Where is the left? – One hand can’t find the other as Capitalism Collapses

Okay. A current conversation with the lovely PaulGrahamRaven on twitter is goading me into writing a piece I wanted to write a while back. This is going to get messy. And maybe it should.

Also, first up. A confession/analysis regarding the amount of research actually collected for this article. Basically, it is about the osmosis I’ve received from the mainstream press (which mostly consists of the Guardian, the BBC and a million random and variously significant web sources). I’m not massively diligent in my news scouring, but I grok the hypothetically left leaning dead tree Guardian cover to cover between once and four times a week and flitter around the website daily. Then I’ve got twitter news feeds and all sorts of bits and bobs. The point here being that I may (I hope) be missing a lot of the stuff I’m complaining about not being around, so I hope people can link me to the things I should be reading.

Anyway, the sum total of actual specific research rests on a text exchange with the delightful Sahil ‘I only like economics because it means I get to use tenuous cricketing analogies’ Vaughn from over at that there unlearned.

Basically, I asked him for an explanation of the current financial crisis and how it might represent the fundamental flaws of capitalism. Here’s his response (I haven’t asked his permission, but I’m pretty sure he won’t mind:

Well the millions and millions of consistently poor people suggests it [capitalism] doesn’t work. And in terms of economics, since the 60s there has been a decline in productivity, so in that sense it stopped working a while ago. Finance [as] a system has built in failure (its enabled by speculation). Socialising the finance through co op owned fund which we pay into and secure loans against would be useful.

I asked for clarification of some point (I don’t have the message to give details, sorry) and he responded again:

Finance works faster than production, so downturns become crises, which is what opens space for normative debate. I finish my exams today so chat we shallx

Last bit included despite irrelevancy merely so I can point out that he has not held his promise. The bastard.

Anyway. that is literally the sum total of my research into this piece. I just thought I’d kick off with that so that everyone can help me with the holes in my argument. I also read an issue of the New Internationalist on the subject, which was technically useful and proposed solutions, but it’s so niche and I can’t remember the details.

I am a shit journalist (or rather, I am simply not a journalist).



Financial crisis, as vaguely explained above, means that the world economy is pretty damn fucked. We can all see this, and we are all hearing it.

The most striking part of it for me is that people ahve genuinely described this as the utter failure of capitalism. Proof positive that the system doesn’t work.

Now, as a dyed in the wool (whatever that means) socialist, all this doomsaying kinda got me excited. I know this is rude, as real people are really suffering, but I can’t help it. As Sahil points out, some people have known and seen for years the problems inherent in the system, and the inefficiencies, and immoralities it has a tendency to at best allow, and at worst promote. And it’s been at it’s worst for the last x number of years, where x is somehow proportionate to your propensity for nostalgia.

We’ve seen this coming. To some extent or another. We’ve known that it’s fucked, and now everyone can see it. Banks are being nationalised, governments are trying to salvage the system by giving vast sums of money to the people who fucked this all up in the first place. Jobs are vanishing and businesses are closing.

It’s visible, it’s real, and it’s everywhere.

But what can I not see anywhere?

Lefties. That’s who.

I’m not reading or hearing people talking about changing the system. I’m just hearing people despairing, or hoping it’ll all turn around in a few years and we’ll be on the up and up again. Nobody is calling for revolution or even devolution on the back of this. Nobody is calling on the bankers and bourgeoisie to get their backs to the wall and face the music. Nobody is revolting.

I don’t understand it.

Where’s Marx’s inevitable march towards Communistic utopia when we need it?

There is no antithesis left.


Okay, quickly for those not hot to trot on this. Dialectics states that a thesis (dominant ideology, in this case capitalism) contains or creates, inevitably, and antithesis or opposite. The two struggle, and eventually combine to form a synthesis, which is the new thesis. And so on, marching ever onwards towards perfect, state-free communism (according to Marx). Or just onwards (according to me).

But it’s not here. We’re reaching the crisis/tipping point where things could genuinely change, and as Paul points out. The press is covering the right wing ‘solutions’. Anti immigration policies are on the rise, and the press attacks the government for letting in foreign investors and workers.

And that’s the trade unionists. Ie, the grass roots left (again, hypothetically).

Now, I do appreciate the plight of skilled workers losing out on jobs, but I don’t like the idea of the proletariat mobilising on nationalist grounds, when they could be marching on socialistic ones. Whatever happened to ‘Workers of the world unite.’

We’re getting a step to the right when we need a jump to the left, or whatever the transvestite vampires like doing.

This troubles me, and makes the recession much gloomier. People aren’t taking this open space, to debate new possibilities, they are falling back on old prejudices.

So come on internets. Renege against this all. Start hanging out and discussing and challenging the media institutions that are failing to represent our honest reactions to this. Shout and scream and blog and tweet.

The world is at a point where revolution is possible. And technology has evolved to the point where people can actually connect fully and wholly across the world (ignoring the technological have nots, which happens to coincide with what could possibly be the new proletariat).

We have the forum to discuss this. We have the power to change. Hell, theoretically we’ve got at least one person in power who might be tempted to listen.

Let’s tear open our government to scrutiny, using the technologies of transparency we have before us (I mentioned in a tweet the other day that I’d like to see laws being written on a wiki, okay, probably a closed one that only elected representatives can edit, but where all edits are visible to everyone, so we can track who is being lobbied by who and what they are changing. The technology is with us, we just have to make it happen. Demand it).

Let’s be the left we want to be.

Lets change the world.


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