The Dim-Post

June 28, 2016

More Brexit pieces

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:36 am

I was curious to read an intelligent right-wing piece on Brexit, and I was pleasantly surprised that Tyler Cowen, of all people, supplied one.

One way to understand the English vote is to compare it to other areas, especially with regard to immigration.  If you read Frank Fukuyama, he correctly portrays Japan and Denmark, as, along with England, being the two other truly developed, mature nation states in earlier times, well before the Industrial Revolution.  And what do we see about these countries?  Relative to their other demographics, they are especially opposed to very high levels of immigration.  England, in a sense, was the region “out on a limb,” when it comes to taking in foreigners, and now it has decided to pull back and be more like Denmark and Japan.

The regularity here is that the coherent, longstanding nation states are most protective of their core identities.  Should that come as a huge surprise?  The contrast with Belgium, where I am writing this, is noteworthy.  The actual practical problems with immigration are much greater here in Brussels, but the country is much further from “doing anything about it,” whether prudently or not, and indeed to this day Belgium is not actually a mature nation-state and it may splinter yet.  That England did something is one reflection of the fact that England is a better-run region than Belgium, even if you feel as I do that the vote was a big mistake.

Why do advanced economies (other than Japan) have high immigration? Mostly it is because their populations have low birth-rates, which means – short of large productivity gains – low or negative economic growth, unless you increase productivity (hard) or grow the population through migration (very easy). Finance Ministers can’t really admit that, though. They like to posture about their economic credibility and it’s a bit embarrassing that they have no idea how to grow the economy short of just letting more people into it. So any objections are met with accusations of racism instead of a good-faith justification of the policy. You can see the economic consequences of low-immigration in Japan.

I also thought this piece by John Quiggin (who is not on the right) was very interesting:

But just as the economic ideology of neoliberalism lumbers on in zombie form, so, until recently has the political system it supported. Insurgents of various kinds have gained support nearly everywhere, but the alternation between different versions of neoliberalism has continued.

In 2016, all of this has broken down. Hardly anyone now believes in the assurances of the policy elite that they know what is best. It is clear that things have gone substantially wrong in the global economy. What is less clear is why things have gone wrong and what can be done to fix it.

On the left, the answer to the first question is relatively straightforward: the excesses of financialised capitalism have finally come home to roost. This perception was crystalised most dramatically by the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, and by the stream of research showing that the benefits of globalisation had gone overwhelmingly to the top 1 per cent, or even the top 0.1 per cent, of the population. On the other hand, the process of developing a coherent alternative has barely begun.

By contrast, the tribalists have a clear answer to both questions. The problem is not (or at least not primarily) to be located at the top of the class structure, among bankers and CEOs, but at the bottom, among immigrants and racial minorities who benefit from state protection at the expense of ordinary ‘people like us’. The natural response is to stop or restrict migration and, if possible, to force recent migrants, and particularly illegal migrants, to leave.

The Brexit referendum represents the first truly major victory for the tribalist opponents of neoliberalism.

Quiggin articulates what I’ve been thinking about recently – the growing irrelevance of left-wing political thought in the public sphere, which provides a scathing critique of the consequences of capitalism with no grasp of the deeper causes and no solutions other than mild attenuations to the status quo. I keep seeing various left-wing commentators cite the famous Gramsci quote about how we’re in an interregnum in which ‘the old is not dead so the new cannot be born’. It’s an optimistic thing to say because it implies that there will be a popular flourishing of left-wing ideas, perhaps brought on by an economic or environmental crisis. But it is very hard for me to see that happening. If there is a crisis it seems likely to benefit what Quiggin refers to as ‘tribalism’, but looks to me like fascism.

67 Comments »

  1. Wrote quite a bit about that yesterday in NBR ONLINE, for those who have a sub http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/brexit-aftermath-disdain-elites-and-warning-conservative-parties-everywhere-rh

    Comment by robhosking — June 28, 2016 @ 9:45 am

  2. Is migration neoliberalist?

    For a deeply pragmatic and particularly ideological country like NZ, I don’t think so. Here it has mostly been driven by shortages of moderately and highly skilled labour to try and match the losses from emigration to OZ and beyond. We had high migration from the Pacific Island in the fifties, sixties and seventies none of them decades dominated by neoliberal thought.

