Peoples' movements and protests




GAL-TAN – an old acquaintance



Any suggestion for improvals can be mailed to the author


By Jan Wiklund



n recent years, there has been a lot of talk about a new axis in politics. Parallel to the old class-based right-left axis with its focus on distribution, a new one has arisen, they say, based on the conflict between tradition and modernity – GAL-TAN as it is called in technical parlance.

However, it is fascinating how short-sighted some people are. Because that conflict is about as old as the concepts of right and left. What was called "the left" was born during the French Revolution, as a handy alliance between those who were for equality and against hierarchies, and those who wanted more capitalist development. In reaction to this, what was called "the right" became an alliance between those who wanted to maintain the hierarchies and those who were against capitalist development.

In some countries, e.g. Sweden, it was the theme of equality-inequality that dominated. Here, everyone agreed that capitalist development had to be pushed on. Sweden was a peripheral country that could not afford to stay with the old. Those in power, regardless of what they called themselves, pursued a zealous development policy and investments in industrialization.

In some other countries, e.g. France and Spain, for various reasons, latched onto the modernity-tradition conflict. "Left" became the name of those who were against the Catholic Church. Which, among other things, resulted in violent conflicts between city and country, because the church that was attacked was popular in the country and elitist in the city.

The deadlock in the conflict between tradition and modernity also had some other destructive consequences. In Spain you had civil war and Franco. In France, social insurance and women's suffrage had to wait until after the Second World War. The inequality-seeking forces were strengthened when the conflict was between tradition and modernity. Too few liked modernity as such, it appeared mostly as a luxury for the upper class.

I suspect that will happen today as well. The forces of inequality will be strengthened when the conflict is between tradition and modernity, provided that tradition and inequality continue to be traditionally paired.

Which in and of itself is not a natural necessity. From the bread rebellions of the 18th century to today's IMF rebellions, tradition has been devoted to the defense of equality. It only applies to politicize comparable issues in a decaying welfare state, like Sweden. For nothing is as revolutionary as conservatism.

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