Jon Cruddas - Taking Back the Big Society
A rich, sprawling and very worthwhile speech from UK MP Cruddas, the unofficial leader of the Labour left over there. A few extracts:
Across Europe social democracy has been reduced to parties of the public sector and the liberal middle class.
. . . The task at hand is for Labour to rebuild its identity grounded in ordinary, everyday working class culture.
. . . Labour built new schools and hospitals; a massive social investment. An historic achievement. No-one seems very grateful.
Labour in government pursued efficiency, ‘value for money’, and ‘customer satisfaction’ but it did not take care of the human relationships and trust that lie at the heart of public services. It used the market and the state as heartless instruments of reform. People felt excluded. They did not feel an ownership of the new grand buildings.
With embarrassing speed the Conservatives detached Labour from its own achievements. The market failure of the banks was turned into a crisis of public debt and blamed on Labour.
. . . In our history Labour has always responded to dispossession; to economic and social loss. It must do so again by rediscovering a warmth and generosity; especially in England by learning from our previous generations who have all dealt with the same patterns of loss. As such, Labour’s Good Society lies deep in the English struggle for popular democracy. (Read more)
John Kearne – Decline, fall and rebirth
This lengthy essay from The Australian presents an account of the history and evolution of social democracy and asks whether we are “living through a rare period of rupture” in which social democracy will be eclipsed by the green movement. Kearne traces some similar developments to those I’ve discussed in my Theoretical Foundations series of posts, though perhapsin a pithier style.
John Quiggin - Cosmopolitan social democracy
The left needs to offer a transformational vision of a better society if it is to motivate the kind of enthusiasm needed to overcome a rightwing politics of tribalism and (often misperceived) self-interest . . . We need a world view that extends the solidarity of social democracy to the whole of humanity. (Read more)
Dan Hind - The Media, the crisis, and the crisis in media
An intriguing suggestion from Hind, a former publisher and now author:
Clearly the media are in crisis. But if the current system doesn’t work, and the widely circulated proposals for reform won’t make a significant difference, what should we do? In The Return of the Public I make the case for a system of public commissioning. Instead of relying exclusively on professional commissioning editors all citizens take some responsibility for directing journalistic inquiry ourselves.
. . . To fund this system of public commissioning a sum of money could be taken from tax revenues or from licence fees and allocated to regional trusts. Journalists, academics and citizen researchers would post proposals for funding with these trusts . . . The public would then vote for the proposals that it wanted to support. (Read more)
Gordon Campbell – On The Hobbit finale
I’m not keen to get drawn into all the ins and outs of Hobbit-gate on this site, but this suggestion from Campbell, the veteran political columnist now with Scoop, was rather interesting:
In one important sense, The Hobbit experience has given New Zealand a second chance. What LOTR offered was an opportunity to build an entire industry off the back of what Peter Jackson had achieved. We could have created a wide ranging knowledge industry of a sort that bypassed the usual tyranny of New Zealand’s distance from its markets. Almost by accident from a national planning point of view, the film industry could have become exactly the sort of business cluster that Harvard University marketing guru Michael Porter had – decades ago – urged New Zealand to create.
Did we take full advantage of that opportunity? Hardly. . . . successive governments have left the private player (Jackson) to do all the heavy lifting, while keeping the Film Commission on starvation rations . . . We have a world leading FX shop, and little else of any stature . . . Keeping The Hobbit now gives us a second chance to re-balance the mix, because film seems to be what we do best. It is our knowledge economy forte.
This is not a case of picking winners. The winner, in the shape of Weta Digital at least, has already galloped past the post and picked up the Cup for being a globally recognized star performer. The strategy now should be to seriously fund and foster the growth of spinoffs – in gaming, in animation, design shops etc – that will enable the industry to expand out horizontally. To pull its weight properly in this process the Film Commission needs more funding – under conditions that ensure it meets cultural and commercial objectives from micro-budget features to mainstream theatrical releases. (Read more)
If Democrats do as badly as expected in next week’s elections, pundits will rush to interpret the results as a referendum on ideology. President Obama moved too far to the left, most will say . . . But the truth is that if the economic situation were better — if unemployment had fallen substantially over the past year — we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
With a political stalemate expected, further action will now be blocked. A lost decade seems quite likely. That would be a calamity for the US – and the world.
John Kay – Why you can have an economy of people who don’t sweat
Jake Brewer – The Tragedy of Political Advocacy