    Of course, like many things, once you turn it on it is hard to stop because it has unintended positive consequences like boosting the growth rate.But they are not the reasons it started and not primarily the reasons it continues. It also has many lagged effects as the family members and friends joining the first arrivals can take a long rime to work their way through the system. Croaking Cassandra, the blog by former Reserve Bank economist, Michael Reddell, has been discussing this for some time in an interesting way.

    John Quiggin is the Australian equivalent of Brian Easton, with many of the same stylistic mannerisms. Easton has been easily the most widely read economist in NZ in the last 50 years because of his long stint as a columnist in the Listener.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 28, 2016 @ 10:04 am

  3. Relative to their other demographics, they are especially opposed to very high levels of immigration.

    The key factors I think is that all 3 countries (though much less so Denmark because it hasn’t had geo-political weight) have a long history of racial superiority / exceptionalism supported by State and religious policy.
    Homogeneity of population (still the case with Japan) has led to the creation of a strong, race-based national identity, that has since been “threatened” by immigration.

    Though all 3 had/have overseas possessions, only Britain has a substantial, long lasting overseas Empire. This enabled Britain to psychologically and economically remain separate from Europe and supported race-based logic of civilisation.
    Japan (until the early 19th century) had a policy of complete racial and economic isolation. It was only forced open by gunboat diplomacy, though in its phase of imperial expansion, definitely had a policy of racial exceptionalism.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 28, 2016 @ 10:52 am

  4. This perception was crystalised most dramatically by the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, and by the stream of research showing that the benefits of globalisation had gone overwhelmingly to the top 1 per cent, or even the top 0.1 per cent, of the population.

    The Occupy Wall Street movement was tribalism par excellence, a bunch of first world twits protesting against a globalisation process that has lifted 100s of millions out of poverty, because it marginalised the middle classes in rich Western nations.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 28, 2016 @ 10:56 am

  5. As the Unofficial New Zealand Ambassador for the Interregnum, I must offer a customary bicker…

    The interregnum is a moment, not an outcome, meaning it doesn’t necessarily suggest a leftwing flourishing. I mean, Kelsey says it in the FIRE Economy: the political forces that emerge in an interregnum can be progressive or ‘they can be toxic’ – and it’s the latter forces securing electoral victories. In my experience people are pretty clear-headed about that and the fact insecurity – whether it’s material insecurity or just an ‘affect’ – tends to favour ‘tribalism’.

    But whether there will be a left-wing flourishing in time, who can say? Political commentators and internet commenters can’t even predict events – nearly no one was calling the referendum for Brexit – let alone the shape of any future political settlement. But the point of relying on the interregnum is that it gives you some space to imagine the shape of things to come, and then persuade people that’s yours is the right direction etc…

    That might be a shit strategy. Who knows. I don’t.

    Comment by Morgan Godfery — June 28, 2016 @ 11:14 am

  6. “They like to posture about their economic credibility and it’s a bit embarrassing that they have no idea how to grow the economy short of just letting more people into it.”
    It baffles me. What happens when the saturation point is reached? For NZ will that be a population of 5 mil or 10 mil or 60 mil or even 120 mil? At that point will society just collapse?

    Comment by ianmac40 — June 28, 2016 @ 11:25 am

  7. At that point will society just collapse?

    Empirical evidence would suggest that not a single society has “just collapse[d]” as a result of immigration.

    Unless of course you historical Visigoth / Mongol invasions as “immigration”.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 28, 2016 @ 11:30 am

  8. Thinking about pacific migration in the 60s, it was initially a ‘regulated approach’
    “As part of a Treaty of Friendship in 1962, immigrants from Western Samoa were admitted under a quota. They had to meet requirements in relation to age, family size, health, character, and accommodation, and have a guarantee of employment before they arrived.
    Three-month visas were in place from 1964, and annual quotas were set in 1967. But because the 1960s and early 1970s were years of economic expansion and labour shortages, the temporary visas and quotas were not strictly enforced. While the demand for unskilled labour remained high, the government in effect turned a blind eye to Samoans and other Pacific Islanders arriving on temporary visas and staying on, or arriving in greater numbers than the quotas” allowed.” http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/immigration-regulation/page-6

    So you can see how the term ‘overstayer’ arose after the numbers were more strictly enforced

    THis is the first time ive seen this

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — June 28, 2016 @ 11:46 am

  9. Bernard Hickey (I think) had a graph that showed how those migration numbers also tracked New Zealand First’s poll ratings.

