Where is politics going?

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shpalman
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by shpalman » Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:13 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 5:51 pm
dyqik wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:21 pm
JQH wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:19 am


There would appear to be a link between income inequality and levels of crime. See this for example. So your comment is only valid if you don't regard reducing crime as worthwhile.
Inequality is also important if you care about supporting a strong, stable economy. Which most UK and US voters say is important to them.
A strong stable economy is good, but if you state that one of the goals of such an economy is less inequality, the capitalists won't have it. The goal of capitalism being to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor.
capitalists want the benefits of socialism it just doesn't occur to them that they'd have to pay for it

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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by jdc » Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:47 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:06 pm
monkey wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:01 pm
Martin_B wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:18 am
I'd consider myself a democratic socialist: I'm a capitalist, but think that the self-destructive excesses of capitalism should be restrained by government oversight and that taxation should be enforced, with the money collected going towards creation of opportunities for everyone, regardless of your status of birth. Government should be there to help all people, not a greedy few and their friends.
You can call yourself what you want, but from what you've written there, I'd call you a Social Democrat.
What is the difference between a social democrat and a democratic socialist? I really don't get it. I'd consider myself to be a left wing socialist but not a communist or a marxist. Although I think communism gets a bad rap, which it doesn't wholly deserve.
I think, essentially, social democracy is where you have making capitalism nicer as your end goal and democratic socialism is where you have making capitalism nicer as a stepping stone on the way to your end goal of socialist paradise.

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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by monkey » Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:00 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:06 pm
monkey wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:01 pm
Martin_B wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:18 am
I'd consider myself a democratic socialist: I'm a capitalist, but think that the self-destructive excesses of capitalism should be restrained by government oversight and that taxation should be enforced, with the money collected going towards creation of opportunities for everyone, regardless of your status of birth. Government should be there to help all people, not a greedy few and their friends.
You can call yourself what you want, but from what you've written there, I'd call you a Social Democrat.
What is the difference between a social democrat and a democratic socialist? I really don't get it. I'd consider myself to be a left wing socialist but not a communist or a marxist. Although I think communism gets a bad rap, which it doesn't wholly deserve.
For me at least, and I know others define things differently, a social democracy would be what Martin described: Capitalism with a democratic state taking the edge off things. Democratic Socialism has the democratic state, but the means of production are in some way socially owned. Social democracy might be seen as a step on the way to Democratic Socialism, so a Democratic Socialist might support a Social Democracy, but for them it isn't the goal, and I think that's where the difference is.

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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:37 pm

jdc wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:47 pm
Herainestold wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:06 pm
monkey wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:01 pm


You can call yourself what you want, but from what you've written there, I'd call you a Social Democrat.
What is the difference between a social democrat and a democratic socialist? I really don't get it. I'd consider myself to be a left wing socialist but not a communist or a marxist. Although I think communism gets a bad rap, which it doesn't wholly deserve.
I think, essentially, social democracy is where you have making capitalism nicer as your end goal and democratic socialism is where you have making capitalism nicer as a stepping stone on the way to your end goal of socialist paradise.
I don't think it's fair to say imply that many people actually believe in socialist paradise. Leftists certainly can believe that socialism would merely be an imperfect improvement, but nevertheless a desirable one.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:02 pm

In terms of Blairism - I thought the UK was mostly fairly nice under Blair, unless you happened to be a Muslim or look like one. Not perfect, but doing ok domestically. I politically came of age during the Blair years and took many of the benefits for granted. The Conservatives were massively sh.t back then, it's probably worth bearing in mind - both Iain and Duncan Smith spent time as Party Leader, for example.

The problem with government policy under Blair was that the tools it used didn't ensure sustainable change. Blairism was only as good as the Blair at the head of it, and didn't last a decade after he left office. Ten years is easily enough to ensure deep-rooted change to the economy: for example, see the Conservative governments of 2010-2020. If the right will make swingeing, rapid changes to achieve their goals, the left needs to be prepared to do the same or they're acquiescing to inexorable ratcheting rightwards.

