Whatabout cutting out the political middleman?

Somewhere in The Pope’s Children, David McWilliams argues that the Republic’s government relinguished a large part of its control over its economic destiny when it signed up to the EMS at its inception in 1979 (one of several clues to the book’s title). As a result the status of politicians has been degrading ever since: the game is increasingly elsewhere. Paul Evans goes further and argues that in Britain newspapers have lost their capacity to inform because they are too focused on lobby reporting rather than in telling us what is actually going on.

  • Token Dissent

    The separation of politics and power not only has caused the status of politicians to be degraded, it is more importantly a major factor in the climate of fear that currently engulfs the world. People – with justification – see events and especially economic management as being beyond the control of their government, or indeed anyone who can be held accountable.

    It is a strange development that the loss of power that politicians and individual nation states have, has coincided with the rebirth of nationalism. The last 15 years has seen the creation of countless small states, that are in reality powerless to determine their own future. Is the creation of stronger strands of global governance not the only answer?

    Zygmunt Bauman has a lot of interesting things to say about this stuff.

    The criticism of newspapers has some merit too. The informed golden period of political jounalism never existed, but there is no doubt that concentration on the personalities over the politics has never been more pronounced. I guess writing that the political village is becoming irrelevant isn’t a good story for political journalists.

  • aquifer

    Countries compete with low tax and administrative conservatism to attract investment. The commercial media with their low bandwidth habits in a broadband world. It is tedious, and politicians creaming off a percentage from house developers is banal going on cringeworthy. Coming to an Assembly near you.

  • Greenflag

    ‘This is where we have gone wrong . No society can exist without morality. Even our amoral pursuits need a moral justification. Market fundamentalists claim that the untrammeled pursuit of self interest serves the common interest; and the exercise of geopolitcal power (USA) appeals to our patriotism . The fact remains that these are amoral pursuits .If that is all we have to offer , our view of the world is liable to be rejected by more traditional societies where morality still plays a central role .That is the case in traditional Islamic societies where church and state have not even been separated.In the end we may not find it satisfactory ourselves.

    By morality I mean accepting the responsibilities that go with belonging to a global community .Those responsibilities are not well defined at present .Our international arrangements are based on the sovereignty of states and states are guided by their own interests that do not necessarily coincide with the interests of the people who live in those states and are even less likely to coincide with the interests of humanity as a whole .Those latter interests need to be better protected than they are at present .

    The lesson we have to learn from Sept 11 is that morality has to play a larger role in international affairs .The threats that confront us arise out of the assymetry that we have identified in globalization : We have global markets but we do not have a global society . And we cannot build a global society without taking into account moral considerations ‘

    In saying this I am of course not excusing terrorism in any shape or form .What I am saying is that the moral base of globalisation and American domination is deficient .Markets are amoral , the untrammeled pursuit of self interest does not necessarily serve the common interest , and miltary might is not necessarily right . This may be an unpopular thing to say , especially after innocent people have been killed in the name of a perferted religious belief , but it is nevertheless true . I was saying it before Sept 11th ‘

    Excerpt from ‘On Globalization’

    George Soros ( Hungarian jewish businessman and the man who made a billion on the pounds devaluation in the early 90’s ?)

    Token Dissent ,

    Thanks for the reference to Zygmunt Bauman .
    His comparison of the present world ‘angst’ re globalization and comparing it to the 19th century transition of newly industrialised societies from mainly agricultural based societies is interesting . Perhaps the answer is already underway with the growth of EU , NAFTA , and with multi national regional associations such as in South America , Africa and South East Asia . It requires more than a stretch of imagination to hope/believe that the ‘balance’ that was eventually achieved by the growth of nation states and colonial empires will be ‘regained’ by a world wide global community ?

    Some would look back at what it cost for humanity to get from the pre industrial stage to the ‘glories of the modern nation state or it’s Empire brother .

    The fallacy of composition comes to mind . Because it worked at the national state level does not necessarily mean it can work at the level of the planet . The world of the 19th and most of the 20th century was a world of apparently limitless resources . The world of the 21st century is beginning to look like a world of diminishing natural resources especially for energy (oil) and precious minerals . We’ve all had our thoughts as to why the USA is in Iraq but most of us ignore or hear little of China’s grab at scarce mineral resources in central Africa .

    If a arch capitalist like George Soros is already questioning some aspects of ‘globalization’ then perhaps the Zygmunt Baumans of the world may find the answers ?

  • Cahal

    Not one mention of the R word. What’s up with that?

  • Pete Baker

    George Soros?!?

    Well, why didn’t you say so… such a renowned humanitarian…

  • Greenflag


    ‘George Soros?!?

    Well, why didn’t you say so…’

    I did 🙂 Soros and Bauman are looking at the same assymetries in ‘globalization’ from different perspectives . There are two scenarios which will have implications for what we call western democracy. One is that globalization will ‘flatten’ out the gap between developed and the developing/undeveloped with the political spin off of greater democracy worldwide. (Friedman ) . Another is that growing disparities in the western democracies between the haves and have nots which is seen to result from globalization will result in a weakening of the traditional ‘bonds ‘ within western countries which made ‘democracy’ as some of us know it possible ?

  • Scotsman

    Here is a “From our own correspondent” style piece on NI politics from today’s New Statesman from a former political hack (I think) John Kampfner:


  • Token Dissent

    Good points Greenflag. The fundamental fact that free-marketers have to face up to is that the diminishing global resources need to be managed.

    Sorry to bang on about Bauman, but he also throws into the whole globalisation/powerless of politics/public fear trinity the withdrawal of the state from social services and the decline in the welfare state. Increasingly governments are concerned only with ‘security measures’, and are abandoning tackling social inqualities.

    This has the consequence of increasing the fear of crime, terror etc, whilst doing little to tackle the root causes of crime, or address the real threat of globalised terror.

  • Greenflag

    Token Dissent,

    ‘The fundamental fact that free-marketers have to face up to is that the diminishing global resources need to be managed. ‘

    Not just free marketers but every government on the planet . If government’s are primarily concerned about ‘security’ that should come as no surprise . If a state cannot provide basic ‘security’ for it’s citizens then what’s the point of having such a state ?. I’ll agree that there has been a lot of hype in recent years as regards increasing crime and terrorism etc etc but people would rather live than have extra welfare benefits.

    Governments in the developed world or at least parts of it have been tackling social inequalities for some generations . There are several reasons why many of these programs are under threat . One is that many are seen not to have worked as effectively as they were supposed to and secondly and the growing burden of health care expenditure needed for increasingly geriatric populations in the west. There is of course increasing competition from Chindia (2 billion plus people or one third of the world’s population). In another decade these countries will have huge middle class populations of 500 million plus . These people will want what westerners now have . Telling them that they can’t have what the west now has is not the kind of message that will sell politically .

    It took two world wars for the developed western countries and Japan to ‘settle down’ to a new order . In 1929 the UK was still the world’s dominant economic and political power . By 1950 the Americans and Russians had replaced the UK . Let’s hope that the world does not have to go through another 2 world wars before there is another ‘transition’ to a new world order ?