Well, a certain false dichotomy, that is, specifically the “left-right” political dichotomy of the United States. My primary reason for discussing it right now is in response to some rather vitriolic comments on a recent article on Bracing Views. In the event that I get into another spat with Greg or someone like him, I’ll simply direct that person here, and they can see for themselves what my views are.
Before I begin, I must confess that I too, use the terms “far left” and “far right,” but only in a colloquial sense, in the hopes that people will know what I’m talking about. However, the political compass has two axes (and I argue that it should have three, though I’m not quite sure if the third should be centrality vs. decentrality or something else), so to say that there are only two extremes is false. Below is a rather humourous, over-simplified version that I came up with myself:
As you can see, I am an anarcho-capitalist, and, according to this compass, I’m far-right. However, I’m also a centrist, because I’m exactly halfway between the colloquial far-right and far left. A centrist is simply someone who falls between two extremes, based on the fact they agree with some points on one side, and some points on another. I happen to agree with some of the points that leftists espouse, and some of those that traditional conservatives espouse. I’m also not the most extreme anarcho-capitalist out there, because unlike most of my fellow anarchists, there is a certain level of government that I’m willing to tolerate.
I imagine that Greg, if he decided to check the thread again and click on my pingback, has probably already stopped reading by now. I clearly touched a nerve when I insulted his beloved CNN. Therein lies the problem – extremists aren’t willing to entertain views different from their own, and will believe a lie if it suits them. I could be a self-described leftist and still be “far-right” according to someone like him, depending on how far-left he actually is. Likewise, both major political parties in the United States fall into the upper-right quadrant, and although one is obviously to the right of the other, they are so similar that Noam Chomsky, a socialist, called them “two right wings of the property party.” Both favour big government and big business, and the only real difference between them is that the Democrats seem to prefer government over business, while the Republicans are the other way round. For people like me, who would rather be left alone and be merely allowed to exercise the natural right to self-determination, I’m not a fan of either political party. I will, however, vote for anyone who threatens the current political paradigm, because I enjoy seeing the political establishment in chaos. Perhaps the third axis of the political compass should be “status quo vs. paradigm shift,” especially given the tendency in New England politics to always vote for the incumbent, regardless of who that is, in contrast to the rest of the country having an “it’s not about whom you vote for, but whom you vote against” attitude. Some people are afraid of change, even if they hate their current situation. I’m the opposite, I’m a huge fan of chaos, and I love seeing mighty empires fall far more than I enjoy watching them rise in the first place.
There are multiple ways I could conclude this, but I think I’ve made my point for now. I imagine that there are still people who disagree with me, and I welcome a discussion. Echo chambers are boring.
Edit: I’ve expanded on this subject quite a bit. First, if you are reading this from the archive, I suggesting opening this post separately, so that you can view the comments. Second, I made some additional commentary regarding the original discussion on Hive, which you can view here. Third, I wrote a detailled sequel to this post, and I was far more composed when I did so. Fourth, Jacob Tothe and I have expanded on the third axis of the political compass, and we have agreed that “status quo vs. paradigm shift” is, indeed, a viable option.