Political axes (left and right)

In a previous article he dealt with the mistake of understanding ideology as a fixed system of categories that determine the perception of reality. Today I address another common mistake in understanding the concept of political ideology: the fact define according to contingencies, arbitrariness, take full part.

To do this, it is useful to speak first of the political spectrum, or rather the political spectrum. The bipolar dimension of political axes like that of left right is a good example.

Political axes: right and left

The conceptualization of political positions on the left and on the right builds a continuum between two poles with a central point. It is historically linked to the time of the French Revolution and served to distinguish between physical and political positions: in the National Constituent AssemblyRepublicans were seated to the left of the President, while Monarchists were seated to the right. Thus, this polarity is linked to a hypothesis of the existence of progress. It is more than anything to distinguish between progressives and conservatives. Unfortunately, we cannot know what is the essence of two categories characterized by their temporary mobility: At all times, the conservative answer is one, and the same is true for the progressive: both are linked to the development of history.

Thus, faced with certain political questions, the answers provided by different ideologies can corridor from left to right, being one end a certain position and the other its opposite position. It is a quantitative analysis and, as such, it is quite more descriptive than explanatory. And yet it is currently very difficult to speak of politics in non-axial terms. Pau Comes, in his blog Independència és Llibertat, offers the following to avoid this simplistic approach: “As many people have written lately – for example Xavier Mir, from his blog-, Catalan politics can be explained with more than one axis, not just left right “. It refers, in fact, to the inclusion of the axis-Spanish-Catalan.

Substantial ideologies and relative ideologies

According to this point of view, Catalan politics can be explained con the more axes, the better. however, this is not a way of understanding ideologies as a substantial thingBut only to account for the different manifestations that may have a place in each of them. The explicit manifestations carried out by a series of political agents stereotypically linked to certain ideologies are transformed into the ideology itself, and thus the ideology is transformed into something purely explicit. Political analysis uses axes to the extent that ideological positions become a degree of agreement in the face of certain facts, which is easily measurable. We found a relationship between this and what he explains Herbert Marcuse a One-dimensional man:

Thus is born the one-dimensional model of thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations and goals, which transcend in their content the established universe of discourse and action, are rejected or reduced to the terms of this universe. The rationality of a given system and its quantitative extension gives a new definition to these ideas, aspirations and goals.

This trend can be linked to the development of the scientific method: operationalism in the physical sciences, behavioralism in the social sciences. The common feature is a total empiricism in the treatment of concepts; its meaning is limited to the representation of particular operations and behaviors (Marcuse, 2010, p. 50).

Marcuse also quotes Bridgman explain the operational point of view and its implications for the way of thinking of society as a whole:

Adopting from an operational point of view involves much more than a simple restriction of the meaning in which one understands the “concept”; it means a profound change in all our thinking habits, for we will no longer allow ourselves to use concepts that we cannot describe in terms of operations as instruments of our thought (Bridgman, 1928, p. 31).

The game between quantitative and qualitative

The axis from left to right takes on a meaning pseudo-qualitative, When it really only serves to establish quantitative differences. In other words, what determines the political position of an entity is the type of response given to a given problem. Political ideology becomes a simple conventionRegardless of subtleties such as the philosophical source from which each position drinks, its conception of democracy, etc. This given issue, of course, is raised on the political agenda. Three things to highlight:

  • What measures the axis going from left to right is totally arbitrary and refers to the attitudes towards the different socio-political aspects set by the media agenda: attitude towards religion, promotion of a type of health, importance given to the environment, etc. In reality, none of these dimensions explain an ideology on its own. If the way of measuring positions on a particular issue is rational, the approach to these questions responds to pure propagandist intentionality.
  • Some of the determining aspects of a political ideology directly become folk expressions of the historical and social context: attitude towards certain nationalisms and towards the Catholic religion, types of international allies sought, etc. For example, Orthodox Communist symbolism does not have the same meaning in Spain as it does in present-day Russia. Propaganda and the media have a responsibility to incorporate these traits into the ideological sphere to gain power, as defending certain measures generates acceptance, even confers authority. Fr Catalonia, For example, the conventional political left is defined simply by its opposition to centralist Spanish nationalism, Although in the economic and social spheres, they hardly differ from right-wing parties.
  • Consequently, the dominant ideology is normalizede. This is perhaps the most relevant consequence of the existence of political axes: despite the apparent freedom that Western man enjoys to create his own future, for the moment, it seems only to return again and again to the past. Revolutions are rare and when they do occur, they are not the result of rationality and the creative spirit but of desperation to break an unsustainable framework. According to Marvin Harris (p. 324):

I contend that it is perniciously wrong to teach that all cultural forms are equally probable and that the mere will of an inspired individual can at any time alter the trajectory of an entire cultural system in a direction befitting any philosophy. The converging and parallel trajectories far outweigh the divergent trajectories of cultural evolution. Most people are conformists. History repeats itself in countless acts of individual obedience to cultural norms and patterns, and individual desires seldom predominate over issues that require radical changes in deeply conditioned beliefs and practices.

Stereotypes and commonplaces

The analysis of ideology based on these political axes has as its raw material stereotypical and truly insignificant questions of what constitutes a world Vision. From the order of positions to the relatively treatable questions of hegemonic ideology, es it creates a range with very specific categories of what possible political ideologies are. The consideration of unthinkable issues (such as the possibility of resorting to popular class violence) can be cynically associated with “extreme” political positions. See the speech “the ends touch“Which serves to assimilate and discredit two or more alternative worldviews to break the rules governing the political axis by taking similar action from different ideologies, an analysis that once again focuses on the actions taken and not on their truly ideological background.

We must remember the usefulness of this polarity. He never wrongly gave credit to the promoters of the “center” policy, for the order of things in the state system requires a certain stability and, of course, suits the stillness of the majority of the civilian body.. Very graphically, if alternate worldviews are cornered at the ends of the axis, they become marginal, when at some point the center can feed off supporters of both half the continuum and the other.

Bibliographical references:

  • Vient, P. (2006). Independence is Freedom, accessed 06/08/2013 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Marcuse, H. (2010). One-dimensional man. Barcelona: Planet.
  • Harris, M. (2011). Cannibals and kings. The origins of cultures. Madrid: Editorial alliance.

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