Politics in most Western countries have been characterised for nearly a century between left and right. This division, rooted in opposing evaluations of the nature and exercise of state power, has been so dominant that nearly all political analysis is framed by this axis.
The Left-Right Order Is Collapsing
This division is now collapsing. In nearly every Western country, the share of the vote that is given to identifiably left and right parties is shrinking in favor of new parties that mix elements of both. This fact takes political expression in the rise of “populist” parties and figures throughout the West. Put these parties and figures in the same room and they’d have serious disagreements. A conversation between Podemos’ Pablo Iglesias of Spain and PVV’s Geert Wilders of the Netherlands would be explosive, for example, but new era politicians of their stripe share the core instinct that what is good for the voters of their own nations – or at least the angriest and most disrupted subsets of that nation – should, over the short-term, take precedence over the maintenance of a global politico-economic order that, however optimal it might potentially be in the long-run, is creating too many casualties.
Henry Olsen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Editor of UnHerd.com’s Flyover Country theme.