Friday, July 9, 2010

Left, left, left right left

It has recently been pointed out to me that my conversation is full of references to "the left" and "the right" (and this blog tends to reflect my conversational habits). I think the observation carried an implicit criticism (about my tendency to think in terms of simple, adversarial dichotomies?), and I might just give a few initial reflections here on the matter.

First of all, I realize that an individual's political and social views are very complex and cannot be reduced to a position on a one-dimensional (or even multi-dimensional) scale. I have used the word "conservative" to label my general position, but it is a word which is sufficiently flexible to cover a range of perspectives in a range of areas (not just politics).

I had a friend who was raised in China in the 1970s (the daughter of a general, in fact), and she was in a deep sense a conservative, though she was not interested in Western politics. She was educated in Confucian values and classical Chinese literature by her maternal grandmother, who had been a concubine, and yet she was also deeply affected by Maoist Communist ideas.

The point I'm making is that I know there is no simple left/right dichotomy. I am interested in how people think and form their values, and, if I tend to identify with "one side" of politics, I am not totally sure of my position and I remain respectful towards and sometimes fascinated by those with views very different from my own.