There are deep problems with using left and right to describe politics and political alignment. I have attempted to lay out some of them below as they have occurred to me.
1. Left wing does not mean good or nice in politics. But the manner of use of this term is such that it is used as such.
2. Right wing does not mean bad or wicked. This is what happens when a term degenerates into a pejorative.
3. Left and Right are completely meaningless terms. How would anyone care to distinguish between left and right wing groups and ideas?
There have been plenty of left wing tyrannies, which have enforced gender roles, oppressed minorities etc.
4. We cannot usefully draw upon these terms from the French Revolution without twisting ourselves in knots. How is one to classify the sides in the Revolution? From which stage are we marking our delineation of these terms?
Pre-Revolutionary France with the liberals against the established aristocracy, clergy and monarchy? This is flawed by the knowledge that much of the French aristocracy and clergy were liberal in view and ignores the conflict in ideas between the influence of the English school and Voltaire on the one hand and the revolutionary school of thought of Rousseau on the other.
Do we then take our starting point from early revolutionary France? Here unfortunately we once again meet a triangular pattern of resistance to our hope.
We have the monarchy and its die-hard supporters, we have the constitutionalists of the moderates and then we also have the rapidly emerging revolutionary hard-liners, whose vision was of blood. We can add a fourth element if we consider the wider country as the bulk of political ferment was in and around Paris.
Or do we draw our starting point from deep Revolutionary France with the cult of Reason (nothing of the sort), the Terror (mass execution of political enemies including their families) and the suppression of revolutionary freedom and the freedom given to the most bestial aspect of human nature by the supporters of the Revolutionary Terror?
The French Revolution does not supply a useful basis for defining Left and Right.
The term in question is unable to describe the encompased object. Where would one place a classical liberal? Is left wing tied explicitely to social welfare and right wing to free market economics? Is right wing tied explicitely national feeling? In which case how would one classify the 1945 Labour government, which made a strong attempt to hold onto the Empire and tried to prevent the end of the Palestinian Mandate and which covertly sided with the pro-fascist Arab regimes in the 1948 war?
Yet this was the government of the welfare state, the post-war education system and the NHS.
We need to abandon this debased political terminology.
I have been much more inclined towards Hayek’s idea of politics as a triangle, where the middle ground is the location of political action and is determined by the ‘energy’ of the three corners; Conservatism, Liberalism and Collectivism.
Under this system the National Socialists and the Communists can be easily aligned as ‘collectivist’ ideologies since both;
A. Reject tradition.
B. Insist upon the primacy of the group over the individual.
C. Insist upon a group or collective goal towards which society must move (utopia).
Under this terminology we can actually usefully analyse the French and other Revolutions. All modern revolutions tend towards collectivism in one degree of primacy or another.
The United States was established as a Liberal State and this remains dominant to this day.
The modern Russian state is a conservative state. It is run for the benefit of a narrow gangster-elite but publically predicates its values upon memory of Russian imperial greatness and the bastardised memory of Soviet ‘order’.
China is a conservative state. The focus of the rulers is upon maintaining the political status quo. Conservatism does not lack its own dynamism but one would suggest that the economic focus is increasingly liberal but that the social and political remain steadfastly conservative.
I hope this of some help.
The Wikileaks crowd are a classical bunch of fringe Western collectivists. They hail from the anarchist tradition which I contend remains collectivist, as the individual (properly enlightened!) is expected to carry out the true Will of the Group.
These bunch of clowns are opposed to Western Liberal society and behave in an Idealist fashion, insisting on the primacy of will over pragmatism. This is why they could not resist the offer implicit in Bradley Manning’s leak to attack the USA.
Myself and others have remarked upon the discrepancy between Wikileaks stated goals and the lack of focus (shared with many Western NGOs) on the eastern tyrannies (Russia, the satelite states, China, the Arab states) on the non-Anglospheric world.
These are self-conscious ‘actors’ committed to attacking their very source of freedom in a mode of cultural discontent.
I find it at the very least interesting that Assange has built himself a cult of personality around and within Wikeaks and has no permanent address. What I would give to read some Freudian analysis on that subject!