Re: On the weakness of the global left

August 10, 2009

Flying Whale, quoting Immanuel Wallerstein, writes that the most audible voices in the world left are either “free-standing intellectuals or…located in very small organizations.” This assertion strikes me as not-quite right. I think it’d be more accurate to say that the principal voices who advocate a comprehensive leftist world-view are free-standing intellectuals or in very small organizations.

I’d argue that there are plenty of powerful voices within large organizations, but that their work (if not their ideology) is confined to a relatively small number of issues. The weakness here is not necessarily that the folks who best articulate a comprehensive leftist world-view are within weak institutions (or no institution at all)– it’s also that the single-issue experts haven’t found better and more consistent ways to build sustainable coalitions that actually aggregate power in meaningful ways.




  1. Yeah, I don’t think we disagree.

    Wallerstein pretty much only writes about the big picture. I think the quoted sentence was referring to leftists working in a comprehensive frame to rival the one that (for instance) free-market fundamentalists have been able to make mainstream over the past 20 years.

    There’s certainly no shortage of issue-focused progressives working in relatively powerful contexts. (One would hope some of them are in the White House right now, but that’s a different debate.)

  2. […] you might imagine from my recent post, one of my most consistent critiques of the so-called progressive movement has been its […]

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