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Reason to believe

The spirit of the left has been extinguished. But there is still a case for radical ideology

By Michael Jacobs   October 2002

Over the last quarter of a century something very large, and not entirely understood, has happened to politics in western Europe. It is a commonplace that labour and social democratic parties-not least New Labour-have become more moderate, and more accommodating to capitalism. But a change much deeper than merely one of policy has occurred. It’s a cultural, indeed a psychological, shift. A kind of spirit has been extinguished.

When Max Weber analysed the way in which the post-Enlightenment processes of rational thought gradually permeated European consciousness in the 18th and 19th centuries, he described the world as becoming “disenchanted.” The…

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