Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Blairism vs statism

T Blair makes an interesting point, doesn't he?
"I think the single biggest danger with the financial crisis was a view that gripped a lot of progressive politicians that somehow people were going to want the state to come back in fashion," he says in his interview. "I didn't think that and don't think that. I personally think – and that's why I am still an advocate of third way politics – that there is a concept of the state that is strategic and empowering that is actually the right idea.

"I'm not in favour of the big state and not in favour of the minimal state. I think there is a concept of a reformed and reinvented government that is where myself and Bill Clinton were in the early 21st century that I still think is the right idea.

"Let me ask this question: look round the world today and how many progressive parties are succeeding at the moment? I mean in Europe or what's just happened in Australia it's a challenge, and it's a challenge partly because the progressive forces in politics are in danger of misreading the financial crisis as meaning people want the state back.

"They don't. They are perfectly capable of distinguishing between the state coming in to stabilise the situation and the state coming in and acting as a principal actor in the economy. And in my view they won't vote for that."

I think he's right to say that some folks on the Left have mistaken the acceptance of the state's role in stabilising the economy with a desire to see the state to take a more active role in society in general. Massive qualifications needed (ie individual experiences of/attitudes to state provision must vary by class?) but it's a decent point.

1 comment:

james said...

Not sure what "the Left" is. Spatial metaphors are so confusing...

Blair here ignores the fact that the capitalist state always has a big role in shaping economic activity.

The Goldilocks state is thus something of a rhetorical device.