    Comment by danylmc — June 28, 2016 @ 12:45 pm

  10. The key factors I think is that all 3 countries (though much less so Denmark because it hasn’t had geo-political weight) have a long history of racial superiority / exceptionalism supported by State and religious policy.

    And there’s the bleeding obvious, I’d have thought – Japan & the UK are archipelagos, not continental countries. The Danish, obviously, less so.

    Comment by robhosking — June 28, 2016 @ 12:48 pm

  11. Why do advanced economies (other than Japan) have high immigration?

    Can’t prevent it.

    Advanced economies have high immigration because they are attractive places to live, people want to migrate to these places. People have always migrated, the entire history of humankind has been one of continuous on-going migrations.

    Migration cannot simply be stopped by the decree of some stupid politician. The means of stopping migration are always extremely difficult and expensive, because they act against human nature.

    …unless you increase productivity (hard) or grow the population through migration (very easy). Finance Ministers can’t really admit that, though.

    Finance Ministers have to also consider the cost of stopping migration. Can you think of a low cost way of stopping imigration?

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 28, 2016 @ 1:23 pm

  12. “If you read Frank Fukuyama, he correctly portrays Japan and Denmark, as, along with England, being the two other truly developed, mature nation states in earlier times, well before the Industrial Revolution.”

    Whoa, -the- nation-states? Implying that these are the only three pre-industrial states that can be defined as nations? This is totally at odds with the scholarly literature on nationalism. Gelner looks at pre-industrial ‘nations’ extensively and can identify only three – one is England, but the other two are Spain and France. Denmark doesn’t really become a nation-state until the mid 1850s, and Japan until the Meiji restoration. Japan had a high degree of cultural insularity and an inward-looking polity but to call it a “nation” on those grounds is presentism.

    And really, none of them were mature nation states in the pre-industrial era; proto-nations is a better term.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 28, 2016 @ 1:42 pm

  13. Life for individuals is complex, challenging, stressful and because the future is difficult to predict we often make the wrong decision. We’re lucky just to be a bit unhappy most of the time.

    Organising a family is more complex, more challenging etc

    Organising a nation…

    And as for a group of nations, well I think we should set the bar for sucess pretty low.

    I think most politicians who spend any amount of time in office and aren’t like Peters or Johnson come to understand the limited ability any govt had to deal with the extrordinary complex problems our societies face and opt for a dogged incrementalism dressed up as something a bit fancy for elections.

    Comment by NeilM — June 28, 2016 @ 2:01 pm

  14. I think most politicians who spend any amount of time in office and aren’t like Peters or Johnson come to understand the limited ability any govt had to deal with the extrordinary complex problems our societies face and opt for a dogged incrementalism dressed up as something a bit fancy for elections.

    Whoa. This. So much this.

    Comment by robhosking — June 28, 2016 @ 2:04 pm

  15. A bit of coat-trailing going on here, Danyl? ” left-wing political thought in the public sphere… provides a scathing critique of the consequences of capitalism with no grasp of the deeper causes”
    Tell us what you know that ‘they’ don’t.

    Comment by paritutu — June 28, 2016 @ 2:16 pm

  16. I always expected the left to offer voters a positive alternative to capitalism. Socialism wasn’t. It was merely capitalism with governmental redistribution tagged on to help the poor. The best you could say about that is that it seemed to produce an equitable Aotearoa in the ’50s & ’60s…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 28, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

  17. Whatever the causes of Brexit, and I think it could be just as easily argued it was a reaction to progressive liberalism rather than neoliberalism, there’s an asymmetry between problem and solution.

    Problems tend to develope organically, of their own accord from an interplay of causes. Solutions on the other hand have to be arrived at via committees. Preferably by committees as other ways tend to my violent and even committees have produced unpleasant outcomes.

    And then the solution has to be delivered by some complex and inefficient method often involving committees.

    So I’m not so much glass half full but fantastic – there’s a glass!

    The refugee crisis in Europe had many causes, circumstance conspires to create tragedy. It doesn’t often conspire to coordinate a solution.

    Social entropy of a sort.

    Comment by NeilM — June 28, 2016 @ 2:44 pm

  18. I agree, the Tyler Cowan piece was worthwhile: “ultimately the vote was about preserving the English nation”. Lord Ashdown’s exit poll of more than 12,000 voters gives us the most authoritative analysis of the motivations that produced the result,
    revealing that 79% of leavers identified themselves as English not British, whereas 60% of remainers identified themselves as British not English.
    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 28, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

  19. Can you think of a low cost way of stopping imigration?

    Being an island apparently….

