Sunday, October 31, 2004


The excellent Charlotte Street blog is always a provocative and instructive read. A recent post entitled Left-Liberal as Pseudo-concept, about the obliteration of the distinction between these two categories of thought, via the construction of what the blog's author Mark Kaplan calls this "hybrid pseudo-category" did, however, cause me to pause.

Kaplan speaks of the Left as if it were a unified body of thought (unified "precisely in antagonism to liberalism, as an interrogation of its assumptions") but, even if he is using Left as a synonym for Marxist, there is still much within what could be described as belonging to that tradition that would scarcely be happy to settle with Kaplan's description.

There is a tradition within the Left that has always been a critique of the Left, a form of critical thought that sees the Left, like Kaplan's 'Left' sees liberalism, as being as much a part of the problem as it is of the solution. The left wing of Capital - that form of thought that criticises capitalism, but does not consider the possibility of its supercession, indeed institutionalises in thought the impossibility of its supercession - is a parody of critical thought. And the term Left (left-wing, leftist) is no badge of honour.