Power and Politics

Via European Alternatives an article from Zygmunt Bauman ‘Reconnecting Power and Politics’, he rounds on many of those in power would identify themselves as ‘Left’ across Europe

In recent years to be on the ‘left’ has come to signal an intention to be more thorough than the ‘right’ in carrying out the agenda of the right, and better at protecting such undertakings from the backlash inevitably caused by their dire social consequences. It was Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ that laid institutional foundations under Margaret Thatcher’s inchoate ideas about there being no such thing as society, ‘only individuals and families’. It was the French Socialist Party that did most work on the dismantling of the French social state. And in East-Central Europe it is the ‘post-communist’ parties, renamed as ‘social democrats’ (wary as they are of being accused of lingering devotion to their communist past), that are the most enthusiastic and vociferous advocates – and most consistent practitioners – of unlimited freedom for the rich and the leaving of the poor to their own care.

He also critcises social democrats for being impotent in the face of global power and unable to provide protection for all in society.

Previously, the distinctive mark of social democracy was the belief that it is the duty of a community to protect all its members against the powerful forces that they are unable to resist as individuals. And people’s hopes were pinned on the modern state for the carrying out of this task – a state powerful enough to force economic interests to respect the political will of the nation and the ethical principles of the national community. But nation-states are no longer sovereign in any aspects of common life on their own territory. Genuine powers – the powers that decide the range of life options and life chances available for most of our contemporaries – have evaporated from the nation-state into the global space. Politics, however, has remained local, and is no longer able to reach the powerful, let alone constrain them

And rather hopefully throws dawn a gauntlet to rise to the challenge and take on global forces

Globally produced problems can be only solved globally. The only thinkable solution to the globally generated tide of existential insecurity is to match the powers of the already globalised forces with the powers of politics, popular representation, law, jurisdiction; in other words, there is a need for the remarriage of power and politics – currently divorced – but this time at the global, planetary, all-humanity level. True, the odds seem stacked against such an endeavour; but the odds have always been weighted against social democratic visions of good society – and who recently has managed better than social democrats in the pursuit of their goals against apparently overwhelming odds (recently renamed ‘public opinion polls’)? In the third century of its history, social democracy is facing a challenge that requires it to reconstitute itself as a planetary political force, and to strive to tame and constrain the global powers that are dedicated to dismantling the social and ethical conquests it made in its first two centuries.

  • Alias

    Actually, Thatcher was referring the tendency of those who believed that they had a ‘right’ to live off the labour of others to also believe that ‘society’ paid for their keep and that society wasn’t comprised of individuals who hard to do the work that they refused to do in order to pay the taxes to the state that was needed to keep them, thereby depriving the families of those individuals who did work of the full benefits of the breadwinner’s labour.

    It was the ‘left’ who propagated the idea that these families and individuals who worked harder for less reward because others refused to work at all did not exist and therefore it was okay to be state-dependent because the burden was placed on ‘society’ and not on those families and individuals who actually comprised it.

  • Clanky

    The idea of a socialist philosophy seems to be dead on it’s feet in Europe, with parties “on the left” ditching their core beliefs in favour of anything which will get them elected, in the UK New Labour were more conservative than the Tories, they ditched anything which smacked of socialism in order to get elected and courted big business and the middles classes in order to stay elected.

  • Alias

    It’s dead in Europe because the process of EU integration requires free market policies.

  • alias

    After all the enormous amounts of tax payers coin and state hand outs which have been recently poured into the coffers of big business and the financial sector, what you mistakenly call the ‘free’ market. Plus before this the privatisation under sweetheart deals of the nationalised industries and later a large sections of the NHS. All you can think of is pouring shit over the economically poor, and the left which did its best to stand out against such theft. What a mean minded and blinkered individual you are.

    Knock, knock, this thread is about Thatcher, who with support from toadies like you destroyed the British and Irish manufacturing base. If she had not done this, the numbers unemployed during the 1980s would not have hit 4 million plus, and there would have been a lot less people relying on the benefits, which incidentally most had paid in for via PAYE ect.

    The outcome of this economic mis-management was to create a large, poorly educated ‘underclass’ which is still with us today and a middle class, which is economically illiterate and bends the knee to power as if by instinct. But hey why bother to deal with or give any thought to the facts, you prefer to come on slugger and prattle that the only answer is “an extension of the free market,” like some discredited US neo-con who now spend his days wanking over photos of Mrs Palin.

