Left and Right Unite?

25 01 2010

Virtually all commentators religiously caveat any discussion of ‘left’ and ‘right’ in modern politics. The terms, however, persist. This is because ‘left’ and ‘right’ are useful labels, and their malleability is a strength, rather than a limitation. They mean different things in different contexts, but mark an ill-defined likeness between apparently disparate political outlooks. What will they mean in the post-bureaucratic age?

Mass communication sits easily within either camp. Soviet Russia made extensive use of mass communication networks (albeit whilst attempting to block out everything west of the Iron Curtain), whilst America saw a communications boom during Reagan’s administration. Left and right wing governments have used their bureaucratic monopolies to shore up their authority and exercise their power with similar zeal.

As we advance in the post-bureaucratic age, left and right will find areas of agreement. Open government data; the importance of technology; better-value public services : these things are not ‘naturally’ right or left wing agendas.

However, the idea (beloved of the left – though often phrased rather differently) that there exists an intellectual vanguard (whether as the state, the party, the media) who can help those less able to help themselves, will be harder to sustain. It is much harder to make a case in support of the notion of false consciousness (however defined), when everyone has access to the same materials and experiences online. Equally, the right will find it difficult to argue in favour of the primacy of individuality over social community, as people come to form social groups (however defined) with people all over the virtual world.

It seems, then, that left and right may find it more difficult to define their differences down traditional fault lines. They agree that the post-bureaucratic age will provide new opportunities and dangers, but their means of addressing these may not be as dissimilar as they have been in the past.




One response

27 01 2010
Tweets that mention Left and Right Unite? « The Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PostBureaucratic Age, PostBureaucratic Age. PostBureaucratic Age said: Will the post-bureaucratic age cause Left and Right to merge? http://bit.ly/63RTHL […]

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