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Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago

The Left in English-speaking countries has been gentrified. It is no longer about improving economic conditions for the poor (except in childish terms of stealing from Paul to give to Peter), but about getting us to adopt dysfunctional lifestyle choices.

Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Yes, the Left in English-speaking countries has traded class-consciousness for solipsistic moral grandiosity and a deracinated Puritan religious sensibility.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Walsh

Excellent point. Modern leftism has lots of parrallels with non-conformity, including self-righteousness taken to comic extremes, like the Strict Baptists who disapproved of ordinary Baptists.

T Bone
T Bone
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Walsh

Woke Progressivism is a predictable consequence of the Marxist Dialectic eating its own tail though.

Orthodox Marxism’s is rife with contradictions. The idea of “Class Consciousness” and the Vision of Class Struggle is basically grandiose virtue signaling bordering on Mythology.

No “Revolution” has ever been led by “workers.” The French and Russian Revolutions were directed by highly educated upper class aristocrats that served as “Vanguard representatives” of the working class. At least the current fad basically recognizes itself as an Avant-garde movement to socially engineer society from the top down.

Orthodox Marxism pretends it’s ruling class is “one with the people.” Nonsense. All forms of Redistributive Collectivism are just as Top-down as the “evil” individualistic Capitalist systems that are being replaced.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

And providing comfortable, often pointless, office- and home-based jobs for upper middle class arts-type graduates (of all races, genders and none), to the disadvantage of the working people.
We saw in the Covid lockdowns how they shafted the people who could not work from home – bus drivers, supermarket staff, craftsmen, etc etc. And this has continued unabated since then, “trans” activists and “just stop oil” are only the most egregious examples of these comfortably-off people who won’t be too badly affected by the change they are trying to ram through.
But will be the first to complain when we have power cuts on cold, still days.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
5 months ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

I was thinking that with the advent of smart meters (which enable your energy supply to be tweaked remotely), those filmed demonstrating for Just Stop Oil should be treated to a month of unreliable energy with their lights going on and off at random.

What does everyone else think ?

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The Working classes were savaged and ravaged by globalism from the 1980s and so vanished as a political force (hence SNP conquest of union free Scotland(. The shiny Blairite Labour Party marched on and away, condemning them to further immiseration via their new found love of the EU and national labour market shattering by the Single Market. New Labour latched onto every teat of the ever growing white collar State and the quasi public sector like universities and NGOs. Brexit saw its metro urban white collar army vent further hatred upon the Brexitty poor northeners, so the Divorce and detachment is now totally complete. Labour lives in an unmoored unstable Statist Bubble, those miners steelworkers shipbuilders a long forgotten relic of a distant past.

T Bone
T Bone
5 months ago

Leftism has always branded itself as a Collective Solidarity of the Powerless seeking to overthrow the Powerful. When Leftists become the Status Quo they simply cease being Leftists according to modern Historical interpreters. Everything in Leftism is interpreted through the Historical Arc of Progress to which they are “change agents” shepherding a more enlightened world. That’s why they always say things like “Things have to get worse before they get better” as they’re implementing famine politics, like planting “cooperative” Anti-Bourgeoise crops too close together.

Take for ex the Leftist dogma that the Soviet Union was only a totalitarian hellhole because Stalin purged leaders like Trotsky. In reality, Trotsky was every bit as ruthless and Authoritarian as Stalin but in Leftist Mythology the Leftist Ideologue can never be the cause of economic chaos and resulting destabilization caused by “egalitarian” Central planning bureaucrats. No, no no! It was the right wingers that derailed Utopia!

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Not to forget “real Socialism has never been tried”.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Ha, ha !

Though nor has real democracy…

james elliott
james elliott
5 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

“Leftism has always branded itself as a Collective Solidarity of the Powerless seeking to overthrow the Powerful”

Correct.

Which is why the modern Left cheered manically at the murder – and rape – of 1,400 Israelis on October 7th at the hands of a bunch of savages.

The modern Left sees the Israelis as the Oppressors and the Palestinians as Oppressed.

There is thus, quite literally, nothing that they would not allow the Palestinians to do to the Israelis. Because the Oppressor must be smashed.

It is hard to think of anything worse than infants being beheaded in groups and women being raped to death, their corpses then displayed to be mutilated and spat upon by Palestinian *civilians*.

If anyone doubts this, well, Hamas filmed and livestreamed it.

We all know this – yet many on the Left want Hamas to be spared. So they can, as they certainly will, regroup and do it again.

The modern Left is – at its natural extension – beyond a doubt, evil.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  james elliott

I think you’ll find nutjobs supporting Hamas murderous strategy at both far ends of the political spectrum.

