Tuesday, November 6, 2007

the political spectrum

Today being election day, an uninspiring one, with the normative inclement weather that is native to these environs, it is a good point to ponder upon positions on the political spectrum, for next year's election shall be of greater import. On one traditional range, that comes down from the french revolution, we have from left to right:

radical > liberal > moderate > conservative > reactionary

This suggests, in part, the proclivity towards change or degree and direction of change. In our country, it is sometimes divided between a false dichotomy between conservative and liberal. It is quite difficult to fathom what who means what by this distinction, especially, if compared to the traditional meanings. In particular societies and times other scenarios can develop and be represented: monarchists, constituitionalist, clericalist, labor, agrarian, fascist, socialist, communist and so forth.

In the US, a version of a religious faction has developed in the current generation. It loosely consists of the lunatic fringe of american protestantism, that is evangelical, fundamentalist, calvinist, mohammedean, dispensational and premillennialist; a blend of darbyite dispensationalism and calvinistic evangelicalism, which is a perversion of christianity with major elements of nationalism, imperialism and zionism. It has merged with the fascist wing of the Republican party to control the former confederate states. It is also significant in other states as well. Often it is termed the "religious right". In western civilisation catholicism is conservative, since by definition and history, it has conserved its faith patrimony. But, for a committed catholic, some, really most, perhaps virtually all outside some life and morality issues, of that current faction's agenda is anathema. For that group has a bedrock bigotry against catholics and catholicism. It would be strange bedfellows as an understatement. For that group sees only ex-catholics as good catholics as do many who are anti-religious.

Many who are, contemptuously, called liberals would identify themselves as progressives, which connotes positive change forward. A nineteenth century liberal would have been a capitalist in most places, here and now a liberal has some antipathy for unrestrained capitalism. There is fluidity in terminology. Then what issues form the basis of discussion and determination? Some issues bundle together, while others can be independent from the bundling of camps.

During the 1930s the spectrum was:
communist > socialist democrat > conservative democrat > fascist

Today in the US the choice is democrat or fascist.*
There is a dialogue in the film Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (2005), where Sophie of the White Rose is interrogated by police commissioner Mohr and he makes the same point.

1 comment:

stpetric said...

Your comments about the "false dichotomy between conservative and liberal", and the difficulty of people of faith (particularly Catholics) allying with specific elements of a political party's platform are well taken. But, browsing through your blog this morning, I'm struck by the virulence of your hatred for anything to do with the Republican Party. Republicans as you see them, apparently, are not just wrong; not just people of good faith who come to different political conclusions; not just fellow Catholics who make morally complicated political decisions -- no, they're desperately evil. When that's your view of the opposition, reasoned discourse goes out the window. You cite Solzhenitsyn at least once; perhaps you'll consider his comment from the Nobel Lecture that ideology is the enemy of truth. That's true of Republican ideology -- but it's also true of Democratic ideology. Ideology is a Procrustean bed that forces reality to fit its parameters, and American partisan politics don't deserve that power over you.