Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Two narratives that lead to different worlds

by geezer in Paris Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 07:48:07 AM EST

As the hard corners of reality finally begin to dig into the well-padded bottoms of the pronouncing class as well as the leaner tushes of the working class, the need to trot out and spruce up the story emerges. Here's a couple little short stories from two different universes.
The marvel here, for me, is the tenacity with which one story edits.

No great insights here-just a remarkable juxtaposition I read today that struck me.  

Promoted by Migeru



 The European Right's Powerful Push
    By Arielle Thedrel
    Le Figaro

    Monday 05 May 2008

    Does Boris Johnson's victory in the London mayoral contest portend a Tory victory in the British legislative elections that must take place between now and 2010? Regardless, it tallies with European electorates' more general movement to the right. In London, as in Italy, the right has just resumed power. It was already in control in Germany, the Netherlands, and, in Scandinavian countries, of Denmark, and also of Sweden, long presented as a bastion of social democracy. This shift to the right also holds for Eastern Europe. Conservative or [neo]Liberal parties have been elected in Warsaw, Prague, the Baltic countries, Bucharest. They have the wind in their sails in Hungary, where the left in power is in its death throes as the 2010 legislative elections approach.

    Virtually alone, Spain seems to resist. However, José Luis Zapatero's election owes much to the tactical errors committed by his right wing rivals during the March elections, as well as to their anachronistic takes on social issues.

    So the phenomenon is as extensive as it is spectacular and the wear and tear of being in power - which obtains most notably for Great Britain, governed by Labor since 1997 - does not suffice to explain it. "In the background," emphasizes Georges Mink, Research Director at ISP-CNRS, "there are enormous economic and social changes, the wilting of ideological certainties and - since the fall of the Berlin Wall - the appearance of new threats such as immigration."

    Transformations to which the left has yet to produce a convincing response: for the right's success is undoubtedly based on the failure of the social democratic model. "Globalization," Corinne Deloy, researcher at the Robert-Schuman Foundation, explains, "has made the social software obsolete. That's especially true now that - with the economic crisis we've entered into - there's nothing left to redistribute. Suddenly, people trust the right more to find solutions to problems that called the left's competence into question, for example, such primary themes as the demographic aging of European societies and retirement financing.
 The right has profited from Social Democracy's decline, but so have more radical movements on the left: witness Olivier Besancenot's breakthrough in France, but also that of the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, which became the third power in that country in 2006, and of the People's Socialist Party in Denmark (which garnered 13 percent of the votes in last November's elections), or, still better, of Die Linke in Germany (a coalition that brings together former DDR communists, unions and hard-line purist socialists).

    If the right appears better armed to confront the shock of globalization, it's also true that it has transformed itself by betting, to use Georges Mink's expression, on "ideological confusion." To mobilize voters, the right has, as Corinne Deloy reminds us, borrowed from the left: "In spite of opposition from part of the CDU, Angela Merkel has exploited certain social themes such as women's status and child care. In general, the right strives to retool the social model defended by the left in a rational manner."

    It has also cannibalized themes that traditionally belonged to the far right: the security issue, protection of [national] identity and immigration. In Italy, the new mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno (National Alliance), is the poster child for that strategy. In Hesse, the CDU didn't hesitate to exploit populist themes in the January regional elections. In the former Communist countries, where the welfare state reigned up until the end of the 1980s, the phenomenon was even more brutal. These countries' entry into the European Union in 2004 coincided with the emergence of a nationalist and openly anti-European right. Even today, in Prague, President Vaclav Klaus refuses to hoist the European flag alongside the national flag.

    --------"

Phew! Someone open a window!


Insurmountable Dilemma for Central Banks
    By B.O.
    L'Humanité

    Wednesday 30 April 2008

    Classical monetary policies are neutralized in the face of stagnation and inflation. Hence the urgent need for radical revisions.

