The rational versus the radical left

So, as pointed out on a few other threads, in launching his new book Eoin Ó Broin described SF’s position and future as:

    It is the left republican tradition started by Connolly and continued by Mellows, Gilmore, O’Donnell, the Republican Congress, Clann na Poblachta and even the Workers’ Party to which we belong….. Sinn Féin’s future must be a left republican future, taking our place in the globally resurgent radical democratic left of Europe, Latin America and the wider world

Nate Silver on 538 posted a topic a few days ago on the rational versus radical left. The differences are summed up here (sadly I can’t hotlink the image).

Nate comes down firmly on the side of rational progressivism

    It should come as no surprise that I regard myself as a rational progressive. I believe in intellectual progress — that we, as a species, are gradually becoming smarter. I believe that there are objectively right answers to many political and economic questions.

    I believe that economic growth is both a reflection of and a contributor toward societal progress, that economic growth has facilitated a higher standard of living, and that this is empirically indisputable. I also believe, however, that our society is now so exceptionally wealthy — even in the midst of a severe recession — that it has little excuse not to provide for some basic level of dignity for all its citizens.

    I believe that answers to questions like these do not always come from the establishment. But I also believe that it is just as important to question one’s own assumptions as to question the assumption of others.

I tend to agree, and fancy that taking our place in the globally resurgent radical democratic left of Europe, Latin America and the wider world is a quick route to the slow political death of SF, and certainly a glass ceiling in the South. Radicallism hasn’t particularly served SF well in government – the radical approach to education has resulted in a free for all, whereas a more rational and evolutionary approach may have moved things closer to their desired results. On a range of other other issues, such as the Irish language, SF’s radical roots in opposition would probably be better served by moving to a more rational approach in government.

Thoughts?

  • There are already radical left-wing parties existing in Ireland and all are without popular appeal. If Sinn Fein want to become another Workers Party, existing without any parliamentary representation, then Eoin’s proposals should be adopted without reservation. They would however prove wildly unpopular. SF once espoused higher corporation taxes in the Republic, but were forced to do a rather humiliating u-turn in last general election for fear that it was becoming a liability.

    The SDLP should IMO move further to the right.

  • DC

    “globally resurgent radical democratic left of Europe”

    The radical approach is the rational approach. It is the perseverance of capitalism until the price mechanism is appropriately baselined, once that equilibrium is fixed only then can a socialist economy develop.

    The obstacle in the way is energy production as well, sustain that beast and free it up from finite reserves and the world will change and it must change.

    Eoin O’Broin’s examination of SF can be turned inside out and is best put in negative terms, what he is really saying is that SF is not politically effective. It is out of kilter with its approaches to capitalism of course, which means that it is not best placed to advance radicalism as ignorance is not useful in that sphere of thought, neither will the dearth of pro-business partners in SF help it. But Eoin’s point is really that there is far too much northern influence being imposed on southern voters, which places SF outside the key areas of thought.

    Adams is unable to legitimise his views because he is both out of touch due to the top-down nature of SF, but also the mindset of never, seemingly, giving way to bottom-up information flows, and feedback from the ground up either from business or civilians is deadly in southern political terms. SF philosopher kings revel in the delight of lecturing Alliance-thinkers that they are too individualistic and out of touch – they can’t gain traction; but, who exactly is the most individualistic – is it not Adams – the man who refuses to step aside after an election disaster in the south that highlighted his northern-based flaws.

    Look also at west Belfast – the development of the underdevelopment ad infinitum. Where Irish mythology smashes into bits against philosophy and the voice of reason, largely socio-economic but it is the economic ignorance in a globalised world that places Sf on the back foot.

    The great man of advocating the communal seems to be the individual not prepared to give it up. If that isn’t individualism at its worst perhaps Adams has more in common with Alliance than he could ever dare realise. But most of all this ever growing individualism in society generated by this network of information sharing, such as the internet, is not matched by any worthwhile reflexive political action by SF; there is no new political vision via Adams. It is communal by him as the individual, which seems to be an oxymoron (check out Alex Kane’s article this week in News Letter to tighten up on what I mean)!

    What I am saying is that there is a problem, which affects both unionism and nationalism, the problem is that the parties are out of touch with the actual social development (and underdevelopment and social problems too) on the ground.

    The knowledge society gleaned from the information super highway as it was once called makes support for SF seem something like a returning of old actors to the stage for a replay of the big fight: unionism v nationalism. But, doesn’t warrant any authority in helping constituents and citizens in making better choices in a globalised world. In the end decisive action is needed in the real world, and in the Republic, in the Dail, you need to be in the real world – for it really is the real world.

    Big business needs to be engaged and harnessed to ensure the survival of wealth and prosperity, the changing roles of women, immigration, and science means that tradition is no longer traditional, and nature is no longer natural.

    Politically this is dismissed but at the individual level we can all access the changes via the internet and see what is happening around us. The political parties here especially are in denial of it and cant articulate that because it affects drastically their cherished respective world views and the long held political narratives. To change that requires work and messages of hard truth.

    Peace may well bring home some truths needing addressed, where outdated political ideology crashes against new sociology and globalisation, requiring an active and proper politcal response.

  • Mack

    DC

    It is the perseverance of capitalism until the price mechanism is appropriately baselined, once that equilibrium is fixed only then can a socialist economy develop

    What does this mean? That commerce / exchange / trade is abolished? If not what is the basis of exchange?

    I presume you find the price mechanism, where price balances supply and demand, offensive. The only alternative to it, is a centrally planned economy – where set goods are supplied regardless of demand. It’s failed everywhere it’s been tried..

  • DC

    No, I am for it, but take the banking crises, was the proper price mechanism being worked correctly, or contrived by massive short-term gains generated by superior mathematical tricks abusing that very market system.

    That is socialism in the 21st century, plus sorting out energy. The biggest price fluctuator.

    The baselines must be established in order to reach an optimum rational point, that is why the less currencies the better. A more sluggish system re Euro entry is better than fictious peak-and-trough cycles of faux financial joy and real hardship.

  • Mack

    DC

    Well, the whole idea of the price mechanism is you don’t centrally force it to a particular level. That means it remains sensitive to mass delusions (property only goes up etc), and temporarily susceptable to abuse (attempts to corner the market, raise /lower prices – even price fixing by socialist governments, or OPEC!) – but as Ben Graham said “in the short-term, the market is a voting machine, while in the long-term it’s a weighing machine”. Thats what’s happening now – property prices are reverting to the mean (and probably past it on the downside), worthless derivatives are being revalued as worthless..

    I don’t agree the banking crises is a failure of capitalism – it occured at least in part due to moral hazard, the bankers feared no consequences – profits were privatised and losses socialised. The worst of both systems. Under pure capitalism, the bankers would be destitute now (unfortunately bringing many down with them).

  • Catholic Observer

    The SDLP should IMO move further to the right.

    Behold the right-wing Catholic. I wonder when Jesus was pinned to the cross how much he looked forward to the right wing openly advocating the policies of no empathy for the suffering, the poor and the marginalised.

  • credit crunch

    If Eoin is sincere, and I have no reason to doubt that he is, then what the hell is he doing aligned to a semi-fascist, sectarian, dictatorial outfit that is pro-capitalist to its friends in the USA, while masquerading as socialist republican at home?
    Though, when the chips are down, is right up the arses of big business interests here at home as well.