    Comment by Gregor W — June 28, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

  20. Quiggin’s definition of tribalism is “politics based on affirmation of some group identity against others”. When I finally got around to creating a website five years ago, I googled identity politics and was puzzled that nobody had defined it – after all, the term had been around a couple of decades by then, at least. A do-it-yourselfer, I put an outline on this page: (scan down) http://www.alternativeaotearoa.org/paradigm.html – here’s a bit…

    Personal identity has always been conferred by the social matrix someone grows up in. In the original tribal context the resulting identity is unitary – defined by relationships and known to all. However civilisation has provided people with experience in multiple social contexts, so personal identity became multi-dimensional. Each group membership, or social category allocation, provides someone with a further dimension of identity.

    [Each new dimension is likely to be perceived (by self and/or other) as a new identity – when ego-identification sufficiently boosts it. It’s role-playing, but more primal & personal.]

    Identity politics looms as a factor in peoples lives when their participation (either active or passive) in social power-plays results in others perceiving particular dimensions of their identity and reacting accordingly. The most relevant socially-defined identities derive from someone’s socially-significant group membership contexts (race, gender, profession, beliefs etc).

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 28, 2016 @ 3:00 pm

  21. “I always expected the left to offer voters a positive alternative to capitalism. Socialism wasn’t.”

    it helps if you dont treat either as a single entity but as a spectrum of differing approaches that range from mental to functional, with lots of potential for overlap between the two

    Comment by framu — June 28, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

  22. Indeed. The gfc bail-outs were a signal to all that we actually have a hybrid capitalist-socialist system now, as James Shaw pointed out in his victory speech last year. So yeah, I was being old-fashioned & my languaging imprecise.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 28, 2016 @ 4:14 pm

  23. The gfc bail-outs were a signal to all that we actually have a hybrid capitalist-socialist system now…

    No we don’t. This is a (very) glib definition of socialist.
    The GFC bailouts were as a result of entrenched crony capitalism.
    It has none of the defining features of political or economic socialism, or than that for a very brief period, some banks were – in a technical sense – social entities, inasmuch as that they were owned by national governments.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 28, 2016 @ 4:41 pm

  24. Depends whether we include the political right in the debate, huh? I’m in favour of a balanced view. Socialism, from their perspective, involves tax-payer money distributed to needy groups. Wall St banks & other huge corporations bailed out in the gfc qualify as beneficiaries on that basis, eh?

    I do agree that any group will define a technical term in relation to their usage, so leftists will frame it differently. But language is meant to be a commons for all, so it’s unhelpful to be partisan or sectarian if we’d rather develop a consensual view of society (instead of separated by cultural divides)…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 28, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

  25. Depends whether we include the political right in the debate, huh? I’m in favour of a balanced view…..I do agree that any group will define a technical term in relation to their usage, so leftists will frame it differently.

    I use a dictionary for my definitions.
    Find that keeps thing straightforward.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 28, 2016 @ 5:27 pm

  26. Trying to be as old-fashioned as me, huh? Cool, let’s have a duel. Competing dictionaries, I mean. I like meaning #2 out of the three that my Collins Concise English Dictionary is specifying. Here ’tis:

    2. any of various social or political theories or movements in which the common welfare is to be achieved through the establishment of a socialist economic system.

    As the Tea Party complained, at the time, Bush Jr’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (the ex-Goldman Sachs CEO now backing Hillary Clinton instead of Trump) rationalised his bail-outs on the basis that allowing all the technically-bankrupt banks to fail would crash the entire financial system, so it was in everyone’s common interests to intervene against market forces. That was the socialist theory the tea-partiers condemned. Fits the dictionary definition rather well, eh?

    Paulson & Bush were spooked by the prospect of nobody being able to get money out of money machines, leading to the prospect of x million angry yanks looking for someone with food & killing them for it. These prospects tended to focus the mind somewhat. However, tea-partiers preferred to focus on ideological betrayal by their own government – when it resorted to the practical socialism they loathed.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 28, 2016 @ 5:58 pm

  27. “The GFC bailouts were as a result of entrenched crony capitalism.”

    No they weren’t. In the US and elsewhere they were an attempt to stop system meltdown and generate enough confidence so the commercial paper market could start operating again and companies that had nothing to do with the banking system could continue their short term, day to day borrowing and have some confidence they could continue to operate. That would have had far greater negative consequences for US residents.

