Understanding Left and Right: An Illustrated Guide to the Political Divide

Alan E. Singer
Distinguished Professor of Management, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA

Series: American Political, Economic, and Security Issues
BISAC: POL030000



Volume 10

Issue 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick


Digitally watermarked, DRM-free.
Immediate eBook download after purchase.

Product price
Additional options total:
Order total:



This book about the complicated meaning of left and right in politics carries the optimistic message that rational truth seeking can lead people towards the center and away from extreme positions. There is of course a major argument to the contrary, which is that political activities are very substantially determined by narrow interests, vague intuitions and strong emotions. Although rationality has indeed been diluted in contemporary politics, it is likely that much remains below the surface. Accordingly, there still might be time for therapeutic interventions aimed at nudging millions of minds towards a balanced political center.

The book intervenes in a disarming and calming way. Throughout the 32 short chapters, a wide variety of politically-loaded thoughts are attributed to a pair of cartoon dogs. Left-dog and right-dog are duly introduced in the first chapter, where readers will immediately see that they are friendly and not fighting. Indeed, there is no such thing as dog-eat-dog in the community of truth-seekers. There are a few diagrams in each chapter that readers (or their students or children) are invited to color-in to represent the two political sides. Each chapter sets out some distinctive divide-bridging insights into basic issues such as truth, ethics, passions, hopes, intentions, genders, orientations, abortions, boundaries, identities, language, leaders, inequalities and ecologies to mention just a few.

Any one of the 32 chapters can be contemplated in private, discussed between family members or taught as a stand-alone exercise. Prudently selected chapters would fit with ease into just about every course in business schools, but also in college level courses across the entire spectrum of the social sciences, including philosophy. This might seem like a ludicrously-hyped marketing claim for any serious book, but readers are urged to try it out for themselves and their relatives, colleagues or students and see what happens.


About the Author

Chapter 1. Introduction: Two Dogs, No Fights (pp. 1-4)

Chapter 2. Projections: The Shadow of Left and Right (pp. 5-8)

Chapter 3. Understandings: A Vote against Pythagoras (pp. 9-16)

Chapter 4. Goods: Life, Love, Play, Freedom and Much More (pp. 17-26)

Chapter 5. Likes: The Little Art of the Cheeseburger (pp. 27-32)

Chapter 6. Ethics: The Golden Rule and the Gold That Rules (pp. 33-42)

Chapter 7. Timing: Worry about That Later (pp. 43-46)

Chapter 8. Capitals: Profane Cows and Sacred Cows (pp. 47-52)

Chapter 9. Language: Like Lambs to the Slaughter (pp. 53-56)

Chapter 10. Limits: The Known Limitations of Markets (pp. 57-60)

Chapter 11. Regulations: One Plus One Plus One Equals Three (pp. 61-66)

Chapter 12. Strategies: Two Sides, Nine Arenas (pp. 67-76)

Chapter 13. Games: Don’t Even Think about It (pp. 77-82)

Chapter 14. Trust: The King Is in the Shopping Mall (pp. 83-86)

Chapter 15. Dynamics: The Quiet Evolution of Death (pp. 87-94)

Chapter 16. Intentions: The Road to Hell and the Canal in Panama (pp. 95-100)

Chapter 17. Passions: The Soul, the Psyche and the Will to Power (pp. 101-106)

Chapter 18. Hopes: Burned Wings and Freedom Songs (pp. 107-110)

Chapter 19. Scopes: My Brothers and I (pp. 111-118)

Chapter 20. Loci: Don’t Project Those Voices (pp. 119-124)

Chapter 21. Brains: The Strange Politics of Jekyll and Hyde (pp. 125-130)

Chapter 22. Gender: Yin and Yang (pp. 131-134)

Chapter 23. Orientations: Look Forward, Look Back (pp. 135-142)

Chapter 24. Greens: One Bus, Two Paradigms (pp. 143-150)

Chapter 25. Leaders: Which Way You Goin’ Billy? (pp. 151-156)

Chapter 26. Authoritarians: Tough Love and ‘Freedom-Strongs’ (pp. 157-162)

Chapter 27. Locations: Asian Values = Western Brands (pp. 163-166)

Chapter 28. Persons: Sees Just What He Wants to See (pp. 167-172)

Chapter 29. Social-issues: Freedom from Birth (pp. 173-180)

Chapter 30. Parties: What’s in a Name? (pp. 181-188)

Chapter 31. Distractions: Half a Million Is Much Bigger Than Forty-Three (pp. 189-194)

Chapter 32. Boundaries: High Walls, Low Motives (pp. 195-200)

Conclusion (pp. 201-202)

Related Works by the Author (pp. 203-204)

Index (pp. 205)

“The book addresses some of the most significant divides in the current world, involving foundational concepts such as the nature of facts about society and humanity. Alan Singer condenses these debates to their core. I highly recommend this book.” - Jari Elarontaj, University of Helsinki, Finland

"Alan Singer bridges the political divide using humor and history to enlighten readers. This is a fun read, at times reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell's best work." - James Westerman, Appalachian State University, Boone, USA

"The world is inundated with a terrifying avalanche of fantasy news, fishy news, and fake news that may well destroy our democracy. Read the book, get wiser, and fight for our democracy." - Adam Lindgreen, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

