The Rise of the Post-Left:
Subversion, Multiplicity, Community
University of Western Australia
Whereas the 1960s saw a shift from the Old Left to the New Left, I contend that there is a shift taking place today from the New Left to what might be called, provisionally, the Post-Left. Third-wave feminism, queer theory, postcolonial theory, Zapatismo, the alternative globalization movement, and the Occupy and Indignado movements more recently could all be considered Post-Left trends insofar as each represents an effort to re-found transformative politics on new grounds. Key to this is the increasing rejection of Hegel’s ‘master-slave’ and ‘identity-difference’ dialectics, upon which much of traditional leftist practice has been premised. The New Left took inherited master-slave relations and simply sought to invert them; that is, to reclaim one side of the dialectic, rather than subvert the very basis upon which such relations were founded. This dovetailed with identity-difference logics in that the fashioning of monolithic categories (‘woman’, ‘blackness’, and ‘colonized’, for instance) was considered necessary to counter opposing categories deemed equally monolithic (‘man’, ‘whiteness’, and ‘colonizer’). This meant the erasure of internal differences and the creation of a host of new oppressions. The significance of today’s Post-Left innovations is that they affirm, firstly, a politics of ‘subversion’ rather than the mere ‘inversion’ permitted in master-slave thinking, and secondly, a politics of ‘multiplicity’ in place of the stifling unity demanded by identity-difference logics. These two tendencies cohere in the subversive multiplicities that make up today’s communities-in-movement—a resurgent political form of which the Occupy camps have become emblematic.
The full article is available as a PDF document: click here.
© borderlands ejournal 2014