    The accusation of crony capitalism was precisely what they (US Treasury, Fed Reserve etc) were trying to avoid when they let Lehman Brothers go broke rather than rescue it. They then discovered that this had the unintended consequence of destroying confidence in banks across the system. That’s why there was a bailout. A number of banks like Wells Fargo did not want the money but they were told they had no choice because a to single out some banks for help would simply signal they were the ones with the biggest issues and compound the confidence issue. The US Treasury also made money out of the bailout as the loans were repaid with interest.

    The NZ guarantee operated on similar principles. The aim was to avoid system failure not rescue cronies. System failure harms everyone.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 28, 2016 @ 6:54 pm

  28. Attempting to stop a meltdown by the Fed(s) opening a cash spigot to prop up bankrupt banks – rather than directing it to debtors in the form of direct relief – is crony capitalism.
    I pretty much matches the handy wiki definition “Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.”

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 9:00 am

  29. “Finance Ministers can’t really admit that, though. They like to posture about their economic credibility and it’s a bit embarrassing that they have no idea how to grow the economy short of just letting more people into it. So any objections are met with accusations of racism instead of a good-faith justification of the policy.” à la Bill English

    Comment by Lance Talstra — June 29, 2016 @ 9:33 am

  30. Having the American and EU economies limp along in recovery mode, whilst everyone is helped out by the central banks has had some pretty big benefits for China. The lost decade of Japan allowed China to take the foremost position in East Asia. Now the lost decades of America and Europe are pushing China to the fore globally.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 29, 2016 @ 9:36 am

  31. @Dennis: You do realise the dictionary definition you posted is useless?

    It defines socialism as ‘advocating a socialist economic system.’

    That just moves the question from ‘what is socialism’ to ‘what is a socialist economic system’.

    Does your dictionary explain that?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 29, 2016 @ 10:28 am

  32. Yeah, Ortvin, it does indeed seem useless, as you say. A circular definition, an ouroboros. However, in the game of dueling dictionaries it was an effective play at the time. One suspects that the Oxford would deliver a more satisfying explanation, but in contemporary society those who consult it have become too marginal to be relevant. A useful door-stop?

    Also, my purpose in deploying the definition was simply to illustrate the deficiencies of leftist assumptions, not to convey the true meaning of socialism. I suspect the latter is much like the unicorn: oft-imagined, never seen.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 29, 2016 @ 10:48 am

  33. @ Dennis #26. Not trying to be old fashioned at all. Just attempting to utilise terms as clearly intended, rather than muddy the waters in the interests of “balance”. To whit, socialism as per the OED:

    “A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 10:56 am

  34. Okay Gregor, fair enough, and I do recall that complex meme from a bygone era. The `owned’ bit derived from marxism, and has since vanished into Trotsky’s `dustbin of history’.

    I wouldn’t dispute the ongoing merit of the `regulated’ bit. Bureaucratic regulation has certainly discredited the concept in the public mind considerably, but so what? Free markets naturally evolve into cartels and then monopolies, so governments (both left & right) now regulate to prevent that trend. Practical, non-ideological, socialism…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 29, 2016 @ 11:14 am

  35. “the true meaning of socialism. I suspect the latter is much like the unicorn: oft-imagined, never seen.”

    Well, you’re the one who introduced the term to this conversation.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 29, 2016 @ 12:02 pm

  36. I don’t think Dennis is expecting to have his words repeated and queried, he’s more into shoehorning a fixed view into any random thread. It might be useful if he could explain what he really means with stock phrases like “New World Order” … if anything.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 29, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

  37. Yes, in comment #16. It was a reference to the mid-20th century era. It has been part of our political culture since that time: folks often identify the left with socialism without defining that term.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 29, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

  38. testing…

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

  39. For some reason I can’t post by long and elegantly worded response (which most will be thankful for I’m sure).

    The gist of it was that if you are going to get all post-modern about meaning being contextual for ideology based on a subjective assessment, then you may as well abandon definition altogether. One word becomes as good as another effectively.
    My second thought re your (also incorrect) explanation of free markets inevitably leading to cartels and your ultimate sentence, is that it’s basically pointless to describe a non-ideological, practical meaning too ideas that are fundamentally ideological, and to some extent, inherently impractical.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 12:54 pm

  40. Crony-ism isn’t exclusively capitalistic or socialistic. Crony-ism is endemic to both systems, because the remedial actions in a crisis otherwise require difficult actions. Cronyism provides solutions which aren’t quick or painful.

