A New Politics? Movements, Power and Transformation

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1605 ... May 14, 2018

A New Politics? Movements, Power and Transformation

Adam Churchard

Distrust in political elites and institutions has become a defining element of 21st century politics throughout the west. This trend has been most successfully harnessed by right wing populists, who claim to represent the anger of the masses and represent their ‘true interests’, in the face of a greedy and out of touch liberal political class. While in no way am I attempting to reduce the victories of those such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, or Rob Ford, to solely this, appropriating anger toward elites has been critical to their political success. The failure by much of the left to offer a more effective response to these trends has been disheartening (to say the least).... Moreover, it is why Hilary Wainwright’s latest book, A New Politics from the Left (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press), represents a timely appeal for a democratic, participatory, and bottom-up political transformation.

Wainwright has spent her career exploring democratic accountability across institutions, and as a co-editor of the socialist, feminist, and green Red Pepper magazine. Drawing upon her experiences as an academic and advocate, Wainwright forcefully argues that we need to reorganize political power so that it can be wielded by regular people, giving them the tools to positively change their lives and communities.

A New Politics from the Left is a short read, and not theoretically dense. What it offers is a straightforward and accessible overview of the political change that Wainwright is calling for. She begins by challenging the notions of both the technocratic, elite knowledge of the state, and the individualized knowledge of the free market, with its own technocratic logic of profit extraction, as sources upon which to base public decision making. Instead, she argues that we should look to the sort of practical and tacit knowledge which is practiced and produced by social movements, in particular the women’s, radical shop stewards’, and green movement.

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