The Antileftist Marks
One Year Later
The Antileftist Marx launched one year ago to expound a seemingly paradoxical Marxist critique of the left. Since then, many of its initial claims about the nature of the left have become transparent. The thesis that the American left is indistinguishable from the Democratic Party, for example, has lost much of its controversy, as fewer leftists even care to dispute it and more disillusioned ex-leftists are created every day from a recognition of this reality.
As a diagnosis of the left, the work of The Antileftist Marx is done. Its argument that the left is nothing more than the left wing of liberalism has been demonstrated by its articles and even more so by events. Continuing to prosecute the case that leftism is progressive liberalism or that the American left is the Democratic Party is therefore to beat a dead horse.
Yet in another sense, the need for the kind of critique waged in these pages over the last year has only increased, for the utopian anti-capitalism that inspired The Antileftist Marx has intensified across the spectrum, spilling over from the left proper into the dissident right, spread in part by opportunistic ex-leftists transitioning into new media markets as old ones dry up.
With leftism increasingly becoming the ideological ambiance of polite society, the moral protest against capitalism that has historically mystified reality in the name of the left has indeed found a surprising new home among the radicalized liberals of the dissident right, which now more convincingly carries the left’s torch of utopian opposition to “the regime.” In other words, the left has such a weak “anti-establishment” story to sell that its usual task of peddling hope and change has been taken up by the dissident right and its influx of vengeful ex-socialists, who have been forced to look elsewhere for populist revolt against the system now that the left has none left to offer.
In my debate with Chris Cutrone, I rejected the premise that left and right represent abstract ideals, arguing instead that despite the rhetoric of each side, they form in practice nothing other than the left and right organization of liberal democracy, the Democrats and the Republicans in the American context. At the level of self-presentation, however, there is some historical truth to the Kolakowskian dichotomy in which the right affirms existing hierarchies while the left pursues their transformation. Although my argument was that both—not merely the right—work dialectically to perpetuate the existing class society, it is the case that the right has tended to defend the status quo more openly while the left has presented itself as the force of change and revolution.
Yet as progressive liberalism (leftism) has become the most visible ideological force rationalizing the social order, this dynamic is reversing itself, with the left occupying the part of the establishment and the dissident right taking up the former’s historical mantle as the counter-cultural, oppositional movement protesting the supposed excesses of global capitalism and empire. In short, the dissidents are now the anti-capitalists, that is to say, they are the leftists.
Of course, this is true only in the abstract sense of the right assuming the “anti-establishment” role typically performed by the left. Despite its radical rhetoric against the Global American Empire, the dissident right very much remains in practice the right wing of liberalism, an appendage of the same old Republican “establishment” it protests, the party it is tasked with rebranding and revitalizing à la the generational makeover the DSA/Bernie/AOC “movement” gave the Democrats.
The Antileftist Marx emerges from Marx’s critique of the utopian socialism that obscures the historical reality of class society. Although such romantic anti-capitalism has traditionally been the province of the left, its criticism must follow this phenomenon wherever it goes. Whether we call the dissident right a form of leftism, “crypto-leftism,” or anything else, its subcultural scene of discontented idealists peddling alternative lifestyles, utopian enclaves, and fantastic pictures of collapse and return indeed mimics the left’s habit of opposing capitalist society with moral denunciation, escapist pipe dreams, and quixotic efforts to make an unfair world cohere with ideal principles.
I do not criticize the left because it is the the source of all evil, as the right sees it, but because its idealistic anti-capitalism has historically served as “capitalist society’s criticism of itself, produced in such a way to shield that society from criticism.” Insofar as the bitter ex-leftists of the dissident right begin to beat leftist anti-capitalism at its own utopian game, they deserve the same critical pressure.
To this end, I will soon begin a new series that exposes the farce of this latest dissident phenomenon. Perhaps you’re aware that I’ve been criticizing the post-left/dissident right scene as @BCryptofash for some time. My essays lag behind the tweets, however, as the latter express developing thoughts of today whereas the former cohere what I’ve been thinking through for months. My long-developing criticism of leftist Marxism culminated in my last article, and so it is now time to elaborate at length my analysis of the new wave of dissidents, its symmetries with last cycle’s socialist left and the needs its bombastic discourse of moral outrage satisfies for its coping audience of antileftist marks.
What about the Leftists of Europe, Asia and Latin America. Comrade Glenn seems to feel they're a more genuine representation of the " true left".