One of the primary reasons we have such trouble discussing politics in this nation is because we understand so little about politics. For instance: how many of us really understand what “Left” and “Right” mean in American politics? And how many of those understand that it means something entirely different in Europe? Wouldn’t you expect someone like the President of the United States to know the difference? Well, apparently, he either doesn’t know it, or he is deliberately trying to deceive people again. Here’s the story:
“You know, I have to say that if I were here in Europe, I’d probably be considered right in the middle, maybe center-left, maybe center-right, depending on the country,” Obama said Wednesday in Stockholm. “In the United States sometimes the — the names I’m called are quite different.”
In America, “Left” means government control and “Right” means liberty. Thus, on the far Left would be Tyranny, and on the far Right, Anarchy. However, in Europe, these terms are reversed. In Europe, “Left” means Liberal – in the classic sense (i.e. Jefferson Liberalism) and “Right” refers to the legacy of nobility (i.e. centralized control). The terms came about because the Liberals sat on the left side of the legislative body whereas the representatives of the ruling class sat on the right side. Things were further complicated when the Communists launched a propaganda campaign designed to undermine support for the Fascists. The Communists presented the Fascists as being to the Right – in the European sense – and Communism on the Left. In reality, both Communism and Fascism belong on the European Right (American Left), but the Communist propaganda campaign worked: the majority of Americans still believe that Fascism belongs on the American Right.
But here’s the point. When Obama said he would be to the right in Europe, he was correct, but only because the right represents the side of authoritarianism in Europe. In America, the Left represents authority. Regrettably, it is an open question as to whether or not Obama understands this and is trying to deceive people, or if he is actually this ignorant of political history.