Role of the state

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Wed Feb 22 12:21:20 MST 1995


On Wed, 22 Feb 1995, Louis N Proyect wrote:

> I heard Leo Panitch speak the other night in NY. He stated that there's a
> tendency on the part of some on the left to minimize the role of the
> state in the context of the development of global capital.
>

Louis Proyect:

I think Louis Proyect, true to form, is on to something.

In the latest issue of the Nation, there's a review of Hilary Wainwright's
"Arguments for a New Left" by Jeremy Brecher. Brecher is a writer from the
South End Press stable of Green/Anarchists. Hilary Wainwright was a
senior staff member of the Greater London Council in the 1980's.

Wainwright, according to Brecher, "endorses the Old Left's pursuit of
equality and a socialized economy but is highly critical of its statist
orientation." In the course of working with Eastern European
dissidents, Wainwright began to take Friedrich Von Hayek's "moral
and philosophical notions" seriously. The dissidents she worked with were
impressed with Von Hayek's critique of the "social engineering state."

Wainwright's "New Leftism" relies on non-state institutions such as
cooperatives, civic organizations and social movements that project
themselves into politics such as the German Greens.

What I find interesting is how a number of themes intersect in
Wainwright's work (and, by implication, Brecher's uncritical review).
You have a synthesis of postmodernism (Lyotard's questioning of the
role of the state), Greenish localism, enfatuation with cooperatives and
other "socialist" pockets within bourgeois society, Hayekian anti-
Marxism all within the general rubric of New Leftism.

Needless to say, I find echoes of Wainwright's politics in this Marxism
list much of the time. I'll probably pick this worthless book up sooner
or later and trash it publicly (just kidding, gang, but I will have some
more to say on it!).

Louis Proyect


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