For simple examples, Starmer isn't proposing to restore Blair-era levels of social welfare. Biden is keeping some of Trump's corporation tax cuts. The right made those cuts overnight, but the left responds with gradual increases over a decade, just in time to be cut again when the pendulum swings back.

The Thatcher administration doubtless knew that they were effecting a long-lasting decline in the power of organised labour unions, and they delighted in doing so. If the left wants to have long-term success - as it presumably does if it's self-confident in its position - it needs to similarly think about breaking the power of the institutions that hold the country back by preventing equalising opportunity and alleviating poverty. The left needs to decrease the political influence of big businesses, especially the financial sector and media (including social media), the power of billionaires (especially unaccountably international non-doms), the lockup of resources by hereditary property-owners, and so on. A small number of billionaires would be mildly inconvenienced and millions of poor people would benefit.

You have to adapt the weapons you employ to the enemy you face, and softly-softly Blairism doesn't work against the move-fast-and-break-things modern right, and they're only able to behave like that now because they were able to continue solidifying gains during the Blair years. What's the reasoning of folks here who seem to be advocating for gradualism as a necessary component of left policy?
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Herainestold » Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:07 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:37 pm


I don't think it's fair to say imply that many people actually believe in socialist paradise. Leftists certainly can believe that socialism would merely be an imperfect improvement, but nevertheless a desirable one.
I think he was being ironic. Socialist paradise makes one think of the Khmer rouge or Gulags. There are socialist end states that are not so extreme but would be orders of magnitude better than capitalism

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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:19 pm

monkey wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:00 pm
Herainestold wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:06 pm
monkey wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:01 pm


You can call yourself what you want, but from what you've written there, I'd call you a Social Democrat.
What is the difference between a social democrat and a democratic socialist? I really don't get it. I'd consider myself to be a left wing socialist but not a communist or a marxist. Although I think communism gets a bad rap, which it doesn't wholly deserve.
For me at least, and I know others define things differently, a social democracy would be what Martin described: Capitalism with a democratic state taking the edge off things. Democratic Socialism has the democratic state, but the means of production are in some way socially owned. Social democracy might be seen as a step on the way to Democratic Socialism, so a Democratic Socialist might support a Social Democracy, but for them it isn't the goal, and I think that's where the difference is.
These boundaries are fairly fuzzy, though, if you include things like worker representation on corporate boards. In Denmark, for example, companies with over 35 employees have 33-66% board worker representation. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and even Luxembourg have similar policies (though outside Scandinavia the law typically applies only to very large companies with hundreds of employees). Nevertheless, that does represent a considerable democratisation of corporate power.

People don't tend to laugh at those countries and make jokes about collectivising farms, but there are clearly ways to do quite socialisty things using economic instruments rather than tanks. Which is much nicer all round. Quite a few of those countries also have things like wealth taxes (France, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland have them, as do Italy and Spain), and they couple it with things like grants for students and cheap (or free!) higher education, improving participation in the modern economy.

In terms of this:
Martin_B wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:18 am
I'm a capitalist, but think that the self-destructive excesses of capitalism should be restrained by government oversight and that taxation should be enforced, with the money collected going towards creation of opportunities for everyone, regardless of your status of birth. Government should be there to help all people, not a greedy few and their friends.
That's my basically my position too, with the exception that I think I wouldn't call myself "a capitalist": I think capitalism is best considered one of several tools for achieving a certain kind of end, rather than an end unto itself. I suppose if I earned my crust by investing assets I might use it as a job description, but at the moment I don't even earn enough crust to own any assets ;)
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:20 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:07 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:37 pm


I don't think it's fair to say imply that many people actually believe in socialist paradise. Leftists certainly can believe that socialism would merely be an imperfect improvement, but nevertheless a desirable one.
I think he was being ironic.
That would be so typical of jdc. He's like ten thousand spoons on my wedding day.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by jdc » Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:57 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:07 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:37 pm


I don't think it's fair to say imply that many people actually believe in socialist paradise. Leftists certainly can believe that socialism would merely be an imperfect improvement, but nevertheless a desirable one.
I think he was being ironic. Socialist paradise makes one think of the Khmer rouge or Gulags. There are socialist end states that are not so extreme but would be orders of magnitude better than capitalism
I was thinking more of a nice, cuddly socialist country than something like the Khmer Rouge or Gulags. It was maybe a bit flippant rather than ironic?

