Where are the new ideas ?

by John Quiggin on May 16, 2006

The debate over the need for new ideas on the left isn’t confined to the US. Australia has also experienced a shift to the right, but the process and outcomes have been different, being much more similar to Britain and New Zealand. This post from my blog is about Australia but most of what follows applies to all three countries.

Andrew Norton at Catallaxy has an interesting piece responding to a claim by Dennis Glover that rightwing thinktanks in Australia are much better funded than their leftwing counterparts. He makes the contrary argument that the universities represent a left equivalent, a claim which I don’t think stands up to the close examination it gets at Larvatus Prodeo.

More interesting, though is Norton’s characterisation of the state of the debate

Since most of the institutions of the social democratic state are still in place, social democratic ideas are perhaps going to seem less exciting than those of their opponents on the right or the left. They are about adaptation and fine-tuning more than throwing it all out and starting again. …. The right doesn’t have ideas because it has think-tanks, it has think-tanks because it has ideas that need promoting

This was a pretty accurate description of the situation in the 1980s and early 1990s, but it has ceased to be so. The right hasn’t had any new ideas for some time, and the policy debate between social democrats and neoliberals has been a stalemate for most of the last decade.

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Laptop bleg update

by Chris Bertram on May 16, 2006

Thanks to all for their “advice”:https://crookedtimber.org/2006/05/12/laptop-choice-bleg/ . I’ve just ordered a “MacBook”:http://www.apple.com/uk/macbook/macbook.html (white, 13 inch, 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo, with 1 gig of memory and an 80 gig hard drive).

The Wager Won by Losing

by Henry on May 16, 2006

“Firedoglake”:http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/05/14/fdl-book-salon-before-the-storm-pt-1/ is running a bookclub on Rick Perlstein’s _Before the Storm_, which I reckon is the best book on American politics that I’ve read over the last few years. It’s very interesting how the book has come to occupy a near canonical position for left of center bloggers. It’s not only influenced wonkish types like myself and Kevin Drum, but also netroots people like Kos and Jerome Armstrong (whose recent book, which I liked, is clearly influenced by Perlstein), and “Matt Stoller”:http://matt_stoller.mydd.com/ (who describes it in the Firedoglake thread as the “single best book on movement politics” that he’s read). But there’s a sort-of-disconnect there – or at least a part of Perlstein’s argument that doesn’t really fit with the netroots agenda as I understand it.

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