by Marcos Roitman Rosenmann
In the midst of a retreat from principles, the new left is deepening its problems. Meanwhile, the right is rearming and presenting a project to face a wave of social discontent. The great protest demonstrations have been criminalized and repressed. With or without the pandemia, the murders of environmental leaders, labor leaders, campesinos, journalists and human rights defenders have continued. So has the militarization of society, along with the slow but profound disintegration of political citizenship. The market economy opens the doors to the market society. Thus, the conditions are created within digital capitalism to transform the role of the political parties, assigning them the function of managers of capital. The process of decision-making is handed off to the large corporations, the IMF, the World Bank, credit agencies, BigData transnationals and artificial intelligence.
If for the right this doesn’t represent a problem, for the western political left it has meant an earthquake, to the extreme of falling into a profound identity crisis. For no other reason than that the right-left contradiction loses its relevance. Post-traumatic stress, stemming from the fall of the Berlin Wall, has led to losing sight of its origins, its struggles and its objective —the rejection of capitalism and the construction of socialism. The new left, rising from the ashes like the Phoenix, transforms itself into the messenger pigeon for the blessings of digital capitalism. That indeed goes deeper into the weaknesses that have accompanied it since its beginning —dogmatism, sectarianism, and individualism. The message is clear, with me or against me. Anything that raises doubt or provokes criticism will be rejected. The caricature of such a circumstance lies in the fickle condition of the dogmas. If first A, then B, and then neither A nor B, but C. In every case, they are defended with vehemence and the same intransigence. It is a question of faith. It is not difficult to ascertain how dogmatism moves in magic circles, where revealed truth replaces deliberate reflection. Under this guise the militants of the new left are chosen, they possess the aura of divine grace, to the point of turning their organizations into sects. Those who do not commune with their faith are enemies. It is necessary to put an end to the heretic. If within, by expelling him, if on the outside, by discrediting him. It is no coincidence that the concepts of sectarianism and dogmatism have common vessels and are rooted in both the political and religious orders. It is always the others that are wrong.
Today in the midst of extreme individualism, the leaders of the new left hide themselves behind meritocracy. They are doctors, they know languages, they are successful in their professions, definitively, they make politics a profession of experts. This is a part of the ego and an unbridled protagonism. Thanks to social media networks, they bare their shame — they must placate their followers, they give their opinion of everything, they post photos of their dinners, weddings, vacations, favorite restaurants, latest readings, television series, even their love disappointments, etc. Hundreds of thousands of acolytes on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook give him approval for his superlative ego. With no compass, no alternative, they lose political north, except to justify their personal success. It is the politics of the banal and the spectacle.
In this changing epoch, the political right has been faster to understand its role. The reactivation of reactionary thinking, based in fear, lies, continuous provocation, hatred and the ongoing verbal violence, provides them with a bonus to their project of inverted totalitarianism. Appealing to base emotions, they have been able to generate a state of mind prone to the most feverish manipulation, in which the call to defend the unity of the homeland and western civilization prevails.
Ghosts of a generalized chaos are stirred, causing the desire for order and security. The consequences are immediate, democracy loses ground. The fear of being invaded, the defense of traditions, patriotic values, family, heterosexual marriage, Catholic education become the agenda that unites the right. As such, it doesn’t lose north. It can run divided in the elections, and later strategically regroup in a single front. We observe it in all the countries where reactionary thinking is gaining ground, in alliance with liberals, conservatives, and post-fascists. Hence the role assigned to the ultra or extreme right. Slagging its allies to fight tooth-and-nail all options for an anti-capitalist alternative and accelerating the transition from analog capitalism to digital capitalism. Undoing the patriarchy, putting limits on global warming, assuming certain changes in labor matters, pensions, taxes, rights for indigenous peoples, don’t affect the capitalist mode of production, whose essence is being a system of exploitation. However, such demands, in a social division of power, if it fits, can be transferred to the so-called new left. In itself, it doesn’t represent a problem, they do not even stir up fraud — they win elections, to rise to formal government. The right is clear about this, and therein lies their strength. Their problem is not neoliberalism, it is propping up capitalism. Progressivism isn’t their enemy, it is their ally in crisis conditions. In the event of a fire, they will put out the flame and save the furniture. The rest is irrelevant.
This was published in La Jornada on February 13th, 2022. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/02/12/opinion/013a2pol English translation by Schools for Chiapas.