Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Secret of Why the Modern Left in the West is Impotent and Clueless

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.


  1. Although you are largely right, I think you overestimate the power of politics to address cultural problems.

    For example, the occurence of teenage pregnancy in working class neighbourhoods of Britain. Whether you are a cultural conservative or a social liberal, what could you as a politician even do to control this phenomenon? Where parents have failed, the state is supposed to do better?

    1. Stronger laws against divorce? It worked in the past.

      Teenage pregnancy is not really a problem. Its been around since the dawn of civilisation.

      It is single mothers raising children on welfare because the man has run away and the community has let him get away with this. That is, the state has moved to replace the family unit and the result, predictably, looks like A Clockwork Orange.

      We changed the laws and the culture so that young men could get away with this. Then we chalked it up as a win for women's rights. It would be hilarious if it didn't do such damage.


    The left is done. Try to reform the right.

  3. It's worth asking whether the ivory tower left is even interested in winning at this point. John Dolan has argued that the actions of these types of academic leftists makes more sense once it's recognized they're not interested in winning or reaching out to people. What they actually want to do is protect their turf.

    As LK points out, far from being hateful or based on spite, a new left would promote industrialization and development in the third world. What, by comparison, does the academic left offer the third world, other than "Your lives are crummy cuz of the white man" and "Don't vaccinate kids in Africa, that's white male science"?

  4. Unrelated, LK, but on the off chance you haven't listened to this, you may find this leaked audio of Kerry speaking to the FSA rather revealing:

    Among other highlights, Kerry appears to admit that the US watched Daesh rise and move on Damascus in the hopes that it would bring Assad to the table, and Putin intervened explicitly to prevent Jihadists from taking Damascus.

  5. Well said (most of it).

    A turning point in modern politics was the basket of deplorables speech. The dems have long had a problem with contempt for most Americans, and American culture, but until then they always clung to at least a fig-leaf of denial. But then Hillary made it central to the Democrat party, a part (as they say) of the brand. I have, for 15 years, been telling people I think the Left and the Left wing of the Democrats actually want to establish a class system here. The obsession with the 'right' schools; the notion that credentials, even negative ones like degrees in social work or 'studies' or 'literary theory' are essential to govern; the unending contempt and name calling. And of course the wealth attendant on membership in the upper class. A very, very clear example was given by a member of the Hamilton cast when that was a brief flurry recently: he mocked a protestor by noting that "he [the protestor] can't even afford a ticket to the show." (Tickets were $800 upwards, so the unwashed is a pretty large slice of the country!)

    1. The Democratic program is better summed up by Biden:

    2. The right wing of the Republicans are as guilty of this as the left wing of the Democrats, only they view different demographic groups as 'deplorables', and direct unending contempt and namecalling towards them. (Note the contempt in your own tirade here--it is a telling irony) They are obsessed with the 'right' schools (ones that promote culturally conservative values and in some cases deny basic scientific fact), and view anyone protesting a cause they don't like as a jobless moocher. Or are we to ignore Mitt Romney's denigration of 48% of the country just because Hillary did the same?

      As usual, you are merely pushing more of 'it's okay when 'my side' does it', while pretending otherwise. But I suppose that is how a bipartisan system of politics warps the brain.

  6. Let's talk neo-liberalism for a moment LK.
    Would you agree that the neo-liberal market has vastly reduced poverty around the world, and fueled growth in the West? Because those are true claims. What might be true is that a rising tide has not lifted all boats. The costs have not been distributed or ameliorated the way the market fundamentalists predicted (that is certainly true). Agree or disagree?

    1. "Would you agree that the neo-liberal market has vastly reduced poverty around the world, and fueled growth in the West? Because those are true claims."

      (1) Neoliberalism has provided some growth and poverty reduction, but is markedly *inferior* to better systems of economic development for the Third World called heterodox development economics, using protectionism and import substitution industrialisation. Of course, when people badly implement this, it doesn't always work, but it has a much better chance of working than Neoliberal disaster area economics and has a much better record.

      We've already been through this and you have no answer to the data:

      (2) Once again, we've been through this: the industrialisation of South Korea, Japan and China is NOT -- repeat not -- neoliberalism, and this is where the greatest success story of economic development on the Third world happened.

      Furthermore, Japan has been pursuing protectionism and industrial policy since the Meiji period:

      (3) finally, neoliberalism is all based on grossly stupid and unrealistic economic theory derived from Walrasian/Marshallian neoclassical economic theory with Ricardo's feeble and unrealistic free trade arguments thrown in, and some more nonsense on loanable funds from Knut Wicksell.

      It is theoretically bankrupt. C

      Capitalism requires macroeconomic management and brutal financial regulation to make it work. This is why the Golden Age of Capitalism (c. 1946-1973) was the most prosperous period in human history by pretty much any economic indicator you care to name.

    2. "Would you agree that the neo-liberal market has vastly reduced poverty around the world, and fueled growth in the West? "

      The word "vastly" is grossly untrue.

