Sock Thief links to an interesting article in the LA Weekly, A Vision of Our Own: Four ideas for the left to redefine itself, by John Powers. The first part laments the decline of the left in America, and correctly points out that it is due essentially to laziness: the American left took their dominant position in the 60's and 70's for granted, and rested on their laurels. Meanwhile, funded by a small group of wealthy ultraconservatives, the right was building a network of political committees, media organisations and thinktanks - the infrastructure which underlies their curent ideological dominance. But behind this is a deeper problem. As Powers points out,
Forty years ago, the left represented the future - it crackled with pleasurable possibility - while the right symbolized the repressive past, clinging to dead traditions like shards of a wrecked ship... These days, all that has been stood on its head
Now it is the right that has the clear vision: a market society in which capital is totally dominant, it's holders a new and entrenched aristocracy of wealth. While the left has a good critique of that, it doesn't seem to have a positive vision of its own to offer as an alternative. Now that communism is dead and buried, unable (as Powers says) to act as either a threat or a promise, we are seemingly adrift.
Powers' solution is simple: the left needs to once again define what it stands for. As a starting point, he suggests reclaiming virtue, freedom, pleasure, and utopia from the clutches of the right. These are good ideas, and fleshed out provide a definate alternative vision: a tolerant state, where people are respected regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation; a state which maximises real freedom for all, rather than focusing on a stunted formal freedom which benefits only the rich; a "leisure society" where a universal basic income frees people from the necessity of having to work simply to eat, and gives them the freedom to make work suit their needs rather than those of employers - or at least one where workers enjoy substantial protections to prevent their employers working them into the ground, and where the goal is to have fewer people working for less time, not more. Mixed together, these are hardly utopia - and besides, utopias are dangerous - but certainly provide a vision that is far better than what we have now.
If all this seems familiar, it's because it's the sort of thing I've been advocating here in various proportions for the past two years (coupled with a strong emphasis on a just international order, rather than one which is simply a tool of the powerful). The alternative visions are out there (given the sheer breadth of the left, they've always been there), it's just a matter of publicising them.