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Blackheath

April 18th, 2013

This Saturday, I’ll be at the Blackheath Philosophy Forum in the Blue Mountains, talking about the economic feasibility of social democracy.

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  1. Jim Rose
    April 18th, 2013 at 13:16 | #1

    Good luck. Any sessions on the lack of appeal of social democracy at the ballot box?

  2. April 18th, 2013 at 15:02 | #2

    @Jim Rose

    Which of the duopoly parties offer social democracy?

  3. crocodile
    April 18th, 2013 at 15:12 | #3

    Megan, I think Jim is saying that appeal is low, therefore we have little on offer anywhere.

  4. April 18th, 2013 at 19:20 | #4

    I thought he was asserting that social democracy must lack appeal to voters, because if we wanted it we would have it, because we have democracy. Or something like that.

  5. crocodile
    April 18th, 2013 at 20:17 | #5

    I suppose that depends on what definitons are used for the term “social democracy”. I know the good ol’ wiki is not the greatest reference but for starters:

    “It advocates for a peaceful, evolutionary transition of the economy to socialism through progressive social reform of capitalism.”

    If that’s it, I don’t think you will see much traction. If it is taken as a mixed ecomomy that’s another matter.

    Have fun

  6. John Quiggin
    April 18th, 2013 at 21:08 | #6

    @crocodile

    I don’t find the term “socialism” much use, except to mean “the good state we will get to if we keep on doing peaceful reform on social democratic lines”, which effectively reverses the Wiki definition.

  7. Jordan
    April 18th, 2013 at 21:19 | #7

    @John Quiggin
    Social democracy with capitalism is at risk of reverting back to less of a “good state” just as it is happening since WWII. We are on the way to more capitalism then social democracy right now because of increasing power of capitalist forces to reduce SD.

    What would social democracy end result look like? Maybe without capitalism? Maybe social democracy with democracy at work is the “good state” picture? That would eliminate the risk of reversing the progress by capitalism.

  8. April 18th, 2013 at 21:42 | #8

    I’m not even sure if I would be labelled a “social democrat”.

    But I like this part of the “wiki” definition (referred to by crocodile):

    It asserts that the only acceptable constitutional form of government is representative democracy under the rule of law.[4] It promotes extending democratic decision-making beyond political democracy to include economic democracy to guarantee employees and other economic stakeholders sufficient rights of co-determination.[4] It supports a mixed economy that opposes the excesses of capitalism such as inequality, poverty, and oppression of various groups, while rejecting both a totally free market or a fully planned economy.[5] Common social democratic policies include advocacy of universal social rights to attain universally accessible public services such as education, health care, workers’ compensation, and other services including child care and care for the elderly.[6] Social democracy is connected with the trade union labour movement and supports collective bargaining rights for workers

    A bit puzzled by this, perjorative (?), part of the wiki:

    extending democratic decision-making beyond political democracy

    To me, that is a lot like the debate on the post about the NBN that ended up being about sexism as a reason for the bleak prospects of the current federal government.

    The message is: “Vote and then shut up! You don’t get to vote for ideas or policies, you vote for an individual person and what happens after that is democracy. If they ‘appeared’ to represent something you thought you wanted and it didn’t manifest itself in their actions, tough! Come back in a few years and vote again.”

  9. Jordan
    April 18th, 2013 at 22:17 | #9

    Megan
    This part

    extending democratic decision-making beyond political democracy

    means exactly “democracy at work” too. Or cooperatives, non-profit corporations, selfgoverning corporations, worker/ owner. In other words, socialism.

    Maybe majority of social democrats tend to avoid logical implications of the progressive actions in order to lure population with slow education that will gradualy overcome conservative blocks. This interaction, between progressive and conservative forces should act as educational choice toward the most sustainable solutions.
    If social democrats provide all solutions without input by conservatives then the conservative forces would create enough resistance at some point in time to reverse the progress.

    This happened in Yugoslavia, where we used to have a democracy at work with lacking political democracy. Over time, conservative forces preveiled and caused the self destruction. I call that the private property instincts.
    Once the one group of people got the advantage over the other, they fought to preserve/ conserve that advantage, while economy’s problems grew and it overcame the system without visible solution. This caused the civil war and resolution of Yugoslavia into 7 countries.