    The big countries' monetary issuance institutes are confronted with a terrible dilemma. One of the characteristics of the present crisis is, in fact, to combine stagnation of economic activity with an upsurge in inflation. Now, classically, central banks strive to regulate the system by lowering interest rates to fly to the aid of growth when it falters. Conversely, they increase interest rates when economic activity heats up to avoid an "overheating" that would cause inflation. The problem today is that both phenomena are occurring simultaneously.

    Faced with this "stagflation," to use the specialists' jargon, any classical intervention by the monetary authorities appears counterproductive. Should they lower their interest rates, the cheap credit which banks and other big financial operators access first essentially benefits speculators (see below). Should they increase the cost of money, they suffocate growth.

    In the United States, the Federal Reserve has opted for a drastic reduction in the cost of money and should reduce its funds rate by another quarter percent today to bring it down to two percent. But this monetary policy on steroids is obviously not succeeding in erasing the threats of recession. Still worse, by inundating the world with dollars, it feeds speculation still further.

    In Europe, where the ECB maintains high interest rates (four percent) and even threatens to increase them to "arrest inflationary risks," according to Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer, the signs of a sharp decline in economic activity are ever more tangible.

    To escape from the dilemma, it would be necessary to operate a radical revision of monetary policy, which must be far more supple and innovative if it intends to simultaneously benefit real economic activity and fight financial inflation. Communist economists have long advanced the idea of a credit policy based on selective interest rates, i.e. reducing the cost of money for employment-rich investments and useful spending (training, research) and, conversely, increasing rates for purely financial operations to deterrent levels.

    The pertinence of this different logic for financing the economy has undoubtedly never appeared with quite so much force as during the crisis of these last few weeks, taking into account the dilemma noted above. It is also a consideration for very broad swathes of the economy, given that it corresponds to the interests of diverse classes of employees, and even those of small and medium-sized company owners, today victims of credit contraction. And it inevitably induces a kind of society in which company democracy, citizen control exercised by the elect, the workers, takes on a totally new dimension.

Yes, I know-- we all know these things, in the main, but what we are about here on ET (I think) is spreading  understanding as well as a method of useful discourse.

Display:
Go ahead- froth and foam- it relieves the frustration, and it's fun. But remember, Le Figaro enumerates the regimes that have moved rightward, and they seem by and large correct. I think that trend will likely end soon, if the left can put together a coherent narrative, and if the relative success of rational regulation as a policy can continue to be illustrated.
Denmark and Holland show signs of experiencing a bit of buyer's remorse, and Berlusconi seems to me to be likely to crash and burn in a way not too different than the bushheads. Will the result in Italy be a revival of the left, or an overtly authoritarian or facisist state? Just to get the Garbage scooped up in Naples?
What was the old story? "Well, at least he got the trains to run on time."
 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 05:43:59 AM EST
well, when under prodi's 'centre-left' government people were getting clubbed by police because they didn't want another dioxin-frothing incinerator next door, or upwind, i gotta ask myself, where's the choice, the overton window being where it is, between right and maxi-right?

we are seeing the fragile order of things in which we were taught to believe and trust as a given dissolve as its foundation of cheap fossil fuels crumbles, force majeure...

as chaos grows, there is a counterforce that seeks to uphold the status quo, and the privileges it confers on those who pay armed thugs to protect the so-called 'order', that was so laboriously constructed and was soooo convenient.

that same elite who fear chaos and change have considerably augmented the dimensions of suffering everyone else must undergo, because they have kept the people stupid and unaware of the runaway train coming down the track, for the sake of selling more shit we don't need, and most of all, locking up the energy business, by and large.

what's especially ugly is the cognitive dissonance about immigration.

europe needs to know more of its own shameful history, and take special care not to succumb to racism, if we do not want a repeat of the 30's.

the role of the blogs will grow, i think, in proportion to the powerlessness citizens feel when it comes to the expectations we naively have about the quality of our leaders, far beyond such stupidly binary terms as left and right, which have become meaningless, just tradmed spittle really.

few rightist politicians do everything wrong, and most lefty politicians waste their energy attacking their own, or are clueless about playing on the public's fears like the right are so good at.

meanwhile back at the ranch, there is really something to be scared of, and the left is pathetic about it, the ones on energy and the environment are the first promises to break, even if the public's poll-stated desire is to respect the planet and move to more sustainable models.

disconnected from reality, and paid by us.

man's folly is the only real absolute you can count on...

