Saturday, September 18, 2010


The last in my series of articles on activism just came out in Global Comment. I'm hoping to work this up into a book proposal this fall. I think it's important stuff.

Today, I write about the need for a new leftist ideology in order to fight global capitalism. We live in the time of the Last Great Ideology--Friedmanesque Capitalism. Until we create an ideological structure to systematically fight this scourge, the right will eat our lunch.

Here's a bit from the article:

The triumphalist rhetoric in the aftermath of communism’s collapse created a climate allowing capitalism to become so ingrained in our lives that we hardly recognize it as an ideology anymore. It’s become more a basic element of our life like water and food than an economic system that nations have accepted or rejected. To even mention the word “capitalism” today almost marks you as suspect or an anachronism because so few people seriously critique it today.

This is a very bad thing.

Without some kind of ideological framework to fight capitalism, the left cedes the intellectual field to conservatives. Even many young progressive bloggers and writers openly disdain ideology, preferring to focus on policy and winning elections. This allows conservative extremists to set the rhetorical and political agenda.

Terms like “tax relief,” “border security,” “the war on terror,” “illegal immigrants,” and “government waste,” are part of a successful right-wing agenda to roll back the progressive gains of the last century. The more we buy into their language and to the idea that capitalism is inherently good, but just needs some reform around the edges, the more capitalism becomes ingrained in our souls as an immovable force.

To retake the political momentum and to roll back the evils of untrammeled capitalism, we need more than to just reform tax policy to ensure some semblance of a welfare state. We need an ideological framework that rejects fundamentalist free-market capitalism in favor of a more just world. We need a new generation of intellectuals to build on the great thinkers of the past and create a new, post-Soviet socialism to fight the ravages of free market capitalism.