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Left Without a Future?: Social Justice in Anxious Times. A Painter (2013), pp. 52-53

November 8, 2013

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“The left’s problem is that it is stuck in the old ways of understanding this political and social change. Its models are outmoded. Commentators and politicians on the left have a habit of starting with the position they want to argue. They then cobble together something that on paper looks like sufficient backing in terms of blocks of class support. But people are no longer strongly driven in that way. Old left views are subject to heavy ‘confirmation’ and ‘optimism’ biases – they see their own viewpoints in the evidence. The allegation then is that the alternative is just to switch around tactically to follow public opinion. Again – and this argument comes mainly from commentators on the soft and hard left – this misses the point. A viable and sustainable political strategy understands where the parameters are, then crafts a viable vision backed up by sound policies within those parameters. There are choices; there is not only one ‘centre ground’. It is just that it’s not a free-for-all. You have to reach to where people are to engage them, and then lead them, while also responding to their needs and concerns. It is conversation, not capitulation that is required.”

[op. cit., pp. 52-53]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

The advice from Painter is sound, and makes sense both for left and right. Nothing looks more static than last century tactics in a world that is necessarily different.

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