Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Endless Quest for an Antiliberal Left

Mathieu Laurent proposes an interesting analysis of what he calls the "antiliberal left." Since the demise of communism, this segment of the electorate has undergone endless "recomposition," with militants and voters shifting from party formation to party formation. Absolute numbers wax and wane with the political fortunes of the day, but the distribution of these forces varies as one new beacon after another rises, only to disappoint the hopes of followers. What is the deep reason for this phenomenon? Two suggestions: Philippe Raynaud sees the absence of the "scientific" core of certitude that underlay what he calls "the communist illusion," while Daniel-Louis Seiler sees "hostility to the system" without offer of "a clear alternative":

Comme le note Philippe Raynaud, qui a étudié la littérature de la gauche radicale : “Chez aucun des auteurs, brillants ou laborieux, que nous avons étudiés, nous n’avons rencontré ce qui faisait la force de l’illusion communiste : la certitude d’être au service d’une cause à la fois juste et scientifiquement fondée, qui devait inéluctablement conduire à l’émergence d’une société radicalement différente” . De la même manière, pour Daniel-Louis Seiler, “les partis étudiés ici se caractérisent plus par l’hostilité au système ou à ses abus que par la proposition d’une alternative claire” . La gauche antilibérale, si elle veut gagner en densité politique, devra réussir la synthèse entre plusieurs projets de transformation sociale : entre la rupture révolutionnaire prônée par l’extrême-gauche, la “révolution par les urnes” du Front de gauche et la “simplicité volontaire” des objecteurs de croissance, le travail de synthèse s’annonce ardu.


brent said...

Calling the historic mission of the radical left an "endless quest," like Raynaud's term "illusion," suggests the quixotic belief in a final resolution--a most unhistorical way of hypostatizing a process. Actually the form of the far left changes in response to events. The fall of the Soviet empire and the rise of social liberalism in Europe and the US undermined older forms of socialism over 2 decades, but the near-collapse of the capitalist world-system 4 years ago and its lingering crises have set in motion new initiatives from the far left in France, first the NPA and now the FG, which offer the promise of combining socialization of the economy with the urgent, unmet need for ecological transformation. Will these forces find a "synthesis" that poses a viable alternative to that other response to crisis--xenophobia and the gradual immiseration of the middle and working classes--that threatens the basis of liberal society, ultimately unsustainable in its present form? We should hope so!

Mr Punch said...

"The fall of the Soviet empire and the rise of social liberalism in Europe and the US undermined older forms of socialism over 2 decades" ... please. What undid Marxist-Leninist socialism was its utter inability, in practice, demonstrated in case after case, to match capitalist economies in terms of economic growth. It's a materialist philosophy, so it had to deliver the goods, and it couldn't. All that's left of Marx is the critique of capitalism; the positive components are gone.