Tony Blair and the Political Chimera
Just after I posted that last short essay on “The Art of Politics”, former UK Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Tony Blair again popped up in the news, returning once more like the proverbial “bad penny” to chastise his party for… ahem… being a Labour Party. And since I recently rebuked Blairite “Third Way” politics and “New Labour” as being an ugly chimera, this looks to be a good opportunity to point out what is also radically wrong with “neo-socialism” too, at our “end of history”.
As far as I’m concerned, Tony Blair was a Trojan Horse drawn into the British Labour Party to destroy it from within. (And this may also be true of Canada’s Tom Mulcair, now riding high in the national polls).
Tony has chastised his colleagues in the party for daring to resurrect “traditional” left values that New Labour had jettisoned under his stewardship. His “Third Way” politics of the “radical centre” are the way to go, or so opines Mr. Blair. Blair has even appropriated the vacuous sloganeering of the right to criticise his party and his colleagues, accusing them of nurturing little more than “tax and spend” policies.
Er…. but that’s what governments do generally… they tax and they spend. It’s true of all governments, whether liberal, conservative, or social democratic. It’s quite meaningless to accuse of government of “taxing and spending”. It’s only a question of whether the taxing and spending is fair and equitable and reasonable, and whether it contributes value to the commonwealth or is a drain and strain on the commonwealth. Mr. Blair, however, has become very wealthy following his “Third Way”. He’s collected his 30 pieces of silver. He’s joined the 1% since leaving office, so I can well see how he can start mouthing dumb right-wing rhetoric about “tax and spend”.
It’s Mr. Blair who is a symptom of the decadence of English socialism and the Labour Party, not the Labour Party who has betrayed and disappointed Tony Blair. Mr. Blair insists that the Labour Party should move to the “radical centre”. That’s pretty devious. Basically, the “radical centre” is another meaningless slogan. Unfortunately, the “radical centre” isn’t the same thing as “the vital centre”, and here’s why:
Since at least Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, it has been the strategy of “perception management” of the right to shift the centre of gravity in politics rightward, along with the public perception of what is “centrism” or “centrist”. Sometimes it’s been referred to as “shifting the goal post”. The “radical centre” is meaningless sloganeering because it is the ground that has already been taken by, or surrendered to, the right. Therefore Mr. Blair’s insistence that his party move to the “radical centre” really means surrendering the field to the most reactionary and recidivist policies of the political right. And that means, essentially, that Mr. Blair is demanding that the Labour Party cease to be a Labour Party at all — that it deny and negate itself.
That’s why I think Mr. Blair has served as a Trojan Horse, if not a muppet, for the neo-liberal and neo-conservative right (ie, his strange, close friendship with Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News).
The “radical centre” and the “vital centre” do not coincide because of this persistent and incremental shifting. For that reason a very unbalanced and unjust situation has emerged, which it was the objective of the Occupy Movement to draw into the light of day — that is, the growing inequality that is fatal to democracy and which was also the topic of Mike Lofgren’s article on “The Revolt of the Rich” in The American Conservative Magazine. Mr. Blair has, in essence, joined the Plutocracy. What’s amazing is, that he has managed to seduce and enlist so many vulnerable minds on the ostensible “left” to lend him credibility in that!
So, perhaps you will appreciate my antipathy to Mr. Blair’s “Third Way” politics, and why I consider most contemporary politics, whether of the left, right or so-called “centre” to be decadent and degenerate, and a self-devouring and self-negating contradiction — an illiberal liberalism, a “new” conservatism that conserves nothing (that even makes war against conservationists), and an anti-social socialism.
In short, a general civilisational cynicism, decadence, and nihilism.