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Episode #12 | Lessons in Liberty Podcast | Left and Right Revisited

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Lessons in Liberty Podcast Episode 12, I revisit the differences between left and right.

Lessons in Liberty Podcast Episode 12 on YouTube

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Welcome to episode 12 of the Lessons in Liberty Podcast, a show where we talk about matters relating to Austrian Economics, libertarian philosophy, and right-wing politics. The show notes are available at lessonsinliberty.net/episode12. You can listen to the show through the audio player in each blog post as well as iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher. Stitcher is an award-winning free app that let’s you listen to all your favorite shows, plus discover from 65,000+ news, entertainment and sports shows. Don’t have Stitcher? … Download it free today at Stitcher.com or in the app store.

Before we get into the discussion on left and right, I want to talk a little current events. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a meme from the left-wing Facebook page “Occupy Democrats” that read,

This is Arthur Jones. He’s running for a congressional seat in Illinois as a Republican. He is a Holocaust denier and the former leader of the American Nazi Party. The Republican Party has become a safe haven for Nazis. Let that sink in.

Now, this is typical hysterical rhetoric from Occupy Democrats. Jones is running unopposed in the GOP primary in a congressional district that is so locked-down by Democrats that the GOP isn’t bothering to run an official candidate. So, it’s certainly a stretch for Occupy Democrats to state that, “The Republican Party has become a safe haven for Nazis” when apparently this isn’t the first time Jones has run in this district. I searched for Arthur Jones on Twitter and saw tweet after tweet, all posted within the last 24 hours basically saying the same thing. Claiming the GOP is safe for Nazis or that the GOP is endorsing a Nazi. Whenever the left goes after someone like this, it’s worth looking into. I’ll read through this article from Haaretz titled, “Holocaust Denier, anti-Semite Set to Clinch GOP Congressional Primary in Chicago”

The left loves to throw around terms like white-supremacist, Nazi, and Holocaust denier. Let’s talk a little about this double standard the left has with regard to Nazism and communism. You can be called a Holocaust denier if you question the numbers of Jews killed and you are sure to be blacklisted as a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer. I think the left has their own version of this and I call it Holodomor denial. Here’s a quick description of the Holodomor or the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-33 from Wikipedia

The Holodomor was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed an officially estimated 7 million to 10 million people. It was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–33, which affected the major grain-producing areas of the country. During the Holodomor millions of inhabitants of Ukraine, the majority of whom were ethnic Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine. Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine and 15 other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people carried out by the Soviet government… The reasons for the famine are a subject of scholarly and political debate. Some scholars suggest that the man-made famine was a consequence of the economic problems associated with changes implemented during the period of Soviet industrialization… Collectivization contributed to the famine. In 1929–1930, peasants were induced to transfer land and livestock to state-owned farms… It has been proposed that the Soviet leadership used the man-made famine to attack Ukrainian nationalism, and thus the man-made famine may fall under the legal definition of genocide.

The estimated deaths from the Holodomor are a fraction of the total deaths resulting from attempted implementation of socialist and communist systems. Yet, the left is very quiet about this. Because of the appalling death counts and unimaginable hell that those people went through, having to resort to cannibalism because the communists thought it was a good idea to take all the property from the most productive people who produced food, and redistribute it to the masses, it’s safe to call the left’s attitude towards the Holodomor as denial by omission, though there are nutjobs on the left who think the Holodomor never happened and is merely Nazi propaganda. Regardless, for leftists to advocate for socialism despite its track record should be an indication that these people are genocidal maniacs. You won’t see the left condemn the horrible results of socialism and communism, well, because they are communists. It’s absurd to me that Larry Reed, the president of FEE, was berated on social media for making a Facebook post suggesting that Venezuela could use a Pinochet, the Chilean general who prevented a communist takeover and likely prevented millions of deaths in Chile in the 70s, when our enemies on the left wave the flag of the Soviet Union, wear Che Guevara t-shirts, and treat communism as some humanitarian ideal rather than the reality of it being a system destined to fail regardless of who is in charge.

