Why is the Left so broken?
Is it because of the failure of so-called Soviet Socialism? Or is it because of lack of support from the working classes? Or because traditional leftist philosophy does not account for the fresh problems wrought upon society by modern capitalism, such as the destruction of the environment?
To some extent, I believe the answer to all of the above is yes, although these factors tend not to paint the whole picture. I believe one of the fundamental problems experienced by the modern Left is political confusion. From the outset, the Left needs to operate on an anti-political basis. Any leftist organization attempting to establish influence via the mainstream framework of bourgeois parliamentary democracy defeats its revolutionary outlook immediately by submitting to the reactionary environment of bourgeois politics, thus wasting its revolutionary resources in the process. Democratic mandates can be sought elsewhere: most notably through the independent implementation of polls and petitions, as well as via the means of popular debate. My second point is that the Left needs to make a sustained effort to address the forceful presence of right-wing propaganda, which, needless to say, is everywhere. This effort ought to be unashamed and determined not only in its assault on capitalism itself, but also in its response to the vile and baseless, yet largely successful accusations directed toward leftist ideology by conservative propagandists and commentators. It is also important to note that by ‘propaganda’, I am referring not only to political forms of persuasion, but to the modes of ‘advertising’ which support and purport the supremacy of capitalism in a decidedly non-political but equally devastating fashion. The distraction of consumer-fetishism is an all too powerful one in our modern media-driven society.
Thirdly, and perhaps most pertinently, the Left must remember that it is capitalism that is broken (or never worked), and thus any determination that leftist-ideologies are utopian or fundamentally flawed must be instantly dismissed. Across its entire spectrum the Left must absolve itself of a culture that is ‘pervaded by a deep, corrosive pessimism about the possibilities of a radically different social order.’
Let us reassure ourselves of the morally admirable aim of our intentions. Let us put aside the minutiae which divide our ranks and thus strengthen the position of our common enemy. Let us recognize that the future is malleable, and the future is now.
I have a lot of problems with this essay, a lot of your criticisms just don’t seem to match up with the actual situation in the world.
1. Pretty much every single leftist party/group/formation lambasts capitalism for its devastating effect on nature. Marx was a vocal critic of this as well.
2. When you say the Left should be anti-political, it sounds like you mean revolutionary. You describe reformism, but reform is not the only form of politics.
3. What is the best usage for the very limited resources of most leftist organizations? Effectively combating capitalist propaganda requires a lot of money, because that’s how the media is set up. Pretty much all leftist parties/groups/formations put forward their own ideas against capitalist propaganda. Why is spending that money more important than making an immediate improvement in the lives of working people? I’m not saying that fighting propaganda is irrelevant, but on a limited budget and considering how the media works, it should be on the backburner. What are you concretely looking for?
Earlier in the post, you mention that there is a lack of working class support for leftist organizations (I’m assuming youre talking about the first world), instead of looking at this as a philosophical, organizational, or moral failure, we should look at the material conditions.
While the working class generally isn’t supportive of the Left in the first world, this isn’t the case everywhere. Nepal’s communists overthrew the monarchy, India’s communists and adivasis are waging a war of self-defense against the Indian ruling class and US imperialism and controlled 1/3 of India at one point, FARC-EP has mass support in most of the Colombian countryside and has created a radical new social order there, and US-sponsored neoliberalism is being rolled back all across Latin America.
There’s a reason that the Left is dead in most of the First World and is being revived everywhere else, and it’s because of the benefits First Worlders receive from imperialism and neocolonialism. Here’s a good post on it:
I hope you keep blogging!