Monday, November 21, 2005

Defining Our Terms

In our discussion of the CPB, S-tard had suggested that the number of times the descriptor "far-right" had been used on a talk show might be a good indicator of its bias; I dissented, saying that if the far left were in power, we might hear that term mentioned much more often. I was obviously suggesting that the far-right is currently in power, and S-tard took me to task:

""OK, then, define for me "far right" and then define for me "just conservative, but not far right," so we can evaluate that claim."

This would be a good--maybe necessary--project for the KKRB to embark on. In politics, most people assiduously avoid self-identifying as "extremists," or even far-left or far-right. Many conservatives claim that "far-right" can only be apt when applied to a variety of militant fascist groups, with no intellectual influence on mainstream conservatism (in other words, not Rick Santorum). As a liberal, I associate "far-left" with the likes of the Bader-Meinhoff gang, bizarre maoist groups, or the occasional unreconstructed stalinists who try to infiltrate unions or student organizations (that is, not Hillary Clinton).

Can we, as a group, create a mutually acceptable standard for categorizing mainstream political tendencies? The hurling of epithets will continue because it's politically expedient to use them, but inside our group, wouldn't such a system be a valuable tool for making our discussions clearer and more meaningful?

3 Comments:

Blogger hurtleg said...

I define far left as the moveon.org and Michael Moore crowd. People who see conspiracies in everything Bush and the Repblicans do. People who believe the war in Iraq is about Oil, that Bush 'stole' both elections. People who, despite all the evidence and common sense, believe Bush 'lied' us into war. People who take Joe Wilson seriously even after the Congressional Special Select Commommittee on intelligence's report showed what Wilson wrote in his NYT op-ed is the opposite of what he reported to his supiors when he returned from Niger.

To me, the far right are the Pat Buchannan/Alan Keyes crowd. People who are unreconstructed isolationist, Xenophobic, and want to to start the theocracy at home, like teaching 'intelligent design' instead of science.

That's just my opinion, but I could be wrong. (where o where is Dennis Miller when the world needs a voice of sanity)

12:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hurtleg, I think your criteria for far-left are extremely problematic. For example, you would label as far-left "People who, despite all the evidence and common sense, believe Bush 'lied' us into war." Putting aside for a moment the question of whether war supporters have a monopoly on common sense (or even what common sense actually means), doesn't your description apply to over 50% of the American people, according to recent polls?

My own opinion is that these definitions need to reference core beliefs, like views on the proper role of the state, the proper justifications for committment of troops abroad, maybe attitudes towards authority, etc., rather than just recent attitudes towards extremely confusing current events. I think you come closer to the mark (that is, you use sounder criteria) in your descriptors for the far-right.

3:16 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Jeff,

Your mentioning of poll numbers is most appropriate. Consider that whenever a Supreme Court candidate who has a problem with Roe v Wade is called far right for that reason. I certainly agree with you that being opposed to the war does not qualify anyone for far-left honors.

I also think we do an injustice to the far-left and the far-right groups when we define them by either idiocy or flawed methods, as I would take a much more ideological approach.

I would put far-left as Marxist ideology, with the abolition of private property. I would say far-left, but not as far, would be the high-taxing socialists of Scandinavia and France, which, although I have no idea why, often goes with a very un-Christian moral code (and a Christian socialist, not to be confused with the German political party, I believe should be called a leftist even though he never would be, given his likely opinions on abortion).

I would say that a moderate can be someone who either holds issue inconsistent views, and an even amount of those views, which represent both sides. Someone as passionately against abortion as he is against the war, I would call a moderate. I would also say that people change, and one should not presume a moderate or a leftist or a rightist will or even should remain in their state.

I would say that the far right are either people who want to abolish all social programs, or people who want to establish a religious form of governance (such as the Constitution Party), or people who would like to legislate sexual activity.

I don't think these labels are always going to help, but I do believe that the media (today as well as in the Clinton administration) favor "far-right" and take that to mean whatever they want it to, and that whatever is usually related to abortion.

7:14 AM  

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