25 July 2010

"Left" and "Right" - terminology for simpletons

Daniel Hannan returns to the charge about the British National Party being "left-wing" in his Telegraph column. Most tellingly, he quotes the following from the neo-Marxist New Statesman. Well, what the NS stands for used to be called the "New Left" long ago; maybe "Geriatric Left"? All very boring.
A brief skim through BNP manifesto literature brings to light proposals for the following: large increases in state pensions; more money for the NHS; improved worker protection; state ownership of key industries. Under Griffin, the modern-day far right has positioned itself to the left of Labour.
As Hannan goes on to elucidate, the term "right-wing" has been utterly devalued by becoming synonymous with whatever offends the petit bourgeois perception of what is "nice":
There is only one sense in which the BNP is right-wing, and that is the BBC sense. Our state broadcaster uses the epithet “right-wing” to mean “disagreeable”. It thus applies the term equally to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Vladimir Putin, Timothy McVeigh, Eugene Terre’blanche, Orthodox Jews, the Taleban, the Pope, the Orange Order and David Cameron.
The point is that unqualified "left" and "right" has been a false dichotomy for a very long time. It arose from the seating in the Chamber of Deputies of the Third French Republic, with Radicals on the left and Conservatives on the right. It was a convention, like Marxism, born of conditions peculiar to the 19th century and subsequently overtaken by vast changes in commercial and social organization, by greater sophistication in political economic thought and by vertiginous advances in scientific understanding.

If the terminology has any remaining meaning at all, it must be that the "left" believes in an ever-larger state and the "right" believes in keeping the state as small as possible. Theoretically, therefore, totalitarianism can only be "left wing" and anarchy "right wing"; which is manifest nonsense.

While the setting questions are distorted by the preoccupations of Anglo-American "political correctness", a more nuanced appreciation of where one stands in a three-dimensional political spectrum can be obtained through taking the test at the Political Compass website.

I ran a check-list of the BBC's agenda several times, trying to aim off for my own prejudice. Every run found it on the extreme left; but with only minor variations, the corporation also came up moderately libertarian. So, the question is whether its belief in an ever-larger state can possibly co-exist with a seemingly contradictory commitment to individual liberty. Only through the agency of an all-powerful but benevolent Platonic elite, I would have thought - which is pretty much on the money with reference to the BBC's original Reithian remit.

Here's my own result:

No comments:

Post a Comment