  • Mack

    John O’Connell

    Free enterprise & trade are the most effective tools for pulling the poor out of poverty. Or have you not noticed that they countries where the standard of living, across the board, is highest are all run along capitalist lines. I’ve no problem with parties pursuing redistributive policies – as long as wealth creation is given the primacy it deserves – but perversely you seem to be arguing that the policies that create the wealth you seek to redistribute are immoral…

  • Kensei

    Mack

    The market can stay wrong longer than you can stay solvent
    In the long term we are all dead

    What we are seeing now is a fairly big failure of capitalism, at least how practiced at the start of the 21st century.

    Asset prices will likely overshoot badly on the way down just as they did on the way up and cause a lot of collateral damage and destruction of wealth. A system prone to such swings is far from ideals, and the diea is to enhance it to be less prone to delusion, and more able to cope with failures. That said, nothign DC said in his post made any sense to me.

    But this is an aside. Anyone care to defend radicalism, Left or Right?

  • Mack

    Kensei –

    Well I disagree that giving bankers carte blanche to do what they like is capitalism. Creative destruction (and moral hazard bank bailouts) are fundamental to capitalism. We live in democracies so perhaps the consequences of that are unpalatable and so strong regulation is required. I would describe lax regulation with strong moral hazard as unfair (brilliant for the chosen bankers, worst of both worlds for the rest of us), rather than capitalism.

    But, as another aside, crashes, panics, depressions, recessions are nothing new. Socialist systems suffered them too (e.g. Great leap forward) and even agrarian economies suffer from them.

    But this is an aside. Anyone care to defend radicalism, Left or Right?

    Sorry about that. No, unless you see it working elsewhere first – evolution not revolution.

  • Kensei

    Mack

    Well I disagree that giving bankers carte blanche to do what they like is capitalism. Creative destruction (and moral hazard bank bailouts) are fundamental to capitalism. We live in democracies so perhaps the consequences of that are unpalatable and so strong regulation is required. I would describe lax regulation with strong moral hazard as unfair (brilliant for the chosen bankers, worst of both worlds for the rest of us), rather than capitalism.

    But for the past three decaded we have been bombarded with the efficient market hypothesis and assured that if the market stated the price, it was accurate. The ideological and theoritical underpinnings of much of what the past few decaded were built on have been torn down in the past year. That doesn’t imply the opposite: simply we need to rethink. For example, should antitrust laws be used more aggressively to break up larger firms with monopoly or potential monopoly power?

    But, as another aside, crashes, panics, depressions, recessions are nothing new. Socialist systems suffered them too (e.g. Great leap forward) and even agrarian economies suffer from them.

    Not a good enough answer. The aim should eb to elinate them. Probably impossible, but with improved knowledge we can limit their occurence and effects. From the last major crash we got a functioning welfare state; that has undoutedly hklped and improved quality of life. What do we get from this one?

    Sorry about that. No, unless you see it working elsewhere first – evolution not revolution.

    Which is everyone did, there’d be no progress. That’d be conservativism. The rational left needs to be forward looking and willign to try things, but in a control manner with an eye on outcome.

  • Mack

    Kensei

    Radicalism – Let me clarify, unless you see a superior / more advanced system working elsewhere you should evolve your current system – that doesn’t imply no change, it just means change should be manageable and reversable, if what you attempt doesn’t work in practice. E.g. a poor agrarian country may want to consider developing an industrial / knowledge economy at breakneck speed, instead of going through the slow and painful evolution that Western economies did, but Western Economies should by and large evolve from where they are now unless they see others overtake them with a different system.

    ——–

    On the current crises. I’ve mentioned this before, I think the Austrian analyses nails it. Though an Austrian based system would be radical, and probably high risk in a democracy as there is no sheild against failure and creative destruction. No doubt though, after a dose or two of that the system would become inheritantly more stable.
    I imagine Austrian based capitalism to be based around a stable money supply, that would prevent the kind of price (hyper)inflation and malinvestments seen during the recent bubbles – the lack of state intervention would prevent de-pricing of risk. Which largely accounted for those ludricous property values, bankers thought there was no risk. To a limited degree (thanks to the bailouts) they are learning they were wrong.

    —-

    I don’t think you can take the efficient market hypothesis seriously. It’s a rule of thumb, an indicator at best and a warning not to think you can beat the market. Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb are worth a read. Price helps balance supply and demand, anything beyond that is perhaps stretching it. There are too many variables in our fiat, fractional reserve money system. (I.e. the price will depend on the amount of money available to purchase goods and services, as well as the demand for those goods and services – in a FIAT system central authorities can increase or decrease the amount of capital available, as can the banks and their borrowers. In housing there are also market limitations, you can’t short sell a house if you think they are overvalued for example – you can only take illiquid long positions & many of the investors are very unaware about the nature of the risks they are taking).

    —-
    You could also argue it was the attempt to smooth out the business cycle with lax monetary policy that led to the current crises.

  • veritas

    again the bigot arrives with Fundamentalist bigotry…

    Jesus Christ was a very bad prophet, nothing more.

  • veritas

    again the bigot arrives with Fundamentalist bigotry…

    Jesus Christ was a very bad prophet, nothing more.

    Were you announcing yourself in your first sentence.

    I still feel those pains in my body, especially around my head, wrists and feet.

    If Jesus Christ was a very bad prophet, Moses must have been a complete idiot.

  • Mack

    Free enterprise & trade are the most effective tools for pulling the poor out of poverty.

    I’ve studied basic economics too. But you know the whole purpose of Christianity is to save the world, and we do that by living meagre existences rather than the desperately wasteful, damaging and even suicideal policies of western democracies.

    Climate change signals the end of your argument.You just haven’t realised it yet.

  • GGN

    ערב טוביוחנן

    אתה מדבר עברית?

  • picador

    Can you do Aramaic?

  • Conchúr

    “I believe in intellectual progress—that we, as a species, are gradually becoming smarter.”

    If he believes that he is a fool.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article721863.ece

  • “ערב טוביוחנן” :GGN

    ערב טוביוחנן לילה טוב

    “אתה מדבר עברית”

    אֲנִי כְּלָל א מֵבִין אבל הֵבַנְתִּי הַכֹּ

    ידיעת שפה אחת אינה מספיקה

    הַאִם אֲנִי מְבַטֵּא זֹאת נָכוֹן GGN?

  • kensei

    Er, why has my thread gone mad?

    Fortunately I am the Grand Controller of this thread. And while I hate censorship, any mention of Adams, Paisley and “666” are going bye-bye fairly sharpish here.

    EDIT: See what I mean? I quite like the idea Nate threw out, and also the discussion I was having with Mack. So if you are going to A. Be Mental B. Get into a childish bitch fight, your comments will be locked. Very low tolerance on this one. This is not censorship, this is a public service.

    Mack

    I have no idea what you mean by “Austrian-based system”. If you are talking about the usual supply side economics, then we’ve just had a colourful demonstration that its not enough.

    It also wasn’t the attempt to balance the cycle that nailed us: the lax regualtion, the insane amount of leveraging permitted, the attempt to smoot over the cracks of the last recession with cheap money that got us here. And partly that was down to the lionisation of business people and the extreme version of free market economics that got us here.

