This is the first in the series of "Understanding Political Identity" where I make a humble attempt to simplify the complex world of political identity and what are the different facets that form the derivatives of the sum which is the central point of discussion: political identity. In the last part of the series, I will explain my own stance, why do I believe in it and attempt to make a case for capitalism and against the popular yet suffocating, stenchful and nauseating narrative of leftist ideology. The different parts of the series are as follows: P-1: Understanding Political Identity: Definitions
P-2: Understanding Political Identity: Role of religion
P-3: Understanding Political Identity: Major political values
P-4: Understanding Political Identity: An Indian perspective
P-5: Understanding Political Identity: Case for Capitalism in India
You may have come across various terms such as the right wing, left wing, capitalist, communists, islamist, secular, hindutva, radical right, radical left, socialist and many others in several debates on domestic and international media. The fight is extremely severe to the point where people resort to verbal abuses and physical altercation. The importance of political identity becomes more important in this age of ideological conflict. Your character and conduct is an expression of your inner philosophy which makes your identity. An individual with strong sense of identity are clear and consistent about their views.
In midst of such confusion, many get swept away with the most prevalent idea in his own surrounding and fail to express his own ideas. This person is doomed to a life of contradictions. To avoid any confusion, we must understand what these terms really mean and then attempt to understand our true identity without making any opinions on our surroundings. I will oversimplify the terms and provide examples to give a context without diving into the specifics as it is an exercise I shall leave to the readers to explore.
The major factors that define the political identity of a person, strictly in an Indian perspective, are as follows:
Economic dimension Economic values refers to the belief of a person over the control of economic resources which are land, labor, capital and entrepreneurial ability. To put it in simple words, these values dictate whether a company or a entrepreneurial firm should work under less governmental regulation or less interference's from the government. Based on the degree of governmental interference in running the economy, the left wing believes the government must run the economy whereas the right wing believes that the economy must be left to free market mechanism and government should not interfere with it. Left wing supports centralized planning of economy whereas right wing does not. Left wing advocates for a big government, high tax rates and strict compliance, regulation, and license whereas Right wing advocates for a small government, low tax rates and less compliance, regulation and license. An entrepreneurial organisation flourishes in a right wing economy more than a left wing economy as it does not have to follow strict regulations and laws. In reality, there are no purely right wing countries and most of the countries are not entirely left wing or right wing and therefore are most commonly referred to as mixed economies. Example of Left wing countries are erstwhile Soviet union, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Laos and Argentina. Example of, what can be nearly considered, right wing countries are USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland.
Social dimension Social values dictates the degree of personal freedom or Individual liberty. This personal freedom can be literally understood as who own your body. Therefore, the extremes of social dimension are authoritarianism, wherein a central entity such as a government owns your body and life, and libertarian-ism, wherein you are the sole proprietor of your own body. Mostly all forms of cruel authoritarian regimes have been replaced with benevolent democracies. Examples of Authoritarians were regimes under Adolf Hitler, Vladamir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Hugo Chavez, Benito Mussolini, Mao Zedong and Vladimir Putin. Most of the countries in the Middle east and Africa are authoritarian regimes. Examples of Libertarians are Margaret Thatcher, Jefferson, George Washington, and my personal favorite Ayn Rand. Most of the Western countries have embodied the idea of individualism in their constitution.
Religion dimension This dimension, not originally and explicit part of the political compass, is not a common denominator across the countries but an essential, and in some countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia the central point of discussion, factor that makes up a political identity. This dimension will be discussed in part 2 of the series "Understanding Political Identity: Role of religion" because it is a topic in itself.
To read the second article titled "Understanding Political Identity: Role of Religion", Click here.