Will Hutton had a piece in the Observer a week ago about immigration policy in the course of which he made the following remark:

bq. the European left has to find a more certain voice. It must argue passionately for a good capitalism that will drive growth, employment and living standards by a redoubled commitment to innovation and investment.

I’m not sure who this “European left” is, but, given the piece is by Hutton, I’m thinking party apparatchiks in soi-disant social democratic and “socialist” parties, often educated at ENA or having read PPE at Oxford. I’m not sure how many battalions that “left” has, or even whether we ought to call it left at all. Anyway, what struck me on reading Hutton’s remarks was that calls for the “left” to do anything of the kind are likely to founder on the fact that the only thing that unites the various lefts is hostility to a neoliberal right, and that many of us don’t want the kind of “good capitalism” that he’s offering. Moreover in policy terms, in power, the current constituted by Hutton’s “European left” don’t act all that differently from the neoliberal right anyway. In short, calls like Hutton’s are hopeless because the differences of policy and principle at the heart of the so-called left are now so deep that an alliance is all but unsustainable. That might look like a bad thing, but I’m not so sure. Assuming that what we care about is to change the way the world is, the elite, quasi-neoliberal “left” has a spectacular record of failure since the mid 1970s. This goes for the US as well, where Democratic adminstrations (featuring people such as Larry Summers in key roles) have done little or nothing for ordinary people. Given the failures of that current, there is less reason than ever for the rest of us to line up loyally behind them for fear of getting something worse. Some speculative musings, below the fold:
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Green Lantern and Philosophy

by John Holbo on May 22, 2011

Yep. Green Lantern and Philosophy: No Evil Shall Escape this Book [amazon] is a book. I can’t believe there is no mention of Matthew Yglesias. Not even a chapter on foreign policy.

Let’s be serious. Example: the entry on ‘serious’ from the Super Dictionary. A reference work that, of late, is slouching toward canonicity.

I think Green Lantern has just proposed Jonah Goldberg’s book for the JLA Watchtower reading group. Hence the wooden floor. [click to continue…]

Reality-based journalism?

by John Quiggin on May 22, 2011

The fact that, with no observable exceptions, the Republican Party relies on delusional beliefs for most of its claims about economics, science and history has been obvious for some years. But, until recently it’s been outside the Overton Window. That seems to have changed, as witness:

* Jacob Weisberg, who only a little while ago was giving qualified praise to the Ryan Plan, now says the Repubs have

moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.

* USA Today comparing Republican climate change delusionism to birtherism and saying

The latest scientific report provides clarity that denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It paves a path to a future fraught with melting ice caps, rising sea levels, shifting agricultural patterns, droughts and wildfires.

* The Washington Post, home of High Broderism says “the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change.”

* Even GOP house journal Politico draws the formerly off-limits link between “skeptics” and “deniers”, regarding the Republican adoption of fringe economic theories suggesting the US can safely leave the debt ceiling unchanged.

Why is this happening now, after years of apparent Republican immunity from any kind of fact-based challenge? And how will this affect public debate in the US and elsewhere?

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