Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Conservatives, Liberals, and Capitalists

There are not two great political factions in the modern world, but three. Here is a summary of what Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noche said on the subject back in 1970:
Del Noce argues that while the Left in Europe had largely failed at the level of politics, it had won at the level of values. The still greater victory, however, was won by what he calls the “technocratic right,” because “it has been able to completely turn the culture of the left into its own tool.”

Thus, the cultural revolution of the 60s, which began as a rebellion against bourgeois values (mistakenly considered “traditional”) was captured and then used by the very thing it was rebelling against. Transfer this to our place and time, and we observe that the same thing has happened here, that American corporatism, our “technocratic right,” has, in effect, harnessed the Sexual Revolution for its own purposes.

Del Noce says, “Because of the culture that inspires it, the technocratic right is mortally opposed to traditional thought…” and “the alliance between technocratic right and cultural left is there for everyone to see.”
In certain ways capitalism is naturally allied with conservatism: an emphasis on stolid bourgeois hard work and personal responsibility, a ready acceptance of great inequalities in wealth, a belief that the little people should keep their noses to the grindstone and not challenge their betters. But in other ways capitalism and conservatism are natural enemies. Capitalism is all about changing the world, not keeping it the way it was. In a capitalist society money acts as a solvent dissolving bonds of neighborhood, ethnicity, class, and profession, ramping up individualism. Advertising is at the heart of contemporary capitalism, and advertising is all about being cool and up-to-date, dancing past the old fogeys to music they can't understand. Rod Dreher, the Christian conservative from whose blog I got the passage on Del Noche, titled his post “Enemies of Tradition, Left and Right.”

My grand vision for a more liberal America involves liberals allying with capitalists on social issues like gay marriage, and then with conservatives to fight corporate power, pollution, and the destruction of lovely old neighborhoods. But American politics have gotten so firmly organized into Left and Right, with people defining their whole identities as conservative or liberal, that capitalists and conservatives have been forced to paper over their differences and pretend to always agree, blocking many potential alliances with liberals that would suit their interests better.

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