My BS sensor is tingling again
posted March 30, 2016 10:39 PM
|Edited by artu at 22:41, 30 Mar 2016.
To give my own view on this:
To a large degree, "left" and "right" are simply coalitions that have some historical continuity. Sometimes two opposing sub-factions switch coalitions (e.g. doves in the US moving from the Old Right to the left, while hawks moved to the right), sometimes new factions appear (trade unionism) and old factions disappear (monarchism), but during any particular change, most of the sub-factions stay the same, so the left-right distinction is preserved.
But whatever positions the two coalitions ultimately take, they are to some degree motivated by different "moral forces": the left by egalitarianism and the right by tradition/order. More completely, there are at least three major moral-political alignments: progressivism (which includes socialism and communism), which views issues along an oppressor vs oppressed axis, liberalism (including libertarianism) which uses liberty vs coercion, and conservatism, which uses civilization vs barbarism. (These are of course incomplete generalizations.) In contemporary western democracies, the progressive and conservative factions are usually the strongest, and liberals are usually split between the two (except when they exist on their own in some multiparty systems). In the 19th century and modern right-wing authoritarian regimes, the liberal faction was/is typically stronger than the egalitarian one, and they're allied against the conservatives. In areas where the left is strong, the right tends to have a liberal streak, and where right is dominant, it's the left that's more liberal.
That's actually pretty accurate. As I already said, I think no specific political context can be reduced into leftism or rightism but as long as there is a social hierarchy, the terminology has substance and I think it would be an overstatement to say it is a completely illusionary axis in a multi-dimensional political space. The distinction is preserved to some extent, indeed.
Except, I wouldn't formulate conservatism's stance as civilization versus barbarism. When conservatives oppose things such as stem cell research or gay marriage, they don't do that in the name of opposing barbarism. Your average conservative doesn't even do it out of some well-thought ethical stance. Conservatives mostly want to preserve things the way they are because "that's how things been done for so long and it works" or even on a simpler basis, because religion or some similar set of norms dictate so: Cultural habit. It's about a comfort zone of what they are used to or how they were raised. They can rationalize their position on why they object to norms changing but when you come to the bottom of it, it's actually the concept of change itself they dislike. If gay marriage was somehow legitimate back in the 7th century and had it made its way into the Quran, Muslims who object to it today by saying things like it's not natural anyway etc, wouldn't object to it at all for those so-called reasons. The thing about conservatism is, it takes customs, whether justified or not for their own time, (maybe, there really was no other efficient way to deal with horse thieves but to hang them under 19th century circumstances of Wild West) and it applies an irrational universality to them. This doesn't originate from some deeply structured philosophy but rather a sentimental tendency to stick to the way things are. That's why for example, no matter from what culture, people from rural areas are usually more conservative than people from urban areas, because they are less used to change and social variety. So, life is contemplated (or even sensed) as something that is and should be more circularly stabilised.
Are you pretty? This is my occasion. - Ghost