Came across this remarkable essay by Paul Kingsnorth on how the left has become the new capitalists. He starts by reliving his anti globalist left wing glory days
Back then, excitable young anti-capitalist that I was, I believed that I was part of a worldwide “mass movement” which was rising up against the colonisation of the world’s economies and cultures by an unaccountable corporate elite.
Since at least the end of the Cold War, the declared aim of the Western powers has been the spread of a global market economy, combined with a liberal politics and culture, to every benighted corner of the Earth. Since a globalised market can’t function without globalised tastes (you can’t sell your cheap burgers to Asia until you’ve convinced Asians that they’re lovin’ it), and since liberalism also needs an appropriate soil to seed in, the momentum of this ideological crusade is towards the creation of one global culture, whether the world wants it or not.
This threefold rollout — global economy, global culture and global political system, all of them based on the American model — has long been referred to with the bland moniker “globalisation”; or globalism, if you prefer. In reality, it is a form of soft colonialism — the latest iteration of Western empire — and a hugely successful one.
He gives a passing nod to where the left has been proven correct in its analysis.
Though wrong about plenty of things, the Left has traditionally been correct about the negative impacts of global capitalism, while the Right has floundered about denying its impacts on the poor, on democracy and on nature, generally valorising greed and rapine, and then wondering where the “traditional values” they love so much have gone. You wouldn’t have found any conservatives on the barricades at the anti-WTO protests. Most of them were either inside hymning the virtues of “free” trade, or back in Washington or London ginning up the next Middle East war.
He then notes where the true anti globalists are to be found
How times have changed. Here in the 2020s, the Left anti-globalism that I once thought was the movement of the future is barely in evidence anywhere. The most incisive opponents of corporate globalisation today are often to be found on the Right; or at least, not from any identifiable sector of the Left. Conservative, traditionalist and “post-liberal” critiques of the impact of globalisation on local communities, nation states, social cohesion, family formation, working class prospects, culture and even (though not often enough) the natural world are pouring out daily. The post-working class Left, meanwhile, has veered into an identity politics cul-de-sac, dictated largely by its commitment to an elite class war and an obsessive pursuit of cultural inversion.
He then raises perhaps the most important question
But what if both of them were something else? What if the ideology of the corporate world and the ideology of the “progressive” Left had not forged an inexplicable marriage of convenience, but had grown all along from the same rootstock? What if the Left and global capitalism are, at base, the same thing: engines for destroying customary ways of living and replacing them with the globalised, universalist, technological matrix that is currently rising around us?
Now – there’s a thought. And then, for my money, a key passage
This is where we are. The post-modern Left, which has seized the heights of so much of Western culture, is not some radical threat to the establishment: it is the establishment. Progressive leftism is market liberalism by other means. The Left and corporate capitalism now function like a pincer: one attacks the culture, deconstructing everything from history to “heteronormativity” to national identities; the other moves in to monetise the resulting fragments.
Read it all