In a place where population is large and self-regard larger still, the national conversation pivots on identity as a bulwark against powerless obscurity. Identity needs to be identified and in conversation this means by words: Liberal, Conservative, Racist, Social Justice Warrior, Professor, Student, Feminist, Misogynist, etc. Participants in this conversation navigate between allies and enemies based on these linguistic flags, habitually judging an individual’s character and beliefs based on trigger words that most easily define his or her identity. Once defined, anything said and done can be given context, cognitive dissonance applied as needed, to makemmk a what’s said and done so as to predisposed reaction. This has the look of an interaction but where participants are mere tropes for an imposed identity, it’s agenda politics from the soapbox, talking to one’s own confirmation bias and one’s own team.
Appropriating words is like colonising territory, an attack (or defence) of these words flags that’re the chess pieces of identity politics.
Left versus Right is a good example of this because it’s both ubiquitous and culturally loaded, covering a diversity of self-professed adherents – a big component of their identity and thus í national conversation. This makes the words Left and Right important. It makes their possession matter, because to control the definition of the words is to exert power over everyone for whom they have personal meaning. If Left becomes antifa, then everyone Left must needs become antifa or lose the identifier. If Right becomes Christin everyone Right a must needs become religious or lose the word, identity and therefore influence eroded.
The more facets of the national conversation, the more identity flags can be gathered under a single word, the more power it gains, the more territory it covers, the more it starts to impose identity rather than imperfectly signal it.
Left v Right has no implicit meaning when it comes to describing and predicting ideological thinking. It does not cover the territory of racism or social justice, it’s not a signifier of fascist versus liberal.
Left and Right are only meaningful as a dichotomy in economics. Both presume the goal of a successful, progressive society that’s robust and innovative and reasonable and enriching. The difference is one of fundamental method for achieving this goal, not on the basis of absolute ideology but what’s actually effective. Left says capital must be regulated, distributed across society – from above if need be – to sandbox the market for the greater common good. Right says capital is apolitical and will regulate itself if only the market stays free, because the market is objectively self-selecting with artificial interference doing nothing but harm. The market by definition will let the best ideas rise and the worst ideas fall.
This apolitical Left v Right is no less important a dichotomy as the implementing of these opposing economic models begets politics and action if a society wants to create and/or safeguard the free or subordinated market.
But Left and Right says nothing about equality of race or gender. It is ahistorical. It makes no recommendation how a society implements the Right or Left economic paradigm.
Appropriation of the words Left and Right, hijacking both to serve political ideological and social ends has been very effective in America the the past 20 years. It’s a deliberate policy by ideologues to exert control over bigger and bigger ‘teams’.
Left and Right is only meaningful as an economic dichotomy. Anything else is propaganda or smokescreen or appropriation or groupthink misdirection. Fight it.
If we’re to be stuck with a identifiers to signal beliefs and opinions in a national conversation with so many participants, which we may well be, these identifiers should at least be accurate and sufficiently distinct to allow authentic presentation of individuals, however approximate.