Nobody should be surprised that the human brain functions in a linear way to stimulus. Quite traumatic events can illicit 10 different responses from 10 different people in exactly the same circumstances. Our complexity as humans means that theories that predict our behaviour have a poor rate of success. Which brings me to my main critique of Marxism, which, for many on the left, acts as a predictive tool when seeking to explain how the downtrodden will react to the ever increasing persecution of the Capitalist system.
In Marxist theory there comes a point where the suffering masses unite as a class and realising that they are not alone and that collectively they have more leverage, function self consciously as that class to rid themselves of the object of their oppression. But this denies the very real fact that the social and economic environment we are born into changes us as people and thus all previous theoretical models that relate to the relationship between people and society needs to be perpetually revised. The fact that very few of us toil in industries that employ a million others occupied in the same task, as in UK mining in the 1920’s, acts on us in the way we think about ourselves and how we establish our class identity. The working class communities that Marx and Lenin were writing about not only worked together but lived generationally together. The atomistic and transitional way of life that most have experienced since the fifties,has resulted in a new post modern homo sapien which bears little resemblance to the one that preceded it. As such predictions made based on the people and societies that existed over 100 years ago are now risible.
So, what is to be done? To have any chance of formulating any successful strategy to leverage change in society the left desperately need to adapt to post modern existence. We need firstly to acknowledge that people experience and interpret their lives in a dynamic and ever changing way and the left have to have a permanently evolving and adaptive theoretical modelling. Secondly we need to be positing our own solutions to issues and events rather than just campaigning against ‘their’ solutions, what positive legislation do we want in place to get our Health System working with the public ethos replacing the ever encroaching business model. In other words it’s not enough to sloganise against privatisation we need to give people a positive vision of the future to motivate them.
Fuelled by the words of long dead economists, the left seems to have entered a state of intellectual stagnation which has led to a dearth of new thinking and political strategies. In contrast, the right continue to adapt, provide and propel contemporary popular political narratives. To truly provide the solutions to capitalism the left will have to look up from the textbooks and engage with the real world.