Archived 1/04 

thepragmaticthinker.com

 So far Right you become Left?

By Larry John

Does there come a point in political thinking that you become so Conservative that you actually become Liberal? Is there a point on the political "line" that you become so far "right" that you fall off the "line" and climb back up on the "line" at the "left"? Is it possible to go so far east that you end up in the west? Perhaps the political line is more like the world, a "round" world that by going east you do end up in the west and right back at the point where you started. Perhaps that political "line" is not a line at all but a "circle" or even a " round world" with a North Pole and a South Pole. And perhaps you are neither on the RIGHT or the LEFT but just somewhere on the political globe…right, left, up, down, or in the middle. Is Arizona in the west or in the east? If you are in New York, Arizona is in the west, but to California or Hawaii, Arizona is in the east. But if you think about it if you are in New York, isn’t Arizona also in the east? I mean, if you go east long enough (and a little South) won’t you end up in Arizona? So Arizona is to the East of New York, correct?

And that is how I see this thing we call political view or political slant. I ask people all the time what their political view is and they normally say Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Green, or "nothing, I hate politics". And the funny thing is when they say these "labels" of a political view I am supposed to know what they mean. "Oh, I am a Democrat," and they say that like I am supposed to know what that means. I don’t. Even within the same political "party" there are countless views of political and government correctness. After all, what is a political "party"? To have a party you have to have a PLATFORM, or a foundation, from which you form your "party". This political platform is what you write and "run it up the flag pole" to then see if anyone salutes. If a bunch of people salute, you have a party. Let’s party! If bunches of people don’t salute, all you have is less than a bunch of people. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a political "platform," it just means your platform ain’t that popular with a bunch of people. After all, pragmatically speaking, is there only one politically right or left way of looking at things? Pragmatically or practically speaking, is my way of politically thinking more valid than your way of politically thinking? As you see it…so is it. Right and wrong can only be determined by a specific individual, but when left to the majority, some "rights and wrongs" are voiced and agreed upon more than other "rights and wrongs." So that said, if we are to have a political point of view, the first thing we have to agree upon is that we need "government." We have to agree that we "want" a government to govern us. If we do, or think we must have it, what form of political thinking are we willing to agree upon? There’s where it gets interesting.

Most of us would agree that we "need" government to protect us from each other. We may not "want" government" but knowing humans as we do, there has to be some form of tribal organization that keeps the tribe from killing each other. So we cave into the concept of government by default. It is the best, worst decision or the worst, best decision depending how you look at it. But how much governing do we want from government and in what areas of life do we want to be governed, and in which areas of life do we want to be left alone to govern ourselves? Protection from each other and other tribes and countries aside, what is it you want? Do you want a little government or lots of government? Well, most of us would say a "little" government goes a long way. You don’t need a lot of cyanide to kill you. After all, who is going to PAY for this government we think we need? We are! So, if we are going to pay for this government we think we need, we had better get our money’s worth, right? You are darn tootin’! But some of us want to "buy" more government than others and others don’t want to "buy" enough government, perhaps. Some of us want to buy government that furnishes a lot of the things we want, but some of the things we want government to buy for us, others may not want … and so begins (and never ends) the discussion on "What kind of government do you want ALL of us to have?" It’s all about YOU.

Let’s say our country was starting over. The starting point is Anarchy, or no government at all…that is except SELF-government. In an Anarchy, which literally means "without a hierarchy," each individual works with other individuals to "try" to get a long and help each other without a government or hierarchy telling us what "getting along" means. Well, let’s suppose that we are getting hassled by our neighbors to the east, and we want some rules to cut down on the hassle. So we all get together and organize ourselves into a group that we call Larry’s government. We choose a leader of the group to lead our group, Larry, to lead our discussion in deciding what it is the group wants. We decide that we want a group law or a law of Larry’s government that says YOU CAN’T HASSLE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and we all agree upon it (except for your neighbor to the east of you) and we all say that if anyone "hassles" we will all put that "hassler" in a cave and leave him there until he agrees to live by the "no hassle" law of Larry’s government. Thus a government begins. We want things that we can’t get on our own, or think we can’t get on our own, and we get a "bunch" of like-thinking humans together and create our form of government. It may not be "right" (especially if you are the "hassler") but it is the law of the government, that which governs. We all love government if we are one of those that governs and gets OUR way, but I digress.