    We need to reassess and move towards a more balanced more prudent system. Intuitively, regulation works: if all CDOs were banned, we never would have had the crisis. But that would have also nuked quite a lot of real growth, and stopped quite a lot of people who could actually pay to get loans. The challenge is to tweak the system to stop bad activity while allowing the good activity through, which is tough.

    We have to look at our underlying assumptions. Part of that was all these super banks and huge coorporations are great, sure don’t they compete internationally. That now looks wrong, and filled with conflict of interest and risk. Some firewalls need put in place, and antitrust law needs to be enforced.

  • kensei

    It might seem a mute point but without Christian morality defined as it is by my revelations in relation to Paisley and Adams, there will be no future for you to argue your shallow economic arguments in.

    So don’t be so quick to dismiss what you don’t understand.

  • GGN

    CO,

    The answer is no! I think. Though I think the point is made.

  • Mack

    Kensei – Austrian School of Economics.

    http://mises.org/story/672

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_Business_Cycle_Theory

    Austrian’s argue that new froms of production can only be created out of existing savings, artificially increasing the money supply makes it appear that there is a glut of savings to be invested – leading to malinvestments (property bubbles and the like), and ultimately a crash.

  • Mack

    E.g. from wikipedia

    Under the current fiat monetary system, a central bank creates new money when it lends to member banks, and this money is multipled many times over through the money creation process of the private banks. This new bank-created money enters the loan market and provides a lower rate of interest than that which would prevail if the money supply were stable.[19][15]

    This credit creation makes it appear as if the supply of “saved funds” ready for investment has increased, for the effect is the same: the supply of funds for investment purposes increases, and the interest rate is lowered.[19][15] Borrowers, in short, are misled by the bank inflation into believing that the supply of saved funds (the pool of “deferred” funds ready to be invested) is greater than it really is. When the pool of “saved funds” increases, entrepreneurs invest in “longer process of production,” i.e., the capital structure is lengthened, especially in the “higher orders”, most remote from the consumer. Borrowers take their newly acquired funds and bid up the prices of capital and other producers’ goods, stimulating a shift of investment from consumer goods to capital goods industries. The preference by entrepreneurs for longer term investments can be shown graphically by using any discounted cash flow model. Essentially lower interest rates increase the relative value of cash flows that come in the future. When modelling an investment opportunity, if interest rates are artificially low, entrepreneurs are led to believe the income they will receive in the future is sufficient to cover their near term investment costs. In simple terms, investments that would not make sense with a 10% cost of funds become feasible with a prevailing interest rate of 5% (and may become compelling for many entrepreneurs with a prevailing interest rate of 2%).

    Because the debasement of the means of exchange is universal, many entrepreneurs can make the same mistake at the same time (i.e. many believe investment funds are really available for long term projects when in fact the pool of available funds has come from credit creation – not “real” savings out of the existing money supply). As they are all competing for the same pool of capital and market share, some entrepreneurs begin to borrow simply to avoid being “overrun” by other entrepreneurs who may take advantage of the lower interest rates to invest in more up-to-date capital infrastructure. A tendency towards over-investment and speculative borrowing in this “artificial” low interest rate environment is therefore almost inevitable.

    ….

    Capital goods industries will find that their investments have been in error.

    In other words, the particular types of investments made during the monetary boom were inappropriate and “wrong” from the perspective of the long-term financial sustainability of the market because the price signals stimulating the investment were distorted by fractional reserve banking’s recursive lending “ballooning” the pricing structure in various capital markets. These particular types of investments were never sustainable, and only temporary fiat money creation made them appear ephemerally attractive.

    The “monetary boom,” then, is actually a period of wasteful “malinvestment”, a “false boom” where the particular kinds of investments undertaken during the period of fiat money expansion are revealed to lead nowhere but to insolvency and unsustainability. It is the time when errors are made, when speculative borrowing has driven up prices for assets and capital to unsustainable levels, due to low interest rates “artificially” increasing the money supply and triggering an unsustainable injection of fiat money “funds” available for investment into the system, thereby tampering with the complex pricing mechanism of the free market. “Real” savings would have required higher interest rates to encourage depositors to save their money in term deposits to invest in longer term projects under a stable money supply. The artificial stimulus caused by bank-created credit causes a generalised speculative investment bubble, not justified by the long-term structure of the market.[15]

    The “crisis” (or “credit crunch”) arrives when the consumers come to reestablish their desired allocation of saving and consumption at prevailing interest rates.[17][20] The “recession” or “depression” is actually the process by which the economy adjusts to the wastes and errors of the monetary boom, and reestablishes efficient service of sustainable consumer desires.[17][20]

    Which all sounds like the current crises. Which the Austrian’s, like Peter Schiff, were predicting.

  • veritas

    this isn`t a Christian fundamentalist country, yes parts of it are the realms of right wing bigots who believe, the world is 10,000 years old and dinosaurs didn`t exist…

  • Kensei

    Mack

    I can’t possibly imagine that you could remove fiat money after being so ingrained for so long. I also suspect that a limited money supply would be a massive break on growth, good or otherwise.

  • DC

    What I am saying is in the north adams prances about acting as a communal catholic king of nationalism, consulting history and irish mythology and republican ira customs when it suits him to justify himself.

    But when he goes down south the complex economic world crushes him and the old northern take on nationalism is a wash out in the republic, which is a highly globalised player now. With the internet framing attitudes to sex and dating and pushing cultures together and also apart in pockets of the community even in ireland, the monotone takes on conservative irish behaviour and old monochrome cultural stances by adams won’t work. Take advances in biological science, where people can have babies without sex etc, take the global market on your handheld phone, take accessing news, global news, on it too. All these things and so much more seems to pass politics by here in ni, the mobile phone is the bottom up approach, business partnerships and networks start from sratch bottom up. What use adams and his outdated cultural nationalism blind to all of this but a special take on history. He has run out of mileage if you ask me and the top down old socialist approach doesn’t work.

    Ireland is in big diffs, new socialism is about using capitalism against capitalism, so it is about evolution and using the information from market exchanges to make capitalism benefit everyone. Better to have people who can make money by having businesses not just about profit, as henry ford said: a business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.

    Just like democracy was used against itself by dictators so too capitalism by socialists who should be about improving financial systems and business models getting investment generated at a local level. Knowing the uk system and working for regional fiscal powers will help, but sf and socialists need to know how this will work and we need as a political community to identify a shared vision, if we squabble this instability will mean no progress and neither westminster nor dublin nor the outside world have any faith in our political intent and intellect.

    Ireland needs a government that knows business and has it on its side; socialists can help persuade business by working towards the h ford maxim and socialism needs to know capitalism better than capitalists.

    New socialism should take its steers from the likes of will hutton and have ideas that can change financial operations, evolving capitalism under the maxim: Festina lente.

    It is the interconnectedness of capitalism and the interpretation of financial data that makes it rational, perhaps global new age hackers subverting computer systems can help in pulling together private business information that helps get on top of multinationals global wealth generation strategies.

    Socialism needs to be sophisticated, it is only the beginning and in britain new labour wasn’t on top of it when it mattered, its socialist approach didn’t work, wasn’t dedicated to glaring failures of regulation in the new labour new avarice atmosphere.

    Anyway, knowledge is key and that is why capitalism and trade is here to stay, evolution it would seem to me.

  • Mack

    You might like to answer my point.

    veritas

    You’re a comedian.

  • Mack

    John O’Connel –

    I think you shifted the goal posts from saying right wing policies are anti-poor, to implying wealth is bad and we should all live in poverty.

    I’m not sure how global warming signals the end of my argument either. Either you think we should impove living conditions for the poor – which will increase global energy consumption and make global warming a more pressing issue. Or you think we should all live like the poor, in which case global warming is less of an issue.

    If it’s the former – where we try to improve living standards for all, then we have to address issues such as energy efficiency and enery sources too.

    By all means feel free to save the world spiritually, but even the Amish in the USA are technolically advanced & very wealthy compared to the poor in Jesus’ day.

  • Mack

    Kensei
    It’s only really been around 40 years or so. Prior to that world currencies were back by Dollar reserves which were back by Gold. There’s nothing wrong with Fiat currencies per se, it’s just they are very easy to debase.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/interestrates/4688047/Bank-of-England-seeks-power-to-inject-more-money-into-economy-to-fight-recession.html

    In Roman times the silver quality of a coin dropped from 98% silver at the Empires peak strength to 0.02% in around 100 years or so.

    You never know what might happen though. Gold is surging at the moment precisely because of these fears.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/4682554/Gold-hits-record-against-euro-on-fear-of-Zimbabwean-style-response-to-bank-crisis.html

    In the USA Senator Ron Paul is attempting to abolish the Federal Reserve

    http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/tx14_paul/AbolishtheFed.shtml

    http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2002/cr091002b.htm

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-2755

    The West’s first flirtation with Fiat money – during John Law’s Missipi bubble – ended up bankrupting France, leading to the French Revolution and hence the American Revolution and the birth of Wolfe Tone Republicanism in Ireland (and by extension to Sinn Fein and the Eoin O’Brion’s book on left wing radicalism). If this one goes wrong, who know were we will end up!

  • kensei

    Mack

    It’s only really been around 40 years or so.

    It takes a few minutes to mix paint. Try unmixing it shortly after though, and tell me how to get on 🙂

    I am well aware of Ron Paul. The last Gold Standard ended due to crisis, and you are effectively linking the supply of money to the production of Gold.

  • DC

    Mack I wasn’t suggeting forced pricing – but that the ‘creation of value’ had distorted the actual price of things using mathematical tricks available via the low-grade regulation of the market in particular sectors.

    And you are right, capitalism hasn’t failed, there are a few examples of banks that are sitting just sweet at the moment, take say private banks, there are indeed some around that weren’t involved in any of this.

  • The opposition erected here between rational and radical will not stand, since it is clearly possible to be both rational and radical.

    The use of rational in ths context implies both that radicalism is irrational and that the laundry list of what is not radical is in fact rational.

    Not that there is anything particularly wonderful about being simply rational. For instance, it might be rational for me to hire a contract killer to get rid of the granny whose dog keeps peeing on my Ferrari, since I may rationally conclude that the act will go unpunished and my Ferrari unstained.

  • kensei

    Hugh

    I think you are being somewhat unfair here; the distinction is as much in terms of atitude than anythign else. Radicals, whether left or right, tend to view the current system with great suspicion, seek its end and replacementw ith a completely new framework and be much more ideological. Oh, and be highly suspicious of anyone that fails the ideolgoical litmus test. You can see all these elements very strongly within Republicanism in the North, both mainstream and dissident.

    But SF has clearly found difficulties with its radical stance in government, and has been clearly trying to move to more pragmatic politics over the course of the last ten years. In that sense it is trying to become more “rational”, under Nate’s defintiion and is why I think that the suggestion it sets itself as part of the “radical tradition” is precisely the wrong direction to head in. Compare Labour’s performance in the South to that of SF’s and perhaps you’ll get some ide aof the limitations.

    But perhaps I am being unfair on radicalism. Civil Rights, both here and in America was radical and it is difficult if you believe in it to accept gradualism or compromise. And various ideas have started on the radical left or right and gradually moved in. But can you govern with that philsophy? Government tends to be by rational parties (though not exclusively; I’d argue the Bush Adminstration was stuffed with right radicals). Is there a set of criteria when it is appropriate, or how would you lay out its role?

  • Mack

    DC
    new socialism is about using capitalism against capitalism

    I’ve seen this proffered before. Again what does it mean? That socialism is about use the economic system against certain frowned upon interests, to the betterment of other favoured interests? (That’s a pretty good definition of politics, but surely idealogies are supposed to guide against this type of corruption).

    But it’s not in itself an idealogy, or a coherent economic rationale. It just sounds like “we’ll use redistrubtion to attack people we don’t like”. There are also parallels with Maoism to me – academics getting re-educated in the fields for example, yay!

  • Rational seems to me to be a very judgmental word here. If in a world threatened by climate change, socialism is about distributing resources in such a way as to prevent overproduction, duplication, and the waste of precious resources through needless competition, while also securing a decent living standard for all, then cannot it be described as rational? The fact that such a system might need radical action to achieve it does not necessarily make the aim irrational at all.

    And to pick up on Kensei’s point about Bush and radicals in government. I’d have thought that neither Regan nor Thatcher were rational by the standards of their own day, but now we by and large accept their ideological precepts about the market as rational. Bush is far from the most radical president in the recent era. Regan still has that title, and the changes he introduced were of far greater importance and far more wide-reaching than blowing the fuck out of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    It is entirely possible to be both radical and pragmatic, as any numbers of examples shows. The civil rights movements Kensei cites being perfect examples.

  • kensei

    Gari

    Rational is used as a counterpoint to radical, substitute another word if you wish. “Socialism” int he sense of central controkl has been demonstrated not to work in practice, even beyond the shortcomings. But that tangential. Radicalism is ideological driven.

    Thatcher was much more cautious in the early days than people remember and Reagan had to deal with Congress and gain support for much of his agenda. As much as Reagan is revered by the US Right, not even Reagan was the rEagan they want. Moreover, while both made sweeping changes they did not dismantle the fundamentals of the welfare state or the New Deal. Indeed Reagan helped patch a hole in Social Security IRC. There was certainly some radicalism in there, but on balance I think they stayed more towards the rational end. bush didn’t, and rammed home any number of policies based on pure ideologly and division.

  • Quickly on the socialist failing thing. Capitalism has failed numerous times, and can recover (as Lenin said, there is no crisis so great that the workers cannot be made to pay for it). One type of socialism failed, whether it is proven failed forever and ever remains to be seen.

    Regan and Thatcher may well not have succeeded in doing everything they wanted, and even carried out some policies against their instincts, but they did oversee a fundamental shift. That was a decisive move towards financial and away from industrial capitalism, and financial capitalism becoming indisputably the dominant interest in deciding domestic policy. This is more obvious in the UK than the US, but is true for both, opening the door through deregulation, privitisation and the rest for the orgy of speculation that landed us where we are today.

    Regan may well have had more support than Bush, and thus appeared less divisive, but he was no less ideological. And Thatcher was a hell of a lot more divisive than either I’d have thought. She didn’t get enough time to dismantle the fundamentals of the welfare state, but she would certainly have liked to, and was heading in that direction.

  • kensei

    Gari

    One type of socialism failed, whether it is proven failed forever and ever remains to be seen.

    No. There are fundamental information problems with state directed systems. It simply cannot work; it is impossible to know how to properly allocate resources. A single shortage can be stopped, but you’ll probably get another elsewhere.

