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Goodbye 2019

Written By: - Date published: 3:04 pm, January 1st, 2020 - 8 comments
Categories: australian politics, Europe, International, jacinda ardern, Left, Politics, uk politics, us politics - Tags:

2019 was the worst year for the left since 1979. By then, NZ Labour had lost, Aussie Labor had been removed, and UK Labour trounced.

In 2019, once-mighty forces of reform and redistribution were set back from ranked power contenders to journeymen on the punching bag circuit.

The broadest retreat of 2019 was the EU elections. The European Parliament represents the strongest form of pan-national government the world has seen since the Roman Empire, built over 60 years by centre-left and left governments. The Marxists are all-but gone, socialists in full retreat, centre-left reps defensive and disputatious.

In May’s Australian election, Labor lost the Federal election despite sustained chaos in the Liberal-led coalition (they’re much better in the states).

Seven years have passed since the Democratic Party of Japan – very similar to most developed-world centre-left parties – lost and broke up. After the July election the remnant Constitutional Democratic Party now bumps around the minors.

Italy and Spain are led by centre-left governments in name only propped up by anti-establishment radicals.

The former Prime Minister of France has declared the nations’ socialist party “dead and gone”.

Canada’s New Democratic Party – formed in 1961 from labour and progressive movements, now has 0 Senate seats and 24 of 338 in the Commons (they’ve done better at Provincial level).

OMG to India’s awesome democracy and miserable centre-left.

Even South America’s strong-left parties were chucked in Uruguay, Bolivia, and Brazil, with the Argentine centre-left propped up by the Peronist Kirchner.

In mid-December the United Kingdom’s Labour Party was simply smashed despite strong anti-capitalist policies, great local government success, and Conservative chaos.

Occasionally hope breaks out, as in Portugal. There, the new strong-left government has had a great time reversing cruel post-GFC austerity policies.

As an alternative the only places the Greens register much are in Iceland, Germany and New Zealand. They have concentrated on issues such as the environmental and immigration rather than a redistributionist economic program, in order to gain government with centrist parties left and right.

So it’s most unlikely that the “old left” and socialist-type parties can reinvent successfully at all. The era for a further grand global movement is gone. Occasionally as in New Zealand and Finland fresh leaders arise against the trend.

I won’t miss 2019. With no successor left movement arising since 1989 or 2008, the job of the remaining elected left is to defend and retain the redistributionist instruments it built as long as it can, for handing to new movements largely unseen today. The word is no longer ours.

In the face of its accelerated decline, it’s all it has the power to do anyway.

2020 is our election year. Arise, we have little to lose.

8 comments on “Goodbye 2019 ”

  1. BM 1

    The left is losing badly because they're only interested in climate change, minority rights and whatever the UN wants.

    They seem to have forgotten about Joe/Joanne average and their concerns, that’s why the left is going backwards at a great rate of knots.

    The right isn’t a lot better if I’m been honest, the takeaway though is that politicians don’t seem to give a fuck about the people they’re supposed to represent, career advancement and longevity seem to be the one and only driver for modern politicians.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Not a post many will love Ad. It speaks far too much truth.

    The proximate reasons for this decline are varied and numerous. Everything from a media primed to do us no favours, a fixation on fighting last centuries ideological battles, and a propensity to insult the values and sensibilities of the people we claim to represent.

    Throw in an underbelly of postmodern nihilism, climate catastrophism, and an authoritarian purity streak … you have to understand why many people would prefer if we weren't at the party. It would help too if we admitted we were wrong about Marxism and we promised never to cross that line again.

    Politics exists for one purpose only, to allow people with legitimately different interests and values to agree on common plans of action. If we fail in this it's useless to blame the right, they just blame the left. Blame and shame are expired games.

    There is much to do, we need to simultaneously pay attention to building an authentic global governance while giving strong voice to local community. And none of the old ways are working for us. It's time for a truly radical policy I wish to put to you all.

    Love thine enemy.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    Meh – defeatism. Political movements are created by the manifest failures of old orders.

