Do you know left from right?

This article is independently confused political satire. Or maybe just dyslexic.

When we say “left” we usually mean left, and when we say right we usually mean right. I say “usually” because, for some reason, I always put conservatives to my left and liberals to my right.

Wikipedia says left-right disorientation is a symptom of Gertsmann’s Syndrome, a neurological order, but I seem okay otherwise. If that’s what it is, Gertsmann’s must be very common, because virtually every Army recruit has it. Ask any drill instructor.

Yet, most people put right on the right, and left on the left, at least when talking about politics. When I look up charts of political ideologies on the internet, most have conservatives on the right, and liberals on the left, although I found one (below, click to enlarge) with Stalin and Hitler in the center, which seems like a weird place to put them. So I guess not everyone agrees on left, right, and middle. Or maybe that chart is just trying to make themselves look better than they are.

(article continues below graph)

How did conservatives come to be called “right” and liberals “left” in the first place? Needless to say, extensive academic research has been done on this. Conservatives will claim it’s because they’re right and liberals are “leftists” (this seems a circular argument), but that’s incorrect. The researchers found “the origin of the political left and right actually have to with the physical directions, left and right,” of seating in France’s revolutionary parliament. (For details, click here.)

Some Francophiles claim the lexicon has linguistic roots, i.e., “In French, left is gauche which also means awkwardRight is droite, which shares its root with the English word adroit and carries the same associations with skillful dexterity.” But you can’t trust the French, and whoever says this probably is a Gaullist anyway. Besides, if you ask the average Frenchman, he’ll likely tell you he doesn’t give a damn one way or the other. (Details here.) The duck doesn’t either; he’s just drying his wings so he can fly.

I probably put liberals to my right because, well, they’re right, at least about some things and some of the time. I tried going the other way (i.e., right) when I was young, that is, I started out in life as a teenage Goldwater conservative, but it didn’t work out, even though we didn’t go to riots with AR-15s in those days to protect America from racial equality, so I went over to the left to be on the right side.

Amid all this confusion, one thing seems indisputable: Left-footed soccer players definitely are better (video below). And lefties also are better at math (details here), but that will come as no surprise to anyone who looks at club-footed GOP fiscal proposals (details here). As for Billy Jack, as I recall, he kicked with his left and hit with his right. I guess it comes down to which oar rows your boat; I row with both oars, so the boat goes straight.

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  1. Mark Adams #

    That darned Tennis Court was the only place available to meet. So the representatives sat themselves with those supporting the monarchy one one side and those supporting democracy on the other. When you can boil down something to two simple sides the left right political graph makes sense. Only politics is more complex, and composed of more than two continuums. And to make it even more confusing who are the conservatives in Russia, they are communists, which puts the whole left right continuum on a rather bazaar line.
    One continuum is which is more important. The individual or the group (or government). This does put Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Mussolini close together on one side of the graph, and supporters of the individual on the other side placing Abraham Lincoln and Ron Paul on the other. With all of them doing some kind of balancing act between the individual and the group.
    Size of government is another area where graphs are often used and generally conservatives usually believe in small government and liberals in large government. Yet some conservatives love the military industrial complex, and some liberals actually think money should be spent responsible.
    Then there is the middle that Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato are very much interested in and generally support in most situations. Something about the middle usually getting the answer right, or at least a solution the majority will live with.
    If the
    French had used a round building instead of a tennis court the world would have been saved from this whole left and right confusion. Then it would all be in the round.

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    Having experienced the Army myself, I don’t think anything in architecture would’ve made drill instructors’ lives easier.