I’m definitely on a side, but its not ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’

Driving over the holidays, we listened to Conservative with age: Why your political stripes change over time and an IQ2 US debate on whether not Liberals Hold the Moral High Ground. Both are excellent investments of your time and come highly recommended.

While listening, I was repeatedly struck (once again) by the poverty of the ‘left vs. right’ dichotomy. It is such a limiting concept. But as humans, I fear that we are mostly incapable of creating sides without creating tribes. I wonder how — and if — we can transcend the politics of left versus right, blue versus red, and tribe versus tribe. Is it even reasonable to hope that our species can go beyond its lineage of in-group/out-group positioning?

The discussions mentioned above reminded me of a statement by Wael Haddara in a recent conversation:

I’ve come to a conclusion recently that there’s really only two types of people in the world: those that want to live with each other and those who don’t. And I think it falls to the people that privilege this idea of a shared existence despite differences to figure out a way of accommodating each other in order to actually have a reasonably functional, happy existence. If the group of people that actually privilege the experience of knowing other people that are different — if those people can’t get their act together and if we can’t create a polity that respects diversity, that is built on commonalities, and that works for enough people — then the people that don’t want to live with other people are going to govern or shape that polity.

Haddara’s conclusion is, once again, a dichotomy. But perhaps it is a necessary dichotomy? What if instead of aligning myself with a camp I pitch my tent alongside anyone and everyone who stands for the cause of peacefully and equitably living together as equals? After all, political poles shift. Parties morph. Corruption can happen anywhere. Nothing in partyland is permanent: allegiances and doctrines are penned only to be reneged later. Yes, Politics™ is unstable territory.

Therefore, I honestly don’t care one iota about your political branding. Are you advocating for peaceful and equitable coexistence? If so, as far as I’m concerned, we’re already fundamentally on the same side. In fact, I think it might be the only definition of a ‘side’ that counts for anything.

My in-group is the group that believes that everyone belongs here, and I don’t care what labels the people in my group use to describe themselves beyond that.

3 thoughts on “I’m definitely on a side, but its not ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’

  1. @jamesshelley Forty year ago (this October), Havel wrote in The Power of the Powerless that, “Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them.”

  2. Well said, James. Here in the U.S., this “dichotomistic” liberal vs. conservative labelling and rhetoric has led to the expression of all other types of “either/or” divisions–Blacks vs. Whites, Rich vs. Poor, Religious vs. Non-religious–most of them hate-filled. I’ll pitch my tent besides yours any day (actually, I already have–literally. Ha!).

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