Short Critique of the Left/Right Spectrum

1. The Current Left/Right Political Spectrum.

With regards to politics, the left-right spectrum is a methodological whore. It sells its numb, transparently accessible banality to anyone capable of understanding 2 directions. “He’s lefty scum!” shouts ol’ Barry down the pub, “Well, my my, looks like we have a centrist here ol’ chap.” quips Lord Pithington. Media, lingo and the political system itself have all picked up this linear infant and utilized it for their aims and agendas. They needn’t use other methods such as the compass or Nolan chart for many don’t know of these more detailed instruments, to venture past the ease of Left and Right is to venture into swathes of uninterested shitmunchers, the rabble whose mass will help define the direction, as such, complexity is left at the door.

The terms “Right” and “Left” refer to political affiliations originating early in the French Revolutionary era of 1789–1799 and referred originally to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France. As seen from the Speaker’s seat at the front of the Assembly, the aristocracy sat on the right (traditionally the seat of honor) and the commoners sat on the left, hence the terms right-wing politics and left-wing politics. – Wikipedia.

Currently both ‘left’ and ‘right’ consist of their own individual grouping of ideologies, movements and economic styles. The left inclusive of Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, Anarchism, equality, progressivism and unionism, whilst the right is inclusive of Conservatism, Monarchism, reactionaries, Fascism, traditionalism and (arguably) Capitalism. I am not putting forth that this is exactly how L/R is, I am saying this is how the majority see the spectrum, as such, it’s where we should focus our attention.

2. Inherent Problems With L/R.

; the shortest schema is the drama (dream or nightmare) of the straight line.” [1]

Who ever thought a compression of fragmented abstractions connected to all modes and systems to a line, would be widely regarded as a good system for discussion. For there to be a coherence within the contemporary definition of L/R we must understand our place within the theatre, with regards to each other and largely within the spatio-temporal. We must understand that L/R is moving, as is time and space, yet there is no synchronization.

Take L/R’s practical origin and watch as it mutates with each passing week. It begins its act within a role it has been cast, within a material space at the time of its birth. On a practical and abstract level all members of the audience knew where they stood, even those not in the room. And so the monarchists found themselves on the right, the commoners to the left. 2 fixed positions finding their meaning in relation to each other, in relation to their time and to their space. Beyond those moments L/R was dragged screaming into a world never intended, as such it became uncanny and out of place, stretched, pulled, manipulated and abused into submission by multiple parties on multiple instances; this poor innocent linearity taken from its temporal home and strewn across humanities dirty history.

A simple analysis of China brings to the surface key problems of criteria and definition. For China is simultaneously Socialist and unabashedly Capitalist in its nature, so where does it find itself on the line? I imagine for many it’s to be found far left, for some a little further to the right, never fixed, always moving, for in reality it is China-present. Do as the majority and view the left as progressive and the right as conservative – the West will love you for it – in-keeping with tradition the left moves into the bright future and the right into the dark past (supposedly), yet what of those who wish to take from the past into the future, where upon the linearity do they lie?

If what Wittgenstein says is true and indeed “A Picture is a fact.”[2] then a ‘snapshot’ is the only mode in which L/R could ever find its feet. It can only stand and explain with shared knowledge of its surroundings and context, all that has come and gone in relation to the snapshot must be bared for the linearity to have any weight. This quiet political line drawn into the present will find itself ever-expanding/shrinking, changing and moving in countless directions and within countless systems; this illusory fixed system stretched thinly over time has only increased confusion and extrapolated misdirection. The same L/R linearity from over 200 years ago is still acidicly caressing contemporary politics, dragging with it all that survived, however small, however large. And so L/R attending from its origin allows itself to fracture and continue for whomever shall bear it: The L/R of a left-winger and the L/R of a right-winger are 2 entirely different spectrums that are supposedly identical.

3. Possible Futures: To Move Away From a Cartesian Political Spectrum.

When I write here of Cartesian, I refer to Cartesian space. If one implies there is in fact a grid upon which one can plot a point, one must make sure that all others are talking of not just the same point but the same grid, once both of these have been identified their positioning must be exact or problems will arise, perpetual disagreements will begin and confusion becomes foundation. This said, all may have the same grid upon which they are plotting their abstract political points, however, where upon that grid they put their point is entirely up to them and is in relation to their personal subjective view of the intensity of said point. If we’re to look at say democracy in the West, one can witness it both getting larger and smaller. For democracy grows in dimension, spreading itself over vaster areas of land, alongside spreading further into micro-communities and businesses, yet at the same time key/primary aspects of democracy grow smaller and constrain (free speech), as such whatever it means to be democratic or to be ‘democracy’ is a point which is at the same time shrinking, enlarging, moving, grabbing from the past, hurling into the future, whilst simultaneously being part of multiple grid-systems and plottings. And so, we have to move away from grid-systems when it comes to politics, unless of course we can somehow make clear the position of a movement on some form of Global grid, inter-connected to all involved.

So, what do we do:






















[1] Desert Islands – Gilles Deleuze

[2] Tractatus Logico Philosophicus – Ludwig Wittgenstein

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