    Capitalism allows spontanteous order. No one directs someone to create x number of loo rolls, but if I go to Tescos I will find the shelves well stocked, and with a choice of colours, thickness and lavender extract to boot. Imagine if the state nationalised the entire loo roll industry. There would be, at best, a few choices as many would be eliminated in search of efficiency. Competition would be eliminated so there would be little pressure for innovation. The state company would have monopoly power, so prices would increase. Multiply that problem by a thousand thousand times in other indutries and you start to get the scale of the problem. It’s no different for cars, or telecoms or computers.

    But it might be differnet for railways. Where there is a natural monopoly, there is little evidence a private company will fare any better than the state. So perhaps there is a legitimate case to be made there. This is the rational left – looking at outcome, and looking at intellectual underpinnings rather than ideology.

    The focus remaisn on improving people’s lot, the distribution of wealth and the like. Many of the critiques of capitalism hit home; in fact it’s has often had to adapt to compensate for them. We have a welfare state. But it does not imply the ideological prescriptions are the right ones.

  • kensei,

    Perhaps the best opposition to radical is conservative (which I don’t confer with any negative connotations). The root of radical is radix, i.e. root. So it seems fair to say that radicals prefer changes to the roots whereas conservatives prefer to work within the confines of the existing structures.

    In terms of whether such radicals are much more ideological, I think this is difficult to prove. It may be that they are more ideological, but someone wedded to the existing system may be equally or more ideological about it, to the point of not even knowing that they are being ideological about it.

    Maybe this discussion entails another disagreement on the meaning of ‘ideological’, which you seem to view as the opposite of pragmatic. But I would guess that nearly political actor from Hitler through to Pol Pot sees themselves as pragmatic, but no-one sees themselves as ideological, that is, no-one sees themselves as being are in thrall to a certain set of fixed ideas as opposed to arriving at conclusions via rational inquiry.

    Is there a set of criteria when it is appropriate, or how would you lay out its role?

    Since radicalism exists in opposition to whatever the prevailing order is, I don’t think you can say ‘this is the role of radicalism’ since what you are really saying here is ‘this is how the prevailing order ought to be’. But there are many things that demand radical engagement in order to get fixed, some of which you have mentioned above.

  • Kensei,

    I don;’t think there’s much point arguing about what may or may not be possible in future with developing technology systems etc. Certainly, our shops are well stocked. At what cost? To the developing world? To the environment, etc? Hence where the definition of the word rationality comes into view. Capitalism isn;t spontaneous order, so much as chaos. Look at all the waste. Now it may be that you feel the benefits outweigh the negatives, but in ecological terms that is becoming a less sustainable argument. The only time capitalism has adapted is when pressure is applied to it. For ideological reasons, like justice, fairness, and equality. 🙂

  • Mack

    Or you think we should all live like the poor, in which case global warming is less of an issue.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. What right has western man to consume at our levels to the extent that he jeopardises the planet? What’s wrong with poverty?

    The reality is that economic policies will be determined by practicalities which, if there is a God, will coincide with teachings of religion.

    Christianity has always said that less is better and we’re merely finding that that is true to our reality. Conventional economic policy is dead in the water now with the collapse of capitalism in the middle of a crisis of confidence in our consumption.

    It’s time to save the world.

  • kensei

    Hugh

    So it seems fair to say that radicals prefer changes to the roots whereas conservatives prefer to work within the confines of the existing structures.

    I’m not sure that is what is being got at. conservatism tends to be more focuse don tradition and more resistant to chane. If you look at the image Nate posted he has “reformative” for rational and “transformative” for radical. You can go to the roots in pursuit of reform.

    Maybe this discussion entails another disagreement on the meaning of ‘ideological’, which you seem to view as the opposite of pragmatic.

    I define ideological as the pursuit of established goals or theories in the face of all or any evidence. It’s the inability to revise a view base don new facts; the Bush Adminstration really was a classic example.

    Since radicalism exists in opposition to whatever the prevailing order is, I don’t think you can say ‘this is the role of radicalism’ since what you are really saying here is ‘this is how the prevailing order ought to be’.

    I disagree. I think it’s asking under what criteria reform becomes no longer posisble.

    Garibaldy

    Technological progress has been hailed as the grail of socialism since forever. But there isn’t a computer program that can tell you what people want. It simply cannot be written. I say this with an MEng computer Science after my name, here.

    Capitalism isn;t spontaneous order, so much as chaos. Look at all the waste.

    The Soviet Union was efficient?

  • Mack

    John O’Connel

    If there weren’t 6 Billion and growing of us on the planet what you say might be workable. A few million enlightened humans could probably live comfortably on planet earth.

    I don’t think there are many that could endure the conditions of the poorest today, and without some form of advanced economy we’d all be condemned to that fate very quickly..

  • Mack

    If there weren’t 6 Billion and growing of us on the planet what you say might be workable.

    On the contrary, it is because there are 6 billion of us, and growing, that my position is the most workable.

    I don’t think there are many that could endure the conditions of the poorest today,

    Survival of the fittest is nature’s way. The problem with your position is that it is underpinned by the notion that some must be rich and some poor. That is a tenuous argument.

    My position is that Christian morality should determine the extent of the forces in the market. It would have a much more egalitarian influence.

  • Kensei,

    I meant more in people being able to communicate there needs and desires more efficiently than a model that will predict what people want. But of course the Soviet model ought not to be followed slavishly in future. However, the question remains as to whether a more controlled model is possible, and indeed essential, in the future given the ecological question. And hopefully, any future socialist governments won’t spend so much money on tanks, nuclear arms, and space rockets, even if such things were understandable given the history and conditions of the time.

  • You can go to the roots in pursuit of reform.

    What is the difference between this and being radical?

    It’s the inability to revise a view based on new facts; the Bush Adminstration really was a classic example.

    I don’t share your definition of ideological, but let’s use it for a moment. In what sense was the Bush administration unable to revise its view of things? I think that it only needed to revise its view of things whenever its objectives were threatened. But what were its objectives? I’d say further enrichment and empowerment of the American ruling class by whatever means attainable. It did this via tax cuts for the rich, foreign invasions, curtailing civil liberties, cowing the general population, and so on. Now you could argue that these were all very bad ideas on the whole, but they certainly weren’t ideologically driven in terms of their execution, and they weren’t bad ideas in terms of making the rich richer: if anything, they were quite pragmatic.

    I disagree. I think it’s asking under what criteria reform becomes no longer posisble.

    Well, I think you can only develop your criteria based on concrete examples. There are lots of scenarios where your stance appears as radical (say, SF’s stance on the 11 plus) but by the standards of many others (in the case of the 11 plus, most of the developed world) because of the deeply entrenched conservatism in the dominant ideology.

  • Sorry, that should read but modestly reformist by the standards of many others

  • kensei

    Hugh

    What is the difference between this and being radical?

    Part of it is attitude and the emphasis on Empiricism. You might be led by the facts to support broad based reform. But you don’t start with the notion that the system is broken and needs overthrown.

    I don’t share your definition of ideological, but let’s use it for a moment. In what sense was the Bush administration unable to revise its view of things?

    In what sense did the Bush Administration ever do a turnabout on anything?

    I think that it only needed to revise its view of things whenever its objectives were threatened. But what were its objectives? I’d say further enrichment and empowerment of the American ruling class by whatever means attainable. It did this via tax cuts for the rich, foreign invasions, curtailing civil liberties, cowing the general population, and so on. Now you could argue that these were all very bad ideas on the whole, but they certainly weren’t ideologically driven in terms of their execution, and they weren’t bad ideas in terms of making the rich richer: if anything, they were quite pragmatic.

