According to the non-linear trajectory that connects 1968 with the new Millennium, the Left now finds its tone, no longer in the red of utopian passion, but in the fuchsia of sectoral demands on the terrain of capitalism. It finds its symbol of reference, no longer in the “hammer and sickle” of labor and its anti-capitalist redemption, but in the rainbow of the whims of individual consumption for the privileged classes, behind which hides and legitimizes the gray of capitalist reification. Inappropriately called “civil rights,” rainbow rights redefine public morality on the basis of cultural and psychological references consistent with the profit strategies of the liberal-globalist entertainment industry.
The displacement of the issue of social and labor rights to that of consumerist whims and environmental protection is one of the hegemonic strategies of turbo-capitalism and the neo-liberal left as a complement. Back in 1995, in Sinistra senza classe (The Left without Class), Leone De Castris vindicated—vox clamantis in deserto—the need to reinitiate in the Left that class struggle that has now disappeared from the radar of the programs of the new Left in all its gradations. The triumph of “civil rights” as the monothema of the left quadrant represents, however, the apotheosis of the liberal anthropological conception, which thinks of man as a competitive atom (“The only one and his property,” as Stirner said) and human freedom as the whim of the consumer in the market. Subsumed under capital, the Left becomes a privileged place of symbolic reproduction and ideological justification of capital itself; and this, in the form of the elaboration, organization, and defense of the “single thought” and the “new mental order” as superstructural complements of the authentic balance of hegemonic power. Thus, PC, once the noble acronym identifying the Communist Party of Gramsci and Togliatti, is today only the acronym of the Politically Correct code of which the post-communist “sinistrash” rainbow hodgepodge has set itself up as the custodian.
Compressed elastically between 1968 and 1989, the phase of the formal subsumption of the Right and the Left under capital is characterized by the fact that the two sides of the dichotomy have been gradually integrated into the neocapitalist system. A sort of “cultural Yalta” is taking place: on the Left, the increasingly marked adherence to the cultural liberalism paradigm of ethical progressivism coexists with some vague hints of economic regulation, while on the Right, faint vestiges of cultural and moral regulation coexist with the increasingly evident adherence to economic liberalism.
Since 1989, with the real subsumption under capital, Right and Left have been fully integrated into the turbo-capitalist paradigm. The Left is increasingly freeing itself from economic regulation, celebrating the rationale of the competitive market. And the Right is increasingly distancing itself from moral and cultural regulation, embracing neoliberal progressivism. The traditionalist Right and the communist Left are disappearing, swallowed up respectively by the ultra-capitalist neo-right and neo-left. At most, they survive as testimonial folkloric residues or, more often than not, as entertainment and ideological alibi of the neoliberal system, playing into its hands to be pointed out as living proof of the ever-latent presence of fascism and communism, or what is the same—without distinction of any kind—as the now useless traditionalist Right and the now evaporated communist Left. If the neo-liberal Left is not even a shadow of red, the surviving sectarian and folkloric groups of the “pure Left” have only a faint red shadow left. And the same could be said of the black shadow in the right quadrant.
With the real subsumption, Right and Left come to coincide—paraphrasing Sartre—in considering capitalism as “the insurmountable horizon of our time.” The Right, with a few noteworthy exceptions, very early on began to identify in the status quo of the capitalist market, the existing to be defended and promoted, often pretending at the same time—as Giddens, among others, pointed out—to fight against its effects (homologation, dissolution of traditional links and identities, etc.). Its adherence to the market gradually pushed it to “dissolve” into integral liberalism.
The three pillars of what Roger Scruton has identified as “conservative thinking”—authority, loyalty and tradition—have been neutralized by the market. The latter, substituting tradition for progress, recognizes the commodity form as the only authority and free trade as the only loyalty. From this point of view, the Thatcherite vision is emblematic of the liberal-Atlantist neo-right—it aspires to the moral regeneration of the family, the individual and the nation, but founding it on the free market, that is, on the root cause of their disintegration. And, in order not to have to admit that it is the free market which denies what they want to affirm, the Thatcherite neo-liberals must invent, by way of explanation of this degeneration of values, the propaganda of the perfidious socialists trying, in the dark, to undermine the foundations of society.
