By Gilad Atzmon
In the good old days when the terms Left and Right meant something the distinction between the two was clear. The Left believed that the resources and wealth of the state ought to be shared equitably. The Right’s position was that since only a few people in society are capable of handling capital properly, transforming prosperity into more prosperity, those few should be given a free hand and be taxed lightly to enable them to make the state more prosperous.
Noticeably, both of these viewpoints were both patriotic and intended to benefit the nation state and its citizens. The Left wanted equality for the good of all. The Right maintained that Laissez-faire policies actually benefited the working class as well as the rich. Metaphorically we can think of the state’s wealth as a cake. The Left believed that the cake should be sliced equally to provide each member of society an equal portion, while the Right contended that if those who know how to make money enjoy a relatively free ride, the cake would actually get bigger and that working people would be among the first to benefit as their portion expands.
The theories of both Left and Right were meaningful within the political context of a capitalist manufacturing society. Industrial society produced the wealth that made the debate between ‘equality’ and ‘Laissez-faire’ relevant. But the West is hardly productive anymore. Manufacturing has travelled to find the cheapest workers, moving among the Far East, South America and Africa. The working class has been reduced into a global workless class. Arguments about the distribution of wealth mean little in a globalist universe where state wealth has been replaced by exponentially growing debt. In a society that has replaced production with consumption, the bond/conflict between the factory owner and the worker belongs to nostalgia.
With both Left and Right emptied of their ideological and political relevance, Left and Right have been reduced into mere forms of identification with zero political or ideological relevance. The Left is diminished into a ‘LGBTQ call’ and the Right is driven by ‘White nationalism’; both are quintessentially tribal, anti universal and hardly attractive to most.
This may explain the worldwide rise of new populist political formations that don’t fit the standard political clichés. Traditional political institutions, both ‘Left’ and ‘Right,’ struggle to cope with change let alone adapt. Maybe two decades ago Labour could manage to be elected to lead Britain by pretending to be Tories, but this strategy is not going to save Labour in the future, as the Tories are hardly an attractive option. The same applies to the Democratic Party. Being an avid Neocon and and a war monger didn’t help Hillary Clinton. Instead it was Donald Trump, an anti politician with zero ideological standpoint, who made it to the White House.
The world we are part of desperately awaits a new ethos: a new ideology, religion, spirit, metaphysics, it may even be an anti ethos. Is this spirit going to refresh our yearning for the universal, poetic, and the ethical consistent with Western Athenian roots or is it going to be repressive, hateful and tribal in accordance with the Jerusalemite approach that has been threatening Athens for two millennia? I guess that it is down to us to determine as this world is ours as we are this world.