Wednesday, November 01, 2006


If you don't already have it in your RSS reader, can I urge you to subscribe to Dave Osler's blog. I usually keep an eye on it, but I missed this first time around.

Broadly, he's listed what he thinks the big questions are that the left needs to answer.

It's a good post as well, and the fact that it's coming from someone of Dave's perspective is very refreshing. I've been reading him on-and-off for at least fifteen years - probably longer - either in Tribune or latterly in Red Pepper, and he's always started from the opposite position to the one I prefer.

I don't know if he'd argue with my description, but I'd say that he is a revolutionary by preference and a reformer by necessity. And there is no reformer more reluctant than Dave. But he outlines some very good questions at a time when the left is as rudderless as it's ever been.

I'd suggest that this is what the blogosphere is for. It rewards critical thinking, and the left have the most to benefit from this. Why anyone (including Dave) continue to think that the right are somehow 'better at blogging' mystifies me. They have bloggers that are better at playing the idiotic games that Westminster hacks play. But that's about it.

I think that he could consider adding a few other points to his list.

Rapid change. Technological change has had a massive impact on the way that we form and exercise preferences. It has implications for everything you can think about - but the left seems to regard it as a neutral issue. You can have a view on technology that is vastly different from people who otherwise share your views on lots of thing. Like having political allies who support different football teams. This really shouldn't be the case. Every individual that takes part in any debate should, surely, have a view on the current torrent of developments? And this understanding should, surely, provide us with the basis of how we see society going, and what impact that we (the left) should have on it? So, is 'Web 2.0' a scam or an earthquake? Discuss. If you don’t agree with someone on this subject, it’s hard to see how you could agree on much else.

Hegemony. Chris Dillow has a very challenging line of thinking about managerialism among other things. What are the forces that are so omnipotent that no-one notices or discusses them? I'm not sure I agree with Chris's entire argument, but it is an interesting starting point to discuss the power-relations that drive society along. I reckon so anyway. I've also been working on a line of thought that I can never get any response on about the way that the structure of the media is hardwired into central government in a way that we have stopped noticing.

Democracy. What sort of democracy do we really want? What are the threats and the opportunities that democrats face?

Liberalism. Personally, I regard liberalism as an essential stepping stone to any more meaningful democracy. Annoyingly, liberals appear to have lost any interest in defending the gains or the principles of liberalism. Does liberalism create a population that are so solopsistic that they will eventually turn on liberalism in a fit of pique? Is liberalism wasted on liberals?

If you regard liberalism as instrumental, should you be a liberal-perfectionist? Or should you just be defending the key achievements and not worrying about the rest of it? This leaves scope for a debate on everything from smoking-bans to ID cards. It’s one for Shuggy.

I'm going to try and post on his questions of common ownership and Unions in due course. I've had a draft on the role of working class politics on my desktop for about nine months now, and it still needs a lot of corners knocking off it before I could post it with any confidence (which says a lot in itself).


Anonymous said...

I see that Connolly is important to you, as he is to me.
Have a look at our website -
I too would list Monsieur Hire as a favourite film, and Last Exit to Brooklyn as a favourite book.
You have good taste!

Paulie said...

Very kind Tom.

I'd heard about the film and I'm looking forward to it.