The Conservatives have a mountain to climb to challenge Labour’s social media dominance

In the wake of this year’s snap general election, it has become apparent that age, not social class, has become the new fault line in British politics. Analysis published by YouGov highlights the woeful electoral performance by the Conservatives amongst younger voters.

Amongst 18 and 19 year old voters at the 2017 general election, Labour were ahead of the Tories by a staggering 47 points (66% to 19%), and were 40 points ahead of the Conservatives with voters in their 20s. The YouGov analysis found that, for every ten years older a voter is, the probability that they are a Conservative voter rises by around nine points. The Conservatives lead by a crushing 50 points (69% – 19%) amongst the over 70s.

Age, and not social class, is now the key driver of British voting habits. Key to understanding this shift in voting behaviour is that, in terms of consuming media and following current affairs, older and younger voters inhabit totally different worlds.

Older voters tend to follow the news using traditional print media and television news. The average age, for instance, of the typical Daily Telegraph reader is 61; the same average age as the average BBC1 viewer.

Younger voters, on the other hand, are likely to follow election campaigns through now-ubiquitous social media networks. The Office for National Statistics found that 96% of 16-24 year olds, and over 80% of 25-45 year olds, had used social media within the last three months. The drop-off in social media usage is with people aged 50 years or older, which is also the tipping point at which voters are more likely to vote Conservative than Labour.

The social media campaign has become key to electoral success in Western democracies, and it is in this arena where Labour absolutely crushed the Conservatives. To demonstrate this, I downloaded data from Facebook on over 28 thousand status updates for a range of key political figures and organizations, including Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservative and Labour Parties, and Momentum, the Labour-affiliated campaign group. This contains data on over 40 million reactions (“likes”, “loves”, etc.), 4.7m comments and 13.7m shares.

The chart below shows daily polling figures (on the left axis – hollow lines) for Labour and the Conservatives for April, May and June 2017 until polling day. The right hand axis shows the number of reactions to Facebook posts for Theresa May and the Conservatives combined (blue line); and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour and Momentum combined (red line). I have included Momentum with the Labour because they have very similar levels of activity on their respective Facebook pages; no Conservative-affiliated organisation comes close.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook page registered over 5 million reactions and over 1.6m shares for the three months from April to June 2017, whilst Theresa May had only 556,674 reactions and 115,950  shares over the same period. The Labour Party’s page had 1.86m reactions in the period, compared to the Conservatives 820,263, the Liberal Democrats’ 286,807, and 275,492 for the Scottish National Party.

This chart doesn’t show unofficial Jeremy Corbyn supporters pages, such as “JeremyCorbyn4PM”, which got 856,025 reactions for the three months, more than the official Conservative Party page.

Labour were by far the winners of the battle for clicks and shares in the Facebook campaign. The dominance of the Labour party in the arena where Millennials and younger Generation Xers follow political campaigns is a key reason why age, and not class, has become the new political fault line in British politics.

The Facebook data can also show which political messages have the effect of making people angry, or sad, or even amused through the reaction buttons which will be recognizable to anyone who uses the social network.

Interestingly, by far the issue that got people the angriest was the deal with the DUP, with over 47 thousand “angry” reactions to three Jeremy Corbyn posts in the aftermath of the confidence and supply deal reached in June 2017. Posts regarding the Prime Minister’s admission that she once ran through a field of wheat tended to cause amusement.

As recent political developments in the United States have shown, mastery of social media is now a prerequisite for those who seek political power. The Conservatives will surely not be able to afford such a comprehensive defeat amongst social media users in general elections to come.

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  • aquifer

    The baby boomers got the university grants, the jobs houses and pensions, the young are quite right to be interested in equality when monetary management for the rich has removed opportunity for the many.

  • aquifer

    Who will you vote for here if you see things this way? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=329Z5MuZ9qQ

  • hgreen

    Young people have been screwed over for years by successive governments. We appear (hopefully) to have reached a tipping point. Huge personal debt and lower house ownership among the young mean that the Tories can no longer rely on this younger cohort to drift towards the Tories as they get older.

  • epg_ie

    Have you got the causation in the wrong direction, though? Surely mainstream popularity causes Facebook likes. I remember in 2008-10 when Labour were the incumbents and everyone asked, Why is there no Labour blogosphere and will Guido / ConservativeHome reign for a hundred years? Now people are asking, How can anyone beat Jezbook? The answer was simply that on the Internet where people choose their media based on snap emotive reactions, opposition is much more popular than government, to an extent that wasn’t true among traditional media.

  • hgreen

    Not sure about that. Both the Trump and Obama campaigns effectively used social media as a campaign tool indicating that both sides can use it effectively. Younger demographics get their news from different sources today, in many cases via social media and messaging applications. Being primarily the party of the old the Tories have failed to grasp this or are unable to effectively exploit it.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    I think the young are more easily swayed by simplistic emotional phrases the left like to use. Such as being against “injustice”, and for “equality” and so on. I think the young would be more in the frame of mind of wanting to make the world a better place etc, that they would go for those that seem to be saying the same ideals. Add to that the promises that Labour make for free everything!
    The older a person gets, the more worldly experience they get and the more they realize that everything has to be paid for, and a person has to make their own successes in life and not expect it to be handed to them. IE, more conservative.

    Regarding social media, the young SJWs were ridiculed after the brexit vote as they ‘liked’ and shared lots on Facebook, then didn’t bother to vote in the referendum. So I’m not sure that social media stats are going to give the full picture about politics of the younger generation.

