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02 November, 2016

The moment that the Left had retired of fighting for a better world

Another interesting part of the new film of Adam Curtis, 'HyperNormalisation', is the one that describes the sudden retirement of the Left to fight the financial mafia that actually took over New York in the mid 70s. It marks the beginning of a new perception for the Left that has lost contact with the reality of power and the collective action.

As Curtis describes:

The extraordinary thing was that no one opposed the bankers. The radicals and the Left wingers who, ten years before, had dreamed of changing America through revolution, did nothing. They had retreated and were living in abandoned buildings in Manhattan.

The singer Patti Smith later described the mood of disillusion that had come over them. "I could not identify with the political movements any longer," she said. "All the manic activity in the streets. In trying to join them, I felt overwhelmed by yet another form of bureaucracy." What she was describing was a rise of a new, powerful individualism that could not fit with the idea of collective political action. Instead, Patti Smith and many others became a new kind of individual radical, who watched the decaying city with a cool detachment. They didn't try to change it. They just experienced it.

Instead, radicals across America turned to art and music as a means of expressing their criticism of society. They believed that instead of trying to change the world outside, the new radicalism should try and change what was inside people's heads. And the way to do this, was through self-expression, not collective action.

But some of the Left saw that something else was really going on. That by detaching themselves and retreating into an ironic coolness, a whole generation were beginning to lose touch with the reality of power. One of them wrote at that time, "It was the mood of the era and the revolution was deferred indefinitely. And while we were dozing, the money crept in."

The absence of struggle by the radical movements at that time, was a key parameter for the final domination of the destructive financial capitalism for about four decades, until today.

As the Left has lost its power and autonomy through all these decades, the new generation of the Leftist politicians is characterized by a lack of an autonomous thought, free from capitalist terms, that could inspire societies a different model away from the destructive financialized capitalism.

We are seeing the heritage of this retirement of the Left in today's Leftist leaders, both in Europe and the US. Most of them believe that they could change this brutal system from inside. Without, however, a totally different proposition, a totally autonomous idea on how to run the societies, this monstrous system will sooner or later "swallow" them. They will be lost, eventually, inside its monstrous structure, becoming completely unable to deliver a new political proposition to the societies.


  1. In defense of the left, we faced an all out attack by the state starting with th 68 assassinations and followed by massive infiltration of our ranks by federal and local agents as well as the sabotage of various publications. Also we were split by feminism and black nationalism which fragmented the left deeply. I think Patti's solution was the right one because society was already deeply entrenched in the culture of narcissism as even the idea of community became impossible.


    1. Thank you. Agree. Allow me to add the endless CIA-inspired provocative operations, in Europe (and Latin America), especially during 60s and 70s, in order to demonize Leftist radicalism. Only an example: CIA's Operation Gladio in Italy.

    2. I concur Christopher. The FBI famously had files, pictures, tapes, pictures of files and files of the pictures of files on every activist, their friends, friends of friends, family members and friends of family members from late in the 1950's going forward. All of the chatter about the NSA was just a rehashing of the FBI efforts who did not need technology so much as footmen walking the street and watching who came out the front door-or the back door or who answered the phone.
      Fast forward and take up the Obama administration where movements (like BLM) go to die. OWS was literally killed by the Obama administration empowering local police to bash as many heads as possible. Anyone planning to overthrow the government had better have some very, very skilled hackers.

  2. Gladio was not only in Italy. It was all over western Europe, IndoChina (what do you think the Vietnam War was about?), South America (the Dirty Wars) and then back to Afghanistan, Turkey, etc. and those areas. Read: Operation Gladio: the Unholy Alliance of the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia by Paul L. Williams. Some people don't think Gladio ended, or is now Gladio B.

    1. Agree. I mentioned Gladio in Italy only as an example.