What's a good party? What's a bad party? The Yin and Yang of Politics
Many dissatisfied people don’t follow politics. There’s also not many really educated views among us people, just this generic fatigue and distrust when it comes to politics. All those terms might be confusing: capitalism, socialism, communism, liberalism, social democrat, left-wing, right-wing, centrist, moderate, extremist and so on. It’s time to clarify what actually matters in politics and state a few things that honestly never get said but should be said. I hope this will contribute to better understanding of politics outside of that unnecessarily hyped political news coverage that only chases stories of the current day.
You’re here with me to win perspectives, to actually think about these topics and recognise what is essential in life. Obviously I’m not going to tell you which specific political party is "good" or not. I’m here to tell you which overreaching political attitudes are good and bad so that you can judge for yourself.
frustration with politics
Many people might not be interested in politics and I can’t blame them. You can listen to politicians defending themselves, promoting their party, eternally criticising the others who don’t agree with them. The fact that they have vested interests in promoting their agenda is so obvious, we don’t even think about it.
Politics seems boring, and politicians appear like a quarrelsome bunch of often very mediocre people. The topics and conversations of the debates usually feel as if they go along the same lines of thinking - as if there never was any originality and independent thinking involved outside of the vested interests of those people.
Furthermore, as there’s so much noise in today’s media it’s difficult to see clearly and separate the sheep from the goats. People don’t think for themselves so it’s easy to manipulate the average person by throwing in some catch phrases during speeches that are easy to repeat and trigger emotional responses in viewers.
Political spectrum: moderate vs. extremist
Politics is as if you were measuring it on a spectrum, on a scale. You have a left end, you have a centre point, and you have a right end. Accordingly, you can group parties into far-left, center-left, center, center-right, and far-right. Before I explain what these terms mean I'd like to claim that you can find all the good parties at and around the center point. So centrist parties are legitimate, center-left parties are legitimate, and center-right parties are legitimate. They support quite moderate policies. Their priorities might shift slightly to the left or to the right, but their central characteristics is that they try to balance out policies between those two sides around the centre. And that’s a really good thing, as you’re going to realise in a bit.
The bad parties, the villains, you can find further from the center point. It’s commonly called the far-left and far-right. The main point is that the far-left and far-right parties are far away from the center point on the political spectrum. Therefore, they are extreme. The further you get from the center, the more extreme you become. The "bad" parties are the extremists on both sides of the scale. Extremism is never good. There hasn’t been a time in history where extremism contributed to long-term well-being, longevity and peace of any society. The "good" parties can be identified at or close to the political center, e.g. centrist, moderate, center-left and center- right parties.
Definition of center-left-wing politics
Let us explore briefly what political left and right actually mean. In a nutshell, policies of the left, parties of the left-wing, ideas of the left focus on social equality and egalitarianism. Legitimate left-wing policies consider the moral worth of people as the same. No one as a human being is worth more than others regardless of their social status. Thus the word egalitarianism, from french word ‘égal’ meaning equal. That’s why left-wing politics stands for social equality and typically involves concern for the less privileged, the disadvantaged, the poorer ones who don’t seem to get along well socially and economically.
That’s the simplified description of the left-wing. The left’s concern is totally legitimate because there are always people somewhere in society in every country who can't make ends meet due to the trying circumstances of their lives and the lack of personal capabilities.
Definition of center-right-wing politics
What’s the right-wing politics? Well, in a nutshell, policies of the right, parties of the right-wing, ideas of the right focus on social hierarchy and social order. Legitimate right-wing politics consider the importance and inevitability of social and economical hierarchies. Hierarchy means social structure and society itself. Hierarchy stands for order, structure and competence. Right-wing politics aims at supporting and maintaining a current structure of society, its hierarchy.
Typically, right-wing politics and ideas are called conservative or traditional, because they conserve the society’s structure, its traditions and the time-tested ways of living. It doesn’t aim to change society fundamentally, on the contrary it strives to maintain its order. Conservative people don’t mind having hierarchies. They recognise them as perhaps natural, desirable and necessary, even though they might to a certain extent create unavoidable inequalities.
The play of opposites
So there we have it, the Yin and Yang of politics: the preserving force of conservatism on the right side, and the force of change on the left side. The left side wants to improve people’s conditions, because you always have inequalities of various kinds in society. That’s why the left-wing is the side of progressive ideas and attitudes, the wave of change. The right-wing wants to keep and maintain the core of society, the customs and ideas that work and have always worked, the main structure, the social hierarchy which keeps the social fabric together.