  • Claire Mitchell

    Really interesting, thank you! There’s been some good discussion (maybe on Novara media- I can’t recall?) about how despite being hugely more effective, left-wing social media campaigns haven’t really drilled down into people’s data or privacy, that their campaigns have been more general and concentrated on galvanising the many. This is in contrast to the Cambridge Analytica etc. model, which Trump began to use towards the end of his campaign, and the Brexit campaign, which targeted groups of people with ads based on their personal characteristics (openness vs anxiety etc.), using big data in a much creepier way. There’s loads of stuff on the latter on the brilliant ‘Note to Self’ podcast.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d entirely agree, Stifler’s Mom, that the social media is only going to be one aspect of the “politics of the younger generation”, although as Peter says, its an important one. There are other factors in plenty which can be discovered by anyone interested enough to actually ask people under thirty. Anyone I’ve spoken to with a decent education can usually unpack “being against “injustice”, and for “equality” and so on” articulately, certainly not in any sense avoiding the issue of things needing to be “paid for”! It’s who we are paying which they are more concerned with, and how this effects people. There is a general recognition that we are one community and in that community there are those who for numerous reasons cannot “strive” for the sort of success you valorise above. You are perhaps forgetting that for someone to succeed, others must in some degree fail, and there cannot be simply “winners” all round if profits are to be made. Someone must pay more than the vendor of a service or item is paying, either in cash or effort, for profitability to even begin to happen.

    The young seem to be well able to note that while we are now perhaps paying less to the state in taxes, we are, person for person, now paying a lot more in, say, mortgages and bank interest, and in other less obvious private costs. The dramatic reduction of state involvement in the sort of things which any Macmillan-era Conservative would have viewed as communal responsibilities has shifted the balance of provision to a private sector who can “soak” the earning working and middle classes in ways which were unimaginable before the Thatcherreagan revolution degraded the role of the state and removed the constraints of regulations.

    People over sixty have participated in this by making a bit themselves, usually through the increase in value of some property they bought earlier in life. This rise in property value must inevitably represent a greater burden on those younger who are looking for homes. The older a person who has been “successful” gets the more they are worth, and consequently the less the generations below are going to be worth, as it will be their task to feed this. The final joke is on the over sixties, however, where this increment of value will be finally required to feed their private care in old age, now that this is not a task for the state. Of course this perfect example of the pattern I’ve been writing about in the second paragraph. Even without the age and experience of their elders to draw on, quite a few of the younger generation can take a wider, less “conservative”, view on this and see the benefits of a system which looks after those who are actually needy, rather than works on the dog eat dog principal which is currently destroying anyone under the 1%, while a quasi religious belief in the sort of self reliance you depend on and in the final wisdom of the markets masks the utter ruthlessness and cynicism with which we are being exploited, our quality of life eroded.

  • epg_ie

    Yeah, exactly, both sides can use it effectively, but only when they’re in opposition, criticising the government with emotive memes, quick takes and photos, in a way that isn’t possible as a government party defending one’s record.

  • epg_ie

    Ok, but May beat Corbyn, Trump beat Hillary, and Brexit beat Remain. And that extra 10% efficacy of targetting is why Facebook makes so much more money than newspapers.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You’re mistaking oppositionalism for the “real flavour” which is actually that old bug bear of the centrists, “radical.” The problem for the radical conservative tropes are that they simply cannot be seen to be staying radical when in power when they have to come up with the goods. This is why Trump is failing on policy and having to rely on “sounding off” instead of acting on what he mislead his supporters to imagine was going to be possible. In a world which has ratcheted up its right wing/Neo-con policies to an astonishing degree since 1980 there is a lot of ground for a leftist radicalism to actually enact policy before it even begins to look immoderate, no matter what the scaremongers have been putting out. This is why Corbyn, many of whose policies would have been unremarkable to the Conservative party of the 1960s, looks like a possible winner and why May and her cabinet are floundering on almost every count.

  • salmonofdata

    Thanks. That’s a really good point regarding the effectiveness of broadly-targeted simple messaging over the more complex data-driven micro targeted stuff.

    I’m sceptical about some of the hype regarding sophisticated targeting of political messages on social media. The fact that the Tories reportedly spent £1m on Facebook adverts during the campaign and got 362,560 shares over the three months to June, whilst Momentum spend £2,000 and got 1,030,631, is hardly a ringing endorsement of the effectiveness of micro targeting.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Interesting, the special conditions here have ensured that since the collapse of the old Fermanagh Mafia wing of the UUP we have gravitated to a culture of “white van man” parties catering for Unionist voters. Not that the sentiments are seriously at variance with those in the clip, just the accents and some aspects of self-perception.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But, to play the old “Man in the High Castle” card, did they actually ” beat” their opponents or simply block them!!!!! It’s not as if either Trump or May (“Brexit” too, come to that) are actually doing more than treading water politically with a stream of baroque pronouncements staving off the inevitable moment when their failure to carry home any bacon finally discredits their “achievement” even to their last ditch supporters…..

  • Claire Mitchell

    Indeed! I remember being a bit depressed when the big Cambridge Analytica story came out at first. But there has been stuff since then pointing out the limitations. Whatever the Tories did seems no match for a bunch of Labour kids who knew their way around the interweb. Can’t believe they spent just £2,000.

