A reply to Hyrum Lewis on *The Myth of Left and Right*
The remarks on falsificationism conflate the logical arguments concerning that epistemology with the practical difficulties of sometimes (but not always) applying it. https://jclester.substack.com/p/critical-rationalism
1) Foreign policy seems the most wishy washy of things. Hard to map onto left/right. Partly because domestic politics tend to dominate and how foreign policy affects domestic politics is complicated and shifting.
2) Obviously, the National Socialists were more pro-market than the Stalinists or Maoists. Hitler never outlawed trading or prices. There were no man made famines in Germany in peacetime. People used money, there were prices, etc. The entire schtick of the National Socialists is that they would solve the class warfare problem by turning the energy outwards and thus avert communist revolution. The fact that the KPD were Stalinist stooges didn't help.
This is why the industrialists endorsed Hitler. He seemed better than the KPD. If he had a more rational foreign policy then he probably would have been better then the KPD (and honestly, West Germany probably still did better in the end vs if there was a communist revolution, that's how bad communism is).
3) I still think "the most salient metric for equality" is the best metric for left/right. It explains the change from the left being pro market (when opposing divine right and noble titles) to anti-market (once we were politically equal but peoples value in the market differed).
I agree with the Lewis Brothers, and I'm not a fan of Bryan's simplistic theory of right and left. First, the part about the right being defined by being anti-left is entirely consistent with the social theory of politics. Second, even if liberals are "anti-market", Bryan never addresses the cause of this view. The social theory would predict that people become liberals because of upbringing, peers, or genuinely caring about one issue then later adopt anti-market views due to socialization. Can Bryan make a compelling argument that people start out anti-market and choose to join "the left" as a result of already holding these views?
“Better fits the totality of the evidence.” This, not falsificationism, is what “separates rationality from dogmatism and science from religion.”
This is a misleading statement. I agree that “falsification” is a naive standard for science, but ascertaining truth by selecting the explanation that best fits the totality of the evidence applies to theological claims as well - it is why there was a Protestant reformation and different schools of scholasticism after all. The question is what counts as good evidence and what is the scope of “totality”. Seeking the difference between science and religion on these terms is a category mistake. Theology is the intellectual study that can be compared to science whereas religion is the social expression of theology. Perhaps the difference is more akin to the sociological study of marriage and the culture of partnerships within a society.
Here's more examples of the "left" supporting freer markets: sex/dating market, porn, friendship, women in the labor force, parental care, abortion, transgender hormone and surgery market, and even spiritual marketplace outside traditional religious suppliers
Bryan complaining about overconfident assertions is really funny. Love his work because it's bold and provocatively contrarian. Hyrum and Verlan are giving him a taste of his own medicine.
Also, another example of the left being more pro-market is with gender, leftists supporting freer access to hormones and surgery.
Is it a good enough essence if it only applies to the US? Maybe it is. Meanwhile in Europe (or actually my part of Europe, I don't bother to pay enough attention to other country's inside politics to know well, I'm sorry) this left-right axis doesn't work at all. Here the conservatists (older, less educated, from countryside) are pro-redistribution but e.g. anti-gay-marriage (they get called 'the left' sometimes for their business views and 'right' for their social views, but generally this distinction just doesn't work); the educated, city-dwelling progressives are pro-minority-rights and pro-market. (And then there are young educated real leftists who are anti-capitalism and pro-minority-rights but also very much anti-communism and pro-countryside-living-like-grandma-did).
So how come in the American system the socially conservative views have managed to mingle with pro-business views and vice versa? I suppose it's because social liberalism and economic liberalism are orthogonal to each other and can change groups independently. Which means we shouldn't try to fit them on a single axis - this is how it gets totally confusing to try and make sense of it internationally.
At least we should differentiate the market axis (amount of government meddling and redistribution: maybe this could be called left-right) and social axis (more freedom and therefore more change in social mores; call it conservative-liberal?). Both left-right and conservative-liberal can have usable 'essences' if the probability of falling to one end of either axis is predicted by people's neurological traits (has this survived replication crises?).
I still think that this both arguments are missing the point that the left and right can support specific policies for DIFFERENT REASONS. They can both support abortion - the left if they focus on the feminist concerns for autonomy of the woman, the right if they focus on the rights of the unborn baby. So the question is "have the right and left supported/opposed the same policy for the same reason?"
Your take on falsificationism is the straw man version. Hyrum was perhaps at fault for bringing it up and applying it in an oversimplified fashion, but then the way to refute him is not to compound the error.
After the Richard Hoste scandal, I don't think you should link to or quote Hanania anymore.
For those curious, here is one link about it: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/scholar-racist-past-cost-him-141722188.html
Science starts w/logical abstractions from observation, not from arbitrary and conventional ideas or (subjective or mystical) aprioris. Left and Right conceptualizze tthe historically influential egalitarian alternatives of egalitarianism. Eg, Right is associated or combined with-NOT logically consistent with-individual rights capitalism. That does not change the fact of elitism as historically influential. And it does not change the fact that capitalism is basically individualist, not basically elitist. True, capitalism is non-basically elitist. But, contra Leftists, capitalism and fascism are not basically elitism. Baseball is not basically a cap-wearing sport. Politics is a need of mans life. Life, not emotion. In society, mans basic need is independent judgment because force contradicts mind. Thus the basic logical, political alternatives are individualism and collectivism. The fact that these are rarely conceptualized is irrelevant. In this context, the only individualist politics is capitalism. All others are collectivist, eg, Nazism, Leftism,welfare state, tribalism, monarchism, Marxism, conservatism, etc. Man needs to know the basic effect on his life of his politics, individualist or collectivist. He does not need to know whether collectivist politics is elitist or egalitarianism. He will be destroyed as an independent individual in both cases. And that, individual rights, is the basic political issue, not whether you are sent to a 1940s Marxist or Nazi slave labor camp or boiled alive by primitive cannibals or burned alive by virtually insane, death-worshipping, medieval Christians who hate your trivial difference from their death-worship.
It is true that the right is anti-left... but by the same standard, the left is anti-right. If either of them were in favor of the other they would then be on the other side. But this is entirely consistent with their social theory of left & right.
Stalin would often claim that other leftists weren't leftist enough. But the Bolsheviks also produced a famous attack on communists claiming a position to their left:
I don't have a link now, but I read a leftist complaining about other leftists competing over who is more radical. So anarchists claim they are more radical than all communists, and primitivist anarchists claim they are more radical than the rest of the anarchist movement. Does this mean anarchists are more anti-market than communists? Not to them. They just aren't as fixated on one's stance toward markets as an indicator of one's political position as Bryan is.
Hi Bryan, it is an interesting discussion. I agree with you that there is definitely a mix of social and fundamentals in our personal beliefs on politics. (For me the UK vote to leave the EU was the best example. In the 1970s/80s a lot of the left wanted out of the EU as it was a capitalist conspiracy to reduce rights, etc. By 2016, the same constituency, with some exceptions, were passionate Pro-EU. It was just what middle class people believed was the right position to hold.)
I read a book in my Anarchist stage where it set out that it was better to think about the four corners of a square. On the left you can be Anarchist - Communist and on the right, and Fascist to Libertarian on the right. That seems to make a lot of useful sense to me. From a personal perspective I would be fairly central on left and right, but definitely at the individualist versus authoritarian position. It seems pertinent to some of the above?