At the time of the general election earlier this year, the membership level of the Labour party (which, despite protestations of the leadership and the media, has been at least centre-Right since 1995) was around 200,000. Four months later, and Labour has a new leader, one who is noticeably at least centre-Left (again, despite protestations of the wannabe-leadership and the media); and the membership of the Labour party has swollen to about 550,000. Just from the simple fact that a Left-leaning leader could become leader has meant that the Labour party has grown to two-and-three-quarter times its’ size one third of a year ago.
The refugee crises, that has been building largely un-noticed in the Middle East for several years, has finally reached the point where even the most insular and xenophobic newspapers cannot ignore it. There are somewhere in the region of 3 million refugees fleeing war in Syria, Israel, Turkey, South Sudan, and Nigeria, and almost all of them are washing up tired, hungry, and half-dead on the shores of southern Europe, in places where there is no economic or legislative infrastructure to deal with them – or certainly at the level of numbers that are arriving every week. And what has been the response of the governments of countries not directly affected by this flood of humanity? In only one or two cases has it been to say, “welcome!”. Most governments have said they will accept a few thousand, maybe a couple of tens-of-thousands. Others have closed the borders, erected fences, and called in riot police and the army. The highly Right-wing Conservative government of David Cameron has, after putting up fences and making noises about sending in the army, and now that it has no option left unless it wants a mass insurrection here at home, decided to accept a token amount of refugees – 4,000 a year until the end of this parliament. And yet, independent of government, hundreds of thousands of British citizens have offered to house refugees in their homes, have sent (taken personally, sometimes) hundreds of tons of food and material aid to the squalid camp that no government wants to take responsibility for at Calais, where thousands of refugees are trying to get into a country that will officially hate and persecute them.
These are just two examples from recent news. Examples of what?
Why, examples that the Right-leaning view of things, the free-market nationalistic tubthumping and didactic view of things, is (or has become) obsolete, of course! Obsolete, irrelevant, not fit for purpose, un-competitive.
Government will, always, be necessary. The fact that we are all individuals with our own minds, our own opinions, and our own circumstances will see to that. Get rid of government, and you have anarchy. With anarchy, nothing matters except what you can take yourself and keep, there are no limits to what you can do, and no limits to what others can do to you. You want a loaf of bread? Take it, no need to pay. You want to be able to eat that loaf of bread? Then you have to fight off the baker, and everyone else who also wants a loaf of bread that sees you on your journey home.
So, government is necessary. And for the last 37-odd years, government has been swinging to the Right. But now it has swung too far, and people are realising that they can accomplish more, exhibit compassion and concern, help those less fortunate than themselves, if they act on their own accord and ignore their Right-wing, self-centred, greedy and corrupt government.
While I may have mentioned before that the traditional Left-Right view of politics is out of date, and that a more accurate depiction of modern political variance would be a compass, those who are in power champion what they like to call the traditional way of doing things, even if they don’t clearly understand what that actually means. Consequently, those in power still think politics is a simple Left-Right battleground, and to engage in debate with them successfully you have to understand what their point of view is, otherwise they will simply decide that you have no common frame of reference with them and your argument can be safely dismissed.
So, what are the defining features of the traditional Left-Right view of a political spectrum? Well, firstly, you have the importance of the individual vs the importance of the state. Ummm, no, doesn’t work; Hitler was Right-wing, and he subsumed the individual into the state just as enthusiastically as Stalin did. Alright then, what about the importance of self-reliance and achievement vs knowing that there’s a safety net there if you need it? That’s closer to how the Right see things. The Right insist that every person must exercise themselves to their full potential to achieve everything they can, and if they don’t become millionaires living their dream – well, they must be lazy, unimaginative and careless. It’s every man for themselves, and the Devil take the hindmost. The Left propose that if you can’t make it to the top, or even the middle, for whatever reason, the rest of society will be there to make sure you don’t drop below where you started.
That is the broad thrust of the over-arching viewpoints of the Left and the Right. The Left will champion the rights of workers (the right to have a secure job, the right to have a job that pays enough to live on not in poverty, the right to be safe at work, whether from abuse by members of the public or bosses or from disease or unnecessary risk of accident), whereas the Right will champion the importance of employers being able to make a profit (which they can’t do to the maximum amount when having to pay their employees enough to live on, and not firing them at a moment’s notice, and having to make sure the machines they use are properly maintained, and so on). The Left will say that industry and business must be held accountable for any environmental and societal damage they do and prevented from doing any more, whereas the Right will proclaim that businesses that have to worry about regulations and responsibilities cannot perform efficiently and must be allowed to operate however they see fit no matter who suffers (because you can guarantee it won’t be them). The Left tell us that society benefits as a whole if society is guaranteed to provide for those who cannot participate in it (for reasons of health, age, disability, family commitments, etc), but the Right say that those who fall behind are to be left behind in order for society to function properly.
And now, people are educated enough, and aware enough, that the Right is no longer right. The Right is no longer viable. The Right is no longer relevant. It is obvious from the Right’s outlook (accurately, if loosely, described above) that there is no place for compassion, empathy, concern for the dignity of other people, altruism, or personal self-sacrifice on the Right. And since no sane person ever likes to think of themselves as a complete moral bastard, those on the Right tell themselves lies to justify their actions to themselves, then tells those lies to others in order to gain a veneer of respectability and acceptance. Of course, no society would accept this without some degree of imposition from above, so the Right cloak their cruelty and carelessness in authority and falsehoods, leading to state-sanctioned victimisation and bullying.
And now, with the modern ease of access to information, people are beginning to realise just how evil the Right are – and thus their irrelevance when concern and compassion and self-sacrifice are needed. And they are needed every day.