The Left today is justifiably worried about their future. Currently there is an impression that the public debate is sliding on a left-right axis towards the political extremes. But we know that the world cannot be changed with the help of false prophets, this can be done only by the society-wide action. Hence The Left has to search together the way forward.
I’m rather worried about the fate of the Left. In an atmosphere of the permanent fear and resentfulness it seems as if the public debate is sliding on a left-right axis towards the political extremes. But it actually slips into the adoration of authoritarianism, hate-based hysteria and discrimination.
The attacks on the people’s rights that had been gained in the past are increasingly common. Instead of providing the real program of hope for the “lower class” an illusion of salvation is offered – the illusion based on calls for kicking out the foreigners and social parasites. The crowd’s hypnotizers are trying to divert the storm of the “liquid rage” against the people themselves while depicting the swarms of the ill-adjusting and untypical law-and-order abusers instead of offering the political alternatives.
Otherwise it is not possible to explain that fact that so many people with lower than satisfactory social positions (from jobless to the members of the degrading lower middle class) turn away from the ideas of left-wing solidarity with the non-privileged and deprived. Instead of standing united and fighting for their rights people let a vison of hostility towards their fellows to be implanted to them.
The artificial debate between so-called xenophobes and “sunbathers” is not ceasing off, on contrary is heating up. A process of fragmentation to “us” and “them” is being set-off. A consequence of this is the fragmentation of the Left that reaches the absurd sectarian skirmishes between those who are pretending to be “the owners of truth”.
I think that this problem is starting to reach a level of intensity when the simple moralizing is no longer sufficient. The tactics of the overall denouncement of the politics and media leads to an easy way to manipulate the crowds by planting of sorts of “hate” ideas instead of actively involving the masses to the processes of democracy and introduction of real alternatives. The frustrated people let themselves to be guided by the loudest ones and not by those who actually want them to join the common struggle for real solutions.
If this continues like this, the Left will lose the ability to communicate with its social base. Hence it is crucially important to regain the interest of those underprivileged, deprived and exploited ones.
The incomparability of the socio-economic status of the common people and the elites leads to the feeling of the helplessness. To convert the voices of protests to the ones of the program declaration means not just an articulation of the daily negative experiences of the citizen but primarily furnishing these people with positivist targets in their struggle for their rights – the rights for the employment and social security as well as for the accessible healthcare and education. It is necessary to relieve people from the debt-collectors hunt and the everyday fear to lose their dwelling. The emphasis on a social agenda does not mean a submissive peace-making with the global capitalist elites, it is actually an opened handshake. And here there is no difference between the radical and reform-oriented Lefts.
The notion of civilization actually means the extension to the new type of human rights (informational, environmental and equality ones). However this shall not be done by downgrading the traditional social ones. These ones shall be passionately defended, primarily on the domestic ground. We shall avoid the further expansion of the tectonic drift between the old and new Left caused by the shocks related to the conservative tide expending over the panicking Europe.
The social model shall be able to combine the indispensable protection (paternalism) with an active participation (inclusion). Minimally for the reason that in the current society the interests of various generational and professional strata are being mixed in the ever increasing way thus reflecting the differences between old and new types of labour.
To win the hearts and minds of people does not actually mean to retreat to the irresponsible or targeted populism and to imitate pseudo-patriotic yellers in their distorted vision of the changes. The nationalistic-conservative rhetoric is simply concealing the anti-social interests of oligarchs that are starting to get annoyed even by this far-from-the perfect current level of freedom and democracy. The Left cannot betray the overall principles of solidarity and humanity. And the solidarity in its radical meaning clearly demands taking the issue of redistribution of wealth and de-monopolization of the economy as a key point of the program. This is actually a strategic basis of the real change.
This point is related with the goal of constitutional enhancement of the public interest. Although the freedom of entrepreneurship is important but it shall not dominate over the rest of freedoms. The substantial potential is stored in the democratization of the economic power.
However, at this point there will be a collision of the opposing processes of concentration and decentralization of ownership. Here is the role of the state is critical, not just in setting the strategical goals but also in joining the economic activities and in the partial acquisition of ownership. The reverse of the theft of the economic power would bring back into the scope the motivation and the interest in improving the working conditions, the room for the restauration of the widely fragmented social interests.
The achievement of such a goal must have an international, hence a European scale. The mills of globalisation keep going on. The disappointment with the European institutions more and more looks like a gunpowder keg we all are sitting on.
Making the European integration functional actually means the re-opening the issue of basic human rights and democratic rebuilding of Europe. The answer to this challenge is by no means “a lesser Europe”, the anarchic europhobia related thereof would just bring us back to the past of nationalist rivalries. There would be an enormous mistake to let our common European home to be dismantled by the movements like UKIP, Front National or Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The ruins of it would certainly turn into a playground for the large capital. And common people would just become a hostage of nationalistic bureaucracy with the false illusion of the regained sovereignty.
We are not currently facing a return to the perceived certainty of the former truths. We are not in the need of having an orthodox ghetto that would through its corruptive action unintentionally serve the interests of the conservative establishment. We shall not let the real will for a change to bleed into the pompous gestures whose stuffed pathos will soon come out leaving the emptiness behind.
The Left is facing the shaping changes while failing at the same time to believe in the messiah outcome that would fascinate the millions. It is necessary to comprehend these changes and to prepare for them step by step. This is the way to change the world. Without false prophets but united.
Czech original published at Deník Referendum on 14 April 2016.