Crisis of the State, Crisis of the Left

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1568 ... March 9, 2018

Crisis of the State, Crisis of the Left:
Articulating Socialism After the Anarchist Moment

Stephen Maher

The current period in the U.S. remains defined by the 2008 crisis and the economic policies and political forces it set in motion. This has now evolved into a growing crisis between the forms of governance, strategy, and administration that have defined the U.S.-led period of globalization and the state mechanisms of representation, particularly the two dominant parties. Conflicts within the state normally hidden behind the humdrum performance of statecraft have increasingly burst from behind this curtain. Tensions between the military establishment and the intelligence apparatus have been particularly apparent, though these schisms find their origins in the post 9/11 years, if not before. Portions of the intelligence apparatus... are openly seeking to isolate or even remove the President, who they evidently see as a threat to the stability of the political order. For his part, after having removed many of the more rabid ‘alt-right’ elements from his administration, Trump has fallen back on extremist military hard-liners as an institutional base of power within the state, and has turned over large portions of the state apparatus to their control. An emboldened military establishment has become politically active to a degree that is rare in U.S. history, even chastizing the President publicly in several instances.

As neoliberal ‘common sense’ was eroded, reflected initially in the Occupy Wall Street movement but reinforced by the spread of the political crisis throughout the state, the legitimacy of mechanisms of representation -- centered on the political parties -- likewise began to collapse. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are currently in crisis, torn internally between establishment elites seeking to retain control in the face of a mounting challenge from revisionist forces at the base (progressive and alt-right, respectively). While the Republicans seem every day closer to an accommodation with Trump (though it is unclear which side can claim the victory), the Democrats have worked to restrain progressive-populist forces oriented toward class struggle, while hoping to retain some legitimacy outside of the narrow coastal elite that has traditionally identified with the party.

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