'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 Thu May 8th, 2008 at 06:39:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the role of the blogs will grow, i think, in proportion to the powerlessness citizens feel when it comes to the expectations we naively have about the quality of our leaders, far beyond such stupidly binary terms as left and right, which have become meaningless, just tradmed spittle really.

I think the blogs do represent a potential end-run around the panderfactory media a la Berlusconi and the domesticated US MSM, and for that reason I think the net in general will be one of the most seriously threatening--and threatened-- elements in the equation.
The EU has a package of draconian-sounding net regs floating around, and the US-which really controls the net- has failed totally to codify net neutrality or any other real protection into law.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 01:44:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The copper wire for the European part of the net is in Europe and so are a lot of the servers. If push comes to shove, the Union could simply set up shop on our own.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 10:57:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the worst came to the worst, the European domain structure could be reorganised, and any US control would disappear within 36 hours

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 11:11:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about Holland, but Denmark is unfortunately not looking too hopeful right now. It should be emphasised that SF is no Die Linke; rather it is turning into a new Social Democratic party as the social democrats continue their slow-motion disintegration. At least in terms of rhetoric. How it will actually perform once it comes into power is another matter. I have a gut feeling that large parts of the party cadres are more than a bit to the left of the leadership, but how much of that is wishful thinking on my part is hard to say.

Of course, a large part of the equation so far has been the wingnuts' impressive ability to cover up their assault on our social contract and the fundamental institutions of our society. What happens when the damage to those institutions becomes impossible to conceal is anyone's guess.

It is possible that the damage is permanent - and worse, that it has barely been noticed because it has been so incremental. It is also possible that we will see a massive swing to the left, since our political system is not too terribly rigged, and there appears to be little that the wingnuts can do to rig it (they are trying, make no mistake, but so far they don't seem to be succeeding).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 10:56:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that C. Deloy is a regular reader of ET.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 10:41:09 AM EST
Sign of mental activity -- of some sort.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 01:32:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  To escape from the dilemma, it would be necessary to operate a radical revision of monetary policy, which must be far more supple and innovative if it intends to simultaneously benefit real economic activity and fight financial inflation. Communist economists have long advanced the idea of a credit policy based on selective interest rates, i.e. reducing the cost of money for employment-rich investments and useful spending (training, research) and, conversely, increasing rates for purely financial operations to deterrent levels.

Hmmm...sounds very familiar.

May be time for another go-'round on monetary policy, given current going's on.

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

by r------ on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:04:55 PM EST
A good start would be the removal of tax laws and regulations privileging Anglo-Saxon Diseased economic activity.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 11:29:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See Migeru's Socratic Economics IX: National Accounts... under recommended diaries.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 01:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DKos and its ilk have done a great deal in the last 3 years or so to wrest the supposedly lefter parter away from the centre-right positions it has held for the last decade or two. There are definite signs in the US that progressive blogs have had a major impact in the presidential primaries.

I don't see that kind of grassroots online community for the UK and Europe. This is a great site with awesome content but it talks more of policy than elections (which is very much needed and good).

I think the liberal end of european politics needs a DKos style community to help win elections by organising grassroots support and vetting candidates. Of course without the public donations of the US this will be a different kind of site but until that comes I think the right will always have an advantage, with media like Berlusconi's conglomerate or Murdoch's papers in the UK able to do a fair bit of surreptitious organising of their own that is unmatched elsewhere.

