When did the Left/Right Cleavage appear in France?
Conventional wisdom has it that the right/left cleaveage dates from the French Revolution. But everything indicates that it became rooted only at the time of the Combes government (1902-1905) and that it has been definitively in place only since the 1930s.
The causes of its emergence deserve scrutiny. Initially, the propaganda of political actors, the habits of literary circles and the militancy of the intellectual spheres seem to have contributed to it.
Beyond that problem and fragmentary answers to it, placing the right/left cleaveage in its historical context raises an important question : can one make retroactive use of it, as of the 19th century? That can be argued, under the condition of being aware of certain dangers. In the late 19th century, the Third Republic was built much more on the preponderance of the center that on any dualistic confrontation.
Defense of common sense
What is called good sense is the logical appreciation to which are leading common reason, spontaneous wisdom and ordinary discernment. Despite its limits, this ability in judging quickly what is relevant proves efficient and wise.
Unlike intellectuals, learned people with keen judgment have always been fighting for the sake of good sense. Not out of naïvete but out of sagacity. Since the rule of demi-knowing teaches that common knowledge and erudite knowledge are separated by a grey zone proned to error. Moreover, common sense keeps from systematic mind and weak, wrong or questionable ideas that come along.
In the twentieth century, good sense underwent attacks for three main reasons : the coming back of a political ideology anti-prejudgment, men of letters’ hostility to common places and a pseudo scientific parti-pris which is decrying spontaneous perception.
European law and the Elites
Some elites don’t feel bound by any territorial allegiance. They entertain social arrogance towards the people. They believe that the others are governed by irrational attitudes.