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Thread: What is the left/right divide?

  1. #1

    Default What is the left/right divide?

    Hello Dissensus,
    This is my first post on here and I haven't really got to grips with this forum yet, but I thought I good way to get a feel for the place would be to ask people what their thoughts were on the political distinction between left and right wing.
    It's something I've thought about a lot. I got an MA in Ideology and Discourse Analysis from Essex uni in 2015 and I am often surprised by the ubiquity with which the distinction is used, despite the fact that people seem to mean totally different thing by using the division all of the time.
    This has led me to think that the distinction is basically unhelpful, divisive and lacking in coherent meaning...
    Depending on who you are it seems to me that the left-right divide could refer to a number of different dichotomies, but the specifics of this distinction are never made explicit by those who use it... even among political theorists, thinkers and philsophers.
    Does it refer to the distinction between Capital vs anti-capital? Neoliberalism vs Keynesian economics? Authority vs the Polis? The oppressor vs the oppressed? Reactionaries vs Social Justice Warriors?
    If we cant agree on what the distinction consists of, is it a helpful distinction to use?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004


    First off, welcome to the forum!

    The left-right divide is always pretty incomprehensible, and especially so in current times, without subdivision into social and economic. I think you could get pretty far in plotting different parties' positions on these two axes, to understand the trends in Europe at least.

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    The Fear - Dublin


    Increasingly I think its about complexity vs simplicity.

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  7. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by baboon2004 View Post
    I think you could get pretty far in plotting different parties' positions on these two axes, to understand the trends in Europe at least.
    Thanks for the feedback! I not convinced that plotting out these different positions would really teach us much... Increasingly I just find it a waist of time to think in these terms, it feels like we end up splitting a lot of political debates into two wings for the sake of convenience and simplicity despite none of us having a stable understanding of what constitutes thats split. And I think that splitting necersarily ends up dividing whatever we define the 'left and right' to be in whatever context we apply it to.
    I don't see how its helpful any more in political discourse, so perhaps those of us who want to help overcome these distinctions should be more conscious not to use divisive terms like these...

  8. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    complexity vs simplicity.
    Agreed, dichotomy is on the side of simplicity, and the real political context is always on the side of complexity.
    I find it somewhat irritating when I see even political commentators who love to delve into the complexities of things (Zizek, for example) uncritically describing themselves as a 'leftist' despite the fact that this identification both simplifies complex realitites and potentially alienates him and his ideas from those who have a less favorable understanding of 'leftism'.

  9. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Default the scariest bit of it imho is this breaking down of traditional left/right (article by etonian tanky obvs)

  10. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    The right wing wear Jack Jones sweaters.

    The left wing like swing dancing.

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