Left Rethinking?

Left Rethinking? Maybe in    Europe and elsewhere. Maybe in Venezuela as well as in Latin America. Not in this part of the globe called India. Here the left is the worshipper of the status quo. They just react to the spontaneity. The situation demands a new vision and they simply lack it. Nor do they nurse any hope for better future.

The much talked about 21st century socialism as visualised by the late Hugo Chevez is now a nightmare for the people of Venezuela. The failure of Chavez’s experiment left the door open for neo-liberalism to come roaring back. Venezuela today is buffeted by a whilepool of economic, political and social forces causing tremendous human suffering.

The collapse of oil prices and the government’s mismanagement of resources have had a severe impact. Problems actually began in Chavez era. ‘‘Socialism’’ from above with one guiding leader, a military bureaucracy focused primarily on the importance of egalitarian distribution and leaving much room for corruption, cannot be a substitute for constructing socialism from below. The legacy of Chavez and of ‘‘21st  century socialism’’ in general are seriously called into question.

Meanwhile Left in Europe shows a little bit of resilience as European voters hold off fascism. Nearer home fascistic culture in the form of hindutwa religious aggression is increasingly gaining ground while ordinary people look helpless. The leftist assertion in European theatre is a good news, no doubt, but whether this much activism could lead to a genuine alternative is open to question.

The recent elections in France and Britain have been a welcome setback for that fascist Right which saw Trump and Brexit as a cresting wave carrying them to state power.

The defeat of Marine Le Pen's bid for the French presidency by an unexpectedly large margin gives the world a slight breathing space. It doesn't cancel the fact that her fascist National Front has effectively established itself as one of the major French parties—as the election also saw the collapse of the left and right "main stream".

There are signs of new thinking appearing on the French and European Left. The comments of outgoing Socialist Party Secretary General Jean-Christophe Cambadelis are revealing: "The left must change everything, form and substance, its ideas and its organisations. It is a question of rethinking the roots of' progressivism, for its two pillars—the welfare state and the continuing extension of freedoms—are being challenged. It is the indispensable foundation of a new political offer on the left to counter both neoliberalism and nationalism".
The Socialist Party won't be the vehicle for this, however, and neither will Jean-Luc Melenchon's "Unsubmi-ssive France". This is a period of disorientation among the Left.

Rather than raising the banner of 1789, or of the Popular Front of the 1930s, the needed rethinking must begin from the 1871 Paris Communue and the profound internationalism of the 1960 Manifesto of the 121.

The British Labour Party's gain of 30 seats in Parliament, coupled with stunning losses for Theresa May's Conservatives, represented in large part a rejection of the "Carnival of Reaction" (attacks on immigrants, etc) that followed last year's Brexit vote.

As in France, young voters led in rejecting the Right's racist politics. Whether the Left could cash in on this new mood and swing remain to be seen.

Vol. 50, No.4, Jul 30 - Aug 5, 2017