Even though a one-dimensional model is a simplification of politics, it does promote dialog and allows for a shortcut in political discourse. But because the left vs right dividing line is obsolete, we need new terminology.
The two extremes of this new spectrum are:
- the state is run for the benefit of corporations
- the state is run for the benefit of citizens
At one extreme (favoring corporations) you'll find both fascism (right-wing) and communism (left wing). At the other extreme is populism. I hesitate to use the accurate term 'socialism' here, even though it means, in the classic sense, the country being run for the benefit of the citizens rather than corporations. But unfortunately, most people don't know what the term means, although they believe it's bad because the corporate news says it's bad. They don't know that many of our institutions from which they benefit are socialist - infrastructure (roads, etc.), insurance, police, fire, libraries, schools, Social Security, Medicare, and even the military because they have socialistic health care.
The Occupy Movement has already successfully coined the terms "1%" and "99%" so that they have become part of the mainstream conversation, but using those terms for this new spectrum implies that if you're in the 1%, you favor corporate policies and that's not necessarily true.
Instead, I propose that we use a metaphor from the Civil War (the South had slavery, and the North was free) and adopt the terms reflecting the economic slavery of corporate control:
south-wing - benefiting the rich and corporations
north-wing - benefiting most citizens
The metaphor fits quite well in addition, because the Southern leaders were able to convince many conscientious Southerners who didn't own slaves that the Civil War was about freedom - a second War of Independence - instead of being about the protection of the brutal institution of slavery, which benefited only the rich. Similarly, today, the south-wing leaders are successfully convincing a large number of people to support south-wing policies, even though these policies are against these people's own economic self-interest.
Distract and Divide
By focusing on wedge issues (gay marriage, religion, etc.) rather than issues that will determine whether our species survives (nuclear weapons, energy, global warming, the economy, etc.), they preserve the illusion that the battle is between left and right. The politicians (with a few notable exceptions on both sides) can continue to keep people divided and voting for tweedle-dum or tweedle-dee, both of whom are in the south-wing, instead of unifying behind somebody in the north-wing who would really make a difference to the status quo.
The great Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead once said: "If you're made to pick the lesser of two evils, you're still picking evil, aren't you?"
And the result of this fraud is a vast increase in the economic chasm between the very rich and everybody else which, as history has shown, will destroy us. The ancient Roman writer Plutarch observed that "An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."
There is nothing inherently wrong with being part of the rich 1%. Economic inequality is a fact of life. And 1% of a population is in the top 1% by definition. In fact, some of the people who are in the top 1% wealth group can actually be in the north-wing depending on their views. The real issue is how people got rich - was it through honest hard work? Or was it by gaming the system by bribing politicians and relying on corporate welfare while claiming to have built their businesses and become wealthy on their own? And, as Elizabeth Warren observed, that's not to mention they've probably used roads that we all paid for, and hired employees that we all paid to educate.
One of the purposes of government is to provide boundaries to the economic playing field so that the greedy and the criminals don't harm us and things don't get out of whack. The problem is that the greedy south-wing has gamed the system, and the boundaries are in some cases non-existent. As a result, we have huge economic inequalities that are destroying our economy.