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Monday, December 18, 2006

Left-Right Spectrum Last DEFENSE

By Chuck McGlawn
The Left/Right spectrum is an invaluable tool in the struggle for liberty. It shortens the learning curve for newly recruited advocates. It enables the newbie to evaluate all candidates and/or issues by the simple question: “Does it bring about more or less governmental power?”.

Even though there is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence, my research has not been able to establish a definitive historical origin of left wing and right wing as opposite ends of a spectrum measuring the power and extensiveness of government.

Most researchers say it has to do with the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly (pre French Revolution). I can say without contradiction that the Clergy (the First Estate) and the landed nobility (the Second Estate) sat on the right side of the French National Assembly (circa 1789) That positioning arose from the respect the king showed for these two groups. It had nothing to do with their support or opposition to Louie the XVI. The left side of the French National Assembly, were the “cheap seats”, occupied by the Third Estate (the middle class the working class and if you will the begging class), again not because of any support or opposition to the King. All three Estates were their seeking favor. To either protect what they had, and/or to improve their position.

Exponents of “Left” Favoring Big Government
History is replete with outright conjecture as to the motives and goals of these three groups. Our level of knowledge does not cut through all of this conjecture.

We do know that by the mid 1830s Karl Marx had identified his enemies. They were the occupants of the right side of the room, the landed nobility (exploiters of the worker), and the clergy (“Religion is the opiate of the proletariat.”) Marx, opposing the Right Wing called his movement, “a movement of the Left”. This is perhaps the only direct connection to the “Left Wing-Right Wing political spectrum.

Who are some notables, on the left, that provide additional validation that the left wing favors more government, or more accurately that government is the best source for solutions to social and economic problems. Let us start with the Populist Party in the US. Formed in 1892 in St Louis, calling itself the “Party of the people”. The Populist Party’s Platform was straight out of the Communist Manifesto, calling for a nationally collected graduated income tax, the national government take over of the US Banks, the US railroads, and the US telegraph. See (the Populist Party Platform 1886).

The Progressive Party was even more aggressive in its call for expanding governmental power swallowed up the Populist Party. Their goals included a continuation of the left wing Populist Party Platform. Progressives supported the continual advancement of workers' rights and social justice. They were also among the first advocates of government-funded environmentalism. Centralization of decision-making process, regulation of large corporations, and some progressives believed that privately owned companies would never serve the public interest. Therefore, the federal government should acquire ownership of large corporations and operate them for the public interest. Furthermore, in the social realm they advocated that government provide housing, schooling and day care. On the labor front, they favored workers compensation laws, minimum wage laws, and mandated unionization.

On the International scene, Vladimir Illich Ulyanov, later known as Vladimir Lenin, the head of the Bolsheviks that successfully over through Czarist Russia and established the USSR. We know that Lenin was a disciple of Karl Marx. We know that with the over through of Czarist Russia Lenin established a socialist state. Socialism is an economic system where the State owns the “major means of production” (land, labor and capital). That is the State owns the “Land” that is the country, the “labor”, that is you and me and the “capital”, that is the money and all the elements necessary for making more money. And finally Lenin’s last major work… was entitled “Left-Wing” Communism…” see the Encyclopedia of Marxism.

Then there was Lev Davidovich Bronstein, known to us as Leon Trotsky. So there is no confusion Trotsky was second in command to Lenin in the Soviet Union. See, “Trotsky criticized the Soviet Union in some cases for being too far left” when they “initiated forced collectivization of all farms.” Encyclopedia of Marxism)

Exponents of “Right” Favoring Small Government
Murray Rothbard, correctly observed, “The modern American Right began, in the 1930's and 1940's, as a reaction against the New Deal and the Roosevelt Revolution, and specifically as an opposition to the critical increase of statism and state intervention…” (Emphasis added) In 1946, Rothbard “was a right-wing activist”. Rothbard wrote in 1964 in “The Transformation of the American Right” “I joined the Old Right in 1946.” Among its most vocal adherents were John T. Flynn, Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, and Garet Garret, Frank Chodorov. In “Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal” published in 1969, Rothbard observed, “TWENTY YEARS AGO I was an extreme right-wing Republican”. Rothbard wrote, soon after WWII ended, “I joined the right-wing movement.”

The most telling statement Rothbard expressed in the same article was.
"All of our political positions, from the free market in economics to opposing war and militarism, stemmed from our root belief in individual liberty and our opposition to the state. Simplistically, we adopted the standard view (Emphasis added) of the political spectrum: "left," meant socialism, or total power of the state; the further "right" one went the less government one favored. Hence, we called ourselves extreme rightists."

Who are some notables, on the right, that provide additional validation that the right wing favors less government, or more accurately that government is the worst source for solutions to social and economic problems. Let us start with John T. Flynn. In “As We Go Marching” published in 1944, Flynn said referring to Italy of 1884, “From the beginning of united Italy the country had been ruled by the Right, some of them able statesmen and patriots inspired by the principles of liberty…” Conversely, Depretis… allied himself with the Left…He promised to increase public works… [and] greater social security…” Depretis, with fellow liberals [note the connection with left and liberal] in key positions of his cabinet…He increased indirect taxation, dodged the solution of the problems he had promised to attack by naming commissions (Emphasis added). When he entered office, the budget was balanced. However, the inevitable depression arrived and Depretis…the promiser of the better life, turned to the oldest and most reactionary device…government borrowing.” P. 12

“Speaking of Mous, a leader of the Left, he made an alliance with the socialists…” “the economy-minded conservatives began to object to wasting the public money on schools and roads and subsidies to farmers." P. 33 [note the connection with conservative and right wing. Remember Flynn is writing in 1943 of things taking place in the 18th century]

If anyone needs more proof do a Google search of other Old Right activist: Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, Garet Garret and Frank Chodorov. You will find things like: Albert Jay Nock, Forgotten Man of the Right by Jeffrey A. Tucker 08/22/2002. or you will read Murray Rothbard say, “Right-wing theorist Frank Chodorov devoted an entire issue of his monthly, Analysis, to an appreciation of Thoreau.”

Let me end this with a quote from Rothbard. Rothbard labeled himself “as a right wing extremist”. He then says of himself and others like him, “Originally, our historical heroes were such men as Jefferson, Paine, Cobden, Bright and Spencer. As our views became purer [more right wing] and more consistent, we eagerly embraced such near-anarchists as the voluntarist, Auberon Herbert, and the American individualist-anarchists, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin R. Tucker. One of our great intellectual heroes was Henry David Thoreau, and his essay, "Civil Disobedience," was one of our guiding stars. [those closer to the 0% government of the right end of the spectrum]

To summarize, let groups call themselves liberal or conservative. Lets groups brand other groups as liberal of conservative. The truth of what these groups are and what contributions they may make to the cause of liberty will surface in time. However, do not let anyone get away with calling a move toward more governmental power anything but leftist or left wing, and be proud, very proud when you are called a right winger if what you seek is less government.

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