McKenzie Wark on 21 Aug 2000 14:38:53 -0000

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Re: <nettime> The New "Left" - OR why inequality is politicallyuseful

This radio program transcript phil points to is a good summary of where
what i would call the conservative left is at now. Much as i respect Guy
Rundle of Arena magazine, it really is a fundamentally conservative
position he adopts in the transcript, and fleshed out more fully at the
conference where we both spoke.

It makes no sense to talk of left and right any more without adding at
least oner other dimension to the analysis. It could be conservative /
progressive. Some, like Guy, see politics as a matter of resisting change.
Isee it as tring to get benefits from change for working people. 

Another way to see it would be to overlay the left right distiction with
the American terms communitarian / libertarian. You could read Guy's
position as communitarian in these terms, mine as libertarian. For Guy,
for the Arena group, and many on the 'left' community is an absolute good.
I don't agree. Community vcan also be oppressive and conformist. A left or
social libertarian, however, would not agree with right libertarians that
the market is the only guarrantee of liberty, but would look to a wider
range of institutional means for maintaining the possibility of autonomy
and community by choice.

On the right, the tension between communitarian / libertarians is well
understood. On the left, less so. Also not yet understood are the
alliances of convenience between left and right communitarians. The
anti-globalisation demonstrators have often not faced up to the fact that
they are lending support to Buchanan and Le Pen. There's an extraordinary
silence about the economic racism of opposng globalsation from a 1st world

The other corner of the square, the connection between left and right
libertarianism, recieves much more attention. Personally i'm mre
comfortable making concessions to personal freedom than to communal

In any case, as some of the more farcial outbursts at the Australian Labor
Party conference showed, its hard to have a civilised debate on these

The concept of the 'aspirational voter' was coind by Labor machine guru
John Della Bosca, not by me. Kevin appears to give me credit for it that
isn't warranted. Whatever one thinks of his views, 'Della' is a key figure
in the electoral success of the Labor party in the state of NSW. In a
country where voting is *compulsory*, getting an electoral majority on the
left side of politics is a strange business! 


"We no longer have roots, we have aerials."
 -- McKenzie Wark 

On Sat, 19 Aug 2000, Phil Graham wrote:

> This is a useful and interesting story on the "Left", and not only in 
> Australia.


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