    I have no idea how you can come to that conclusion. The ideology is the obsession with making the rich richer regardless of consequence; pursuing an ideological war regardless of consequence; and lopping off bits of the Constitution they didn’t like regardless of consequence. But in general, I don’t buy they never thought what they were doing was right, or would in the long run help the country.

    Well, I think you can only develop your criteria based on concrete examples. There are lots of scenarios where your stance appears as radical (say, SF’s stance on the 11 plus) but by the standards of many others (in the case of the 11 plus, most of the developed world) because of the deeply entrenched conservatism in the dominant ideology

    The idea may or may not be radical (and I think the immediate context is the only one that counts, here, really) but the posturing and the way it is played certainly is. There is more to it than simply this narrow point. You did read the original article, right?

    Perhaps another way of putting it is: when is radicalism effective. The Civil Rights movement here or in the US helped create pressure for its goals, but the results tended to be implemented by conventional politicians. The Workers Party were influential in the South, but was ultimately absorbed into Labour. Are there lessons here?

  • “What is the difference between this and being radical?

    Part of it is attitude and the emphasis on Empiricism. You might be led by the facts to support broad based reform. But you don’t start with the notion that the system is broken and needs overthrown.”

    Kensei,

    But can’t one come to the conclusion that the system is broken and needs radical overhaul? How else do you get the notion that the system needs overthrown?

    I agree with you that the state is essential to the implementation of reforms, moderate or radical. You’re being led to Leninist conclusions by the nature of things, and coming to socialist consciousness, like it or not! 😉

  • Dave

    It’s like being a teenager again – all the bright young things busy designing a perfect world in-between popping pimples and wondering why girls aren’t interested in them.

  • kensei

    Gari

    But can’t one come to the conclusion that the system is broken and needs radical overhaul? How else do you get the notion that the system needs overthrown?

    Assuming you live in a Western Democracy, I think it’s very hard to justify the argument that everything about the system is bad and that it should be overthrown.

    Dave

    It’s like being a teenager again – all the bright young things busy designing a perfect world in-between popping pimples and wondering why girls aren’t interested in them.

    If all you can add is childish comments, then I think you’ll find you’re a few levels below “adolescent” not taht this debate has anythign to do with that.

  • So we’re moving from a discussion of the economic to the political system. The economic systems in all western democracies are broken in my view, because they perpetuate massive inequality and poverty, not only at home but throughout the world, and are leading us towards ecological oblivion. The political systems are in a better state I will happily admit, though far from perfect.

  • kensei

    Garibaldy

    The economic and poltiical systems are inherently linked.

    Capitalism and free markets have brought us technological development in almost every area, incredible choice in goods and services, standards of living unmatched in history (I’d still prefer to be poor now than poor 100 years ago). There are problems; the model has had to have been amended a few times with the welfare state, regulation and the like. But the system has proven to be very adaptive and wide. The Capitalism of the US is quite the same as that fo France, or Sweden.

    And you are seriously telling me that the correct course is complete overthrow of the system? And it should be replaced by a centrally plannedodel that has failed elsewhere and has severe theoritical shortcomings? Come now, really.

    This, if you click on the image I highlighted in the post is where the rational lef would be concerned with outcome, and the radicals with ideology.

  • Part of it is attitude and the emphasis on Empiricism. You might be led by the facts to support broad based reform. But you don’t start with the notion that the system is broken and needs overthrown.

    Why would it only be a notion that the system is broken? Can’t it be based on empirical observation? Read the commment piece in today’s IT by Donal Casey in which, of the Irish financial system, he says ‘The immediate priority is to accept the brutal fact that public trust in our banking system is shattered beyond repair. The time has come to start again. The system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up with new DNA. The existing genetic code has mutated into an utterly dysfunctional system.’

    If it is reasonable to arrive at such an analysis with regard to a financial system, why can it not be done for a political system?

    As for Bush, I’m not saying his administration was not ideologically driven: of course it was. But what I’m saying is that the ‘regardless of consequence’ actions you mention above were very much in line with a fairly pragmatic approach to what they intended to achieve, i.e. enriching the ruling class, regardless of consequence. The point being that being ideological isn’t simply an unwillingness to confront the facts and make changes where appropriate.

    Now as for your point regarding the ideology being the obsession with making the rich richer, yes, fine, I can accept that. But such an ideology does not preclude you from acting broadly like a ‘rational progressivist’: you can be reformative with regard to state security agencies, outcome-oriented in terms of the targets you set for bombing raids, empirical in terms of gathering every conceivable form of communications data from every citizen in order to analyse security needs, seek synthesis between public and private security services by allowing the US army to work alongside Haliburton, and so on and so forth.

    Perhaps another way of putting it is: when is radicalism effective. The Civil Rights movement here or in the US helped create pressure for its goals, but the results tended to be implemented by conventional politicians. The Workers Party were influential in the South, but was ultimately absorbed into Labour. Are there lessons here?

    The question for me is: when is radicalism justified? You talk about results being implemented by conventional politicians, but surely the whole point of radical political action is to upset the existing conventions precisely because there is no prospect of necessary change if you just leave the conventional politicians to get on with things.

    Capitalism and free markets have brought us technological development in almost every area

    You do know where the internet came from, don’t you?

  • Kensei,

    Capitalism and free markets do not require bourgeois democracy. Both are entirely possible under authoritarian political systems. Just ask General Pinochet, who Harry Flashman regularly lauds for his economic reforms. Welfare reforms sprang from challenges to this system by people motivated by radical ideology. It is not that capitalism is adaptive because it is nice, so much that the working people were able to bring sufficient pressure to bear.

    My point is that I believe in radical reform, but I am also interested in results. I have no interest in disappearing up my own backside discussing the finer points of what this or that tract by Trotsky said. In the current context, results for me means protecting the welfare state, turning the nationalised banks to the use of the common good, more progressive taxation, etc etc. Longer-term, I’m interested in more root and branch reform.

    As for an alternative economic model, as I’ve said I’m not interested in repeating the Soviet model, but I am interested in a more fair and rational use of economic resources, one that is much more responsive to the needs of people than the Soviet market was. Whether that is through the creation of needs planned for by creating them through marketing the way capitalism does, or electronically tracking what people buy the way supermarkets are doing now on a much larger scale, or using interactive technologies for people to inform others on their plans, or whatever other means we can devise.

  • kensei

    Hugh

    Why would it only be a notion that the system is broken? Can’t it be based on empirical observation?

    I never said that you couldn’t. But how was the conclusion reached? It was based on the very apparent outcome that it isn’t working anymore. And everyone has suggested is extensive reform — tighter regulation, better separation of fucntions, higher capitla requirements. We want banks and insurance and a financial sector. No one is suggesting we move all thsoe functions to the state permanently.

    The point being that being ideological isn’t simply an unwillingness to confront the facts and make changes where appropriate.

    It’s an attachment to ideas by definition. That means ignoring outcome to an extent, because your idea can never be disproved. If it doesn’t work, you aren’t believing the magic hard enough.

    no one did particularly well under Bush, as you can see in another fo 538’s articles: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/02/clinton-economic-record-and-rising.html. the rich just did a bit better than others.

