Tuesday, May 23, 2006

PROGRESSIVES VERSUS REACTIONARIES

From David Aaronovitch in today's Times:
Forget red, blue and yellow. Now the choice is Progressives v Reactionaries.

OH, FOR CLEARER times when men were men and Tories were vermin. Each child born alive was either a little Red or a little Blue, with a few Cornish vacillators wearing the awkward yellow favours of the in-betweenies. Oceans of blood separated us. The Blues loved the Americans, we Reds (sotto voce) thought that the Russians got a bad press. They were for no taxes and lots of poverty, we were for massive taxes and no wealth. They were turned on by soldiers and the Bomb, we were turned on by women with peace symbols painted on their bare breasts. They were for Europe, and then against it. We were against Europe, and then for it. You could usually take someone’s opinion on a single issue, and from it extrapolate her entire world-view.

For years, of course, these allegiances have been breaking up, but the essential divide has been thought to remain. It’s there in the common-place that Tony Blair is right-wing for a Labour man, or that David Cameron is left-wing for a Tory. But the truth has been dawning on many of us for some time now that this way of dividing the political world is an anachronism. It no longer fits the facts. When I look at the candidates for Parliament in my own constituency, the Labourness, Libdemness or Toryness of them no longer seems to be the main question. What I want to know is whether they are a progressive or a reactionary.
Definitely worth two minutes of your time.

It calls to mind a comment Norm made in one of his Gare du Norm (Euston Manifesto Platforms) articles:
I would say for my own part that since September 11 2001, it is not just a matter of specific issues, nor of something occasional. Across a range of vitally important political questions today - questions to do with war and peace, humanitarian intervention, terrorism and the fight against it, America's role in the world, attitudes of indulgence on the left towards regimes and practices that shouldn't be indulged - there is the basis for a common fight that at once unites a part of the left with people who are not of the left and divides it from others who are.

I will even say - and here I do not claim to speak for anyone else - that if I have to choose between a liberal who is also a democrat but not a socialist, and a socialist of illiberal outlook with a frail, or worse than frail, attachment to democracy, then I'll be with the former. Every time.
I'm with Norm on this one.

Thoughts?

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