T Bone
T Bone
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Do you see how you rationalize moral equivalence? You know good and well that Western Hamas supporters are overwhelmingly Left Wing but in order to appease your own conscience you equivocate the right and left. If you consider yourself Left and intend to continue voting with these people it’s the only thing you can do to rationalize your choice while claiming the moral high ground.

But your equivocation is clearly false and the sooner you stop equivocating, the picture will become much clearer.

Last edited 5 months ago by T Bone
Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
5 months ago

The Left is more of a self-contained (culture) industry today, driven by the commercial imperatives of the university sector and aligned with media & publishing strategies to tap into the, at best, unrealistic idealism and at worst the fantastical rebellion of young, developing egos made increasingly hysterical by their Internet use.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

An element of the ‘Left’ perhaps and something in this. Was ever thus to some degree in the Univ sector IMO. It’s too broad brush though, which is partly what the Author was conveying

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago

Left Vs Right is basically ‘we know what’s good for you’ Vs ‘leave me alone you interfering busybodies’.

Chris Bradshaw
Chris Bradshaw
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Partially, and partially simplistic ‘everything is utopian’ answers vs hard-headed, fact-based compromise.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris Bradshaw

Yes. As Sowell said, it’s an inability to understand that everything is a trade-off.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Yep although those are two ends of the spectrum and the reality is actual Policy tends more towards the middle with slight leans either way depending on who’s in charge and issues of the day.

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
5 months ago

The left is lurching from fundamentally unserious to downright delusional. They are not remotely suitable to govern at this time. Their only economic strategy (like the tories now, it appears) is to borrow and spend public money on things that don’t really generate revenue with not a word to say about how they plan to boost private enterprise writ large. What we need more than anything else is a sustained economy boost and a reduction in public debt, not more elevating of petty grievances to sainthood. They’re going to fail even more spectacularly than the Conservatives have. I guarantee it.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

Agree. The author is right to separate the Cultural Identitarian Left movement – a equality cult possessing not just Unis but our Elite – from what he calls the political wing of the Left. Labour is the Party of our now vast Public Sector and Blob and like the Russian Communist Party it exists to sustain itself not serve us. It is inward looking detached parasistic and sadly IS the all powerful UK State. Can that be called Leftist?? New Leftist thinkers are trying desperately to conjure sexy new ‘Apollo’ roles for massive Keynsian direct State intervention in finance (the glorious magic money of lockdown) and now the economy (the Red is now Green/Eco Big Lie). But that is lazy dangerous empty rhetoric and will surely end in tears. What seems permanent is the influence of both the Cultural Left and the Statist Left in their twin towers of Unis and Westminster. And that is two too many.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

The fundamental weakness here is that over the last 44 years we’ve had 31 years of Tory Govt (70%). Somehow in your alternative Universe the Right isn’t responsible for alot of the proper muddle we’ve got into despite being in charge so much. It’s almost satire.
I think some more self-reflection on the Right would be beneficial, rather than the reflex reach for a scapegoat and some conspiratorial twaddle that actually they haven’t been in power.
Now maybe the argument is some cultural changes, disliked by some on the Right, have a momentum Right Wing Govts can’t entirely resist. But I think this begs the critique be more explicit about what these are. It just may the issue you don’t wan to confront is the public actually support most of these?

Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Did the public support the invasion of Iraq and mass immigration?

The Tories have done very little for the past 13 years other than enrich themselves and more or less follow the same failed technocratic path as New Labour with intervention the in Libya and of course mass immigration.

Our governments care very little about what the elecorate want. A Starmer government will be no different.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

As ever, you totally ignore the new reality of governance in the UK since we embraced EU style RULE by Quangocracy & regulatory diktat and the predominance of a Liberal Leftist Progressive STATE and public sector which dwarfs the emasculated saddo political parties in Parliament. You brand the Tories as Right Wing. Name a right wing policy they have enacted!!!! The Tories now form a Uniparty with the other useless political parties. They have bowed to and rubber stamped the credos of this State Blob, supporting crazed and toxic ideologies like extreme DEI and Net Zero, welfarism, high Brownite taxation & innumerable attacks on private enterprise, plus insane magic money tree/multi billion bailout economics (BOE CCC QE). All this wailing about Trumpian Neo Liberal Right Wing rule is risible and totally divorced from the pathetic reality we see. Read up on NMI for gods sake.

