Too many on the Left want to simplify everything down to “Left-wing good/Right-wing evil”. It’s childish and wrong
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BY LISA GRAVES
I recently took two online Political Compass tests, and both found me to be very much on the liberal Left side of the chart. I don’t for one moment think these tests are the most accurate way of finding out people’s specific political leanings, but I do think they provide a decent enough indication. So why am I writing for a Conservative publication? Well, partly because of the way I run my Twitter account, I’m seen by many to be Right-wing. I’m very often critical of Left-wing behaviour and so naturally I’m seen as a ‘Bad Guy’ by many on the Left.
When it comes to Left-wing vs Right-wing politics, there’s a tendency from many on the Left to oversimplify arguments and issues down to ‘Left-wing good/Right-wing evil’. I find this depressingly unhelpful and downright infantile, especially when the goalposts as to what makes you Left-leaning seem to have been moved more towards the far-Left over the past few years. Or at least that’s what much of the mainstream media and online social media platforms would have us believe. The reality is that people in the real world mostly don’t appear to echo this sentiment. But of course, they wouldn’t because they’re probably all Nazis…
This phenomenon couldn’t be more apparent then when you look at Brexit. If you voted to Remain you are good and tolerant, whereas if you voted Leave, you obviously hate foreign people, want to see the NHS burn just for shits and giggles, and have likely attempted the resurrection Hitler many times over in order to assist him in completing his plans to implement the glorious New Order across all of Europe… oh wait.
The thing is, when it comes to humanity, there is no good people vs evil people. There are only people. As an observer, the main difference between those who identify as Right and those who see themselves as Left-wing seems to be that those on the Left tend to favour empathy and compassion, sometimes to the detriment of more practical solutions, whereas those on the Right tend to prioritise logic and reason before more emotional concerns. I am aware that this is also very much a simplification and does not apply to everyone, but it’s just something I’ve observed on a surface level. Neither of these viewpoints are intrinsically ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and both have their merits. Therefore, it’s vital that as a society we should be able to discuss important issues without it devolving into childish insults and the no-platforming of ‘bad people’ etc.
From an early age we have this notion of good and bad hardcoded into us via fables and fairy-tales. It continues long into adulthood through the medium of film, theatre, and video games. In almost every story, there has to be a ‘bad guy’ doing something evil for the good guy to defeat. Even the blandest of romantic comedies will generally have the good guy in love with a girl who is going out with the bad guy, but through a series of twee events he wins her over in the end. There is a subconscious need for us to make sense of the world around us, and humans as individuals are so deeply complex that it’s sorely tempting to boil them down to ‘good’ vs ‘bad. Particularly when it comes to politics, which tends to be very tribal-driven.
Of course, throughout history and across every aspect of society there have been people who have done genuinely evil things. There are people out there who (in my opinion) do indeed hold abhorrent views when it comes to their perception of others. I’m not attempting to argue that isn’t something that happens. What I am saying is that it’s counterproductive to accuse someone of being an alt-Right white supremacist simply because they voted out of the European Union, or to accuse someone of anti-Semitism simply because they support Labour.
We are all guilty of reducing people with whom we disagree down to Disney-levels of evil villain characterisation to an extent. It’s easy, and it prevents us from having to see that person as a human being, therefore we can justify insulting or dismissing them completely. It’s something I believe we must become more aware of, chiefly because this attitude has had a huge influence on the recent push to implement limits on speech and people’s freedom of expression.
Lisa Graves is a comedy writer and journalist, and co-writer of twitter sensation Godfrey Elfwick (before he got banned). Follow her: @godblesstoto