In the January 8, 2007 edition of The New Yorker, Milan Kundera writes a lengthy and somewhat wandering article titled Die Weltliteratur. Towards the end of the article, he quotes Polish noveliset and dramatist Witold Gombrowicz on tha acceleration of historical change in the twentieth century.
"In ‘Ferdydurke,’ Gombrowicz got at the fundamental shift that occurred during the twentieth century: until then, mankind was divided in two — those who defended the status quo and those who sought to change it. Then History began to accelerate: whereas, in the past, man had lived continuously in the same setting, in a society that changed only very slowly, now the moment arrived when he suddenly began to feel History moving beneath his feet, like a rollling sidewalk; the status quo was in motion! All at once, being comfortable with the status quo was the same thing as being comfortable with History on the move! Which meant that a person could be both progressive and conformist, conservative and a rebel, at the same time!"
I like this very succinct description because it explains why many of the political labels thrown around today – left, right, liberal, conservative – are essentially meaningless.
Someone once said, "There are always only two parties: the Revolution and the Establishment." Typically we expect those with vested economic, political or social power to be part of the Establishment, and those without it to be part of the Revolution. But when the status quo is in motion, roles can become reversed and we can each occupy different roles simultaneously.