On the Nature of the Historical Political Spectrum in the United States

It is not surprising that given today’s truth-free, all fake all the time narrative expositions, there is a complete lack of clarity in the United States as to what people on the left of the political spectrum believe.  Or on the right.  Or on the non-existent center.  Everything centers on the need for government to continue to financially squeeze its citizenry for more and more of its hard earned earnings to pat for more and more weaponry leading to more and more profits for the defense industry, big pharmacy, the financial sector, etc.  But understanding the nature of political theories is probably important, should a functioning democracy with accurately informed rather than merely manipulated voters, be a goal.  Sooo, in an effort at a bit of clarification, perhaps essential for our survival, I offer the following:

With respect to the left wing of the political spectrum, popular ignorance is due to two principal factors:

  • First, the appropriation of the labels “liberal” and “progressive” by groups that have only superficial understanding of what the left wing of the political spectrum is about, and, their use of slogans seemingly tied to leftist objectives but with their actions (through polarizing tactics) guaranteed to assure that such objectives are not attained, in some cases, deliberately so, and in others, through inexperience, superficiality or ignorance.  That pretty much defines the United States’ Democratic Party which is neither leftist, nor socialist, nor communist, and certainly neither liberal nor progressive.  It is merely a Deep State tool dedicated to perpetuation of power in order to maintain the world at war and to keep military related profits flowing, while domestically, it is dedicated to maintaining the United States population segmented into groups controlled through divisive polarizing policy proposals.  The GOP was historically not all that different until it was impacted by populists who sought to wrest if from Deep State control and won one major battle in that regard, adding a wing dedicated to reduced military spending, non-intervention in other countries’ conflicts, withdrawal from regional military organizations, and ending omnipresent foreign military bases.  That same wing, the “Tea Party”, also sought to reduce internal polarization by reducing the invasive role of government in individual lives.  However, that populist revolution soon faced a massive counter attack by “traditionalist (read Deep State aligned) Republicans like the Bush family, the McCain family, etc., and its viability in light of concerted attacks through a politicized legal system is highly suspect.
  • Second, like the Democratic Party, but in a very different manner, the GOP also generates massive confusion concerning the nature of the leftist portion of the political spectrum by using terms like “socialism” and “communism” with no idea of what they mean, distorting them by conflating them with authoritarian and totalitarian forms of government.  The truth is that both socialism and communism, in their actual tenets, are virtually synonymous with the economic doctrines espoused by the first century Jerusalem Community comprised of the apostles of Yeshua, the Nazarene, after his purported crucifixion.  Doctrines to which most conservative Republicans believe themselves religiously devoted. 

Then, what beliefs are those that are really espoused and sought by the leftist wing of the political spectrum?  Fundamentally, that everyone has dual natures: as individuals, on the one hand but concurrently, on the other, as integral parts of collectives, including structural collectives such as families, local communities, regional communities, the state, mankind, etc., and thematic collectives such as churches, religions, philosophies, political alignments, etc.  An essential corollary of such beliefs is the realization that such dual natures will frequently appear to be in conflict, and that in resolving such conflicts, the first stage is to seek a way to reconcile them so that both will be respected, but, that in the event the conflict cannot be reconciled, that collective interest should prevail, something the fictional Star Trek character, “Spock”, defined as “… the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.  Libertarians reach the opposite conclusion, holding that individual rights trump collective rights when the two cannot be reconciled.

Based on the foregoing, the real left postulates the following policies, many of which are shared by many among the real right and others:

  • First, rejection of conflict resolution through violence at all levels, from interpersonal through international.  Thus leftists are anti-family violence, anti-death penalty, anti-“cruel and unusual” penal sanctions, antiwar; opposed to large military budgets and to international military alliances and to establishment of military forces abroad.
  • Second, that in conjunction with the foregoing, equality of opportunity regardless of inherent characteristics (such as gender, race, religion, national origin, social class, etc.) is essential as is equity and justice tempered with mercy. 
  • Third, that freedom of expression, regardless of the merits of what is expressed, is essential and consequently, that censorship is rarely if ever justified, and, as a corollary, that we should strive to maintain open minds, accepting that what we think frequently changes, and that admitting our mistakes and learning from them is essential to progress.  Thus, that listening is an essential corollary to espousing.
  • Fourth, a concept related to the third, that social interaction requires that empathy trump polarization and that disagreements be dealt with transparently but respectfully, especially avoiding calumny and ridicule.
  • Fifth, that the principal role of the collective known as the state is to “provide for the common welfare through a social safety net including access to education at all levels, access to all necessary health care, provision of superior infrastructure, provision of unobtrusive domestic and international security, and provision of a system for equitable conflict resolution, free of corruption, inefficiency and nepotism.

Clearly leftist beliefs are utopian but leftists much prefer the utopian to the dystopian.