  • Claire Mitchell

    I think Trump and Brexit were surfing the zeitgeist against status quo politics, and social media may have just tipped them over (by all accounts Trump only hired big data experts in the last few months of the campaign). Labour, although also surfing the zeitgeist, is a counter-point to the Trump and Brexit big data approach, showing how effective organic, authentic social media content can be. I know they didn’t win, but the ground they made up is staggering.

  • Abucs

    The older citizens have had a lifetime of working hard and building wealth for their families. They realise that the theft that is the socialist platform is stealing from them.

    The young also realise this.

    The very young who have just come out of education indoctrination still see the political world akin to the old dukes and duchesses exploiting the common man . It takes quite a few years for them to understand that this narrative is political propaganda that is actually the source of much social division and economic decline.

    When they do realise this, then they switch sides.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    Agree there is a big problem with paying for old age care. I know a few people that will not be inheriting much when their parents pass away. The family home having already been partially put up as future payment for care in a care home. The younger generation in school today will inherit a very harsh world where the welfare state has broken down

  • SeaanUiNeill

    All of f this is why the responsibilities of the state require attention. The first duty of a state is to protect its citizens. The neo-con revolution after 1980 has been favouring the predatory against the rest of us, and calling this enterprise. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been either freelance or a small business person in my career, but I’ve valued the post war structure for health education and welfare which has offered an infrastructure which sustained the cyclic nature of any economy. It’s not just a matter of optimising profits, the lower tiers of society need to be able to consume in order to generate profits, and this break on pure gain requires far more give and take if the whole system is to work efficiently. Starving out the lower tiers of “spenders” one after another by destroying this infrastructure is like running the road system down and then wondering why the economy flounders on poor distribution. The May pledges on council house building on this mornings news is a flag in the wind for a recognition even amongst the Conservative party that the centre ground is now so far to the right that unless something serious is done the welfare expense will rise beyond managing. The economy Thatcher deconstructed was a far more sensitive mechanism than her advisors ever recognised, and we are living with the unintended consequences of ham fisted demands that those who need intelligent social policies supporting them to most effectively contribute should do everything entirely on their own in a deregulated free market. In this context the interventions needed to support them after the system has been as damaged as ours had become are far more expensive than under the older systems destroyed in the 1980s.

  • epg_ie

    As long as the left is happy with “victories” that result in outcomes like May, Trump and Brexit, the right will be perfectly happy to give them those “victories”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You are missing my point. No victories for either left or right, simply a tree over the political road. You are not addressing my point about the failure of the right to come up with the goods they promised their followers. Other than creating opportunities for the 1% to increase their money pots at the expense of everyone else in the community I for one cannot see any result from this election period which has genuinely benefited those who voted Trump or May! But I suppose if the only important thing is a vote count and not what it might actually mean for the lives of the voters then you are perfectly correct. Blocking the left has seemingly become such an end in itself for some that they cannot begin to notice that the real assault on their way of life is not from the radical left but from the radical right mercenaries of the 1% who deflect blame for our dying communities away from the real source of decay by filling their followers heads with meaningless slogans and easy fixes which simply mean nothing in practice.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Where do you think this accumulation comes from abuts? Always from someone else, in this case the younger generations. I remember a New Labour activist of my acquaintance gleefully telling me, “we used to talk about expropriating the rich, now we can simply become the rich.” There is something similar in the way the DUP’s contempt for the old establishment Unionism is transforming into an emulation of the old establishment role with none of the finesse. “The first time in tragedy, the second time in farce…..”

    As I’ve said below, the financial accumulations of a lifetime by ordinary people is easily creamed off by private interests for social care of the elderly, and for any amount of other ways of drawing off money from the vulnerable. If you do not pay out in tax to those you have some slight control over with your vote, you will pay out to shield you from an indifferent dog eat dog capitalism where you have no say whatsoever as to how it functions. In my experience the”switching sides” is going the other way as older people catch themselves on about what the free market really means for those who have some savings or property, but too small an amount to be protected as a trust fund. But alas usually this conversion is too late.

  • Abucs

    No Sean, wealth has to be created.

    Because it perishes it has to be constantly recreated.

    The genius of capitalism is that wealth is reinvested in ways we have learnt best create wealth. Nye on everyone can participate in this if they apply themselves.

    Socialism is the destruction of that wealth through antiquated notions of economic activity based on the victim politics of control which is why it always brings misery to mankind.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Leave the abstractions and perhaps actually examine the realities, Abucs! How is wealth actually created? Buy cheap and sell dear. Someone must take something more than they are putting into either a product or service from someone else. Or they must exploit some natural resource and remove that resource from others By direct exploitation. All profit must inevitable be some form of theft from others, willing or unwilling, and “created” is simply an evasion of the actual abusive manner in which this process occurs.

    If you can really show me any exception to this rule which genuinely makes everyone a winner and is not simply a theory, I would be very surprised. You forget, I have married into the fringes of the “5%” and personally hear how such things are discussed by the “real people” who benefit from the made up economic fairy tales which feed their deluded neo-con followers. “Just keep up the heavy borrowing and the enslavement to interest payments” is the real mantra they repeat. Until you find how quickly savings and pensions can actually vanish when the steady process of exploitation hits a glitch, continue to imagine you’re included with the”winners” and assist the bigger players to drain off their cut from the incomes of others by your support for this system. You’ll probably only have to wait until you need care after retirement. As someone once said about Thatcher’s incentive moves in this, don’t grow old…..

  • Nevin

    The gullible may well follow the ‘insurrectionist’ John McDonnell in a manner not dissimilar to those young students back in the 60s who followed the People’s Democracy rabble rousers.

