27 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 23 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
The gradual disintegration of the left as a political force is by now a well-known phenomenon. Many causes have been posited over the last few decades; for one, the institutionalization of communism as dictatorship discredited early on the Marxist vision for a global community of equals. The political economy of capitalism proved surprisingly resilient, able to overpower, overwhelm, and digest oppositional economic and political formations. Welfare states have been in decline while neoliberalism gains steady ground, and the rise of violent nationalisms challenges transnational and local solidarity movements. Some of the left’s problems have been internal to its own intellectual formations: economic determinism, totalizing social analysis, and a teleology of human emancipation have each proven inadequate or unsustainable for grappling with the current conditions of contemporary politics. These problems point to both the increasing difficulty of effective left political action for democratizing power and the decrease in salience of the intellectual left’s visions for a more free, equal and humane world.
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