I know, I know...it's about economics, free trade v planned economy, low taxes v tax-and-spend. On social matters, it's traditionalist v progressive, mostly pro v anti aggression, (and one for any pro-lifers reading) against v for the killing of babies.
But there are problems with this way of seeing politics. Perhaps I should explain:
1. It turns it into a sport. This may seem OK, but it encourages ignorance and tribalism, and individuals are pushed to conform towards one philosophy or the other. If you hold some 'left wing' beliefs and some 'right wing' beliefs, you are considered a 'centrist', the ultimate insult - someone who sits on the fence and can't make up their minds. Probably because they're not 'educated' enough to join the fight against the 'evil Communist left' or the 'evil Fascist right'.
2. It can not be a yardstick to determine what is 'good' government. I refuse to view the world through a spectrum which places Ghandi next to Robert Mugabe. Governments can be called 'left' or 'right', but this has no bearing on whether or not that society is free or prosperous.
Take African 'left wing' societies (eg Angola?) and compare them to some Social Democratic European nations (I'm thinking Sweden in particular). What is the difference? You might want to say Sweden is richer, which would be true. But it is also more 'free' (I presume! - if not Angola then pick another dictatorship with left wing status, eg Zimbabwe). You presumably can voice opposition without getting "long sleeves or short sleeves" if you know what I mean.
Now look at 'right wing' societies. The classic example of course is Nazi Germany (cracks me up when people say that regime was socialist...it wasn't socialism posing as nationalism, it was vice versa). This was quite a capitalist country. Compare with America (pre-2007 of course, and I mainly refer to the postwar period) which was a prosperous society, also considered primarily a capitalist and low-ish tax country. Yet the two would fall next to each other on the left-right spectrum.
So it's not looking too good for the left-right paradigm as a viable scale on which governments can be measured. Perhaps I could suggest an alternative scale?
The Authority-Liberty paradigm.
Totalitarianism - Authoritarianism ----------- Libertarianism -- Anarchism
The left-right paradigm is mainly economic, and the result has been a divide in the idea of what freedom is. Generally, the 'left' will tell you what to do with money, but allow you other freedoms such as 'human rights'; and the 'right' will allow you to do as you wish with your money, but is more likely to promote blowing other people up. Why can't we do as we wish with our money and not have to blow other people up? Because we're not presented with that choice, on the left-right paradigm.
On the authority-liberty paradigm, we are falling towards tyranny faster than the collapse of WTC7 (had to get a 'freefall speed' reference in there). ALL of us in the 'developed' world. Gordon Brown is half right - we have a global problem - but we need 'local solutions', not global ones. "Think Global, Act Local". The people who advocate more socialism, more 'war on terror' and continuing the mindlessly expensive warfare that comes with it, and more 'Big Brother' - these are people who I want to warn about the potential for the combination of a Technocratic Fascist Global Government, with the Eugenicist agenda of the NWO. I want to tell them that "You're Going the Wrong Way!"
Freedom is an indivisible whole. We use the word all the time. You are either free or you are not. "None are free until all are free". The left-right paradigm ensures that you will only ever be HALFWAY free. You'll always have someone telling you what to do - whether it's to give more taxes to the state or suppoort a war. Me, I am just a stubborn lad who doesn't like being told what to do :-) but I am pretty sure that many people, stubborn or otherwise, don't like over-reaching authority and the evil it brings.
Let's not push politics 'further to the left', or 'further to the right', let's push it 'further to the free'. Limited government is not a 'right wing' concept - if you don't limit government, IT will limit YOU.