I was watching a talk linked at the North Star, Socialism at the Ballot Box, which I viewed as the rejection of my tenure as an editor there. There is a lot to talk about and some of it deeply personal, but I felt like I had egg on my face as to what is going to be done in left-publications that regard themselves as pre-political. It is definitely the case that I feel more than a little betrayed that my critiques of leftwing myopia weren’t really listened to. I, however, did leave as editor and that of my own doing. When you work for a left-wing zine, you see yourself growing on in numbers of views from several hundreds to a few thousand a day, the rush can make you forget you that libertarian websites in the US have triple the traffic and right-wing sites in Europe often have double. All of which are dwarfed by center liberal and conservative policy magazines.
Which is to say something else, the global context for placing very small scale city electoral wins is misleading. It’s parataxic, it sees small victories as signs that most of the rest of “the working class” is actually on the same page with some like Sawat. The elections of Europe indicate this… in past decade and a half, Europe has swung slightly left only after the first round of Bush wars and then those parliaments were crushed in non-confidence as soon as the crisis hit. Europe, in fiscal policy terms, is actually to the right of the US right now. The assumption that these riots reflect a pure popular will, or that this will have lasting effects on the political system without further collapse seems to be tenuous. Between that one end, and infinite splitting and character assassinations on the other: one realizes that diversity is not going to be really possible in the left. We who build on system critique cannot stand with those who don’t, and are constantly confused those who do end up just doing the same electoral stuff that has been done for a century with diminishing returns.
So What’s Left?
It seems foolish to build politics on sour grapes, so giving up on the idea of “the left” as a means to bring about things seems to be the logical result. Furthermore, the harder question which everyone from Thomas Frank to Left Communists at Endnotes have tried to ask, why has this happened in the first place? Thinking that you can have revolution through-dog-catcher election like one sees in Jacobin, In These Times, etc., leaves one with an inflated sense of success and basically ignores the question of historical limitations. Even the election of socialist Presidents in Europe have rarely changed the game on the table. On can look at the history of France. In the end, we split or become cynical. The history doesn’t repeat, but that rhyming is a bit too dead on.
(0riginally published here)