Tag: Digital Elections, Party Politics and Diplomacy

There are two issues which have long fascinated me that seem more salient with each passing day. Our struggle to conceptualise long term social change from within (particularly the possibility of civilisational collapse) and the transition away from democratic government. Cinematic spectacle dominates the imaginary through we conceive of either, whether this is our imagery of what a collapsed […]

A couple of months ago, The New Statesman carried an interview with Tony Blair for the first time in a long time. Leaving aside how haunted the man looked in the portrait accompanying it, what stood out to me about it was how readily he had incorporated techno-speak into the language of the third way. Here are some […]

I just came across this remarkable estimate in an Economist feature on surveillance. I knew digitalisation made surveillance cheaper but I didn’t realise quite how much cheaper. How much of the creeping authoritarianism which characterises the contemporary national security apparatus in the UK and US is driven by a familiar impulse towards efficiency? The agencies not only do […]

In his remarkably prescient Listen Liberal, Thomas Frank describes the rapid capture of the Democratic Party by the professional class which took place during those decades when economic transition left them ascendent within the country as a whole. This was originally a predominance of financiers within the party but, with a transition marked by the […]

I love this passage by Paul Mason in the introduction to The Global Minotaur: Most politicians cannot be theorists. First, because they are rarely thinkers; second, because the frenetic lifestyle they impose on themselves leaves no time for big ideas. But most of all because to be a theorist you have to admit the possibility of […]

From Rethinking Social Exclusion, by Simon Winlow and Steve Hall, pg 73: Political protests these days are taken not as an indication that something is going wrong and that a significant number of the population are dissatisfied with the nation’s political leadership. Rather, they seem to indicate that a healthy and vibrant democracy is in […]

An absolutely fascinating article from Arlie Hochschild, whose new book on the American right sounds like a must read: Traditional Tea Party supporters wanted to cut both the practice of cutting in line, and government rewards for doing so. Followers of Donald Trump, on the other hand, wanted to keep government benefits and remove shame […]

There’s an interesting extract in this Guardian article about the growing civil war in the Republican party, concerning the adoption of Trump’s tactics by aspirant politicians within the party: Trump’s refusal to support McCain and Ryan comes exactly one week before Ryan faces a primary challenge from the businessman Paul Nehlen, a candidate who has […]

From Pity the Billionaire, by Thomas Frank, loc 2881-2896: As the nation clambers down through the sulfurous fumes into the pit called utopia, the thinking of the market-minded will continue to evolve. Before long they will have discovered that certain once-uncontroversial arms of the state must be amputated immediately. One fine day in the near […]

From Corbyn: Against All Odds, by Richard Seymour, pg 15: Adam Phillips suggests that our rages disclose what it is we think we are entitled to. We become infuriated when the world doesn’t live up to our largely unconscious assumptions about how it should be for us. What might the fury of Labour’s right-wingers, as […]

This critique by Thomas Frank, on loc 2729 of his Pity the Billionaire, applies as well to proponents of the ‘third way’ within the Labour Party as it does to the leaders of the Democratic Party in relation to whom they originally articulated the notion: Sometimes when I watch the Washington Democrats in action, my […]

I knew there were a lot but had no idea it was this many. From Intern Nation, by Ross Perlin, loc 1946: According to an estimate by Politico and the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, 20,000 interns descend on the capital each summer, approximately 6,000 of them filling Congressional slots—which would come out […]

I really like this framing by Zizek on pg 177 of his Trouble in Paradise. The discourse on ‘populism’ should be read through this lens: the bewilderment and scorn elites feel when this polite agreement breaks down. In this sense, in a democracy, every ordinary citizen effectively is a king –but a king in a […]

From Zizek’s Trouble in Paradise, pg 35. As he goes on to say on pg 107, “the ‘eternal’ marriage between democracy and capitalism is nearing divorce.” These elites, the main culprits for the 2008 financial meltdown, now impose themselves as experts, the only ones who can lead us on the painful path of financial recovery, […]

This is powerful stuff from Corbyn in his recent LSE lecture: I am not talking here about the aspiration of the delusional Del Boys – “This time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires” – not the importation of the individualist American Dream. (As an aside, the US comedian George Carlin once said “They call it […]

From This Town, by Mark Leibovich, pg 284. This is another example of a key theme of the book, albeit one explored in an exclusively gossipy way: the money to be made through working at the boundaries between institutional  spheres, occasionally crossing them strategically and playing off this connection. It’s a nice arrangement, though, the […]

I thought this was an interesting suggestion, from This Town by Mark Leibovich, concerning the tendency of a mendacious and stage-managed political culture to give rise to ‘straight talkers’. From pg 324-325: The unquestioned Big Man on Campus in Tampa, at least for the first part of GOP-looza, was Chris Christie, the rotund Republican governor […]