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I agree that it is a stretch to call the current measures socialist, and that the media selects for those who toe the line and tries to crush those against (as you'd guess from my diaries on Ypsilanti vs. the Schröderite Old Guard around Münte). I also would agree that these blanket statements serve to discredit all Socialists, even if they did warn before.

However, the Third Wayers, while subsequently abandoning most (Schröder, Brown) or all (Bliar) actual socialist ideas, did grow out of Socialism, and similar thinking rules the top ranks of virtually every European PES member party I can think of. Even pointing at a party's ideas on various topics when in opposition is little help, when one considers what for example Bliar campaigned for election in 1997. All of these parties had leaders who sold out to neoliberalism, even if all of them had prominent naysayers within the party.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:28:09 AM EST
Or, in short, to answer the question in the title: yes, I think the Socialists are part of the problem.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At a deeper level, this

And yet, the media noise about them is almost exclusively about the personalities and the (existing and certainly disgraceful) infighting

Implies a problem at the level of party militants: how could they have chosen such obviously (and pre-elections obviously) unfit leaders like Jack Lang who'd then betray them and go Sarko?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He was a very popular minister of culture, thanks to his ability to get a bigger budget, and his knack for organising some pretty good events (think nuits de la musique and the like).

He was a baron in Mitterrand's court, and has been a has-been over the past 15 years, with little influence in the party other than his media relations.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wondered, but I find he was also in the secrétariat national at the time he considered running for Presidency.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:59:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jack Lang has actually had the greatest difficulty getting accepted by PS party members for years. He had to leave Blois, his former base, and get parachuted into the Nord Pas-de-Calais (not without difficulty).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 10:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do agree that Third Wayers are the problem, but that's the point - can they still claim to be socialists, or even social democrats, or, even more to the point, to be the only ones ??

I mean, when Jospin was PM, there were whiffs of thirdwayism, but overall you had a decent center-left policy, and pretty good results. Ditto with Prodi in Italy and, I think, the Spanish Socialists (although I'll defer to Mig's judgement on Zapatero, overall), just to stick to the larger countries.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:34:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do agree that Third Wayers are the problem, but that's the point

No, that's a simplification. In the strict sense, only Bliar, Brown and Schröder are third-wayists. However, they inspired Prodi (who, lest you forget, failed to curb media monopolies, but executed a lot of 'reforms' in the name of budgetary discipline for the introduction of the Euro -- even if the end result was still much more welfare state than in Britain), Sócrates, Almunia, Zapatero (at least initially when he even praised Bliar, and arguably all the way until he dumped Almunia), and a couple of others (especially in the new EU member states) who never declared themselves Third Wayist, or even claimed they aren't, based on some differences. And the Third Wayists were also the logical continuation, with only minor steps forward, of the 'reform'-ism/defeatism in the face of neoliberalism signified by leaders like Göran Persson, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Wim Kok, Massimo D'Alema, and Felipe González. Jospin was the left-most of the whole bunch of Socialists dominating the EU at the end of the nineties -- and the successors in opposition seem to have made up for the distance. So the problem is really wide, deep and long-running.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:50:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, but isn't that because, other than Jospin then (and look at how much flak the French socialists have taken for the 35-hour week and similar policies) nobody fought the notion that the Third Way was the only possible route for socialists, and thus that the only "reasonable" socialists were third wayists - ie precisely the move I described above.

Either be Third way, or be labelled an extremist, a dinosaur (or both, or worse, French).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 09:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but isn't that because, other than Jospin then ...  nobody fought the notion that the Third Way was the only possible route for socialists

  1. Wouldn't that be a problem with the Socialists (too)?

  2. As I said, Kok, González, Persson, Rasmussen preceded the birth of the "Third Way" (1997).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 10:07:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Poul "Ribus" Rasmussen was a Clintonite. I don't remember what Clinton called himself, but I think of him as the prototypical "third-wayer." Or in my less charitable moments as "a jingoist sellout."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 07:59:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton was indeed the prototypical Third Wayist, but I did not mention him as he grew out of liberals rather than socialists.

On the other hand, I haven't mentioned even earlier domestic roots of the Third Wayists themselves.

Bliar & Brown were 'converted' to centrism and promoted by then leader Neil Kinnock; and the next leader John Smith, though more traditionalist, prepared the way towards Bliar's internal power structure changes and the symbolic and infamous changing of party statute Chapter IV by disempowering trade unions within the party. (Also, there was the Fabian Society, but I don't know its history of turning NuLab.)

In Germany, the domestic line was much more straightforward: Schröder is the ideological foster son of former (seventies-early eighties) chancellor Helmut Schmidt, him with the famous line "Those who have visions should see the doctor".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 02:22:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't remember what Clinton called himself

New Democrat. But he was called Third Wayist, too, from after the 1994 elections when he governed against/with a Republoscum House majority, but the term was promoted once Bliar came.

BTW, just having checked the Third Way (centrism) Wikipedia article, I find that the earliest manifestation they name is in the middle of the eighties, Labour in Australia.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 02:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again it comes to getting media coverage.

Imagine a campaign which investigated the tax affairs and lifestyles of top bankers and hedge fund managers.

This would be much more dangerous than scapegoating MPs, but much more effective in directing public anger. There would be the usual counter-attacks about the politics of envy, but with enough repetition and enough evidence of injustice, those would soon start to lose traction.

Remember Bernays - the way to create movements isn't to present rational arguments, it's to demonstrate and dramatise the point you want to make, and then to leave people free to join the dots and apply the needed political and economic pressure themselves.

This is exactly how the right already works. The left has been incredibly bad at developing an immunity to these tactics - never mind a good positive counter-response.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 29th, 2009 at 10:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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