Beyond Left and Right?

20 July 2024  5:00pm

Event type: Discussion

Event location: Verdurin

The dynamic aspects of society are, at the same time, its static aspects: internal conflict provides the energy for change, but no change has taken place in this respect.

Theodor Adorno

The economic collapse of 2008 signalled that capitalism would change yet again. It was unclear, however, how neoliberal capitalism would respond to its new conditions and what politics would steer that change. As the Left today increasingly moves to uphold the status quo, the legacy of its efforts to oppose neoliberalism – through movements like anti-globalization protests of the 1990s or Occupy in 2011 – is questionable. 

Many on the Left today are calling to abandon all association with the movement, discarding identification with “socialism” and the history of the left in favour of taking up popular discontents in alternative terms. This reconfiguration points to the formation of a ‘new centre’, a politics ‘beyond left or right’, or the marriage of economic progressivism or ‘left populism’ with ‘social conservatism’.

These tendencies take up demands that are otherwise unpopular on the left: opposing lockdowns, opposing illegal immigration, halting Western aid for Ukraine, improving public safety, or negotiating trade deals in the name of domestic workers’ interests. Conservative and populist movements have no qualms about representing these demands, while the Left shies away from them. A new generation is thus being politicized in these terms.

How do the compounded disappointments of the past, including the Left’s failure to lead society out of the crisis of Fordist-Keynesianism in the 1970s haunt its politics today? What lessons can be drawn from this missed opportunity? Beyond Left and Right? brings together the theorist Philip Cunliffe, politician Georg Kurz, commentator Malcolm Kyeyune, and activist Michael Roberts to provide critical and productive responses to the stalemate.

This event is organised in collaboration with the Platypus Affiliated Society, which stages reading groups, public fora, research, and journalism focused on the problems and tasks inherited from the ‘Old’ (1920s–30s), ‘New’ (1960s–70s) and post-political (1980s–90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today.

  • Malcom Kyeyune

    Malcom Kyeyune is a writer living in Uppsala, Sweden.

  • Philip Cunliffe

    Philip Cunliffe is Associate Professor in International Relations at UCL and co-host of the Bungacast podcast.

  • Georg Kurz

    Georg Kurz is a German politician associated with the Die Linke.

  • Michael Roberts

    Michael Roberts is an economist.