The Right Politics to Come1
A century of the greatest political confrontations in the history of capitalism has ended with the complete surrender of the left. But victory has been paradoxical for the victor: triumph has been accompanied by dissipation. No clear electoral or political dividends have come for parties of the right. This is commonly attributed to nature of the victory itself: the acceptance of the basics of neo-liberalism in all nations by parties of the centre and social democratic left, along with their new closeness to particular sections of the capitalist classes, has simply blurred the old political lines and identities making party system increasingly similar to the US model of two parties of capital (of which Julius Nyerere was known to have said, "The United States is also a one-party state, but with typical American extravagance, they have two of them"). In this sense almost all politics today is the politics of the right, the politics of the classes of property and older parties of the right can no longer expect any special purchase on the political situation. And all parties suffer many problems in common: Disoriented policy, corruption scandals linked to the increase in election expenses, erosion of traditional social bases, and significant sources of dissatisfaction with globalization, not least from among capitalist classes themselves.
But, this hardly means, as some have ventured to suggest, that right and left have both ceased to exist. Only the left has. As long as there is an order of property to protect, a specifically right politics will remain indispensable and distinctly identifiable, whether or not an organised opposition to it exists. And it is so today. The political polarizations of the 1970s and early 1980s have not been replaced by any centrist politics. Rather the rise of extreme right groups on the other side of the political spectrum, which have no counterpart on the left, underlines the lopsidedness of the current political situation.
* Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Victoria, Canada.
Social Scientist, Vol. 29, Nos. 5 - 6, May-June 2001