Aaron Bastani, Novara Media
14 January 2020
Luxury Communism vs Scarcity Nativism
The politics of the last 12 years have been increasingly defined by crisis. A crisis of the old geopolitical order, as American Empire crumbles; a crisis of free market capitalism, as the post-Lehman world fails to grasp a new model for growth and dives deeper into social malaise; and a crisis of political legitimacy, as those administering the old orthodoxies are increasingly viewed as irrelevant and out of touch. Democratic government itself, even in the advanced countries of the Global North, is no longer viewed as sacrosanct.
It is within this crisis that the politics of the radical right, and left, has re-emerged. Emblematic of that is the rise not only of Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro, but also Bernie Sanders, Podemos and Jeremy Corbyn. Yet for Bastani the hollowing out of the centre, and polarisation around the world, should be situated within a broader context still. This is what he terms ‘the great disorder’, as the challenges of climate change, automation and demographic ageing tear apart any ability for market capitalism to offer rising living standards.
Confronted with these ephocal shifts a vital admission is necessary: there is no going back to the mid-20th century. The political project for the left, confronted with such challenges, is thus to carve a new figurehead for the future and the very essence of modernity. We need new utopias because the old ones no longer make sense.
Aaron Bastani is author of ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism’ and co-founder of Novara Media. He is a writer, broadcaster and commentator with interests in social movements, new media and political economy. He holds a PhD from the Royal Holloway New Political Communications Unit and previously studied politics and international public policy at University College London.