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April 30, 2002

The Barb The always-stimulating Chris Bertram of Junius has a thoughtful post that will confuse and annoy (1) American right-leaners who don’t grasp that Marx was in favor of bourgeois technological progress and (2) American left-leaners who think any and all Green positions are automatically “progressive,” that great all-purpose political weasel word.

I was reminded of Ken MacLeod, the great politically-heterodox Scottish science fiction writer, in some of whose novels future Greens are creepy barbarian bad guys. (Typically for MacLeod, he then wrote a novel in which those same Greens go on to evolve a very attractive far-future society. One of MacLeod’s abiding virtues is that he doesn’t reserve all the good lines for characters who agree with the author.) MacLeod is a product of that Left that knows that technology and industry are achievements worth fighting for.

Back to Chris Bertram, here’s his summing-up. (But read the whole post anyway.)

The problem isn’t that the far right is adopting leftist themes, but that the left, still as hostile to capitalism as ever but lacking a clearly articulated modernist alternative of its own since the failure of the Soviet experience and the Hayekian critique of central planning, has been drawn into adopting traditionally reactionary and conservative positions and a celebration of the very “idiocy of rural life” that Marx condemned. That doesn’t mean that we should be passive in the face of environmental destruction, but it does mean that we should think harder about how to combine a modern urban and diverse civilisation with greater social justice.
[02:37 PM]
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