If it reads like I'm being unfair to socialists generally, it was careless rather than intentional and I'll happily replace the offending words with the neutral "socialism".

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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 03, 2021 9:00 pm

Fair enough :)

A lot of people do tend to write fairly dismissively about people to the left of themselves so I was probably too touchy there.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by lpm » Sun Jan 03, 2021 9:49 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:02 pm

The problem with government policy under Blair was that the tools it used didn't ensure sustainable change. Blairism was only as good as the Blair at the head of it, and didn't last a decade after he left office. Ten years is easily enough to ensure deep-rooted change to the economy: for example, see the Conservative governments of 2010-2020. If the right will make swingeing, rapid changes to achieve their goals, the left needs to be prepared to do the same or they're acquiescing to inexorable ratcheting rightwards.

For simple examples, Starmer isn't proposing to restore Blair-era levels of social welfare. Biden is keeping some of Trump's corporation tax cuts. The right made those cuts overnight, but the left responds with gradual increases over a decade, just in time to be cut again when the pendulum swings back.

The Thatcher administration doubtless knew that they were effecting a long-lasting decline in the power of organised labour unions, and they delighted in doing so. If the left wants to have long-term success - as it presumably does if it's self-confident in its position - it needs to similarly think about breaking the power of the institutions that hold the country back by preventing equalising opportunity and alleviating poverty. The left needs to decrease the political influence of big businesses, especially the financial sector and media (including social media), the power of billionaires (especially unaccountably international non-doms), the lockup of resources by hereditary property-owners, and so on. A small number of billionaires would be mildly inconvenienced and millions of poor people would benefit.

You have to adapt the weapons you employ to the enemy you face, and softly-softly Blairism doesn't work against the move-fast-and-break-things modern right, and they're only able to behave like that now because they were able to continue solidifying gains during the Blair years. What's the reasoning of folks here who seem to be advocating for gradualism as a necessary component of left policy?
What you wrote is factually incorrect from the beginning. The benefits of Blairism continue and were not totally wiped out. Despite the damage of Tory austerity we still have the schools and hospitals, and pensioners remain mostly lifted out of poverty, and teenagers can still expect to go to university.

If Blair was promptly reversed, how come education, health etc is so much better today than 30-40 years ago?

I accept the pandemic is a big dent, as were the austerity cuts to local services and welfare benefits. But 10 years of Starmerism can easily get it back on track.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:40 pm

Yes, most of the buildings built in Blair's time are still in use, though with cuts to operational budgets meaning that there are less teachers, doctors and nurses to go around*. But that's not what I was referring to.

Rather than just accepting a 10-year ping-pong, with the left incrementally building up social support and the right knocking the pegs down again then squeezing some more juice out, a big-picture thinker might consider the idea of making lasting changes to the socio-political systems itself, such that power dynamics are altered more permanently. Otherwise you end up with a huge disparity in people's opportunity depending on whether or not they were born at the peak or trough of the cycle. I think the example of Thatcherite union-crushing is a good one: unions haven't recovered since, giving employers a long-term upper-hand over workers.


*Much like baked-in covid deaths, you need to bear in mind the relevant generation time: we're still not seeing what happens when young people born and raised under austerity enter the workforce. I bet when that happens we'll see a widening social gap, from the ongoing cuts to schools, welfare, Sure Start, the EMA, student grants, etc. That doesn't mean the UK is going to revert to pre-Blair levels of health and education, because there are also global trends to consider: very few places have made that much of a backstep. If we can't completely blame Blair et al. for the 2008 crash, we also can't completely credit them with educational and health improvements.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:48 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 8:02 pm
What's the reasoning of folks here who seem to be advocating for gradualism as a necessary component of left policy?
They won't get elected if they don't do that. Its gradual ism or nothingism.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:56 pm

Hmmm. Brexit was quite drastic, and sort of sold as such, and people voted for it.

