Left VS RightMy colleagues and I at Rational Standard are often accused of being right-wing. At the same time, we often decry what we call the ‘left’. At the same time, however, we have been accused of being left-wing. Personally, I have only come to accept the right-wing tag recently, but still only tentatively. The reason for this is that Left and Right are not concrete terms.

The Left and Right paradigm was founded in the French revolution, where seating arrangements at parliament put the feudal aristocracy on the right and Capitalist reformers on the left. Over time, this has changed. Conservatives are now put firmly on the Right and progressives are put on the Left, regardless of their views on feudalism or market economies.

Meanings change, and the Left and the Right are constantly changing from person to person. To some, right-wing means KKK, Nazis and Donald Trump. To others, it means Nozick, Hayek and Milton Friedman. To some, left-wing means reasonable care for the poor. To others, it means speech police and ill-founded policies.

Different subjects of study also have different definitions. In Political Philosophy, right-wing simply means those who prioritise freedom, while the Left prioritise equality. In Political Science, the Left are stereotyped as anti-war while the Right are pro-armed forces.

Do a personal test, ask your friends and family to define their views on Left and Right on the spot. I predict that their views will vastly differ.

The reason this matters is that people must realise that the left/right paradigm doesn’t hold any power. It’s too transient and subjective. Within a field of study, it can be a convenient marker. In our articles, we have made it pretty obvious what we mean by left-wing. We seldom ever deal with the right-Wing, but that is because they are not the main enemy at the moment. For the time being, we focus on the speech policing victimocracy.

But that is the extent of the left/right paradigm. It is a convenient tag that must be qualified. Those who use it as a swearword are wrong to do so. While right-wing may mean Nazi to them, left-wing can easily mean Stalinist to another.

I have become comfortable being called right-wing partly due to the political philosophy definition but mainly due to the fact that it is fundamentally an empty word. Its use reveals more about the user than me. When one flings directional ideologies at people, they must be qualified. Am I right-wing because I love freedom or right-wing because you disagree with me and can’t figure out why?

When I decry the Left, I qualify and specify. The left don’t seem to mind. They see being left-wing as a point of pride and right-wing as a grave insult. Maybe, we should let them use the insult?

With a word so unsure in meaning, right-wing can be anything we want it to be. We can be conservatives, we can be Feudalists, and we can be Capitalists. It’s up to us as a movement to determine what we want their insults to mean.

Unintentionally, they have given us the power to define ourselves. So let’s do so – as the reasonable, rational and defiant members of society who won’t let it cave in to censorship, whining and disaster.

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.