Popular Left

The thought is that left-wing thinking is growing more popular:

From The Communist Hypothesis by Alain Badiou, Verso, 2010:

The word ‘communism’, together with the general hypothesis that it can imply effective political procedures, is now back in circulation. A conference under the general title of ‘The Idea of Communism’ was held in London on 13-15 March 2009. This conference calls for two essential comments. First of all, in addition to the two people behind it (Slavoj Žižek and myself), the great names of the true philosophy of our times (by which I mean a philosophy  that is not reducible to academic exercises or support for the ruling order) were strongly represented. Over a period of three days, the conference heard contributions from Judith Balso, Bruno Bosteels, Terry Eagleton, Peter Hallward, Michael Hardt, Toni Negri, Jacques Rancière, Alessandro Russo, Alberto Toscano and Gianni Vattimo. Jean-Luc Nancy and Wang Hui had agreed to speak but were prevented from doing so by external circumstances. All had carefully read the proviso to which all participants had to subscribe: whatever their approach, they had to agree that the word ‘communism’ can and must now acquire a positive value once more. My second remark is that the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, which hosted this event on a temporary basis, had to hire a huge lecture theatre holding one thousand people in order to accommodate the audience, which consisted mainly of young people. This shared enthusiasm on the part of both the philosophers and their audience for a word that was sentenced to death by public opinion almost 30 years ago surprised everyone.

According to Pew Research Center, among Americans age 18-29, positive views of Socialism outweigh positive views of Capitalism:


(via “The Next Left,” an otherwise also very good Boston Review interview with Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin)

Based on my own experience, it does seem to be much easier to find a variety of sources (especially sources outside of the academic world) to go for actual left-wing thinking, though I’ve always thought it was because the Internet made it easier to make writing and ideas public. The flip-side to that idea has always been the suspicion that it’s probably growing easier in the same way for people so inclined to find radical right-wing stuff, which then plays into the rather mainstream press (or Jon Stewart) idea that everyone is becoming more radicalized, and what public discourse needs is a resurgent moderatism. But maybe that two-sides-of-the-same-coin way of seeing it isn’t the most valuable. I’m not old enough to know experientially, though, if left thought really is experiencing some kind of flourishing that’s substantially different from, say, the 1980s.

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