Against Historical Leftism

The Left as it exists today is a stagnant and ineffectual relic. It has retreated into itself, lost in a self-imposed illusion. This is an illusion grounded in an obsession with the past, the fetishization of a lost time. Leftists continue to argue the same arguments, read the same books, even wear the same uniform. They have convinced themselves that the theories and strategies of past revolutionaries continue to hold the same relevancy as they did before, despite the drastically different historical conditions. The refusal to reject this ideology of the past is what has condemned the Left to a slow, drawn-out death.

No one cares whether you think Trotsky would’ve done things better than Stalin, or who betrayed who in Catalonia. Petty historical arguments only serve to further detach its participants from reality as they engage in the same tired debates, spewing the same stale rhetoric over and over again. For all the talk of bringing socialism to the masses, leftists seem to go to extraordinary lengths to insulate themselves in their isolated intellectual bubbles. And yet they retain an optimistic outlook on their ability to incite a social revolution through education and agitation within the working class. Indeed, this is the tragic irony of the Left, the blind self-confidence that ignores its own complete ineptitude as political movement.

To reiterate: the Left is a failure. The opportunism and careerism rampant within the activist Left is but an indicator of the deterioration of its ability to function as the engine for change it claims to be or aspires to.  But this is not merely because the various groups and individuals that make up the Left have been unable to pursue a program that would maintain their relevancy. The problem is that this conglomeration of ideological tendencies and the resulting political organizations are holdovers from a completely different time. Leftists continue to cling to the legacy of Leninism and Maoism, refusing to apply any sort of critical reasoning whatsoever. No wonder your revolution has been so long in coming, when it has already happened!

Today’s leftists hold that the liberation of the proletariat from the social relations of capital shall come through an artificial ideological accumulation, that it is the task of “revolutionaries” to indoctrinate as many members of the working class as it takes to incite an insurrection. They look to the revolutions of the 20th century as examples of the success of such a strategy, failing to see the true nature of these events. The Russian Revolution, for example, was not the result of a concerted effort on the part of the Bolsheviks to spread “class consciousness”. The events of 1917 came about due to a socioeconomic crisis that precipitated increased class tensions within Russia, not an increase in how many peasants and workers had read the Communist Manifesto.

The very existence of the working class provides the contradiction that will destroy capitalism. The interests of the proletariat and the capitalist are inherently at odds, thus providing the impetus for the workers to resist the capitalist system which seeks to de-humanize and exploit them. This great antagonism will continue to exist as long as capital exists, and will prove to be its undoing. This fundamental aspect of Marx’s historical analysis seems to be completely ignored by those in the Left who talk of drawing the workers into class conflict. By virtue of their position within the economic system, it is unavoidable that the proletariat is forced to act against it. “We must organize and educate people in order to bring about socialism” they say. What about the “people” inhibits their ability to organize themselves? What makes you so much more equipped to lead the effort to destroy capitalism? All your pins, flags, and slogans don’t amount to anything but a superficial identitarianism. The “leftist” identity you’ve constructed only serves to alienate those who you claim to fight for. You’re not revolutionaries. Revolutionaries don’t exist when there’s no revolution afoot.

“Power to the people” is an empty phrase if you don’t believe in the independent revolutionary potential of the people. The struggle against capitalism must continue unhindered by skeletal remains of the past, for it is a struggle for the future. Let all the factions and cliques fade away into forgotten places, and let humanity advance its battle against oppression, without any ghosts to haunt it.