    In the GFC banks got into serious difficulty – capitalism offered the remedy that banks should go bust and socialism suggested malfeasance on the part of bankers being prosecuted – both of the solutions would have been quick and painful. Cronyism allowed banks to be rescued with bankers consulted as intimate partners in the governance of their industry.

    Now several years later debt to gdp ratio has soared and interest rates are being held low to stimulate growth.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 29, 2016 @ 1:29 pm

  41. “It has been part of our political culture since that time: folks often identify the left with socialism without defining that term.”

    Folks like you, in places like this thread.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 29, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

  42. The current situation with Corbyn highlights this predicament for the left of identifying problems and implementing solutions.

    Corbyn, it appears to me, is a long standing polical activist in the vein of John Minto and Keith Locke who now, by accident, has an influential popular base but isn’t all that electable – unless there’s a people’s revolution which so far hasn’t materialised.

    Hs vision of There Is A Solution – Cast Aside the Elites and Smash Neoliberalism and US Imperislism – is attractive as it promotes certainty.

    But it’s a bit simplistic – based on 1970s era leftist thinking – and it’s not getting votes.

    Comment by NeilM — June 29, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

  43. Wanting to see fraudulent banksters prosecuted has nothing much to do with socialism – just justice. Instead they’ve been ‘intimately consulted’ and showered with bonuses. Try explaining that to a poorer person without resorting to a dictionary.

    Comment by Sacha — June 29, 2016 @ 3:44 pm

  44. @NeilM – I’m not sure Corbyn isn’t all that electable.

    The Telegraph, Guardian et al. and various Third-way who owe their careers to Blair are all promulgating this received wisdom, that but there is no firm evidence for this supposition (i.e. a historical election in which he was proven to be unelectable).

    In fact as recently as late April, a Yougov poll put Labour ahead by 3 points as preferred govt and Corbyn 7 points ahead of Cameron.

    As @ May 17, a second survey has indicated he would handily win a leadership contest based on a popular vote.

    I would suggest that both outcomes would have have significantly shifted in the last week in Corbyn’s favour, hence the pants-shitting panic inside the New Labour faction.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 3:55 pm

  45. I’m not sure one can discount 80% of Labour MPs as Blairites.

    But if they are and they’ve all been voted in long after the demise of Blair all those years ago then there is a considerate divide between Corbyn’s base and the and Labour voters that’s rather inexplicable.

    Comment by NeilM — June 29, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

  46. I’m not sure one can discount 80% of Labour MPs as Blairites

    I think you can do exactly that.

    Blairism is like Clintonism. Actually, it like any ‘Big Man’ cult.

    It’s an ideological infestation of a political machine that both stacks the party structure with obedient acolytes who owe their position solely to political patronage, and also renders them incapable of looking beyond the halcyon days of when their faction was in power.
    Ipso facto, only by slavishly emulating the past can they secure the future sinecures.

    Also the gulf isn’t necessarily between Corbyn’s base and other Labour voters. At least, that’s not what those Yougov polls suggest to me at any rate.
    It’s between Corbyn’s popular base and the party machinery that fear populism.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 4:36 pm

  47. Shit, I’m starting to sound like Sanctuary….

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 4:36 pm

  48. The Telegraph, Guardian et al. and various Third-way who owe their careers to Blair are all promulgating this received wisdom, that but there is no firm evidence for this supposition (i.e. a historical election in which he was proven to be unelectable).

    There have been 60+ opinion polls since he became leader of the Labour Party that put the Tories ahead and a mere 3 that put Labour ahead. That is pretty firm evidence they are going to lose.

    Also the gulf isn’t necessarily between Corbyn’s base and other Labour voters. At least, that’s not what those […] polls suggest to me at any rate.
    It’s between Corbyn’s popular base and …

    …the rest of the UK.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 29, 2016 @ 5:15 pm

  49. Danyl’s final paragraph describing the lack of endeavour of the intellect on the political left may have become apparent to him recently, but I’ve been aware of it ever since I was at university long ago. I was a rebel and a radical, and the closet fascism of the political right was a real threat in those days. When, half a decade later, Roger Donaldson’s movie Sleeping Dogs appeared, I realised the trend was so obvious even mainstreamers like him had spotted it.

    Many of us expected the left to produce a positive alternative. Why has that never happened?

