Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Emerging New Left: Seven Key Issues

Many of us are drawn to the idea of a New Left because we yearn for change of a certain type: toward a more democratic, egalitarian, cooperative and sustainable society. In practice, however, the left is in a perilous state in many countries. Reactionary populist and nativist movements are making inroads among constituencies, especially the working class, who might be expected to favour progressive causes.

What needs to be done to rejuvenate the left, to build a new left in sync with the 21st century? No one has all the answers. But at least we can identify the key questions and reflect on the possibilities.

Market and State Have Failed: Community to the Rescue?

Of society’s three potential steering mechanisms, market and state have each proved disastrous as the preponderant principle for allocating resources, production and power. The closer societies approximate the self-regulating market system, the steeper the costs. We see those costs today in the form of high inequality and insecure jobs, environmental destruction, economic volatility in the form of periodic booms and busts, the dilution of democracy, and the rise of right-wing populism in a context of widespread anger. The directive state, in the form of bureaucratic collectivism (communism and state socialisms), state capitalism and top-down social democracy, has also proved defective. The dominant state has, at the least, stifled civil society and market forces with its paternalistic embrace; at its worse, it has fostered a new class within a totalitarian system. Where do we look for a progressive alternative? Continue reading