Beyond Right and Left: New politics and the culture wars
Allen & Unwin, $24.95 pb, 284 pp
In the last twenty years, the belief in a transformative left – socialist, communist, whatever – has collapsed more comprehensively than at any time since its beginnings in 1789. The Western working class is overwhelmingly oriented towards individual life, acquisition and consumption; the working class of the developing world has not developed major radical parties in the face of substantial repression of trade union organisation; faith in central planning, market socialism, interconnected cooperatives and the like drained away in the late 1970s, and no alternative plan for running the economy is on the table. Political-economic debate occurs entirely on the right side of the spectrum, and is confined to the degree to which the market’s role as central organising power shall be mitigated or augmented by state power, social capital grants and so on. How this happened, what can be done about it, and the future of a politics based on cooperation and equality – especially in the Australian context – is the subject of this new book from long-time journalist David McKnight.