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Radical politics of the neoliberal world order (Political Science Optional)

  • 16 March, 2021

  • 10 Min Read

Radical politics of the neoliberal world order (Political Science Optional)

Ideological vacuum of the Left

  • In recent years, radical politics has faced a number of new challenges, not least of which has been the re-emergence of the aggressive, authoritarian state.
  • Hyper-masculine nationalism, and a systemic assault of racist and religious politics on the marginalised are the latest rationale for the aggressive assertion of indiscriminate control of all democratic institutions.
  • Add to this the hegemony of the neo-liberal corporate world along with the demise of the Left and you have the free play of muscular majoritarianism of the Far Right. The Left finds itself in an ideological vacuum.


  • In the face of the disenchantment with ‘free-market’ style liberalism and centralist socialism, a need arises to reinvent far-reaching alternatives.
  • The anti-globalisation movement has been in recent years a bulwark against the practices of neo-liberal globalisation in all its signs of voracity, ecological devastation and genetically-modified food.
  • This movement is relative, geographically and temporally, varying in the multifarious contests in which the dark reality of its operation is felt by the public at large.
  • Though universal, it remains relative to varying local conditions but with the common goal of emancipation for all.
  • In the context of neo-liberalism, the crushing of national dignity by hunger and violence, the unrelenting siege of many developing nations by bankers and by the ‘commercial masters of the world’, as Eduardo Galeano put it, are some of the factors that must prompt contemporary Marxist critics to not only condemn the systems that have usurped socialism but also recognise that the Left must look into the future for redefining the nature of power and the conditions of existence in a rapidly developing world, thereby striking a balance between technological dominance and liberatory politics.

Marxist thought now

  • Post-Marxists, having realised this, have moved away from the straitjacketing of orthodox Marxism that lays emphasis on the predominance of the central role of the proletariat.
  • The orthodox Marxist model favouring the economic determinism of history and consciousness that overlooks the role of political movements stands revised and reformulated with the trend in Marxist thought moving towards the examination of wider processes of society, especially the role of the media and the building of a new alliance between feminists, marginalised groups, gays, lesbians, ethnic groups, teachers, thereby developing a radical movement for social transformation.
  • The focus is therefore on a more decentralised, pluralistic, and inclusive political system.
  • In many ways, the target is not merely capitalism but other contested areas such as racism, privatisation, workplace surveillance, bureaucratisation, etc.
  • The irrational mystifications of the dominant discourse of religion and ethnicity stand deconstructed by a more conflictual social existence that is experienced in all aspects of our social and political world.
  • Inevitably, the spectre of Marx lurks at those moments of history when economic deprivation becomes rampant and where progressive struggles gear up for political and economic reorganisation.
  • It is clear, therefore, that the predicament of reinventing and restructuring the Left remains acute within the context of the right-wing regimes with the corporate complexion as in India or the United States or Chile that are faced by serious issues of communalism, caste oppression, environmental degradation, gender discrimination and poverty.
  • A serious consideration of the re-evaluation of economic progress, of the future of Marxism, and, more than anything else, of the reenergising of the organisational strength through mass mobilisation is consequently imperative for the success of mitigating mass unemployment, homelessness, violence, famine and economic oppression.

A phase of hope

  • The theoretical position of Marxism, thus, will have to be revised ensuring that more than the belief in the working class revolution ushering in a classless society, it is the agents of change such as secularism, the Green movement, and ethnic and national movements that need to be aggressively pursued.
  • Though the struggle of the Left against the state has often led to its defeat, it has managed to regain its vigour by aligning itself to the liberal forces and its imperceptibly growing political awakening as is visible in the farmers’ strike or the awakening of radical student consciousness.
  • Its strength in the coming days would depend on the consolidation of Left forces not on any grounds of expediency, but on ideological grounds with the aim of working together for an innovative and transformed future free of right-wing authoritarianism.
  • The Left, thus, is passing through a new phase of hope and forward-looking expectation with newfound passion for a complete turnaround through new strategies of mobilisation.
  • The revival of people’s movements in Latin America, in Greece and in Spain along with the fury of the Arab Spring gave a new impetus to the wilting Left so as to challenge the neo-liberal moral high ground that has failed to offer any solution to a fragile, and the appalling present.
  • It is hoped that the politics of the Left will impact a polarised nation ravaged by ethnic, religious and nationalist conflicts, offering a viable alternative to the emerging demise of democracy.
  • Consider, for example, Marx’s prediction of how the inherent conflict between capital and labour would manifest itself. As he wrote in Das Kapital: “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery....”
  • When the richest 1% hold more wealth than the bottom 90%, change is inevitable.
  • The rise of the Bernie Sanders phenomenon, for example, has significantly brought a fundamental shift in the Democratic Party towards left of centre.
  • The burgeoning sea of young supporters behind Mr. Sanders will demand this change towards a progressive agenda clamouring for a shift towards the 90% languishing in low paying jobs and sunk in debt.
  • Undoubtedly, the Republicans in the United States, or the right-wing forces in India, are inveterate in following a pattern of relentlessly reproaching progressive thinkers only because of the oppositional voice that comes into clash with its larger inherent proclivity.
  • This neo-liberal high ground expressed in the sham of the loud claims of a better tomorrow comes in direct conflict with a rational and an open knowledge-driven society connected with the masses in a symphony of free expression stimulating a debate on the successive structural crises of inequality, industry and global finance.

The task ahead

  • A multiracial society, therefore, must aim for a more democratically functional system as opposed to the vicious politics of division perpetuated and practised in most of the democracies across the world.
  • Transformative racial policy, on the other hand, will ensure the fostering of an equitable and indiscriminate society at a juncture when a rabid form of ultra-nationalism is resulting in creating a fragmented world.

Way ahead

  • A new progressive movement for an open and participatory form of socialism must be the objective espoused on the Left for a tenacious resolve to seek reform through measures of putting jobs at the top of the economic agenda, increasing the funding for public health care, ending police brutality, and gearing up movements at the grassroots.
  • The sooner we realise the cataclysmic crisis of capitalism the better equipped we will be to confront a murky future.


Source: TH

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