    Starting a fight is one thing but stopping it is quite another. Socialist empires are no more appealing than capitalist ones.

  • Abucs

    Buying cheap and selling dear assumes that something is already created and you are being a shopkeeper. No. Wealth has to be created and you have to understand this process without the simplistic ‘exploitation’ narrative which feeds into victim politics and entitlement.

  • Abucs

    I’m at a pub now so will watch the video later. I think the difference with capitalism is that power is decentralised and for that power to continue it has to keep producing wealth and is dependent on consumers. As such it is not really an empire but a co-operative where people join together in mutual need and benefit. (As I see it).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Could not agree more with “starting a fight is one thing but stoping it is quite another” as we pacifists inthe PD discovered when we were attempting to end that fight which Unionism began with their arming up to oppose Constitutionalism in 1912. When a political culture has encoded the lesson that the only way to influence anything is with gross and misleading political simplifications backed up
    By the threat (or actual application) of violence, then it is hard to wean them back to mutual respect for those who question their views even though this employs non violent civil disobedience!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Abucs, “decentralised” is an odd way to describe the activity of highly centralised heirarchic multi-national companies and financial concerns whose activities challenge traditional governments. You obviously have no direct experience of how such organisations think and act if you can believe that their activity is mutually beneficial to the people they exploit to ensure ever growing profits. ” buy cheap, sell dear” means taking something more than an item or service is worth from someone else, an activity recognised as fraud or even theft where it has not codified itself into a legal and socially “acceptable” capitalist model.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Something produced still needs to be sold on at more than its value to produce a profit for the producer. So at the very root of any exchange there must always be a winner and a looser. The trick is to convince someone that they want something enough to exchange something of greater genuine value for it. Having worked in advertising, I’m familiar with the methods employed to persuade a consumer to waste his “wealth” (usually in the actual form of his income from productive time) on something actually worth far far less than he or she pays. The whole system depends on this very uneven exchange to function, but finally breaks down when unregulated accumulation ( as in the current compression of wealth to the 1%) starts to dry up the circulation of exchange to the prime creators of value at the very base. You are romanticising what is a very ugly and exploitative system which has only been tolerable because of its previous inefficiencies combined with the efforts of responsible government to regulate its excesses.

  • Nevin

    “we pacifists in the PD discovered when we were attempting to end that fight”

    Looks like the pacifists were in a minority! Street confrontation and javelin throwing were bound to set traditional opponents at each other’s throats as well as creating the hoped for over-reaction of the authorities. For baton-twirling police to clear the streets in Dublin in 1966 was one thing; in Derry in 1968 it was quite another:

    Dr. O’Connell: Does the Minister agree that this baton-swinging democracy serves as a showpiece as suggested by the Taoiseach, when we have disturbances like this provoked by the police?

    Mr. B. Lenihan: The Deputy and certain other members of his Party appear to want to bring parliamentary democracy in Ireland into a state of anarchy in which anything might happen.

    Despite the PD intent to remove the ‘conservative’ administrations in Belfast and Dublin, under the guise of rights issues, anarchy was largely restricted to parts of Northern Ireland

  • Abucs

    It is a free exchange Sean. There is no trick. In a free capitalist system the value of something is what others are willing to pay for it. That includes labour.

    If some people are silly enough to listen to advertisers and their increasingly irrelevant out of touch bubble then that is something that in time, they will have to rectify. Television and mass neon light advertising and internet pop-ups etc are all very recent and have had an effect to be sure. That effect is decreasing in time – thank God.

    Capitalism means that the consumer is king and if people are buying dvd’s now and going online with pop-up blockers or using pay TV to get around advertising then those forms of advertising will die. They are dying and it is a very good thing.

    In a socialist state the consumer is not king. He has this power taken away from him. He is directed by a supposedly more enlightened ruling class which takes us back to the kings and queens of yesteryear. It is a backward regressive step that capitalism allowed us to escape from.

    Capitalism has been a force for lifting billions out of poverty and putting power in the hands of the common man. No other process has been as beneficial economically. That is not romanticising, that is stating a fact that has changed the planet for the better.

  • Abucs

    Corporations have to compete against each other Sean and they have to be responsive to consumer demands. This is about as decentralised as you can get. There is no competition in a socialist state and the state’s wishes come before the consumer. That is centralised.

    The fate of all companies is to eventually go bankrupt when they fail to add value.

    Nowhere in your words is the idea of adding value and the different co-operative skills and processes needed to do that.

    I am in a very poor part of south east Asia now. Many people here would love to be what you call ‘exploited’ by a multi-national company. Nobody need force them to be part of the business. They would choose so freely so that they can share in the wealth that they help create and this process is better than anything else on offer.

    That is beneficial to both parties.

  • Zorin001

    I’m sure that the Tories are trending right now, probably not for the reason they would wish though.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Abucs, a most interesting response, certainly very ideological with not a lot of analysis. You’d need for a start to more carefully define “freely chosen”, for one thing. “Free” is a most mendacious term in this context and certainly needs a lot more unpacking in any situation occurring since the discovery of the unconscious, especially in responding to anyone who knows that the most intelligent of people can be directed by advertising cues, I’ve seen in my professional career how its done!

