Q+A: Anthony Barnett on the Rise of the 'Definite Left'
An exciting form of radical politics is challenging the status quo. Writer Anthony Barnett and others answer your questions about what our response should be.
Last week the writer and campaigner Anthony Barnett wrote a fascinating piece for the Byline Supplement about the rise of a new form of radical politics, which he calls the ‘Definite Left.’
The Definite Left is neither the traditional social democratic politics of the mid 20th Century, nor the neoliberal market-based politics of New Labour and Clinton. It’s not socialist in an ideological way, but it does seek to govern capitalism, to ensure fundamental rights, environmental sustainability, feminist-inspired human equality and openness of identity.
This new form of politics is already being implemented, Barnett shows, in the US in alliance with Biden. Also, he suggests, in Germany by the Greens, in Brazil by Lula, and in Ukraine with its inspiring passion for self-government.
In an era when right-wing politicians are seeking to define the left as being either ‘woke’ or stuck in an ideological past, Anthony argues that this new form of radical politics can succeed in defying these old characterisations.
So is this a useful term and what can we learn from it?
In this Q+A, Anthony and other leading progressive figures will answer your questions about the state of the left in the modern era and whether the old dividing lines in politics still make sense.
So what do you think about the state of the left in 2023 and what should progressives be doing to defeat our opponents? Please join in the discussion below.
This is our first experiment with trying to create an online forum to debate important ideas on Byline Supplement, and provide a setting for intense but civilised debate. There is no time limit to the discussion, and we will use your contributions here to carry on the debate with subsequent articles and forums.
Anthony's analysis of political trends of the last year is good, as well as political goals of the Definite Left. It's very important that there are attempts to redefine the concept of the left.
Anthony sticks to the traditional right-left division. However, the presented goals are not just "leftist" goals, but they can be supported by people without any political orientation (at least in Finland where I am from.)
In general, the choice today is no longer between the left and the right but whether we aim for an honest discussion culture and ethical attitudes, or not. And "yes" not a priviledge of the left only.
I'd like to underline a need of a philosophical debate. The left has traditionally relied on some ideologico-philosophical view of world. Nothing profoundly new will emerge from the left if the ideas of the past era will not be discussed in-depth.
Humanity is in danger of self-destruction. Nuclear weapons, climate change, loss of biodiversity etc. are all examples of the fact that humans are able to destroy the preconditions for human life on the planet. What is the reason for the self-destructiveness of the human species, that is the crucial question today and all other ideological speculations are subordinate to this problem. And in special for the left, that question is closely related to the rise and fall of socialism in terms human nature. Would that be a good starting point for a debate?