Politics in Minutes (2016)

The future of the left

At one point in the mid-20th century, something like one-third of the world’s population lived in countries governed along Marxist principles, and elsewhere more or less socialist parties thrived in liberal democracies. But by the end of the century, the ‘clash of ideologies’ between the capitalist West and communist East seemed to have been won, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall and even the adoption in China of a modified form of capitalism. Communism was seen as a failed experiment, although some held that true communism had never been put into practice, and that the so-called communist states were in fact ‘socialist dictatorships’. In the wake of this failure, many left-of-centre movements and parties abandoned socialist ideals, such as state ownership of industries and a government-led economy, in favour of free-market capitalism, even adopting some of its attitudes to welfare spending. However, as increasing inequality and austerity become more apparent than prosperity, there are signs of a resurgence of Marxist-inspired politics.