Is there a box marked “other?”

My recent article on Neocalvinism in Comment generated some curious comments and reaction (both at the site and via email). Most of it is not worth a reply, but I continue to be amazed by a lack of imagination on the right which thinks that a criticism of the Bush administration can only mean that someone loves all things Clintonian and Democratic. In other words, they seem to imagine that someone who criticizes “the Right” must be a card-carrying member of “the Left” (as if there was one). One would hope for a little more nuance. So I was surprised to see myself being dismissed as yet another “liberal.” I think I’ve pretty clearly indicated—in my critique of Jim Wallis and in my sympathy for Hitchens’ lambasting of the Clintons—that I’m no friend of the left. Instead, I find myself in deep sympathy with Ruskin who, in the very first letter of Fors Clavigera, trying to subvert such simplistic dichotomies:

“Consider, for instance, the ridiculousness of the division of parties into ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative.’ There is no opposition whatever between these two kinds of men. There is opposition between Liberals and Illiberals; that is to say, between people who desire liberty, and who dislike it. I am a violent Illiberal; but it does not follow that I must be a Conservative.”