Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Left-out

The horrors of Industrialization spawned many socialist schemes meant to remedy the abuses. Capitalism had become a living hell for the majority of people, with 70 hour work weeks, child labor, and unsafe, filthy work conditions. Marx was probably the most successful socialist,devising a complex and persuasive theory of commodity fetishism, alienated labor,history,and exploitation.After the Russian revolution (1917),the political parties of the left cleaved in half-those that sought piece- meal reforms through parliamentary procedure became the socialists and social democrats, and those that sought violent revolution became communists (usually both groups used Marx's books and ideas). After rival parties were banned in Russia, then rival factions within the ruling party, the stage was set for the Iron Law of Oligarchy to do its worst- it did.

The (mostly) democratic left couldn't understand why capitalism continued, and even seemed to thrive, after the shock of economic depression and two world wars. So in the late 1950's many communists adopted the ideas of Antonio Gramsci(hegemony-Eurocommunism).What was thought to be necessary was a broad based cultural shift,and thus the 'New Left' was born. It sought to incorporate the disparate social movements (feminism, environmentalism, etc. at the expense of the original pro- labor orientation).The party became bourgeoisie, attempting to broaden, and updating, its appeal. As a result, the majority of communist parties around the world today have devolved into veritable corporate entities, having little, if anything, to do with creating a "Workers State." (The Western economies thrived due to the implimentation of socialist measures- minimum wage, old age pensions,the GI Bill in America, and Atlee's nationalization program in Britain....,)

The Left got caught up in civil rights issues, because of historical necessity. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, all of the Colonial powers were exhausted. India, guided by Ghandhi and Nehru, broke free from Britain in 1948. This was the signal to all third world peoples- soon, most of the Colonial territories achieved (quasi) independance from their Colonial capitalist masters.
Franz Fanon, an Algerian physician-activist, wrote detailed analyses of the relationships of the exploiters toward the exploited (1960). So, civil rights became part and parcel of 'Leftism.' (Contrast:Roosevelt in the 1930's had almost zero impulse to specifically help the Negroes). A general degeneration later occurred- the Left, while pushing unfair or faulty policies like busing or quota's, has seemingly forgotten about the material conditions or plight of the working man. (Examine the result, not the lofty rhetoric).

Marx saw human nature as flexible, and basically neutral, while a later follower, Sartre, saw humans as quite depraved.

Incidentally, the rebel Zapatista's in Mexico, and Chavez in Venuezeula, are waging war against what they term "Neo-Liberalism," harking back to the old 19th century Adam Smith-Ricardo style Liberalism, which has been reformulated within the monetarist economic model.


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