  10. Ikonoclast
    April 18th, 2013 at 22:49 | #10

    Economic feasibility of social democracy? Three words; Post-war consensus. You know, the social democratic and Keynesian era which delivered the greatest equality and relative prosperity of all time. The real question should be “Is neocon economics feasible?” The answer is a resounding NO! It’s Proven by the Great Collapse (still ongoing in Europe) after the “Great Moderation”.

    Those people (neocons), wouldn’t believe they had gangrene until their leg fell off.

  11. Jordan
    April 18th, 2013 at 23:00 | #11

    Megan
    I am sure you are familliar with

    “After a successful crowd-funding campaign that raised the funds for a manufacturing licence, Earthworker Cooperative Australia and Eureka’s Future Workers Cooperative will install their first solar hot water unit in Melbourne on April 15.”

    from GreenLeft

  12. April 18th, 2013 at 23:57 | #12

    Jordan, it sounds like you had democracy at work but not in politics.

    We probably have had a little democracy at work, but never very much. And we had something that looked a lot like democracy in politics but really never was.

    That sad mix gave us two terrible things: 1) neo-liberalism as a bipartisan philosophy/ideology which divided the workers into units of aspirational micro competitors without any real individual autonomy; and
    2) the granting of media control to Rupert Murdoch (listen to or watch the ABC for a day and count the News Ltd/IPA people getting a free run there), concentrating the ultra-capitalist propaganda into fewer hands and drowning other voices.

  13. Jim Rose
    April 19th, 2013 at 18:33 | #13

    @Megan There are more than 2 political parties in Australia. The greens have coalition agreements federally and in Tasmania and Canberra.

    There are numerous minor parties and independents with the balance of power in state upper houses. The minor parties will have the balance of power in the Senate after the next election from July 2014.

    The socialist alternative is so out of it that the libertarians in the Liberal Democratic Party managed to be the last candidate excluded in the 2010 NSW senate election. Preferences increase their vote from 2.31% to 8.59%! How bad things must be that even the libertarians have a better chance than you of election to the Senate in 2016!

    Democratic socialism is pointless because electoral power is fleeting: sooner or latter, the left wing parties lose power and capitalism is resorted.

    Under pension fund socialism, with the majority of the share market owned by superannuation funds, any call for wide-spread nationalisations is political suicide. The same for re-nationalisation later when the left-parties get another turn in office.

    The rotation of power is common in democracies, and the worst rise to the top. So it is wise to design constitutional safeguards to minimise the damage done when those crazies to the right or left of you get their chance in office, as they will.

    Socialists must choose between supporting democracy and supporting socialism.

  14. Fran Barlow
    April 20th, 2013 at 23:40 | #14

    PrQ

    Nice turn out at Blackheath tonight, despite the weather.

    Well done keeping a straight face with that chap who asked about “the computer-assisted international economy” and its $320bn of drug, guns and white slave money. ;-)

  15. April 21st, 2013 at 00:56 | #15

    @Jim Rose

    Jim! You must be the expert I’ve been looking for!

    You must be able to tell me how many pieces of legislation have passed in the current parliament – through both houses – because they had the support of the ALP and LNP?

    Seriously, I’m fairly sure that it is about 80% or more – can you confirm?

    There is no “rotation” of “power” in any real sense, just a bunch of identical people changing T-shirts with each other every now and then. That might be how it is, but that is not a functioning democracy.

  16. Fran Barlow
    April 21st, 2013 at 09:52 | #16

    @Megan

    I tend to think of elections as the adult version of musical chairs. The music stops every three years or so and a few people lose their seats. The only difference in the analogy is that the number of seats tends to stay about the same each time the music stops.

  17. Jim Rose
    April 21st, 2013 at 13:36 | #17

    Megan :
    ….the granting of media control to Rupert Murdoch (listen to or watch the ABC for a day and count the News Ltd/IPA people getting a free run there), concentrating the ultra-capitalist propaganda into fewer hands and drowning other voices.

    good to see everyone agrees that the ABC is biased. The Left think it is a right-wing bias; the Right think it is left-wing bias!