    You are begging the question of what “value” actually means, where advertisers are using, just to mention one thing, fear of peer rejection to compel people to purchase goods. They do not buy them because the need or value them, but out of neurotic competition with their peers, and use the goods as a currency of social connection against the alienation inherent in a society so entirely concerned with money as the final arbiter of meaning. In this context it is at best naïve to simplistically suggest that the value of something is what others are willing to pay, rather, it must become what they can be bullied into paying. This is just one problem where considerably more analysis of what is actually going on needs to be carried out.

    I’d advise reading Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man” for a more careful analysis of how real consumerism functions in practice. Its just over fifty years since it appeared but its still as powerful an analysis of just how “unfree” modern consumer choices are in practice as when it was written:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-Dimensional_Man

    This is never some simple see-saw of Capitalism or Communism, the problems both engender demands a very real recognition that both of these ideological “final solutions” simply echo one another in their essential materialism and its dehumanising nature. The real problem the obsessions of both with production and consumption is the utter degradation of our lives and cultural tastes which this perception of human life demands. There is a great deal more to being human than training to earn a bigger income and with the credit rating this allows strive to effectively collect consumer goods through structures of debt which make even greater demands on your earning capacity. This simply hollows out human lives which could be employed for far more interesting ends.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Bless you Nevin, we have discussed all of this a few times before, have we not? All of this needs to be placed in a far wider context than slapping a few quotes down to sum up what are in the end rather more complex things. In this context the “rabble” (as you insist on calling them) were the fore-runners of what is still being worked out with the Belfast Agreement.

  • Abucs

    The term ‘freely chosen’ is not difficult Sean. There is no need to overcomplicate this. I am free to buy the can of coke or not. I am free to buy the car or not. I am free to take up the IBM job offer or not. There can always be factors in my decision, but it is my decision.

    Seeing people primarily as unconscious agents who can be directed or compelled stems from an atheist worldview that ultimately dehumanises people and causes repression. No, people must take responsibility for choices, they are free agents.

    I am not begging the question of what value actually means. I am stating it clearly. Value is what someone else will pay for the service or product. If I create a painting it doesn’t matter how big it is or how much paint I use or how much effort I put into the work or how long it took to paint. It is worth what someone will pay for it and it will never be worth as much as a Rembrandt painting that was done in a day. To try and quantify value in terms of effort or time taken fails and always leads to a decline in wealth creation and an impoverishing of society.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You’ll really have to more fully unpack the concept of “adding value” and show how it does not become “exploitation.” When I but my coffee beans a tiny fragment of the money I pay out goes to the producer of the beans even in “ethical” situations. I am charged for the beans being sourced, carried across the world, and packaged and distributed here, but the cost is well in excess of what these service cost in practice. The difference is profit, and is what can be demanded over and above value when the item is finally priced. This is only beneficial to each party if it is proportionate. But, as we all know, its what can be forced from the market, which is inevitably an abusive activity which exploits need, or more often nowadays, artificially created needs.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    We have very little real freedom in the economic world Abucs. Where debt exists, as it pretty much universally does now, the freedom on offer is to fail to meet payments should we not work, or work to meet payments. In effect, debt slavery. If you imagine this is somehow freedom, then real human freedom is something you have perhaps never experienced as an adult.

    And if you are still unaware of the amount of activity which remains below the conscious mind, I’m afraid it would take a lot more than a posting on Slugger to explain the matter to you. Far from being a part of an atheist worldview, the striving to understand the totality of a mind which of necessity must limit its everyday activity to what is needed for immediate life needs, has been the very matter of the mystical speculation of all the great religions and much of philosophy for the last two or three millennia. For some of us the human soul has not been created simply to manage a lifetime of mortgage and credit card payments to enrich banks and hedge funds. The only value of any society is in its enrichment of real human life, and the socially supportive infrastructures which deregulation and corporate profit have despoiled for decades now did this in a manner in which unbridled individualist greed can never even hint at doing.

  • Abucs

    Well the transportation of the product, the land needed to farm the product, the research needed to create better beans, the marketing to let you know about the product, the management needed to run the company etc etc are all contributing skills and factors which goes into the creation of the coffee. At the end of all that you have the choice of whether or not to buy the coffee. You (in association with your fellow consumers) decide at what value range you will buy the coffee. You are deciding. As long as the value you put on the coffee is greater than the cost of production then there can be exchange. If not, then the business is not viable. This is much better than a government deciding what the value of coffee is this year, and the value of transport and the value of research and the value of land etc. That socialist model does not reflect the real world which is why it fails. You deciding whether the advertised price is acceptable to you is the real world valuing of the product.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You’re still entrapped in this Socialist vs Capitalist contest. I think I’ve pointed out that this is not where I’m arguing from. You’re still not getting the problem of a society grounded on the abuse of others and the need for the personal “profit” over the needs of ones fellows. If you can grasp why the Medieval Church regarded usury (or any similar profit structure) as a heinous sin you might begin to understand where I’m coming from here. In this context, as any Christian Socialist will readily explain, Socialism, in its concern for the community before crude personal gain, reflects the real world of people rather than a world conditioned by abstract finance. Mammon, notably, is specifically derived from the Aramaic word מָמוֹנָא (māmōnā), and is a personification of Profit, the meaning of that word.

  • Abucs

    Housing today is better for the common man than at any other time in history and that goes for most countries across the globe. Certainly the housing provided by communist societies was no paradise which is why many from Eastern Europe would have loved to come to the west but their government took it upon themselves to determine they were not allowed.

    Personal debt can be a negative thing especially if it is non productive debt and families should pass these lessons onto the younger generation. We used to do this a lot better previously before the attack on the family weakened this strength.

