Society Reviews

‘A New Politics from the Left’ review: Reimagining the Left

The arguments in favour of a new progressive movement proposed by Hilary Wainwright are a valuable resource for an open and participatory form of socialism. A leading Marxist thinker in the western world, she has espoused a tenacious resolve to reinvent a people’s government that seeks to redress not only the pressing issues of feminist politics, and ecological, but also envisages a civil society built on the principle of egalitarianism and a political system that supports views inconsistent with customary assumptions.

It is a meaningful objective in the fight for the new Left to enable movements at the grassroots level gear up against elitist forces of opposition, however vicious they get at the hands of the apologists of new-liberalism. She makes a case for this ‘new politics’ which is visibly in the making in the western world in spite of the retrogressive leadership in many countries. To diverge a little, the present energy of the new socialist movement seems to be withering away in the Indian sub-continent.

Wainwright’s instructive research on the deep transformation of the Labour Party in England into a significant social movement would serve as an impetus for the socialist reawakening in India, especially through the public intellectuals who, without mincing words, have castigated the backward looking conservative leadership by underscoring the efforts of the Left to generate a connection between the buoyant resourcefulness of grassroots politics and the conditions necessary to shape genuinely democratic societies.

Tracing the history of the movement, Wainwright draws attention to the volatile 1960s when the rise of the new politics of knowledge brought a radical break between the nexus of knowledge and authority. All voices and dissident insights that stood up against the existing powers were consigned to the background. This provoked the fervour for self-government, a new ideology in opposition to the old-fashioned status quo.

However, Margaret Thatcher ensured that the revolt of the working class was put down through the narrative of imperial glory and the military victory over dictatorship in Argentina generating a public opinion that fell prey to nationalist discourse, a common feature in present day politics. Nevertheless, Thatcher could not hold on in the face of nationwide uprisings. Tony Blair, the hypocritical replica of Thatcher, likewise buttressed the technocrat specialists against the supporters of the deprived and the socialist thinkers.

The task before the public intellectual, therefore, is to examine and question the formulation of public policies with the foremost attention to their relevance to the masses as opposed to the scourge of neoliberalism and the elitist forms of knowledge. Wainwright is indeed committed to the interrogation of official interpretation of policy giving priority to the ‘whole way of life’ to use Raymond Williams’ expression. Culture, beliefs and public opinion cannot be brushed aside by any political leadership. New Politics, therefore is not merely some remonstration, it’s a sincere response to the conception of a movement for a just, equitable society launched at the grassroots and working its way upwards.

A New Politics from the Left; Hilary Wainwright, Polity Press, ₹872.

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Printable version | Oct 12, 2021 9:33:04 PM |

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