Thanks to the processes of supranationalization and the order of the dominant discourse, the peoples themselves are increasingly convinced that fundamental decisions do not depend on their sovereign will, but on the markets and stock exchanges, on “external links” and on higher sources of transnational meaning. This is the reality that the peoples, from below, simply “must” second electorally, voting always and only as the superior rationality of the market and its agents demands.
“The markets will teach Italians to vote the right way,” solemnly affirmed, in 2018, the European Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget, Günther Oettinger, condensing in one sentence the meaning of “market-compatible democracy.” And, in convergent terms, the Eurotechnocrat Jean-Claude Juncker had categorically stated that “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties” (Le Figaro, 29.1.2015). Theses such as those just mentioned, about a supposedly necessary separation of popular representation and the sphere of political decision-making, would have been considered until recently as reactionary, authoritarian and inadmissible attacks on democracy. With the crisis of 1989, on the other hand, they became hegemonic in the order of the dominant logo—to such an extent that anyone who dared to challenge them in any way was repudiated as “populist” and “sovereigntist.”
The neoliberal right and left are today applying the same economic and social recipes. And the latter are no longer the result of democratic political negotiation, since the economic and monetary sovereignty of sovereign nation states has disappeared. Therefore, the recipes are imposed autocratically from supranational financial institutions, which in turn are not democratically legitimized (ECB, IMF, etc.). And since both the progressive right and the caviar left do not question the processes of de-democratizing supranationalization of decision-making (which, by the way, they mostly favor), both end up legitimizing the sovereignty of the post-national economy and, with it, that of the stateless class of neoliberal plutocracy, which always hides behind the apparent anonymity of “sensibly suprasensible” entities such as the Markets, the Stock Exchanges or the International Community.
Even in 1990, Norberto Bobbio maintained that “by the left today is understood the force that is on the side of those who are below, as well as by the right that which is on the side of those who are above.” Even then, Bobbio described in detail the nature of cleavage in the framework of modern dialectical capitalism; in whose spaces, indeed, the left had represented the interests of the dominated (those at the bottom) and the right those of the dominant (those at the top). However, Bobbio failed to decipher the obsolescence of this hermeneutic scheme in the framework of the new absolute-totalitarian capitalism—in his scenario, as should be clear by now, the left, no less than the right, represents the part, the interests and the perspective of those at the top.
Therefore, overcoming the treacherous right-left dichotomy, it is essential to re-sovereignize the economy in order to restore the primacy of sovereign decision-making; and, finally, to establish popular sovereignty, id est. democracy as κράτος of the δῆμος. For popular sovereignty coincides with a community master of its own destiny, therefore capable of deciding autonomously the key issues of its own existence. The dichotomy between socialism and barbarism has not ceased to be valid; with the fundamental novitas, however, that both the right and the left have openly placed themselves on the side of barbarism. And consequently, a new democratic socialism après la gauche must be shaped.
Intellectuals organic to capital—the new postmodern clergy—and politics subsumed under neoliberal power—progressive right and caviar left—keep the dominated classes, the national-popular Servant, inside the globalized cavern of capital. They convince the dominated that it is the only viable system. And they induce them to choose among fictitious alternatives, which are also based on the assumption of the neoliberal cavern as an ineluctable destiny, if not as the best of all possible worlds. Against the new mental order and the mappa mundi forged by the intellectual clergy in support of the dominant pole, we must have the courage to admit that the antithesis between right and left exists today only virtually, as an ideological prosthesis to manipulate the consensus and domesticate it in the capitalist sense, according to the typical device of “repressive tolerance” through which the global citizen is given the “free” choice of adherence to systemic needs. In fact, the choice is non-existent insofar as the two options, within which it is called to be exercised, share, at bottom, a common identity—right and left express in different ways the same content in the order of turbo-capitalism. And, in this way, they provoke the exercise of a manipulated choice, in which the two parties involved, perfectly interchangeable, feed the idea of the possible alternative, in reality non-existent. Thus, the real alternation between right and left guarantees not the alternative, but its impossibility.
It is for this reason that, in order to carry out the “gestalt reorientation” that will allow us to understand the present and orient ourselves in its spaces with thought and action, it is necessary to say goodbye, without hesitation and without remorse, to the already worn-out and useless dichotomy between right and left. That is why the abandonment of the dichotomy must not run aground in the shallows of disenchantment and the appeasement of all political passion for the rejuvenation of the world—the enduring passion of anti-capitalism and of the operative search for ennobling ulteriorities must, instead, be determined in the theoretical-practical attempt to theorize and operate new schemes and new maps, new syntheses and new fronts with which to relive the “dream of a thing” and the anti-adaptive pathos fueled by the desires for greater and better freedom. To paraphrase the Adorno of Minima Moralia, freedom is not exercised by choosing between a right and a left that are perfectly interchangeable and equally allied to the status quo. It is exercised by rejecting, without possible mediations, the manipulated choice and proposing real alternatives that think and act differently, beyond the alienated horizon of capital. We must reject alternation, in order to bring the alternative back to life.
Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual, The Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns. [This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].
Featured: Allegory of Greed, Egbert van Heemskerck the Younger; painted ca. 17th-18th century.