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Friday July 19th 2019Tim Candler9

 

     The origin of Left and Right in politics goes back a bit. In the May of 1789 in France there was a financial crisis, this along with a general all round grumpiness with the way things were going resulted in a gathering of interested groups which in France was called the Estates General. It was kind of like the Jirga of the Afghans and the tribes of the western part of Pakistan, some tribes more powerful than others. Yet it was a get together to discuss things and maybe come up with a solution without resorting to bloodshed. The Estates General included three basic Estates, the Clergy, the Nobility and Commoners. In France the Estates General had been around since the 14th Century and over the years it had evolved a little. Well in the June of 1789 the power sharing arrangements in the Estates General weren't really cutting it for us Commoners, decisions were being made that we Commoners didn't really feel represented our point of view at the table and pretty much anything we said was being totally ignored and then denigrated as stupid or ignorant, or unpatriotic. The result was we Commoners decided the Estates General didn't give us the power we felt our ideas deserved, and we demanded a new system otherwise things out there in the streets of Paris could break loose and we as representatives of the commoners might well be persuaded to encourage that unrest. The result was a new gathering called a General Assembly which had a more democratic distribution of power between the individual representatives, and there were quarrels about whether a representative should be even allowed to join a party or whether each individual should just have to jolly well think for themselves, instead of turning up and being told how to vote or face dire consequences.

 

Past

     One of the things was that the General Assembly was held in the same very important looking building that the Estates General had been held in. And you know how people are, we get all self important when we're in important buildings. So there was a sort of traditional positioning when an individual representative was deciding what to wear, where to stand or sit. In the old days the more aristocrat types had the Right side of the building and the more commoner types had the Left of the building. And the same kind of thing happened with the General Assembly, which despite the intensity of the Revolution nonetheless included many who were over there are on the Right side of the building who found the more common in their number somewhat distasteful of manner, language, dress, education, bathing habits and so on. In the General Assembly the Right side of the building were more backward looking in terms of Equality, Brotherhood and Liberty, and the Left side of the building were all for the possibilities of a truly unique and wonderful future for everyone. This free wheeling General Assembly struggled on for a couple of years and was soon replaced by a more tyrannical arrangement. It was the French newspapers, in their attempt to grasp what was going on in the General Assembly, who came up with Left and Right to describe the opposing political leanings. Not until the 1930's did Left and Right enter the political discourse of the English Language. British newspapers were attempting to grasp where the English Parliament stood on the Spanish Civil War. Those Members of Parliament who had positive thoughts about the Nationalist or more backward looking tyrannical fascist cause were the Right and those who rooted for the Republican or the more adventurous and exciting cause were the Left.

 

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