November 10, 2012

Left vs. Right

Filed under: Corporatism, Freedom, Globalization, Marx, Neo-feudalism, Peak Oil — Russ @ 5:08 am


Is this spectrum meaningful? Was it ever? On what basis?
In my search for a rigorous definition, a while ago I settled on: “Left” and “Right” are different factions arguing over how to divvy up the oil surplus and the general wealth of oil-driven industrialization. The distinction doesn’t seem to work very well for pre-oil periods. I’ve read a lot on Ancient Greece and Rome, for example, and find it difficult to read this dichotomy back into those times and places.
So the Left-Right thing is a feature of modernity. (The definition of “modern”: The unique period of ahistorically high energy consumption on account of the fossil fuel drawdown.) It has little validity for normal pre-oil history, and will likely have little for the post-oil resumption of normality. It follows that this distinction will also have little validity for the relocalization and Food Freedom movement, since these are on the vector of normal history. Sure enough, Food Freedom cuts across conventional Left-Right boundaries in rejecting both government and corporate hierarchies, rejecting the entire “public-private” dichotomy as fraudulent, rejecting all centralized false culture from country-based patriotism to liberal “multiculturalism”, while respecting the precedents of traditional community life including and especially the tribal cultures of indigenous peoples. Those are a few examples. I’d also say that the gathering global civil war between humanity and those who wish to force humanity to literally ingest nothing but poison is an eschatology vastly transcending and dwarfing all the picayune squabbles of “left” vs. “right”.
Speaking of which, Left vs. Right was also often an argument over how to divvy up the fruits of crime as well, since most Westerners of either ideological persuasion agreed in principle on the total exploitation of the non-Western world. 
What are core Left principles? For me, for example, any meaningful distinction has to divide between pro- and anti-globalization. Is anti-globalization a left principle? Not historically – communism and liberalism have always been pro-globalization in principle. Industrial organic, “fair trade”, “sustainable development”, all are beloved of liberals and various motley radical chic-ists. While it can be argued that liberalism was always a “right”-tending ideology, to argue that industrial communism wasn’t “leftist” would seem bizarre. Certainly, there are anti-communist forms of socialism. But communism must surely be part of “the left”, if that term’s to have any historical meaning at all. But since it was pro-globalization, it also proves that “left-right” is not sufficient to humanity’s needs, since humanity needs to dissolve the globalist tyranny.
Is environmental stewardship a Left principle? It wasn’t for communism in practice. Indeed, for all the attempts of Monthly Review and others to reinvent Marx himself as caring about stewardship, this clearly wasn’t a mainstream element of his philosophy. But this stewardship principle is clearly part of humanity’s great need.
Those are just two examples of how “the Left” is insufficient for humanism, democracy, and freedom. That “the Right” hates those things was always self-evident.
So it’s pumping a dry well to keep framing things in terms of this obsolete, oil-dependent, and morally insufficient dichotomy. We seek a whole new politics which in many ways shall be old politics, but fertilized with the freedom and democracy ideology which was one of the two great gifts of modernity (the other was modern organic agroecological science).
Here’s some ways of expressing the only meaningful spectrum today:
Democracy vs. elitism.
Freedom vs. enclosure.
Natural abundance vs. artificial scarcity.
Democracy vs. corporatism.
Humanity vs. corporations.



  1. Left vs Right is simplistic but still a very valid dicotomy. The Right is the party of power (the elites) and obscurantism (the lies of religion and propaganda), the Left is the party of the people/solidarity and science/truth.

    It is true that there is some Left, too attached to certain 19th century kind of vision, which is insensible to the issues of environmentalism, etc. It is of course also true that there are different sensibilities in every faction, different degrees of radicalism, different sectoral viewpoints. And, even if you did not state it, it is also true that there is a Right dressed as Left and most of the electoral “left” (Democrats in the USA, “Socialists” in Europe) are such thing: violin parties sustained by the sociological Left but played by the same old ugly and parasitic elites that embody the Right.

