Why do people so often
vote on the right
side of politics -- against their own interests?
The left-right distinction in politics is like this. Most people want
and deserve a better deal for themselves. That can only mean one thing:
distributing wealth more fairly. That in turn can only mean taxing the
rich and improving welfare. That is how wealth is distributed by
governments. Despite persistent claims to the contrary,
that’s the only reliable way to do it. Capitalism
increases the gap between rich and poor (that's why it's called
"capitalism") and the only reliable way to reduce the gap is some kind
of state intervention.
Put another way: the state creates the money, with which everyone is
free to play. But the state does that on the condition that
it also ultimately controls the distribution of the money (e.g.,
by taxation and welfare). That is necessary to ensure the game remains
within reasonable bounds and the state remains in control. (In today's
globalized world, this control is being undermined, but that is another
Right-wing politics is for rich people who want to
become even richer at the expense of everyone else. Right-wing
politics is also called "conservative" because it conserves
hierarchical social structures.
If you are not rich, and you want to vote in your own interest, you
should obviously avoid voting for the right. If you are rich
and want a better and fairer society, you should also avoid
It follows from the last paragraph that if people always voted in their
interest, as they are supposed to do in a democracy, the left would
always win. So how does the right side manage to win so often?
The central importance of lying
There is an easy and rather obvious answer. The right wins
spreading lies. Before proceeding, let me say what I mean by a "lie". I
simply mean a statement that is deliberately untrue or misleading. The
person who says the lie knows it is not true, but says it anyway.
In accusing the right of lying, please note that I am doing only that
and nothing else. If it sounds like I am angry, so be it. Perhaps I am,
perhaps I am not. But that is not relevant. I am simply talking
about lying, as something that many people do, but in particular the
The negative feeling created by the word "lie" is an interesting thing
in itself. We avoid accusing people of lying because we feel that it is
somehow not correct to do so. Not the done thing. People will not
respect us if we accuse others of lying. Perhaps it is even more
socially acceptable to lie than to accuse someone of lying! If so,
where does this negative feeling come from? Perhaps it is because lying
is the Achillles heel of the rich? As I will explain in more detail,
the rich are constantly lying to justify their existence, because they
have no choice. At the same time, the rich are powerful, because of
their money. This has given the rich the opportunity to create social a
taboo out of accusing someone of lying, especially if that person
is higher than you in the hierarchy.
A favorite tactic of the rich is to lie about economics,
while pretending to present sophisticated economic theory. A popular
narrative is that we need economic growth, to alleviate or even end
poverty, because economic growth makes
everyone richer. In fact what usually happens is that only the
rich get richer and the environment is destroyed. In fact, the best way
to alleviate or end poverty is the Robin Hood method: take from the
rich and give to the poor. It boils down to simple arithmetic.
Another popular lie is that the left/green politicians (those who
actually want to redistribute wealth, and could actually do it if
elected) are somehow “chaotic”. Or something else
is fundamentally wrong with them — but not with the
conservatives and paranoid xenophobes, who are seen as ok and
trustworthy. The truth is this. If one side of politics
is promoting chaos
more than the other, it's the right. The right is more commonly linked
(in reality, rather than in the distorted public imagination) with corruption,
waste or misuse of public money,
overspending on the military (rather than infrastructure, welfare,
public services), risking or provoking international conflict, and
allowing individuals and corporations to evade mind-boggling
amounts of tax. Pages of examples could be given, but perhaps just one
will suffice: In the past few decades in the US, Republican governments
have usually increased the national debt whereas Democrat governments
reduced it. That's the bottom line.
Defining right versus left
Discussions of this kind depend on how left-wing and right-wing are
defined. If you look in different places, you will find different
definitions. Perhaps the simplest and clearest definition is this: The
political right is more selfish,
whereas the left is more altruistic. But the right would feel
understandably insulted by such an honest definition. In
addition, the right is intrinsically less honest than the left,
and has more power than the left. For these reasons, you
won’t find this simple definition in Wikipedia under
“Left–right political spectrum”. If someone typed it
into Wikipedia, right-wing Wikipedians would immediately delete
it. Instead, you read that the left promotes “social
equality” and the right promotes “social
hierarchy”. Well, it’s almost the same thing.
Important conclusion: The left/right
distinction is not symmetrical.
It’s misleading to say there are “good arguments on
both sides”. That’s a myth created by the right,
which has more influence than the left due to its wealth.
