Saturday, December 16, 2006

La Droite et la Gauche

In the early 1790's, when the culmination of Enlightenment led to the fermentation of Darkness, the Right versus Left metaphor solidified in Western political jargon. As Wikipedia puts it:

The terms Left and Right have been used to refer to political affiliation since the early part of the French Revolutionary era. They originally referred to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France, specifically in the French Legislative Assembly of 1791, when the moderate royalist Feuillants sat on the right side of the chamber, while the radical Montagnards sat on the left.
It was natural, as Davies notes in his A History of Europe, for those who took the side of authority to sit at the right hand of the King, as at "the right hand of the Father". Historians and political commentators have been labelling the group who generally favor the established order as being on the Right, and those who want to change the existing order as being on the Left.

But no metaphor is perfect, of course, and so people have over the years tried to describe popular political views as a horseshoe, a spectrum, a circle, or a diamond. It's more like an ala carte menu from which we each tend to limit ourselves to either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We each hold all of these crazy ideas like eating waffles for supper, but we stick with the meal we've chosen, since everyone else is doing it.

I'm not sure if the divide between Right and Left is still deepening, though I think it might be. A lot depends on what the leftists do with their Congressional majorities. Will they continue to exclaim that no other meal but theirs is proper, that the CookLied™, and that the other meals are spiced with e. coli? Or will they recognize that some people just like steak for breakfast?

As I said, no metaphor is perfect.

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