    But the dicothomy is still valid in the essence: people vs oligarchs, Left vs Right.

    Comment by Maju — November 10, 2012 @ 6:07 am

    • But that’s not how it’s been in practice. And if what might be called “the true Left” – true anarchists and such – is so miniscule as to be practically non-existent, then wouldn’t that also mean the distinction has no real value left to maintain, and becomes merely inflammatory?

      My premise is that we have to get beyond such obsolete formulations. It is indeed humanity vs. elites. Since the existing political terminology is too corrupt to clearly and reliably delineate this war, we need to return to simple language like that statement itself, and then elaborate the new movement philosophy from such beginnings.

      Comment by Russ — November 10, 2012 @ 8:10 am

  2. I’m enjoying the focused posts, Russ. I find your “natural abundance v. artificial scarcity” the most valid formulation. Too many of the other formulations include loaded words, i.e., democracy, freedom and humanity, that can mean different things to different people (this is a theme I’ve harped on before). For example, the elites are part of humanity. “Humanity v. corporations” doesn’t work for me because corporations are, for all practical purposes, humanity, as well. After all, corporations don’t think for themselves, or act by themselves. Corporations don’t exist except in our minds. They’re a fiction designed to allow the elites to avoid being accountable to society at large.

    The reason I find the abundance/scarcity formulation compelling is that it hints at the motivations of the elites and the effect of the elites’ actions on the masses.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 10, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

    • Thanks Tao. That’s why I offer several formulations (I have dozens listed in my notes, but selected the ones I find most typical and powerful). Whichever the reader/activist likes best.

      I also think the natural abundance vs. artificial scarcity truth is one of the most potent, since notions like how economics is about allocating scarce resources, the necessity of “competition”, that corporatism and big structures are “efficient” at distribution, the whole Social Darwinist/Malthusian apparatus, are among the basic lies common to left/right/liberal/conservative. Those are bedrock elements of status quo ideology which lots of people “know” but which ain’t so. So everywhere we should meet any and every hint that there’s such a thing as scarcity as an absolute problem with the aggressive retort that corporatism imposes a far worse artificial scarcity on every resource, good, and service. This includes even Peak Oil.

      (Part of why I stopped hanging out at Peak Oil sites and forums is that peak oilers like to wallow in masochistic notions of absolute energy scarcity, and don’t like to be disturbed with reminders that since corporatism artificially makes any scarcity far more severe, a necessary part of any “prepping” is anti-corporate political organization.)

      Since corporations act in evil ways, and therefore are evil, and since they don’t exist except in our minds, humanity must abolish them. We must start by rejecting their legitimacy, prerogatives, and right to exist.

      Comment by Russ — November 10, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

    • Hi Tao
      Hope all is well…Been a while since I posted.sorry I have been extremely busy ..But I Thought this one was much needed one and worth the discussion…seems we have been subjected to every possible deviation and combination of labels. yes we have good wealthy people and some good corporations etc…..causing confusion. My intent in joining is to try to may sense of it with in the group..I have been reading for the first time The history of western civilization by Bertrand Russell… and in the first part he describes the Ancient philosophy of Aristotle and Aristotle had his definition of what all seek as human as the magnanimous man…It occurred to me after I read his definition …(it is a little different than what we find in Websters) … that perhaps we should define what we think a magnanimous man should be and all try to be that definition …

      maybe Russ has an opinion on this already…being the I am new to the blog it is rather difficult for me to read and catch up…

      In our previous discussions I had mentioned that I was interested in cognitive science and believe you indicated the same interest. One book I read a few years back was on “why we hate” by Rush Dozier . Rush tell us that while love is blind and you can not talk anyone out of their love…. that hate is blind too, and we can not talk anyone out of their hate..In my opinion this is our problem…. the hate that Democrat and republicans have for each other has polarized our government. and it makes no difference what each other says they will not agree because of that hate and is why we are now so confused as they try and flip flop to get something the work the other side simply hates the other and will not agree.

