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In the 18th century, Right and Left as political designations were limited to just one place and revolved around the old order. We get these terms from the French Revolution, where the defenders of the crown sat to the right of the president in the National Constitutive Assembly, while the opponents were on the left. There is also the tradition in the West of the honored guest being seated to the right of the host, who is usually the head of the family.
Into the 19th century this right-left arrangement evolved as the politics of the West evolved, often reflecting the nature of the people. The French Right lost its aristocratic flavor while the German Right embraced it. In Britain, the aristocracy was in decline politically, but the Right was the defender of empire and the order that was required to maintain the empire. In America, there was never an order to defend, so this dichotomy did not arrive until much later.
The point is that the definition of Right and Left has evolved. Since the middle of the last century, the Right has been assigned the job of defending the status quo, while the Left has been assigned the role of embracing change. One of the weird results of this arrangement is that both sides have been drained of ideology. The Right just opposes the Left if it pays well. The Left embraces one deranged fad after another, just so they have a way to organize a street mob.
An example of the irrationality of the two sides is this weird story about the far-left governor of Colorado criticizing the moderate governor of Florida. The far-left guy is calling the middle-of-the-road guy a socialist because he signed off on a bill that stripped special privileges for a multinational corporation. In reality, the far-left guy is signaling his support for child rape, but he cannot be that explicit, so he used a term he thinks would sting the guy he considers right-wing.
Right there we see the bankruptcy of language. Ideologically, government taking a neutral stance on business is the opposite of socialism. On the other hand, it is explicitly not right-wing, as the Right has always viewed economics as a means to an end, not an object of worship. The Right wants stability, so the disruptions of capitalism need to be minimized by the state. The moves by DeSantis are right-wing in that he is defending the family and their absolute right to protect their children.
Of course, there is no in left-wing ideology that says child molesters must have easy access to children. The Jacobins were not pro-pederasty. The Marxists were quite prudish about sex in general. The American Left had its sexual liberation phase, but that was always limited to feminism. The truth is, Progressives have always lived like white nationalist with Victorian sensibilities. The only thing left-wing about defending the groomers is that it is anti-establishment.
The fact is, America, and maybe the West in general, has entered a post-ideological phase in which there is no logic behind the old labels. What passes for radicalism is nothing more than bourgeois neuroticism. There remains a vague sense of a promised land after the struggle, but that is just a carryover from the past. They never bother to describe what comes after the revolution. No one even bothers to ask them to explain the point of their agitations. There is no point.
The other side is just as lost. It is trite to say it now, but conservatives have conserved nothing and they have no desire to conserve anything. Of course, the reason they have no desire to conserve anything is there is nothing left to conserve. It goes beyond the practical, however, as you see in the National Review post. The point of politics is to shape public morality. Politics is about deciding right and wrong. If your politics leads you to abandon that debate, then you have no reason to exist.
Politics in America have become unmoored from reason. The Left is simply in favor of chaos for the sake of chaos. Post-Marx culturalism promised a new era for mankind if they seized control of the centers of cultural production. Instead, they got what the old Marxists feared came after capitalism. That is a society devoid of morality and dominated by transactionalism. The end of the cult-Marx rainbow is sterile materialism and pointless consumerism.
In such an age there is no place for a defense of order, so there is no reason for the old-style conservatism to exist. Why would any sane person want to defend this order against the violence of the Left? This is the age of post-Marx culturalism, so if they are unhappy with their creation, let them destroy it. Maybe what comes next is the chance to build anew. In other words, the alternative to the modern Left is not conservatism but culture jamming and accelerationism.
Where we find ourselves is beyond the maps of the known world. Like the first ships that went over the horizon, the old rules and lessons of Western politics are not much of a guide in navigating the present. Like the basics of sailing, the basics of politics remain the same, but the purpose is what demands the reimagination of the effort. To continue the analogy, we have not reached the new world, but we can no longer make out the old world either. We are in the great political dead space.
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