Thursday, September 21, 2006

Demanding the impossible

Recently read the 1968-72 volume of Tony Benn's diaries. Interesting Benn convinced himself that the radical socialist left was the vehicle to achieve his values, but these values are actually very post-materialist ones of democracy and participation. In another era he might have been a third wayer and his son is very content in Blair’s cabinet. But you finish the dairy seeing why Benn could never attract majority support; perhaps like the Europhile social democrats who he opposed he was in Labour but not of it? Benn's crusade was a sign, and a contributor to, of the collapse of old Labour, of corporatism, bureaucracy, midnight strike-averting deals sealed over beer and sandwiches at No. 10 etc. Many of Benn’s criticisms of old Labour were appropriate but he seemed to believe that the good things about old labour could be salvaged from the wreckage. But it was Tony Blair not Tony Benn who became new Labour and it couldn't have been otherwise. Tax-and-spend corporatist labourism had its flaws but it was a package. This seems to be something that Mark Bahnisch, one of the ex-Lathamite 'waiting for Julia' crowd fails to realise. If you want to achieve the traditional goals of social democracy (as distinct from a generic radicalism' than tax-and-spend corporatist labourism is the way to go not cosying up to Crikey-ite stray economic libertarians, at best you'll get Tony Blair and then David Cameron.


At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Corin said...

Geoff, I take it you are saying Hawke managerialism is superior to Bennite socialism and Blairite social market democracy (if this is actually true).

My only concern with your thesis is that the big business/big union nexis ended with the communications revolution. I mean a company - like a bank - may have its thinking done in Australia or more likely London or New York and its customer service phone-in in Delhi or Mumbai.

Alternatively - many companies are splintering into smaller more agile units as other also integrate and expand.

Australia has to engender a demos in this new economic environment. That logically means that social market democracy is the only long term solution to the shifting patterns of world capital.

In short it's not the union your in but the university you went to that gets and keeps you a good job.



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