Sunday, March 2, 2008


About a week or so ago, I caught a snippet of the Rush show, when a couple of different callers were discussing the political spectrum. You can read the entirety of the bit here.

Last March, I shared my thoughts here at JG&AH about labels in a post entitled "Progressive? Don't Flatter Yourself." Where Limbaugh and I definitely agree is that Right and Left, Conservative and Liberal - and especially progressive - are often misunderstood and certainly misapplied.

I think we depart at that point. In the discussion linked above, Limbaugh puts forth the idea that the political spectrum is a circle, and that extremes end in totalitarianism, whether on the Right or on the Left. I've also heard Rush in the past use the term "liberal" as a universal term, stating that a "liberal is a liberal" irrespective of nationality (at the time he was addressing comments made by Europeans, critical of US Foreign Policy. I want to address both of those points.

For starters, I prefer the traditional linear concept of a political spectrum. Whether or not either end can end in tyranny is irrelevant to the concept of the spectrum (by the way, he's right, either end can end in tyranny). The spectrum ranges from the far right - Reactionary, or the ardent defender of the status quo, to the Radical, who casts aside the status quo at all costs. Its important to note that Reactionaries can actually be retrogressive, or wishing for an archaic policy of the past.

The important thing to understand about the political spectrum is this; and I think this is where Rush falls a little short. The entire political spectrum is relevant to the culture in which it describes.

I describe myself as right-of-center, politically speaking. However, in the Islamic Republic of Iran I would be considered - rightfully - as a liberal bordering on radical. Ditto Communist China and the Former Soviet Union. This is why terms "liberal" and "conservative" are monikers I like to avoid using. They're not always accurate, and can be misleading. In fact, "Right and Left" on the political spectrum can be misleading as well. When I refer to the Ted Kennedys and Nancy Pelosis of the world, I refer to them as succinctly as I can by calling them "The Contemporary American Left".

In my post from last March (linked above) I grind my biggest ax with labels by pointing out the absurdity for the Kennedys and Pelosis referring to themselves as "Progressives". There is nothing Progressive about the modern Democrat Party in America. What progress can possibly come from clinging to appeasement of tyrants, class envy and Great Society Welfarism? History in the last fifty to sixty years has show us - none. Yet the Democrats cling to these concepts like a Titanic survivor clinging to a life ring.

My point? Lets be careful with Labels.