Newsclick spoke to Aijaz Ahmad about the emergence of new right and the possibilities of new left. He talks about the new kind of politics rising up, in which the institution structures of liberalism will be maintained unlike in the case of old fascism. According to him, those very institutions will be used for the capture of political power by the far right. The new right has political positions very similar to old fascists, minus the class dialecticalisms of Nazis.
This new right has been growing for a while. We have seen first the defeat of communism then the collapse of social democracy and then a disappearance of liberalism in any classical sense. So, Neo liberalism has already been leaning towards right.
Prabir Purkayastha: Hello and welcome to Newsclick. We have with us Professor Aijaz Ahmad and we’ll discuss the emergence of the new right and the possibilities of the new left in the world. Aijaz, good to have you back with us. Coming back to the issue of the new right versus the new left, we have seen the emergence of the new right, clearly. How do you analyze this new right?
Aijaz Ahmad: This new right has clearly been growing for a while. It has to do with a great many issues. I mean, we’re talking about the far right. In the sense that, we have first seen the defeat of communism. Alongside that, we saw a crisis and eventual collapse of social democracy. And then we saw a disappearance of liberalism in any classical sense. So neo-liberalism was already very far out. You know, when you say this is emerging; Trump might do this; Trump might do that, you have to see what Obama has done. Obama has deported 2 million people from the United States. So when Trump says he’s going to deport, how many more is he going to deport? So, neo-liberalism is already very far right. I mean, very much in the right. So a lot of disturbance it has created and it is being opposed, both from the far right and from the left. The far right is not classically fascist. Again there’s a whole spectrum. There are groups, let’s say in Greece which are openly fascist. Or in Ukraine, they actually are descendents of fascists and they are fascists. There you have a situation in France, a major European country where it used to be a fascist movement, kept moving on and on and now, Le Pen is positioning herself quite away from that fascist legacy and has adopted a whole republican rhetoric. That we inherit the republic which is being betrayed by these people, who have sold France over to EU and so on and so forth. We stand for European culture; we have no problems with immigrants if they accept European culture. And it is because we have not been able to absorb even the ones that we have, that we say that there should be greater restrictions and so on and so forth. We are seeing the emergence of a new kind of politics in which the institutional structures of liberalisms will be maintained unlike in the case of old fascisms. Those very institutions shall be used for the capture of political power by the far right which has political positions very similar to old fascists, minus the class dialecticism of the Nazis. These are the people who don’t have any class dialecticisms. Trump tried to, Trump posed to have concern for the working class. You know, we’ll take care of the working class. Democrats have sold them away, sold them out. I, coming from the far right, I will take care of the working class and so on, but this is not genuine. Now, the other side of it is that, if the right gains 10%-15%, it becomes very dramatic in countries like Denmark or you know, wherever. The left also in different countries is “Left”. What we are not seeing is, the emergence of a Marxist left, of a communist left. But within the political spectrum of politics that now prevails, communist is as leftist you can get. And government emergencies, again the same sort of thing that from the right, Trump is. Two years before he took over the labour party, who could’ve imagined that this kind of a labour party leftist, of a very old stamp would not only win the leadership once, when challenged by the entire labour right leadership and win again. So you have this. Likewise, Caesar is bigger than Golden Dawn, still is much bigger than Golden Town. Podemos is a major figure. Now they have great many problems, some of them maybe irresolvable at the moment. They have a view that you have to save the EU because if the EU collapses, forces of the far right will be rampaging all over Europe. I think they are wrong but they make a very sophisticated argument. Now, with that argument very interestingly Tsipras and Varoufakis came to very different conclusions as to how to, although they agree on that. So, within the left there is a kind of a crisis developing, but there’s also, I think a left emerging. When it will gain quantity and when, we don’t know.
Prabir: That’s an interesting proposition, that essentially what we are seeing is the collapse of the old forms, whether from the right or from the left and emergence of new forms in which the right has an advantage because they don’t want to really upset what is there and just mould it more on a white nationalist platform and so on. But left is a much bigger task of rediscovering the political project of the left. And in Western Europe, that and as well as the United States, that’s been many.
Aijaz: There’s been plenty of left around. You know, its splintered and scattered, doesn’t have a project on which it can work. Meanwhile the world situation, you know is so historically unprecedented. You have, on the one hand, a terminal crisis of Western Capitalism, deep crisis. And all of these things that we’re talking about have to do primarily with that crisis. At the same time, you know for the first time the center of gravity of capitalist power has shifted to Asia. They want to do a cold war with China. Soviet Union was one-fourth the size of American economy when they bankrupted the Soviet Union through the armed threats. And armed threats with China will bankrupt them. You know, the Chinese are going to be larger than theirs. And ultimately that economy win determine, it will be ultimately determining. Likewise all these messages they’re trying to send to Europe, the economic attraction of China and so on. So, I think that is part of the crisis of Europe, European left. That is doesn’t understand the verdict it has inhabited. It would have to understand that the ground from under their feet is slipping.
Prabir: The whole dominance of the West economically is changing. And that environment, which is changing, is something the Euro-centric forces don’t seem to understand, that there’s a strategic shift taking place.
Aijaz: 500 years of history cannot be reversed in 5, 10, 20, 30 years. So the accumulations are very great. That’s my point that even in the times of deep crisis; their patterns of life are entirely of different order. But that reversal has started. What is interesting to me, also in terms of what we are discussing is that India is making its transition from liberal to the far right with all the trappings of the liberal institutions. China is not making a political transition to political difference. It may be liberalizing its economy. And because it is stated purposeful national status, it will not liberalize its economy to the extent to which others have. So you don’t have a liberal politics there either. It’s a non-liberal politics of a completely different order.
Prabir: Thank you, Aijaz. We’ll come back to you further on developments in different parts of the world particularly with respect to what’s happening to Latin America, China and Asia next time. This time we focused really on the United States and what’s happening in Europe, but we need to come back and discuss what’s happening elsewhere as well. Thank you very much for being with us and hope to see you soon, again.
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