The American Left, it appears, has finally found a cause for joy and excitement after years of impotence and frustration. It seems that the recent assault on Richard Spencer by a masked assailant who decided to punch the much derided Alt-Right figure in the head and then run away has lifted the spirits of many on the Left. This is unsurprising, as the American Left, after submitting itself, relatively placidly, to the Neoliberal candidacy of Hillary Clinton in the name of electability then watched as this supposedly "safer choice" was destroyed in the general election by a reality television star.
Post-election, instead of attempting to do something productive to advance their cause (like using Clinton's loss to discredit the Neoliberal policies of the Democratic establishment and thus seize power) they have instead focused their bile against the incoming President Elect and his supporters. Thus making them the useful stooges of their Liberal betters who cheer them on from their comfortable posts in the Media and Higher Ed. "The Left" as most have come to understand it has degenerated into little more than a caricature of its former self. With no viable ideas that could realistically be put into practice, they have apparently accepted their fate as the hall monitors for the Neoliberal order.
A recent article in the New York Times entitled "Will France Sound The Death Knell For Social Democracy" encapsulates the essence of the Left's newfound impotence:
Recently, though, European social democrats have witnessed an extraordinary drop in support. In 2009, the Social Democratic Party of Germany suffered its worst election defeat in post-World War II history. In the British general election one year later, the Labour Party received its second-lowest share of the vote since 1918, the year that voting restrictions on women and non-property-owning men were relaxed. Even in Scandinavian countries — often cited as the apotheosis of social democracy — center-left parties are struggling. A recent analysis in The Economist showed that across Western Europe, support for social-democratic parties is at its lowest point in 70 years...
In Europe, the demise of the old left has been cemented by the strictures of E.U. membership, which sets in stone practices that were once anathema to socialists: free trade, limits on national spending and monetary policies that subordinate employment to price stability. There is no more blatant example of the European left’s inability to be leftist than Greece, where in 2015 voters elected Syriza, a “radical left” party that promised to thwart E.U. austerity policies. Since its victory, however, Syriza has been compelled, under threat of expulsion from the eurozone, to adopt an agenda that is anything but leftist: privatizations, pension cuts and stringent fiscal targets. In a recent interview in the French journal Le Débat, Hollande was asked about his own rightward drift: Will he be the president who presides over “the end of the socialist idea”? Hollande replied that it was impossible to be socialist in isolation, before going on to frame the left’s challenge. “What is at stake is whether the left, rather than socialism, has a future in the world, or whether globalization has reduced or even annihilated this hope.”
It is obvious from observing these events that the Left's real crisis is one of confidence. As even the leaders of its most well organized and radical branches simply no longer believe their own rhetoric. Hence their inability to enact their ostensibly "Socialist" promises, even with an electoral mandate backing them up. For deep down, almost all of them have submitted to the notion of, if not the inevitable triumph of Liberalism, then at least to the irrelevance of their own antiquated ideals.
In fairness, it's hard to blame them for this cynicism. Marxism, with its various schools of thought, was predicated on circumstances which no longer exist and on assumptions which have proven to be false.
But more importantly, it is simply unable to answer the most important question of our age: the question of identity. Hollande claimed that it was "impossible to be socialist in isolation." This is, of course, an echo of Trotsky's claim that "Socialism in one country" was impossible. Of course, both Hollande and Trotsky were actually correct about this; Socialism in one country is ultimately impossible. The problem (at least for the Marxist) is that the inverse, International Socialism, is likewise impossible as well.
As the solidarity of the "universal class" is a fiction which is shared only among deracinated college students. Students whose tuition funds are the only thing keeping alive an ideology which is no longer able to any muster political significance in the real world.
For, as the Left is now finally discovering, there is no genuine solidarity without genuine particularly. As Human beings have natural limits to their circles of empathy. And these circles don't usually include members of foreign tribes who compete against them for low-skilled labor and whose religion usually manifests itself in a peculiar penchant for slaughtering infidels and raping women.
The Left has no contextual framework for dealing with such problems as it views all cultural conflicts, all "clashes of civilizations" as little more than manifestations of "false consciousness."
Thus, the Left is failing and will continue to fail not because it hasn't attempted to provide solutions to the problems of modern, post-industrial society. But rather, because the solutions it provides end up being, in the final analysis, answers to the wrong questions.