Weakening of the Congress and Change in the Political Culture
In the second decade of the 21st century, there was still a weak but visible tendency for change in the value systems of the Western societies. In more significant economic and social upheavals, some citizens of Western countries seem inclined to replace freedom with efficiency, and the possibility of individual choice – with consumerism and domestic comfort.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, in the countries of the Western world, there has been an ongoing process of unification in values and politics. Traditional political worldviews, ideologies, and approaches to governance are being devalued and replaced by concepts of pragmatism, centrism, and state efficiency. This changes the direction and the quality of the policy conversation and creates new lines of division. With the revival of nationalism in Europe, and especially with the emergence of national populism in the United States, “left-right” competition has been reformulated as “conservative-liberal.”
The main political cleavages have shifted from the sphere of ideology to the sphere of the sociocultural worldview. Individual self-determination, cultural identity, ethnicity, racial divisions, gender inequality, religious prejudices, social exclusion, and all person-centered issues exert a much more significant impact on political motivations than do traditional social divisions such as profession, income, education, or belonging to a particular social group or class. This significantly changes and complicates the process of political identification.
In a number of cases, people do not find their place on the left-right system of coordinates on the basis of traditional political ideas. It is much easier for them to situate their personal views and outlooks in the context of the division between change and the status quo. In many cases, this has led to the return of the “conservative-liberal” political clash of the 19th century. The essence of this clash remains in the background. In the foreground, “liberal” boils down to supporting change, and “conservative,” to maintaining the status quo.