The question that continues to confuse socialists almost to the same degree that it delights their political opponents is why the Left today – not only in the U.K. but across the West – continues to collaborate so willingly and unquestioningly with the authoritarian programmes and regulations of the emerging Global Biosecurity State. As the imminent implementation of Digital ID, Central Bank Digital Currency, Universal Basic Income, Environmental and Social Corporate Governance criteria (ESG), Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, Social Credit, Smart Cities, and all the other programmes of Agenda 2030 are demonstrating, the New World Order being forced upon us outside of any democratic process is capitalist in its economic infrastructure, fascist in its governmental, juridical and ideological superstructure and totalitarian in its aims. So why do those who, however mistakenly, self-identify as of the political Left continue to be its noisiest and blindest cheerleaders?
If, by the Left, we mean in the U.K. the Labour Party and those trades unions, political organisations and pressure groups that advocate voting Labour every time there’s an election, then the U.K. Left has little or nothing socialist in its principles, politics or practices. For those of us who read its policies and oppose its actions in town halls and local authorities, Labour is irrefutably and even openly a party whose political philosophy is founded in the principles of neoliberalism. This is, perhaps, most demonstrably evident in its collusion in the marketisation of human needs such as housing and the financialisation of those markets by global capital. Moreover, anyone who has knocked around the Left as I have also knows that, whatever its so-called ‘Left-wing’ elements and organisations argue between elections, when it comes to supporting or opposing the policies and practices of Labour in government at municipal or local authority level, they all toe the party line, keep silent and vote Labour.
It has come as no surprise to me, therefore, that the U.K. Left, including not only Labourites but the wide diaspora of people who call themselves ‘Leftists’ and even ‘socialists’, have become fervent ideologues of the biosecurity state. But it’s not, as the followers of Friedrich Hayek argue, because of the inherent authoritarianism of socialism that leads it to impose a totalitarian social model at the first opportunity. There is (it can’t be repeated too often) little or nothing socialist – in the Labour Party nothing, in its affiliates and fellow travellers little – about the policies or practices of the U.K. Left. Even those small groups and independent organisations that are openly critical of Labour have adopted the U.K. Left’s almost universal support for biosecurity restrictions, remain indifferent to the immiseration and suffering of the U.K. working class they are causing, and steadfastly refused to join the millions of U.K. workers who protested against their imposition in the spring and summer of 2021. They instead uncritically accepted and adopted the Government and corporate media’s dismissal of those workers as ‘far-Right conspiracy theorists’.
Undoubtedly, the political naivety of the Left disposed it to welcome the imposition of the regulations and programmes of the biosecurity state in March 2020 as the triumph of the common good over government incompetence and ‘Right-wing’ greed. But that was nearly three years ago, and naivety has become bad-faith and denial in the face of the vast apparatus of global biosecurity that’s been constructed around, between and within us. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Left now regrets its collaboration, which of course continues today, or that it hasn’t obstinately confined its protests to the erasure of our rights and freedoms being enacted by the wave of new legislation introduced in 2022 on the back of 582 coronavirus-justified Statutory Instruments, without admitting any relationship between them. The betrayals and duplicities of the Left are legion, but many socialists are still asking how it came to this.
What all the Left shares – and the origin of its otherwise inexplicable collusion with the implementation of the U.K. biosecurity state – is a decades-long infiltration by the neoliberal ideologies of multiculturalism, political correctness, identity politics and, most recently, the orthodoxies of woke. In some organisations, the infiltration is marginal and exists, under the umbrella of ‘intersectionality’, in an uneasy and usually unexamined co-existence with the slogans – if not the practices – of socialism. In others, such as the Labour Party and its affiliates, what socialist principles they may once have had have been entirely replaced by the values and orthodoxies of these relatively new ideologies, which have manifested themselves in such youthful, energetic and well-funded movements as Momentum, Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and now the masked-up, jacked-up advocates of the Global Biosecurity State. These are all (whatever they may say themselves) pro-capitalist movements, hostile to the working class – which they consistently and casually denounce as ‘racist’ – and directly if not openly opposed to socialism. It’s by their principles that the Left has operated for some time in the U.K. as in all the former neoliberal democracies of the West.