    Australia is set to be the crucible of a new political movement – people who'd prefer not to be burnt offerings on the altar of late stage capitalism.

  4. Bill 4

    When the tide comes in Ad, it isn't as though there's suddenly a discrete wave marking the moment when we say the tides in, aye? Some waves retreat back from the beach at a lower level than preceding ones, but the overall picture is of water advancing.

    I just got a picture of young lad Ad stranded on the rocks because he thought the tide was going out when it wasn't. Anyway…

    Where you see the left in retreat I see the centre dissolving. And that centre includes the former social democratic parties of the parliamentary left that became hosts for third way liberal parasites – Blair, Clinton, Clark et al.

    I'll use the current Democratic Party nominee contest as an illustration to the point I'm making. Bernie Sanders (old school social democrat) has already won that contest in so much as everyone has been compelled to position their platform in relation to his (ie, for or against medicare for all, free college, green new deal etc)

    So even if Sanders loses the actual nomination, his win will have been in shifted the political discourse (The same might be said of UK Labour now that Johnson is triangulating from the right much as John Key did…promising investment in the North, the NHS and boosting the minimum wage by a greater amount than inflation ).

    Meanwhile, Joe Biden of that dissolving centre in the US is floating the idea of choosing a VC from the Republican Party. Which makes sense insofar as the distance between the alternatives on offer by each party has shrunk to mush (the "lesser of two evils" of 2016). In the NZ context, it was highlighted by Russel Norman referring to the electoral option of Nat and Labour as choosing between Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum.

    And so it goes, with pop media pushing the illusion that meaningful electoral options remain between candidates of the centre and the centre. And a part of doing that involves pumping up fairly nasty right wing elements in the public eye that the centre will ride in and save the public from, while working to lower expectations and narrow options by routinely blanking and/or smearing left wing elements eg – Melenchon, Corbyn, Sanders…

    Away from electoral politics there is of course all the stuff going on that pop media simply won't report on in any fair or reasonable fashion – eg, the Yellow Vest movement in France that has recently culminated in an open ended general strike that all four union bodies in France are backing.

    Sure, 2019 could have been better. For example, it would have been nice had UK Labour not fucked things up, but hey…Boris and Brexit could be the death of the Tory Party. And then there's Bernie 2020 🙂

  5. sumsuch 5

    I thought Thatcher was a spit in the mouth of reality. Bookwork to transfer the cost on to later. The rich have jettisoned their ethics since, and made it almost a work of art. 12 years to nothing we can do about it. 'Trust the rich, sure cunts'. Or, socialism is vital. Or read/see 'The Road ' for our fate otherwise.

  6. sumsuch 6

    It's purely ridiculous last minute fat-stomachism. It's so funny — oh, the complacence. The electorate rears at reality. In no way is it the defeat of demo-cracy. The prob is none of us can talk 'against' the momentary current, no matter how it leads to the falls. The rich have 'talked' convincingly for tosh.for 40 years. The middle-class doesn't have the dynamite of the workers. The worker leaders lost their families for their beliefs.

    Socialism is inevitable unless fascism. Which means an earlier end sans better ideals. It's entirely clear now. Strange polies now around aside. God, I despise 84 Labour.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      In an age of rightwing populism and a culture war partly triggered by the way globalisation has fragmented senses of belonging and identity, both centre-left and radical left should have the humility to accept that neither currently have the answers.

      I'd rewrite the grammar of this quote (from your link) to make it clearer that both rightwing populism and the culture war are consequences of globalism. Trump and Brexit being both obvious rightwing manifestations; while the left wing culture war largely stems from a weakening of national identity.

      But inadventently Jones has pointed to the root cause of the problem … even if in his final paras he's a bit muddled about it and resorts to a weak 'boomer vs millenial' argument … globalisation.

      Industrial civilisation inevitably creates by default a global communication and trading system; we cannot step back from this. Yet our social, moral and political systems have yet to fully catch up. The problem is not globalisation per se … it's that so far we've done it half arsed. And therein lies the opportunity for the left to do some long hard thinking if it wants to reinvent itself.

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