    What world do you live in, the so called ‘free’ market is totally discredited, as too thankfully is Stalinist socialism. Both turned out to be very expensive indeed for us ordinary folks, although as far as the former is concerned you seem to still be oblivious to this fact.

    We need to look for a new societal economic direction where the mass of the people begin to re- gain control of our own lives and those who were responsible for creating the black hole in the nations finances should be made to refill it, Not as you seem to wish, the very people due to Thatcher and Blairs heartless economic stupidity who have been all but barred from the labour market for years.

    No more of your daft gods and masters, and mockney economic theories based on sand, which only really benefit 10% of the population and have left the rest of us pauperised and debt ridden.

    Get a life and as important a back bone and at least attempt to pull you head out from the rich man’s arse. ‘Even you’ must get fed up with being continuously fucked up the arse.

  • Alias

    The “poor” in this are the poor workers so have to work harder and pay more taxes in order to support the lifestyles of those who refuse to work because the welfare state has granted them that option as ‘right’. That is the point that Thatcher was making when she said that there is no such thing as society. In other words, the burden of providing for their own means is shifted onto the backs of those who do provide for their own means and are who are also forced by this ‘right’ to provide also for the means of social parasites. There is no faceless ‘society’ that takes on this burden – just individuals who are already burdened by the need to provide for their own means. It is the left, of course, that has a vested interest in promoting these parasites, and demoting the productive members of society.

    While I agree that the UK is up shit creek, it was the left who sailed it up there in a little red boat. In regard to the free market: discredited or not, its liberalisation policies are an indispensible part of EU harmonisation/integration. Liberalisation, in case you didn’t notice, denounces state ownership of business. While not a fan of the EU, I recognise that it sounded the death knell of socialism and that – if little else – is one advantage of it.

    Try to save your ‘angry and restless’ spiel for someone who might be even mildly impressed by rage vented via fat fingers at a keyboard because, as Dylan said, it ain’t me babe.

  • LabourNIman

    ‘parties “on the left” ditching their core beliefs in favour of anything which will get them elected, in the UK New Labour were more conservative than the Tories, they ditched anything which smacked of socialism in order to get elected and courted big business and the middles classes in order to stay elected.’

    more conservative? I think not. New Labour provided a party to the UK that would work towards their core beliefs – more taxation for better education, NHS improvements etc while William Hague etc focused on save the pound and immigration bashing.

    The work NL did with the city was to assure them that they wouldn’t yield to the unions.

  • Alias

    If you cannot deal with the points I raised crawl off back under your stone. I am finished here on slugger being polite to selfish people like you who are to cowardly to post under your own name, yet believe you have the right to insult others. If that is not hiding behind a keyboard I do not know what is.

    You rant about the ‘underclass’ but you refuse to debate it through, when I set out just how this ‘class’ of people emerged in such numbers in the UK and Ireland. Let alone accept responsibility for that awful women who was responsible for it, and who you wet your pants over like an adolescent teenager on heat. But then you are one of those creeps who believe it is just fine for the State to use the full force of parliament, the judiciary and police to ruin peoples lives.

    Those people you decry so much belong to families who for generations worked hard in manufacturing, service industries, Shipbuilding, mines etc, these industries were deliberately destroyed and with them went the livelihoods of future generations. Whole communities were, and remain devastated by Thatcher and then Blairs economic strategies, and for what, so the bankers and fat cats could still exist whilst we the tax payers you claim to love so much, pick up their feed and seed bill.

    But hey, you have no comment on this to make, you do not bad mouth the perpetrators of these crimes, they may bite back, so you concentrate your fire on their Victims.

    Which makes you IMO little better than a useless lump of human excreta.

    It is fear that motivates your politics, as your hatred for the most disadvantaged and powerless section of society exposes. You know full well there is no jobs for these folk and if there were your neo-liberal wonderland has failed to educate them enough to enable them to become part of a 21st century workforce.

    There is a whole raft of useful ways these folk could be brought back into the workforce. Yet all you and your neo-liberal cronies call for, is for them to be further impoverished by cutting their state benefits.

    As I said, fear based on class hatred, for if this were to happen you would soon be wining like little girls about the need for more police. Actions have consequences blockhead.

    That you would be such a charlatan as to hide behind a
    Dylan quote just about sums you up.

    Thankfully I’m off in the morning and will not have to read any more of your hate filled drivel.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    The central point about political structures matching the globalisation of capital is one with which the centre left is entirely familiar, and explains for example why attitudes to the EU between right and left over the last thirty years have become almost diametrically reversed.