Left Cop, Right Cop

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Somewhere in the Clinton years, Z Man began to sour on official conservatism:

Anyway, I slowly came to the conclusion that the whole Right-Left dynamic was just a myth. One of things about working in Washington, even briefly, is you learn quickly that politics is nothing like you see on TV. Two people on a show ripping one another apart will be at the bar after the show yukking it up like old pals. That’s because they are old pals. The Right-Left narrative has simply become a convenient framework for the reality show called politics. This has been true since the 80’s.

Once you free your mind, if you will, of that framework through which you are expected to see your world, you have to make sense of what you see. If the Right-Left construct is just a version of good cop/bad cop where the people in the media hustle the rest of us so they can live above their utility, then what’s really going on in the world? How do things really work?


  1. Graham says:

    Maybe. There’s certainly a (strong) degree to which the left-right dynamic is either a false one — because it artificially shoves positions together into two broad categories and limits the possible coalitions of interests that can emerge, and because it creates the means to cull people from your team by mere positional virtue signalling — or a less than useful one — because sometimes a problem can best be tackled by a little bit from column a and a little bit from column b.

    But I’m not sure congeniality between partisans, by itself and however cheerful or long-lasting, after working hours is actually a marker for the falsity of left versus right. Once upon a time civility and friendships across ideological and partisan lines were considered civilized, human, necessary and right. It’s meant to be a political contest, not a war and, if anything, that bonhomie would be what made it possible to step outside of left/right when needed. The fact of a vicious political argument taking place on TV or any other venue being followed by open camaraderie isn’t evidence of fraud; it’s evidence of healthy ability to separate politics from life, especially among those to whom politics otherwise is life.

    Maybe that isn’t possible anymore, or desirable. But its absence or extinction wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing.

  2. Grurray says:

    The Left-Right dichotomy was a French concept. A better framework for American politics is Walter Russell Mead’s four archetypes.

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    More Z man, on the great transition:

    I’ve written a lot about how Buckley Conservatism is exhausted. It existed primarily as an argument in favor of a tough line with the Soviets and secondarily as an argument against 19th century socialism. It was a reaction to American Progressivism, not an independent intellectual movement. The Soviets are gone and no one, not even Progressives, think the worker’s paradise is a worthy goal. Conservatism no longer has a dance partner so it staggers around looking for a reason to exist.

    Buckley Conservatism is now a collection of slogans mostly, but it is also a massive money making racket. The collection of monasteries around Washington DC are still cranking out policy papers and think pieces for the political class. On the Left there’s nothing to write, but their monasteries are still in place, just looking for tenants. They busy themselves now with Democratic party politics, but the rickety state of the party is a reflection of the Left. It’s an old women clutching at power.

    The result is we have a strange period in American life. The old binary style of politics that has been with us since the Civil War now has a vacuum on both sides. The Left has no economic arguments and the Right has no cultural arguments. The reason the two sides scream bloody murder at one another over trivial stuff is they have no other way to distinguish one side from the other. Both sides are a straw-man for the other.

    That does not mean we are headed for the singularity. The neo-cons are still with us and they may be ready to make the return trip from neo-conservative to neo-liberal, by moving out of Republican politics into Democratic politics. Intellectually, the Left has been an abandoned building since the fall of the Soviets so there’s a vacuum to be filled. The coalition of groups on the Left are emotionally hostile to traditionalism, but they are open to the authoritarian globalism favored by the neoconservatives.

  4. Alrenous says:

    There are various ways in which left vs. right is real. However, under any of them, Republicants and Demobrats go on the same side – left.

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