Left and right defined the 20th century. What's next?by prospect / March 22, 2007 / Leave a comment
E Fabio Arcangeli
Left/right will continue to exist, although with new meanings:
– left might come to mean dissatisfaction with unilateralism and empires in general, and assume a spiritual flavour, aiming to go beyond the shortcomings of modernity: secularisation and lack of values, empathy, and compassion.
– right might become an imperial and postmodern, realpolitik and fully secularised perspective; if so, there will be at least two rights: pro-US and pro-China one; during the century, the balance will shift between the two.
Ian Christie The major fault lines will be between the Ultra-Haves, the At-Risk-Haves and the Have-Nots, and alliances between them will vary greatly. The Ultra-Haves are Michael Lind’s Plutopians plus the Resource Barons and Crime Barons. The At-Risk-Haves are the middle classes everywhere, who resent the Ultras but will often side with them against the Have-Nots. They are at risk from low-cost competitors, environmental disruption, social disruption exacerbated by migration, and mounting competition for positional goods. The Have-Nots are split between the Mobile and the Stuck, the latter being incarcerated in estates, barrios, other kinds of ghettos. Mobile Have-Nots could form alliances with the At-Risk Haves; the Stuck are often forced into one-sided alliances with the criminal version of the Ultra-Haves.
The trend towards the embrace of modernity (pro-west, pro-science, pro-reason) will be severely tested for all factions by environmental crisis and resource competition. Mass modernisation has always fostered an irruption of pre-modern forces in new guises, offering either wholesale return to the past or an ideology that provides all mod cons plus tribal cohesion. This will be made more complex by the threat from eco-collapse. There will be sharper divisions between modernists, anti-moderns and in between what I would call the proponents of chastened Enlightenment—those of us who like their modernity tempered by well-behaved liberal religion and humility. Needless to say, the latter bunch of herbivores are in trouble in the 21st century.
I’d expect a new fault line to emerge across the divisions mentioned above, between militants and co-operators. Militants seek to advance their interests aggressively and to externalise costs. The co-operators will be keen on compromise, international agreements, behaviour change and new forms of consumption. One version of this split is being played out now in the Anglican communion.
Duncan Fraser All the possible alternatives to the left/right dichotomy that were suggested by your authors—environment, globalisation, age, religion, rationalism, communitarianism vs libertarianism—can easily be…