If you pay attention, then you might slowly realise that although those two legitimate sides appear like opposites, they don’t really contradict each other. In the same way as yin and yang in philosophy are not supposed to contradict each other, but to complement each other - in the same way as water and fire don’t contradict each other, they just co-exist in their rightful places at the same time.
This applies to the left and right-wing politics too. They are both legitimate, because they point at two totally real dynamics in society and life: the forces of preservation and the forces of evolutionary change. Without conservatism every social change would quickly destroy society. And without social change a society would quickly become so stiff and outworn that it wouldn’t be able to continue successfully.
Legitimacy of political views
I'd like you to take the following insight from this article: it’s okay to be conservative. And it’s okay to be progressive. These are two legitimate views that result from an even deeper source of reality. Political views have to do with people’s inner temperaments, how they want to prioritise things in life.
Conservative people (right-wing, remember), appreciate safety and routine. They tend to be very conscientious people. Progressive people are more open-minded, like to experiment with things and are pioneers when it comes to progress (left-wing, remember). There would be no progress of ideas and technology without left-leaning people. And there would be no stability and endurance without right-leaning people. These are not contradictions! We need both of those sides! In every conservative person there’s a little progressive one and in every open-minded progressive one, there is a little conservative person.
Now that you know that we need those two forces of change and preservation, you can quickly realise that the balance and harmony between these two is what keeps society healthy and good. That takes me back to the point I made about centrist parties: it’s the good parties of center-left and center-right which make up a normal democracy.
Those centrist / moderate parties need to engage with each other, negotiate and make compromises for the wellbeing of society. We need to have an exchange between these two forces which keep the politics of a country in a healthy balance as long as the political parties talk and interact with each other. That counteracts polarisation and maintains unity despite our differences. That’s exactly what you get with the center-left-wing and center-right-wing parties. However, that’s not what you get with the far-right and far-left parties.
Political extremism & its emotional nature
Far-left and far-right parties don’t play that natural game of balance. They only want to enforce their own side, their own perspective, their own view on others. They’re authoritative. There’s no rational dialogue possible with extremist people. It’s difficult to solve the problem of extremism, because such people aren’t receptive to rational argument.
That brings me to the point that I’d like to make about human nature when projecting it onto politics: moderate centrist parties revolve around the mind, the intellect. They talk and debate, make arguments and analyse, despite their imperfections and weaknesses. It’s the parties of reason. That’s why they are called moderate. The mind, the intellect is the source of moderation, it keeps the emotional passions in moderation.
Extremists, however, don’t come from a rational place. They come from an emotional place. Obviously, there’s always some rationality in anyone's world view, but the extremists' view is totally emotionalised beyond rational limits. emotion overgeneralises and distorts rational views. Extremist parties take some bits of rationality in their arguments and then they project their simple explanations on every aspect of society, neglecting details and complexities. They don’t come from a place of reason, they come from a place of negative emotion. If you check some of my previous articles you will know that emotionality in general is more primitive than reason. The reason however is more complex, more sophisticated than emotions.
Here we go: the difference between the legitimate parties of reason and the extremists. Whenever you listen or watch politics on TV, Youtube, radio or read articles, ask yourself this: what place does this politician and his/her party come from? Is it from a place of reason or is it from a place of emotion? From a place of social unity or from a place of social hatred and envy? When you pay attention and clarify that for yourself you’ll know for sure who's good and who’s bad.
Bringing clarity into political terms
One last thing I need to mention: the mainstream media does us a disservice by just calling center-left and far-left parties just left-wing as if they were the same people, and by calling center-right and far-right parties just right-wing as if they were the same people. All are thrown into the same bag, but the differences in degree are essential. that's because all the problems of extremism arise from legitimate centrist ideas being taken to their extremes in one or the other direction on the political spectrum.
Be on your guard, dear reader. Every time when making political decisions ask yourself this: what force does your view actually represent? Are you for order and stability, or are you for change? Then ask yourself: are you for social unity? Or are you always dissatisfied with everything in society? Do you blame society for everything? If you answer the last question with yes, you might be planting tiny little seeds of extremism in yourself for a future time. That's because extremism often arises from personal grievances which can be both real and imagined.
what really matters
At the end of the day, no matter what party you choose, it’s you who need to get your life in order, and no party or government can do that for you. It’s also not their task to live your life. Pull yourself together and keep your hatred, envy and disdain in check. Work on yourself to become your better self. Be aware that in most cases it’s not your party that needs fixing. It’s not the government that needs fixing. It’s not society that needs fixing. It’s you who needs fixing by yourself! Now go into the world and vote for the moderate parties of balance and reason for a greater good! See you in the next one!