What does it mean to be left-wing or right-wing?

Are ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ opposing ideologies?

PANDA’s Nick Hudson argues that these are false dichotomies worthy of being spring-cleaned.

History of the terms

The terms ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ came from the French Revolution in 1789.

They were based on where politicians sat in the French National Assembly. Those against King Louis XVI’s power (the anti-royalist revolutionaries) sat on the left side of the presiding officer.

The conservative (aristocratic supporters of the monarchy) sat on the right.

The French National Assembly under King Louis XVI

This led to the use of ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ as political terms.

Over time, the terms became common in French politics and then spread globally. By the mid-19th century, political parties in France were identifying themselves as centre-left, centre-right, extreme left, and extreme right.

But as Nick points out, hundreds of years have passed and, as such, the phrases are now clumsy and outdated.

Why the dichotomy is false

Simply, the political divide between ‘left’ and ‘right’ is meaningless because the real conflict is not between these political sides, but between the oligarchs and the ‘useless eaters’ (which is how the oligarchs view us).

In other words, the illegitimate authorities and the rest of us.

Up versus down, instead of left versus right.

Consider that politicians, regardless of their ‘left’ or ‘right’ stance, often serve the same interests. For example, both the Democratic and Republican parties in the US have overlapping policies. In fact,

  • both adopt ‘neoliberal’ economic policies favouring corporate interests,
  • both engage in military interventions and support wars,
  • both are influenced by corporate interests and the deep state,

And the media does a great job at reinforcing their ‘differences’, masking their identical vectors.

The fake binary creates a clever division and distracts people from shared values and issues that matter.

Another way of looking at it is that separating people through a left-right dichotomy perpetuates a psychological operation to maintain the illusion of a legitimate political system, involving manipulating people into distrusting one other based on political labels, shifting focus away from those in power.

Divide et impera.

Julius Ceasar, circa 60 BC, translated: ‘Divide and conquer.’

Regarding the words ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’, the principle is much the same, says Nick, adding that the spectrums are nonsensical; conservatism is not actually the opposite of liberalism.

Here’s my conversation with Nick.

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