Since the French Revolution, the Right has deployed a common set of arguments to resist the drive to democratize economic and political power. The Left will only win if we analyze their rhetoric — and counter it.
Matt McManus is a lecturer at the University of Michigan and the author of The Emergence of Postmodernity and the forthcoming The Political Right and Inequality.
As the 1 percent internalized the sense that they alone were responsible for their success, so too was everyone else made to feel like the cause of their own failure. This formula was baked into the neoliberal philosophy from the beginning.
Conservative thinkers like Roger Scruton defend traditional hierarchies as natural and inescapable. But our social order is the product of human decisions — and it can be remade to benefit the many rather than the few.
Capitalist “liberty” is just another word for private tyranny. Workers, not capitalists, should control economic enterprises.
Canadian thinker C. B. Macpherson insisted that capitalism’s “possessive individualism” constrained human flourishing. In its place, he wanted a democratic socialist society where people could build meaningful relationships and express the kaleidoscope of human individuality.
Slavoj Zizek has made some serious missteps in recent years — but he remains an important theorist for the Left in our postmodern, neoliberal era.
John Stuart Mill might have lots of libertarian fans, but his idiosyncratic ideas, despite their limitations, had more in common with democratic socialism than pro-capitalist ideologies.
At the heart of socialism is the simple idea that everyone, no matter where they’re born, is worthy of a dignified life — and that the fate of workers everywhere is linked together. Turning our back on that idea by dropping our internationalism would be a grave mistake.
At the very heart of our capitalist economic system is something grotesque: labor exploitation. That’s immoral — and we need some form of workplace democracy to undo it.
Jordan Peterson claims to slay sacred cows and challenge prevailing orthodoxies. But what he’s really offering is a minor twist on tried-and-true conservatism — defending existing hierarchies and opposing the democratization of political and economic life.
Studying the writings of Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, reveals something important: that right-wing intellectual thought is little more than a series of dressed-up defenses of conventional social relations and traditional hierarchies.
Far-right intellectuals like Steve Bannon claim to speak for a working class put upon by out-of-touch liberal elites. But their anti-modernist, hierarchical vision of the world doesn’t offer workers what they really need: more money in their pockets, and more power at the workplace.
Today’s right-wing thinkers look to Nietzsche and other German reactionaries to ground their elitist politics — and to do battle with leftists’ project of universal emancipation.
The liberal tradition is a complex body of thought that socialists should grapple with seriously. But today, preserving the gains of liberalism — civil liberties, free speech, and social pluralism — means rejecting the liberal defense of capitalist private property rights.
Donald Trump’s presidency was a catastrophe, and its imminent demise is well worth celebrating. Our task now is to build a politics that ensures Trumpism is dead and buried.
Karl Marx celebrated liberalism’s achievements, such as freedom of the press, while excoriating its fidelity to private property rights. We can hold the same tension in our minds — fiercely opposing capitalism while fighting to make liberal rights real through socialist transformation.
Socialists’ goal isn’t to destroy liberalism, but to transcend its limitations — pairing civil liberties and other liberal rights with a democratic, egalitarian foundation that makes those rights real.
Conservatives are sounding the alarm bell about a Marxist takeover, with at least one philosopher urging liberals to join forces with the Right to destroy the socialist bogeyman. But the values of liberalism have much more in common with socialism than the Right — and liberals sincerely committed to advancing freedom and equality should unite with leftists.
Conservative pundits are more likely to caricature Karl Marx’s writings and beliefs than offer serious rebuttals to his many ideas. Why? Because Marx’s trenchant insights expose deep inconsistencies in cherished right-wing doctrines.
Dave Rubin very much wants you to think of him as a serious man of ideas. But his new book shows him to be a shallow thinker who doesn’t even understand his own ideas.