Sunday, 13 November 2016

Nostalgia for Blair and his Third Way

'We all had things we disagreed with. ..For many it was Iraq – but we should remember that was born of idealistic hubris, not malignancy, a belief that we could overthrow fascist dictatorships and install humane liberal democracies in the world’s trouble spots.'
Hubris is malignant whether or not, as with the drive towards the Iraq War, it was claimed that the war was being pursued for 'idealistic' reasons. The war was sold as one necessary for Britain's and the world's security because an oil rich dictator had developed 'weapons of mass destruction'.

Hubris is something usually possessed by one individual with aspirations to Divine Greatness and the 'we' that followed Blair was prepared to believe and bolster everything that he pursued because their careers depended on being 'on message' and to amplify official propaganda ( a.k.a "public diplomacy").

Akehurst's surreal attempt to rewrite history has elements of a Stalinist apologetic in it in claiming things were quite the opposite of what they were and trying to depend on people not having a memory. New Labour never claimed to be 'socialist' and depended on a charismatic leader and political choreography.

Akehurst is still comically in autospin mode in trying to pretend New Labour was 'socialist'. It was explicitly a Third Way between 'statist socialism' and unregulated capitalism and really that meant accepting neoliberal capitalism ( deregulated markets, debt fueled lifestyles etc ) and prating about the need for 'society'.

In practice, that meant all the unpleasant authoritarian politics of the 1960s and 1970s radical left combined with the most unpleasant and destabilising aspects of capitalism, in particular marketising nearly every branch of public and private life and promoting a shallow cult of egotistical consumerism and greed.

The totalitarian-lite style entrance of Blair into Downing Street in 1997, the spin and attempts at mendacious mass media manipulation were systemic to the Blair regime, the obsession with 'triangulation' and the trend of casual 'sofa government' led directly towards the catastrophe of the Iraq War.

The ignorance of history-"it's time to move on"-the sheer mediocrity and shallowness of the entire Blair Project and the utter stupidity of Blair himself,the lack of statesmanship and any grasp of reality, was revealed completely with Iraq war. It was not a "mistake" but a systemic outcome of the New Labour regime.

The idea 'fascist' dictatorships-Saddam's was actually more Stalinist-could be overthrown and 'humane liberal democracies installed' makes it sound as though 'regime change' is as simplistic as 'installing' a new software package or a new toilet block in a building. It shows how unreal, in retrospect, the Blair era was.
'Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer retro Labour from 20 years ago as my model of what a “social movement” or a political party should look like'.
There is nothing 'old fashioned' about it, it is just that the Blairites are as obsolete as as Ford Mondeos or any other consumer products long past their sell by date and whose 'appeal' lay primarily in mass marketing strategies and selling Blair, a product of his time clearly on the scrapheap of history within his lifetime.

Whatever one thinks of Jeremy Corbyn, he is a socialist with sincere beliefs and, as such, his rise as Labour leader reflects a complete rejection of Blair and his messianic left style of doing politics that he adapted from Margaret Thatcher, one he thought he could pull off in a more complicated post-Cold war world.

Whether Corbyn has much to offer rather than a reheated version of 1980s radical Metropolitan Labour policies remains to be seen. In foreign policy anyway, he seems to believe the Middle East can be 'solved' by what Britain does or does not do as much as Blair, with the difference he is not 'imperialist'.

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