I have been musing for some time about the future of the intellectual left in Britain. Where will discussion of progressive anti-totalitarian politics find a home? This is a serious question in a country that remains smug about the strength of its left-wing institutions (the party of government, trade unions with considerable influence, a surprising array of think tanks), while failing to grapple with the pressing issues of the day, let alone the future.
The left position on the Islamic extreme right (a real political force in parts of Britain) is still dangerously confused, for example. But we have also failed to develop a strategy for moving beyond the particular version of third-way politics developed by New Labour. We remain trapped in the headlights of the forthcoming election and so any grander theory of progressive politics will have to wait. Do we believe that the recovery will come as a result of the emergency Keynesianism of Gordon Brown and his Chancellor Alistair Darling (who will emerge as the real hero of the crisis)? Or will there be a new compact with the market via micro-entrepreneurship to drive the economy? We have no idea. And how we will embed the strides made during the New Labour era in the areas of women, children, and gay rights and anti-racism? We just don’t know.
To my mind, the British anti-totalitarian left needs to find new forums for discussion and new international networks of solidarity. To return to my original question: Where will discussion of progressive anti-totalitarian politics find a home? One place, of course, is here on the Arguing the World blog and through the new alliance of Dissent and Democratiya.
But I hope this is only the start.