How is it that the right is so focused and the left is so fragmented? Conspiracy theorists have a lot of fun with this, ascribing the right’s unity to a small cabal of powerful individuals who use their computers as puppet strings to send their minions their daily marching orders.
If only it were that simple.
The unity of the right comes from the unity of its purpose, and that unity is a power-driven greed. To embrace this greed is to put on a pair of existential blinders that block out all of creation. Life is reduced to a tiny pinprick of light that sees only the bottom line and not the dire consequences of pursuing it.
It is from this unity that the fragmentation of the left arises.
Power-driven greed causes a multiplicity of assorted damages, to the economy, to the environment, to nations and peoples, to agriculture, to small businesses and to communities. Consequently, there is a tendency, on the left, to attack these discrete problems individually. So it fragments as splintered groups attack individual symptoms in isolation from other groups.
For some reason, the left seems unable to realize that it, too, has a unifying principle—social justice. There is a plus and a minus to this principle. The plus is that it does not require the donning of blinders; the minus is that this means the left will never be as focused as the right.
It’s a discouraging business. It’s not like tilting at windmills; it’s more like confronting a rancid blob that moves inexorably along, driven by the momentum of its bloat. Hit is with a club and it sucks the club out of your hand; shoot it and its mass absorbs the bullet; set it on fire, and the flame refuses to catch.
Ward Morehouse tells a story about ancient Jerusalem where, every day, “a reformer stands in the temple denouncing the practices of the moneychangers. An observer asks, ‘Why do you carry on day after day? It’s so obvious the moneychangers are paying no attention.’
The reformer replies, ‘I do it so they will not corrupt me.’”
Perhaps, some day, the many little rivulets that make up the left will merge to form a mighty torrent that will flush society clean of the corruption that is clogging its pores.
Who knows when that day will be?