Caricatures and contradictions

There are two essential caricatures of the political and cultural left which appear on the intellectual right.

The first depicts left wing outlooks as amorphous and relativistic: Lacking anchor or moral compass, so this narrative goes, the left is like a weather vane which acquiesces to the slightest pressure and is only too willing to give credence to whichever “liberalized attitudes” creep into caprice. The left is passive and conflict-averse, afraid of war and too petrified from its moral triangulations to confront even the most menacing enemies, except through the self-defeating diplomatic avenue of “appeasement”. Such an outlook is inherently destructive because it puts the society at risk of disintegration from within and conquest or assimilation from without.

The second, foundational to right wing economic theory and rhetoric, is that all left wing objectives, if actualized, tend towards an authoritarian “collectivism”: that is, heavy-handed centralized control of political, social, and economic life; a faith in leviathan bureaucracy which crushes individual freedom, creativity, and initiative; and strict state regulation of everything from prices and incomes to “political correctness”. Only the robust defence of classical liberal values can stave off the mortal threat to freedom posed by the combined forces of socialism, feminism, chattering academic “elites”, and organized labour.

These narratives cannot both be true.

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