The other day I wrote on the value of swinging Left in modern politics. In doing so I took some liberties with generalization and exaggeration in order to demonstrate a point I believe has been obfuscated by the media both mainstream and otherwise over the last few years especially, which is that the political Left in its modern, first-world iterations tends to be a wiser choice for those interested in social justice and progress towards more integrated and less competitive communities. This has largely borne out in politics itself until recent years, where we have seen Neoliberalism take strong root in the establishment Left, bringing with it the kind of economic corruption and nepotism we have traditionally associated with the Right.
Having expressed the point, and suggested that this bias towards the Left should be but a temporary step towards the eventual goal of Anarchism, I’d like to go on and discuss aspects of the modern political Left, largely the establishment but also to some degree popular movements, that are counter-productive or detrimental to progress in my eyes. I’d also like to expound on why it is that Anarchism is to me the only sensible goal for a sane and humane society, demonstrating its close ties to the Taoist thought of Lao-Tzu and Chuang-Tzu and their attitudes towards nature.
The adoption of Neoliberal styles of governance and economic management by the political Left has seen it slowly hollowed out from the inside, as will any ideology based on competition and consumption hollow any institution, population or nation and leave it a husk of its former self. Peculiarly for a secular society, we have adopted a cultural myth that places our fates in the hand of an invisible deity, which we reify as “The Market”, and worship abstract symbols for wealth rather than the real physical wealth to which it refers. We are in speech, materialists, in action and feeling, we are abstractionists, and in removing ourselves from the simple enjoyment of life and entering a grand competition of who can get the most quickest, we have manifested untold psychological and physical horrors.
Adopted by Jimmy Carter’s Democrats in the United States and fleshed out by Reagan and company in the years following, Neoliberal economics has only grown more prevalent and more characteristic of both major parties up until the present day. It has produced a shift in the distribution of wealth not only from the lower and middle to the upper class, but also within the upper class from those involved in production to those involved in the management and reshuffling of existing wealth, those who control interest and capital gains, and who play with such dark magic as currency speculation. Wealth has moved even further into the hands of those who have done nothing to earn it.
The adoption and continued maintenance of this ideology has led to a mass disenfranchisement with establishment politics on the Left, which is in no small part behind the election of current President Donald Trump. We saw a critical failure of Neoliberalism in 2008 with the Global Financial Crisis, and this was further outlined by the actions that followed from the political Left. A party traditionally aligned with social welfare, with looking out for “the little guy”, did exactly the opposite and let off the hook the very people who had, through delusional economic activity and theory, caused the financial crash to begin with. It has become increasingly obvious during Obama’s presidency that what we are dealing with is not the establishment Left of the post- and pre-war years, but largely a Neoliberal cheer squad masquerading as such.
We have seen massive increases in military spending, the presence of U.S. troops in around 70% of foreign nations, increased funding to the tune of a trillion dollars to nuclear armaments, the creation of a global surveillance system that is utterly useless in achieving its stated goals but perfect for domestic spying, the building of blacksite torture facilities in the Middle East and Northern Africa, drone strikes that kill almost entirely civilians, and in 2016 we saw the Democrats drop over twenty-six thousand bombs. These are the activities of an empire in decline, and they will continue as long as we allow Neoliberalism to exist as the backbone of our affairs.
The establishment Left has done little to nothing in the way of mitigating the harms of this ideology, and in most cases it has openly welcomed it, paying lip service to the proposed benefits of things like the TPP while helping to obfuscate its detriments. We have not seen, in either the Democrats in the United States or in Leftist parties in the other first-world democracies, a concerted effort to reign in corporate power and consolidate power in the hands of the people. If anything, the legacy of the Obama administration will be one of paving the way for corporate fascism to exercise more control than ever before over the people of the world.
We simply cannot look blindly to the establishment Left to save us from our modern horrors. We may, however, have significantly more hope in looking to, joining and helping shape the grass-roots Leftist activism occurring around the globe in greater numbers by the week. But, if we are to align with the grass-roots Left, we should take a quite severe and critical look at the various downsides and failings within it, and define for ourselves what we want from it in the long-term.