A Liberal, Right-Wing Progressive?


Noah Millman wants a new political taxonomy system. William Brafford summarizes Noah's three political axes:

    liberal vs. conservative (attitudes toward the individual and authority)

    left vs. right (attitudes toward social/economic winners and losers)

    progressive vs. reactionary (attitude toward past and future)

          Millman applies his system to me:

          To start placing people in my defined space, let’s take a fellow like Andrew Sullivan. I’d call him basically a liberal, right-wing progressive. He calls himself a conservative, but I don’t see a lot of evidence that he’s deferential to authority nor that he’s skeptical of individuals’ capacities. And that’s consistent across his career; these things were true when he was cheering on Margaret Thatcher and they are true today when he’s cheering on Barack Obama. But he’s also basically right-wing; he is generally more animated by the need to reward success than by the need to ameliorate the consequences of failure. His “move to the left” over time represents a change in emphasis on his part and a response to a change in the political landscape – where once he considered himself a member of a right-wing coalition of liberals and conservatives against the left, he now sees himself as a member of a liberal coalition of left- and right-wingers against conservative reactionaries. (Oh, I’m sorry – he’s of no party or clique. Never mind.)

          Actually, that's as smart and succinct an analysis of my politics as one can get. Thanks, Noah. And yes, these things are complicated, and "conservative" is a label - and one that seems increasingly quixotic for an Oakeshottian in America now. I'm a meritocratic Whiggish Tory really, in love with modernity.

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