Friday, April 16, 2010

It’s Time for the Left to Get Serious

The impact of neoliberal globalization has, among other things, reshaped the role of the state. In general, the capitalist state cannot operate strictly on repression;therefore there must be some level of consensus. That consensus, at least among significant portions of the population, rests on the notion that the state will distribute resources and will help to sustain the population, particularly during rough periods. But what happens when the state stops fulfilling its distributionist role? What happens when people come to believe that they cannot count on the state? Neoliberal globalization has led to a shifting of the role of the State in that it is now more highly repressive but also much less distributionist. Given the polarization of wealth and overall inequality, there are fewer resources that can be devoted to distributionist activities, but always plenty of resources to devote toward wars, prisons and police. In that situation, people start looking out for themselves and this is when things can become dangerous. While the Left’s response to such a situation is to, among other things, demand a progressive role for the state and, for socialists, to look for a transformation beyond the capitalist state, the political Right can either move in the direction of greater authoritarianism or toward militiatype movements. An extreme version of this can be openly genocidal, e.g., Rwanda, 1994: people murdering one another over increasingly scarce resources.

But we cannot do that without organization. We cannot do that by relying on Facebook, Web sites and e-mails. We cannot do that by relying on speaking to and with those people that we like and who agree with us. It means organization and it means that we have to operate very differently than most of us are comfortable operating. 

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