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Re: Left

Posted by R. Berg on May 12, 2007

In Reply to: Re: Oddly fixating on things mentioned in passing posted by pamela AKA pamla on May 12, 2007

: : : : : : : : : What does 'bit left of center' mean?

: : : : : : : : It refers to political orientation. If you are on the left, you are leftist (at least in the eyes of those on the right), which is characterized by one degree another of liberalism and beyond. If you are a liberal you probably favor such things as a woman's right to choose; the separation of church and state; the elimination of discrimination on the basis of sex or race or the like; the use of government to benefit all levels of society; the adoption of deficit spending, possibly on the Keynesian model, to help the economy recover from a deep recession or a depression; and in general the active use of government for utopian ends. Farther to the left, you may favor an outright socialist model of government. Farther to the left than that you can favor Communism, Marxism, or some even more incomprehensible model of government. Being a bit left of center is barely disinguishable from being a centrist, or mugwump. And where the center is nobody knows.
: : : : : : : :
: : : : : : : : What it means to be to the right of center someone else should respond, if a response is necessary.

: : : : : : : : The origin of "left" and "right" lies in the seating arrangements of Parliament, in which the Tories are seated on the right, the others (Socialists, Labor, Liberal, anything not Tory) on the left. Since nobody sits in the center aisle, there are no English MPs in the center. But left and right are used more figuratively than literally when it comes to political orientation.
: : : : : : : : SS

: : : : : : : The French National Assembly was using left and right (in French of course) in this manner in the 1790's. The nobles sat to the right of the President and the commoners on the left.

: : : : : : Those on the left view themselves as "progressive", on the side of social progress and openness to change.

: : : : : : The term originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president's chair, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right. It is still the tradition in the French Assemblée Nationale for the representatives to be seated left-to-right (relative to the Assemblée president) according to their political alignment.

: : : : : : The left has traditionally been concerned with the lower classes and with combatting oppression.

: : : : : : As civil and human rights gained more attention during the twentieth century, the left has allied itself with advocates of racial and gender equality and cultural tolerance. Most of the left has been opposed to imperialism, colonialism and war. The left has historically supported movements for national self-determination.

: : : : : : Advocacy of government or social intervention in the market puts those on the left at odds with advocates of the free market as well as corporations (who oppose government control of the markets) when they see their interests threatened.

: : : : : : Here in the US the separation of church and state is neither a right or left concept as it has been codified into our Consitution via the Bill of Rights:

: : : : : : "Amendment One:
: : : : : : Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

: : : : : I'm not sure if this extends beyond Australia, but (although the origin of left-of-centre is as described) "left of centre" is also used to mean unusual or unexpected with no political overtones: e .g. "A powerful force on the Australian music scene since 1997, Red Jezebel's erratic style is best described as moody, edgy left-of-centre melodic guitar rock. (http://wam.asn.au/wamifest05-ac ts.htm). There is, as far as I know, no equivilant nonpolitical use of "right-of-centre". Pamela

: : :
: : : : "the left" is generally anti-war?

: : : : tell that to the French aristocracy, the Russian in 1917, Chiang Kai Shek (sp?) and the middle classes in Maoist China, the South Vietnamese and those various African nations destroyed by Soviet-backed revolutionaries.

: : : : what a load of tosh.

: : : : when I had a secretary, her late husband - a fervent trade unionist - had gone out to Spain to fight for the International Brigades against Franco. He was then in the British army in WWII and helped liberate the concentration camps from the Nazis.

: : : : they may have seemed wars with an idealogical basis, but they were still wars.

: : : : it is a core of Marxist philosophy that the vested interests of capitalism can only be overthrown with violence.

: : : : same with fascism.

: : : : both extremes are equally violent - it is the centre that only reluctantly go to war and then to preserve their freedoms.

: : : : Proud to be a centrist,

: : : : Lewis

: : : The French aristocracy sat on the right so why are you telling me to ask them if the left is anti-war?

: : Using left-of-centre to describe something that has a focus that seems a bit off the perpendicular, per Pamlas's example, strikes me as being similar to the British expression, one off. Or am I wrong?
: : SS

: Isn't a one-off something that is unique? (It could have a different use in Britain). If someone or something was a one-off you might also say "when he/it was made they broke the mold". A better description for left-of-centre might be the old fashioned "way-out". I've heard a manager use it in the same way as "out of the box", but in the music review above, it may mean "alternative" or "arty". Mind you I don't know the band - maybe they are lefties rocking on about decapitating snobs. Pamela

: I just noticed the word "bit" was included in the original sentence. "A bit left of centre" sounds critical - perhaps "too radical for my taste" (if the political meaning was intended) or "too odd for me". Or maybe "bit" was just descriptive - that the person/thing was only a small amount to the left of the centre. And ins't there a US expression something like "from left field" to mean strange or surprising? Pamela

Yes, "from left field" (orig.: baseball) means out of the blue, absurd, unexpected. It's used of non sequiturs or questions and comments that don't follow from the context. I understand "a bit" as you do. ~rb