Download Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction by Norberto Bobbio PDF

By Norberto Bobbio

Politicians and pundits have lengthy disparaged their competitors with polemicist cries of "leftist!" or "rightist!" yet with the autumn of communism and the hot conservative ascendancy within the usa and Europe, many commentators have flatly declared that the normal left/right contrast has misplaced its relevance. Now, while political gamers scramble to redefine themselves with freshly "spun" labels, Norberto Bobbio asserts that the death of the left/right contrast has been vastly exaggerated.

Bobbio argues that left and right usually are not absolute phrases, yet signify a transferring map of the political spectrum, relative to the actual cultural and ancient contexts of a given time. the excellence maintains to suffer since it displays the basically antithetical nature and dynamics of democratic politics. In his available but provocative variety, Bobbio constructs a traditionally knowledgeable, analytic department of the political universe alongside foundational axes, from equality to inequality, from liberty to authoritarianism. He then charts the earlier and current traits of the left and the perfect, in either their extra reasonable and extra virulently severe types. eventually, for Bobbio, the degree of post-modern democracy will certainly lie in the place and the way we situate ourselves relative to those severe left/right parameters, in even if we solid ourselves, our votes, and our period by way of political expediency, social viability, or ethical accountability.

A bestseller in Italy, the place it offered over 300 thousand copies, Left and Right is a vital contribution to our realizing of world political advancements within the Nineties and past.

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Extra info for Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction

Sample text

S trangely , not only have they failed to eliminate the distinction , they have made it even sharper. This is , I repeat , very strange . The only explanation , in my opinion, is that the criterion whereby one distinguishes EXTREM I S TS AND MODERATES 27 between left and right does not coincide with the one where­ by one distinguishes between left and ri ght within the two camps themselves - that is to say, between the extremist and moderate wings . The fact is that Fascism and communism are mutually exclusive , in spite of their common enemy , democracy , whose rules allow the left and the right to alternate in government .

Laponce s tates only that the horizontal metaphor has never completely eliminated the vertical one . It should be added that it has never eliminated it for the simple rea son that it could never eliminate it . The two metaphors have different descriptive functions , and the total sphere of political rela­ tions is only represented by both together. Another curious and arguable notion is that the leftl right distinction is particularly important in a democracy , 40 T H E C RITER I O N WHICH GOVERNS THE DISTINCTIO N because elections divide t h e competing groups into two opposing camps .

E ven in such a minuscule , lifeless party as the Liberal Party ,2 the leaders have always been divided between a left and a right. The terms 'left ' and ' right' were little used , or used with great care , during the breakup of the Italian communist Party ; but this was due to the fact that only the word ' left ' h a d positive connotations within a p arty which assumed a leading role within the international left-wing movement . Neither of the factions contending for the leadership wo uld willingly have accepted being defined as the right of the party .

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