      The reason I suggest we do this is because It seems that for now the dilemma we face is in defining someone or thing as good or bad and getting our elected officials to put aside there hate of one another and to be magnanimous and work together…That would help us to achieve the great ideas we have seen discussed in this blog.. But this is merely my opinion perhaps the rest of the group has a different one…it would seem to me that this is where we need a third part comprised of magnanimous men to run for office to get us out of the quagmire..does that make sense?

      Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 11, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

      • Hey, Dave,

        All is well. Thanks. I clearly have become comfortable with my hypocrisy as I find myself actually enjoying being an officer of a public company again. What makes this time different for me, though, is that I’m aware of the surreality within which I immerse myself on a daily basis, and I do my best to educate the innocents around me as to what this means for them.

        I’d argue that there is no such thing as a “good corporation,” although I’d be prepared to argue against myself for certain privately owned corporations who employ the corporate form merely to compete. Publicly-traded corporations are at best neutral, and most likely that’s because they are failing to live up to “investor” expectations.

        You see, the concepts of evil and good describe actions, not states. People can only be described as evil or good based on the body of their actions, which indicate the magnitude and direction of their intentions.

        I am very interested in cognitive science. It was my minor at MIT. I think it has its limitations, though, as does anything that derives from the Western tradition, which seeks to describe all reality as a moment captured in amber. Again, reality is dynamic, not static.

        Speaking of which, over the weekend I discovered Heidegger and his Being and Time, which I view as an incredibly long-winded way of describing my basic thesis of fractal cognition. Of course, Heidegger was burdened by the anchor of the Western Philosophy that preceded him. He was really at a loss for words because the language of philosophy was so corrupted that he could not adequately express himself.

        I think you may be barking up the wrong tree with this hate/love thing. I can’t speak for Russ, but I don’t really care that much about the followers’ emotions when I know the leaders of the “opposing” parties collude with one another to sell out their bases. What I object to is that dynamic, which you don’t seem to see. By and large, the elected officials don’t hate each other. They’re play-acting for the masses, appealing to their emotions and biases to achieve a barely hidden agenda set to deliver the exact opposite of what their followers demand and expect.

        Magnanimous men won’t save us, Dave. Not as long as the conception of “State” implies a hierarchy that enslaves the masses for the benefit of a tiny few (of which I’m not a part, even at my relatively lofty position). What sets mankind apart is its ability to cooperate, its ability to divide the labor of society to accomplish great things. The problem is that the current division of labor is mandated from above by an unknown few who reap the vast majority of benefits of what mankind as a whole creates. As a species, we need to find a way to jettison the duplicitous command structure that rules our lives. We won’t survive otherwise.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 12, 2012 @ 12:43 am

      • thanks Tao always enjoy your comments and perspectives . Yes the politicians may be pay acting but the play acting is not to the benefit of the masses. The Descartes error is alive and well as we know that emotions are how we decide. Bottom line is we act on things we care about the most even if it a selfish desire to stay alive by treading on others… end of the day we still must decide what its is we care about the most … and last time i checked we care about those we love and if we are not alive to do so it will not matter… It is my opinion there is something up the tree i am barking at and it just might be a surprise to find that it could be a solution. Humans as far as we know are the only ones that can express their emotions in the contexts of our society and those that are in it. In regards to your comment about corporation being bad .I agree it is not the corporations but rather the individuals that choose to run them and they create them with the rules they operate by.. so we must look in the mirror to see who is responsible and not many are willing to do this as we all think we are right and everybody else is wrong.. I hope I am not guilty here but the dilemma is to be right but we must realize we may not have all the information to make it 100% unless we call upon the help of others…even then I am not sure I will ever get to that 100% but I can try 100% to do so and that is my intent here… I still need to mull over your response more tonight as it is rich in regards to perspectives that are not part of my experiences…thanks again for sharing Dave

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 12, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

      • I’d argue that there is no such thing as a “good corporation,” although I’d be prepared to argue against myself for certain privately owned corporations who employ the corporate form merely to compete.