    I don’t think anyone thinks the human soul was created in the way you described.

    I think there has been a number of factors contributing to the increased price of housing. One is the better quality now than previously but the other two have been the result of left wing ideology – this is to create a culture where both parents in a usual home work outside the home and secondly the relentless increase in immigration into the country driving demand.

  • Nevin

    You trot out ‘complexity’ when the PD leadership objective was a 32-county socialist Ireland – and nothing whatever to do with the totality of relationships or consent. Brian Lenihan could read the writing on the wall – as could many politicians in Northern Ireland.

    And still no apology for the mayhem created or regret for the death, damage and destruction that followed.

  • Abucs

    The competitor to capitalism last century (and some hold outs still) was socialism and it is socialism that has clearly lost that contest. They are competitors. If you are criticising capitalism then you need to explain your alternative model which is not based on socialism. You yourself reference ‘Christian socialism’ in your very post.

    There is nothing more real world than the success of capitalism. There is nothing abstract about that.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m reminded of Wittgenstein at his “vita” with Bertrand Russell and G.E, Moore, simply giving up attempting to explain things they seemingly refused to understand.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Which is why Capitalism is currently collapsing under the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands…….

    Perahaps its that I actually know some of these people handling great wealth rather than just read about them……….any illusions I have are long gone.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I remember a while back when the Green Party needed to drop into the normal terminology of current politics and put forward leaders.

    The PD never actually did that Nevin. If you’d been there you’d realise how inaccurate your concepts of some fixed policy with followers and leaders was from the reality of what was going on. Oh dear, I repeat, actually get out there and meet a few of those of us left before the ox treads on all our tongues……..

  • Abucs

    One of the great success stories of capitalism is that the level of wealth created has been increasing so strongly in the last hundred years that billions across the globe now have so much more than previous generations.

    You have to think of wealth as it is, a growing pie rather than a static pie. Yes people with wealth have more wealth. So do countless billions of previously destitute have more wealth. It is what you get with a successful system More wealth.

  • Abucs

    There is a difference between refusing to understand and articulating a disagreement with you.

  • Nevin

    Are you denying that street confrontation wasn’t organised or didn’t happen? Eamonn McCann and some other prominent PD folk were contemporaries of mine at Queens in the early 60s but PD actions post-1966 did huge damage to what been good student relationships.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Except that the disagreement does not address the issues I raise. You are certainly telling me you disagree and that I am wrong but not even beginning to touch on offering any actual reasons why I may be wrong. Accordingly I can only assume you are not understanding the points I’m raising. You are clearly not addressing the moral problems raised by the inherent dishonesty of profit, something which has been a significant theological issue for most of the Christian Era, simply refusing to recognise that a moral problem even exists.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As I’ve pointed out often before, I was there, Nevin, you were not. I have no idea from what sources you have developed your impressions from, but it was certainly not from any primary source! The PD grew out of the old NI Labour Party Young Socialists, very Marcuse, very Adorno, yes, but hardly the “Trotsky’s mounted foot” of your lurid imagination. I repeat, get out, talk to people who were there, rather than the mendacious Unionist propaganda you’ve quoted to me in the past. It is fascinating to see much of what we were suggesting present in the incentive thinking to the Belfast Agreement, so, no, nothing I can see which requires an apology to anyone not yearning for the old one party state days of the 1960s…

  • Nevin

    Seaan, perhaps you could desist from such ‘lurid’ language. I was there too but was not a member of the PD rabble that you seem anxious to excuse. I’d hardly describe those contributors to the New Left Review as ‘mendacious unionists’.

    The apology is owed to the victims of the anarchy that the PD and others helped to foment. The primary sources are the observable outcomes, not the jaundiced views of apologists or the opinions of the politically wet-behind-the-ears.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin you wrere alive at the time, you’d went to university with some of the players, but you were not active and privy to what was really going on at the time. You were responding, it appears, to media representations of what people thought and how they acted, as seems clear from your comments. Your opinions appear to have been formed at second hand, not from your own first hand experience. I’d strongly recommend you digest the whole of that New Left Review article, which you come back to over and over, and over which I’ve called you on quoting out of context a few times before.

  • Abucs

    May I remind you that you are the one responding to my original post. To narrow the conversation to one particular issue and pretend it only applies to capitalism is clearly incorrect. In capitalism those who control much wealth are in general those who have had the experience and knowledge of creating it. Individuals and families still control wealth in socialist regimes but they were in general not expert in creating wealth but in that position through adherence to political philosophy. A philosophy that clearly failed economically.

    A capitalist has to continue to create wealth and is girded in the real world of adding value as determined by the power of consumers. This is what you call profit. It is nothing more than the real world determination of customers who themselves have to produce wealth to exchange for these goods and services they desire. This model is best at creating wealth. Creating wealth is the only way out of poverty.

    When you have a ruling class that gets to control wealth independent of creating wealth themselves or independent of customer demand, like socialist governments or indeed old day royalty, then there is less incentive for everyone to create wealth. Less incentive for the people controlling wealth because they are simply taking (or redistributing) it to themselves from others and less incentive for everyone else because it is being taken off them by the prevailing political ideology.

    There is also more repression because the prevailing ideology is based on taking from others instead of creating wealth for oneself in order to exchange.

    So the moral question is the choice of whether it is better to support an ideology of taking from others that leads to repression and less wealth or one that incentivises the common man to create and keep wealth in order to exchange with others. Looking back over the last century the moral choice is clearly capitalism and this is why the rest of the globe has been busy implementing it save for a few hold-outs like North Korea and Cuba.

