“The capitalists are overjoyed that they are preparing new administrators of their affairs to gradually replace the social-democrats, whose long service in the apparatuses of the bourgeois state and open struggle against the working class and the cause of socialism in many countries, has led them into the ranks of extreme reaction and compromised them deeply in the eyes of the workers. Today the social-democrats, have become identified, not only ideologically and politically, but also from the social viewpoint, with the big bourgeoisie. Now the bourgeoisie has great hopes that the Euro-Communist revisionists will become the main warders of the capitalist order, the banner-bearers of counterrevolution. But the great lords of capital are a little hasty in beating the victory drum.”
This is an excerpt from the essay Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism by the Albanian Marxist Leader Enver Hoxha. In this section of the treatise, Hoxha examines the loss of the revolutionary spirit of the Western Left compared to previous Leftist movements. The sentiment expressed here is similar to the Right’s attempts at grasping at an understanding of the Left. However, the main crux of the Right’s strategy here is trying to find a continuity between the “worker-centric left” and the “woke nu-left.” One of the worst examples of this is the idea of “cultural marxism,” the Conservative assertion that contemporary Leftism is just the Marxist Dialectic which just replaces the workers with other oppressed groups. Only by rejecting the idea of a strong connection between past and present Leftist movements we can arrive at a better understanding of the Left.
So, from here we can see that contemporary Left thoroughly criticizes what would be considered their predecessors. For example, there were criticisms of the Soviet Union levied from Western Leftists such as Herbert Marcuse, Susan Sontag, George Orwell (who was a democratic socialist), Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, and Richard Lichtman; the charges all rung the same, “it was too authoritarian” and “it was playing realpolitik.” These sentiments run contradictory to Engel’s essay On Authority where he defends the concept as defined as, the imposition of the will of another upon ours, since it is a necessary component for a Proletarian Revolution to occur at all, which is aptly summarized with this excerpt of the essay:
“Everywhere combined action, the complication of processes dependent upon each other, displaces independent action by individuals. But whoever mentions combined action speaks of organisation; now, is it possible to have organisation without authority?”
Put simply, the modern left has more in common with Marquis de Sade than Karl Marx.
All of this is in contrast to the typical conservative assessment of the Left being composed by Marxists wherein reality it is populated decadent and intractable Jacobin Libertines. To understand why this has occurred one must realize how the high (to use Bertrand de Jouvenel’s terminology) utilize the low against the middle, we can apply this dialectic to “extremist movements” including the Left. Therefore we can conclude the New Left, the LGBT movement, and Feminism, etc. are not organic expressions of political thought, instead, it is of high-low collaboration. We can see this through private or government-sponsored NGOs like the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation. On top of that, the FBI operated a program called COINTELPRO (COunterINTELligence PROgram) wherein Leftist Groups would be infiltrated and sabotaged with the goal of stamping out “radicalism” in America. From this, we can garner that the high (both private interests and government bureaucrats) manipulate the Leftist intelligentsia because of its fundamental role in shaping the trends that generate consensus among that aisle of the political spectrum.
Now, one may ask “why would the system spend so much effort on shaping the Left?” and the answer is simple, to subvert actual dissent and to direct the political efforts of these partisans in such a way to benefit the system. When America had pivoted towards the Cold War it had to undertake international aims, therefore, it had to shed its culture of “white supremacy;” this was perfectly captured by Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who was an avowed segregationist, bloviating about the brotherhood of man at the Paris Peace Conference of 1946. In The People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn realized something like this was occurring when “white supremacy” was being extirpated from the military, civil society, and education as to aid in Washington’s International aims, this was a part of the PR campaign to win the hearts and minds of teeming Third World masses:
“When the war ended, a new element entered the racial balance in the United States—the enormous, unprecedented upsurge of black and yellow people in Africa and Asia. President Harry Truman had to reckon with this, especially as the cold war rivalry with the Soviet Union began, and the dark-skinned revolt of former colonies all over the world threatened to take Marxist form. Action on the race question was needed, not just to calm a black population at home emboldened by war promises, frustrated by the basic sameness of their condition. It was needed to present to the world the United States that could counter the continuous Communist thrust at the most flagrant failure of American society—the race question.”
