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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Right or Left? This is us!

Blogger’s Note: This week marks the end of a four months hiatus by the blogger. During this break, the blogger has racked up miles and has been doing some soul searching. This article will answer some of the more frequently asked questions about The Politician itself during its break.


SOME readers, particularly those used to the left-right split in most democratic legislatures, are bamboozled by The Politicians political stance. The blog likes free enterprise, lower taxes and tends to favour deregulation and privatization. The blog also has no qualms with gay marriage and pushes for female empowerment as well as equality. We want drugs legalized and disapprove of monarchy in any part of the world. So is this blog right-wing or left-wing? What does it stand for?
Neither, is the answer. The blogger started writing in December 2012. The blog seems to be influenced by classical liberals in the tradition of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, William Ewart Gladstone and yes, Nnamdi Azikiwe. 

This intellectual ancestry has guided the blogger's instincts ever since: it opposes all undue curtailment of an individual’s economic or personal freedom. It is however not dogmatic. Where there is a liberal case for government to do something, The Politician will air it. Early in its life, the blogger has been a keen supporter of income and inheritance tax. For example, it is shocking that only 10% of Indians pay income tax and houses worth millions of dollars in Nigeria are untaxed and passed on from generation to generation, creating a yawning inequality. The blogger backs causes like universal health care, welfare and gun control. But its starting point is that government should only remove power and wealth from individuals when it has an excellent reason to do so, as stated above. The blog also believes governments should cater for the weakest and those with the broadest shoulders should carry the heaviest weight - like religious institutions.

The concepts of right- and left-wing predate The Politicians foundation by two centuries. They first referred to seating arrangements in the National Assembly in Paris during the French Revolution. Monarchists sat on the right, revolutionaries on the left. To this day, the phrases distinguish conservatives from egalitarians. But they do a poor job of explaining This blog’s liberalism, which reconciles the left’s impatience at an unsatisfactory status quo with the right’s scepticism about grandiose redistributive schemes. So although its belief is as rich as that of any reactionary or revolutionary, the blog has no permanent address on the left-right scale. In most countries, the political divide is conservative-egalitarian, not liberal-illiberal. So we have no party allegiance, either. When it covers elections and yes it does, it gives its endorsement to the candidate or party most likely to pursue classically liberal policies. It will throw its weight behind politicians on the right and on the left. It could  support centrist politicians and parties who appear to combine the best of both sides, such as Tony Blair, whose combination of social and economic liberalism was persuasive (though it criticized his government’s infringements of civil liberties).

When The Politician opines on new ideas and policies, (like its big yam idea for Lagos, Nigeria). We do so on the basis of their merits, not of who supports or opposes them. Some, like attacking monopolies and targeting public spending on the poor and the young, had a leftish hue. Others, like raising retirement ages and introducing more choice in education, were more rightish. The result, "True Progressivism"is a blend of the two: neither right nor left, but all the better for it, and coming instead from what The Politician likes to call the RADICAL CENTRE. Put simply, we have economic and social liberalism to spare.