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.