With the New Left overly focused on cultivating “equality” for the previously downtrodden groups it had squelched any revolutionary potential it had.
Even in the aspects of the Left that openly talked about class, it was polluted with this dysfunctionality and idiocy. Michael Harrington, the founder of the DSA, was reluctant to oppose the US invasion of Vietnam due to Ho Chi Minh’s “Stalinism” and a contemporary example would be Chomsky’s support of American troops stationed near “K*rdistan” so that evil Assad won’t hurt them. Even the guru of the New Left, Marcuse collaborated with the State Department and the OSS wherein he helped popularize the term “marginalized community” as a contribution in the struggle against the “natzee menace.” Ultimately American Socialism grew out of Agrarian Populism which had nothing to do with Marxism, as twitter genius @EvanPlatinum pointed out, the American Left exalts the poor as moral whereas Marx openly opined the opposite idea in his magnum opus Capital Volume 1:
“They perform this weary task, in London especially, for 14, 15, and 16 hours at a stretch, during several days in the week, and frequently for 36 hours, with only 2 hours’ rest for meals and sleep. A great part of them cannot read, and they are, as a rule, utter savages and very extraordinary creatures.”
Taking these facts into account we can observe that orthodox Socialism had no meaningful currency in America and thus this variant of class warfare has consistently floundered.
After covering the foibles at the closest thing America has to a Socialist element, lets circle back to why “the left abandoned workers.” This quandary that has beguiled many pundits can easily be answered by a passage from Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man:
“However, underneath the conservative popular base is the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and other colors, the unemployed and the unemployable. They exist outside the democratic process; their life is the most immediate and the most real need for ending intolerable conditions and institutions. Thus their opposition is revolutionary even if their consciousness is not.”
The perception of the Proletariat losing all of its revolutionary potentials bringing up observations like how unions had gone from the private to the public sector, thereby perpetuating the capitalist bureaucratic state. With the proles adapting to society it created the need for Leftists to adapt as well, going beyond Marxian Socialism. From there Leftists went into broader power and social dynamics and aid the “oppressed social groups,” thereby turning any honest form of historical materialism into class reductionism. These were outgrowths of a shallow humanism rather than Marx’s Scientific Socialism, the new critique of society departs entirely from conflicting economic interests and shifts to broad narratives about oppression, thus it can be easily digested into the capitalist hegemony, to quote Debord’s Society of the Spectacle:
“Dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity as soon as the economics of affluence finds a way of applying its production methods to this particular raw material.”
Reflecting on the faults and failures of the Western Left we can glean important lessons so the Right can power through our current state of affairs. With previous knowledge on how the FBI infiltrates and subverts politically extreme organizations, we must learn and utilize OPSEC to vet anybody we associate within these spheres. Seeing how certain Leftist opinions are allowed so long as it combats the “far-right” we must also realize that mainstream right-wing pundits are allowed to operate as they stave off the unsavory parts of Leftism, these dynamics play out so neoliberal capital maintains its hegemony. Also, by realizing how this system approved Leftism is propped up we can also discover, through brief examination of the watchdog groups that tone police the right are backed and bankrolled by rich individuals, like how The People for the American Way was founded by Hollywood producer Norman Lear and was run by Tony Podesta at some point. Overall, this essay is driven by my deep belief that the Right should be taking actual lessons from the Left either by examining their blunders or reading the material they produce.
- Enver Hoxha, Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism, (Marxists Internet Archive, 1980) https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hoxha/works/euroco/env2-1.htm.
- Fredrich Engels, On Authority, (Marxists Internet Archive, 1873) https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm.
- Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492–Present (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), 448.
- Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1 (Moscow, USSR: Progress Publishers, 1867), 317.
- Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (New York: Routledge Classics, 1964), 260.
- Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (The Anarchist Library, 1967), 24.