It can’t be long before we see a similar movement, funded by the same or even more powerful billionaires, formed to support the next stage in the U.K. biosecurity state. This includes the adoption of a Universal Basic Income for those impoverished by lockdown, spiralling inflation, rising energy prices and the mass digitalisation of white-collar jobs by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And like its predecessors, this movement of the Covid-faithful will claim a position on the U.K. Left by criticising the Conservative Government’s response to this or the next ‘crisis’. In doing so, it will help create an even greater consensus among U.K. youth and ‘liberals’ in the middle-classes for increased online surveillance, stricter laws, harsher sentences, more intrusive technologies of public control and greater police powers to enforce them. As we saw most publicly in the counter demonstrations organised across Canada during the blockade against vaccine mandates in February 2022, the Left didn’t hesitate to align itself with the Government of Justin Trudeau and the riot police he deployed, denounced truckers as ‘white supremacists’ and every other insult in the woke handbook, while waving placards telling working men and women facing unemployment and destitution at the hands of the biosecurity state to ‘check their privilege’.
This largely middle-class, neoliberal Left, which today constitutes a homogeneous force of compliance across the biosecurity states of the West, did not suddenly become devotees of the restrictions and programmes imposed due to a justification of a major threat to public health that never existed. On the contrary, the Left is the Church in which these Covid-faithful have been raised, their guiding religion and cultic practices formed by the same radically conservative beliefs. To state again what should be obvious to all: no-platforming, cancel culture, misogyny disguised as trans-rights, policing of speech and opinion, and all the other symptoms of this woke ideology did not emerge from a politics of emancipation, class struggle or wealth distribution. They emerged from, and are advocates for, authoritarian practices of censorship, suppression of debate and punishment of non-compliance that are culturally inseparable from the technologies of surveillance and control developed by finance capitalism to police and protect its borders. These are not the borders between the nation states that finance capitalism straddles like a colossus and across which the Global Biosecurity State now controls our movements to a degree hitherto unimaginable to the children of multiculturalism. They are rather the borders between, on the one hand, the international corporations and offshore jurisdictions through which global capital flows, and on the other, scrutiny by and accountability to what remains of the public sector in those nation states.
Far from the Left being, as some have claimed, under some form of collective hypnosis or programming – presumably from the propaganda of the Right – it is from the Left that we hear the most Puritanical demands for displays of public virtue, for the harshest punishments to be imposed on unbelievers in the new faith of biosecurity. There is a direct line of ideological influence between the Black Lives Matter slogan that ‘silence is violence’, the ‘rebels’ groomed by Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil offering themselves for arrest, and the ideologues of ‘Zero-Covid’ denying human rights to those who refuse to comply with the dictates of the Global Biosecurity State.
Just as, for the past century and more, trades unions under Labour’s duplicitous leadership have repeatedly sacrificed U.K. workers to the interests of U.K. capital, so the Left has handed over U.K. youth to the U.K. biosecurity state. To claim that this corporate, technocratic, authoritarian, repressive, violent and totalitarian ideology has anything in common with the emancipatory aims of socialism shows just how little the ideologues of the Left know or care about socialist politics, socialist principles or socialist practices, except insofar as it exists to suppress any organisation that attempts to enact them.
Indeed, with such willing compliance from the Left, is there any need anymore for the ideologues of capitalism to extol its supposedly unique ability to defend our freedoms? The declarations of a New World Order made at the concurrent meetings of the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organisation this May strongly suggest not. As an ideological principle, ‘freedom’ is well and truly off the political agenda today. Fascism – although, as Orwell predicted, imposed under another name (‘biosecurity’, ‘Net Zero’, ‘stakeholder capitalism’ etc.), no longer under the authority of a sovereign leader but of new international technocracies like the World Economic Forum and World Health Organisation, and in this country appearing in a slimy Anglicised form — is the new common good to which all of us are being compelled to sacrifice our human rights, our privacy, our bodily autonomy, our freedoms. And the truth the Left continues to refuse to face up to is that none of this could have been achieved with such speed and ease without its collaboration.
But is that all? Can so momentous a historical failure, which may one day equal that of the failure of the Left to defeat the rise of fascism a century ago, be attributed entirely to the ideological erasure of socialism not only from the parliamentary parties and political organisations of the Left but also from the ideology of its membership and fellow travellers? If the psychological structure of fascism is the pull between an almost childlike obedience to the imperious forms of authority that operate above the law, and a visceral hatred of the impoverished, the diseased, the ostracised and the criminalised, what can we say about the psychological structure of the Left in the West in 2022? Is the Left now, in effect, fascist? And if it is, was Hayek right, after all, about socialism being a stepping stone to fascism?
