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We're living a paradigm shift from the neoliberal system to something new. Whatever it is, it won't be politically "liberal".

A short economic history of the 20th century:

After the Long Depression of 1873-96, there is a period of liberal democracy lasting about 30 year until the Great Depression, and punctuated by the banking Panic of 1907 and WWI (1914-18). Then there is a speculative binge ending in the crash of 1929, which ends the system.

The Great Depression and WWII are a conflict between the failed liberal  democracy and two critiques of it, socialist and fascist. In the end you get a sort of synthesis of the liberal and socialist positions (think The New Industrial State). This lasts from 1945 to the 1970s, roughly another 30 years.

The 1970s is another long transition crisis, with the neoliberal paradigm replacing the bastardised Keynesianism of the 50s and 60s. There follows a 30-year period in which Social Democracy capitulates to the Thatcher/Reagan revolution and the political system is again liberal democracy. The period is punctuated by the Black Monday of 1987, the EMS crisis of 1992-3, the Asian Crisis of 1997-8, and the popping of the .com bubble in 2000. The decade of 2000 is the final binge of this liberal democratic period, ending in the subprime crisis and followed presumably by another decade of transition crisis.

Because there isn't a left ideology waiting in the wings, the system that emerges at the other end won't be a synthesis of liberalism and socialism, it may well be a synthesis of liberalism and fascism (the only new political movements in the last decade have been right-wing populist and xenophobic). Maybe a progressive (green left?) ideology will be articulated starting in the next few years, but it won't have its chance to become the new paradigm until at least 2050.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 05:04:19 AM EST
ideology waiting in the wings. There is, it may be in need of some dusting off (current in process), what there is (seen in Die Linke and in Front de Gauche ideology) is probably the most Keynesian operative ideology in Western Europe, I think of it a bit as resetting the pattern in the service of people, and then holding that pattern until we can move forward. Anyhow, that's the Democratic manifestation of a left ideology, there are of course others, though it is true they don't get much megaphone-produced voice, which is unsurprising given media concentration, who controls that media and the fact they are (as in the 1930's) much less threatened, and for reasons Jérôme enounces, by the fascist critique (after all, they are in it for the power, their own prosperity being but a casual if not unimportant side effect of that power) which they increasingly embrace (all those wars!) than by the socialist one.

We also shouldn't forget that in large swathes of Western Europe, especially those where immigration is slowing down, we are undergoing a demographic shift, an inexorable (but ultimately, with an upper limit of political impact) aging of the population, something to which we on the left haven't yet formulated a response.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 05:15:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand what is missing from "the left's" response to aging populations. The left's idea, as I understand it, is to encourage fairness of opportunity, which I assume would be both between members of one generation and also between generations.

Over time, as the population distribution shifts, the revenue from taxation of the working population may go up or down, and the community must decide what level of taxation and what age of retirement is required to provide adequate support for those unable to work. You can do the calculation at a given point in time or you can try to do some sort of smoothing over time.

The right's idea, as I understand it, is to move towards social Darwinism, with the aged, infirm, young, and otherwise dispossessed to be instructed to take their problems off to a place where they aren't so noticeable.

What is the question?

by asdf on Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 12:37:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
about fairness, and are far less concerned about opportunity (that was in the past!) as they are about their personal security, which goes beyond their health care and pension payments. By older people I mean retirees, those portions of the French electorate (in fact the only one if memory served) who voted majoritarily for Sarkozy in 2007. They are also worried about social cohesion, expressed in terms of defence of values sometimes, other times expressed in terms of identity politics (French versus immigrants, et c.)

The problem the left faces in this regard is, in my view, the capture of the left by liberalism, as that liberal capture, which started in the early 1980's here in France and, at least as far as power is concerned, was consolidated by the end of that decade, has two side effects.

