quarta-feira, 18 de janeiro de 2006

Shalom Lappin: «How Class Disappeared From Western Politics»

«Recent political developments in Europe and America present two apparent paradoxes. First, much of what remains of the radical left has aligned itself with extreme Islamic political movements that promote the establishment of religious regimes in Asia and Africa, with the ultimate objective of a global caliphate. In Europe a not insignificant part of what currently passes for the liberal left also expresses sympathy for these movements. Second, in the United States, working-class voters consistently and consciously vote against their class interests by supporting conservative Republican politicians whose plutocratic economic policies they reject.
It is reasonable to conjecture that Marx would have been less than thrilled by the specter of those who claim to be his political heirs serving as junior partners in a campaign to establish the sort of reactionary anti-Western social order whose demise he celebrated as the main achievement of colonialism. How did we arrive at this state of affairs?
During the cold war the focus of revolutionary politics shifted to anticolonialist movements in the third world, and it was in these postcolonial countries that both the Soviet Union and China increasingly sought to develop a domain of support for their respective conflicts with the West. As the radical left in the West gradually despaired of a workers’ revolution in its home countries, it substituted the anticolonialist movements of the third world for the industrial proletariat as the primary engine of historical change. They endowed the third world with the same intrinsically “progressive” historical role that Marx had previously assigned to the working class, with the entire Western world assuming the role of the capitalist bourgeoisie. Much of the radical left moved away from a politics of class conflict within a society and embraced a global morality play in which the dialectic of progressive and reactionary forces is transposed into a competition between cultures and geopolitical regions. In the course of this move, the radical left exchanged working-class politics for the politics of culture and identity. Marxist theoreticians migrated from political science and economics to cultural studies, where they took up the cause of postmodernist, postcolonial criticism. The assumptions of this school of thought provide the antithesis of the nineteenth-century European notions of modernity and social progress to which Marx was so deeply committed.
Although using the rhetoric of a workers’ revolution, most of the New Left made no serious attempt to connect with organized labor, which was politically powerful at the time. It did not try to wean working-class voters away from support of the Vietnam War while functioning within the Democratic social and civil rights consensus. Instead, it promoted identification with third world revolutionary movements and dabbled in the counterculture, setting itself against mainstream America. This pattern seriously discredited left-wing politics in the eyes of many working-class voters, who felt the cohesion of their social order under assault in this turbulent period. Liberal fellow travelers compounded the problem by indulging the belligerent posturing of the New Left, frequently adopting it as a fashion statement.
To renew the social democratic project as a viable political alternative to the neoliberal onslaught, we must reformulate it in international terms to deal with a global market economy. This involves moving beyond the traditional instruments of management offered by the individual nation-state, as these are increasingly limited in their ability to respond to capital mobility.

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Obrigado, ricardo, pela ligação do ursos conformistas.