Susan Watkins on Michael Newman, Ralph Miliband and the Politics of the New Left. The distinctive intelligence of a continental socialist in Britain.
A SOCIALIST CASSANDRA
In 1989 Ralph Miliband outlined two possible scenarios for the future of class conflict. In the first, the deregulation and de-unionization of economic life would be mirrored at the political level. Social Democratic and Labour parties might retain their names but the notion of a fundamental challenge to capitalism would have become decisively marginalized. Conflicts would continue but would not constitute a threat to the social order; they might even strengthen it, by functioning as safety valve or prompt to minor reforms. An exception would be terrorism, practised by tiny groups at the extremes of the political spectrum. This would be ‘a problem and a nuisance’ but quite incapable of destabilizing a securely legitimated system.
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How to assess the latest set-back for the European Union: the vote to leave by its second-largest state? Complex determinants of the Brexit protest—party-political contingencies played out against topographies of class and sub-national disaffection—met by single-minded condemnation of it by the global elite.
After years of economic crisis and social protest, the cartel parties of the extreme centre now face a challenge to their dominance from outside-left forces in a number of Western countries. Contours of the emergent left oppositions, their platforms and figureheads, from Tsipras to Corbyn, Sanders to Mélenchon, Grillo to Iglesias.
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Debt, deflation and stagnation have now become the familiar economic stigmata of the EU. But what of its political distortions? A survey of the three principal—and steadily worsening—imbalances in the outcome of European integration: the oligarchic cast of its governors, the lop-sided rise of Germany, and the declining autonomy of the Union as a whole in the North Atlantic universe.
After decades of connivance with territorial seizures from Palestine to East Timor, the West rediscovers the principle of state sovereignty in Crimea. The actual record of 20th-century land grabs, and the cross-cutting geopolitical pressures bearing down on Ukraine.
Another Turn Of The Screw?
Beneath the roiling surface of the Euro-crisis, a further chapter of the EU integration project is underway. Susan Watkins on the institutional machinery Berlin is imposing across the Union, and the political stakes—and hypocrisies—laid bare by the struggle.
Presentism? Reply to T.J. Clark
Responding to Clark, Susan Watkins questions the adequacy of a perspective built upon man’s propensity for violence, and defends a historicized politics of social transformation against the cramped horizon of the present.
Remembering the watercolourist, typographer and writer—resident art critic at the London Review of Books—who redesigned NLR.
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The Nuclear Non-Protestation Treaty
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