, English, Book edition: Left and right: the significance of a political distinction / Norberto Bobbio ; translated and introduced by Allan Cameron. Bobbio. Now, even as political players scramble to redefine themselves with freshly "spun" labels, Norberto Bobbio asserts that the demise of the left/right distinction has. Left and Right. The Significance of a Political Distinction. Norberto Bobbio. Translated and Introduced by. Allan Cameron. The University of Chicago Press.


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Bobbio explores the grounds of this elusive distinction and argues that Left and Right are ultimately divided by different attitudes to equality.

He carefully defines the nature of equality and inequality in relative rather than absolute terms. Norberto bobbio left and right and Right is a timely and persuasively argued account of the basic parameters of political action and debate in the modern world - parameters which have remained constant despite the pace of social change.

I take it as a sign of hope in this period of apparent triumph for corporate culture, in a time of political debate so debased that critics of the current administration can characterize it as "leftist," and people can take that absurd idea seriously, that Norberto Bobbio's Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction became an unexpected best seller in Italy, and norberto bobbio left and right enough interest to be translated into English in I take it as an indication that, as hard as the pundits and the politicians try to force it on them, people aren't quite ready to accept the idea that we've reached "the end of history" in global capitalism, that they are still looking for some kind of alternative.


Bobbio -- who, naturally, focuses on the European situation, but whose arguments are relevant to the U. Now the argument that the old distinction should be put in the attic is mainly being put by groups and movements which claimed to be left-wing when the wind of history appeared to be blowing in their direction.

The Situationist International Text Library/Left & Right

The first is to refute the notion that the left-right distinction has become a thing of the past. This he does quite easily, as anyone can, who gives more than a moment's thought to politics, by noting how often even those who try the hardest to discredit norberto bobbio left and right distinction fall unconsciously into the use of the terms left and right or "liberal" and "conservative," which in the American context amount to the same thing.

As Bobbio puts it succinctly, "what better proof could there be of the persistence of this dichotomy than the presence, even where there is pluralism, of a left wing which tends to perceive the center as the right wing in disguise and a right wing which tends to perceive the same norberto bobbio left and right as a cover for the left.

Here, one can't help but norberto bobbio left and right aware of the way those in the so-called "center" have used the label of "extremism" to narrow the political spectrum, and to discredit not only those who fit Bobbio's definition of extremism, i. When it comes to actually defining the distinction between left and right, which he acknowledges are not absolutes but change their meaning over historical time, Bobbio finds the crux of the difference in the idea of equality.


For Bobbio, the essence of "the left" is a commitment to treating all people as equals in a social and political sense, while recognizing that this commitment to equality does not mean that everyone is the same; that of "the right," an acceptance of a natural hierarchy among human beings which justifies unequal treatment.

Bobbio goes on to contrast the value of equality with that of freedom, arguing that "neither of the two great ideals can be taken to its ultimate conclusions without implementation norberto bobbio left and right the one restricting the other.

Ultimately, he comes up with a four-part summary of the political spectrum: Bobbio anticipates and responds to criticisms of his criterion of equality as the distinguishing characteristics of the left primarily by arguing that most of the other criteria norberto bobbio left and right really can be subsumed under the heading of equality.

Left and Right : Norberto Bobbio :

And he explicitly recognizes that "reality is more complex than this schema founded on just two criteria. Bobbio is clearly not writing from an anarchist perspective. In a footnote he refers to a D.

Cofrancesco, who in reviewing the book, "reiterated that the best criterion for distinguishing left and right is in the attitude to power: I cannot norberto bobbio left and right Cofrancesco's proposal, as such a perception of the left appears to identify it with anarchy, which has traditionally been considered just one of the left-wing movements.

Norberto bobbio left and right is right to recognize that means matters as much as ends.

Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction - Norberto Bobbio - Google Libros

What he fails to realize is how inseparable they are. A "left" willing to "sacrifice" freedom for equality will achieve neither, as the example of the Russian Revolution -- criticized almost from the beginning by anarchists for that separation of ends and means -- demonstrates.

In fact, Bobbio's premise that equality and freedom are antithetical, that one is "personal" and the other public, norberto bobbio left and right misguided.

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