Undoubtedly, you've seen several explanations of what Left and Right mean in politics. Most of it is meaningless, because Statists have successfully re-defined terms such as "Nazi".
Have you ever heard someone say, "I think of the political spectrum in a way where you can go so far that you actually end up on the other side, almost like a circle."? Doesn't make sense, does it? That's because logical thinkers understand that Nazism is nearly identical to Communism. But what about those critical differences?
More importantly, I ask you, "What critical differences?"
Nazi is the shortened version of Adolf Hitler's labor union. In the German language, it's "Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei". That translates directly to National-socialist German Worker's Party. The Bolsheviks in the old Soviet Union were the Marxist Russian Social-Democrat Worker's Party.
Both of these groups were Socialist. Socialist, Communist, and Fascist are all synonyms for "Statist". All of these philosophies place the State, the collective, above all - above any individual. In Statist societies, the individual has no rights and no property. The State owns all property and arbitrarily dictates what rights individuals might or might not enjoy. Some will argue that Nazis allowed individuals to own property. Nazis, as did the Italian Fascists, maintained that the State owned the individual, but the individual was allowed to own some property. Any logical thinker must understand that if the State owns you, it automatically owns what you possess.
Fascism, Nazism, Communism and Socialism are all collectivist forms of government where the rights of the individual are suppressed so the State can oversee the "good" of all - the collective. Thus, anyone who asserts real philosophical differences exist between Nazism and Communism is being intellectually dishonest. By extension, one must question the reasoning that places Nazism on the Right and Communism on the Left . These Statist philosophies necessarily should sit side-by-side.
The more Statist a government becomes, the less free the individuals within that State. Freedom, necessarily, must place itself in greater quantities at greater distance from Statism. At the opposite end of the political spectrum from Communism is then not Nazism, but Anarchy. Anarchy is the total absence of the State and total freedom for all individuals. Unfortunately, basic human nature will quickly end an anarchistic situation as stronger individuals will soon begin to prey upon weaker individuals. The need to protect the rights and property of individuals is the genesis for the requirement of the State to exist.
Individuals agree that the rights of all individuals must be protected. So all individuals permit a monopoly to violence to their government that the government will protect and preserve the rights of all individuals, adjudicating arguments and punishing those who violate the rights of others. This is the basic function of government. As governments assume more and more functions, they must necessarily place a greater economic burden on the individuals in order to provide the services performed in execution of those functions. Individuals begin to give up their freedoms in return for reduced economic prosperity and some government services.
Below is a graphical representation of the Political Spectrum (download to view larger version). Since Americans read from left-to-right, I have represented the political spectrum from left-to-right - from least amount of government to most amount of government.
I have also added an historical element to the graphic. When America began as its own country, after the Declaration of Independence was written, Americans feared a strong-central authority. The first pass at a national government that emerged from the anarchy of the Revolutionary War was the Articles of Confederation. This document barely bound the individual states to each other. There was no executive enforcement power in the Articles, and it quickly became apparent that the very loose confederation of American states would soon devolve into economic and legal chaos.
Thus, the Founders attempted to create a new form of government, a Constitutional Republic, that would bind the individual states to each other with a central authority that had the power to regulate commerce and wage war if necessary, but still leave the individual states free to govern their own peoples in the way they saw fit. Once the Constitution was written, the Federalists Papers were published by the Founders in an attempt to convince the citizens of the various states to adopt by popular vote the new government. This was the first time in recorded human history that a new government was adopted by the consent of the those who would be governed. This is critical, because every other single government known to man had always been imposed on its subjects by force. In these United States of America there would be no subjects. All people would be free citizens by simple virtue of their birth.
From the Greater Boston Tea Party comes this beautiful info-graphic. It succinctly draws the line between two movements that have very little ideological overlap:
This blog post is a condensed version of an article written by Daniel James Sanchez at the Mises Institute, The Profound Significance of Social Harmony. Sanchez's article does an excellent job of trouncing the mercantilism of Marxists with the freedom of Capitalism. He wrote it back on August 30th, weeks before the Marxist Occupiers began their attack on American Capitalism. At the time, I extracted just these notes from his discussion as I thought they were the perfect distillation of Capitalism's meaning and why it's critical to a free society. Today, I see how important the rest of the article is to understanding how misguided the Occupiers are in their protests.
If you believe in freedom, you must educate yourself regarding American history, the Constitution and economics. These 3 areas of knowledge are critical to American Conservatives if you want to speak intelligently with Progressives and Liberals. Radical Communists, Socialists, Anarchists and Islamists are taking to the streets today in major cities across America. You must know why you resist them.
I love the quote that doubles as the tag-line for this blog. It's from Leonardo da Vinci, and it's been my motto since the first time I read the words.