The World Socialist Web Site is publishing today the Chinese translation (“伪左派的理论与历史起源”) of “The theoretical and historical origins of the pseudo-left,” the opening report given by WSWS International Editorial Board Chairman David North on July 8, 2012 to the Socialist Equality Party (US) Second National Congress. Exposing the bankrupt politics of a wide range of left-posturing, petty-bourgeois movements, this report traces their historical origins to opportunist tendencies that broke with the Fourth International and their theoretical foundations in the anti-materialist and irrational school of post-modernism.
This report is of great significance today to workers and young people in China as the crisis of capitalism intensifies with the threat of nuclear war, the surging COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed over six million people and deepening social inequality in every country.
There is a growing popular revulsion in China to the huge growth of social inequality in the three decades since the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) turn to capitalist restoration and widespread bureaucratic corruption as well as concerns about the growing dangers of war.
A layer of young people and workers in China is being politically radicalised. When they start to look for alternatives, they are confronted with the influence of a whole range of tendencies and organizations claiming to be “left” or, in some cases, “socialist.” These range from out-and-out political charlatans like Žižek, to Lacan’s psychoanalyst school, Frankfurt School scholars such as Adorno or Horkheimer, and as well as neo-Maoists and ex-Trotskyist groups that comprise the pseudo-left.
Their theories can appear complicated and filled with impenetrable jargon, and the class character of their politics may not be immediately apparent. David North explains that all of the pseudo-left tendencies, at their core, in one way or another, reject the revolutionary role of the working class. Their political orientation is to affluent sections of the upper-middle class and the promotion of social psychology, sexuality, identity politics, personal lifestyle which are falsely presented as the means for social progress.
These tendencies can be an attractive alternative to young people in China who are fed the dogmas of Maoism from an early age and told that it is Marxism. Without an understanding of the political and theoretical struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism, many fall into the trap of accepting the facile explanation that Marxism is responsible for the past crimes of the CCP bureaucracy and the social ills of today.
In tracing the theoretical and political origins of the pseudo-left, David North’s report provides an essential insight of the role that these social layers play today. Young people and workers who are genuinely concerned about social inequality, war, and the lack of basic democratic rights and looking for a way forward need to study the history of the political struggles of the Trotskyist movement based on genuine Marxism and embodied today in the International Committee of the Fourth International.