The Left

Left for Dead

Chris Dillow wonders about the current comatose state of the Left:

For many years, I’ve thought that the 1960s generation, with its vacuous hippie narcissism, was largely responsible for the decline of the left. Reading John Denham’s speech, however, raises another possibility – that it’s my generation, the one that came to political consciousness in the 1980s, that is responsible for the Labour’s intellectual disarray.

How so?

To cut a long and tragi-comic story short, I fear the answer originates in the Left’s reaction against orthodox Marxism in the 1980s. Inspired in part by Hobsbawm’s essay, the Forward March of Labour Halted?, many on the Left gave up on the idea of the working class as a revolutionary force, and looked instead to what they called “new social movements”: women, blacks and gays (yes – to many the three were somehow homogenous!) Allied to this was a growing lack of interest in economics, and a rise in interest in cultural theory.


First, there was a privileging of identity politics over class. When combined – as it often was – with slack-jawed moral relativism, this led to the Left’s tolerance of reactionary beliefs as long as they are expressed by non-whites: see Nick Cohen, passim…

Read the rest here.