Posts Tagged ‘Left Without A Future’

Sunday review on Thursday: Left Without A Future by Anthony Painter

25/07/2013, 10:56:34 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Breadth. That is the defining characteristic of Anthony’s book. Left Without A Future provides a clear-sighted overview of the forces – economic, societal and cultural – that are re-shaping our politics.

Daily, we see the results of these forces reported in the news, but stripped of context.  Left Without A Future provides the missing link: a narrative that explains what on earth is happening.

Whether it is the global societal changes that have enabled the Arab spring and are destroying how British political parties traditionally operate, or an economic predicament where austerity is not working yet market worries about borrowing prohibit a full-blooded state response, Anthony illuminates the common challenges that politicians across the world are struggling to address.

As the title of the book suggests, nowhere are these challenges being more keenly felt than on the left.  Europe’s leading left wing parties are in varying degrees of turmoil and the right is in the ascendant. Even in France, where Hollande defeated Sarkozy, the polls are bleak and spirits are low.

The failure of the left to understand, let alone appropriately respond to, the changing world we live in, is vividly brought to life. The analysis of Britain’s own tea party left as embodied in groups such as UK Uncut and Occupy – a rambunctious mix of uncompromising idealism and aggressive trade unionism – is as apposite as it is overdue.

Throughout the book, the insight is leavened with references to the key texts that are informing left thought (many of which have been reviewed by Anthony on pages of Uncut over the past three years.)The impression is of a left in ferment.  There is much commonality on the diagnosis but confusion on the prescription.

Left Without A Future contends that the answer lies in new institutions. Institutions  connect theory and practice, policy design and human experience. The right institutions will establish rules and an environment that shapes behaviour to meet policy goals.

It is a case that is made persuasively. Reformed, locally accountable institutions provide the only true joined-up response to an environment where the tidal currents of culture, society and economy merge and crash over our politics.


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