3. Are "left" and "right" a useful political spectrum any more?
No, they are not a useful political map any more.
In fact they are misleading in a way that - as explained earlier - benefits the enemies of civil liberties today. A very worthwhile political science project, Political Compass™, offers an online test to illustrate why the current political map is misleading, explaining:
The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left', established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape. For example, who are the 'conservatives' in today's Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?As I have noted elsewhere, these observations are especially relevant to the intellectual freedom issues we face in Canada today. For example, most current enemies of civil liberties in Canada are leftists or Islamists. Leftists and Islamists would take Canada in very different directions. But they agree on supporting and extending our illiberal "human rights" commissions.
On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can't explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as 'right-wingers', yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook. That's about as much as we should tell you for now.
Why? Because both groups want a much more authoritarian state. They agree that Canadians should not have the civil liberties we took for granted in the past, expressed in Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights (July 1, 1960).
By contrast, many people who disagree strongly with me on, for example, intelligent design of the universe, like Rob Breakenridge, line up effortlessly on the same side as me in the critical battle for free speech as a civil right.
See also Are you a redneck? A red diaper baby? And does it matter? Test yourself and see how you score. You might be surprised.
Next: 4. What does fascism look like in North America?