"Professor Singer has an outstanding ability to step back from polarized political discourse and present a harmonizing vision. The book navigates stormy waters but ultimately comes across as calming and optimistic." - Paul Knott, University of Canterbury, Christchurch New Zealand

"Professor Singer offers an unbiased insight into the contemporary political divide and convincingly makes the case for the golden-mean in economics and politics." - Achinto Roy, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

"The chapter on truth and understanding seems very timely in the age of fake-news and spin. The book has a very readable style, taking its readers easily into philosophers’ territory." - Peter Earl, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

"The chapter on hopes in particular is very nice, beautifully written. If the whole book is anything like this, it should be a great read! The short snippets of wisdom offer a very useful format." - Milan Zeleny, Fordham University, New York, USA

"Alan Singer’s inspiring book is an invaluable guide to those who attempt the hard balancing act between power and truth." - Harold Paredes-Frigolett, Diego Portales University, Santiago, Chile

Chapter 2
Derbyshire J (2006) in: What is Left? What is Right? Does it Matter? By the editors of The American Conservative, August 28.

Chapter 5
Etzioni A (1988) The Moral Dimension: Towards a New Economics. Free Press, NY.
Lutz MA & K Lux (1988) Humanistic Economics. Bootstrap Press, NY.

Chapter 12
Singer A. E. (2013). Social responsibility, political activity and competitive strategy: an integrative model. Business Ethics: A European Review 22(3) 308-324.

Chapter 13
Axelrod R (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation. NY: Basic Books.
Singer A (1997) Game theory and the evolution of strategic thinking. Human Systems Management 16, 63-75.

Chapter 16
Kay J (2011) Obliquity: Why our Goals are Best Achieved Indirectly. Profile Books.
Mintzberg H & J Waters (1985) Of strategies deliberate and emergent. Strategic Management Journal, 6: 257-272.

Chapter 17
Fukuyama F. (1992) The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press: NY.
Thompson M (2017) https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/03/
mark-thompson-observer-interview-trump-brexit 6/7.

Chapter 18
Obama B (2006) The Audacity of Hope. Crown Press: NY.
Sennett R. (2000) The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. London: Norton.
Zeleny M (2005) Human Systems Management: Integrating Knowledge Management and Systems. World Scientific: NJ & Singapore.

Chapter 19
Etzioni A (1988) The Moral Dimension: Towards a New Economics. Free Press: NY.
Greene J (2013) “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason and the Gap between Us and Them” Penguin Books.
Rawls J (1972) A Theory of Justice, Clarendon Press: Oxford.

Chapter 20
Singer A (2015) Accelerating economic inequality and the moral responsibilities of corporate-employed technologists. IJ Social & Organizational Issues in IT. 4(1) pp28-33.

Chapter 21
Kanai, R et al. (2011) Political orientations are correlated with brain structure in young adults. Current Biology 21, 677–680, April 26, 2011.
Lanteaume L et al. (2007) Emotion induction after direct inter-cerebral stimulations of the human amygdala. Cerebral Cortex 17(6) 1307-13.
Sperry R (1961). Cerebral organization and behavior: The split brain behaves in many respects like two separate brains. Science 133, pp. 1749-1757.
Stevenson R (1886). Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (several reprinted editions).

Chapter 24
Hawken P (2007) Blessed Unrest: How the largest social movement in history is restoring grace, justice and beauty to the World. Penguin Books.
Sen A. (1993) Does business ethics make economic sense? Business Ethics Quarterly, 3(1): 45-54.
Singer A. (2012) Eco-preneurship and Recursivity. In: M Muffatto & P Giacon (Eds.) Entrepreneurial Strategies and Policies for Economic Growth. Liberiauniversitaria (Italy): pp. 603-616.

Chapter 25
Singer A (2017) Thinking strategically about ‘corporate personhood’ Human Systems Management 36, 129–140.

Chapter 27
Maitland I (1997). The great non-debate over international sweatshops. BAM Annual Conference Proceedings, September, 240–265.
Sen A (1999). Democracy as a Universal Value. Journal of Democracy. 10, 3, 3–17.

Chapter 28
Beer S (1972) Brain of the Firm, Allen Lane: Penguin Press.
Singer A (2017) Thinking strategically about ‘corporate personhood’ Human Systems Management 36, 129–140.
Singer A (2016) Corporate moral-agency as an epistemological organizing principle. Human Systems Management 35(1) 65-77.

Keywords: Political divide, rationality, civil discourse, healing

Audience: (a) The general reader interested in politics and the underpinnings of what’s going on in the political world today.  I suspect that readers of serious newspapers on both the Right and on the Left in many parts of the World (see (d) below)  would quite enjoy this book, or at least some chapters.  Perhaps more importantly, they might encounter something new, worthwhile and influential. 
(b)  Students and faculty in Business Schools & Colleges would surely appreciate much of the book, especially those on undergraduate or graduate level courses in Business & Society, Business-Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Leadership, Marketing Ethics, Business Strategy, Strategic Management or (in some colleges) Business-Philosophy. As mentioned in earlier correspondence, I intend using several chapters in my own classes on Business Ethics and Leadership
(c)  The same applies to a wide range of students and faculty in just about every one of the academic Social Sciences, including Economics (also Economic History), Politics & Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy & Religion, Feminist Studies and possibly also Law & Justice studies.

You have not viewed any product yet.