If you’re in New York City, and you’d like to come to an evening of intelligent debate and discussion about the future of left politics, please swing by NYU on Thursday evening. Oh, and I’ll be speaking too! Since there will be so many razor-sharp Jacobins on the panel, I am looking forward to a sublime evening. My hope was to fill this space with an enticing reflection on the state of the left, but I only have one shtick, and I don’t want to wear it out. Until then, I will point you in the direction of Pham Binh’s recent piece on the post-2012 left, and leave you with the following questions posed by the Platypus Affiliated Society, who tirelessly organize such events. For those not in New York, I’m sure audio/video will eventually wind up here, and if I come out alive I’ll post my remarks (and any others I can get ahold of) for your dissection on this site.
The Left after the Election
• BEN CAMPBELL (The North Star)
• ANNIE DAY (Revolution)
• ANTHONY GALLUZZO (CUNY)
• CHRIS MAISANO (DSA, Jacobin)
• BHASKAR SUNKARA (Jacobin)
• TANA FORRESTER (Platypus Affiliated Society)
Dec 6, 2012
NYU Kimmel Center
60 Washington Square South, rm 804
New York, NY 10011
This past US election season saw an array of positions on the Left concerning the outcome that might follow from either major party’s victory. Among them, there were some who openly supported the incumbent Barack Obama as the lesser of two evils, others who opposed him by casting a vote for another candidate, and still others who followed the abstentionist line by not voting at all. Many of those who voted for “four more years” did so under the assumption that the Democrats were a broadly center-left party with vaguely social-democratic tendencies, who might be pushed to reverse neoliberal policies and stave off measures of austerity. Some, while generally less optimistic, endorsed Obama on the premise that organizing a mass movement against capitalism would be easier with the Democrats in power. Others argued that Obama had done nothing to deserve reelection, offering no hope for either change or progress moving forward. The rest, who took no stance either for or against any party, chose instead to eschew electoral politics altogether.
Now that the quadrennial plebiscite for the “leader of the free world” has resulted in a Democratic victory, we are afforded a brief chance to critically evaluate the prospects for the Left’s transition into the next four years. What is different today from four years ago, when Obama’s election seemed departure from eight years under Bush? Did the last four years signal progress or regress for the Left? How will the terrain shift for the Left with another term under the president? In terms of foreign policy, will there be an end to the wars? Or will US militarism continue unabated? Domestically, will government social programs and infrastructure deteriorate yet further? Or will legislative reforms breathe life back into the moribund welfare state? Should we, in fact, take for granted the idea that keeping Romney out of office promises a better environment in which the Left to organize? What does the future hold for a Left caught in the stale air of the status quo?