The first is, on the left, the downplaying of the role of the state as guarantor of social cohesion, as direct job creator (and thereby full employment), which has created an underclass of chronically unemployed who express themselves sometimes violently (I think it was Rosa Luxemburg who said "crime is a waste of political energy," to paraphrase). This facilitates the neo-liberal world-view on the right, further undermining the left's position in this regard. Liberalism is, strictly speaking, anti-worker, and this is seen in unemployment, to begin with (Mitterand in France was elected arguably due to economic conditions in the early '80's. He inheritted an unemployment rate which had risen to just under 6% when he took office. By the end of his second term, 14 years later, that rate had more than doubled and stayed more than double that for another half decade.)

The second is that there are, among the Social Democratic (and also, though arguably marginal, anarchic if you except NPA from this) set, a great tendancy towards defence of civil liberties, which is seen in the general public as being to the detriment of law and order, which facilitates the right's demogoguing of the issue. While the PS has attempted to redress this image in France with not unmitigated success, unfortunately the law-and-order left was essentially crushed when the PS systematically undermined the PC (a process which began well before the dismantling of "the Wall," and which is indeed ongoing).

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 06:04:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Older people aren't just worried about fairness, and are far less concerned about opportunity (that was in the past!) as they are about their personal security, which goes beyond their health care and pension payments. By older people I mean retirees, those portions of the French electorate (in fact the only one if memory served) who voted majoritarily for Sarkozy in 2007. They are also worried about social cohesion, expressed in terms of defence of values sometimes, other times expressed in terms of identity politics (French versus immigrants, et c.)

But are these priorities due to them being old or due to them being of the particular generation that they are? That is, will all people, on average, tend to adopt these priorities as they age, in which case a greater share of elderly people must be accounted for in terms of political strategy. Or is the fact that the elderly have these priorities an accident of history, which would imply that long-term strategy should be centered around meeting the priorities of the next generation of the electorate (since the present generation of elderly, not to put too fine a point upon it, won't be around to vote in the long run).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 06:17:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its mostly a matter of generation, methinks. French people over 65 have grown up in the 40s and 50s with the Iron Curtain, Cold war, nuclear threat and also all the French colonial wars (Vietnam, Algeria) where the pigmented people are somehow menacing and not quite "French".

In their days, there was (mostly) no ethnic diversity in France; the economy was safely within the nation's border where everybody spoke French. 21st century world is a much scary place for this generation and tough guy macho rhetoric has had some success as seen with Sarko's electoral numbers in 2007.

The generation coming behind (that would be mine) is different: ex-colonies were all independent when I grew up, globalization was well underway even in the 70s and you have to be fluent in English to go anywhere (damn useful to communicate with all kind of people too). This generation is much, much less receptive to the traditional (and xenophobic/racist) right wing discourse.

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 05:13:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mig: I agree completely with all before the last paragraph, and there I fear you may be right but will not conclude that it cannot be fought successfully. But the outlook is grim.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 11:57:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm in the sullen bitterness and cynical retrenchment camp, to borrow Jerome's terms.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 11th, 2011 at 04:37:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
We're living a paradigm shift from the neoliberal system to something new. Whatever it is, it won't be politically "liberal".

Yes and No.

I think that the sovereignty of the individual will - necessarily - be a key attribute of the networked 'Peer to Peer' society I see evolving.

Where it will depart from neo-liberalism is in the recognition that with the privilege of individual property rights under the 'Rule of Law' come responsibilities and obligations to the society from which these rights flow.

Migeru:

Because there isn't a left ideology waiting in the wings, the system that emerges at the other end won't be a synthesis of liberalism and socialism,

I disagree.

In the UK at least, the values of Solidarity and Mutuality have always underpinned Labour: if you read the Party card you'll see that's where it's languishing - unread - in the wings. As the French guy said in respect of French revolutionary ideals: the 19th Century was the Century of Liberty; the 20th Century the Century of Equality; and the 21st century will be the Century of Fraternity.

The problem for Labour was that they were led astray as New Labour when Blair, Brown and the rest swallowed the neo-liberal economic Kool Aid.

As I have frequently said in my posts on Labour List, the Coalition's 'Big Society' - now running into the sand - is the greatest opportunity for Labour and Union members (if not their hierarchy) in the last 100 years.