    Danyl wonders if fascism is likely to emerge from a crisis nowadays. A global system crash followed by a societal collapse could do it, but the gfc failed to produce any such outcome. Leftists governments have been as zealous as rightist governments, acting in collusion to prop-up the capitalist system. Only a mass feeling amongst the people that the left have betrayed them – that the competition between the left and right is merely a sham to disguise their collusion – would be likely to cause any drift toward fascism.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 29, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

  50. Speaking of Corbyn, his opponents have clearly been plotting for a while…

    http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/28/truth-behind-labour-coup-really-began-manufactured-exclusive/

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 29, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

  51. Unaha-closp: if it was 60 polls in the last month, you’d have a valid point!
    But it’s not, so you don’t.

    I’m far more interested in what they might say now that the BLP is there facto ‘Remain’ party, both in terms of Corby so specific polling and Labour as govt.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 6:33 pm

  52. Damned autocorrect
    *both in terms of Corby’s specific polling

    Comment by Gregor W — June 29, 2016 @ 6:36 pm

  53. Can I start a referendum to seal Dennis and Sanctuary in a capsule together with an endless supply of hot-button political issues to posture over?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 29, 2016 @ 10:29 pm

  54. …the BLP is [their de] facto ‘Remain’ party…I>

    Then they’d want a new leader and shadow chancellor who have a record of voting pro-Europe on treaties and amendments. As opposed to the current pair of long time eurosceptics who provided such ineffective support to the remain cause.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 30, 2016 @ 9:24 am

  55. As opposed to the current pair of long time eurosceptics who provided such ineffective support to the remain cause.

    Here’s the thing. It wasn’t their job to support the Remain cause
    .
    It’s their job to make the government look shit and (potentially) position themselves well for a vote of no confidence / snap election, or if that doesn’t eventuate, as the natural choice for the 2020 election post the next 3 years of complete fuck-ups and economic and policy insecurity courtesy of Cameron’s successor.

    Whether they as individuals support remaining in the EU is immaterial. If they want to run the country, they’ll at least need to pretend that they support the idea of remaining a part of the European community while also somehow appealing to traditional Labour voters who have slipped into UKIP.
    It might (weirdly) actually work out that the BLP holds a public position of Remain, while having a leadership position that promotes a degree of skepticism – effectively, an appeal to pragmatism.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 30, 2016 @ 10:46 am

  56. Corbyn was part of the small bunch of Labour backbenchers that who tried with some success to make the “government look shit” between 1997 and 2010. Being anti-EU went with his anti-war stance and antipathy to Trident as means of attacking his own party’s government.

    Now, not only has his weak leadership made his party unelectable, but it has also contributed to this crucial referendum loss.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 30, 2016 @ 11:38 am

  57. Another likely reason for Japan’s low immigration rate is the language barrier. A much smaller percentage of Japanese in Japan speak English than Danes in Denmark.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 30, 2016 @ 12:25 pm

  58. Dennis Frank: When the apparatus of socialism is hijacked by the hyper-class, we more often than not end up with a rentier system. We’re seeing it in the Auckland housing bubble, where people who are happy to see the back of the Resource Management Act are equally happy to use it to veto any creative disruption of their bricks-and-mortar “wealth”.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 30, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

  59. England, Denmark and Japan are all island nations. This creates the national psyche that explains their objection to mass immigration. You might think Denmark isn’t an island nation, but most Danes live on islands, its capital is on an island and they were known as a major sea power in old times (they occupied east England remember). As for the “mainland” peninsular, Jutland, it is known for the WWI Battle of Jutland which is tellingly a naval battle and the Danes really did build a wall across the south of Jutland about 800 years ago to keep people out.

    Scots may object to calling England an island nation, but England has had no reason to fear immigration overload from Scotland.

    Australia is another island nation which strongly fears unchecked immigration.

    NZ and Iceland are the exceptions here which is explained by geography. Iceland because it is generally an awful place to imagine living in and because more appealing places are in the way of reaching it. NZers have little fear of unchecked immigration as NZ is so astoundingly remote that the issue just doesn’t come up. PNG is the closest place to us that has both more people than NZ and is generally poorer, which I think are the two conditions that are required.

    In short if illegal immigrants could actually reach NZ in significant and consistent way then NZ would be just as xenophobic as Australia and England appear to be.

    Anyway, geological determinism.

    Comment by James Green — June 30, 2016 @ 12:42 pm

  60. …and the Danes really did build a wall across the south of Jutland about 800 years ago to keep people out.

