User experience

As I mentioned a while ago, after years of having the blog managed for me by Jacques Chester (thanks again!) I’m now out on my own. I’m working through WordPress.com. A reader has mentioned that the process of commenting has become burdensome, something I’ve noticed with the default WordPress setup. I’ve tried to fix this by removing the requirement for an email address.

I’d appreciate it if readers could comment on what happens when they try to post a comment. If you can’t comment at all, please email me at j.quiggin@uq.edu.au

Migration

Hi everyone. As you can see, there have been a few changes. For many years, Jacques Chester has kindly hosted this site and other Australian blogs. He’s had to move on, and the site has been migrated to WordPress.com. In the process, the theme has been lost and some recent comments may also have gone.

At the same time, I’ve had a lot of commitments that have slowed me down. I’ll be restoring as much as I can over the next week or so, and trying to resume normal posting.

Mostly, I’d like to thank Jacques for the massive effort he’s put in to supporting this and other blogs.

For socialism and democracy

As I mentioned a while ago, in the years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve described my political perspective as “social-democratic”. In earlier years, I mostly used “democratic socialist”. My reason for the switch was that, in a market liberal/neoliberal era, the term “socialist” had become a statement of aspiration without any concrete meaning or any serious prospect of realisation. By contrast, “social democracy” represented the Keynesian welfare state I was defending against market liberal “reform”.

In the decade since the Global Financial Crisis, things have changed. Socialism still describes an aspiration, rather than a concrete political program, but an aspiration to a better society is what we need now as a positive response to the evident failure of neoliberalism.

On the other side of the ledger, nominally social democratic parties nearly all failed the test of the crisis, accepting to a greater or lesser degree to the politics of austerity. Some, like PASOK in Greece, have paid the price in full. Others, like Labor in Australia, are finally showing some spine. In practice, though, social democracy has come to stand, at best, for technocratic managerialism, and at worst for capitulation to the demands of financial capital.

So, I’ve changed the description of this blog’s perspective to socialist. I haven’t however, adopted the formulation “democratic socialist” which was used, in the 20th century, to emphasise a rejection of the Stalinist claim to have produced “actually existing socialism” in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. That’s no longer necessary.

As has been true for most of the history of the modern world, the only serious threat to democracy is now coming from the right. So, it’s important to defend democracy as well as advancing the case for socialism.

Welcome to mailing list subscribers

Here’s the letter I’ve sent to (I hope!) everyone who’s signed up for my mailing list.

Hi everyone,
I’ve now received more than 60 requests to join the mailing list, so I thought I would send a quick note to everyone thanking them for their requests and the kind words many of you have added. I’ll be checking for messages that bounce and I’ll also post on my blog and social media pages so that people who miss out can tell me about it.
My plan at this stage is to send the email once a week on Mondays. I’ll include links to blog posts and tweets, and I have a few other ideas to try out. I’m also open to suggestions, as long as they don’t involve too much work. If you have suggestions, go to my blog johnquiggin.com and post them there, once I’ve put this message up.
Best wishes
John

Mailing list

At the suggestion of Hall Greenland, I’m planning to start a weekly email, with links to stuff I’ve written, and odd bits of news. If anyone would like to receive it, please email me at j.quiggin@uq.edu.au.

Second thoughts

In a recent post, here and on Crooked Timber, I remarked on the fact that hardly any self-described climate sceptics had revised their views in response to the recent years of record-breaking global temperatures. Defending his fellow “sceptics”, Crooked Timber commenter Cassander wrote

When’s the last time you changed your mind as a result of the evidence? It’s not something people do very often.

I’m tempted by the one-word response “Derp“. But the dangers of holding to a position regardless of the evidence are particularly severe for academics approaching emeritus age[1]. So, I gave the question a bit of thought.

Here are three issues on which I’ve changed my mind over different periods

* Central planning
* War and the use of violence in politics
* The best response to climate change
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