Assuming democracy is working (which of course it is not), it follows
that the left and right have different strategies, and the
difference is not what is normally thought or stated:
main strategy of the left is to develop
rational approaches to current problems and try to convince voters on
main strategy of the right is to
convince voters that the left is problematic, because without doing
that, the right has no chance of winning. If the gap between rich and
poor is too big (and today it is surely much, much too big), no one
except the rich, the crazy, or the misled would vote for the right.
An objective conclusion
here is the thing. The right have no
but to lie to voters to ensure their political survival.
Only the left enjoys the luxury of telling the truth consistently and
still getting elected. Of course the left doesn’t always do
that, but they are generally more honest than the right. If that was
not the case, the right would never get into power. Put another way:
right-wing politics is intrinsically dishonest.
Many will find this conclusion biased. In fact it’s a logical
and neutral conclusion drawn from simple, obvious premises. The system
cannot work any other way. Allow me to revise the main points. I start
from the assumption that some people have more money than others. That
means that half of the wealth is owned by a minority. I also assume
that the average person wants more money, regardless of whether s/he is
rich or poor. Of course there are exceptions, but on average that is
true. If in this scenario the rich minority wants political power, and
every adult has one vote at the election, the rich minority can only
win if it convinces a large proportion of the poorer majority
to vote for them. In other words, they have to convince the poorer
majority to vote against their own
interests. That can only be
done by lying, because (given how left- and right-wing politics are
normally defined) it is never in the interest of the poorer
majority to vote for the right.
The last sentence is a truism. It follows logically from the normal
definition of left- and right-wing politics. If you don't believe it,
or you merely have the feeling that it cannot be correct, it is
because you have been brainwashed by privately owned or
influenced media. Don't worry, we are all constantly being influenced
by distortions of the truth. Don't underestimate the power of social
Here is how social manipulation works. If you are buy a
newspaper, you must be rich. You probably, therefore, vote
on the right side of politics. That automatically creates a bias toward
the right in your newspaper. Since newspapers always need finance, they
are generally biased toward the right. An exception is only
possible if the owners of the newspaper are genuinely altruistic.
It does happen in exceptional cases. For example, the Guardian has a
long leftist tradition. It is now owned by a trust that exists to
secure the financial and editorial independence of the newspaper in
perpetuity. That's why it is one of the relatively few newspapers in
today's world that reliably publishes the truth. Not always, of course.
So you see: I am not expressing an opinion here. I am presenting a
simple argument — so simple that it can hardly be wrong. The
indisputable conclusion is that right-wing
have to be dishonest to survive.
That doesn’t mean they always lie, of course. But those that
refuse to lie presumably go under and we don’t hear from them
again, unless they emerge on the left (which sometimes happens).
Please note also that I am not promoting extreme left ideologies.
this is an argument for moderate or centre-left politics. That is
because dishonesty also increases toward the extreme ends of the
political spectrum. In addition, fascist ideologies (the extreme right)
tend to be been more dangerous ("evil") than communist
ideologies (the extreme left): whereas communist ideologies are
typically only partly wrong, fascist ideologies are typically
completely wrong. In this way, left-right asymmetry is valid both for
centrist and extremist politics. The left is generally more honest, the
right less honest.
role of religion
In this context, it is
interesting to take a new look at the paradoxical link between
right-wing politics and religion. Why do conservative parties call
themselves “Christian” and so on when in fact they
are quite the opposite?
Assuming that right-wingers need to lie to survive, an effective
is to pretend to take the moral high ground, while at the same time
acting immorally. Religion makes this possible. In fact, this could be
the reason religions (as powerful institutions) exist at all. Further
info from a Christian or Jewish perspective is here.
Religions are compatible with dishonest right-wing politics for another
reason. They are dishonest themselves. If fact, dishonesty is the
foundation of religion. Supernatural agents simply do not exist, and
proclaiming that they do, especially today given our scientific
knowledge, is lying — pure and simple. Honest people do not
do that kind of thing.
Please note: I am not opposed to religion.
Religions fill important functions. I live in
Austria where the churches make
enormous social contributions both nationally and internationally. From a
spirituality certainly exists. From a social perspective, the need for
exists. Religions fulfill these needs. It fine and honest to talk about
individual and collective spirituality in general terms, without
putting people under pressure to proclaim arbitrary beliefs. Religious
morality and ethics are important and necessary — today
perhaps more than ever.
But if right-wingers claim to be religious, they should study the good
aspects of religious morality, and implement them. To do that, they
would have to cross the floor to the left side of politics. In
Christianity, for example, the story of Jesus as presented in the
gospels is one of a socialist, defending the rights of the poor, sick,
discriminated, and downtrodden. Nothing could be more obvious than
If the right wing claims to be "Christian", it can only be lying -- as
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