Thursday, 16 January 2014

Living in a New Left society of permanent revolution


The old Communist idea of Permanent Revolution is now reality.

We live in a world that is based on the idea that that the true revolutionary – such as the avant garde artist or radical intellectual – is intrinsically subversive; and will always be in revolt against whoever was in power, changing sides as necessary to achieve this.

(This is how the word ‘subversive’ came to have its current positive and approving meaning for modern intellectuals.)

This is the modern type of Leftism: more specifically New Leftism.


By New Left I mean that the ideology of the Media is that of the post-1960s evolution and development of communism, socialism, progressivism and (US) Liberalism – the Leftism of Political Correctness.

The Old Left was mostly focused on the economy – Marxism was mostly an economic theory. Thus its analysis was based on an economic category of Class; and its tools were economic things like nationalization and redistribution of wealth. The most favoured group was The Proletariat, which was in practice essentially the native male working class of manual labourers, especially as represented by Trades Unions.

But the New Left is in practice almost indifferent to the economy; and instead focuses on a rainbow of identity politics, 'Human Rights', ‘the environment’, anti-racism, feminism and (most of all) promoting the sexual revolution. Consequently, the New Left has ‘switched sides’, and turned-against the native class of male manual labourers; and now strongly favours women, other ethnicities, the unemployed and economically inactive, and newly arrived immigrants.


The qualitative transition from Old to New Left demonstrates that there is no stable, long-term positive ideology to the Left/ Liberals/ Progressives – and even the most fundamental values and principles may at some point be discarded or reversed.

And although relativistic, the New Left ideology is not tolerant. Whatever is being asserted now is absolute, on the one hand and opposition is not considered reasonable.

Yet, despite this totalitarian intolerance of dissent at any given point in time; what has been treated in this absolute manner can very rapidly be dropped and replaced with some other, equally ‘absolute’, priority.

So in practice strong opinions are cycled and re-cycled, promoted then vilified, suppressed then revived, turned upside-down, combined and split into fragments... 


In the long-run, anything and all is grist to the Mass Media mill; no topic is sacred or fundamental; everything is up-for challenge, discussion, mockery, analysis, criticism – anything at all may be discarded and replaced with something else, or not replaced at all.

This behaviour is, of course, profoundly negative and subversive – in particular the relativistic ideology of the permanent revolution has been subversive of traditional and orthodox forms of religion (especially Christianity – since this has been dominant in the West); and also subversive of 'tradition' – in all its forms: subversive of traditional socio-political order (traditional hierarchies and specialisms); subversive of traditional concepts of truth, beauty and virtue; and perhaps especially, subversive of traditional sexuality including marriage and the family.

Furthermore, the New Left has been subversive of the Old Left values and institutions – of Trades Unions and Labour Parties, of rational central planning and nationalization, and especially subversive of the tradition Christian and Ethical socialists characterized by modesty, frugality, earnest toil and puritanical sexual ethics.

Despite its fanatically-opinionated campaigns in favour of this, that or the other; relativism is indeed over time a profoundly negative ideology –indeed relativism sooner-or-later undermines any positive agenda which may emerge – even its own ideas such as the dictatorship of the proletariat which at one time seemed so terribly important to such a lot of people in the Mass Media.


In sum, we live in a state of Permanent Revolution. 

Permanent revolution means that the dominant ideology has no positive goal or aim – the is no long-term plan to structure society in some permanently sustainable way; indeed whatever is was or is or may in future be achieved exists only to be dismantled and replaced when expedient.

This is, indeed, the primary and essential difference between the Old and New Left – the Old Left intended to make Heaven on Earth – Utopia. And then stop – and maintain utopia (because who would want to change utopia?).

And utopia justified the humanly unprecedented ruthlessness of the Old Left – the End was so wonderful that any Means were justifiable in trying to reach it.

But when utopia showed no signs of arriving, the revolutionary impulse began to feed-off-itself; and revolution succeeded revolution in an iterative cycle aimed at destroying the forces opposed to revolution – but without any genuine or stable long term purpose.

This is precisely how the modern Left works. Over time, it identifies, mocks, subverts, weakens, destroys and finally inverts and reverses any group or person that opposes revolution – but with no goal.

There is no stable, explicit, long-term aimed-for state of affairs which is being implemented. 

(This is is done via the Mass Media ideology I have called Opinionated Relativism: a relativism which at any specific moment and on any specific topic denies its own relativism – but over time keeps on discarding its previous convictions as mere opinions.)


Thus the modern Left truly is a negative, destructive, meaningless, purposeless thing. 

Yet the modern world is utterly dominated by this nihilistic zeal: it is, indeed, the most powerful thing in the modern world. 



Ingemar said...

I am sorry that I didn't finish your post to make my following comment (I'll get right back at it when I'm done) but I've come to this realization:

Whenever I am baffled by what Leftists/Liberals do, I remind myself that they are evil to the core, liars and sons of the Devil.

I expect a person's reaction to that is (1). that I'm using hyperbole or (2). that I'm daft for deeming anything "evil." The latter troubles me more than the former.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ingemar - they themselves, as persons, are not evil to the core - but mixed, like everyone.

But that which Leftists *serve* is evil to the core - or perhaps, more precisely, evil at its core.

Bruce B. said...

What do you think of the phrase “Cultural Marxist” when used to describe the New Left ?

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - I don't have any particular feelings about it. It is accurate in the sense of documenting the shift from a focus on the economy, to a focus on culture. But the point is that in an ideological sense there was a profound break between Old and New Left - almost everything about the New Left is different: it was a kind of coup.

However, in another sense, there is a profound continuity between Old and New Left - the Old Left almost all went-along-with the New: accepted their demotion and denigration - and very few indeed recognized or acknowledged that the New Left is the refutation of the Old- its logical continuation (indeed its only continuation).

Bruce B. said...

For a while I was using the phrase “comprehensive Marxist” to describe them since their leftism encompasses so much more than just economics and social class. But if they’re not much interested in economics then I guess they’re not so comprehensive.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - I would say they *are* comprehensive, in their destructiveness. They are interested enough in the economy to want to destroy it, and work towards that goal.

joetexx said...

"Yet, despite this totalitarian intolerance of dissent at any given point in time; what has been treated in this absolute manner can very rapidly be dropped and replaced with some other, equally ‘absolute’, priority."

"Stalin at all times knows the truth about metaphysics. One must not, however, suppose that the truth tomorrow will be the same as that today."

Bertrand Russell, circa 1951