Word Dustbin 2. ‘Left’ & ‘Right’

In every newspaper and website the political squabbling drags on, and two words are largely guilty of miring it in the muck. The terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ are infamously the most meaningless terms in the universe. They refer to nothing but themselves, and anything else they describe becomes as meaningless. This makes them supremely unsuitable as political language, where clarity is critical.
It is possible for political debate to focus on the real political divide between  ‘progressive’ and ‘reactionary’ values. The line is still fairly clear between those who believe in the distribution of power and wealth, and those who believe in its centralisation. Between equality and privilege. By these relatively objective standards,  ‘Left’ and ‘right’ are pure vanity. A childish anthropomorphic fantasy of a political world which can be balanced symmetrically in either hand. In which fascism is conveniently just the same as socialism, and Stalin is a socialist. The origins of the terms in the French Revolution have been blurred by the requirement that socialism and fascism be depicted as embodying the same values, dedicated to the same goals. The effects if this delusion are everywhere from the pages of the Telegraph to the humblest virgin blog.
As a species, we do like symmetry, especially when it revolves around us. The medieval geocentric universe reflected this need, and just like the  ‘Left – Right’ political model, was obsolete, absurd, misleading and a shackle on free thought and discussion.
It is merely co-incidental, I suppose, that ‘Right’ also happens to mean right. And that left is sinister, and very wrong. So even the argument that symmetry = objectivity does not hold water. Belief in the desirability of the egalitarian consequences of technological advance is demonised; whereas the morbid, neurotic need to use the past as validation for an existing hierarchy is normalised.
At times like these, we should know what the words we use mean.

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