“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, May 03, 2008

go to another party/and hang myself

It should be noted that the “third way” – the idea that left/liberal parties would adopt rightwing policies, nourish a wildly wealthy oligarchy, and then achieve popularity managing our consequently affluent lifestyles by superbly clever triangulating – has, predictably, led to the mass extinction of Socialist parties in Europe. There is no longer a leftist option in the UK or Italy – and in Germany, it is in the death throes. In France the left is riven by the struggle between the third way parasites and nostalgia.

Of course, the whole idea was insane from the beginning. To believe that one would protect and nourish a system of vast inequality is to believe that the people on the top will not use their money to enlarge and entrench their advantages. It was a fairy tale for feebs. It got a wonderful press, however, the media having long ago become the most reliable tool of the wealthy. And if you destroy all remnants of a traditional leftist program for a generation, you eventually remove it from the collective memory – it becomes the heirloom of outliers, of academic enthusiasts, of the millionaire revolutionary, the tourists to Chavez land and the like. In other words, it becomes something like high fashion – existing in no relation whatsoever to the vast mass of the populace.

So, the end of the Blair witch project arrived, and predictably, New Labour finished its destruction of Labour by thinning the party to the point that it may go to the happy hunting ground inhabited by Britain’s Liberal party – into the memory hole of history. Blair and Asquith – now there’s a ripe combo for the history books. Somehow, what New Labour had to offer turned the stomachs of the population: a corrupt gang of incompetent neo-imperialists, with the taint of Saudi bagmen and other mysterious sources of billionaire money, the grand producers of a social attitude that would make it impossible to finance the necessary public investment that actually would make Labour significant, rather than popular in a suburban pocket election, an enterprise that refused to put the boot into the House of Lords when it had a chance, the party of the authoritarian attitude towards the human right to smoke dope or access information about the workings of the State - the whole ghastly machine has come crashing down. This is the direct result of letting Blair have his last run. One wonders if the Labour poobahs rue having let the vanity of that disgusting creature overrule common sense? But then, it was a conspiracy of vanity – the poobahs of ‘Labour’ without the ‘New’ are now a dinosaur’s age, and Third Way-ers cast their lots with and made their fortunes on reheated Thatcherism, so they were in no position to see that vanity was leading them to a big fall.

The signs of the times are not good – the first openly fascist party in 70 years has taken power in Italy, with the mayor of Rome giving the fascist salute; an open racist has won the London mayoralty election, and the defenders of ‘tolerance’ and ‘enlightenment’ are also still defending their participation in the indefensible Iraq war. The war was, in foreign policy, just the kind of escamotage Blair produced in domestic policy – a now you see it, now you don’t surrender to the vilest impulses of the right, wrapped in the appropriate pop references and smirky nostalgia for the enlightenment “left”. The decents have the reach and influence of a planter’s mole on the buttocks of the behemoth, but they gather, in their collective crapulence, all the energies, all the hysterical rhetoric, all the contradictions, all the mock Trot gestures, that made New Labour such an obscenity. The combination of an economic slowdown and right wing racism, sure to be a popular card, are just unfolding their tender shoots.

The death of the party
came as no surprise



PS: there’s an excellent post by Yves Smith about the recent Milken Conference thrusts a little proctologist’s scope into the sites where the press attitude, politics and finance come together – the kind of places that loved to invite Blair to talk, and that Blair loved to talk to. Contrast Smith’s honesty with, say, the NYT reporter’s own description of the conference. It should also be pointed out how the crimes of the wealthy are normalized by the press. Imagine the NYT sending a reporter to the Pablo Escobar Conference. Wouldn’t happen. Yet of course the Milken Conference was organized by a convicted criminal, who was able to defend his considerable gains from seizure by the government only because – he used his leverage.

Here’s the first two grafs:


I am still recovering from the Milken Conference, and unlike my fellow blog panelists Paul Kedrosky, Felix Salmon and Mark Thoma, have not written any posts on particular sessions. In part, that was because in my other life as a consultant, I am well aware of the dangers of relying on memory even though mine is pretty good, and I had decided to listen rather than take notes.

But the other reason was in almost all the sessions has a strong element of overt pressure on the speakers to maintain an upbeat tone, combined with repeated reinforcement of Republican/Chicago School of Economics ideology. Normally I would not deem that sort of thing worthy of mention if it were a minor and only occasional element of the program; indeed it would have been valuable if other views had been tolerated and some sparks flew. No, the private sector/deregulation cheerleading was pervasive and baldfaced, and made it hard for me to sort out signal from noise. There were enough cases where I knew the data and knew it to be misrepresented so as to call a lot of what I was hearing into question.

No comments: