Left and Right

The Left holds the levers of elite opinion. On the one hand, this makes the absurdities and monstrosities of the Left particularly easy to see, but on the other hand it makes the monstrosities that he Right is committed to harder to see. The Right thus becomes idealized, and the more so to those who are marginalized by the Left. After putting the Left in charge, the absurdity of their claims to universal equality and centralized control becomes manifest; but it also covers over the monstrosities and absurdities that are implicit in the Right’s belief in human inequality, or in its thinking that its political belief could be realized in a polity without centralization.

This is unavoidable since both Left and Right are attempts to create political unity among a number of persons that is far too large to have any political unity. Being unable to deal with persons as they are, the Left will pretend they are all homogeneous and the Right will pretend that the inequalities between them are evident in some phenotype. Since the realization of their infinitely-diffused ideologies is a monster, the Left will try to pretend that the monster is really just the people, and the Right will pretend that the monster could live without a head. Both pretend to control something that can’t be controlled because it can’t be understood, and it can’t be understood because it can’t exist. There are Leviathans, but they are not polities. They allow for politics but can only be considered politics by analogy.

I can’t imagine living outside the Leviathan, and I’d be open to an argument that, on net, it’s increased human happiness. Maybe the Left-Right division is a way of quarantining opposite absurdities, and so allows for neither one to become too extreme.



  1. thenyssan said,

    November 6, 2015 at 6:38 am

    This take seems to demotivate participation in the democratic process (a sentiment I share in many ways). Although that’s not quite right–it changes the process to a cultic one. Voting becomes a necessary futility to appease the monster. No party can win, no party should win, but we must play out our roles to make sure that the people survive the monster. Self-governance, like sacrifice, is deeply irrational at one level but thoroughly rational at another.

    Pius IX is chuckling.

    • November 6, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Minimally, I’d want people to stop finding any deep fulfillment of human nature in either the Left or the Right. They’re not who we are, nor are we some mix of the two.

  2. dsthorne said,

    November 6, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    You write: “This is unavoidable since both Left and Right are attempts to create political unity among a number of persons that is far too large to have any political unity. Being unable to deal with persons as they are, the Left will pretend they are all homogeneous and the Right will pretend that the inequalities between them are evident in some phenotype.”

    I’d say that that one of the strengths of conservatism, in it’s good form, is that it knows not to systematize. Hear what Roger Scruton has to say on the topic:

    Conservatism – at least, conservatism in the British tradition – is a politics of custom, compromise and settled indecision. For the conservative, political association should be seen in the same way as friendship: it has no overriding purpose, but changes from day to day, in accordance with the unforeseeable logic of a conversation. Extremists within the conservative alliance, therefore, are isolated, eccentric and even dangerous. Far from being more deeply committed partners in a common enterprise, they are separated by their very purposefulness from those whom they seek to lead.

    Scruton, Roger (2015-10-08). Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (Kindle Locations 264-268). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.


    • November 6, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      I don’t know what the relation between conservatism and the Right is. All conservatives seem to be of the Right but the reverse is not true, which seems to indicate that conservatism is a sub-set of a larger doctrine. Arguably, it’s the more palatable form of the larger doctrine.

      As for Scruton, it it against my experience that conservatism is any better at avoiding the extremists in its ranks than its opposite is. This doesn’t seem to be a particularly good description of the conservatives of the conservative revival in the U.K. and the U.S. in the 40 years after 1964.

  3. Cherokee said,

    November 9, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Personally, I don’t know what the deal is with American Catholics and conservatism. Conserving can be a good thing, but it depends on what we’re conserving. But our work isn’t even to conserve, per se. Our work is to live by and preach the Holy Gospel. When we do that, we don’t incur the risk of advocating things that are not actually *Catholic*.

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