Now, let’s move on to revisiting left and right. I’ve said in the past as well as in an article that left and right is an economic spectrum that spans collectivization of property on the left to privatization of property on the right. Another way to think of it is socialized costs versus privatized costs or collective responsibility versus individual responsibility. There are plenty of ideologies in the middle, but collective versus private is a true dichotomy that defines the ideals on the left versus the right. I still agree with this simple definition of left and right, but there is certainly more to it. As you’ll see, the other aspects of left and right are complementary to the economic definition and fit together very well.

I’m largely convinced that there is a biological, genetic, and epigenetic distinction between people on the left and right, or liberals versus conservatives. I have to thank Stefan Molyneux for the introduction to this in a three-part video series he did called the Genetics of Politics that I recommend for those who want more info on this topic. This is referred to as r versus K selection theory.

R and K are 2 reproductive strategies that animals, including humans, adopt due to genetics and epigenetics. A good way to think of the two reproductive strategies is to think about rabbits versus lions. Rabbits are an example of r-selected reproduction and lions are an example of K-selected reproduction. Of course, all humans are K-selected compared to r-selected animals like rabbits, but we still see the dichotomy in people. So, let’s look at the differences in survival strategies between rabbits and lions. Rabbits can eat grass and other plants that are readily available to eat in the wild, in other words, the rabbit doesn’t have to worry too much about food because it’s fairly abundant. What the rabbit is really worried about is predators. So, the rabbit is just trying to eat and mate as much as possible because the rabbit could be eaten by a predator at any moment. Because the rabbit is always worried about predators, it can’t invest much into its offspring, so its strategy is to reproduce as much as possible and hope for the best. In fact, some rodents and other animals will eat their children, because it’s easy to produce more and because there is such a low rate of survival due to predators, it’s not worth it for the rabbit to take time to raise offspring more likely to survive.

The lion is a totally different situation. Lions need to use intelligence, resourcefulness, and the help of other lions to do more complex things like hunting animals rather than just having vegetation to eat in abundance. Lions can’t just do the ‘every man for themselves’ kind of thing that rabbits do because they would be less likely to survive on their own. Instead, lions pair bond and produce offspring that will learn to hunt and help the family to survive.

Ok, so let’s summarize the main traits of r-selected reproduction: Low investment in offspring, higher time preference/short time horizon, opposition to competition, emphasis on equality rather than meritocracy. And K-selected: High investment in offspring, low time preference/long time horizon, values competition, inequality is accepted and meritocracy is the norm.

From part 2 of Molyneux’s Genetics of Politics presentation: He explains the theory between conservatives and liberals regarding these reproductive strategies. The conservative theory goes: childhood success, pursuit of competition, acceptance of inequality, free market, and strong families. The liberal theory goes: childhood failure, competition avoidance, equality of outcome, socialism, and weak families.

The state knows all this and uses it against conservatives. Government programs and wealth transfers are essentially designed to take resources from the K-selected people and redistribute those resources to r-selected people. This has a dysgenic effect as the K-selected people have less resources than they would and therefore have fewer children, whereas the redistribution of wealth to r-selected people actually incentivizes and increases birth rates. It’s basically ensuring that the people who are least successful in life are the most likely to reproduce and have more offspring than more successful people. Of course, the r-selected people are going to be more open to big government, socialism, and wealth redistribution. The difference in time preference is important to understand. Conservatives will tend to have a lower time preference, meaning they will look further ahead into the future and delay gratification now. This allows people on the right to look past the initial effects of a government policy and consider the secondary consequences, whereas people on the left are more oriented in the short term, or having a high time preference, and are more likely to accept a government policy at face value. This is why there is such a disagreement between the left and right regarding things like welfare and foreign aid.

Abortion is another example of this difference. People with higher time preference are more likely to engage in risky behavior like unprotected sex and therefore abortion is their solution to not being prepared to have children. On the other hand, a conservative would say that engaging in risky behavior means you need to be responsible for the consequences. A conservative would advise against unprotected sex and other risky behaviors and instead be preparing for the future so that if he or she does have children, that he or she will be able to invest in the child. Put simply, it’s the difference between demanding free college tuition for children and saving to pay for college tuition for children.

Molyneux is right to refer to this phenomena as “gene wars” because that’s pretty much what’s going on between the left and the right. The state is almost entirely working to advantage people on the left. I hope this gave some insight into the differences between left and right. If you’re skeptical or want to learn more, I encourage you to watch Molyneux’s whole series on this.

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