We have to go all the way back to the French Revolution in 1789 to trace the roots of the Left-Right political divide that permeates political discourse in the West today. The burning issue brought before the French National Constitutive Assembly in 1789 was whether the king should have absolute veto power under the new political regime or whether that power should be restricted. When voting on the issue, those who wanted the monarch to retain absolute veto power sat to the right of the president, while those who favoured restricting the power of the monarch congregated to the left.
Ever since then, the labels of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ have been used to demarcate political opinion across a wide spectrum of issues from economic policy to law, civil rights and even religious attitudes. At this epochal moment in history when it feels as though political and economic systems in the West are in severe decline, I think we can all agree that a product made in 1789 is probably beyond its shelf life. Is it easy to classify ourselves as individuals into one of these categories? Do these labels have any real meaning in determining the agenda of the government you vote for? Are these labels used to manipulate us and, if so, how should we respond?
Are you ‘Left’, ‘Right’, or somewhere in between?
While a growing number of people are realising that these labels have lost any meaning (if they ever had any), many still happily self-identify as one or the other. However, the problem with self-identifying along the Left-Right spectrum is that, even if political theorists succeed in defining certain dimensions of political identity that supposedly indicate where you lie on that spectrum(e.g. attitudes to economic equality), hardly anyone falls neatly into one side of all the defined dimensions. So for example, someone might place a high value on economic equality, weighing down on the Left side of the scale, only to confound the theorists by also placing a high value on self-determination and autonomy, tipping problematically to the Right side of the scale.
To make things even more complicated, who decides that valuing self-determination and autonomy is a value that deserves bucketing on the ‘Right’ side? Again, not everyone shares the same view of what it means in practice to value self-determination and autonomy.
Individual complexity tends to render the labels meaningless, and the willingness to self-identify as one or the other is more likely to be driven by a tribalism that has increased exponentially as a result of people’s need to belong to groups and the effect that social media echo chambers are having in amplifying the worst aspects of this need.
The reality of our day-to-day existence and interactions is that we pretty much all value the same things because the overwhelming tendency of human beings is to measure the things that matter to us based on universal principles of right and wrong. But you might not think so if you avidly follow the moral outrage expressed daily in the media culture wars. The thing to remember is that these are extreme minority views deliberately amplified by the media because rage sells. A key tactic used to evoke your rage is the removal of nuance and context from events and debates, thereby oversimplifying an issue and making you think it’s easy to know what’s right and wrong and whose side you should take based on your assigned label. Not coincidentally, the same tactic of de-nuancing and over-simplification is used in constructing the Left / Right labels you’re expected to proudly wear. It’s a carefully constructed and total mess; don’t fall for it.
In reality, we aren’t screaming at each other when we commute to and from work, interact with colleagues in the office and socialise in the evening at the pub. Contrary to the rage expressed and amplified in the media, we actually do know how to get along and respect each other’s differences. We do know what matters to most of us, and it’s not reflected in the spurious ‘Left’ / ‘Right’ labels or the media’s hate fest.
There are some fundamental values that 99% of us can agree on and which should be reflected in concrete government policies but aren’t. Most of us are anti-war. Nearly all of us are likely to believe that workers should have basic protections to ensure they aren’t ruthlessly exploited. Most of us want to protect the environment that we depend on for life itself. And few are likely to be against religious freedom and freedom of speech. The aim is to be able to respect the subtle differences in each other’s beliefs and viewpoints but for those differences not to impinge on our own freedom and sovereignty. This is entirely achievable. Our loved ones and families come first, and we expect governments not to interfere in that sacred space unless natural law is being transgressed. We all aspire to a better quality of life through improvements in health, education standards, housing, job security and safety.
And yet, amazingly, our government is failing on nearly all the vitally important things that we all want and can all agree on. Why is this?
Does the government’s agenda align with yours?
If you were a Labour voter who was concerned about growing inequality and the financialisaton of the economy at the expense of ordinary people, you would have to admit that a Labour government egged on the system that contributed to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. If you were a Conservative voter who thought that a Conservative government would deliver on its promise to take back control from unelected bureaucrats working for institutions over which we have no control, then you’d have to be pretty disappointed that the current Conservative government is determined to grant the World Health Organisation legally binding powers to dictate public health measures in the UK during a public health emergency.