        Which is all the more reason we need to abolish the corporate form as such. Real entrepreneurs (I’m trying to figure out how to start an operation myself) would be better off if all businesses were the endeavors of actual people rather than abstract entities.


        Comment by Russ — November 12, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

      • Russ
        i am trying to figure this a way to do this myself. I recently had a the opportunity to attend a seminar on ownership thinking where Brad Hams presented a concept that I know will work in mfg. he has a book out called ownership thinking….It was an idea that if you allowed the workers an opportunity in lieu of a bonus check for efficiency gains you gave them the opportunity to buy a part of the company. It is not a Co-OP it is strictly for those that want to participate….its claim is that it ends the entitlement mentality and creates a culture of accountability purpose and profit…. In all corporations the goal is to make more money and beat the competition. My thoughts on this is that we do not have to own the markets we only need a part of it that supports our local community. The idea of amassing huge amounts of wealth is not a good idea and is fueled by high anxiety individuals who fear they will never have enough or they feel they must have total control and need power. regardless these individuals are driven and they are highly successful and aggressive and pursue what they need to satisfy there fear of unrequited want. they need to be removed from the system of sky is the limit …by applying a bridle to the amounts we can make.

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 12, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

      • Dave, is the goal of ALL corporations to make more money, and beat the competition ?
        Where did this idea come from ?
        Why do we continue to give lip service to this… belief that is not necessarily founded on accurate observation ?
        Why won’t we recognize that the lip service we give to this.. belief actually reinforces it, as if we wanted to reinforce it !!
        On my farmer’s market, although the sellers are sometimes selling identical food, and are theoretically in competition, each seller has HIS clientele… Can you imagine ? People who are in.. competition for the clientele are even friends !! (My God, can you imagine that ??)
        Most of the time, the prices are almost identical, but not quite..
        If you look at the farmer’s market as a microcosm for the way the economy COULD work… if we were not engaged in so much outsourcing, for example, then there are constraints, and natural limitations involved.
        And people’s motivation is not just to make the maximum profit. SOME people want to make as much money as possible, but not all…(Here we get back to that timeless question which will never go away… “how much is ENOUGH ?”)
        Dave… the magnanimous people you are talking about… there is a name for them. They are called… “the elite”. The… “noblesse”. In the best of cases…when they act in a responsible manner, and recognize the responsibilities (limits..) that their power entails. In the feudal society, the..lord negotiated his capacity to protect the vulnerable in exchange for the means to eat, for example. It was a trade off… and as such, perhaps more… democratic ? than what we have stuck in its place…(Last time I checked, Russ had not yet noticed just how… feudal his ideas are, maybe he is getting closer ?)
        “Elite” and “noblesse” are states of mind, and being, they are not primarily determined by the filthy lucre in somebody’s pocketbook, or raw power either.
        I learned something today which I should have learned a long time ago..
        The word “seigneur” (used also in French to speak of the Lord…) is etymologically related to… “senior”.
        The.. oldster…
        In a traditional society (and the feodal society had traditions…) the oldster is.. an elite. He is supposed to be wise, and give guidance to the young who are not as wise in the ways of the world.
        On left and right ?
        If you take a look at Michaelangelo’s painting in the Sixtine Chapel, you will notice that in that tremendous judicial operation which was called the last judgment, the, um, people on the left… they descended (into hell..) and the people on the right ? They went up.
        We have so integrated this topology that we still insist that the truth involves… being.. “right”…
        Some people may think that this.. perspective on the situation is cute and dated..
        Those people tend to forget that “the word” is immortal…
        The words call the tune…

        Comment by Debra — November 14, 2012 @ 9:57 am

      • WOW good stuff Debra…my mind has kicked in some endorphins reading this…it makes me smile…thanks

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 14, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

      • by the way. DEB ..glocalazation not globalization is a concept I am working with so it supports your concept..I will write more tonight as I have time.. have a wonderful day

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 14, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

      • Hi Debra
        I am back…the discussion on labels is an interesting one as we look to define and label most things with “WORDS” …what I am seeing in regards that to those that contribute to this blog are ideas that can only be communicated with pepole that may be a little more gifted than others in recognizing interdependent variables..I use the term gifted but others may use the word elite to describe it more aptly… those that belong to blog get offended when they hear this label as they also know that it separates them from others, and creates an superior affect that some may be offend with.. so it is not my intent to offend them and if i have please except my apologies as it was not meant to do anything but help us understand what i am seeing.