    A leading characteristic of media bias is that people agree on its existence, but disagree on the sign of that bias in the commercial media.

    Competition forces news outlets to cater to their customer’s preferences. The print media is under dire threats to its existence at the moment.

    Any bias is likely to be slightly to the centre-left for the following reasons:
    1. young women tend to be one of the most marginal groups of news consumers (i.e., they are the most willing to switch to activities besides reading or watching the news).
    2. young females often make more of the consumption decisions for the household so advertisers will pay more to reach this group.
    3. Since young females tend to be more centre-left on average, a news outlet may want to slant its coverage that way. Newspapers selling space to advertisers tailor the way they cover politics to gain more readers.

    Realised profit is the criterion by which the market process selects survivors: those who realize positive profits survive; those who suffer losses disappear. Positive profits accrue to those media outlets who are better than their competitors. Their lesser rivals will exhaust their retained earnings and fail to attract further investor support.

    Tyler cowen has an excellent lecture on media bias at MRuniversity in his course on the economics of the media.

  18. Fran Barlow
    April 21st, 2013 at 14:31 | #18

    @Jim Rose

    I can’t begin to imagine the basis on which you assert that “young females” are inclined to the “centre-left”. However that may be, I see no measurable data that the commercial media are “centre-left” in their presentation or selection of news.

    Our MCBM is distinctively right-of-centre in its paradigm and assumptions, and #theirABC, which relies heavily on the MBCM for its copy takes that as its starting point — its “taken for granted” reality.

  19. April 21st, 2013 at 16:15 | #19

    @Jim Rose

    Your belief in a competitive commercial news media landscape is misplaced.

    Murdoch has run the Oz at a massive financial loss for decades because he understands the power of a biased media to change governments and policies.

    Ponder that he runs something like 22 titles in Brisbane (including the suburban papers) with the effect that he monopolises the news print media. He doesn’t dominate it, he has made it impossible for a competitor.

    Murdoch controls – directly – 70% of this country’s newspapers and a greater percentage of the output/content of the news media in general. There is no justification for anyone from News Ltd to appear anywhere on the ABC at all.

  20. Fran Barlow
    April 22nd, 2013 at 00:56 | #20

    @Megan

    There is no justification for anyone from News Ltd to appear anywhere on the ABC at all.

    Just so, although the reliance of #theirABC on Murdoch copy — a result of the Murdochracy’s domination of public space — is the more insidious problem. One need go no further than climate change and related policy to see the debauching effects of Murdoch in authoring #theirABC.

    Of course, the pernicious effect of Murdoch seeps into every part of public policy even in the choice of language.

  21. Donald Oats
    April 22nd, 2013 at 13:35 | #21

    Murdochracy is murdering democracy :-)

  22. Jim Rose
    April 22nd, 2013 at 19:23 | #22

    Fran Barlow, The gender gap in voting dates back 2 generations or more and may now be in double digits. The right-wing parties would win every election if women voted like men.

    A large share of all social spending is for the care of dependents – everything from children to non-working mothers and old age pensioners. Women support this spending because they benefit more from the social insurance it offers. Women both earn less and are more likely to be out of the workforce caring for children.

    Women also change their voting patterns more often than men as they marry and divorce or as they become single mothers.

    HT: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/gender-and-the-polls/

  23. Fran Barlow
    April 22nd, 2013 at 19:54 | #23

    @Jim Rose

    The right-wing parties would win every election if women voted like men.

    That’s pretty much what does happen these days. To the best of my recollection, no centre-left party has won an election at Federal or state level in the last 35 years. The centre-right always wins. And even if one goes back much further, centre-left governments have been the exception rather than the rule.

    Dunstan? Whitlam? Maybe. Chifley? Curtin? Probably not.

  24. Jim Rose
    April 23rd, 2013 at 19:17 | #24

    centre-left governments have been the exception rather than the rule.

    It must be rather lonely out there on the Left, with 90% of voters voting for right-wing parties.

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