There's a bit of an argument out there between Pablo at Kiwipolitico and Chris Trotter about the current shape of the left. I haven't been following it closely as I am heroically indolent and they use too many big words. But the jist is that Pablo thinks the left is effectively dead and Chris thinks it isn't.
I think that the left in the sense that Pablo intended has effectively perished and we're left (pun intentional) with a zombie left which is based on a series of compromises with capitalism. It makes me sad to here Ralph Miliband's son talking about "a more responsible capitalism" and reforming the banking system by introducing ... more banks. It's like Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past, saying that you can't win in gambling, but "There are ways to lose more slowly." That seems to be all that's left for the the left. Again, puns again intentional.
The Leninists used to say that while the evolution of society was historically inevitability, the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat could be at hand to "lessen the birth pangs." Perhaps they got it the wrong way round and the only real function of the left was to administer palliative care to the dying corpse of humanity.
Unless Marx really was right all along (yeah, that pun was intentional as well) and at sun unclear point in the probably distant future the whole shoddy enterprise collapses and something new emerges. Though human history doesn't suggest much hope for revolutionaries building utopia in the rubble.
Well, that was cheerful!