Thursday, December 03, 2015

Going to Extremes

I was first introduced to the concept of the Political Spectrum back in university, specifically in a political science class. Now, we're all adults who have been around for awhile, so we know that it goes like this.


Classical liberals are somewhat from the centre to the moderate left, while conservatives occupy the centre to the moderate right. In fact, there is little difference between many liberals and conservatives since they can both be near the centre. People who line up this way, near the centre, can switch their allegiance from one election to the next. For example: I have voted both ways in the past.

At a certain point, however, those on the left can become more radical and those on the right can become more reactionary until you could end up with communists on one side and fascists on the other.

I used to run a little questionnaire with my World Issues class to see where we all would fit on the spectrum. We were Canadians, so most of us would be near the centre but slightly on the left. However, there would usually be a few outliers. Of course, I don't know how valid the questionnaire was. For example: how far left are you if you are pro choice and anti death penalty? And how far right are you if you are anti choice but pro death penalty?

Using this model, it seems that moderate liberals and moderate conservatives may not be very different but that the extreme left and extreme right are poles apart.

But here is another view of the spectrum that shows that the extremes can be much alike although they get there from different directions.



In terms of political ideologies, both communism and fascism regimes were totalitarian: that is, the leaders decided what was right and good for the country, and the populace had better keep in step. Or else.

But let us forget about political systems and think about current societal trends. Most of us, whether we lean slightly left or slightly right, are probably fairly moderate. For example: neither side likely wants runaway capitalism without checks and balances and with no consideration for the common person. Both moderate sides would support a certain amount of welfare and taxation although they might disagree on just how much.

But there are alarming trends of extremism. Although those of the farther right supposedly want less state control, they are perfectly on board with controlling women's rights, for example. They love the idea of religious freedom just as long as it is their religion that gets to make the rules. So, it is seen as wrong when public prayer is discontinued in schools, but they would be aghast if that prayer would be directed to another deity. It seems they would be happy to drag the country into conflict after conflict although no conflict ever seems to be resolved acceptably.

Then there is the far left which has exhibited some alarming thought on college campuses. I speak of the ultra politically correct movement which, in the name of political correctness, tries to control what people can and cannot say. They will do their best to insure that speakers who don't align with their views are barred from speaking on their campuses. They want to be kept safe in their cocoons from scary ideas that don't line up with their own. For example: anyone who critiques Islam in the slightest way is labelled as an Islamophobe and is shut down as vociferously as possible, even if they were or are muslims. So much for free speech, which is only free as long as it lines up with their views.

Extremism isn't where most of us are at, but, unfortunately, we tend to get pulled one way or the other. Here in Canada, there was a time when I would happily vote Conservative. But when they moved farther right, I seemed to move to the left although I didn't really change but we were just farther apart. I think in the USA, many slightly right-leaning voters have been pulled farther right because they can't bring themselves to vote Democrat even though they may not feel comfortable with the direction of the Republican party.

I have no great conclusion to draw from my mental meanderings. I have just been reminded recently of how alike the extreme left and right are and how much I dislike how the rest of tend to be pulled in one direction of the other. That is all I want to say at the moment.





9 comments:

EG CameraGirl said...

I enjoyed this post very much, AC. It truly is amazing how people on either extreme are so intolerant of people unlike themselves and how controlling they tend to be. I guess I must be in the middle somewhere too.

Marie Smith said...

I too have voted for different parties over the years. The extremes are noticeable these days for sure. Hate speech is tolerated on one side and freedom of speech is questioned on the other. Where is it all headed? It is interesting times!

Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Food for thought this morning, John...food for thought.
Have a wonderful day!

Donna said...

The things I ask of our President is to simply follow the Constitution...Protect the Nation....get out of our way and allow us, We the People, to run our own lives...Stop getting into other country's business...stop making war for money...take care of our Veterans...get out of our healthcare...get out of our bedrooms...stop with the micromanaging...
The list is a long one...I could go on...
I may be more Libertarian than Conservative these days...I'm still processing things. But one thing I do know, I pray that the next President that is elected Loves this country. Someone who tries to bring us together instead of tearing us apart...
There's a bad wind blowing here...so yes, God help us.
hughugs

Country Gal said...

It was this tight knit crap that started wars in the first place with countries against them selves and their governments ! I am with Donna on this one The states Government has gotten so ridiculous . Ours isn't much better either as Trudeau has already gone back on one of things he said he wouldn't do with child care , he having Nannies for his kids and expecting us the people to pay for them ! I knew he would go back on his word they all do ! It is all just a bunch of crap and BS as far as I am concerned .

Ginnie said...

The way things are going down here in the States makes me want to head north ... up your way, AC ! I'm afraid that the entire world is in for a very rough time.

troutbirder said...

Amazing. I taught 12th grade Social Studies for over 25 used and developed the same chart and analysis. Which only proves great minds must think along similar lines....:)

Tabor said...

I wonder if this is still taught in schools or do teachers get into trouble and therefore walk a very careful line? Where on this scale does socialist fit? I am pretty liberal when it comes to social issues and do not want to run others lives, but I also do not need see some of the far liberal stuff which is just obnoxious. I am a BIG proponent of free speech, even if it is something I hate to hear.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I agree that the world is in a sorry state and every time I hear candidates and even the President talking I want to run and hide. I know that won't dos any good and won't solve the problems we face, but doesn't seem like any solutions are forthcoming and people are being killed. I do not consider myself in favor of violence, but somehow bombing the country these radical groups call "home" doesn't seem such a terrible choice.