Redefining the Center (Evaluating our Terms).

The past few months have been dividing, I think, to anyone involved in politics. Some Trump supporters are growing tired of this political/cultural Stalingrad, and leftists too becoming less interested in the hysteria of their own side; and like Stalingrad there are platoons of debaters on either side, standing behind their forces willing to shoot if their side retreats. In the middle of a conflict where no middle ground seems reachable I think the problem lies in a barely definable center.

If you Google the left-right denominations it will appear similarly to this, starting from the left;

Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, Conservatism, Libertarianism, Fascism,

-and I suppose a more complex system, taking into account the two forms of Liberalism and a far-Liberalism, would be displayed as follows;

Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Social Liberalism, Conservatism, Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, Fascism.

For those wondering, even The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics [1] has Classical Liberalism (the belief in freedom of expression/association and the reduction of government to uphold fundamental liberties) under “right wing”, I place it here next to Libertarianism (the belief in very limited government) given the considerable amount of overlapping principles, where Classical Liberalism is almost just a moderate Libertarianism.

So, first, if anyone is unfamiliar with these terms I’m going to briefly describe each one of them, from top-down, starting left (top) to right (bottom);

Communism: seizing the means of production to share amongst the people evenly by a larger government party.
Socialism: use of government to redistribute wealth evenly amongst the people.
Progressivism: the use of government to prohibit non-left leaning values e.g. certain phrases deemed “politically incorrect”, including no-platforming speakers or writers for having a conservative political position.
Social Liberalism: the use of government to enforce left leaning values e.g. affirmative action, diversity quotas, socialized institutions like the NHS and increased welfare.
Conservatism: the use of government to enforce right leaning values e.g. abortion restriction, easing on welfare for fear of a welfare cliff (an economic argument where people stay in poverty as a result of a higher disposable income provided to them by welfare payments).
Classical Liberalism.
Fascism: use of state to enforce right leaning values to an authoritarian degree, often religiously motivated.

It is important to note, regarding Fascism, that it’s use as an extreme right wing term comes from its supposed opposition to Socialism, even though they share a lot of similarities, at least in terms of outcome. The term Fascism was invented by Benito Mussolini derived from Fasces meaning “a bundle of rods”, referring to large state which proposes that the majority should never rule, and so holds itself as anti-democracy, in a sense it is similar to advocating a de-facto Monarchy, whereas Socialism/Communism is the use of government to distribute means and control its populous and so often ends up in a similar place, where the government is irremovable by democratic vote.

So, now the basic terms have been defined I would like to add something in to the mix, that being a divide of Conservatism as there is now for Liberalism, one which also takes into account the moderate Conservatism and the extreme Conservatism. This divide will go as follows between the moderate ideologies:

…Progressivism, Social Liberalism, Social Conservatism, Religious Conservatism…

In this divide, Social Conservatism, like Social Liberalism, seeks to use government to enforce right leaning values where Religious Conservatism, like Progressivism, seeks to use government to prohibit non-right leaning values. In this, the Religious Conservative would seek to make abortion illegal for example, whereas the Social Conservative would merely want to put greater restrictions in place.

Do you notice now, however, looking at the spectrum, an inconsistency? Obviously a center currently would be one between Social Liberalism and Social Conservatism, holding positions on either side or moderately one or the other. The inconsistency occurs in the rise and fall of government power as you move from far left to far right. From Communism to Social Liberalism, there is a natural decline in government power as you become more moderate, where the extreme (Communism) is all government. However, on the right, the same cannot be said, government power increases as conservatism becomes less moderate and then all of a sudden you have “limited to no government” with Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism, and then suddenly the extreme (as one up from these two, Fascism), all government.

I would propose the following denomination between the left and right, and to make it even we’ll add two other terms to the mix: far-nationalism, meaning overt pride in one’s state and people, often to the prohibition of foreign cultures in some way, and Constitutional Conservatism, the belief in a reduction of government to constitutional rights.

(From left to right, center divided by ‘//’)

Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Social Liberalism // Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, Constitutional Conservatism // Social Conservatism, Religious Conservatism, Far-Nationalism, Fascism.

In this model, the center is defined as Classical Liberal (left-leaning), Libertarian (base center), and Constitutional Conservatism (right-leaning). In this model, then, the right increases naturally in government control, just like the left, as it becomes more extreme but with opposing moral stances. Far-Nationalism, just as Socialism seeks to use government to distribute wealth, seeks to use government to distribute culture. And the center, where I think a lot of people can come together on, is the reduction of government to upholding people’s fundamental freedoms and constitutional rights; freedom of expression, speech, association, religion etc. there will still be disagreements to the extent of that limitation and to what it covers, which is why a separate left/center/right system is in place for this “new center” as well, but I think under these definitions we can find a lot of common ground between the left, who are now realising that large government is only ever good if it’s your guy in charge, and the right who are seeing a backlash from their own side if they dare retreat or question this Conservative counter-revolution, particularly if you’re a non-Trump supporting right-winger (this is coming from a Trump supporter as well).

Do you agree? Disagree? let me know your thoughts on this “new center”, or if you have a different view on the terms I’ve set out. I’ll be posting an article soon on how to tell which political ideology you likely fall into if you’re unsure, so stay tuned for that!

NOTE: Alt-right, and anarcho movements like Anarcho-capitalists or Anarcho-communists are removed from this analysis because I think they represent fringe elements of other ideologies rather than mainstream political leanings, particularly anarcho beliefs since they advocate for the removal of the current system of politics altogether.

[1] McLean, Iain; McMillan, Alistair (2008). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.