Well first of all I must thank everyone who has given me such a warm welcome to this blog. I would have responded sooner except that (like much of England) I was completely absorbed by one of the most exciting cricket Test matches ever. It even finished with England beating Australia and that hasn't happened too frequently in recent years, sad to say!
I was actually invited to contribute to this blog over a year ago but I wasn't able to do so due to various demands, notably writing a book. However over the last few months I have taken to diving in and out of the blogosphere. What I have found has led me to two conclusions. The first is that blogs are proving to be hugely subversive of the kind of calcified orthodoxy found at many conventional media outlets of both left and right - a well worn point by now but made well again by Jeff Jarvis at http://www.buzzmachine.com/ .
A second point is that the world of blogs reveals subterranean movements and realignments in the world of politics and ideology. I have been arguing for some time now that we are seeing is a major realignment of ideologies and political positions. This is particularly true of the 'left', but it is increasingly happening on the 'right' as well. Two questions in particular are helping to bring this about. The first is the whole question of how to respond to 'globalisation', which is increasingly dividing the left between those who accept or welcome globalisation (often including former Marxists who remain loyal to much of Marx's vision of history) and those who in rejecting it are now articulating views that are pretty near indistinguishable from those of nineteenth century reactionaries. Essentially the question intelligent socialists and social democrats have to face is "Given that the traditional notion of socialism has been shown to be incompatible with modernity, how do you feel about the modern, interconnected world?". Many have effectively decided to give up on modernity, and are becoming ever closer in their arguments and analysis to modernity's traitional enemies on the right. Others are starting to reaffirm the traditional 'left' support for the Enlightenment ideals of rationalism, cosmopolitanism, and progress, along of course with ideas such as egalitarianism and an active role for government.
The second issue is of course the war in Iraq and, more generally, the question of what, if anything, should be the Western response to the ideas and movements of radical Islamism. Here there is an increasingly vocal movement on the left in favour of the war and of an aggresive response to Islamism. The people who take this view tend to also belong to the part of the left that is more comfortable with globalisation and the course that the modern world is clearly taking. Meanwhile opponents of the war are starting to move closer to the kind of critical position articulated by many on the right. My own position, which I'll no doubt elaborate, is that radical Islamism is indeed a threat that requires a robust response, but also that the policy followed by the US and Britain is not only mistaken but positively counterproductive.
The last time we saw a major ideological realignment was in the period between roughly 1880 and 1900, which saw the move from a division between classical liberals and traditional conservatives to one between socialists of various varieties and an alliance between modern conservatives and the remaining classical liberals. I think that in just a few years we will look back and realise that there has been another, equally sweeping reshuffling of the ideological pack.
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Kevin Carson - 8/8/2005
I agree with much of your post, but I think you be careful not to confuse "globalization" with free markets and free trade.
Some of us who object to "globalization" think the existing phenomenon results from neo-mercantilist subsidies and protection to those engaged in global trade. If the market were really free, without subsidies to economic centralization, we'd get a lot more of what we consume from small-scale producers serving local markets.