‘Blairism-Clintonism lethal for social democratic parties’

This 1990s Associated Press video says about itself:


Britain’s Labour Party leader Tony Blair on Monday pledged to maintain the Conservative government’s policy of selling off state-owned enterprises and properties. The pledge marked the abandonment of Labour’s opposition to privatisation, strenuously pursued by the Conservatives through 18 years in power. …

The Labour Party leader had travelled to the City – the heart of Britain’s financial and business district – for a keynote economic speech to the business community.

Translated from Knack magazine in Belgium, 9 January 2019:

Will 2019 be the year in which the SP.A

social democratic party in Flanders, infected by Blairism

will collapse completely? The American scientist Stephanie Mudge has a clear advice for social democratic politicians: ‘Many ordinary, working people are up to their ears in debt. I think that a new left-wing agenda should focus on that existence uncertainty.’

Stephanie Mudge is a sociologist of the most solid kind. Last year she published Leftism Reinvented, a thorough piece of work in which she investigates the history of the US American Democrats, British Labour, the German SPD and the Swedish SAP.

The conclusion: the choice for the [Blairist-Clintonist] Third Way in the 1990s, when social-democratic parties embraced neoliberal recipes such as deregulation, privatization and a blind belief in the market mechanism, was fatal for those parties. Left economists gave way to political strategists and spin doctors, who had to sell the degradation of the welfare state to the supporters under the guise of economic efficiency. A recipe for disaster, it turned out, because lots of disappointed and angry left-wing voters ran away.

In Leftism Reinvented: Western Parties from Socialism to Neoliberalism, Mudge looks at left parties in advanced capitalist countries over the last century and shows how the experts aligned with those parties pushed them in the direction of spin doctors and markets. In the process, left parties’ ability to represent the interests of their own working-class constituencies was eroded — and ordinary people were shut out of the halls of power. Political organizer and socialist activist Chase Burghgrave recently spoke with Mudge about her new book, the role of experts in democratic societies, and whether a more vibrant, egalitarian politics is possible: here.

[Bill Clinton’s USA] welfare reforms in the 1990s were meant to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. But they may have had an unanticipated side effect. A new study suggests the reforms contributed to a rise in problematic teen behaviors, such as skipping school, getting in fights and using drugs. These problems were especially pronounced in boys, researchers report in a paper posted online February 11 on the National Bureau of Economic Research website: here.

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