    The Danevirke, commemorated her in NZ in its modern Danish-spelt form as Dannevirke.

    Comment by Joe W — June 30, 2016 @ 1:20 pm

  61. Re #58, the rentier component of the capitalist system has been developing for centuries. I’m not aware of any government legislating to remove it. Why didn’t Helen Clark do so? See what I mean about the historical collusion between the left and right?

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 30, 2016 @ 6:45 pm

  62. @James: What about Sri Lanka? The Philippines? Cuba? Malta? Plus if Denmark is an island nation what about the other ‘effectively an island’ nations like Sweden, South Korea, Bahrain, etc etc?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 30, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

  63. (Also, as the wikipedia article linked shows, the Danevirke wasn’t a barrier to peaceful migration, just to military invasion)

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 30, 2016 @ 9:04 pm

  64. Now, not only has his weak leadership made his party unelectable, but it has also contributed to this crucial referendum loss.

    As per my previous comment, there is nothing to specifically suggest Corbyn is unelectable in the current climate.
    Post Brexit polls will tell us more wrt to whether he the BLP/Corbyn get punished for their lack of effort to prop up Cameron.
    The only two people on the scene who have lost popular votes recently are Miliband and Cameron. The former has proven to be unelectable. Corbyn has yet to be tested.

    Looking ahead, I’m struggling to see the downside for Corbyn to hang on and lets what’s remains of the Third Way cadre that were slaughtered at the last last election immolate in an orgy of self pity.
    (i) he faces down people who hate/fear, shows moxie etc.
    (ii) worst case, he’s 3 years out from an election – he gets a good period to build his own base and make hay while the Tories drag out Brexit and the UK economy suffers
    (iii) on the back of economic downturn, he gets to take a revitalised party to the polls on his socialist ticket of state intervention / full employment et al. to “Save Britain” from Tory blundering and economic mismanagement.
    (iv) he even gets a free pass at that point to return to his natural anti-Euro position – “what’s done is done” etc.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 30, 2016 @ 10:58 pm

  65. Looking ahead, I’m struggling to see the downside for Corbyn to hang on and lets what’s remains of the Third Way cadre that were slaughtered at the last last election immolate in an orgy of self pity.

    In practice that means getting rid of 80% of current Labour MPs in the hope that the Brtish public will vote for a socialist agenda.

    I think Corbyn thinks this is a possibility and also think that the most proble outcome – a decimated Labour Party offering no real hope of challenging the Conservarives or UKIP but molded in his image – is also something he wouldn’t object to.

    Comment by NeilM — July 1, 2016 @ 6:50 am

  66. In practice that means getting rid of 80% of current Labour MPs in the hope that the British public will vote for a socialist agenda.

    Agreed. And given that these same MPs failed two win 2 general elections – one of which was a gift – they probably don’t deserve to retain their positions.
    I think one of the things Brexit tells us is that the British public don’t discriminate between Tory and Tory-lite. The entire political establishment was punished.
    If a radical race-based agenda under UKIP is gaining ground, there’s no reason to think that a countervailing socialist agenda might not also be attractive, particularly if the ground becomes equally fertile for both under conditions of economic uncertainty.

    It’s drawing a long-bow to suggest Corbyn is nothing more than nihilistic narcissist, hell bent on destroying the Labour party for his own obscure ends.
    That’s sounds like a regurgitation of opinion provided by the hand-wringers at the Guardian.
    At least you are consistent though given you hold the same flavour of opinions re Obama, Clinton, Assange, etc. so I can’t really complain.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 1, 2016 @ 9:03 am

  67. The blairite third way was always an exercise in fakery. Recycling the authentic third way provided by the green movement a quarter of a century earlier, devoid of content, dressed up in the guise of a slightly more user-friendly neoliberalism, merely lipstick on a pig. So those Labour parliamentarians are on a learning curve – discovering that a pragmatic compromising of party ideology will only get you so far.

    Seems Corbyn is tapping the same disaffected groundswell that lifted Sanders. Not nihilistic, probably not even narcissist, just an unreconstructed socialist like Bernie. Their advocacy may seem quaint nowadays, but it works on the basis of authenticity. Socialism didn’t just produce an equitable society in Aotearoa in the ’50s & ’60s, it seemed to do so in other western countries and there’s enough people around who remain unconvinced that the balance cannot be achieved again.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — July 1, 2016 @ 9:53 am


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