epilogue
Is it enough to end a book on leftist renewal without making an explicit
case for what makes the Left “left” in terms of its moral compass or ob-
jects of attention? What ensures that the case for a world- making politics
based on prizing open the political as a zone of engagement will steer
inexorably toward an equal and just society? These are important but
difficult questions for a book that focuses on the arts of political inno-
vation and maintenance, for no self- evident moral stance or manifesto
necessarily springs out of such an endeavor. However, from the histori-
cal examples that we have celebrated, from the affective motilities that
we have singled out, from the organizational innovations that we have
noted and praised, and from the accompanying procedural stances that
we have commended, it is possible to synthesize a certain normative
stance. It is one of forcing and sustaining a distinctive politics of justice
out of the many disorders of the moment.
Historically, the Left has distinguished itself by the consistent
tenacity it has shown in combating oppression and exploitation. This
stance has fired the socialist, feminist, communist, antiracist, and anti-
colonial causes. Arguably, the history of the environmental movement
has also been one of redressing exploitation and oppression of the planet
and its varied forms of life. Harnessed to political economy, the leftist
stance against oppression and exploitation has looked to ways in which
the material conditions of existence can be changed—for example,
through socializing the means of production. But the targets of interven-
tion have changed, something the Left has had to learn painfully from
its periods of fixation with the so- called essentials of freedom. The suc-
cess of the Left has lain in continually adding sites of exploitation and
oppression to its portfolio of concerns. It is this focus that most clearly
marks the Left from the Right, which has so often looked back to the
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