Who is the worst company, the left or the right?

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And we got along so well. Me and another guest at a liberal party in Washington had been discussing diets for a few funny minutes when I said the key was to avoid exercise. It just makes you hungry. Even writing this from memory just now, the joke, the lack of seriousness, shines through. Is not it?

“Sooo,” began the reply, which is always a clue to stop listening, “the research on this is clear. Exercise is one of the most effective things people can do from the point of view mental health, in addition to the physical. Sooo, yeah.

In retrospect, there had been warnings. The speaker”. The glassy eyes and wrinkleless face of the eternal literalist. But you didn’t act on it, Janan, and now you’re stuck in 40-degree Virginia heat with this. . . entity.

This column does not ask which side of politics, left or right, has the most credible worldview or the best record in government. I have another FT slot in which to discuss these little potatoes. The question is rather social. Who is the worst company? Who, in the end, is the most awful?

The choice, I think, is between dissatisfaction and philistinism. From LA to New York and DC, prominent curators tend to congregate in the city’s less desirable neighborhoods. If they live in London, it will be an SW postcode, which is like having the Library of Congress run and walking away with a Kardashian memoir.

The designer handbags, the polish on all surfaces: I’ve penetrated enough of the right-wing scene on two continents to know the frivolity of style. But then I socialize on the left, meet someone who thinks they’re worth saying – is there a less aphrodisiac phrase? — “sex positive,” and I wonder if it’s too late to catch this Mehmet Oz fundraiser.

Both sides got worse over time. There was once such a creature as the urban and even bohemian right-winger (William F Buckley was at least one of those things). you might like Parsifal, Chassagne-Montrachet and the Strategic Defense Initiative. With the rise of populism in the middle of the last decade, this gave way to a kind of competitive basicity. The bad taste and porcine ignorance that was accidental when JS Mill called the Tories a “dumb party” has become tactical: the right’s own signal of virtue.

I know a high school disco dancer Sloane who has spent most of his time since Brexit playing fat yeoman. This natural sophisticate has become one of those men who make you wonder if the words “boor” and “bore” come from the same root. Because the main Tories are all pretenders to populism – they still don’t have Pierre Poujade, a real Everyman – the effect is almost poignant, like the classy dork trying to fit in with the jocks in a John movie. Lesser Hughes.

Since I asked the question, I should stop evading the answer. By a mustache, I find the right easier to be around. But it’s hard to ignore their almost physical discomfort when I take them to dinner somewhere that won’t make them rib eye. I’m going with Silo to Hackney to inflict real trauma on him.

Political movements are not defined solely or even primarily by their ideological content. They acquire over time their own patterns of speech, dress and body language: their own social style. (There is, at least in the United States, such a thing as “right hair.”) They are becoming what political scientist Lilliana Mason calls “mega-identities.” On the left, it manifests as a round-the-clock seriousness that is mentally draining to be close to. On the modern right, it’s that man-of-the-street pretension combined with ignorant bovine wealth.

Look, I know that sounds like so much centrist jingoism: the narrow-mindedness of a man who grew up in the most vanilla political era of all time. But listen to me. I’m not saying that everyone to the left of Tony Blair or to the right of John Major is terribly awful. I’m not saying that everything of them are.

Email Janan at [email protected]

Summer books 2022

All this week, FT writers and critics are sharing their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Thursday: Story by Tony Barber
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ Choice

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