(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
Last week, Halvor Finess Tretvoll had an essay in Ny Tid entitled "The struggle for the soul of the left". Here he claimed that the left has had problems with its own self-understanding ever since the right-wing wave hit the world around 1980, and that parts of it have succumbed to nostalgia, nationalism and conservatism. The entire essay can be read in Samtiden 3/2005, which was published this week.
He criticized, among other things, Rune Slagstad's concept of "socialism in Norwegian", the refusal of leftist intellectuals such as Dag Solstad and Bjørgulv Braanen to take postmodernism seriously, and that Attac had the fight against pension reform as one of its main issues.
- Yes, parts of the Norwegian left are very nationalistic, says Thomas Hylland Eriksen in a comment to Tretvoll's post.
- There has long been stagnation where there should have been new thinking. The left has lacked the ability to take on board the implications of the transnational issues. Take a thinker like Slagstad: He has never talked about anything but Norway. This possibly worked a generation ago, when Norway was more isolated, but today it is not a viable position at all.
Hylland Eriksen believes the stagnation does not only apply to Norway.
- In most other countries in the world you will find the same lack of left-wing analytical innovation, but this nationalist variant is quite distinctive for Norway. Look at the election campaign: Thorbjørn Jagland is the only one who has tried to draw up an international perspective.
- What do you think the left side should get better at?
- It has usually been better at promoting equality than understanding differences. Among other things, this has had some strange consequences in the immigration debate, where it has been difficult to distinguish between different types of rights. I also suggest that it updates the world map, and for example sees that there is a connection between immigration, aid and security.
Finally a call to Tretvoll:
- He has written similar articles before. Now it's time for him to move on and launch some alternatives.
Nor is Reiulf Steen particularly fond of Slagstad's concept.
- I am not a supporter of a socialism in Norwegian, says Reiulf Steen.
- That something like this is an impossibility, Marx tried to teach us over 170 years ago. When capital is international, the labor movement and its struggle must also be international.
On that basis, Steen is a supporter of the EU.
- Because Europe must stand together. But I am also part of Attac, because it addresses the most important global issues, and in particular the skewed distribution of resources worldwide.
Steen believes that socialist thinking since Marx's time has been based on the world there and then. He's not sure if that applies today.
- Today's left side makes far too little effort to provide a social analysis of the challenges of our time.
- Tretvoll talks about «national left-wing conservatives».
- My impression is that these do not primarily think nationally, but that they see so much power concentrated in the IMF, WTO and EU that they turn to the nation state as a protection against all this. And they must be allowed to think so, but I do not agree.