It took us millions of years to become civilized at all. Despite my personal issues with every other system – fascism, communism, and anarchy – I understand, and I believe others should as well, that the attempt at these systems doesn’t inherently mean those people were evil. I can see the attempted good in redistribution of wealth and controlling the means of production. Fascism can be seen by some as, “Human beings are happiest when they can leave all their problems to a small few, or just a single person, and they don’t have to worry so much about anything else.” I can certainly see how anarchists would mean well, since anarchy is literally absolute freedom.
Residing in a liberal democracy means you are responsible for your life. That means you need to work hard, and (if the government does its job correctly) you are completely responsible for your actions and you can only blame or thank yourself for the consequences of your actions. Thus, I can see why people who truly mean well could still reject the idea of a liberal regime.
It’s not easy … but it reaps the greatest rewards, both to the individual and to the collective.
Please support my essays and books by contributing to my Patreon here. I’d like to present content without having to promote brands or companies. The more support, the more and better the content.
Personally, I call myself a liberalist. This meaning I base all my political views on liberalism itself. The problem with the word ‘liberal’ in America is that it’s usually a euphemism for simply being left-wing, or sometimes even radically left-wing. It’s also used as an adjective to mean ‘promoting social change.’ I disagree with these conceptions. The tenets of liberalism itself is where I stand in any situation. Something wrong happening? Consult the tenets of liberalism. That’s how I roll, anyway. So, this is why I call myself a liberalist. I don’t think America has really anything left to fix in its system, so I’m I certainly wouldn’t say I’m advocating for change. There’s technically always something to change, but slavery is gone, Jim Crow is gone, and gays can get married now. As a nation, if we always stuck to what liberalism itself stands for, we’d have fixed those issues long ago, instead of only having fixed them a few decades ago. It’s not about being conservative or progressive, it’s about living and let live.