prologue
This is a book about how the Left, particularly in the West, can move for-
ward in the struggle to voice a politics of social equality and justice. But
it does not provide a manifesto, a template, or even a plan. The reason for
this seeming absence of guidance is straightforward. We believe that the
Left needs to invest much more effort in understanding both the politi-
cal and the process of politics when it seeks to steer toward a particular
outcome. Compared with times past, when the Left did indeed manage
to capture hearts and minds and found itself able to alter the course of
history for the many rather than just the few, too many of the forces that
profess to be of the Left take the political as given and, for that reason,
fail to disclose or enable new futures. That, at least, is the thesis of this
book. Thus, the book is about what it means to be “Left” once the politi-
cal is given the attention it deserves. Too often lately, the Left has been
unsuccessful because it has allowed itself to be constrained by a politics
that is grounded in habitual ways of thinking and acting—to the advan-
tage of conservative forces. The Left needs to repopulate the political
with new visions, new desires, and new modes of organization—that
is, with the three arts of imagination, persuasion, and fulfilment with-
out which a different future cannot be seen or desired and the present
is viscerally understood as closed to any kind of renewal. Only then will
the Left be able to make its case successfully for a fair and equal society.
How this case is made, however, is part of the problem. The orga-
nized Left—not just in the West, but the world over—has spent too
much time telling people what the future ought to be and too little time
thinking about ways in which that future can be brought about by like-
minded people who have been able to find one another. We believe that
new futures can be built only by trusting to the organizational capacities
and enthusiasm of these people to a much greater extent than has been
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