Why the left is turning to the extreme in the wake of Brexit and Trump

In poor rural areas many Russians yearn for a return to communism

Is communism coming back? The Economist’s “The World In” site compares the current economic conditions found in the world right now and compares them to those conditions prevalent at the onset of the Russian Revolution. Their findings? “The similarities to the world that produced the Russian revolution are too close for comfort.”

2017 marks one hundred years since Lenin led the Bolsheviks to victory over the provisional government in Russia, founding the world’s first communist state, the Soviet Union, the tragic tale of which is well known to students of history. Bolshevik Russia emerged during World War I, when the entire liberal order in Western Europe was in tremendous upheaval and strain, ultimately collapsing and inaugurating the happy era that birthed Nazism and World War II. The victorious Allies created institutions to guarantee world stability and prevent the rise of authoritarian dictators with land-hungry policies like Hitler and Mussolini, institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. In what many will see as beginning with the great recession of 2008, today we are witnessing the rolling back or perhaps outright collapse of the neo-liberal order that has governed Western economies, polities, and diplomacies to this day.

From Brexit to the election of Donald Trump, signs of cracks in the foundation of neo-liberal policies like free trade and globalisation are beginning to show, similar to the world of 1917, and many are beginning to question long-held notions about nationhood and identity in what was once called a post-nation state world. Adrian Woodridge, writing for The World In, says that the “Global economy has delivered too many of its benefits to the richest: in America, the proportion of after-tax income going to the top 1% doubled from 8% in 1979 to 17% in 2007. And in many ways the future looks worse. Productivity growth has slowed. Unless this can be changed, politics will inevitably become a struggle of divvying up the pie. Tech giants such as Google and Amazon enjoy market shares not seen since the late 19th century, the era of robber barons.”

Adrian exhorts those who want to preserve the liberal order to fight for it by “exposing liberalism’s enemies for the paper tigers they are: Mr Putin, in particular, presides, by fear and fraud, over a country whose economic power is stalling and whose people are plagued by poverty and illness.” In addition, Adrian decries overregulation of business and thinks the left needs to take concerns about immigration more seriously. He says, “The revival of bolshiness has already taken a terrible toll. Liberals need to think more clearly, and act more forcefully, to stop the rot.”

[The World In – Bolshiness is back]