Monday, March 07, 2005

Zack Exley, Triangulation and a Blog Row

Various British blogs, especially around Tim Ireland's Bloggerheads, are getting terribly het up about the news that Zack Exley, an internet activist from, has come over to the UK to work on the Labour campaign team. Tim has got to the point of crossing Atrios and the Washington Monthly off his blogroll because they haven't immediately pelted Exley with pigshit, or something. Frankly, I can't see the point.

Yeah, it's too bad he's going to work for Tony Blair. But I'm not sure Atrios or Kevin Drum is actually responsible for that. And I'm also not sure it's as obvious to US Democrats that Blair is a shitbag as it is here. A lot of the left half of the US blogosphere still see New Labour as an example of effective centre-left politics and policy, which should not be surprising given the relative degree of success the two parties have had since 1996. I strongly suspect they haven't really read into Blair's policy very deeply and are under the impression that things must be better because the right party is in charge. Hence, it's a very big leap to suddenly decide that one of their compadres ought to be drowned like a kitten in a sack, or something.

Further, is there any need for a civil war on the Left of the anglophone blogosphere? Haven't we got better things to discuss? If our Number 1 priority is to flame our ideological allies for not being nasty enough to their own, then Nosemonkey will have been damn right when he wrote "UK Blogging - a pointless waste of time?". Can we officially kill this before it gets traction, please?

On the more serious topic of why Democrats still like Tony Blair, I recommend the following post from Talking Points Memo. Josh has this to say about the nature of current politics (edited for brevity)
"But I too think Clintonism is best left in the 1990s. And that's not because I've changed my view of his presidency or his policies. I simply think we were are operating in a profoundly different political moment and that the strategies and tactics that really did make sense then do not make sense now. The key point for me is that the difference is really not at heart an ideological one. And thus, to me, Klein's reference to a 'reactionary left' I think mistakes the point Krugman was making.

I want to leave the longer discussion of this issue to another post. But just to briefly describe what I'm getting at. First, we are now involved in political contests that cut to the very heart of the kind of polity we live in. Many are simply not compromisable. And I don't mean that merely or mainly in the sense that they involve points of principle that can't be compromised. I mean many are literally uncompromisable. They involve basic decisions over which way our society will go. Decisions must be made. When the boat is leaving the dock, at one point you've got to decide: stay on the dock or hop on the boat. It can't be compromised. There has to be a choice."
Exactly. This is exactly what I've been saying for some time - triangulation, the religion of New Labour and the New Dems, is dead. Polarisation is the reality of our times, and the triangulators who are still in power are becoming increasingly incoherent as they struggle to cover increasingly divergent positions. (Look at Blair trying to hammer through control orders and ID cards with one hand and fabbling about childcare with the other.) Just after the US election, I posted here that:
"The reason is that appealing to a centrist majority only works if the majority really is centrist. Look at the election map - doesn't look terribly amenable to compromise, does it? Look at the figures - the focus on so-called "values". These are things people consider to be of identity importance. Principles. You can't be a moderate neo-conservative, and if there's one thing the Republicans showed this time out it's that they understand and embrace and enjoy the era of polarisation we are living in"
I also covered this back here - pity about the title!. Well, it's good that it's soaking through.

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