(1) end the absurd attachment that many people on the extreme left still have to Marxism and Communism. These were, and are, totalitarian ideologies, and any attachment to them is just a disgrace and embarrassment.There is a lot to be said here, but I will just focus on (9), because it is the most controversial.
(2) the mainstream left needs to abandon neoliberalism. Return to strong Keynesian and social democratic economic policies. Post Keynesian economics should be the foundation of left-wing economic thought – not Marxism, not neoliberalism, and not watered-down neoclassical Keynesianism.
(3) the academic left needs to abandon Poststructuralism and Postmodernism, and all the ridiculous related ideas such as truth relativism, moral relativism and even cultural relativism.
(4) end the climate of political correctness and even hostility to free speech that some left-wing people have. Free speech is sacred in a free society, and you will achieve nothing by demanding that governments silence people whose opinions you don’t like – except to dismantle more of our freedoms and set yourself up for having your own free speech taken away, especially if right-wing governments start imposing their own restrictions on free speech. Hate speech laws, while they are well intentioned, simply go down a dangerous route. There is a real part of the left that is better called the regressive left. It is often intolerant of free speech, is strongly connected with Postmodernism, and obsesses over divisive identity politics.
(5) following on from (4), end the obsessing over extreme identity politics, as it tends to divide people and draw attention from the far more serious issues of economic management and economic justice.
(6) the mainstream left needs to radically rethink foreign policy and even bring Western war criminals to justice. We have just been through the most bizarre periods where even some mainstream left-wing parties (e.g., Britain’s New Labour) have supported the most outrageously immoral and disastrous wars. Even more disgustingly, they have never been held to account for it. Just look recently at Tony Blair’s “apology” for the Iraq war. Apology, my eye. Any decent mainstream left in Britain would be demanding that Blair – and his New Labour charlatans who planned the war – face charges for war criminality.
(7) the left should strongly defend modern science and secularism, and end the truly bizarre hostility to rationality and science that has emerged from Postmodernism. Related to this, the left should seriously rethink the role of religion in society. Secularism does not necessarily mean hostility to religion, but removing the harmful role of religion from politics, law and society. E.g., there should only be one system of law in a Western secular society, not parallel legal systems for different communities.
(8) the mainstream European left needs to vigorously oppose the Eurozone and European Union, and stand up for national democracy and economic sovereignty. The EU is one of the most outrageously regressive forces in the world today, and it probably should be dismantled.
(9) finally, the most painful and controversial issue for most left-wing people: the left needs to rethink whether mass immigration is a good thing, especially in Europe, on economic and social grounds. The public hostility to mass immigration in Europe is rising. If it really gets to the point where a solid majority wants an end to mass immigration and open-doors borders throughout the EU in each nation, shouldn’t a democratically-elected government – even a left-wing one – respect what most people want?
First, it is mystery to me why a totally open borders immigration policy has become fashionable to some people on the left these days. Totally unrestricted, open-borders mass immigration has traditionally been an anarcho-capitalist libertarian position. That is, a position held by the crazies who want to totally, or almost totally, abolish governments. Totally unrestricted immigration would be an utter catastrophe, and everybody sensible can see this.
Secondly, just to take the European context, if it gets to the point where large majorities support an end to mass immigration, will the left in Europe just continue to ram the policy down people’s throats? It will be electoral suicide. It is far better that the left think of a humane, compassionate and reasonable re-assessment of mass immigration instead of just leaving it to the reactionary right, whose anti-immigrant policy would be far harsher and more brutal.
Thirdly, it is not as though there aren’t reasonable left-wing economic and social arguments for opposing mass immigration, such as that mass immigration tends to hold down real wages (especially of the poor), that it tends to increase unemployment, and that it provides big business with what it always ravenously wants: a cheap source of powerless, exploitable people who can undercut more organised, unionised or politically-active labour in the Western world. Even worse, there are three devastatingly inconvenient truths that should give left-wing people pause before supporting mass immigration:
(1) our disgusting neoliberal governments have been utterly incapable of creating full employment in the West for nearly 30 years now.It follows quite clearly that mass immigration should in many cases in the West tend to increase unemployment when governments favour austerity, markets do not naturally generate a clearing in the labour market (that is, when private sector employment growth is weak or stagnant) and increased automation is tending to raise unemployment as well.
(2) we are seeing more and more jobs being automated by information technology, robotics and machine intelligence: this is already causing unemployment problems and neoliberal governments are doing little to address it.
(3) free markets do not naturally converge to full employment equilibrium. This is the central conclusion of Keynes and of Post Keynesian economics. Free markets will not create full employment, nor can our useless neoliberal governments.
And then there are the issues of overpopulation, increased pollution, greater strains on already underfunded public services, and a tendency for mass immigration to cause housing and rent problems.
And big business clearly loves mass immigration for the reasons given above. Remind me again why people on the left should reflexively support it?
I’ll leave you with Ralph Nader – hardly a conservative or xenophobe – giving a left-wing perspective on US mass immigration.