If you were neither a Labour nor Conservative voter and were concerned about your government’s continued involvement in overseas wars, you’d have to admit that both parties are absolutely united in their determination to fuel military conflicts abroad instead of seeking diplomatic solutions. You’d also have to wonder why it is that both parties remain committed to stoking conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine, which do not serve any national or defence interest whatsoever, but have also saddled us with record-high energy prices.
So why are both red and blue governments totally uninterested in the things that matter to ordinary people? Toby Rogers sums it up:
“The state is just a collection of rich and powerful interests — ‘we the people’ ain’t one of them…It exists to manage interests.”
The state, as constituted under the current corrupted political party system, should not be mistaken for a collective of people who have our interests at heart. Through corporate ownership of the media (which powerfully influences public opinion on the major issues affecting voting decisions), a corrupting lobby system, a revolving-door appointment system between government and corporates, both political parties are essentially captured by powerful global corporations whose interests they serve. The methods of control just mentioned are only a few of the available means of manipulation, but they are significant nevertheless. It should therefore be obvious to us that the purpose of the state is to manage the interests of global corporations, and those interests very rarely align with ours in the big scheme of things.
Dramatic evidence for the power of financial institutions over the government of the day was provided by the unseating of the newly appointed Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, in 2022. One need not have been a supporter of their policies or the Conservative Party to appreciate the true meaning of that event. We are told that the their “planned tax cuts were rejected by financial markets”, and for this they had to go. So the ‘financial markets’ are an invisible god to which all humans must supplicate for mercy or risk burning in hell. And both Kwarteng and Truss did in fact prostrate themselves at the feet of the god of markets by cravenly “acknowledge[ing] the role financial markets played” in their demise.
These markets undertake, among other financial functions, the issuance of the financial instruments of debt under which our economies have been enslaved. The financial markets serve powerful financial institutions, including but not limited to central banks and, as such, ‘the markets’ do not work for us. They are not that invisible and they certainly aren’t gods. They’re run by humans with more power than they should have. We have to change this, but it will not be easy.
Are we being manipulated?
All of this is well understood by those whose aim in life is to ascend the greasy pole of politics and who come to you once every five years asking for your vote. Those who either don’t understand it, or do understand it but miscalculate, are ruthlessly dealt with, as were Kwarteng and Truss. The four- or five-yearly Punch and Judy show called ‘general elections’ is there to provide the servants of global capital (government ministers and MPs) with a semblance of legitimacy to continue fleecing you on behalf of their masters. And the false and divisive Left-Right game is a key weapon in their armoury.
Political parties have successfully cultivated their Left and Right brands to mask the true product they are selling. They are in the business of selling you ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ ideas that have immense emotional pull and entice you into believing that your selected party cares about the things you do. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, it’s very easy to get enraged by Left-Right identity politics and culture wars, but they are a sideshow to distract you from the real business of government – managing the interests of powerful corporate and financial institutions.
The government of the day, whatever its colour, pretty much never delivers on the things that matter to you. Not only do we know this, but we’ve become so cynical about it that many, if not most, of us have now completely given up our aspirations for improving our quality of life. We’ll now settle for the house not blowing up. But if we set such low expectations, we should not be surprised when the house does blow up. That may soon happen if the debt bomb sitting underneath a fragile economy, teetering as it is on the brink of collapse, explodes. The political class certainly seems committed to this path by remaining steadfast in its determination to escalate military conflicts abroad.
The solution – the Independent Alliance
MPs are currently loyal to their party and to the party system, not to you. Voting harder under the current Punch and Judy paradigm of electoral politics is not going to change anything, because you’re not dealing with the puppeteer. So what will? Well, we could withdraw our consent to be governed by not voting. But that will require the cooperation of virtually the entire country and, even in that unlikely event, we would be faced with the question: then what?
Alternatively, we can metaphorically storm the barricades of Westminster by voting for candidates whom we know are entirely independent of the current political system. Candidates vetted and chosen by you in your local constituency; candidates loyal to you and not to a Party system captured by powerful corporate interests; candidates pledging to deliver on a manifesto of policies that will shake the current system to its core. No matter how powerful those interests are, they cannot win once they are faced down by truly independent MPs accountable only to the constituents who elected them and not to the Uni-party system. The Independent Alliance has a plan for achieving this. So if you want to start backing yourself and not The System, back the Independent Alliance and get involved in its action plan.