Sunday, February 26, 2012

The only idea the Left needs is how to shut up the Right. . .

Warren Kinsella cited the ever pontificating Fancis Fukuyama today claiming that he was confused concerning the failure of the left to take advantage of the obvious failures of capitalism in recent years. Only, like all rightwingers, Fukuyama (and it seems Kinsella) is confused about what is really going on. Kinsella writes that "chief" among the left's failures have been a "failure of ideas," and that the so-called "old formulas" don't work anymore because (and here's the clincher) "we can't afford them."

All of these points are, of course, complete nonsense. The left has not, in anyway suffered from a deficit of ideas. Rather, the right has such momentous control of the media and the economic discourse that they can simply convince everyone that nothing can work except rightwing solutions. Look at the recent Liberal Party. Even most Liberals tout the nonsense that lowering corporate taxes is a good thing. Besides being flatly counterfactual, it is part of a discourse of globalization that has been a concerted effort to lower standards everywhere and create a war of all against all.

Furthermore, characterizing traditional 'leftwing' ideas as old ideas that have failed is also flatly wrong. The ideas of the left didn't fail, rather, the right's control of economic discourse through globalization and media power took advantage of an ignorant population to de facto brain wash a huge portion of the population.

And lastly, of course, is the rightwing myth that we "can't afford" pensions and social programs. This is the greatest nonsense of all.  There has never been more wealth in history than there is today. Not only can we afford the traditional solutions to poverty and economic inequality, we can afford them better than we ever have. The problem is not the amount of wealth but where the wealth actually is. If you have a society in which the majority of wealth is in the hands of a few people, then of course you won't be able to afford social solutions to your problems. Over the past forty years or so the right (and that includes Liberals in Canada) have fundamentally shifted the wealth and power structure toward large corporate bodies that function in the absence of meaningful control, transparency, and social responsibility. This is the problem, not the the lack of leftist ideas or lack of resources.

The ideas of the left are better, more rational, and more ethical, than any of the ideas on the right, and if we were actually debating these ideas in a meaningful way the left would win every time. The problem is people like Fukuyama, and Mr. Kinsella, who propagate ideas based on certain defunct rightwing ideological nonsense, and frankly are incapable of a meaningful economic and social analysis because they are far too steeped in the global rightwing discourse. Mr. Kinsella's article ironically (or maybe intentionally) further obfuscates the problem and maintains the myth that the left is out of ideas, while the real solution is very simple, and always has been. It is the same solution that has always been meaningful in a context of extreme economic inequality - shift resources and power away from corporations and rich corporate masters and back into the hands of the population in general. It is an idea as old as economics and the only one that has any meaning or would ever work. We don't need new economic ideas - we just need to figure out how to expose people like Fukuyama and Kinsella for what they really are - pedlars of an unethical ideology hiding behind media respectability.


The Mound of Sound said...

Sadly, Kinsella has lost sight of the fact that the Liberal Party is supposed to be at least somewhat progressive. The movement he helped empower, through Ignatieff, to drive the LPC to the centre-right deservedly failed. There is simply nothing for the Liberals there, no oxygen. Canada has no capacity for two conservative parties. If the Libs are to come back they'll need a lot more Axworthy and a lot less Kinsella.

Jymn said...

"Rather, the right has such momentous control of the media and the economic discourse that they can simply convince everyone that nothing can work except rightwing solutions."

Thank you for such a succinct and true statement. It needs repeating.