The essence of right and left goes something like this: a Democrat might declare that since salt is essential to everyone’s meals, let’s give free salt. The Republican will come back with — oh and I suppose you want to give free pepper too and ketchup and mayo and pickles and why not just throw in some pate de foie gras. No, you lunk — the Democrat responds — I’m just talking about salt.
There’s a certain concrete-centrism (concrete boundedness) on the left, and a certain abstraction-centrism on the right. The Democrat talks of salt, and the Republican talks of the concept “condiment”. The Democrat talks of GE Bonds, the Republican talks of the rule of law. The first talks in terms of discrete limited concerns and the second talks in terms of broad abstractions.
In each case, this leads to lunacy when taken to extremes. Democrats can totally fail at some policy, causing destruction and misery, then turn around and apply the same policy to another concrete, never seeing the similarity in the abstract nature of both attempts. Republicans can tie themselves in ideological knots, trying to integrate irreconcilable abstractions like capitalism and the Sermon on the mount. Abstraction-boundedness leads some to spin wild conspiracy tales that don’t have to be grounded in reality.
Unless Republicans abandon makey-up and learn to communicate with Democrats in terms of materialist non-abstract here-and-now or Democrats learn to integrate their disparate tinkerings and see the false principles and mistaken abstractions that underlie their failures, no communication is possible. I don’t see either adopting the mental habits of the other side any time soon. I don’t honestly know if they could.
The solution, of course, is to integrate both sides — to deal in both concretes and abstract principles, to understand that the moral and the practical are one, and to take concrete actions that are not irrational, but sound in both theory and practice. Neither side is quite up to the task as yet.
Originally posted on Facebook.