It’s simple: the working class – and even a significant part of the non-cosmopolitan middle class that might vote for the Left – has always had a degree of cultural, ethnic and nationalist feelings, while the modern Left has bizarrely ejected all these thing out of leftist politics and engaged in the deranged fantasy that these things don’t matter at all. And yet, at the same time, the working class is supposed to function as the political base of the Left, a totally unworkable and absurd situation which can only end in failure.
If fact, if anyone displays even the slightest signs of even mild cultural or national feeling, the hysterical Left screams “racism”, “fascism,” “xenophobia,” etc., alienating more and more people who might have voted for left-wing parties. The whole cultural left and liberal left is, to a very great extent, dedicated to the hatred of its own people and civilisation. Exactly why this happened is an interesting research question.
Generally speaking, the working class want and value a national identity and some kind of patriot feeling, even if this is often displayed in something as banal as love of sports and whatever particular national sports enthuse people.
More and more, the majority of the Left’s base hate and despise cultural leftist mass immigration, open borders and multiculturalism, and for perfectly rational reasons.
The Left – as it currently exists with its toxic obsession with internationalism, multiculturalism and identity politics for everybody except the majority of people who might form its base – will simply die if it doesn’t understand this. It’s that simple.
You can add the failure of neoliberal economics to this, which has been embraced by much of the mainstream Left too, but even if the Left totally abandoned neoliberalism and adopted Post Keynesian economics it very probably would still fail politically, because the Left’s unwillingness to accept the importance of national identity and social cohesion will still kill it at the ballot box.
The only Left that can ever win again will be a Left that understands the importance of cultural, ethnic and national feelings – and, above all, of social cohesion that is required to make human societies flourish.
In short, a reformed Left will be not only economically nationalist, but also – at the very least – culturally nationalist too.
This means rediscovering the ideas of the Old (non-Marxist) Left, which could be perfectly comfortable with some degree of patriotism and healthy forms of nationalism.
Indeed, the old, early 20th century Liberal left used to be strong supporters of national self-determination and independence: this is why the American Liberal left under Woodrow Wilson supported the break-up of the failed multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian empire after the First World War, and separate nations for different ethnic groups.
A new left-wing nationalism need not be hateful, nor bigoted, nor irrationally xenophobic, nor lacking in concern for human rights. In fact, it would be deeply concerned with promoting industrialisation, social and economic development, and economic growth in the Third World, with a set of Post Keynesian policies and reformed international institutions to make this happen.
I do not hold out much hope of reform at the moment. For example, it is very likely that the mainstream left in Europe will implode as there is a political revolution in Europe in the next few years that brings the right-wing populist parties to power.
The truth is that severe and devastating political defeat in elections is the only thing that will make the mainstream left change, and the mainstream left parties need to reinvent themselves and find a new base and build new electorates, or compete for the broad base of people who are now hostile to our failed and imploding system of multiculturalism, neoliberalism, and globalisation.