Some people out there actually believe that all public life and the entire universe has only one dimension, a left and a right.
You will also find specialists who define the principles of left or right on an axis in a way to make their side look superior or to take a coward “stand” in the “middle.” Entire debates are about vague nonsense like whether you should want more equality or more rewards for your actions.
Let me skip that and zoom in on the matter. There are many public issues, people hold mixed views given their experience and the only reasonable words to describe public life are labels for milieus.
So when I write about the right, I mean the right in the United States and people who share many ideas with them or at least display a priority for conservative ideas over issues of which they hold left-wing views. I use the same blueprint to speak about the left. I recognise that not only are there different people lumped together but also subgroups. The Greens have other goals than the coal miners’ union and yet I might in a given context label them as the left.
I notice that the Muslim world, for example, has it all reversed. The Islamist applauding, anti-American, Jew-hating faction is labelled ‘the right’ there while secular, modern, pro-Americans are on the left. I will qualify that with ‘the left in the Muslim world’ or so.
To minimise misunderstanding I will use the most commonly known terms rather than the most descriptive ones (or whatever other advantages there may be). As I write in Europe, I will more likely say leftist than liberal. And I rather use the word conservative for the right (though I frankly hate the word).
Labels that function only as smears and which are never used by actual people to describe themselves like fascist, libtard, radical, extremist, racist and so on will only be used in quotations.
The only exception is the word Islamist. Many on the right hate it for good reasons. There is nobody who uses the label for himself. Such people usually call themselves ‘Muslims.’ Given the aggressive atmosphere and the pretense of many on the left that we on the right are constantly after innocent people I surrender to the word Islamist. It’s proper definition is ‘a mad Muslim doing evil things or some Muslim supporting the former and his bonkers views.’ In other words, Islamism is everything that I don’t like and which has something to do with Muslim culture.
I hear already the moaning. Aren’t generalisations unfair given how different people are? If we want to talk important things, we have to give up precision to get our point across. I demand leniency to some extend (yet try not to hurt anybody, which is impossible these days).
So how do we generalise. Sometimes a feature is displayed by a group because the majority has it. Men are taller than women. Sometimes a feature is assigned to a group because of conditional probability. If you are a policemen busting a mafia racket, the majority of criminals you arrest will be male. So being criminal is a male feature (if we like it or not).
One caveat: I use the terms actual people describe themselves with. However, I will use these terms also for those who go by the wrong label (e.g. John McCain [left, says right], Dave Rubin [right, says left], Angela Merkel [left, says right], Thilo Sarrazin [right, says left]) .
In recent years people started talking about small/big L liberals and small/big C conservatives. I use the small c/l definition, which means that the label is based on the ideas of the people. A big C/L Conservative/Liberal is in line with an organisation whatever they do.