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Left v Right

At last I understand the political divide (a little more)

Tim Hetherington

At last I’ve got it.

It has been a thing that has challenged me for most of my life. (Or, at least, since the age of reason).

The conundrum that is left and right; I am unsure whether to capitalise; for consistency I won’t.

Why is it that some people see the world from a conservative viewpoint – maintain the status quo, Capitalist, everyone for themselves, primus inter pares approach and others sit on the opposite extreme – share, equality, peace now, etc.

Before proceeding, and, in the interests of full disclosure I’ll reveal that I am to the left of centre; sure, when I was younger I was probably more to the left of the left, now, as I settle towards middle-aged I accept the inevitable.

Some things appear so self-evident.

Tax the rich and create safety-nets for the poor and the disadvantaged; provide free education and healthcare; you know the sort of thing. Tolerate different races, backgrounds, heritages and styles. Live and let live.

Well, these are my reality, obvious to me when I look-out on the world, when I consider how things should be.

I accept, or perhaps more, acknowledge that not everyone thinks the same.

I want to acquire more capital, so I can buy that house and have that car and buy those clothes and drink that wine. Money, money, money.

All people are equal; some more than others.

I had better get to the point before I lose everyone’s interest…

It was this week, listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast – brought to me thanks to my amazing nephew David, specifically the one where he interviews Sebastian Junger. The uber-cool American, former war journalist (and past friend of Tim Hetherington) – see Restrepo if you want to learn more.

They were talking about evolution. Well, that, genetic inheritance strongly influences political persuasion; according to Sebastian, 50 per cent of an individual’s political affiliation is genetically inherited.

If your mum is a Tory, the likelihood of you being one increases, mum and dad, the odds are doubled.

This doesn’t take away experience, nurture and self-determination, it is just a factor, albeit a significant one.

Well then, if your political persuasion is inherited, the degree to which you affiliate with left or right, there must be some evolutionary imperative related to this. Why are we not all on the left of the left?

Imagine a society, or, perhaps a tribe where everyone is a tree-hugging lover of all; they probably wouldn’t last long in the struggle for survival, they would be overcome by others who see the world through greed and gain and expansion.

Equally, if the place is over-run by little fascists, mini Mussolini’s goose-stepping their way to conquest, the community will ultimately freeze, overwhelmed by suspicion, paranoia and self-destructiveness.

Society needs both; the creative and the material, the accountants and the dreamers, the numerate and the metaphorical. This balance allows give and take, within a democratic process it provides breathing-space to flourish, to transform.

When I next see Farage (or May or Johnson) spouting negativistic rhetoric – I can now gain a better perspective; they are half of the moon. I am the other side. I needn’t fear. I will not change, oh, no! But, I will now appreciate the difference, perhaps use this knowledge to my advantage.

And, don’t see me as lily-livered, don’t consider my expansiveness a weakness, for without me, you’d petrify.

Together.

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