Why does political left seem to be in a state of confusion and constant internal conflict? Some explanations and a historical opportunity
There is no doubt that, between the current political left and the one of the era of ideologies, there is little in common. Back then, between 1789 and 1989, the left was committed to representing interests of the working class and, more generally, the oppressed, or rather, those categories that it considered functional in its struggle for power, a “class struggle”, or, at least, a struggle between some categories and others considered parasitic. The latter were the enemies, to be eliminated, simply because they were irredeemable: they were the bourgeoisie or the fascists, or the bosses.
This interpretative scheme of history has penetrated deeply into common sense and remains prevalent even today, despite the changes that have taken place. However, what has changed? Above all, there has been a shift from the ‘social question’ to the ‘anthropological’ one, from a focus on the rights of social bodies to those of the individual. A trade-union leader said, a few days ago, about what happened at the trade-union concert on 1 May: «For five days we have been talking about Fedez and not about the workers», for whom this event was originally organized every year.
The “social question” was born with the suppression of a society based on values that were not simply related to money and the division into economic classes, and it occurred, as Marx explains so well, with the French Revolution (1789), which favored a society based on the division into two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The ‘anthropological question’ begins two hundred years later with the end of the propulsive capacity of Marxism, as Enrico Berlinguer said perfectly, with the exhaustion of the centrality of the working class and the shift of social attention to the “rights” of the individual. It is the individual, with his rights unlimited in number, that governments must satisfy in any case, who takes the place of the working class and in general of the oppressed, and becomes the main revolutionary subject around which and at the service of which the left wants to conduct its political struggle.
There is no doubt that a different left has emerged from the previous one, attentive to the needs and to the satisfaction of those individual rights that are for the most part supposed, or rather, constructed by the desire of the individual to free himself from all natural law, to the point of rejecting sexual nature itself with the gender ideology. They have called it the ‘caviar left’, because it increasingly represents the interests of particular sections of the population, of some very elitist transgressive minorities, concentrated above all in the centers of large metropolitan cities.
However, the poor still exist. Partly because they are caused by historical events (immigrants, for example), partly because they have been reduced to poverty by the contradictions of the post-1989 economic system, that they very roughly call ‘savage capitalism’ (the impoverished middle class), partly also as a consequence of the pandemic (the self-employed as unguaranteed workers).
Already in 1891, with the publication of the encyclical Rerum novarum, the Church realized that the loss of the working class would have been a tragedy and would have fostered disastrous revolutions. The encyclical explained how the grave injustice suffered by the workers after the industrial revolution could be remedied by appropriate reforms that would prevent revolutions. This did not happen, and the Catholic movement only partly succeeded in recovering the working class.
Today, the Church has sensed the same drama, bending with care and tenderness over the wounds caused by the anthropological revolution on individuals and families: just think of the long Magisterium on the family, from Pius XI’s Casti connubi to Francis’ Amoris laetitiae, passing through St John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio and the latter’s extraordinary catechesis on human love, the so-called ‘theology of the body’ (1979-1984). As then, at the end of the 19th century, the Church today does not limit herself to condemning the worst remedies for the evil they want to cure, but above all starts from the reality of a sick society and of wounded people, who must be accompanied towards salvation, eternal, of course, but also the temporal, as far as possible.
Wednesday, 5 maggio 2021