The Bolsheviks who captured power in 1917 as the Russian Empire was in collapse aimed to abolish politics in a normative sense; politics would be replaced by the administration of policies from above. This has been replicated in the west a century later.
Dissent is tolerated only to the degree it can be managed, democracy allowed only if the electorate votes the “correct way.” In the west there are no longer politicians; the people who rule are designated to express the constructed “will of people” without popular consent.
During the Cold War the left-right ideological division reached its highest articulation. We are told it was all about liberal democracy vs. communism. This was politically expedient and convenient at the time. The fact is the left-right face-off was actually about the role of the state in public life – and not about geopolitics. The left in the west was empowered because it saved capitalism in the western world. The mainstream historical narrative that Franklin D. Roosevelt and Europe’s socialists wanted to destroy capitalism and big business is utter nonsense. The traditional left through time merely dressed up both to be socially acceptable and attractive. This gesture was recognized and appreciated. The left was no longer the enemy, it as a force to be coopted. The left legitimized the status quo.
Ok, this has been a rather long introduction to get to my main point. Over the past half-century we have witnessed the left-progressive position eroded and almost consigned to history. Right-wing (and often religious) fundamentalists still have strong support, but have nonetheless ghettoized themselves. They are victims of their own “successful culture wars.” What remains standing is the almost all-powerful state, which is almost indifferent to any idea that does not promote the interests of the state.
What I call the “consensus state” is widely popular and generously provided for by the financial elites, mega-transnational corporations, and even supporters of the left’s cultural wars (gay rights and transgender toilets, as examples). Left and progressive rhetoric is more than welcomed by the “consensus state” as long as it does not have any meaningful economic demands. The result is the traditional right and left has been completely neutralized.
Hillary Clinton is the quintessential representative of the “consensus state.” Bernie Sanders was the leftist who settled for “cultural” crumbles and probably less. As I write this, Trump remains a bizarre sideshow – entertaining the masses without any meaningful threat to the “consensus state.” Politics have been abolished, the people have been discarded, but the state remains.
The Bolsheviks would be proud.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views are his own and may not reflect those of his employer.