Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 08:35:11 AM EST
Suspecting there's a lot of anxiety and sadness hereabouts given the successes of the Sarkozy government to ignore overwhelming popular rejection, in the streets and in polls, of his retirement "reform" package, similar austerity measures in Germany, far worse in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and coming soon the UK.
Add to this the drubbing the centre-right Obama government in the US took from the far-right, and it appears that those of us who aren't extremist neo-liberals in the West are losing on all fronts.
What to do? Despair? I note this a bit in comments to ATinNM's diary, as well as in the diary itself. And yet, and yet, these are exciting times for those of us on the left, we only have to look at it a bit differently.
In a recent NLR, http://www.newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2853 Slovoj Zizek hits this subject head on, talking to the loss of ground on all fronts, our lack of ideological bearings, the fragmented nature of our constituencies and also of the nature of our resistance. I'll let you follow the link, but he sums up quite well where we are today:
Two years before his death, when it became clear that there would be no all-European revolution, and knowing the idea of building socialism in one country to be nonsense, Lenin wrote:
"What if the complete hopelessness of the situation, by stimulating the efforts of the workers and peasants tenfold, offered us the opportunity to create the fundamental requisites of civilization in a different way from that of the West European countries?"
Has this not been the predicament of the Morales government in Bolivia, of the Chavez government in Venezuela, of the Maoist government in Nepal? They came to power through `fair' democratic elections, not through insurrection. But once in power, they exerted it in a way which is partially, at least, `non-statal': directly mobilizing their supporters, by-passing the party-state representative network. Their situation is `objectively' hopeless: the whole drift of history is basically against them, they cannot rely on any `objective tendencies' pushing in their way, all they can do is to improvise, do what they can in a desperate situation. But, nonetheless, does this not give them a unique freedom? And are we--today's left--not all in exactly the same situation?
Ours is thus the very opposite of the classical early 20th-century situation, in which the left knew what had to be done (establish the dictatorship of the proletariat), but had to wait patiently for the proper moment of execution. Today we do not know what we have to do, but we have to act now, because the consequence of non-action could be disastrous. We will be forced to live `as if we were free'. We will have to risk taking steps into the abyss, in totally inappropriate situations; we will have to reinvent aspects of the new, just to keep the machinery going and maintain what was good in the old--education, healthcare, basic social services. In short, our situation is like what Stalin said about the atom bomb: not for those with weak nerves. Or as Gramsci said, characterizing the epoch that began with the First World War, `the old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters'.
To my view, and as Zizek alludes to earlier his essay, citing Lacan, this is not the time to think of what is impossible. It is time to think that the impossible can and does happen.
Courage to all.