Patience, Allan: It’s time for new politics

Allan Patience

It’s time for new politics‘, Pearls and Irritations, 12 June 2017

Looks at the recent success of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn and detects the fall of old politics and the rise of new. Only by implication are there references to Australia – except for one comparison of UKIP and PHON – but the implication is clear.

Old politics is the product of an entrenched political class most noteworthy for its intellectual mediocrity and ideological dogmatism. This lacklustre lot has been monopolizing all the systems of representative government in all the so-called “advanced economies” for many decades now. The men and women across the various dysfunctional parliaments in the West have mostly been recruited via party machines run by back-room apparatchiks and spin-doctors. Or they are serial opportunists manipulating electoral systems for their own cynical ends …

Sanders and Corbyn instinctively understand that old politics is a form of political death for those who are not its immediate beneficiaries – and that means most of us. It has run its course. They are alert to the fact that a new politics is needed if the West’s so-called democracies are going to survive and become part of a cosmopolitan and cooperative global community.

New politics will require political leaders who can bring the untamed beast of globalization under control. It will need to harness the miracles of modern technology to guarantee the wellbeing of everyone – not (to borrow Corbyn’s apposite slogan) “the few.”

Patience quotes Wilkinson and Pickett (The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger) on the possibility of building ‘a more equal society in which people are less divided by status and hierarchy; a society in which we regain a sense of community, in which we overcome the threat of global warming, in which we own and control our work democratically as part of a community of colleagues, and share in the benefits of a growing non-monetized sector of the economy’. Carmen Lawrence, in her chapter in The Honest History Book, also draws links between equality and the strength of societies.

A related Pearls and Irritations article from Allan Patience is here; he argues for the need to disrupt the failed neo-liberal agenda. A rejuvenated union movement has a particular role to play.

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