The answer to both these questions must be ‘no’: not only because the past 40 years of neoliberalism in the West have witnessed the outsourcing of public services to the private sector and deferral of economic policy to central banks and international financial institutions; but also because the division of the political spectrum on which Hayek’s argument rested into Left and Right – with social democrats and socialists, respectively, one and two steps to the Left, and liberals and conservatives one and two steps to the Right – no longer has any descriptive purchase on the political paradigm of the Global Biosecurity State.
The orthodoxies of woke ideology have been employed by self-styled ‘liberal democracies’ under some of the most authoritarian and anti-working-class governments in recent history – including those of Boris Johnson in the U.K., Emmanuel Macron in France, Mario Draghi in Italy and Karl Nehammer in Austria – in order to subordinate the Left to the Global Biosecurity State. ‘Subordinate’ is perhaps the wrong word, because, at the same time, notionally Left-wing governments – including those of Pedro Sánchez in Spain, António Costa in Portugal and Magdalena Andersson in Sweden – as well as Left political parties in opposition such as U.K. Labour, have been just as ready to embrace the Global Biosecurity State on the woke principles of safety, censorship and a paternal state. And, of course, liberal and conservative governments – including those of Olaf Scholz in Germany, Mateusz Morawiecki in Poland, Alexander de Croo in Belgium, Mark Rutte in the Netherlands, Sanna Marin in Finland and Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Greece – have long since made woke orthodoxies the foundation of their political platforms, and rapidly deployed them in their opportunist response to the coronavirus ‘crisis’.
This unity of response by the notionally politically differentiated governments of European nation states, together with their willing subordination to the new technocracies of global governance, has demonstrated – hopefully once and for all – that Left and Right no longer exist as positions within the new biopolitical paradigm of the West.
One could argue that they haven’t for some time. Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the U.K. and one of the West’s most influential ideologues of neoliberalism, whose New Labour party did so much to close the Overton Window, replaced Left and Right with what he called ‘Open and Closed’, with the former in favour of neoliberalism, multiculturalism and globalisation, and the latter with protectionism, cultural conservatism and anti-immigration. In this new political spectrum, in which so-called ‘openness’ more accurately describes the ideology of the Left, the socialist values of political emancipation, economic equality and wealth redistribution have been removed altogether, with the middle-classes enjoined to openness and the working class dismissed as closed. Of course, with the current revolution of Western capitalism into the Global Biosecurity State, ‘open and closed’ have taken on very different meanings, with the ‘open’ advocates of neoliberalism now demanding lockdown, the imposition of ‘vaccine’ passports as a condition of travel and mandatory medical intervention as a condition of employment, and the ‘closed’ workers defending their rights and freedoms.
Indeed, insofar as the residual polarity between Left and Right has served to divide opposition to the biosecurity state, with compliance depoliticised as obedience to medical ‘measures’ issued by supposedly non-political technocratic advisory boards (whether SAGE or the WHO), the collaboration of Left and Right has facilitated the imposition of the biopolitical paradigm of the state. Just as Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom allowed neoliberals to reduce politics to economics – most famously expressed in Thatcher’s slogan that “There Is No Alternative” (TINA) – the sanctimoniously repeated mantra of the Covid-faithful that the coronavirus crisis is ‘above politics’ is the dream of a post-political totalitarian world in which, whatever party is elected to administer its dictates, the state and its powers remain at the disposal of the same international organisations of global governance.
The Left of today, therefore, is not fascist, but neither is it socialist in any recognisable sense of the term. As the more than two-and-a-half years since March 2020 have demonstrated more clearly than any other recent event in the history of the West, the Left is a residual but still functioning political form of the power of the nation state to assimilate, through the spectacles of parliamentary democracy and street protest, the potentially subversive elements of society into the homogeneous political order, in order to protect the productive forces of the economy from the increasingly frequent crises of finance capitalism. The coronavirus ‘crisis’, and the collaboration of the Left in constructing the Global Biosecurity State, is the demonstration of this function.
Simon Elmer is the author of The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State, from which this article is an excerpt.