A Brief Global History of the Left by Shlomo Sand
24 November 2023
What is happening to the Left? It seems to be dying a slow death. While many commentors have predicted its demise, the Left has always defied these bleak prognoses and risen from the ashes in the most unexpected ways. Nevertheless, we are witnessing today a global decline in organized movements on the Left, and while social struggles and rebellious citizens continue to challenge dominant political regimes, these efforts do not translate into support for traditional left parties or into the creation of dynamic movements on the left.
Bestselling historian Shlomo Sand argues that the global decline of the Left is linked to the waning of the idea of equality that has united citizens in the past and inspired them to engage in collective action. Sand retraces the evolution of this idea in a wide-ranging account that includes the Diggers and Levellers of seventeenth-century England, the French Revolution, the birth of anarchism and Marxism, the decolonial, feminist and civil rights revolts, and the left populism of our time. In piecing together the thinkers and movements that built the Left over centuries, Sand illuminates the global and transnational dynamics which pushed them forward, often picking up the gauntlets their predecessors had laid down. He outlines how they shaped the notion of equality, while also analysing how they were confronted by its material reality, and the lessons that they did – or did not – draw from this.
This concise and magisterial history of the Left will be of interest to anyone interested in the idea of equality and the fate of one of the most important movements that has shaped the modern world.