Sunday, January 17, 2021

It's not that we get more right wing as we get older

Spending time with at my mother's house is giving me time for all the books I bought and never read. Among my findings so far is that Isabella Tree's Wilding is inspirational and Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk is overwritten.

Today I tried Wagner and Philosophy by Bryan Magee - that temporary son of Market Harborough - and hit gold before I'd finished the preface.

In it Magee describes Wagner as a classic example of someone who, when young is a passionately committed and active revolutionary, but becomes disillusioned with politics and turns away from it altogether in middle age.

He continues:

Former comrades who retain their left-wing commitment usually see such a person as 'moving to the right', and of course some do, they become conservatives. But in most cases this is an uncomprehending way of seeing what is happening. 

For most such people are not switching from one political allegiance to another, they are becoming disillusioned with politics as such. They are ceasing to believe that the most important of human problems have political solutions. They are acquiring a different sort of outlook on life, one that does not see politico-social issues as primary.

And concludes with the insight:
The unforgiving bitterness of the disappointed left-winger is a quite different phenomenon psychologically from the curmudgeonliness of the reactionary, even if in elderly people the two often show some of the same symptoms. One is bitterness at the loss of a past, the other bitterness at the loss of a future.

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