Labour has lost its identity?

Writing in The New Statesman, Jonathan Rutherford concludes that Labour has lost its identity. The interests and values of the progressive metropolitcal middle classes and the socially conservative working class have diverged so strongly that it’s next to impossible to construct a coalition that includes both. He sees Jeremy Corbyn’s weak leadership as a symptom rather than a cause, and the “dead hand of the 1980s hard left” is merely accelerating the inevitable.

It’s a long article that’s well worth reading in full. Here’s what he says about globalisation, and it’s as much an issue for the Tories as it is for Labour.

The US economist Dani Rodrik describes a “globalisation trilemma”: ‘‘democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full’’. One option is to align democracy with global markets by opting for global federalism. A second is to align the nation state with global markets to pursue global economic integration at the expense of national democracy. Rodrik argues that more globalisation means either less national sovereignty or less democracy.

National sovereignty is an emotive issue, but what does sovereignty really mean for people’s daily lives?

And then he turns to a subject which I’ve covered many times before, and for me represents the core distinction between “progressiveism” and “liberalism”.

Progressive politics has become over-reliant on its abstract values that exist prior to people’s everyday experience and which it superimposes on their lives. The result is a politics of altruism that uses the state to administrate and manage groups of people towards an already defined ideal. Labour must always stand up for the poor and those who suffer injustice, but instead of creating agency in the powerless its mix of paternalism and altruism ends up uncritically favouring minority social groups over the majority and imbuing them with the virtue of victimhood. Disorientated by its own cultural isolation and virtue signalling, Labour no longer knows who or what constitutes the labour interest, nor what the majority of its individuals consider their best interests to be.

I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say this again: The form of identity politics adopted by large parts of “The Left” are a dead end, and fuel the growth of far more unsavoury types of identity politics in response.

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One Response to Labour has lost its identity?

  1. Synthetase says:

    ‘‘democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full’’

    I’m not sure I understand this statement. Global economic integration is merely trade, it doesn’t stop people from making laws governing their own lands. Likewise, making local laws (unless they’re specifically putting up trade barriers) doesn’t really interfere with global trade.

    I guess you could argue that in choosing to enter into greater global economic integration, a country is losing some autonomy (national sovereignty) as it will be required to remove trade barriers, etc, in order to join. But if that decision is made by a democratically elected government, then I really fail to see how it’s antidemocratic or reducing sovereignty. You could make the same argument about signing pretty much any other international treaty. But the purpose of international treaties (as with domestic laws) is that they’re mutually beneficial.