In the UK so many people I know hate both NuLabour and the Tories and would vote for Liberal positions and candidates if they thought they could win. Whilst Menghis Campbell did a good job reorganising the structure of the party, Nick Clegg has yet to reach out to voters and give them a third option. I think the only way that will happen is by getting people online, talking and organising, getting out the vote and enthusiasm like has been happening in the US.

It seems odd to me that much of the Europe's internet use is so progressive yet this kind of central political hub has only surfaced in America.

by darrkespur on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 08:31:55 AM EST
Among the reasons that there is no equivalent to DKos in Europe, there certainly is that the make up and inner workings of European parties is very different to that of the US parties : you talk about candidates being vetted, and about ground work and financing, but the first one is tightly controlled by the parties' hierarchies rather than by the population ; and the latter two are much less prevalent with the presence of numerous campaign financing laws.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 09:41:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The way that election financing works in the US makes it possible for something like Kos to have real power and influence. Europe doesn't work that way. Where's the point of leverage?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 09:45:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's definitely true but I think the money side of it isn't perhaps the most important part of DKos. It certainly helped them get their message across quicker than it might have otherwise but I think just organising lots of like-minded voters to talk about politics and follow elections is equally as important and that's something that can be transplanted across to any democracy.

Eurotrib is a great place to talk about these things and I'm not suggesting this place change. I do think that parties such as the liberal democrats are missing a trick by not having more of an interactive web presence though. If people are active in talking about something, they get emotionally invested and are far more likely to vote. In Europe's case it's not a candidate thing or a money thing, but it is a party thing. And getting more people connected to and enthusiastic about a party should inevitably lead to more votes and hence more power, right?

by darrkespur on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 12:23:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's easy to over-estimate the appeal of webbiness. We get it, but a lot of people still think the Internet is full of paedophiles and terrorists. (As opposed to serious media outlets like the Daily Mail, which is a shining example of thoughtfulness, maturity and moderation.)

Blogs have probably gone as far as they're going to go now. I think the next step is to move into different kinds of organisations - Think Tanks at the 'serious' end, some form of participatory activity which isn't necessary overtly political at the populist end.

Building viral networks which carry the message subliminally is one option.

LiveLeak does this for army PR - you can watch our brave boys getting blown up by IEDs, or swooping from the skies and taking out towelheads, and it's very stirring and patriotic - which of course it's supposed to be, and which is why it's the only DIY media channel which isn't censored by the US military in Iraq.

Music, media and other parts of the cultural mainstream could all be co-opted in the same way for the Left - and if that sounds manipulative, it's not different to how the Right already works.

It's not about making points or spreading information, it's about defining what people talk about, and what they see as normal.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 03:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure, I think if anything the webbyness is being underestimated. The big difference between say Obama this year and Gore in 2000 is that huge numbers of people are actively connected to his campaign. This includes 1.5m donors but it isn't limited to that, there's a vast number of individuals volunteering, turning up to rallies and even on lower levels just writing comments and posts on blogs.

Whilst getting respectable left opinions on conventional media and think tanks is important, these are old ways of getting people connected. They're passive, they focus on transmitting a premade opinion to the consumer. They're outdated.

The big difference places like Kos have made is that even though the front pages are dominated by the big names, it's possible for anyone to write something that can get launched up there. The diaries are posted as people write them, capturing the days zeitgeist in a way that traditional media really can't do.

Most importantly, the people using blogs and online political communities are participating, not merely sitting there waiting to be told what to think. The very act of participating makes them think and it gives them emotional attachment to their actions and responses that watching the tv or reading the paper could never do. Writing a comment or post, no matter how bad it is, about something you felt strongly about, resonates that feeling and makes it more important.

By getting people to come and discuss politics and the politics that's important to them, they become less disillusioned and more enthusiastic about the process. That gives you power, even without money, because letters to MPs, protests, community action and joining a political party can make a difference and online communities could exponentially increase the number of people who want and know how to do such things.

