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Thank You Shlomo Sand, We’ll Take It From Here

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“The social-democratic left is dead,” says historian Shlomo Sand in an interview published Friday in Haaretz. Sand’s eulogy is in such sharp and surprising contrast to the actual political situation, that when we read his words it’s hard not to imagine a comic funeral scene (Sand specializes in film as history), in which someone delivers a moving eulogy over his friend’s grave, but a moment before the body is lowered into the pit the dead man stands up, starts to dance, and leaves the eulogizer and the audience in shock.

The role of the dead-living person can be played by one of two people – U.S. President Joe Biden and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – who perform impressive social-democratic dance steps in front of the various eulogizers.

Sand’s words are characterized by major mistakes: Where he describes an ideological wasteland, as though nothing has changed in the left camp since the golden age of the French Communist Party in the 1940s, unprecedented ideological innovation is taking place. And where he describes painful political defeats, without mentioning where and when, in recent years there have been impressive victories.

In ideological terms, the coronavirus crisis, the economic crisis of 2008 and the looming climate catastrophe have led to dramatic changes in the political ideas that are fostering research, party platforms and public policy. Inequality was the most widely discussed issue in the previous decade, after being totally erased for three decades by those who, like Sand, declared the victory of capitalism.

The climate crisis will probably be the main issue of the next decade or two. Ideas such as taxing wealth, debt as an investment, a universal basic income, climate........

© Haaretz

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