The terms "left" and "right" pervade all our discussions of politics. But do they mean anything any more? And is it really satisfactory to reduce all our political debate to these two terms?After reading Saturday's Guardian I think I see what he is getting at. A number of people were asked their views on the government's latest batch of proposed anti-terror legislation. One of them wrote as follows:
It seems to me to be dangerous because I don't know how you can draft these proposals so they don't become a threat to freedom of speech.I imagine that most people who regard themselves as left wing will agree with this analysis.
There are already perfectly acceptable laws against incitement to violence and conspiracy laws against incitement to terrorism. It is not an absence of laws that have made these things happen.
Banning political parties and classifying parties as extreme is dangerous because it must not become a weapon that a government, yet unknown, can use against people who disagree with it.
Another aspect of this is that disgusting opinions, if spoken openly, can be challenged, argued and defeated. Suppressing them by law doesn't prevent them being thought. If you are interested in tracking extremists then it would be useful to know where they are gathered.
Who does it come from? Scroll down towards the bottom of this page and you will find that it is Peter Hitchens, the Mail on Sunday columnist.