I'd say it's not about making points, spreading information OR defining what they talk about. It's giving them the opportunity to define what they want to talk about. It may be messy but it's the best way to get liberal government in action, because only through voters and more party members can the left gain more power. Luckily for us reality has a liberal bias, so we can afford to let people decide what to talk about in a way the right can never do. And that is how to win.

by darrkespur on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 04:04:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lib Dems do have an interactive web presence (see my parallel comment, and add to that their youtube channel and their strong facebook presence). The problem is that it's inwards-focused - they network and debate within the party, which is rather limiting.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 06:40:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The points of leverage are the media, alternative business models, students, and organised consumer action.

Formal politics is close to being an irrelevance in Europe - it's certainly an irrelevance in the UK, where policy is set by lobbyists, not voters.

But all of the disillusion and frustration would disappear if people were given some realistic outlets for involvement and action which aren't at the traditional extremes of voting and street theatre.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 12:31:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DKos and their ilk fulfilled two roles: one is grass-roots political activism to reform the democratic party. The other is citizen journalism. I think the media situation in Europe is not as dismal as with the "mainstream media" in the US over the past decade, and so the need for something like DKos hasn't been felt.
In the UK so many people I know hate both NuLabour and the Tories and would vote for Liberal positions and candidates if they thought they could win. Whilst Menghis Campbell did a good job reorganising the structure of the party, Nick Clegg has yet to reach out to voters and give them a third option. I think the only way that will happen is by getting people online, talking and organising, getting out the vote and enthusiasm like has been happening in the US.
Are you familiar with http://www.libdemblogs.co.uk/ or http://www.libdemvoice.org/ ?

The first is a blog aggregator for LIb Dems. The problem is that as far as I know it doesn't allow community moderation of ranking, it's just an RSS aggregator and so has an awfully low signal to noise ratio. The secnd one is an online magazine, and they will publish content written by anyone, but only after vetting by the editorial team. It falls quite short of what's needed but that's what you get when something is organised within a political party. DKos was organised from outside the Democratic party structures and so we come to the key difference between political participation in the US and Europe.

In the US you have partisan voter registration. When someone says they're a Democrat it usually means no more than they ticked the appropriate box on a voter registration form. If someone says they're a Liberal Democrat it means they pay dues to the party and have some benefits of membership such as regular communications from the party, etc.

In some US states, even the primaries are open to people who are not registered with the appropriate party. In Europe at most you have an internal selection process where only dues-paying members can vote (and sometimes internal democracy is woefully absent). In the case of the UK, because parties are terrified of entryism, even the Lib Dems who I think are a model of internal democracy have a vetting process for candidates and a committee decides on shortlists.

When you say

I think the liberal end of european politics needs a DKos style community to help win elections by organising grassroots support and vetting candidates.
try to do this and you'll be accused of entryism and considered a threat to whatever party. Not even getting into the barriers to cross-border political participation (you cannot donate money across borders to political campaigns even within the EU).

Finally, when a party tries to get people talking and organising on the internet, they normally like a closed "intranet" model. That defeats the purpose of the whole exercise. And on a European level there just isn't enough people for a critical mass to debate. The http://manifesto2009.pes.org/ page of the European Socialists (often cross-posted here) is a commendable effort and now open to everyone not only PES members, but it has much less traffic than ET.

That is the situation in Europe - it doesn't look promising.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 06:38:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is right, what is left? Is Merkel left or right of Brown? The point is: the "center" varies a lot from country to country. Actually from city to city, in my experience.

I would contend that, in liberal democracies it is precisely the position of the center that is the most important issue (in the sense that, in a democracy it is almost tautological that the center should govern).

From this point of view people like Blair, Clinton or Schroeder are the worse thing that could happen to people "left of center" (worse than moderate right wing politicians), in the sense that they recentered politics to the right. I would argue that "new labour"/"third way" politics are only of interest to those that want power for the sake of it, not to those interested in a more equal society.

