Focus on Right and Wrong, Not Right and Left

4

April 28, 2016 by Anders Ingemarson

The political terms “right” and “left” have been with us since the French revolution when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president’s right and supporters of the revolution to his left. Today, the right is traditionally represented by different groups of conservatives—compassionate, neo, fiscal, social, religious, etc.—and the left by miscellaneous groups of, you guessed it, leftists—liberals, social democrats, progressives, socialists, and so on.

However, as with most things political coming out of France, the left/right designation has caused more harm than good. It represents a false dichotomy between slightly different versions of collectivism. Collectivism holds that man’s life and work belong to some collective—to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation, the faith—and that the collective may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good. Under collectivism, individual rights—our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—are sacrificed for the benefit of the alleged “common good.”

This is best illustrated by looking at the extremes on both sides. The extreme left, as represented by communism, and the extreme right, as represented by fascism, are both expressions of extreme collectivism, sacrificing individuals to the collective of choice on a grand scale. In fact, Nazism, the type of fascism that ruled Germany between 1933 and 1945, is short for Nationalsozialismus, or National Socialism, a term that with admirable German precision captures the essence of the traditional right and left merged into one extreme collectivist movement.

The type of collectivism practiced in the United States and most Western societies today may best be described as welfare statism. A welfare state is a social system in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the alleged economic and social well-being of its citizens. The term normally implies some form of mixed economy with collectivism and a certain respect for individual rights intertwined.

Under welfare statism, conservatives and leftist may disagree on implementation details, but they agree on principle that individual rights have to be violated for the “common good” through taxation, redistribution and regulation, albeit not on the scale of the extreme collectivist societies of the 20th century.

To make progress in the fight against collectivism we need to shift our focus from the non-essential distinction between right and left to the essential distinction between right and wrong.

The right—the good—is represented by individualism which ”…regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.” [[1]]

The wrong is represented by all forms of collectivism. It exists on a spectrum from bad to evil but individual rights violations are by definition wrong, regardless how minor they may be; a non-lethal poison pill is still a poison pill.

An illustration of politically related aspects of the distinctions between right and wrong may look something like this:

Right Wrong

Let’s sort out some of the terminology starting with the Right. Capitalism is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights. It is the only social system invented to date that respects our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This makes capitalism right.

Capitalism relies on a system of limited government instituted to protect our individual rights from being violated by foreign and domestic aggressors. Under capitalism all property is privately owned and unregulated, that is, society is blessed with the total separation of state and the economy.

What about the Wrong? We commonly use progressivism, liberalism, and conservatism to describe the traditional spectrum of left, middle and right. However, all three champion varying degrees of welfare statism. They support individual rights violating programs such as Social Security, Medicare, government (“public”) schools, and a multitude of regulations, defending their positions in the name of “the common good”, “public safety”, and other collectivist phrases. This makes progressivism, liberalism, and conservatism wrong.

Moving further along the spectrum of the Wrong we pass the more collectivist social systems such as socialism and theocracy on our way to the extremes—communism, fascism, Nazism and anarchism—where individual rights are completely unrecognized. Anarchism falls in this category because a social system with no government as opposed to limited government descends into a chaos of gang warfare which is just another form of brutal, individual rights violating, collectivism.

Under all collectivist social systems, the state is regulating or outright owning property, and is involved in and controls a smaller or larger share of the economy. Under extreme collectivism, individuals either cannot own property (communism), or have absolutely no control over what they may “own” (fascism).

Cronyism is a Wrong resulting from government involvement in the economy. It can only exist where there are political favors to be dispensed. Under capitalism, with total separation of state and the economy, such favors are simply not available. Therefore, the term “crony capitalism” is an oxymoron; there is nothing capitalist about cronyism, and no cronyism where there is capitalism.

Finally, a few comments on the extremes of both the Right and the Wrong. Today’s politicians, and much of the general public, have an aversion to the extreme. The fact that both the traditional left and right end in catastrophe if taken to the extreme, as evidenced by Soviet Russia (left), Communist China (left) and Nazi Germany (right), has contributed to the unfortunate aversion to extremes without regard for whether a particular extreme is right or wrong.

Extremism, defined as the refusal to compromise on fundamental principles, is a virtue when in support of the Right—of individualism, individual rights, property rights, limited government, capitalism and total separation of state and the economy. But it is a vice when in support of the extreme Wrong—of extreme collectivism, of individual rights incl. property rights being completely unrecognized, of unlimited or no government, of communism, fascism, Nazism, and anarchism, of institutionalized cronyism, and of complete government control of the economy.

Here at SEPARATE! we are proud extremists of the Right. We may compromise on implementation details, but never on fundamental principles. We hope you will consider leaving the traditional left/right behind and join the Right against the Wrong.

[1] Ayn Rand; from the essay “Racism” in “The Virtue of Selfishness

4 thoughts on “Focus on Right and Wrong, Not Right and Left

  1. John Zaugg says:

    Excellent essay about right and wrong. The missing and crucial message is, however, that even freedom, free markets, capitalism must have a shared moral compass on they go astray into some form of collectivism or anarchy. The on-going lack of competent leadership is what we are witnessing today.
    What would that moral compass look like and be built on? That is the subject no one what’s to talk about.

  2. One of the problems we experience when we have a democracy is that we get people voting on what they want to happen. That could mean aggressive foreign affairs policies, any interventionist economic policies, aggressive social policies, etc. Inevitably those will involve the use of money. It also means that people who object to those policies will still be taxed. I find it morally objectionable to have to pay for things I really don’t agree with.

    Furthermore, I think we are sold a bill of goods by “experts” claiming that their policies will solve all the problems. Invariably these policies fail. Proponents always, always, always will claim that the policies didn’t go far enough, were perverted by naysayers or suffered at the hands of some committee who deliberates on such matters. No proponent ever looks back and says he was wrong.

    The best policies appear to be no policies at all. When the government has no objective in a certain domain, it has no ideal outcome, no course of action to be perverted, ideologues don’t get their grubby little hands on anything, political parties can’t hijack the industry, etc. You’ll no doubt have heard of John Cowperthwaite, Financial Secretary of Hong Kong in the 1960s. He refused to allow the Hong Kong government to collect statistics on Economics and Finance. Without data in their hands, they were not able to recommend policies. Therefore, no major policies were enacted. As a result, Hong Kong took off economically. When we give governments the tools to enact policies, we are essentially giving them power over our lives. Most of us never sign up to be subjected to such power and we fight it, by decrying abuse, ineptitude or just lack of any moral justification, we are called all sorts of names and told we are evil: right wing nut, you hate poor people, racist, crank, etc.

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