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26 May 2005


Mrs. Peperium

Remember several years ago when the heat wave struck France during the National Holidays? Families left their older relatives at home and never thought to place a call home to see how Grandmama, Grandpapa or Aunt Janine were surviving the heat. When they returned home, they were all in a later stages of decay. Somehow this ties into what you are saying.


The girl won American Idol, right?

I know there was a lot behind the post, which is why I asked. For me, the basic weakness of European social democracy is in its need to find a materialist ground for the common good (which we agree is necessary for politics), which might've worked if Marx had been right but in a world where capitalism is all there is...

Re Europe's greater tendency to redistribution, there's a lot to unpick. That starts with the lack of an individualist-liberal tradition (remember, Bismarck founded the welfare state) which alters not only the basis for social policy but also the commercial culture. The attitude to immigrants has, in the postwar era, also been very different - for much of the EU, allowing immigrants had certain attachments to post-colonial guilt for some time.

Post-socialism, my feeling is that redistribution is driven primarily in Europe by aesthetic preference. No European country has in recent years made a substantial shift in favour of income redistribution - there is no fervour for it.

That is (coming back to your point) part and parcel of the paradox of European social democracy at the end of History. A politics driven by an economic notion of the common good (socialism) now has no tools to advance its cause, and so palliates the harshness of capitalism only by social liberation. As a consequence, it further undermines any notion of the common good on which it rests - creating a coarsened, resentful society with the backlash of which you speak.

Therefore, it is not so much the appeal to the Other that causes the backlash as the fact that the only tools social democrats now have (social liberation and anti-nationalism) undermine the sense of togetherness that's necessary for including the Other. So I guess we come to the same position, if maybe through different thought processes.

And I, at least, read this blog for substance. Oh, and frivolity, too.


By the bye, been told I can get free entry to the Tate galleries in London when you're over here, if I pretend to be my mate.


Free entry to the Tate galleries? When I want to go to the Tate Modern (read, never, although I have a great story about my one visit) I usually puke on myself and pretend I'm a piece of art. I never went to the straight-up Tate galleries.


Tate Britain apparently has a display on of Joshua Reynolds portraits. Anyway, a little bit of engagement with the enemy can be good for you. Homeopathic cultural politics, call it.

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