Certain power-lusters have succeeded in dividing a whole nation into ‘left’ and “right.’ This is the old divide-and-conquer tactic and I guess we are a bit thick, because we keep falling for it. If you want power, keep the ruled fighting with each other, keep the emotions roiling, keep them blaming each other so they don’t take a look at the corruption of the rulers.
But I naively think words have meanings. What does left mean? What does right mean? During the French Revolution, the monarchists were right, the republicans were left and the middle was called the Swamp, the members of which both extremes hated. The middle, which in reality is the vast majority, is not a swamp, it is a mountain illustrated by a bell curve. I call it Mount MostOfUs.
The extremists lacerated France, decapitating over 40,000 of its own citizens. Then they ended up with Emperor Napoleon anyway. Extremists, left and right, must always resort to bloodbaths, because they can’t get compliance from MostOfUs. We are not extremists. The Bolsheviks, with their extreme dream of communism, had to kill millions and ended up with Tsar Stalin anyway.
We fought a war in Vietnam because we wanted to save the Vietnamese from evil communism. (Where is Vietnam, we asked?) We lost that war, 50,000 young Americans and millions of Vietnamese, paving the way for Pol Pot to wipe out 25% of the population of Cambodia. So Vietnam became communist. Was that the end of the world? But what does communist mean when westerners now visit their beach resorts and buy their sneakers? And Is there a more fiercely capitalist nation than ‘communist’ China? What does left and right mean?
Boiled down, at its core, the difference between left and right is that the left thinks people are basically good and the right thinks people are basically bad. If people are good, the only reason bad things happen is that people need more education, ignorance is the problem. If they oppose immigration, it is because they are unenlightened about the brotherhood of man. All cultures can hold hands and tiptoe through the tulips; maybe share a coke with a polar bear as we protect his ice chunk from global warming.
So the left is liable to come up with schemes to make things better through education and ‘helpful’ rules. Not only the right, but MostOfUs, are stupid, while they are smart. They will need to use some force to make us do enlightened things, you know, for our own good, because we are stupid. Not only the right, but MostOfUs, resent their arrogant, superior attitude.
The right thinks people are basically bad and must be kept in line. It is a war of all against all; we are solitary predators (see Thomas Hobbes) and we admire those Robber Barons/Captains of Industry who climbed to the top on the heads of their contemporaries. Law and Order! Ayn Rand said it in all its ugly clarity: What are your masses but mud to be ground under foot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?
But, you say, I don’t buy either of these extreme positions. Me neither, we are somewhere on Mount MostOfUs. You perhaps think people are neither basically good nor basically bad. People are complicated, they can be good or bad and they have some choice in the matter. You look at a proposed initiative and wonder: Does this promote human survival and thriving? If so, that’s good. If not, to hell with it. Neither right nor left. And let’s refuse to form ranks in the phony divide-and-conquer game they have concocted to keep us distracted.