The Left has always been divided between its communitarian and its libertarian dimensions.

Not all communitarians would self-identify as Left, but the distinctive feature of the communitarian left is a repudiation of the capitalist marketplace, which is here represented as a land of selfish greed and unfettered freedom. And from this perspective, the antidote to capitalist greed is the affirmation of social responsibility and self-sacrifice for the common good.

The libertarian left, by contrast, belongs to cultural radicals–all those who aim to break the very institutions that bind us together: the family, schools, the state, heteronormative marriage, religion.  The great movements for emancipation–from slavery and all racial subjugation, from the constraints of binary gender identities and the norms of heterosexual reproductive futurity–these are the movements of the libertarian left, of all those determined to throw off the shackles of bondage in favor of a politics of freedom and pleasure.

At some level these two branches of the Left–communitarian and libertarian–actually have very little to do with each other.  In fact, they are not only different; they are antagonistic. There is no way for the freedom left to find common cause with the communitarian left, not so long as the latter self-identifies as the vanguard of obligation.  And so one has to ask, which side are you on?