While those on the right of the political spectrum, those who are labeled conservative, would seem to be the principal opponents of those on the left, that perspective is inaccurate.  Real conservatism is a procedure-based philosophy rather than one based on specific policies and its goals frequently coincide with those on the left of the political spectrum.  Conservatism is premised on a profound respect for consensus as a decision making mechanism, but consensus that takes into account the opinions of those who have preceded us as well as those yet unborn.  Consequently, the decision making process is characterized by inertia, making change difficult to attain and thus, solutions to problems difficult to implement.  Respect for tradition is an essential aspect of conservatism and that sometimes leads to perpetuation of mistakes and to an inability to deal equitably with changed circumstances, leading to calcified social and economic relationships.  On the other hand, it also prevents erroneous policy deviations and promotes the attainment of long term, strategic goals.

Libertarians are a difficult to place on the political spectrum.  Their underlying philosophy is based on the primacy of the individual and a deep distrust for accumulated political power, refusing to delegate any but a bare modicum of sovereignty to the state.  Consequently, they are perceived socially as leftists but economically as rightists, even insisting on adherence to the “gold standard” as the basis for monetary policies.  Like leftists, libertarians are anti-war, anti-foreign interventions, welcome unfettered immigration, oppose large expenditures on the military and oppose infringements on individual liberties and criminal sanctions for “victimless crimes but, like many conservatives, are opposed to taxes for collectivist social programs.  They were once a growing independent political movement in the United States and may still be the largest non-major formal political party, but their energy was zapped when many of their leaders were coopted into the “Liberty Caucus” of the GOP.  Minor leftist parties are numerous, but like cats, seemingly impossible to shepherd and thus, largely ineffectual.  The minority status of the foregoing has seemingly been made permanent through what they refer to as the corporate media’s “conspiracy of silence”, i.e., the deliberate policy of ignoring their candidates and policies as a result of which they are virtually unknown to the United States electorate, and that even when they are noticed, they are ridiculed or vilified (for drawing votes away from the corporate media’s preferred candidates).  Ironic given the United States’ electorates’ dissatisfaction with both major parties and the predominance of voters who reject being identified with either.

The real adversaries of the left, libertarian and right wings of the political spectrum are political pragmatists, those without any real beliefs but a strong imperative to accumulate and perpetuate power (political, economic, social and cultural).  Being free of principles, truth and consistency are not obstacles to the realization of their goals and thus they freely advocate principles which they have no intention of implementing if such advocacy advances their quest for power.  Consequently, they can proclaim admiration for democracy, pluralism, liberty, equality, equity, justice and peace while, through their actions, utterly subverting them all.  Power and the quest to accumulate anything and everything appear addictive and, as with most addictions, ignore long term consequences in favor of immediate gratification.  Thus, they are reactive rather than strategic.  The lack of principles make pragmatists operationally flexible, especially if they attain control of the means of mass communication and access to the principal sources of capital.  That confluence equates to dictatorial political power in societies that base their political systems on the appearance of democracy.  Such operational flexibility permits political pragmatists to coopt collectives from both the right and left wings of the political spectrum, as has occurred in the United States, and prior to that, in the United Kingdom, and like viruses, to propagate their power almost unchecked.  To them, dystopia is just fine (as dystopian authors like George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Yevgeny Zamiatin, Kazuo Ishiguro and many, many more, have warned).

In the United States, there are only two major political parties and neither is leftist.  The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party, although it is by far, the younger of the two), is a meld of right wing conservatives and libertarians with Deep State pragmatists while the Democratic Party is died in the wool Deep State pragmatist, but presenting itself as progressive and liberal in order to maintain its deluded power bases.  How deluded is exemplified by the reality that most African Americans vote for the Democratic Party, no matter what, regardless of the historical nature of the Democratic Party as the political party that opposed emancipation, which promoted the Ku Klux Klan, among other politically aberrant movements, as do feminists, regardless of the misogynist conduct of many of that party’s leaders (e.g., the Kennedys, Bill Clinton, etc.) and as do members of the auto-denominated LGBT communities.

One wonders at the naivety of the United States electorate, a collective generally comprised of decent people who espouse ethical and moral values, tend to be hard working and generous, but then, history teaches us that people with noble traditions can empower virtual monsters, as occurred with the German nation which from the world’s most socially progressive people during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, permitted the rise to leadership of the Nazis, and the Jewish nation, one of the world’s most enlightened populations from which evolved today’s Jewish State Zionists.  In each case, emotional manipulation overcame deeply rooted principles, as has occurred in the United States since the start of the twentieth century.

One wonders if the reverse can somehow be attained, i.e., whether an emotionally manipulated people can overcome the historic victories of the political pragmatists who now rule them by becoming cognitively aware of the realities concerning those who cultivate political, economic and social power through the quest for their votes.

Unlikely, I know, ….

But one can hope.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony.  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

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