Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Influential left-wing ideas--Bob from Brockley's take

Bob from Brockley is one of my favorite British UK democratic left bloggers.  He has new post up discussing "influential left wing ideas."

He discusses five good ideas, five bad ideas, and five not influential enough.   It's an insightful and thought-provoking list.  I'm not sure I'll come up with my own list.

The Good Influences: social justice, internationalism, one-state solution, open source, strangers into citizens.  Bob has a distinctive conception of the one-solution, but I still don't agree and would put it in my bad influeces group.

I do like what Bob says about open source, though I've been a fan since I first heard of the movement.

Open source – I remember thinking it was one of the sillier elements of the Euston Manifesto that it filled a whole clause (no.14 if you're interested) with open source software: a complete distraction, I thought, from the real issues. But since then I’ve changed my mind as I’ve watched the rise of creative commons licensing, free and open source software, participatory media, citizen journalism and citizen scholarship. If you use Firefox or Wikipedia, for example, you will have experienced small-c communism in practice: voluntary co-operation and mutual aid on a massive scale, at the most sophisticated level possible, to achieve, well, not a common goal, but an endless multiplicity of projects, completely outside the logic of the market or the state.

The bad influences: 1) national sovereignty 2) Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions 3) Blood for oil/the Israel lobby/the shock doctrine, 4) foreigners are stealing our jobs, 5) second campism.

Never heard of second campism?  Here is what Bob writes
Imperialism was one of the great evils of the last few centuries, so it is to its credit that the left has historically opposed it. But nowadays, the power cartography of the world has been so re-calibrated that the whole notion of imperialism makes little or no sense, and the concept of anti-imperialism becomes more and more attenuated. It seems to me that most self-proclaimed anti-imperialism these days is better described as Second Campism – that is, supporting the other camp over one’s own. Thus leftists once flocked to Cuba and the Viet Cong as the enemies of Amerikkka; now they flock to “anti-imperialist” dictators who have even less connection to the left’s core values, simply because they are the enemies of Amerikkka.
I like this statement.  

Not influential enough:1)  Mutualism, co-operatives, self-management, 2) small government, 3) no borders, 4) class analysis, 5) agnosticism.
Class analysis – This used to be one of the most influential ideas on the left. Far too influential, arguably, as the trad left was blind to anything other than class: blind to sex and sexuality, to culture and morality, to psychology, to the sacred, to other axes of identity like gender and race, to patriotism and kinship... But the post-1968, has gone too far the other way. Only the most tedious and dogmatic of leftists talk about class these days. But without that anchor, the value of social justice goes adrift, and the left just surfs every passing wave, from Third Worldism to identity politics, from Gaia to Wahhabism.

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