    The question for me is: when is radicalism justified? You talk about results being implemented by conventional politicians, but surely the whole point of radical political action is to upset the existing conventions precisely because there is no prospect of necessary change if you just leave the conventional politicians to get on with things.

    And yet SF is now in governemnt. They have their hands on a fair bit of apparatus. their radicalism and street politics has been to an extent effective outside of government in influencing others, but inside government it has not been that good. Can you be radical in government? Will people tolerate a big threat to order in the long run? the Civil Rights movements tended to burn themselves up and become couter productive.

    You do know where the internet came from, don’t you?

    Do you? The network grew out from the military building on quite a lot of divervse technical advances elsewhere. The internet, in the sense of the world wide web, is the product of millions fo people.

    Gari

    Capitalism and free markets do not require bourgeois democracy.

    You can get variants of Capitalism under authoritarian systems, but I don’t think you get truly free markets, or the type of adaptation you get in democratic systems. More tot he point, the state owning everythign is incompatiable with democracy.

    My point is that I believe in radical reform, but I am also interested in results.

    But you appear blind to the limitations of what you espouse.

    As for an alternative economic model, as I’ve said I’m not interested in repeating the Soviet model, but I am interested in a more fair and rational use of economic resources, one that is much more responsive to the needs of people than the Soviet market was. Whether that is through the creation of needs planned for by creating them through marketing the way capitalism does, or electronically tracking what people buy the way supermarkets are doing now on a much larger scale, or using interactive technologies for people to inform others on their plans, or whatever other means we can devise.

    You are not getting around the information problem with technology. You will not get success relying on alturism. If you are for trying to find a better set of incentives, rules and fallbacks within the broad democratic / Capitalist framework then I am all for it. Better spontaeous order produced. great. If you are for central plannign, direction, some kind of supercomputer predicting wehat we all want, the creation of a utopian society through everyone being nice then no, you are wrong and dangerously so.

  • The technology I envision would aid planning, and reduce the need to rely on the market, but clearly demand cannot be entirely predicted. On top of which, Ireland is a small country, and will need to trade more with other countries, and not try to produce everything itself. I forsee a bigger role for the state and for planning, but not total reliance on it. Let’s not forget that the Japanese economy has far greater elements of planning than our own for example.

    As for the free market thing. The reality is no market is ever truly free – just look at all the cash we’ve been giving to the free marketeers who have been screaming for it, as they always do the minute they hit trouble. So a greater or lesser degree of regulation does not depend on the political system, but on the policy the government of whatever stamp wants to follow, and how far that is a reponse to pressure that can be brought to bear on it.

  • kensei

    Gari

    The technology I envision would aid planning, and reduce the need to rely on the market, but clearly demand cannot be entirely predicted. On top of which, Ireland is a small country, and will need to trade more with other countries, and not try to produce everything itself. I forsee a bigger role for the state and for planning, but not total reliance on it. Let’s not forget that the Japanese economy has far greater elements of planning than our own for example

    The state cannot do planning, except in very specific circumstances. How does the state decide bewteen a red car and a blue one, saloon or hatchback, this shape or that shape? White loo roll with lavender, or extra thick? It is a nonsense.

    Planning destroys pluralism. Pluralism is the key to the success of Capitaism. Lots of different people make cars. Some will fail. But that failure isn’t universal. Others suceed. Those that fail might try again or go to work for the successful companies. If the state does controls an entire industry and it screws up, everythign is screwed up. This is how you get famine because the planner said plant x when it was a bad idea.

    It cannot be done. Do you get it yet?

    As for the free market thing. The reality is no market is ever truly free – just look at all the cash we’ve been giving to the free marketeers who have been screaming for it, as they always do the minute they hit trouble. So a greater or lesser degree of regulation does not depend on the political system, but on the policy the government of whatever stamp wants to follow, and how far that is a reponse to pressure that can be brought to bear on it.

    No, and I think it is fair to be wary of abnyone espousing a complete free for all. the efficient market hypothesis is a model used to help understanding and produce some interesting results. But it isn’t reality.

    But the broad framework should be accepted as empirically the best bet.

  • But how was the conclusion reached? It was based on the very apparent outcome that it isn’t working anymore.

    Yes, and what I’m saying is that you can come to the conclusion that a given political system is not working, has stopped working, or never really worked, or never really existed in the first place based on rational enquiry. Such a conclusion has nothing to do with attitude.

    It’s an attachment to ideas by definition. That means ignoring outcome to an extent, because your idea can never be disproved. If it doesn’t work, you aren’t believing the magic hard enough.

    I don’t disagree, kind of. But not all ideas are there to be proved or disproved. You can’t prove the idea all men are created equal, you just have to take it as self-evident. And there is nothing particularly wrong with being attached to an idea. I mean, can you foresee any grounds for abandoning the idea that all men are created equal on the basis of some new set of facts coming to light?

    The network grew out from the military building on quite a lot of divervse technical advances elsewhere. The internet, in the sense of the world wide web, is the product of millions fo people.

    Ah c’mon, I take your point about diverse technical advances elsewhere (many of which were the product of state investment), but to say that the internet is the product of millions of people and therefore not the product of state investment and research is a bit like saying that no-one would speak of John Logie Baird if it wasn’t for Terry Wogan, Kermit The Frog and a cast of millions.

    And yet SF is now in governemnt. They have their hands on a fair bit of apparatus. their radicalism and street politics has been to an extent effective outside of government in influencing others, but inside government it has not been that good. Can you be radical in government? Will people tolerate a big threat to order in the long run? the Civil Rights movements tended to burn themselves up and become couter productive.

    I’m not best placed to answer your question, since I don’t think SF has been in any way radical in government, notwithstanding some of the posturing you rightly identify. What I would say is your observations about the tendencies of civil rights movements can’t hold as a general truth. I mean, is the goal of each and every civil rights movement to govern eventually? I doubt it. The same goes for other forms of radical opposition.

  • kensei

    Hugh

    Such a conclusion has nothing to do with attitude.

    Hard for me to get what I mean here. Are you working back from your ideology to support a conclusion or do you get there by rational approach? There is a difference.

    And again, this wasn’t the whole distinction.

    I don’t disagree, kind of. But not all ideas are there to be proved or disproved. You can’t prove the idea all men are created equal, you just have to take it as self-evident. And there is nothing particularly wrong with being attached to an idea. I mean, can you foresee any grounds for abandoning the idea that all men are created equal on the basis of some new set of facts coming to light?

    You acn look at the outcomes of cometing ideologies. That idea comes off quite well. Though yes, under facism radicalism is the rational approach. But I’d certainly be a democratic ideologue and I’m trying to frame the discussion within the democratic society in which we live.

    Ah c’mon, I take your point about diverse technical advances elsewhere (many of which were the product of state investment), but to say that the internet is the product of millions of people and therefore not the product of state investment and research is a bit like saying that no-one would speak of John Logie Baird if it wasn’t for Terry Wogan, Kermit The Frog and a cast of millions.

    State investment is an important contributor to technologicl advance. I don’t oppose it. But Soviet Russia could have conceived of Arpanet. It could not have produced the internet.

    I’m not best placed to answer your question, since I don’t think SF has been in any way radical in government, notwithstanding some of the posturing you rightly identify. What I would say is your observations about the tendencies of civil rights movements can’t hold as a general truth. I mean, is the goal of each and every civil rights movement to govern eventually? I doubt it. The same goes for other forms of radical opposition.