If the left could sell their ideas as well as Brexiteers I reckon they'd be in with a shot, especially with the added bonus of truth on their side. But they can't even sell their own policies to themselves without a tentative toe-in-the-water approach.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Herainestold » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:01 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:56 pm
Hmmm. Brexit was quite drastic, and sort of sold as such, and people voted for it.

If the left could sell their ideas as well as Brexiteers I reckon they'd be in with a shot, especially with the added bonus of truth on their side. But they can't even sell their own policies to themselves without a tentative toe-in-the-water approach.
Corbyn's agenda was fairly radical and it didn't seem to excite people, maybe because Brexit sucked all the oxygen out of the room.
What is really needed is a moderate lefty, who doesn't scare the middle classes, who then pivots when in office and has the strength to make structural changes so that policies can't easily be reversed, and can stay in power.
Someone like a left wing Viktor Orban.

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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:33 am

I reckon the people who sold brexit to the masses could just as easily, or even more so, sold Corbyn's manifesto, had they wanted to. And I doubt brexit would have happened if Corbyn was its avatar.

The left is not good at clear, simple messages, nor at promoting popular charismatic figures. That's what Blair did well, the slickness, the style and the spin. He could have sold a different set of policies just as well.

It's clearly possible to convince people to vote for radical things. You just have to be good at convincing people of things, and the modern UK left is sh.t at it.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:20 am

JQH wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:19 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 3:09 am
So what? Inequality is not a valid measure of anything worthwhile in society.
There would appear to be a link between income inequality and levels of crime. See this for example. So your comment is only valid if you don't regard reducing crime as worthwhile.
Firstly, the mere presence of "a link" is not an approriate basis for a conclusion, but more seriously, that article is journalism based on data which it links to. It is clear from the actual data, at https://news.gallup.com/poll/235391/pea ... dwide.aspx that the only measure of crime was asking people their opinion on how safe they feel. That is not measuring crime as people are highly biased in their perceptions. Furthermore, from the Gallup page:
Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted throughout 2017 in 142 countries and areas.
That's an average of very slightly over 7 people per region. Not a basis for drawing any sensible conclusion other than it's cheap publicity for Gallup.
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:31 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:40 pm
Yes, most of the buildings built in Blair's time are still in use, though with cuts to operational budgets meaning that there are less teachers, doctors and nurses to go around*. But that's not what I was referring to.
Please point out the cuts in expenditure on the graph "UK government expenditure by sector 1993-2014 in real terms" at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governmen ... ed_Kingdom

Or maybe you'd prefer to point out the tax cuts on the graph "Tax receipts in the United Kingdom from 2000/01 to 2019/20" at https://www.statista.com/statistics/284 ... -receipts/
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Re: Where is politics going?

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:04 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:33 am
I reckon the people who sold brexit to the masses could just as easily, or even more so, sold Corbyn's manifesto, had they wanted to.
I doubt it. The difference is that Brexit was a novelty, so the Remainers couldn't point to a variety of other countries which had tried something similar and ended in disaster, while the left-vs-right debate is an old one and lots of countries have tried a variety of positions on that spectrum so there are plenty of examples and many people have heard all the arguments before. There's also the fundamental deceit of Brexit that it was one thing. As Theresa May aptly put it, Brexit means Brexit, which most Brexiteers did not understand (and probably many still don't). If you voted for Brexit you were voting for what you thought it meant, but many other people voted for it on the basis that it meant something incompatible.
It's clearly possible to convince people to vote for radical things. You just have to be good at convincing people of things, and the modern UK left is sh.t at it.
There's a good reason why the left has a hard time. In vague generalities, the left believes that the governemnt should do stuff while the right believes it shouldn't. If I think, for example, that we should spend more on tackling homelessness, then as a left wing voter I must be confident that the specific bunch of lefties standing for election are going to take the tax money and spend it on that. But as a right wing voter all I have to be confident of is that the bunch of rightists are not going to take the tax money and I can spend it on the homeless myself. The same applies to all reasons for spending money - however worthy or unworthy, so the left have a much greater need to agree on priorities and are therefore much more prone to internal squabbling leading to voters being wary of what they'll end up doing if elected.
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