I’m Mr. Beat Let’s watch some people talk about politics! Shall we? Secular Talk: Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens the Right Wing superstars went on Fox News and what they did was spew the most boring, banal Right Wing talking points I’ve ever heard. PragerU: They spin out hour after hour of slickly produced Left Wing propaganda. Stanford: And those people more or less have systematically been ignored by people on the right hand side and the left hand side of the political spectrum. TED: Yeah, on the right conservatives, you’re always talking about taxes regulations, and big government. and on the left, liberals, talking economics, it’s always about income inequality, right? TEDx Talks: The divide between the left and the right is as bad as it’s been really in any of our lifetimes. You know what? I’m not sure all these people have the same definitions of The Left or The Right. What do people mean when they say that they are “right wing” or “left wing?” Well the whole political spectrum that gave us left versus right began during the French Revolution. Not that long ago. For more about this, I’m going to send you to Mr. Barris from the channel This is Barris! He’s going to get into the history of why we have these terms. Go ahead Barris. Yeah. Mr. Barris: Thank you for having me over Mr. Beat! To discover the origins of the left v right paradigm, one must go as far as 1789 with the creation of the National Constituent Assembly, whose main task was to draft a constitution. Now, while France is proudly republican today and any trace of royalty has long been guillotined away, that wasn’t always the case and a large portion of the population supported the King, or at least those who represented that population. As such when on November 11th, 1789, the assembly had to vote on whether the constitution would grant the King an absolute veto or a partial veto, those who favored an absolute veto were asked to sit on the right of the President of the Assembly and those who favored a partial veto, which was the more radical position, were asked to sit on the left. This wasn’t done symbolically but… to make the vote count easier for the President of the Assembly who felt a bit overwhelmed by the 1,500 deputies. And just like that, France started this idea of change vs tradition, of liberalism vs conservatism which still shapes the political landscape to this day! In the following months, the deputies would maintain that distinction not out of ideology but rather necessity as the Baron de Gauville explained, “We began to recognize each other: those who were loyal to religion and the king took up positions to the right of the chair so as to avoid the shouts, oaths, and indecencies that enjoyed free rein in the opposing camp.” Furthermore, those who were on the same side of the political spectrum were far from having the same ideologies – it is often forgotten that the French revolution started as a Bourgeois revolution. The Bourgeois were somewhat republicans and thus considered left wing. However, most Bourgeois also supported free-market reforms and liberalism, in the classical sense, and thus when you have proto-communists like Gracchus Babeuf who were also considered leftwing, because, well, the alternative meant support of the king, you get why this might be problematic right? It would take another century before the left vs right spectrum became popular outside of France. In the beginning of the 20th century, as revolutions were sprouting across the world, the press and academics needed a quick way to categorize the different ideologies that were fighting each other, especially as these ideologies, both left and right, became increasingly radical. For example, the Bolsheviks, who loved anything related to the French revolution, immediately embraced the leftwing versus rightwing spectrum. Although, they considered themselves the centrist position. In England, however, it took longer to become popular and books only started referencing it in the late 1920s. Adoption in the US was just as slow but eventually, as partisanship increased in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement, the idea of a left vs right political spectrum cemented along the beliefs of both parties. And that’s it, Mr. Beat. That’s the story of how an overwhelmed President who needed an easier way to count his deputies ended up creating a system which now allows Millennials to simply dismiss their uncle as a racist right-winger while he dismisses them as triggered left wing snowflakes. Mr. Beat: Well thank you, Mr. Barris What about today? Eh? Well, often the political spectrum looks something like this. On the left side of politics, you tend to see ideas like liberty, equality (aka egalitarianism), progress, and internationalism. On the right side of politics, you tend to see ideas like authority, hierarchy, tradition, and nationalism. On the left, you often see reform, while on the right, you often see reaction. Those on the left tend to want MORE government involvement to make society better. They want it more top down. While those on the right tend to want LESS government involvement to make society better. They want it bottom up. Ideas on the left are often called “liberal” and ideas on the right are often called “conservative.” Of course, these generalizations are incredibly misleading, which is why this political spectrum is pretty much crap. I mean, rarely do folks fit neatly on one side or the other. For example, a person might think the government generally screws everything up when it gets too involved, yet absolutely hates nationalism or hierarchy. Often folks find themselves caught up with this weird label called “centrism” because they fall somewhere in between. However, most people fall “in between” on most issues. Hey, can we get a better political spectrum up in here please? Thanks. Ok, what’s this one? Oh yes, this one was developed in the 1950s by a psychologist named Hans Eysenck. He noticed that there was something similar going on with the Nazis, who were supposed to be on the right end of the spectrum, and communist dictators, who were supposed to be on the left end of the spectrum. So he came up with these two spectrums, an R-factor, representing “Radicalism”, and T-factor, representing “Tender-Mindedness.” Needless to say, Eysenck’s diagram had its critics. In particular, this dude. Another psychologist named Milton Rokeach, who argued the big difference between the left and right was basically that the left stressed equality more. Needless to say, Eysenck later adapted his chart to look like this, bringing an S-factor spectrum, which followed economic beliefs. Around that same time, the Nolan Chart, developed by a libertarian activist named David Nolan, became a handy way for people to quickly see where they fell politically by looking at a personal freedom spectrum and an economic freedom spectrum. Yep, that’s about where Nolan would have been on his own chart. And yes, today it’s still heavily used in libertarian circles. The Vosem chart was a three-axis version of the Nolan chart and looks like this. Woah. That one looks complicated. Other two-axis charts include the Pournelle chart, developed by this dude, Jerry Pournelle. On one axis it looks at people’s attitudes toward the government, or as he said “the state.” On the other, people’s attitudes toward social progress. But wait a second, how do you define “social progress,” though? Over the years, there have been TONS of political spectrum charts, like this one, and this one, and more three-axis versions like this one. But the problem is, people won’t stop fighting about which chart is the best. Most of the debate centers over which axis or axes to include for each one. Wait a second, the plural of axis is axes? What the heck? Anyway, additional axes include
communitarianism vs. individualism, no separation of church and state vs. complete separation of church and state, interventionist foreign policy vs. non-interventionist foreign policy, multilateralism vs. unilateralism, globalization vs. protectionism, pacifism vs. militarism, and centralism vs. regionalism. That’s a lot of isms. Again, odds are, almost ALL of you are somewhere in the middle on ALL of these spectrums. So where do YOU fall on the political spectrum as a whole? That’s right. YOU. With the yellow shirt. Well, I think it depends on the issue. It’s not static. Chances are, you are constantly moving around on the spectrum, and that’s probably a good thing because it shows that you have a more open mind. If you want to know where you stand at any given time, I personally recommend the Political Compass. It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty good start figuring out where you stand politically. There is also Isidewith.com, which does a decent job of matching you up with politicians you should probably vote for. But calling someone or yourself Right Wing or Left Wing, which really didn’t start happening frequently in the United States until the 1920s, by the way, is almost always an oversimplification. Whenever someone says “The Left” or “The Right” or “left wing” or “right wing,” ask them what they mean when they say that. Chances are, you ask different people, they’ll give you different answers. I think those terms…left and right can do more harm than good. And probably it’s time to get rid of them. Well, what do you think Mr. Barris? Yeah, let’s get rid of them because unless you are a filthy royalist, we are all technically leftwing here. And you aren’t a royalist Mr. Beat, right?… right? Ok then. And thanks for helping me make this video, Mr. Barris. Be sure you check out his channel This is Barris! It’s exclusively about French history. And it’s an amazing resource. So what do YOU think about political spectrums? Are there actually any good ones out there? What about that Political Compass Test I was telling you about? Do you like that one? Let me know in the comments below and thank you for watching.