As we have mentioned before, discussing politics with our friends from Western nations can be difficult. Let us explain how language becomes a barrier.
Let us begin by defining terms: ‘Liberalism’ is a political concept that ‘protecting and maximizing the individual liberty and equality of people is the primary, or only, goal of politics/society’. Liberalism as a political term arose in the late 18th Century but the core concepts had begun to gain influence in the late 17th Century.
Liberalism can be generally divided into two broad camps. On the one side are Liberals who are focused on individual liberty. Called Classical Liberals they see equality as ‘equality of opportunity’. Laissez-faire Capitalism and Democracy are core ideas to Classical Liberals. On the other side are Liberals who focus on individual equality. Called Social Liberals or Progressives they see equality as ‘equality of outcome’. Welfare systems and progressive taxation are core ideas of Progressivism.
Therefore Communism, Socialism, Libertarianism, Feminism, Republicanism, etc. are well within the confines of Liberalism. The economic, ideological, and political struggle of the 20th Century called the Cold War was a struggle between two different concepts of Liberalism. Modern political turmoil in national elections in France, the UK, and the US are essentially Liberals arguing with each other over which type of Liberalism they want now, and which they want later.
People who wonder why the same policies seem to eventually end up as law regardless of which party is in power are confused because they do not realize that essentially all contemporary political parties with a hope of electoral success are all just different branches of the same Liberal ideology.
Right Wing and Left Wing
Again, let us define terms. In the French National Assembly of the late 18th Century members of the Assembly that supported the Church and the King began to sit together to avoid the jeers, insults, and attacks of those that strongly opposed the Church and the King. Quickly the supporters habitually sat to the right of the Assembly chair and the tackers to the left of the Assembly chair. Those speaking of and reporting on the Assembly soon began to use Left and Right as shorthand for the two groups.
Thus “Right Wing” originally meant support of natural law, hierarchy, tradition, high culture, the monarchy, and the Catholic Church. In direct contrast “Left Wing” meant support of Democracy, nationalism, relativism, and secularization. More directly “Left Wing” means Liberalism, in all of its forms.
In the contemporary world we see these terms under a variety of guises and often misapplied. A European political party that that is pro-Democracy, pro-laissez-faire Capitalism, pro-equality, and pro-secularization is typically called “far Right” because it opposes Communism. In reality it is at best Centre Right and more accurately just part of the Classical Liberal/Progressive disagreement.
This sometimes seems most prevalent in America: Libertarians are pro-equality, pro-democracy, anti-hierarchy, effectively anti-government, pro-secularization, relativists who base their positions on Classical Liberalism – yet they are labelled Conservative/Right Wing both by foes and by themselves! In reality, the only real difference between an Anarchist and a Libertarian is which books are on their bedside table.
This leads to terrible confusion when speaking with Americans. Innumerable times Americans have accused Edan of being Leftist, Communist, and Liberal, usually by people who are supporters of Democracy, Capitalism, and relativism.
What Should We Do?
First, do not use ‘Right’ or ‘Left’, etc. to describe Edan and its goals and positions: our goals have nothing to do with the modern interpretations of these terms. Explain that Edan has nothing to do with the politics of any modern democracy butt is something different and better.
Second, understand that when most modern people describe their own political and social positions you cannot take their statements at face value because in addition to misusing terms most modern people have never actually examined their own politics in any truly serious way.
If you must, call Edan Traditionalist.