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Christopher White: ‘Disclosing the Left’s “Regressive Dilemmas”

Today’s social democratic parties are struggling. One singularly important controversy has concerned the content, status and potential resilience of leftist values in light of the challenges associated with contemporary change, of which globalisation is the most obvious manifestation.

Publisert i Forskningspublikasjoner Lørdag 9. desember, 2017 - 17:04 | sist oppdatert Tirsdag 14. november, 2023 - 10:23

Deep divisions are evident with respect to how globalisation is changing the political terrain, particularly in the UK, where the recent decision to leave the EU –driven by a populist sentiment and general discontent- surprised many, and can been linked to globalisation. This deep disconnect is within the left’s traditional constituency and it represents a struggle that is not confined to the US and UK alone: this is a general crisis of the left. 

In this paper I hope to shed some light on a key feature that figures in the debate, and appears to be at the root of the matter: ‘globalisation’.

My article places the significance of globalisation to broadly leftist social democratic thought within a recent historical context. More specifically, I show how past -flawed- understandings of globalisation, (I look at the UK, but it has application elsewhere), has meant that very real ‘regressive dilemmas’ have been avoided; allowing the left to appear to have remained faithful to its past core values, whilst actually betraying those constituencies it should be helping.

The consequences have been profound, leading to a general almost existential crisis of the left, as we see here in Norway at the moment. In arguing for an ideological reinterpretation of globalisation, I suggest that the apparent ‘success’ of the left in the nineties and naughties was an aberration.

Put simply, if we are to concern ourselves with ‘globalisation’s loosers’, a terrain I imagine to be a defining feature for a future left, it is not simply the loosers that need our attention, we must also question the reality of globalisation.

Christopher Michael White, ‘Disclosing the Left’s “Regressive Dilemmas”Depth Hermeneutics and the Value of an Ideological Reinterpretation of Globalisation’, The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, Volume 12, Issue 13, 2017, pp. 15-31.

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