      Average Per Capita GDP Growth Rates 1960–2010
      Region | 1960–1980 | 1980–2010
      sub-Saharan Africa | 2.0% | 0.2%
      Latin America and the Caribbean | 3.1% | 0.8%
      Middle East and North Africa | 2.5% | 1.3%
      East Asia and Pacific | 5.3% | 7%
      Developed Nations | 3.2% | 1.8%
      (cited in Chang 2015: 25–26).
      You say "vastly" fuelled growth, but our per capita growth rate collapsed in the West once neoliberalism was implemented? It also collapsed for everywhere except East Asia which mostly used mercantilism to get rich from the 1940s to 1980s (except for communist China) and then scored big on growth post-1990 because of Chinese mercantilism. That obviously China opened up to trade and Western capital is not the same thing as saying it succeeded by neoliberalism:

    3. Non-responsive, mostly, to my claim about vast reductions in poverty

    4. You already posted that link months ago here, and it was totally debunked.

      Your link says “China pulled 680m people out of misery in 1981-2010” – which means of the 1 billion people pulled out of extreme poverty the article mentions 75% were in China. It even admits the failures in Africa and other parts of the Third world.

      You just confirmed what I said. Seriously, how stupid are you being on this?

      China has exploited liberalised trade but with a mixed economy with state-directed industrial policy and neo-mercantilism. This is not -- repeat *not* -- neoliberalism.

      Is this the best you can do?

  7. Have you seen this paper (, LK? It seems relevant to your general thesis that excessive 'free trade' and dogmatism in regards to comparative advantage can potentially be damaging. This paper analyzes developing countries, but maybe it's conclusions are applicable to developed economies. I'm not a trained economist, so the math was above my level.

    1. The argument is interesting, but you should think about it as industrial policy instead of trade war. It is possible to do sensible pro industry policy without taxing imports or subsidizing exports. Germany and north europe do that. Asia does that. The problem is not the "dogma of free trade" but corrupt and dysfunctional politics. The election of Trump in USA can teach you a lot in this respect. He'll not improve the "export basket" of USA.

      Indeed if you read the paper, you see the real enemies of growth are the natural resources such as oil and gas. These bring possibility of short term gains at expense of long term growth, and this is what every unethical politician (and unethical voter) wants. The two current textbook cases are Venezuela and Russia.

    2. Take away a fixed currency and CIA interference from Venezuela and I think you'll see a completely different picture emerge.

    3. Free trade brought venezuela into oil dependent economy.

      Venezuela dont really been that much protectionist.

  8. I think it's possible to maintain cosmopolitanism as well as a national/regional identity. Social liberalism with cultural conservatism, perhaps. Mixing of different ethnic/national origins under common goals. The problem today is that we have things the other way round. Communities are cut off and alienated from each other with no interaction, and Certainly no cosmopolitanism in a unified sense. The funny thing about SJW mentality is that it goes so far left it's almost far right. Advocate schools with accountability and intermingling of cultural backgrounds, and you will be accused of pushing some kind of "imperialist agenda" on these segregated communities.

  9. I'd like to suggest an alternate hypothesis for why the "Modern Left" - a rather ill-defined term if there ever was one - is "Clueless." I suggest to you that if they were to somehow get a fetish for good 'ol flag-wavin' patriotism, we'd still be in the same boat as long as our elected leaders are kissing the ring of the powerful corporations and listening to their donors more than the wishes of the people.

    Obama, Clinton, Biden - all of the titular leaders of the so-called "Left" in this country always wrap themselves in the American flag when they need to. No US leader with an eye out for his or her public image would do any different.

    But when Obama shuts out advocates of Single Payer so he can kiss up to Corporate Medicine and Big Pharma and not even fight for the Public Option in the ACA, then how much does it really matter what kinds of feelings of Nationalist Pride he exuberates in his speeches?

    Or when Mrs. Clinton leads young men off to die in her overseas excursions proving that she never met a war she didn't like, what does it matter how she wraps herself in the flag? In fact, there is a prime example of why Patriotism doesn't do much of anything besides make young men into cannon fodder to keep the wealthy feeling safe.

    Or Biden - What the hell does he even distinctively stand for, anyway? I assume he'd be just like his compatriots in terms of making sure the Oil Companies and the Big Banks got taken care of before he even bothered trying to implement Universal Healthcare, the BIG/JG, Free College, Jubilee for Student Loan borrowers or anything that might actually help people.

    Listen to channels such as Jimmy Dore, Real Progressives, the Sane Progressive, New Progressive Voice - they CONSTANTLY are ripping into the clueless Democrats. But they don't talk about Nationalism as the cure. They point to the way the Dem's reinstated the same 'ol same 'ol Corporate Shills again, as if Bernie Sander's movement never happened. Because "Nancy Pelosi, she's raised a lot of money!"

    They do talk about Identity Politics as a problem, although that's a bit ill defined in their case. More so they talk about compassion for the poor, relieving debt, understanding how Taxes actually DO NOT fund Federal Spending (lot of MMTers in the mix,) working towards full employment, Climate Change, DAPL, Election Fraud. And most important of all, starting a movement in this country to rid the influence of Big Money in politics once and for all.

    Wave your flag all you want to. I submit to you that old adage "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" is as true as when Samuel Johnson 1st used it, and a move towards Nationalism is only going to get co-opted. Sort of the way the Right gets co-opted as a result of it.