Home Uncategorised Why are some people right wing and some people left wing?

Why are some people right wing and some people left wing?




What side are you?

All I know for sure is that most people don’t know why they themselves are right or left wing, but they usually think they have good reasons.

People like to believe that they have good reasons for their behaviour, and are not wildly irrational. If you ask a right wing person why they are right wing, they will usually give one or more of the following reasons:

  • Because society needs order and hierarchy.
  • Because it makes sense.
  • Because I believe in tradition, not in throwing away everything good.
  • Because leftists are idiots.
  • Because leftists spend irresponsibly on social programs that don’t work as well as private charity, and which take away people’s rights.
  • Because socialism is tyranny.
  • Because the free market sorts things out better than inefficient government bureaucracy.
  • Because collectivism is the ultimate insult to human dignity.
  • Because I work for a living and I’m not giving my damn money to the government.
  • Because government regulation stifle entrepreneurship and opportunity.
  • Because I believe in freedom.

If you ask a left wing person why they are left wing, they will usually give one or more of the following reasons:

  • Because I care about human rights.
  • Because capitalism is callous.
  • Because rightists are evil.
  • Because the free market isn’t free and doesn’t sort things out.
  • Because rightists spend irresponsibly on defence and tax cuts for the super rich which don’t benefit anyone and which punish poor people.
  • Because universal health care paid for by tax revenue is more fair than private health insurance.
  • Because I believe in fairness.
  • Because if the laws are unfair, you don’t just suffer them, you change them to make them more fair.
  • Because government regulation has always encouraged entrepreneurship and opportunity.

…And so on.

But here’s the thing. We all know that you can argue these points with either side, from either side, and the likelihood is that unless the person you are arguing with is very intelligent and broad-minded, they will not be convinced, even by coherent arguments backed up with solid evidence. People will do almost anything to win political arguments, and pretty much every single one of those reasons given above has some strong counter-argument.

Why? Because the fact that the free market really is very efficient at doing some things, and the opposing fact that it can’t do everything that some of its fans claim it can do, has not the power to convince someone who strongly believes the contrary. If reason and evidence in argumentation had the power that we attribute to it, people would change their minds on these things much more often, yet they don’t.

By far the most likely reason for a radical change in a person’s political opinions is not argument, but extended life experiences that falsify their political picture of the world.

You can find a similar journey in the story of most lives of people who’ve seriously changed their minds. The English politician Clement Attlee grew up in a solidly Conservative middle-class English family. He went to Oxford in 1906 to study history, and while he was there he worked as manager of a charitable club for working class boys in London’s East End. Attlee had never seen poverty close up before, and he was appalled by it. He saw how the only effort being made to alleviate it was organisations like the one he belonged to, and he could tell that that wasn’t nearly enough. He became convinced that only a socialist government had the power to make the kind of changes that could eradicate poverty of the kind he witnessed. So, he became a socialist politician. As Britain’s first post-WW2 prime minister, his Labour government created the world’s first national health service.

So, it’s life experience that makes people right wing or left wing, and if their experience changes enough, they may come to have different opinions about how the world ought to be run. But what you almost certainly won’t do is change their mind by trying to argue that they’re wrong.

But it can be fun trying.


  1. This quote has been around for a while. It’s probably true in my case. “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain” For an extended discussion on this see https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/02/24/heart-head/ I know that when I was at WITS in Johannesburg in the 1980’s I was relatively left wing and very anti-apartheid. This was reinforced when I was doing compulsory military training surrounded by hardcore racists. My father and I would have very heated arguments about politics. And then I grew up. I am still anti-apartheid, and I do not think I am racist. But I find it very hard to understand the logic of the Left. Handouts and a slack attitude to crime, as well as the stifling of free speech and taxation to obliviion, are never going to solve the world’s problems. I believe in religion, monogamy, not taking drugs, alcohol in moderation, education, honest work, private property ownership and the rule of law. I am proud of my genetic history. A despicable person, obviously.



    • Your “quote” is both silly and wrong – unless, of course, you are Humpty Dumpty.