The Left, for its part, as Michéa pointed out, criticized—at least until the fall of the Berlin Wall—the capitalist balance of power and the very idea of the capitalist free market, while enthusiastically adhering to those “illusions of progress” which are among its main successes (degrading values and traditions, rejecting sovereignties and material and immaterial frontiers, achieving the integral fluidization of the world of life). Its acceptance of cultural progressivism led it to gradually reconcile itself with the market, which generated it in its image and likeness, following a process that already began in the 1990s of the “short century.”
This is the only way to explain, for example, the French socialist program of 1992, entitled, “Un nouvel horizon: projet socialiste pour la France” (“A New Horizon: Socialist Project for France”). This program textually states the following: “oui, nous pensons que l’économie de marché constitue le moyen de production et d’échange le plus efficace. Non, nous ne ne croyons plus à une rupture avec le capitalism” (“Yes, we think that the market economy constitutes the most efficient means of production and exchange. No, we no longer believe in a break with capitalism”). Back in 1985, Hollande—future President of the French Republic, of declared gauchiste orientation—published, under a pseudonym, a left-liberal manifesto entitled, La gauche bouge (The Left is On the Move); one of the main chapters is entitled, “Competition is Left-Wing!” We have, in the two cases just mentioned, the most specific feature of the post-1989 liberal-libertarian neo-left glamour.
Political-social relations and their conflictual dialectics remain permanently off the radar. And the image of the hegemonic world, in the form of a single thought that does not admit deviations, keeps repeating that we are all in the same boat, mobilized in the common enterprise of our individual entrepreneurial success. Further confirmation, among many others, can be found in Aldo Schiavone’s book, Sinistra! Un manifesto—The Left. A Manifesto (2023), in whose pages, in addition to defending the need to put aside Marx and everything that still vaguely refers to Red history (in primis, the class struggle), the author proposes an idea of the Left that makes it, in fact, indistinguishable from neoliberalism, of which it becomes the most progressive and most radical wing. This fulfills Del Noce’s prophecy of nihilism as a necessary landing place for leftist thought.
In the fin de siècle consciousness, the reconversion to the neoliberal reason of the world can be considered completed. The Left fades and becomes “decaffeinated.” From anti-capitalism it passes to “alter-capitalism,” beginning to fight, not against the fanaticism of the free market, but against those traditional bonds that still slow down its development. It becomes openly anti-communist and anti-Marxist, adhering, among other things, to the double neo-liberal vision according to which: a) criticizing capitalism leads to misery and the denial of human dignity (to which, paradoxically, capitalism itself is effectively leading); and b) the market must be left alone (laissez faire!), since today’s profits will create tomorrow’s jobs.
In short, in the formal subsumption phase, the Right criticizes the effects and cultivates the causes, while the Left celebrates the effects and fights the causes.
With real subsumption, Right and Left end up glorifying both effects and causes, sanctifying the turbo-capitalist mode of production at both the symbolic and real levels. Since they now coincide, their political opposition is essentially based on reproaching each other for the red or black past, and disputing the primacy of representing in government the interests and vision of the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. In de Benoist’s syntax, the Right of money has contributed more than the Left to destroy the values it claimed to preserve; while the Left of the suit has contributed more than the Right to prevent the advent of the redeemed society, to whose project it formally declared itself faithful. Naturally, this situation never presents itself in historical reality in a “pure” way, without cracks and contradictions. What is certain, however, is that gradually right-wing economic liberalism increasingly saturates the field of the Left as well, just as left-wing cultural liberalism increasingly colonizes the sphere of the Right—and ultimately leads them to become indistinguishable. The Left adheres to economic liberalism, since it embraced cultural liberalism; and the Right surrenders to cultural liberalism, since it has embraced economic liberalism. In an unprecedented game of mirrors, each now sees on the opposite side only a mirror image of itself.