Left wing influences
September 21, 2010 18 Comments
Tony Benn: A hero of the left and socialism to whom the Labour Party, through its creation and trade union voice, will always be the home of democracy – the foremost principle of socialism.
Evo Morales: No pretensions, a leader who applies a principle that no society will be fair until it adopts: you contribute to society according to your means. In so doing, indigenous families living in the Bolivian altiplano are able to enjoy solar powered lighting and roads where they were without before the presidency of Evo.
Slavoj Zizek: Here is someone who makes the case, in popular philosophical and political discourse, against the fashionable postmodern and post-ideological left which has come to saturate leftwing politics in the last few years, as well as all the other shit that it leaves in its tracks (i.e. cultural relativism, nonchalance towards fundo Islam, tolerance of Naomi Klein etc etc). Zizek needs to be taken more seriously.
Gary Younge: A convincing, decent left wing journalist, who cannot be called wet, and fashionable as other writers for the Guardian or the Nation, he sticks to his guns, and his not put off by detractors, hence the title to one of his notorious articles: I hate tories. And yes, it’s tribal.
George Galloway: A slippery man who relies too much on dodgy votes. As a debater he is second to none, enter a law court against him and you’ve lost, but he is of the greasy political view that there is a vulnerable group and an oppressive group, and they each have the same skin colour.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: If she spent more time understanding class as she does spend it denigrating the “lazy white working class” then maybe she’d be relevant, but, alas, she is a pompous bourgeois liberal with a chip on her shoulder (through no good reason).
Naomi Klein: Has spent the work of 1000s of pages and newspaper articles explaining capitalism, but her critique offers little more than environmental capitalism. She’d make a good bedfellow of George Soros and all the other philanthrocapitalists weeping at poverty.
Moazzam Begg: Seen by Marxists and Liberals alike as a symbol of injustice at the hands of Americans, and this is proven by the airtime he is given by amnesty international to the socialist workers party. But just do two things: watch him on BBC Hardtalk squirm and squeeze out of the question of whether he thinks the Taliban’s actions are justified as self-defence. Listen to the interview he conducted with Anwar al Awlaki. Tell me then whether this is someone the left ought to offer a pedestal. Then ask yourself why so many leftists do offer this.
Update: I forgot the final part of this meme, which is to include a list of those I feel are not influential enough, they are:
Kenan Malik: I expect with a couple more books under his belt and a regular column or focus on the blogosphere he will be someone with a voice like Nick Cohen’s, Peter Hitchens, and David Aaranovitch, by which I mean an authority who one wants to read again and again.
Dave Osler: This blogger got the above writer to sign my copy of his book at the Orwell Awards – an act I’m ever grateful for. But this is not why he is here; he is a fantastic writer who remians of the left tradition that seems to be dying out in the post-ideological landscape of left wing politics – that is politics of class and anti-fascism. He also levels a cracking argument on the topic of religion, which is by no means a battle between believer and non-believer; it is more than that, it is between those who can see the radical kernel of Christianity and those who cannot – I think Osler recognises this too.
John McDonnell: In the next four years we are likely to have two things: Firstly a Tory led government intent on spending cuts and job losses, an economic model supported by no received wisdom, mass unemployment and depression. Secondly, an opposition led by David Miliband who does not oppose enough of the Tory led programme, and himself wants to cut the deficit drastically by 2014 – against better judgement from within his own party. He might even support the anti-Trade untion laws to which he is heir (in Blair). All the time, it will be a passing thought every night, that John McDonnell is a sadly missed individual in politics.
Alain Badiou: His recognition in this country is owing to Zizek’s obsession with his work, but this is not enough for me. He is not nearly as influential on left wing politics as he should be in this country – though he is in his native France. His concept of the Event, something he attributes to the radical universalism of St Paul on the road to Damascus, is the one philosophical assertion able to question the legitimacy of Marx’ Historical Materialism.
Marx’ assertion of the end of history in Communism was neither mechanical like the earth travelling around the sun, nor was it miraculous like God’s creation of light, but with the force of working men free to create their own history with the lending hand of history entering from economic phases of Feudalism; Capitalism; Socialism and finally Communism.
But for Badiou, the Event is created from conditions neither harnassed by the free will of working men, nor the path of history so told by Marx, rather, it arrives like Damascan conversion, often contradicting the hitherto narrative of history. Subsequently, Badiou has been described as a Communist without being a Marxist.