  • hgreen

    Except neither Obama or Trump were in opposition.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Where did I claim that any issue was unique to capatalism? Your first post to which I responded claimed that socialism steals from the community. What I directed you to is the incontestable fact that capatalism is organised around the very concept of theft, in the manner in which it must add excessive value to product or service in order to generate profit. You cannot answer this, as, after all it is simple fact. You attempt to smother the fact with a lot of broad generalisations and quite unsupported affirmations of your own neo-con ideology, all of which are simply evasion of the basic point I’ve made in response to your claim that socialism is theft.

    What particularly irritated me was the notion that the older generations wealth was naturally made, when it is in fact usually the product of life long accumulation of wages which often bear little relationship to real skills and abilities, and the abusive pattern of the housing market which has priced homes to a high where even a thirty year mortgage is crippling for the young today. This makes a lot of unearned money for those who bought houses cheap and now sell dear, and for developers feeding of the inflated prices. None of this is wealth “creation” but is a form of theft, of the working hours of young people compelled to put many more years of Labour into purchasing a home their grandparents purchased with perhaps ten or fifteen years of their working lives. This has grossly destructive effects on the family life you prise in other postings and yet you refuse to recognise the clear connection of such exploitation with the collapse of the family. Socialism returns what it taxes to the whole community, but such profiteers as you valorise drain the life blood of the young for their own greed. None of this can be seriously challenged by anyone not blindfolding themselves against the truth. The genuinely wealthy in my own family whom I occasionally mix with are usually realists, who know how wealth is made. The fairy tale hypocrisies which pretend that money can somehow be cleanly made in the present economic climate would be absurd silliness to such people. The real irony is that you characterise socialism as an ideology of taking from others, which is the very essence of the capitalism you praise. While I know you ignore the existence of the unconscious, I’d still draw your attention to the well recognised unconscious defence of projecting the qualities one finds difficult to accept in ones self onto some outer person or ideology, which can be blamed for the existence of such gross offensiveness. Capitalism always, always projects its own core metrology of abusive theft unto socialism. You are working a well recognised trope in your defence of the absorption of value produced by all by a commercial elite.

  • Abucs

    You are getting more and more emotional with your posts and making less and less sense. Skipping over important points on several fronts doesn’t hide the fact that you are not engaging on the core issues which is the creation of wealth and the relative historical success of different systems. Your economic analysis is wrong and you are enculturated in victim politics. Stating incorrect Marxist victimhood theory and ignoring difficult objections doesn’t make your analysis true.

    When I think that someone becomes nuts in what they are saying I simply disengage.

    We are at that point. Socialism is the theft of wealth under the pretence of social good. A hundred years of history bears this out. To borrow your emotional and close minded arrogant language – it is obvious to anyone not blinding themselves to this self evident truth.

    The whole globe knows it Sean. From what I gather you are of an older generation whose ideology was the worst on human record.

    That ideology will die with you in disgrace. Have a great (remaining) life. I hear North Korea is going gang busters at the moment. You may want to consider retirement there. I am sure homes are very affordable for the young.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    An interesting response, as full of broad generalisations and evasions as every one of your earlier postings.

    You mendaciously accuse me of not engaging in your core issues, but I note you are still unwilling to even begin to look at what is actually going on when wealth is, as you seem to think, “created”! What do you actually mean by the term ” created” here? Outside of Neo-con theory real life people of course grow or manufacture things and engage in services, but the real wealth is generated only when value is added to such things over and above the actual effort expended. Wealth is the artificial surplus added unto production, not the production (“creation”) itself!

    I offered you an actual example of what this means in practice for the experiences real people and you side step any attempt to even address the very real issues here and retreat into evasive waffle, offering generalisations about capitalisms apparent universal success, again something you are unwilling in any realistic manner to actually unpack. A little close analysis of the “meat and bones” of what you are talking about in such abstract and broadly generalised terms would rapidly reveal the thread bare nature of your spurious claims.

  • Reader

    aquifer: The baby boomers got the university grants
    What proportion of baby boomers got university grants? 5%? 10%?

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: Nevin you wrere alive at the time, you’d went to university with some of the players, but you were not active and privy to what was really going on at the time.
    Was it a good idea for what you presumably hoped to be a mass movement to have so many important secrets? Does a movement that is managed by a secretive cadre really deserve popular widespread support? Did this come up for debate, and did you urge the movement towards maximum openness on the aims and methods of the movement?
    And, now we’re 50 years down the line, what did PD actually hope to achieve?

  • Reader

    SeaanUINeill: How is wealth actually created? Buy cheap and sell dear.
    For goodness sake, no! The answer is “Add value”. Turn a log into a table, turn a heap of coloured rock into a plough, turn a swamp into a field. Turn flax into linen. Turn 2 sheep into 20 sheep.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Added value” at the root, I’d agree, but the moment a middle man begins to trade on the work of the producer at the base of the economic pyramid, value added begins to reflect what can be squeezed from the Labour of others, and will inevitably cease to reflect the simple process you describe, as the person who controls the exchange will attempt to maximise profit. Inevitably there will be a sufferer in the process, someone who is giving more than the reasonable value of a product or service. This has been accurately labelled exploitation. You are abstracting the process and avoiding the all important human experience where what is given for something must become more than the sum of its value as product or service in order for profit to come about. This is ever a common evasion when capatalism is being sanitised.