Along these lines, I don't see the current right wing majorities as the biggest problem. The biggest problem from where I stand is the economic chaos caused by peak oil coupled with the possibility that the left will have no good narrative to tackle the problem.

We live in "interesting times", times where there is space again for a narrative based on solidarity and sharing (mainly because of resource scarcity), but at the same time there is also space for a "fascist" narrative (blame the immigrant, the foreigner, the different, ...).... I don't think "neoliberalism" will be the fundamental "oppressive" theory of the next few years...

The question is: will the left succeed in shaping the near/medium term narrative (which is changing)? I am pessimistic...

by t-------------- on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 10:38:33 AM EST
I share your pessimism.

In our media saturated environment Public Discourse requires professionals both generating and disseminating the message.  The Right knows this -- they own most of the media channels -- and are willing to front the funds needed.  The Left either doesn't know or doesn't care and doesn't.  The result is the Right is able to open a can of Whoop-Ass on us whenever they want.  This systematic imbalance has shifted the terms of discourse (the Overton Window) to the Right thus established the very basis of the discourse in their favor.  Until the Left is willing to pony-up the funds necessary to fight on an equal basis, and I see no evidence of that happening, the Right will continue to own - literally as well as metaphorically - Public Debate.

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

by ATinNM on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 11:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Until the Left is willing to pony-up the funds necessary to fight on an equal basis, and I see no evidence of that happening, the Right will continue to own - literally as well as metaphorically - Public Debate.

Amen to that.  Endowing public policy "think tanks" and advocacy groups with an end to shifting the balance of US political discourse back at least to where it was in the '60s is more important than trying to save the poor and diseased in that without forcing that shift in the window, any progress in the direct humanitarian field will be washed away in the flood of the next RW administration.

I don't know if "think tanks" are the proper route.  They have been spectacularly successful for the right.  Witness the evil fruit of Richard Mellon Sciafe's "philanthropy."


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 01:32:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]


    Until the Left is willing to pony-up the funds necessary to fight on an equal basis, and I see no evidence of that happening, the Right will continue to own - literally as well as metaphorically - Public Debate.

Amen to that.

It.Won't.Happen.

I suppose a more fruitful strategy is to try to increase the power of the net and maintain it accessible to all (from a point of view of producing information).

The net is a more democratic playing field than TV/radio/printed press.

Whining about corporate media is interesting as an analysis tool, but I doubt any substantial change will be seen. Creating (maintaining) an alternative democratic space in the net is the pragmatic/possible solution...

by t-------------- on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 02:04:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I think it could happen. Journalists are a lazy, and a steady stream of high-sounds left-ish talking points could easily make its way into the mainstream as long as they're packaged professionally.

It's the packaging that matters. Currently the Left is still associated with juvenile student demonstrators, and the kinds of adults they become.

If the Left became serious in the same way that the Right has pretended to be serious, big things could happen.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 03:33:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... one observation from back in grad school in the early 90's was that consistency of the prefixes "Neo" and "New" when views as acronyms.

Neo-Keynesian Economics is Not Exactly, but Obliquely Keynesian. New Keynesian Economics is No Effing Way Keynesian.

Neo-Classical Economics is Not Exactly, but Obliquely Classical. New Classical Economics is No Effing Way Classical.

I think the same works for New Labor, and I find it odd that the downfall of New Labor is painted as a decline of the left and rise of the right. Surely it is a shuffling of relative positions within the right?

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 Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 12:07:00 PM EST
The Right are hardly going to call the decline of NuLab anything other than a decline of the Left.

From one point of view they're correct, but only because of lack of choice, not lack of interest.

Watered down pseudo-right policies aren't going to inspire anyone, and if Labour lost the Nu and started acting like a party which supported working people instead of trying to punish them for being bad citizens, there might be an unexpected spark of interest.

The Loony Middle doctrine - the idea that you can only win elections by pandering to the crazies who read the Daily Mail - should have been discredited in 1997, with the NuLab landslide.

