Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Another example of Left/Right convergence

One of these days, I’m going to write a big bomb-throwing post proposing that political scientists should completely abandon the use of the left-right spectrum in serious research. It is an innately multivariate concept that cannot be reduced to a scalar. Attempts to create an operational definition have ranged from inadequate to disastrous. On top of all that, since everyone thinks they know what “left” and “right” mean, any use of the terms in a supposedly scientific context inevitably produces more confusion than illumination.

One of the indications that a Euclidean framework won’t work is the existence of beliefs and positions that tend to attract people from the extremes of both the left and the right. We’ve already discussed conspiracy theories and alternative medicine. Perhaps we should add certain segments of anti-war movements.

I’m not talking about strange bedfellow scenarios like the one that temporarily aligned the left with the reactionaries against FDR liberals. This is something more paradoxical, where people supposedly on opposite ends of the spectrum gravitate to the same point not out of convenience or strategic alignment (such as the apocalyptic evangelical wing’s support of Israel).

This isn’t to say that there aren’t differences between the anti-war movement on the left and on the right, but I suspect when you start going through the crowd at a Gabbard rally, it might not be easy to tell which direction a given supporter came from.

From Fresh Air:

GROSS: So Enoch is anti-Semitic, racist and promotes those thoughts on his blog and podcast. Did he support Donald Trump during the election? Does he support President Trump now? Did he play any role in promoting Trump?

MARANTZ: Yeah. So he and the rest of the alt-right definitely supported Trump during the campaign and saw him as the best they were ever going to get from a plausible presidential candidate. I mean, they saw him as someone who would give voice to their kind of white identity movement in a tacit way but still in a way that sounded very clear to them.

After he became president, he started to alienate them by being erratic and inconsistent - also by being a little too hawkish. A lot of these people came out of anti-war organizing, either from the left or the right or both. So when he started dropping bombs on Syria, a lot of the alt-right stopped being Trump supporters. And then also when he failed to build the wall and failed to enact what they wanted, which was essentially a proto-white nationalist agenda, he lost a lot of their support, too.

But a lot of them - you know, in a way the anti-Semitism, it's not just a kind of purely irrational - I mean, it's obviously irrational, but it doesn't come out of nowhere. A lot of it for them comes out of what they perceive as libertarian or anti-war politics.

GROSS: So if Trump were to run again, do you think he'd have the support of Mike Enoch or other people that you've written about in the book?

MARANTZ: Yeah, it's a really good question. A lot of them have moved on to other people like Tulsi Gabbard. A lot of people in my book are really into Tulsi these days.

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