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Resurgence of the World Left?


Resurgence of the World Left?

Immanuel Wallerstein

The sweeping triumph on September 24 of Jeremy Corbyn to be the leader of Great Britain’s Labour Party was stunning and totally unexpected. He entered the race with barely enough support to be put on the ballot. He ran on an uncompromisingly left platform. And then, standing against three more conventional candidates, he won 59.5% of the vote in an election that had an unusually high turnout of 76 percent.


The pendulum scoring numbers are interesting, although I'd change them somewhat. I think it's also important to mention Pope Francis since he influences a billion citizens and is quite open about the needs of the poor and the call to address climate change.

So this idea that these slight left swings won't amount to much is rather pejorative. If the combined force of these Left-swings and those who embody them can counter the corporate hegemonic control over too much of the world's media, food systems, energy systems, and banking systems, the improvements will not be minimal. ANY shift in the approach to climate chaos is significant since that, along with the spread of wars, constitute the greatest threats to mankind currently.


Wallerstein misses the most incredible example, the provincial elections in Alberta, Canada. Long a stronghold of the Conservative party, the left wing New Democratic Party went from 4 seats in the provincial legislature to 56 (of 85) in one election.


The Dialectic works in mysterious ways.


The current prime minister in Spain belongs to the Popular Party, usually known by its initials PP, and not this "New Democracy Party" that the article mentions. I think the author got confused with Greece, where a New Democracy Party does exist.


He mentioned New Democracy in Greece. Apparently, there is a party of the same name in Spain, and it didn't do well in local elections on the last round. Podemos did very well. Cicero is indeed confused:)


From the article: "In Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative New Democracy Party..."

From Wikipedia: "Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈɾjano raˈxoi ˈβɾei]; born 27 March 1955) is a Spanish politician who has been the Prime Minister of Spain since 2011 and leader of the People's Party since 2004."


It is difficult for me to comment on articles such as this because it is based on grand theories of which I have little or no familiarity. In this case World Systems Theory.


There's no sign of any resurgence of a Left in the US. Today's liberals powerfully (if implicitly) celebrate and promote our capitalism, as we see in their years of waving the banner for the bourgeoisie, the middle class alone (with an occasional pat on the head to low wage workers). These are the people who are able to work and who are fortunate enough to have jobs (in a country that still has a significant shortage of jobs -- 7 jobs for every 10 people seeking one, and not counting those who have completely been pushed out). They avoid examining the proof of the utter failures of our deregulated corporate state -- our poverty crisis. A left would not, could not, overlook the reality that if it weren't for garbage -- the significant food waste by businesses and middle classers -- our masses of poor would starve to death.

There are, of course, individuals who are keenly aware of America's "war on the poor," and the long-range consequences, but they don't have the public microphone. Liberal media (online and otherwise) work relentlessly to promote middle class elitism, and this serves to protect corporate interests.


Well, as long as it doesn't have anything in common with our Clinton "New Democrats"...


I haven't seen any hint that the talks that Pope Francis has given specifically to Americans, about the current treatment of our own poor, has had any influence. Liberals listen, then promptly resume waving the Middle Class Only banner.

Bottom line: A legitimate left could not ignore the proof of the significant failures of our deregulated corporate state -- our poverty crisis. Today's poor are America's canaries in the coalmine. With rare exception, post-Clinton liberals are largely content to agree to yet another decade of merely calling for job creation as their sole response to our poverty crisis. Put simply, you can't buy a loaf of bread with promises of eventual jobs.


Yup-I missed that. Rajoy's party is El Partido Popular. They did poorly in the local elections a few months ago, and Podemos did well, picking up the office of Mayor in Madrid and Barcelona.


That's great to know. I live in California and had no idea. Alberta, it's almost unbelievable.


The Right always enjoys decisive advantages: Big money, the police, the military are all lined up behind them. The only time the Left can prevail is when the hubris of Rightist politicians causes a massive state failure. And this is now so very evident that it can no longer be ignored. And not just in Britain.


The structure of the world is based on authority. The Right tries to paint that as legitimate in order that they can then exploit others by being in authority. The Left sees the unfairness and inequality that the Right engenders and so reacts against the Right.

When it all swings towards the Right the Left begins to look credible... and vice versa.

All else is mere ephemeral detail.

The answer is to rise above authority. Stop being obedient and stop issuing orders.


How would you place anarchism in this frame? Typically it is considered part of the left. You sound like an anarchist, but suggest "rising above" the left/right framework.


"He (Corbyn) ran on an uncompromisingly left platform."

The same platform, bar removal of nuclear weapons, had been maintained by Tory governments (Churchill, Eden, MacMillan, Douglas-Home) until that of the extrteme right-wing Thatcher government in 1979. Corbyn is by no means "uncompromisingly left". He represents what the UK was until Thatcher and Bliar came along.

Malcolm Turnbull, an Australian multi-millionaire, gained the prime ministership of Australia simply because his ability to talk and smile was better than that of Tony Abbott, whose image on TV would have lost the Tories the next election. Australian Liberal Party policy has not changed; it just comes with a better salesman.


well, it's certainly not stopping anyone else from having opinions! :wink:

i am familiar with world-systems theory and you don't need to know it to understand this essay at all. If that were the case, this would never have been published by pundit sites.

All Wallerstein's doing is musing whether or not there's a rising global Left with any sort of historical staying power. His blurb about system transitions can be read comfortably as just moving from one epoch to another, or one dominant paradigm to another. To ground this in a larger context in political science: there's been a lot of discussion the last few years about post-capitalist transitions and what--and who--would fill in any vacuum. So the notion that there could finally be another rising, coherent global Left is a fairly heartening deal to the old Marxists and other New Leftists from the 60s, of which Wallerstein was/is one.


Hey - I don't want to take myself seriously enough to describe myself as anything... we're all just homo sapiens - mostly with our heads stuffed full of our own self-importance.

Anarchy is a relevant concept inasmuch as it seems the natural order - which is not to advocate it as much as to realise that we are already in the midst of it. Unfortuneately, some bully boys have duped the frightened into joining gangs - nations, religions, etc. in the idea that there is safety in gang numbers. In a sense that ploy works for those who have the upper hand and so they are unlikely to just let go. I think the only way forward is a realisation that any conflict is... well just yet another conflict! If we want a better world THAT has to be realised on all fronts. It matters little waht the battle is - people get killed in it, others get frightened, the powers cry out for more security, and the whole sorry mess carries on. Who knows what you do? Passive disobedience? Raise awareness wherever you can? If people saw it for what it is they would begin to wthdraw support on the one hand and demand a fairer break on the other. I don't think there is ONE solution other than that it is about a generalised swing of conscious ideas.


Thanks, i'd agree with your entire post. i see gangsterism in operation at so many levels, conflicts defined and "resolved" by gangs of bullies. It's all so normalized.

Passive but also active disobedience. Organized, strategic disobedience, building through communities from personal practice. A "generalized swing of conscious ideas" yes, but inherently interlacied with swings in personal practice, and community identity and agency. Not just demanding a fairer break, but being fair in all relationships, flows and activities, to grow a healthy culture.