T Bone
T Bone
5 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

The Identarian Left did their job though. They made Orthodox Marxism appear rational to normal people. Now comes the Economic portion of the Cycle after the Cultural and Spiritual.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago

Surely the most important and troubling development in both UK politics and governance is the normalisation of State social authoritarianism and diktat by The Unelected. Anti democratic rule by diktat used to be and still remains a go to reflex from the bossy Nannying Left. But now it is standard practice, upheld by Uniparty politicians and all arms of the State. It is not just extremes like the deranged lockdowns, but myriad 20 mph/ulez/NHS First Health rules and the 30 Year Budget Gosplanning by the CCC Net Zero technocrats. How could this happen?? Answer – 30 years as an outlying province in the new EU Empire. Policies flowed from Brussels and were just rubber stamped by Parliament. That easy life is catching. Rule by diktat is a past legacy of the EU, not just a present urge by the progressive Left.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
5 months ago

If one takes the theory of segmentation, the old left/right divide based on economics/class was a simple, unified view of the world. We appear to now segment on psychographics. Helpful for advertising, but hard for the practical execution of policy. it is, indeed, a mess.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
5 months ago

The sole purpose of the ‘left wing’ in the UK, under the guise of ‘The Labour Party’ was to improve the lot of working class people by trying to achieve equal opportunity. This would be of benefit to everyone in our society by allowing true talent to surface.
The ‘left’ is now stuffed with private/independent/public school idealogues who only meet working class people when they are cleaning their houses or delivering their groceries from Waitrose.
Upward social mobility, by it’s very definition, means downward mobility for some people. This means the middle class ‘champagne socialists’ would have to accept a meritocracy; which they are unwilling to do.
When people like Thangham Debbonaire are ‘front and centre’ in the fight for working class people, something has gone terribly wrong!

Peter B
Peter B
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cornish

Largely true, but aren’t you assuming that social mobility is a zero sum game there ? Where does it say that for someone to advance economically and/or socially, then someone else must decline ?
This sort of zero sum thinking seems to be baked into the political left. But life – as ever – is more complex and interesting than that. And need not be zero sum.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
5 months ago

Well. Here is my dilemma.
I am a lifelong member of the Labour Party and would regard myself as being on the left. I believe in public ownership, higher taxes on the rich and greater public spending. That is left on economic issues
However, I am not a supporter of trans rights, black lives matter, refugees, Free Palestine etc. Hence, I am regarded by many as right wing or even fascist (fascist is, of course, the most mis-used word in the English language).
In turn, I regard the so-called left in the Party as being the affluent middle classes who are supporting these minority groups because of guilt about their wealth. They have no interest in the huge levels of poverty that exist in the UK

Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago

You can look toward Welsh Labour for the answer

james elliott
james elliott
5 months ago

“For good or ill, he came to regard Stalinism and National Socialism as extreme expressions of the same basic worldview”

This is true, and Hayek was right – but why the odd insistent that National Socialism was ‘on the Right’?

It wasn’t.

National Socialism is, as indicated in its own branding, a form of Socialism. It is the stuff of an all-powerful State, crushing the individual under the wheels of the Greater Good.

As is Fascism.

Hayek classed all the above under the category of “central planners”, or what we might call the Deep State – steamrollering over individual rights to crush dissent and impose the Utopia of the Enlightened few.

All the above is what we might usefully band together under the umbrella of “the Left”.

The Right stands for individual autonomy, small government with very limited powers and the freedom of the individual to make his way with limited governmental interference.

The modern Left loves Covid mandates, cancel culture, the destruction of the family unit and governance by fear & nudge units. It demands the destruction of unwanted or ‘useless’ human life, eugenics and abortion on demand. Individual rights and individual lives mean nothing to the modern Left, and meant nothing to the National Socialists.

Antifa *is* the Sturmabteilung

The Hitlerian dream was very much a Left wing phenomenon.

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
5 months ago

Is this the best that Cambridge political theorists can do? If so, it is rather disappointing. There probably are two or more lefts nowadays, just as there is more than one right.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
5 months ago

27 years of New Labour have absolutely destroyed this country.
The single most impressive culture in world history. From worldwide conquest and establishment of empire, (the measure of success at the time) to the Industrial Revolution, rule of law, parliamentary democracy,the creating of the Internet and a very high percentage of every single technical innovation that eases your life today,, to a splintered, dangerous and divided land on the inevitable path to either Civil war or Submission.
That’s what the left can do.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

You seem to be living in some alternative Universe where Labour didn’t lose 4 successive General Elections.
Quite a gymnastic contortion to avoid accountability on the Right.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago

Why does the Left still exist?
The central claim of those on the Left had been to favour the interests of Labour over Capital; this was to be brought about by government direction and, if necessary, outright ownership of the capital in an eonomy.
The promise was of a better, fairer socierty, even utopian, not just eliminating want and disease but the age old tensions within a society.
Between 1945 and 1989 this was put to the test in Germany, two economic models existed side by side, When the wall came down in 1989 the experiment was ended and people voted; with their feet. The private ownership and direction of capital was shown to be immeasurably superior, not just economically but also in term of individual liberties. The Left was utterly destroyed.
In the 30 years that followed a new ‘left’ emerged. It sought a new group of oppressed to champion and in doing so turned all the beliefs of the old left on their head. The heroes of old, the working class became the villains, and the villains of old, the top hatted rentiers now turned silicon valley billionaires, have become the heroes. Womens and Gay rights, signature causes of the old left, are subordinated to trans rights and fighting supposed Islamaphobia.
What to make of it?
It is clear that in abandoning its old beliefs so easily for a contrary set of beliefs the left is, and has always been, a fraud. It cared little for the causes it espoused, They were just devices to meet the needs of a segment of society, mostly middle class, for personal validation, status and economic advantage.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
5 months ago

The ‘left’ has absorbed identity groups and is chanting their mantras. Anyone who doesn’t agree with the group identity is classified as a right winger (Nazi?). I’ve never voted Tory in my life because the system is skewed in favour of the endemic class system, which is ingrained in the aristocracy, the civil service and the BBC, as well as other institutions. Unfortunately, the ‘right’ is now championing free speech and reasoned debate, which I am fully aligned with. Politics has been turned on it’s head to such a point that I will consider voting Tory if Kemi Badenoch becomes leader of the Conservative Party. She is a scientist and, therefore, pragmatic. Too many of our politicians have no idea what the consequences of ‘Net Zero’ and ‘Gender Ideology’ mean to hard up people and women. The zealots pushing these ideologies are out of touch with the realities of the people struggling at the margins.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
5 months ago

The ‘left’ has no direction because it doesn’t engage with the people that it is supposed to represent. When was the last time that anyone asked you your opinion on anything?!!!
I have never been canvased about my opinion on anything. It seems that politicians are more interested in celebrities opinions on what is happening in Gaza!

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
5 months ago

Presumably the intellectually and morally bankrupt identitarian woke Left would consider that the term “Left” derives from a colonialist system of oppression, with 700,000 slaves across France’s extensive colonies at the time of the 1789 Revolution that defined the term. Presumably they would also condemn the revolutionaries on the King’s left for perpetuating that injustice, and failing to free the slaves, let alone extend the Rights of Man to them. They would also then, presumably, disavow their own Leftism and condemn and cancel anyone who dared cling to such an outmoded, racist Left v Right worldview when it’s actually all part of an evil system of oppression?

james elliott
james elliott
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

If the Left were not traditionally totally historically illiterate, perhaps they might.

Alas, the Left see the past – even the recent past – as worthless. And thus they learn nothing from the past – and they commit similar forms of the same old genocides again and again.

And this generation is gearing up for more.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
5 months ago

Can someone explain to me why my comment of 55 minutes ago seems to be blocked. What possible rule have I broken. Dont tell me Unherd has gone woke

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
5 months ago

So you are saying that the Left is a bit like the nobility in pre-revolutionary France. With the class war over, the lefty nobles don’t have feudal (labour-union) armies to command. And they are reduced to completing for places in the absolutist (public-sector) state, while the state finances go down the plughole.
I dare say that King Charles III will soon summon an Assembly of Notables to decide what to do. Just like in the olden time.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
5 months ago

I’m looking at so much bollocks. People forget that it was the Blair government that introduced tuition fees for universities. They also introduced state funded ‘Faith Schools’ so their kids didn’t have to go to the shitty local school. I went to my local comp, by the way. What a shock that our society is more divided that is has ever been! Pretend to be a church go-er and you can live the lie and go to a C of E school.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago

I suspect the increased interest with exactly what is the ‘Left’ arises because the ‘Right’ (with same definition dilemmas) made such a hash of things the ‘Left’ is more likely to get it’s hands on power – at least in the UK. Truth is though the Left in the UK only ever gets it’s hands on power post 1951 if it moves more to the Centre and that’s what’s happened. The Author misses anything on the Centre and us Centrist Dad’s are feeling left out!
Other observations – firstly never ceases to surprise how much credence given to student politics. Yes it has some influence and always has, but doesn’t touch vast majority of population.
Secondly the difficultly in pinning down what is the ‘Left’ always brings George Orwell to mind. Claimed by both sides, the stated ‘Democratic socialist’, hammer of Totalitarians who in Wigan Pier said he was more interested in ‘common decency’. Not a bad model that.
Thirdly Woke/Anti-Woke is identity politics on both sides. The Anti-Woke seem to be blind to the latter but it’s exactly the same reflex. Most often a bleedin great distraction all round to more important issues.

Last edited 5 months ago by j watson
Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I’m amazed by how much Orwell predicted these events. Replace, ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’, with ‘Trans women are women’. The schools which study ‘Animal Farm’ can’t see the irony in front of them when they invite the zealots to come into the classrooms to indoctrinate school kids!