    The maximisation of profit ensures that without regulation we will end up in the current norm where the management of debt incurred to fill the gap between what a base producer gets and what they will require to live in our consumer society is the major concern of most people in our society, and something which absorbs their lives, in the form of work hours making up excessive demands of this “added value” you employ as a euphemism for financial exploitation. Our economy is run on the turning of one pound into many, where desire for goods is driven by manipulative advertising playing on human insecurity, rather than in some honest exchange of actual human necessities reflecting the actual effort put into making and distributing such things.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Reader, in common with most people you appear to have some very odd ideas about what the PD actually was! It was a new cross community non-sectarian leftist group set up at QUB by members of the NI Labour Party Young Socialists, open to anyone wishing to participate. It was a medium through which to work for Civil Rights, and while those not involved seem to have developed some very odd ideas about it, it was certainly not something run by any “secretive cadre”! (???, where did that come from?) Nev is making assumptions which clearly suggest that he was not there, but there was nothing to stop him from being there and participating. Nothing would have been kept from him!

    The PD was perhaps a far more open organisation than anything else which had ever existed in NI. Anyone interested could get involved at any level. Both Lord Bew and Kate Hoey have claimed to have been involved while they were at QUB. It was a medium through which QUB students and a few others organised marches and civil disobedience in support of Civil Rights, although our general consensus approach to Unionism had learnt from the campaign to discredit NI Labour a few years earlier, and some of us were all too aware that Captain O’Neill, who had managed that campaign of disinformation, remained a very conservative Unionist whose concerns for economic modernisation had inaccountably persuaded a lot of people that he was somehow something of a political liberal also! Accordingly, we were less trusting of O’Neill and rather more radical in our relationship with his administration than the NICRA, which we paralleled in our activity.

    We were far more genuinely democratic than anything before or since. Anyone involved was free to act as they considered fit in pursuit of our aims, and the big public meeting votes taken were advisory rather than binding on anyone involved, who remained I constrained! This was genuine grass roots democracy without the tyranny of a majority binding any one participant. This freedom of action was what occasioned the Derry March in January 1969 and a great deal of nonsense has been said and written about some members acting outside of a some spurious “binding vote. ”

    “What did the PD hope to achieve?” Social
    Justice and a genuine equality for all our citizens which has now begun to work out with the more imaginative thinking behind the Belfast Agreement. We were the solution, and the demonisation of our efforts ensured a missed opportunity for Unionism to publicly display a genuine identity with those British political values it studiously avoids actually ever embodying!

  • aquifer

    Fair point, it was not that big a %. Educating more people with loans they may never pay back could be a lot fairer and more fun.

  • aquifer

    Street confrontation was Paisleyite thugs ambushing peaceful marchers. And what a waste of time that armed opposition to British values that has turned out to be. The Provo Paisley nexus rules us all, until we throw them off our backs. When is our election anyhow Mr Broken Shire?

  • aquifer

    This wealth accumulation system is clearly out of control and starting too many wars and causing distress and damage to the environment. Better tax it some more and give poor people more money to spend.

  • Abucs

    Wealth accumulation is a good thing Aquifer. You have to remember it is generally a double entry in that something is created. So for example a businessmen who becomes wealthy by creating cars has transferred these cars for the wealth of the customers who wish to transfer their wealth for the cars. Taxing the successful businessman more, amounts to expecting him to continue creating cars, swapping that created wealth with customers and then taking that money off him in the name of a misguided social justice. The businessman just stops creating as many cars which is a bad thing for society. The creation of wealth is a good thing and should be encouraged.

  • aquifer

    “expecting him to continue creating cars” To sit in jams?
    Taking some people off the dole to build fast public transport can get the economy going three times. Less health damage from pollution, workers with money to spend (on cars if they must), and a fast transport system that boosts productivity and earnings.

  • Abucs

    Sure, and businessmen can create that fast transport system as well. They create the system and other people create wealth to swap with them to use the system they create. That is the brilliance of capitalism. Why punish businessmen for creating the wealth of a new fast transport system that he can then trade with others and which encourages more wealth creation in the process? Creating and accumulating wealth is what separates developed countries from undeveloped ones. It should be encouraged.

    The businessman who created the fast transport system, or the businessman who then swaps his wealth to buy it and then takes on the responsibility of maintaining and managing it are dependent on customers who want to use it. They need customers with wealth in which to swap. The whole process promotes wealth creation. This is why compared to 400 years ago there is so much more wealth in the world.

    The Duke of 400 years ago had people creating wealth for him to consume. Today capitalists need customers with wealth in which to swap. It is a fair better system which promotes more wealth creation, more financial independence and more financial mobility.

    This is why the average man today lives better than a Duke of 400 years ago. Better health service, better travel, better entertainment, better communication, better access to the world, better food etc.

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill : and while those not involved seem to have developed some very odd ideas about it, it was certainly not something run by any “secretive cadre”! (???, where did that come from?)

    It came from you – when you said “Nevin you wrere alive at the time, you’d went to university with some of the players, but you were not active and privy to what was really going on at the time.”
    How few people were “privy to to what was really going on” in what you later described as “a far more open organisation than anything else which had ever existed in NI”?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Simple logic Reader. No need for secret cabals. Those involved and, ergo, present, were privy, those, such as Nevin who were reading about what was going on in papers and the political version of comic books simply were not. If you wern’t there you did not know what was going on because you were somewhere else engaging not with the living thing but with representations in the media……..is that simple enough or do you require a lesson in common sense to work it out?