    But the goal of Eoin and for many people within the “radical Left” is to govern. Can you be a radical in government, really? Is it likely to fail.

  • cladycowboy

    “Can you be a radical in government, really? Is it likely to fail.”

    It helps if you have a Junta and CIA backing and a penchant for making some of the ‘irrational’ agents in your society dissappear.

  • Mack

    Garibaldy

    On top of which, Ireland is a small country, and will need to trade more with other countries, and not try to produce everything itself.

    Ireland produces relatively little of the goods we consume, we do export over €100 Billion of good per year already – about 25% of what the UK does with 7% the population.

  • Kensei,

    But I’d certainly be a democratic ideologue and I’m trying to frame the discussion within the democratic society in which we live.

    OK I’m fine with that. Where we would differ, though, is the extent to which the society in which we live is democratic. I mean, by what standards do you declare that this is a democratic society? Because to my mind it’s not really enough to say that it’s democratic because it’s not Soviet Russia. OK so there are periodic elections, but not much else. I’d be inclined to think that democracy shouldn’t just be a form of state, but should also involve a vigorous civil society, which would as a matter of course give rise to forms of radical opposition.

    Take Mill’s standard, which I think is reasonable, that ‘the whole people must be masters, whenever they please, of all the operations of government’. To me this is not true of either Northern Ireland or the Republic, and I think it’s an outcome of the consumer-based capitalism of which you appear to approve highly.

    But the goal of Eoin and for many people within the “radical Left” is to govern. Can you be a radical in government, really? Is it likely to fail.

    Certainly, anyone whose starting point is that consumer-based capitalism is not as good as it gets, and that things are best addressed through a bit of tinkering here and there, will be considered a radical within the present system, and will be demonised accordingly. So there is a good case to be made that self-declared radicals will fail to govern under current circumstances.

  • Sorry, should read ‘that things are not best addressed’

  • Kensei,

    Your grasp of how famines occur seems to me to be, to say the least, flawed, if most of the major examples of history are anything to go by.

    As for red and blue cars. How do you think they are manufactured in today’s capitalist world? People use historical data and focus groups etc to predict, and work from that. Businesses plan, and hope they have read what people want right. My point is that a more sophisticated understanding of demand can avoid some of the pitfalls that the Soviet model fell into. I don’t think that’s suggesting that the state needs to pick between a saloon and a hatchback. Just gather information better about what people want in order to meet that need. By and large people buy what is available rather than have stuff made to order, and their desires are manipulated by advertising etc. More of these techniques should be adopted by any future socialist government is what I’m saying. What businesses do, the state can follow, and a do a better job than the Soviets.

  • kensei

    Gari

    Your grasp of how famines occur seems to me to be, to say the least, flawed, if most of the major examples of history are anything to go by.

    I didn’t give “how famines occur”, I gave a mechanism by which it can occur. And perhaps you need to look at how the Soviets could not feed themselves and Khrushchev’s obsession with Maize.

    As for red and blue cars. How do you think they are manufactured in today’s capitalist world? People use historical data and focus groups etc to predict, and work from that. Businesses plan, and hope they have read what people want right.

    Henry Ford only offered black, it was cheaper and better fit his production lines. How did we get from there to multi colours. Someone else innovated. If the state controls everything, who is the someone else?

    And you still miss the point.

    People use historical data and focus groups etc to predict, and work from that. Businesses plan, and hope they have read what people want right

    Yes. Lots of different people. If they bet wrong, then they go out of business. But others bet right and are successful. The system copes with failure. Pluralism. If its just the government, then there is no one else to succeed. There is incentive to cover up big screw ups though.

    My point is that a more sophisticated understanding of demand can avoid some of the pitfalls that the Soviet model fell into.

    I’m sure it is possible to do better than the Soviets. But information is imperfect, people fallible, decisions difficult. Demand cannot be perfectly modelled or predicted. You cannot centrally plan a whole economy; you need spontanteous order. Planning the limited bits the government is responsible for is tough enough: how much waste and screw ups has there been there?

    I don’t think that’s suggesting that the state needs to pick between a saloon and a hatchback. Just gather information better about what people want in order to meet that need.

    But you are, implicitly doing just that. The state has to choose between the red car and the blue car. The shade of blue. Whether to have air conditioning and electric doors. The shape of the car. The number of models. Diesel or petrol. How much to invest in improving efficiency. And as you have Nationalised the entire industry, there is only the State making those decisions. Best case you might get a few different sub departments doing the same thing. The dude with the good idea has no way to finance or make his vision true. Who makes the electric car? The mad one with the solar panel on the roof to increase efficiency? The hydrogen car?

    The system collapses under the weight of its own contradictions.

    By and large people buy what is available rather than have stuff made to order, and their desires are manipulated by advertising etc. More of these techniques should be adopted by any future socialist government is what I’m saying. What businesses do, the state can follow, and a do a better job than the Soviets.

    You’re analysis is superficial, and doesn’t get to the heart of why the system works. Advertising both creates and responses to demand. You don’t want advertising. You want propaganda.

  • I misinterpreted your this is how you get famine remark wrongly it seems. I see exactly what your point is. Your belief is that only the market can provide the space to innovate and improve because of competition. My belief is that it is now more possible than ever for the state, or state-owned coroporations, to achieve that. You regard the Soviet failure as proving this cannot be so; I don’t. As for my analysis being superficial, I’m giving one example regarding the way humans respond to ideas and culture, and how those responses shape demands. And yet how those demands are also themselves shaped. I would say that advertising has lain at the heart of consumer society since it began to emerge in its modern form several centuries ago, aided by recommendations, word of mouth etc. Rather than being a superficial part of the economy and the market, it is in fact one of its key factors. I’m sure you know the old line about coke spending more on advertising than the rest despite already being number one. Advertising pretty much is propaganda. Just for products rather than politics. In so far as the system works, it is because it can respond to demand. My aim is to create a fairer system that does the same.

    And at the heart of this debate is your assertion that the system works. For whom? And at what cost? Yes living standards are higher now than they have ever been. But so too is inequality. The massive amounts of wealth we are able to create make that all the more shameful.

    I see my password is hope. Seems appropriate!

  • kensei

    Your belief is that only the market can provide the space to innovate and improve because of competition.

    I believe that pluralist processes are required for success. I accept soemone, somewhere could come out with something that improves on it.

    My belief is that it is now more possible than ever for the state, or state-owned coroporations, to achieve that.

    For God’s sake how?

    You regard the Soviet failure as proving this cannot be so; I don’t.

    I regard the Soviet failure as a practical demonstartion of a testable theory set out years before: that state run systems would collapse under th eweight of their information problems.

    There was a giant economic experiemnt run. Germany wa scut in two, and one side ran Capitalism, and one side ran Communism. Who won?

    And at the heart of this debate is your assertion that the system works. For whom? And at what cost? Yes living standards are higher now than they have ever been. But so too is inequality. The massive amounts of wealth we are able to create make that all the more shameful.

    In absolute terms, the poor are vastly better off than the poor of the past. I agree a flatter distribution is needed, though I would aginst one taht wa stotally flat — people need an incentive to climb. But the Nordic countries, or Japan do not feature the insane levels of inequality we see. They are variations on Capitalism.

  • Mack