It has become a cliche among political analysts that the old
ideological categories don't mean much in the post-Cold War world.
With right and left in disarray, we supposedly have entered a
post-ideological age in which pragmatism will dominate, giving us
rule by a vital center with no guiding principles.
The post-ideological age is a myth, however.
The current ideological flux has, in fact, exposed deeper
divisions than the ones to which we have long been accustomed.
Rather than a post-ideological age, we are now in a radically
ideological age, in which ideas are taken to their roots, to their
fundamentals, in which the categories are broader and deeper and
the divisions more sharply defined than the old left and right.
We saw one such division - a stark, old-fashioned one - in the
crime bill debate. Over the past several months, others have
cropped up, creating odd alliances:
- A coalition of anti-growth liberals and blood-and-soil
conservatives to stop the Walt Disney Co. from building an American
history theme park in northern Virginia (the free-market objection
that the park is getting state subsidies isn't part of the main
- An alliance of environmentalists and farmers to block
development by using water policy to favor the status quo in
- And, most important, a coalition of environmentalists,
left-wing activists and conservative nationalists to defeat the new
world trade treaty.
Those examples capture an increasingly common pattern. On issue
after issue, partisans of stasis are appealing to state power to
block the dynamic processes of markets and individual choice. And,
in more and more instances, they are allied across traditional
To credit them with spanning a broad spectrum of opinion - with
representing some sort of consensus - is to fall into a trap. In a
radically ideological age, they are the friendliest of fellow
A few days before the crime bill vote, Ralph Nader issued a
press release titled, "Broadest Range of American Political
Spectrum Ever to Jointly Petition a President Call for GATT Vote
Postponement" The title is not merely ungrammatical. It is a lie.
It disregards the profound agreement among those on Nader's
list: "Jerry Brown and Pat Buchanan; Tom Hayden and Lyn Nofzinger;
Richard Viguerie and Kurt Vonnegut; Ralph Nader and Paul Weyrich;
the editor of the right-wing American Spectator and the editor and
publisher of The Progressive. …