        So my dilemma is how do i help us all us these wonderfully gifted people into service for the common good. The only gift I bring is one that sees systems and how they work and how to separate them from those that manipulate them. I do not see systems as good or bad but ones that are not as effective in the context of all the new technology we have today. the speed of information and volume is more than my poor feeble brain can handle and it is causing general confusion with the masses who long for the simple way of life and I am seeing a reverting back to this concept with the ideas you and others present. and how unethical this all is

        Oh and yes the Greeks were at this long before we were as they wrestled with the same idea and had their own pagan ethic before we saw the christian ethics. The entitlement issue has been one that is still working its way around. Now that we see our creator has done away with the Jewish nation as the creators chosen people…. so their entitlement of what ever they believed was theirs is no longer backed up by the is concept in Christianity…although the culture of this belief is still alive and well in the fundamentalist churches…as they look to the Jews as the founders of their religion and have a tendency to still think of them as trusted friends.

        Now back to your idea of your farmers market …It seems we have lost our way in defining a what a corporate structure is. I do not call individuals that farm a corporation …so I will deffer for you on my definition. perhaps when I say corporation it is the pubic corporation that is part of wall street which is as a broken system that is run by people that know how to use it. ooh my I have run out time…

        Got run now have to go to do what we define as work and my way of providing money for my family in this broken system..and oh yes I know how to manipulate it too as we all do..lol
        Kind Regards

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 15, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  3. Russ: “Is environmental stewardship a Left principle? It wasn’t for communism in practice. Indeed, for all the attempts of Monthly Review and others to reinvent Marx himself as caring about stewardship, this clearly wasn’t a mainstream element of his philosophy.”

    You have a good point here.

    As I see it, the problem with Marxism is that it no longer explains contemporary society, nor does it address the issues of resource depletion or Peak Oil. It’s not dialectics that is going to end capitalism. Sooner or later, capitalism itself is going to end capitalism, by continuing to deplete resources and destroy the environment.

    In my understanding of Marxist thought, production is taken for granted, so it’s still commited to a productivist ideology. But even in the unlikely (or seemingly impossible) event that dialectics could end capitalism, we’re still facing an environmental crisis, therefore we no longer have time for all that to play out.

    So by its commitment to continued productivism, Marxism (post revolution, facing Peak Oil and nonrenewable resource depletion) would ironically be in the same unsustainable position as bourgeois economics is today.

    In order to survive, we have to change our way of thinking. Your formula of “natural abundance v. artificial scarcity” is a good starting point.

    As Gregory Bateson put it, in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972):

    “As you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical consideration. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. Your survival unit will be you and your folks or conspecifics against the environment of other social units, other races and the brutes and vegetables.

    If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic by-products of your own hate, or, simply, of over-population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.”


    Comment by SR6719 — November 10, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

    • Orthodox Marxism was an ideology of the fossil fuel age, and was part of industrialism. Lenin himself called what he wanted to accomplish “state capitalism”.


      That’s a good example of how the ideologies of the fossil fuel age are not suited to humanity’s transformation to the post-oil age.

      Early Marx, the part analyzing labor alienation and historical materialism, remains permanently valid.

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2012 @ 6:47 am

  4. I think it is more simple than one may think….in my opinion it is conservatives versus liberal..The conservatives fear change and the liberals embrace it.

    Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 11, 2012 @ 8:44 am

    • one more thing to add to this…. not all change is good its what got us in this mess to begin with. we had no way of knowing the collateral damage…now that we do we have to change back.

      Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 11, 2012 @ 8:50 am

      • Conservatives don’t fear all change. Indeed, they often demand change that will take us all back to an imagined past.

        While I get the concerns about unexpected collateral damage, you need to consider the unaccounted for real damage that happens every day under the current system. To argue that we should be concerned about the people who might be harmed by change when we aren’t concerned about the people harmed by the status quo seems hypocritical. And I’m not saying that you are doing that which I find hypocritical, but you have only discussed the people how might be harmed by change, not the people who are harmed by the status quo.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 11, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

    • Yes, we’ve seen how much liberals “embrace change” over the last four years. Obama wears a different color tie while licking Wall Street’s and Monsanto’s boots than Bush did, and liberals have expeditiously embraced that change.

      At least you use the quasi-honest term “collateral damage”, meaning premeditated. By definition it means evil you do foresee and intend.

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

      • good point Russ… so much for labels….. seems like the dynamics of what is a lefty and a righty has produced ambidextrous politicians …lol…. never the less just because some one is called a republican or democrat or liberal of a conservative does not mean that they embrace change as you pointed out….maybe we need to abandon all labels on individuals since it seems that they are contextual to current events and we should just apply them to their actions as either conservative or liberal… this will keep the definitions less confusing…as our politicians flip flop allover the place… now let me get back to the point of this blog… “left or right”….do you know how the definition got its start? was it not defined by who was on the right hand of the king and the who was on the left and of the king… and was not the ones on the left for change?

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 11, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

      • BTW Tao I understand appreciate your view point as I obviously left my self wide open with my short comment…and I understand and agree with those that followed. Perception of truth real or imagined has been a dilemma to define as well….while historians have been known to taint the truth.and we are often left to discuss that imagined past the collateral damage is not so easy to ignore and is possibly the only truth that is left for us to make future decisions on….

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 11, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

      • oh yes Tao and I forgot my collateral damage includes known and unknown consequences. Russ mad his point that we are devious enough to know up front but i am not so sure we are all the smart every time…at least i am not…

        Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 11, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

  5. The anarchist left are more historically significant than is often acknowledged. The Russian revolution was very anarchist in character until taken under the control of the Bolsheviks, and many see this as a time of betrayal of true leftist politics.

    Opposition to ‘wage slavery’ was one of the most important feature of the traditional left, and the Russian revolution failed to deliver in this respect. You can look to the Spanish anarchist revolution for a more genuine communism – in many people’s eyes the USSR should really not be called ‘communist’ or ‘left’ at all.

    There is also the anarchist belief that every person has equal rights to the natural resources of the land. You can see this belief in the “Diggers”, the Protestant English agrarian communists of the 1600s. There is a rich history of leftist thinking in this tradition, and it is till relevant today – indeed anarchism is becoming increasingly popular among youth.

    As for environmental stewardship, you could look to Murray Bookchin for left politics with an environmentalist focus.

    Comment by Sophie — November 11, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  6. And indeed ‘freedom and democracy’ pretty much sum up anarchist thinking. Perhaps you are an anarchist and hadn’t realised?

    Comment by Sophie — November 11, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    • I’ve long called myself an anarchist, though I’ve been having some doubts lately, not about the end goal but how to get there. I’ve written quite a bit about Spain, Makhno, and other examples. See “Anarchism” in my Categories list in the righthand column.

      I’ve long said that Peak Oil will constitute anarchism’s great historical opportunity, since the fossil fuel age and industrialism was an inherently adverse environment for it, while prior to modernity anarchism wasn’t fully aware of itself as a philosophy.

      However, I’m not sure that practical anarchism, which has to mean economic and political relocalization and eventually humanity’s becoming reindigenous, to coin a term, is necessarily “Leftist” in action. It can encompass almost the entirety of human experience, rejecting only centralized hierarchy. Conversely, many who call themselves anarchists still dream of things which can be accomplished only through hierarchy and massive surplus extraction. I’ve seen “anarchists” who still want offshore drilling, space travel, etc. (So many of them are also ignorant of energy and environmental facts.)

