[Published at New Matilda 22 N0v.]
No, not discovering and not mis-governing, dis-governing: deliberately disrupting the governance of Australia, in the same way that disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information.
[Published at New Matilda, 31 Aug]
The current disarray of the Abbott Government may mark the end of a decades-long experiment in radical social engineering. The experiment has yielded deepening social divisions, an antiquated, colonial-style economy and little capacity to deal with the dramatic challenges of the near future.
I have drafted a new book. I would be happy to get feedback. If you would like a copy, email me at geoffd – at – netspeed.com.au . It is available in pdf or epub formats.
You can download an extract (pdf 200 kb)
More information follows, and additional material can be seen at the new book page.
[Probably last post until Sept – see previous post. The tax-cutting mania may have started in California, so it’s fitting if CA shows the way back. It was always nonsense. The real reason is to shrink government. Governments get in the way of rich people making money, because a few of the things they do are good for the rest of us. Well, used to be good for the rest of us. So Jerry Brown may be among the most subversive people on the planet at the moment, because he’s showing government isn’t all bad. It can do good stuff. Of course the lesson will probably be lost on Oz for another decade, it usually takes about that long.]
There’s a case to be made that Jerry Brown is the most successful high-profile Democrat in America today. And there is simply no debating that, after four decades in the national limelight, he stands out as an intellectually dynamic and politically untethered leader in a time of gridlock, frustration and dysfunction.
[This article is posted at Independent Australia today.]
The Australian Labor Party needs major reform, even leader Bill Shorten thinks so. But what constitutes “major” reform depends on who’s talking. To Shorten it reportedly means you don’t have to be a union member to join Labor, and perhaps unions and factions will have a little less say in preselections.
A few weeks ago I suggested Labor ought to disavow the market-fundamentalist neoliberalism that has dominated Labor and most of the world for the past three decades, because neoliberalism has been the major cause of rising economic and political inequality, and it directly caused the Great Recession that still grips much of the world. Not only does neoliberalism undermine Labor’s founding purpose, to stand up for ordinary people, but it is a baseless and discredited ideology, as I have explained in my book Sack the Economists, and it has brought the return of plutocracy and the new gilded age, as exhaustively documented by French economist Thomas Piketty.
Although I advocated reform of the ALP, I hold little hope it will happen. Even where they are not overtly corrupt, Labor and too many unions are dominated by careerists whose only goal seems to be to acquire power for power’s sake. Shorten’s incremental changes will not break the power of these people. Indeed there seem to be few left in Labor who have not accommodated to the betrayal of Labor’s purpose. (I hasten to add I am a supporter of unions in principle, but too many of them have also become ossified.)
Left to its own devices, the ALP is unlikely to fundamentally reform itself. It would take someone at least of the stature of Gough Whitlam, and no such reformer is in evidence. Therefore a different strategy is required.
The way forward for progressives is to argue against the self-serving neoliberal ideology of the fatcat and for prudent and sensible management of the markets, writes Dr Geoff Davies.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten saysLabor needs new policies.
He’s not wrong there.
For three decades, while Labor has focussed on being merely a slightly paler imitation of the Coalition, its membership has plummeted, inequality has risen, it has repeatedly capitulated to wealthy bullies and, it seems, there is no policy too degrading for it to adopt as it races the Coalition into the depths of fear and negativity.
[This piece was prompted by Has the Left Surrendered? by Richard Eskow on Campaign for America’s Future, a good source of sensible US commentary. His article was in turn prompted by Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals by Adolph Reed Jr in Harper’s magazine. ]
The political parties of the Left, in the US, UK and Australia, lost their way when they swallowed the free-market mantra. They became merely neoliberalism-lite. They implemented the market-fundamentalist program, and then applied bandaids to the wounds thus inflicted. They yielded the initiative, became defensive and reactive, and were steadily pushed, dragged and wedged ever-further to the right. They are now well to the right of the conservative parties of four or five decades ago. The former-left parties are now a huge impediment to real progressive politics, entrenched in that political space but betraying it on a daily basis.
Despite continuing soul-searching among those who recognised and deplored this process, there has yet to emerge any unifying alternative, beyond a catalogue of the many disparate social and environmental causes and groups that attempt to continue, with diminishing success, the old Left’s concern for ordinary people and their world. Indeed no alternative can emerge unless and until the core meme of neoliberalism is confronted.
“In the first of a three part series, Dr Geoff Davies considers the worldwide shift to the political Right since the 1980s, and how traditional conservatives have now become radicals.”