leftandright (ThoughtStorms)

In my response to the EustonManifesto I said that one of the clearest distinctions between left and right was between MethodologicalHolism and MethodologicalIndividualism in explaining the world.

I stand by that. It's what continuously cements the alliance between right (or economic) libertarians and conservatives. How come they always stick together? Well, because both have individualist perspectives. The conservatives analyse the world in terms of individual people and their character. Problems are due to moral failings : wickedness or weakness. Solutions come through moral virtues : self-control, religious piety, willingness to stand up to bad people. ( LibertarianismAndConservatism )

For economic libertarians, the economic world is similar. The rich got rich by their intelligence or industriousness. The poor remain so because of idleness or ignorance.

The left, meanwhile, can talk to neither group, because the left seek systematic or situational explanations that try to go beyond qualities of individuals.

Many people note that the war in Iraq has made strange new alliances. The Eustonites find themselves with greater and greater admiration of the neocons, whiile a leftist like me finds it more congenial in the company of the anti-war right. Even of an extreme CulturalConservative like WilliamLind.

Lind finds the situation amusing : http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_5_02_06.htm

But is there a reason beyond desperation with flirting with the FourthGenerationWar theorists? Is it, as the pro-war left would have it, a symptom of pathalogical AntiAmericanism?

I think not. What's interesting about the 4GW / anti-war right (including Lind and the more moderate JohnRobb) is that they do have a systemic view of the world. This is why it's interesting to engage with them (and even ThomasBarnett). Theirs is a discussion, not about good and bad people, but about situations, systems, topologies etc.


Here's a good example. I don't know Robb's political position. My intuition is that he's a mild-conservative with libertarian sympathies. But here he does what I consider to be classic left thinking : instead of being constrained to simply think about the problem at hand (ie. green tech. startups) he looks for the wiring behind the scenes : First, [Friedman] is totally entranced with the innovation being produced by hundreds of alternative energy start-ups. I am too, although I would contend that the small start-up is harder to do today with the recent changes to rentier bankruptcy laws (try to start something with a credit card and an idea today and find out what happens...).

Even more interesting is Lind's analysis of a recent alleged atrocity commited by US troops which rejects the "bad apples" theory of war atrocities. Or rather accepts that armies will always contain bad people, but that the real problem is situational : the strong fighting the weak.

I'd argue that here, the CulturalConservative Lind is more "left" than a self-proclaimed left Eustonian who's given up on situational explanations.


In a QuoraAnswer I recently found myself characterizing liberals and conservatives as DoctorsAndLawyers

I also explained the difference like this https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-the-left-wing-and-the-right-wing-What-is-the-difference-on-a-basic-level-and-on-a-hardcore-politician-level/answer/Phil-Jones

This is a good question. I'll try to sum it up like this.

Let's say we look at the world and we see that we're born into a system. It's pretty well established (over centuries) and complex. There are property rights. And laws. And institutions (marriage, and churches and football etc.) And culture. (The books we like to read and films we like to watch and way we talk etc.)

The right-winger looks at this system and says. "If politicians can just come along and overturn this system, these rights or these institutions, then there is no stability. No security. I have no freedom (from their interference). There must be things which are impervious to the whims of the politicians or the baying of the mob. Otherwise it's tyranny."

The left-winger looks at this system and says "If I and my friends can't overturn this system, these rights or these institutions when they aren't good for us, then we are effectively its prisoners. We have no freedom (from the predations of the system), no opportunity, no security. There must be mechanisms by which we can get together to change a world which does not suit us. Otherwise it's tyranny."


Interesting analysis of genetic influence on political position : (via http://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/GeneticsAPSR0505.pdf (via tdaxp : ) http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/11/03/the-dna-of-politics.html )


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Added 2018-07-17 : Added 2018-07-16 : Left vs. right dogmatism


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