Why is Kevin O’Leary so smug about being on the right?


I’ve long been interested in the way language embodies class and power relations.  Obviously, our language embodies much of our culture, so it’s not surprising that it would embody class relations.  The word ‘poor’ is used to describe many conditions of inadequacy.  ‘Rich’ can describe a chocolate cake or a wealthy person, both desirable components of a valuable life.  ‘Right’ does not only indicate a direction in it’s most obvious sense, but also correctness.  To be correct is to be right, as in right-handed.  In contrast, to be left-handed is to be sinister.  The ‘proper’ adjective used to point to my left-handedness is ‘sinistral.’  Left-handers are sinister.  Of course ‘left’ indicates nothing good.  The sun is bright and right, the moon dark and left . Both these terms in turn are symbols for men and women respectively.  The moon is the domain of women, the sun belongs to men.  After all, who is at the right hand of God, and who at the left?  It’s fairly clear that Jesus sits to the right of God, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty among Christians about who sits on His left. Probably better not to go there.  Where are women in heaven? Not particularly evident, at least not in the heaven I learned about as a young Catholic boy.

Turning this discussion to politics it’s clear what we can expect.  Any conservative political party is on the right of the political spectrum and the socialists, liberals and communists occupy the sinistral left.  Now, isn’t that convenient?  Right is correct, left is just plain wrong, isn’t it?  Our language pre-conditions us to think about conservative (Republican in the US) parties as being right, as in better than those on the left.  Kevin O’Leary, that obnoxious and rude commentator on the CBC about business and finance has no doubt that he is right because he’s on the right.  After all, he represents the interests of business and finance, the natural elements of conservative thinking and of what C.B. Macpherson called possessive individualism.  After all, who can be against business success?  Our prosperity depends on it, or so the argument goes.  The poor are immobile, the walking dead, the wealthy have money to allow them mobility.  The poor are what’s ‘left,’ and they get what’s left when we’ve finished eating.   The wealthy always eat first and are always on the right path…don’t you know?

2 thoughts on “Why is Kevin O’Leary so smug about being on the right?

  1. Tres interessant, Roger. Every time I listen to Kevin O’Leary, I wonder what you would think of him. Now I know, LOL. I hope much of what you have posted here is tongue in cheek. Left – sinister. Right – correctness. I have read this before, as well. I am not sure where those concepts actually originated from. It was ignorance that would ever think that a left-handed person was sinister, but sadly, apparently, they actually did think that at one time. Much of what the RC church has taught for years was superstition and stuff out of the dark ages. Fortunately for some reason, my late husband, Michael Crosbie, choose to select the meat of the message – love God and your neighbour as yourself and chuck out the chaff – the rosary beads, Mother Mary worship. He accepted the basic teachings of Christ and tried to live by them. Knowing him as I did, I would say that despite his alcohol problem and his manic depression he did a very good job of caring for others. I even understand his propensity to smoke pot now. At the time, it exasperated me. It was embarrassing. The thing that bugs me about pot smokers are the lazy ones who do nothing with their lives – the youth who waste their lives on smoking pot. But for pain, I’m sure it is very valid and why not legalize it? I digress.

    Post script, my very kind, smart, fun son is left handed. My brilliant friend, Wendy Rogers, PhD is left handed. She is a barrel of laughs as well. Great to be with.

    1. Marilyn, I’m left-handed. The technical term for left-handedness is sinistral. I think it’s pretty clear that our language is biased towards a particular political power structure. And it’s funny sometimes. I always find it strange too that we would refer to left-handers as southpaws. Now what is that all about? Well, we know that North is good, South is bad. North is industrious, serious, righteous. The South is all about beaches, indolence and hedonistic indulgence. That’s why when we go on vacation, we go south…to lazy around and overindulge in food and drink!

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