This is the final in a series of nineteen posts on the Trump administration. In these posts, in addition to describing the Trump project, I have maintained that the rise of Trump is in part a consequence of the failure of the Left to formulate an alternative narrative. Historically, radical thought emerged as a critique of liberalism and conservatism for their inadequacy in bringing to fruition the promises of the bourgeois democratic revolutions, a critique formulated from the vantage point of the working and lower classes. Today, the Left has a duty to fulfill its historic function, and to formulate an alternative narrative from the Left, in accordance with the promise of democracy, and in the name of the people.
The Left narrative should be integral, global and historical. It should be formulated on the basis of encounter with the social movements of the Third World, which speak on behalf of a humanity that is neocolonized, dispossessed and excluded. In response to the prevailing ahistorical and ethnocentric public discourse in the nations of the North, the narrative of the Left should explain the historical development of the structures of the world-system. As a rejoinder to the myopic concept of American exceptionalism, the Left narrative ought to explain the historic insertion of the United States in colonial/neocolonial structures, thus facilitating its spectacular ascent. In recognition of the fears and anxieties of the people, the alternative narrative should explain the global structural sources of the new form of terrorism as well as uncontrolled international migration, and it should offer analytically sound and politically intelligent proposals with respect to these two phenomena. In response to the ideological attack on the state of recent decades, the alternative narrative should explain the necessary role of the state as defender of the interests of the people, and that this role includes regulation and active engagement in the economy. And as a rejection of imperialist and neoliberal polices, the Left narrative ought to affirm the obligation of all nations to develop foreign policies that respect the sovereignty of all nations, as a necessary precondition for a politically stable world-system.
Writing in a similar vein, Laurence Davis, College Lecturer in Government at University College Cork, Ireland, maintains that the current historic moment calls for an alternative proposal that is bold, radical and popular. In “Only a bold and popular left radicalism can stop the rise of fascism,” he maintains that neoliberal globalization has collapsed, and that two alternative worlds are struggling to be born. The first is signaled by the new fascism represented by Trump; the second, which has various signs and manifestations, is a more just, democratic and sustainable world that is rooted in commitment to equality, democracy and solidarity.
Davis maintains that for the latter to prevail, a bold Left radicalism is required.
A bold and inclusive left populist radicalism would expose the real roots of festering social problems by speaking plainly and directly to ordinary people’s needs, without pandering to their worst prejudices and fears. It would offer a generous vision of a better world, and a sweeping programme for revolutionary social change that can be translated into everyday practice.
I am in agreement with Davis, but I would go further. I believe that present conditions make possible and necessary a politically effective alternative political party of the Left. Its success in attracting the support of the people would depend on its capacity to formulate explanations and proposals that are analytically sound and politically astute, taking advantage of the current historic moment, which is characterized by the demonstrated moral and intellectual incapacity of the global elite to respond to the sustained crisis of the world-system, and by the growing disgust of the people with the established order and the political establishment.
Alternative political parties, therefore, must be formed in the nations of the North. They should be political parties dedicated to taking power from corporations and putting it in the hands of the people’s delegates, a process that should be projected as requiring twenty or twenty-five years. The new parties should not be merely electoral parties, but political parties that also educate and organize the people. Accordingly, they should generate manifestos that provide grand narratives that scientifically explain the sustained structural crisis of the world-system in historical and global context. And they should develop platforms that constructively address the concerns and anxieties that are rooted in the confusions of the people. They should develop a discourse that is sensitive to the values of the people, a discourse that is confident, without being arrogant or morally righteous; and hopeful, without being idealist. The new political parties should form and lift up exceptional leaders who have the gifts of the great revolutionaries of the past, whose teachings are constantly informing the discourses of the present.
For further reflection on these themes, see “A socialist revolution in the USA” 2/1/2016.