Why VFR does not capitalize “the left”

Many commenters at VFR capitalize “the Left.” With the multipart Word macro that I created years ago for preparing comments for posting, “the Left” is changed to “the left.” I don’t like to capitalize “the left,” for two reasons. One, it doesn’t strike me as a proper name, and two, if we wrote “the Left” at VFR, we’d also have to write “the Right.” To write the word as “the Right” implies that there really is such a thing as the Right, just as there really is such a thing as the Left. But that would mean referring to the likes of Jonah Goldberg, “Rich” Lowry, Charles Krauthammer, and all mainstream conservatives, many of whom are very liberal in many of their positions, as “the Right.” It would suggest the existence of a true right-wing substance that isn’t really there. Also, many years ago, when I noticed how Commentary regularly spoke of “the Right,” mainly in referring to neoconservatives and Republicans, the capitalization struck me as giving the word an overblown significance.

When I use “the right” at VFR, I use it nominalistically. That is, “the right” is a label conveniently affixed to a collection of persons and entities who are conventionally known as being on the right—a label which does not necessarily have an objective and stable meaning. If I capitalized it and wrote “the Right,” that would imply that all the people and entities referred to by that word really were “the Right” in some objective sense, which clearly they are not.

On another point, it is most ironic that many of the same people who capitalize “the Left” today, also write “communism” in lower case. As I have pointed out several times, Communism (when it refers to modern Communism and the Communist Party) is a proper name and should be capitalized, but for some reason which I have not fathomed, the entire world has switched in recent years to writing the word in lower case. Even old-fashioned stalwart anti-Communists write “communism” and “communists.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 12, 2011 11:03 AM | Send

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