The key to this is a new generation of collaborative agreements, developed 'bottom up' and acting as frameworks for self organisation to a common purpose. Such an approach could take the Left down the road of a modern day Guild Socialism or of the short-lived war-time Common Wealth movement, which was side-tracked into a Party, and shrivelled.

In the UK the Coalition's Localism legislation may well be intended to open up the way to privatisation, but in my view it creates a vacuum into which the Left - through their many Labour council gains - can drive a communitarian, co-operative and mutual coach and horses.

Even more extraordinary is the Coalition's - completely undemocratic - policy concerning the NHS. This is 'action-based' politics where their declaration of intent has already started the decomposition of the existing institutions as managers get out while they can.

In my view, such action-based and reality-based politics is a double-edged sword. Union memberships can and should simply take control and provide services directly to the public, cutting out the State, as well as shareholders, as middlemen. The enabling mechanism is new - direct - funding and financing, and that is where my interest - and a growing number of others - is completely focused.

In future, the policy will create the party - rather than vice versa.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 01:09:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Union memberships can and should simply take control and provide services directly to the public, cutting out the State, as well as shareholders, as middlemen.

H'mmmm.

That challenges the domination of The Top whether that "Top" is a union president, the president of a bank, the leaders of the Labour Party, & so forth.  Any local union trying to "take control" will find the first and third of the previous list coming down on them like a ton of bricks.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 01:36:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, I think that the steering wheel has come off in the hands of those at the top for the most part because they have unscrewed the linkage.

I believe that the UK 'reforms' being pursued with such vigour by the Coalition government are going to have unintended consequences......

And note I was not referring to Labour or Unions - but to Labour and Union members.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 04:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As was I.

Union and Party members are only members until the national secretary yanks their cards, making them UnPersons.  The kind of petty-assed shit that goes down when the peasants are revolting.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 06:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be the Unions' loss, not theirs.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 07:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No disagreement on that, here.

The local members lose as well.  They lose the advantages belonging to a national organization such as money and news exposure.  And the externalities of solidarity, fraternity, & all that Left Wing socialist-hippy stuff.  (He wrote with self-deprecating self-mockery.)

And the Right Wing can put out a anti-campaign based around "Even their Union thinks they are wackos."

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 07:38:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, if they get thrown out for local mobilization of direct responses ~ they are already organizing. And they already have a reason to continue organizing in response to being kicked out.

Recall when the Anti-Slavery Whigs in the US were purged from the Whig Party, and it was the Whig Party that collapsed as a result.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jan 10th, 2011 at 11:51:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly.

Either the Union leaders facilitate what the members wish to do, or the Unions wither on the vine.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jan 11th, 2011 at 05:18:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The right talk a lot of trash about cooperation, but their own solidarity is to be envied. Is this the power of corruption? Or is it so usefull to fool people to distrust each other?

As is known, many neocons were former Marxists. They certainly preserved the discipline! And they harness other method of Communists: seize the mass media. Lenin's revolution took the telegraph first, Fidel Casttro stared on the radio, and now we have Foxnews and talk radios...

by das monde on Tue Jan 11th, 2011 at 06:50:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris Cook:
The problem for Labour was that they were led astray as New Labour when Blair, Brown and the rest swallowed the neo-liberal economic Kool Aid.

It seems to me that Blair and Brown, along with Clinton in the USA, were serving the Kool-Aid to their parties as the elixir that would return them to power, which it did. The essence of The Third Way was to embrace the goals of the wealthy elite so as to become acceptable to them as a governing party. The problem is that this destroyed the ability of their parties to provide a serious alternative to the opposition. Come the crisis, there was no real alternatives available to the electorate. Still really isn't.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jan 14th, 2011 at 04:12:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Maybe a progressive (green left?) ideology will be articulated starting in the next few years, but it won't have its chance to become the new paradigm until at least 2050.

depends... mother nature has ways of hurrying such decisions along. my guess is more like 2020, if not earlier.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jan 16th, 2011 at 12:18:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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