(Original post by Davij038)
The left and right wing paradigms are now virtually useless or at least unrecognisable in regards to social attitudes for instance George Osbourne can be labelled a left winger whereas say Rod Liddle is a right winger despite economic policies far to the left of George's .
I see you haven't actually provided a definition of the left or of the right and you also haven't descripted the main fundamental differences between two sides of the spectrum.
I'll give you my take on it, a lot of which comes from Paul Gottfried's political epistemology, and then give some reasons as to why I think the horseshoe theory doesn't make sense.
I see the fundamental difference between the left and the right as being that the left favours equality as justice while the right sees hierarchy as either being just or necessary or natural. So the most right-wing government is absolute monarchy while the most left-wing is communistic. Now we see this in economic policy where the left wants a society that is as equal as possible while the right tolerates inequality or sees inequality of wealth and income as being just or normal in some way. We also see this in social policy where the left, for example, favours feminist equality while the true right sees there being a natural hierarchy in family structure with the man as head of the household. In a traditional society there is hierarchy everywhere. In the family, in the Church, in the political system, class hierarchy and the ultimate hierarchy of all with God above the whole human race. Seeing the right from the left in this way we can see that our societies as a whole are on the left of the spectrum because they have an egalitarian political system (democracy where every person's voice is counted equally) and we have feminism rather than patriarchy.
The other primary difference between right and left would be that the left generally believes that human nature is highly malleable and that if we get rid of inequality, bad institutions, economic systems that breed selfishness, patriarchy, etc. that humans will act much better towards one another and crime, poverty, immorality and violence will be greatly diminished. The right's view of human nature is much darker however. The right generally sees there as always and inevitably being a negative side to human nature that must be curbed, controlled, disciplined, etc. The right is less utopian in this sense in that they think a perfect human society is not possible simply because human nature is not perfect. This idea we can see in the Christian religion with the idea of original sin.
While there may be some similarities between the actions of left and right wing politics on some occasions. Usually we can tell apart left and right using the two criteria mentioned above. I don't think state power or totalitarianism is something that is unique to either the left or right even if it is usually found on the left. Neither do I think that economic policies are the best indicator of left and right because, as you mention below, the left in the 19th century contained many free market liberals. Now you may think I am contradicted myself by saying that because I've already mentioned that equality is the supreme value of the left but I don't believe I have because there are a number of things it is possible to be egalitarian about and with the political spectrum we are obviously dealing in broadstrokes. In my view the Chartists would be on the left because of their advocacy for universal suffrage even though there were advocates of a free market.
(Original post by Davij038)
My proposed way of somplifying this is to introduce the paradigms Communitarian and Individualist as a way to make sense of the horseshoe theory and modern political discourse
CommmunitarIans: what links Peter Hitchens with Natalie Bennet? The belief that society has failed and that it needs to be changed in order for a truly free moral society can be built. The only difference is that hitchens's one is conceived from the past and Bennetts the future- In short then we as humans are not free under an immoral system as they see it, unites them. We cannot be free in a godless/ consumerist society.
individualists: what links Tim Farron and Douglas Carswell? Ultimately that we are free as we are and that any proposed morality should be down to the concerned individuals who are free to choose. We are free to follow our own conscience as it sees fit.
The problem with communitarianism is that it is just too vague. All it really seems to mean is opposition to individualism but that could be inclusive of the vast majority of political ideologies known to man.
(Original post by Davij038)
The right wing is the new left wing as initially the Tories were the guardians of public morality often based on a strict Protestant ethos. This has now largely changed to an individualist perspective as Libertarianism has become the dominant strand of right wing thinking.
The old left were classical liberals opposed to Tory sensibilities- they favoured opposing blasphemy laws and break Tory Protectionism. The New 'left' has changed drastically- now it is they who are the guardians of public morality who will disgrace Nobel laureates for impiously making off hand comments about gender- where the old right wing would try and ban offensive comedians for disturbing public decency you now have the new left boycotting musicians or comedians guilty of hate crime.
The reality isn't that the left have taken over the guardian of morality position that you think that the Tories had but that we have moved to the left as a civilisation for the last 115 years at the very least. Political correctness doesn't resemble old moral standards because old moral standards were very rarely actually the preserve of the state. Those sort of moral standards i.e. traditional moral standards have been maintained in every traditional civilisation known to man and they weren't enforced through state violence on the whole.