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The Left, The Middle, and the Right



June 15, 2010 – Comments (1)

Two articles I came across today you might find interesting.  The first is the diary of a prisoner, Xiaodo Xiao, in one of Chairman Mao's labor camps.  The second discusses the growing alliance among conservatives and socialists in American power circles in the late 1960's.  The interrelatedness of these two viewpoints is staggering.  Is there a connection between these events and the Left/Right paradigm that has been forced upon an unwitting American public?  Whatever you decide, it makes for some thoughtful reading.

Nixon's Nose

The steamer was sailing toward the crematorium on the other side of the lake. The two corpses were rolled in straw mats and fastened on the deck with ropes. We sat on one side of the cabin, while on the other sat Chief Chen and the officer from Division 5. They passed cigarettes to each other and started to talk. They were discussing Chairman Mao’s new instruction on class struggle, which was: wherever there are masses of people, they are invariably divided into the Left, the Middle, and the Right, and that nobody will be able to change things in the next ten thousand years.

Chief Chen told the other officer that he had already spent several sleepless nights contemplating this particular piece of instruction from Chairman Mao, and already understood the deep meaning in it.

“This is essentially about the new phenomenon of class struggle. It is the universally applicable truth. It indicates that among our cadres in the labor reform center, as among the people everywhere else, there are the Left, the Middle, and the Right,” Chief Chen said.

“How about among the prisoners?” the other officer asked.

“Even among them there are also the Left, the Middle, and the Right,” Chief Chen said

The Repellent Neoconservatives

By now it is almost a cliché that the old ideological points of reference are no more; that left, right, and center cannot be identified even with a scorecard. One way of describing these changes is to say that left and right have been collapsing toward the center, that is, toward the locus of power. Interests of state have increasingly taken over, leading the "responsible" elements within each ideological group more and more to resemble one another.

.......Specifically, it has become almost impossible to distinguish "responsible" National Review conservatism from right-wing social democracy or from neoconservatism, and even, in some respects, from left-liberalism or the democratic socialism of the Robert Heilbroner variety.

How much difference is there, after all, among William F. Buckley, Sidney Hook, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nathan Glazer, Norman Podhoretz, and Irving Kristol – or even between them and Heilbroner and John Kenneth Galbraith? Admittedly there are differences of style, of traditional rhetoric, of ethnic roots, and especially, different persons and institutions each of these thinkers will salute on days of ritualistic obeisance. But the substance is all too similar....

When it comes to Buckley, Moynihan, and Galbraith, even the differences of style and rhetoric begin to disappear. Each is the alleged wit, the aging Peck's Bad Boy, of his respective ideological camp. Each titillates his audience with a seeming audacity and irreverence that serve only as a cloak for the prejudices both of the establishment and of the constituencies for whose benefit these gentlemen go into their respective acts.

Not much else I can say right now. Just trying to process it....

David in Qatar

1 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 15, 2010 at 9:01 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

I guess what I find remarkable is the similarity in result, regardless of intent, of the power structure in post-Vietnam America and Mao's China.  In both, the center of power was the State, and all ideologies collapsed upon the glory and power of State control.  They became indistinguishable from the point of view of the outsider as Left, MIddle, and Right became one philosophy of State control.  On the other hand, the ideological differences were presented to the public (words of the leaders, rather than deeds) as clear cut lines of division between Left, Middle, and Right that they could attach themselves too. 

Class struggle. Divide and Conquer.  It's a form of control.


David in Qatar

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