      I just don’t see the need to use the terms “left” and “right” to talk about freedom and democracy and to fight for them. Those terms are more inflammatory than anything else, and as I wrote I think they have historical associations which are obsolete at best, and often pernicious.

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

      • Ah – my fault for not exploring your blog in more detail. My apologies

        Having read through your post again (properly), you make very good points. While I have lazily tended at heart to equate ‘left’ with freedom and all my deeply held beliefs, it is perhaps an anachronistic debasement that I would do better without.

        And avoiding the ‘left ‘definition would certainly allow you to sidestep a lot of irrelevant arguments (and stop people like me coming on to your blog, ha).

        Comment by Sophie — November 11, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

      • Well, I don’t want to stop people like you from coming to my blog. What would stop you? I suppose I do want to convince people to relinquish existing affiliations and terminology on the grounds that these are obsolete and/or corrupted, and that the entire status quo is one big bottleneck from which we need to break free.

        Comment by Russ — November 11, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

      • that was bad English humour in action – I was referring to the fact that I’d been drawn in by a perceived criticism of the value of the ‘left’ tradition, like a bull to a red flag, and not really stopped to think about what you’d written. I’d missed your point by a mile and felt that I’d probably been a little irritating in the process!

        Anyway, thanks for the post. You definitely achieved your objective…

        Comment by Sophie — November 11, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

      • You’re welcome, and I hope you find the discussion worthwhile. 🙂

        Comment by Russ — November 12, 2012 @ 2:53 am

  7. Great essay.

    The more I think about the left-right thing, the more useless and bogus those lazy shorthand terms appear.

    Comment by guy rockstone — November 11, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

    • Yes, they’re shorthand for an obsolete stage of history.

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  8. @Debra,

    Magnanimty does not require elite status. It is a virtue. An ethic. A state of mind that does not require economic status. Even the lowest among us can be generous.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 18, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

    • excellent point Tao…I defined that virtue as fairness to the rights of individuals and groups and that if they tread on one another… a magnanimous individual must speak out and seek to resolve the dilemma … and be prepared to not just talk if action is required. just as our founding fathers did. War is not the only way to solve an ethical conflict contrary to the classical Greek philosophy.

      Comment by Dave Outlaw — November 19, 2012 @ 8:01 am

  9. Hi Russ,

    I want to say that it was great connecting with you and others, never felt like that before. I have to prepare for interdependence (rather fast) and therefore can not choose sides, I am sure that you understand and I hope you can also explain others if necessary. You know who I hang out with on the blogs. I can’t make any promises as the future does not lay in my hands, but I sure hope to meet up with you some time and drink a beer. Maybe I am going to live in California, but I don’t know anything for sure these days. The future does look bright and hopefully we can make some real progress, real fast!

    Once again thanks for connecting,
    Kind regards,

    Comment by René — November 26, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    • Rene
      Just wanted to clarify an important part of what Russ is doing…Choosing sides is not the issue… choosing is. Our decision making historically is based on collecting information that is relevant and accurate. This group concept is based on trust.The trust that those of us that are in this group will give their input without any fear and provide thoughtful help ….while we may debate things the intent is to get to the core truths we need to make the best decision. The debates are respectful and at times a bit playful. They may be a little more serious at times than necessary but some times not serious enough. In that regards I need to say No one knows their future..it is only a residual of the moment before the “Now”, You have chosen to make a move and you seem to question … is it a wise choice? ..I can think…. yes…. based on the circumstances and information you had at your disposal at time. But you must also know that information and those circumstances are dynamic.

      Just remember this….

      The one true thing that will not change are your true friends who care about you and will help you should the choice be one that presents dilemmas that are less beneficial than expected….

      good luck on your Journey

      Kind regards

      Comment by Dave Outlaw — December 5, 2012 @ 2:45 am

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