Left, right, left

There was a hierarchy or pyramid. Socialism in one of its many forms was at the top. The next most desirable form of society was what left-wingers foolishly called capitalist democracies: countries like yours and mine with mixed economies, universal suffrage, bills of rights and welfare states. At the bottom of the heap, were the most detestable regimes imaginable: fascist, communalist or confessional societies, which used insane conspiracy theories and pseudo-science to divide people by ethnicity or creed. Nazi Germany was the clearest example of what the left used to hate.

Move forward into the 21st century and the left has changed beyond recognition. Socialism is dead, destroyed by the terrible crimes of the communists and the success of market economies, most notably in Asia. There are still people who call themselves socialists but no serious political movement anywhere in the world believes it can improve society by nationalising the economy. This is a huge change beca...

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