Instead Gordo still thinks that if you alienate the crazies, you lose.

He doesn't seem to have realised that if you pander to the crazies, you lose anyway.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 12:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... but surely we require the patience to say that it is nonsense whenever the nonsense is spouted. One big part of the propaganda victory of the radical reactionaries is their willingness to continue spouting nonsense irrespective of whether the nonsense has ever been debunked, because nonsense that continues to be repeated tends to beat a debunking that gathers dust in back issues collections in libraries.


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 Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 01:44:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that it was during the 1980 presidential campaign that I read a bio piece on R Regan that described how, since he had been a spokesmen for G.E, ("progress is out most important product"), he had been on speaking tours.  Throughout that time he had a shoe box in which he filed clippings of heartrending or uplifting antidotes he clipped from Reader's Digest and other such sources.  He used these with great effect in his speeches.  

His "philosophy" was basically a collection of prejudices  and homilies that, as philosophy, was content free.  Yet he kept at it until people started calling him a "great communicator."  I would tell Republicans that Regan had no philosophy. REGAN HAD JUST TAKEN A SHOE BOX FULL OF SHIBBOLETHS, AND BY DINT OF REPETITION, ELEVATED THEM TO THE STATUS OF A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.

I thought it was at least as good a line as Buchanan's "Nattering Nabobs of Negativism," but I doubt that I convinced a single Republican.  They didn't care about anything than that he made them feel good and that they knew he knew on which side his bread was buttered.

A cautionary tale.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 03:31:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... than a cautionary tale.

It should be just as easy to collect that shoe-box with clippings that help advance a coherent political philosophy as to collect a shoe-box full of support for knee-jerk reflex response economic theory and the effort to rationalize away doing trying to attract racist voters while not thinking of yourself as personally racist.

What is requires is the patience and persistence.

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 Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 04:02:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could possibly do that, but I hope you will agree:

I'M NO REGAN!

I know the RWN would agree.  Plus I am unsuitable on a host of other grounds.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 07:30:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I said yesterday the big failure of the Left continually defending against specific bullshit points, instead of going for an all-out attack on the right-wing culture of posturing and ineffectiveness.

The Right is full of hollow people who make a lot of noise but never amount to much - Sarkozy, Blair, Berlusconi, Bush - these are all people who believe that public posturing and media attention are a substitute for strategy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 04:42:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.. involves developing our own line of blarney in support of policies that can also stand on their own merits.

Sure, the right has to be good at the bullshit, since the core goals of their policies are intrinsically unpopular in their own right.

But that does not mean that progressive should disdain bullshit ... it means that if we can bullshit as good as they can, plus are using the bullshit in pursuit of goals that people actually want, there are political opportunities out there.


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 Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 05:22:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So Europe is cycling through the same jug of Kool-Aid the US has been chugging since 1980.  The Democrats here are realizing just how close to the brink of extinction adopting Rethuglican doctrine brought them (and everything else of value in this country) and are rallying back.  New Labour is still waking up to the mother of all hangovers and won't find any hair of the dog until it dumps Brown (which it will do, and then it will move on).  On the continent the conservatives are taking advantage of the social democrats' engaging in some long overdue rewiring.  The European swing votes will realize shortly that the Tories and the continental conservatives are selling the same snake oil as the Repoops: Pay attention to "Islamofascists" while we ship the jobs to Mumbai and the cash to accounts and vacation villas in countries that don't extradite.

Where does the Left need to go?  It needs to understand that Deloy is exactly wrong.  First, globalization has made the social software more necessary than ever.  That software is the domestic and international regulatory fabric that keeps capital from running wild, keeps the planet more or less livable, and keeps the average citizen from sinking to the bottom.  Second, there is plenty to redistribute; just look at the concentration of wealth over the last decade.

The Left needs to pound this message constantly.  It needs to remember that, while capital is global, politics, jobs, and homes remain local, and people vote their jobs and their homes.

by rifek on Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 05:16:27 PM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]