      Had you used terms referring to lefty and righty (socialist v capitalist etc.) you might have been close to the mark although 25 is way too old to still be lefty and no one, ever, should be communist (as your current Prime Minister so obviously is).

      The rest of your story is no doubt similar to most. As we mature we begin to appreciate freedom more and more.

      Those who remain lefty do so out of self interest, insanity or dishonesty (the latter more often than not to themselves).

      Freedom is the one thing that the left cannot abide, simply because when one gains freedom one immediately begins to recognise the dishonesty that is the left.



  2. Do you think socialist Cindy would get off the democracy bus if she could

    I think there are many answers to this question.

    In my case, I was left wing while I was younger and gradually as I grew up I transitioned to the right (and am still travelling). In my youth, I believed all the lies about Reagan and Thatcher that were pushed by the media, as I’ve gotten older, I now recognise the recycling of these lies and it has caused me to think for myself. The internet has helped as it has allowed me to access far more diversity of information and when I can weigh up a range of “truths” instead of just the MSM one – I am able to make my own mind up about what is most credible.

    I worked with a person who was a hardcore activist before they decided they wanted to make a reasonable living, and when asked why they were so hard core. They said “I was a bit different when I was young, I didn’t fit in – the left wing seemed to provide a home and I met other people like me”. Again, illustrating one of the more tribal aspects about left wing supporters, if you find acceptance where you found none before – it’s only reasonable that you might put reason, logic and common sense aside because of the depth of gratitude that you feel for having finally being accepted.

    However, I believe there is the Jeremy Corbyn type of socialist. A person who is both different and stupid. Left wing thinking provides you with a template that rescues you from ever having to think about anything, you just adopt the views, the slogans, the talking points and you use them whenever you receive the learned stimulus:
    – not sure about immigration policy – then you are a racist
    – think welfare needs to be worked over – then you are a rich prick
    – you object to being taxed to the hilt – you lack kindness
    – want to defend your country – you are a baby killer
    – call a vile woman vile – sexist pig

    Then there is the ‘flag of convenience’psychopath socialists. They see it as a way to harness all the above to build a power base and as Erdogan did use “democracy as a bus, that you ride until you get where you want to be, then you get off”. Like socialist Cindy, who, I believe – if she could – would be off that bus now that’s she’s gotten to where she wants to be



    • I remember Cindy’s mother being interviewed after she was appointed by Winston and made the comment that “Jacinda does it her way, she finds her own way to get things done.” Damn it Winston, what have you unleashed on us. May a pox invade you and all the rest of the COL.



  3. I started reading the political news and editorials etc when i was about 17, in the break room at my first full time job. It was still the Cold War. Americans were still patriotic back then. Communism and the USSR represented all that was evil to me from day one, and there were democrats who seemed to sympathize with the enemy. To me that was pure weakness, and fast forward to the present and add “social justice”, “climate change” , and hate speech” to the mix and the left have become more insane than ever. I’ve never had a lot of money, so I’m no “rich prick.” I just believe in self-reliance, hard work, and small Govt. (and I don’t want two-bit 3rd worlders either- call me a racist but I can live with that!)



    • With liarbour and the nats chasing the same voters, why don’t they join up and become one party called the National socialists. That way the voters would have a clear definition of who is in the middle, (not left or right). This would allow us righties to vote for ACT and the leftie commos to vote for the greens.



  4. Something I have pondered over the last few years.
    I think I changed dramatically when I became self employed.That’s when the reality hits home.
    In the last few years since watching the Trump journey I have started to think that the human brain can be left or right.I can’t figure out why the lefties hold their views and this has been so evident with Hillary and the Dems.
    I like to think I keep an open mind and having done all the sciences through school think it gave a good base for learning ,compared to the other lot who did arts and social sciences.
    They don’t seem to understand science at all.
    Sure makes life interesting.



  5. Good article… but I think it goes further than just Right vs. Left.

    I did a survey (sorry I forget the link) once where the result displayed one’s position on both the ECONOMIC as well as the SOCIAL scales. It displayed the result in the form of a cross with 4 segments representing degrees of left/right for economic and also social factors.

    As a matter of interest I came out moderately Right economically and a lot further Right on social issues.

    I wonder if anybody else did a survey like this online?



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