Now, the problem becomes that after a while, we have lots of people in our group that demand that government give them lots of "things or rights" and those rights have got to be protected by lots of laws and the enforcement of lots of law requires lots of people to make the laws, lots of people to decide if the laws are fair to all, and lots and lots of people to enforce our laws upon all who say they are in the group, and even upon people that are not in our group. This land is your land, this land is my land, but the law of government tells us what we can do with the land and our money. Remember, it takes a lot of land and money to keep this government we have created alive and well. But we must be careful that this government we have created is run by us, but doesn’t end up running us. We are government’s bosses, government is not our boss. It is at this point that "philosophical political" points of view are born. Because there are so many of us who don’t agree with most of us, we organize ourselves in smaller groups of "thought" called parties. Much like the American Indians were organized into War Parties. We all think that our way is the best way of thinking; we are all right when we consider what is good for US, but not necessarily what is good for ALL of US. But since my "wants" are more important than your "wants," we all go begging government to listen to us. But isn’t government made up of you and me or us? Isn’t government just something we have created to protect us from others? But should we be protected from ourselves too? Shouldn’t government do that too? What if others in other areas of the world are willing to work for less than we are, shouldn’t government protect us from them? If I am poor, shouldn’t government take from the rich and give to the poor? After all, aren’t the stories of Robin Hood much more popular than the stories of the Sheriff of Nottingham? Are humans supposed to be equal, and be treated equal, but if they are not, should this thing we have created called government make sure that everyone is treated equally? After all, government is by the people (we created it) and for the people (we wanted it), and "when in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I mean, don’t we all agree? Say Amen. "Amen!" But even if we can agree upon the motivation for a government, it is hard to agree upon the implementation of the motivation. So, in the United States of America we want to "be" somebody." We don’t just want to be a plain ol’ run-of-the-mill, average, middle of the road, neither hot nor cold, "citizens." We want to be known as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Authoritarian, Liberal, Liberal Right, Liberal Left, Conservative Right, Conservative Left, Centrist, Centrist Right, Centrist Left, Fiscal Conservative, Social Liberal, Social Conservative, Fiscal Liberal, We are Right and "they" are Wrong, American citizens of the United States of America (even though the "States" nor the people are that united). Not only do we "label" ourselves, we love to "label" others and their "beliefs" (for that’s all they are) as they relate to this thing we have created called government.

For example, we say those Libertarians are self-governors in both personal and economic matters. They believe government's only purpose is to protect people from coercion and violence. They value individual responsibility, and tolerate economic and social diversity. Or Democrats on the Liberal Left prefer self-government in personal matters and central decision-making on economics. They want government to serve the disadvantaged in the name of fairness. Leftists tolerate social diversity, but work for economic equality. Or those Centrists favor selective government intervention and emphasize practical solutions to current problems. They tend to keep an open mind on new issues. Many centrists feel that government serves as a check on excessive liberty, or that Conservative Republicans prefer self-government on economic issues, but want official standards in personal matters. They want the government to defend the community from threats to its moral fiber, or those Authoritarians want government to advance society and individuals through expert central planning. They often doubt whether self-government is practical. Left-authoritarians are also called socialists, while fascists are right-authoritarians, and labeling each other allows us to say if we like you or not totally depending on your political view. Ain’t life great?

And we argue topics like crime and violence, individual liberty and personal responsibility, a free market economy, foreign policy, intervention, non-intervention, tariffs and trade restraints, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, unemployment, the economy, education, the environment, family values, foreign policy, freedom of speech, gun laws, health care, social security, immigration, national defense, poverty, welfare, privacy, and taxes as the only way to get to Arizona. But regardless, if you are in New York or California…if you want to get to Arizona…you can go East or West…and still get to Arizona.  You just have to decide on “the view” you want during the journey. Think about it.