Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The wingers within us?

Jonathan Schwarz over at A Tiny Revolution has a theory that one of the reasons every society seems to have a right wing and a left wing in its political make-up is that each of us has a bit of right wing (keep things the same, don't change) and left wing (shake things up) within us, contending for our priorities and perhaps keeping us balanced. Intriguing. Interesting comments too.

I would note that these definitions don't always correspond to those we call left and right within our society, which is just one reason the terms "left" and "right" are somewhat short of satisfactory. Those we choose to call the left are utterly reactionary when it comes to the welfare state, Social Security or (lately) trade policy. Those we call the left used to think of themselves as revolutionaries who wanted to shake up the welfare state assumptions and big government (though they became more than comfortable with big government once they controlled it) and may come to think of themselves that way again when (all right, if) the voters put them into exile.

Maybe it's not right-left, maybe it's authoritarian-individualist or conformist-freethinker or self-directed/other-directed. More likely, it's much more complicated than any of that for each individual. And the idea of equating society with an individual organism is a little creepy to me.

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