January 01, 2008
Sid is correct to call attention to the often dishonest application of “right” and “left” categories in describing an American political situation in which traditional ideological labels are less and less useful. In the US the “right”-“left” labels are applied to two parties, dripping with public funds, which organize periodic elections legitimating a centralized managerial state. In recent years these national parties have also peddled Political Correctness in the form of anti-discrimination laws and congressional and state agencies empowered to enforce behavioral control. Moreover, dubious immigration policies strengthen this regime by expanding social programs and by aggravating social tensions that bring therapeutic solutions. Arguably politics in a new key is taking shape around more relevant friend-enemy polarities. Those who enjoy the managerial-therapeutic “system,” and may even want to extend it, stand in opposition to those who want to dismantle it—or at least bring it under close, local control.
There is, however, a good reason to hold on to the received right-left divide, which is the one that Sid finds entirely useless. The customary distinction still relates to the acceptance or rejection of multiculturalism and of government policies aimed at designated victims. My latest commentary dealt with the shift toward what I describe as the post-Marxist Left by parties and movements incorrectly identified as the Right or the Right-Center. In Europe there is in fact a populist Right, which Sid may not approve of, but which functions as a serious oppositional force to the multicultural Left. As the adversaries of this European Left, the Vlaams Belang, the Lega Nord, and the British National Party belong to the Right. In this country neither the GOP nor the present imitation of a “conservative movement” represents anything of the kind.
I am truly sorry (or it may behoove me to say so) if my less than gentle reference to “WASPs” offended one of my readers; I was only designating a certain type of Northern European Protestant, and one that I used to admire perhaps more than I should. It would of course be perilous to refer to Ashkenazic Jews with anything less than effusive reverence because neither this group nor WASPs would put up with unflattering conversation about WEJ (White European Jews). At the same time, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and those they have mixed with, seem to enjoy piling blame on themselves for not being totally accepting of everyone else, and particularly of those who dislike them. W has perfected the PC cringe that typifies the present version of the Anglo-Saxon Protestant gentleman. While such fawning has not brought our president any electoral dividends, it may please him emotionally to engage in such outreach.