what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The state of the state


I found myself musing (briefly) about the Third Way this morning – thanks to a post which suggested that (a) „the left’s ” thinking about the State had not kept up with recent events and (b) that corporate power was now so great that the state could no longer deliver a decent agenda on social justice.
This is in fact what I was arguing some months back . One of the post’s discussants referred to a 2001 book I had never heard of The Enabling state – people before bureaucracy which turns out to have been an articulation of Third Way thinking partly written by Mark Latham a rather abrasive Leader of the Australian labour Party for a few years from 2003. By then, of course, the concept of the Third Way had flowered and quickly wilted in England (it never caught on in Scotland). During the surfing, I came across a couple of other useful articles – first a good overview of the 3rd way concept – which deserves its place in history Last summer I started Philip Blond’s Red Tory book which then looked as if it might play the same role for David Cameron’s Conservatives in the UK – bit it too has disappeared from sight. A few days I saw a reference to Blue Labour which suggested that someone was up the similar games around the new Leader of the Labour Party. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
The second useful paper was one by Colin Saunders which explored whether we still need the welfare state
Looking at these papers and the material on privatisation of public services brought home to me how sterile is the focus of so much of the public admin literature on organisational structures and management issues. We’re moving deckchairs on Titanic – rather than looking at the key issues of ownership (privatisation, PPP etc)and services (welfare). The British Tories really took the wind out of Labour sails last autumn when they started to talk about letting public officials take over the management of public services. It was shocking how Gordon Brown let the tradition of mutualism wither. This is the debate I would like to get on top of....
It's still very cold here in Sofia (about 6 during the day) - but the morning sun held promise so we ventured forth at 10.00 with our single bike onto the cycle path which quickly took us to Eagles' bridge and the large park which runs alongside the main Boulevard in the direction of Plovdiv. Very pleasant - and we explored the park later in the afternoon.

And back to my book in progress on Bulgarian painting - this is one of the famous ones Boris Denev 1889-1969. Born Veliko Tarnovo; In 1903-1908 he was teacher in drawing in Tarnovo. His first solo exhibition as amateur artist held in Sofia in 1909. From 1909 to 1913 he studied painting under in Munich. As official war artist from 1914, he created battle oil paintings, many sketches and drawings depicting soldiers’ everyday life. His preferences were in the fields of landscape and portrait. He was inspired by the beauty of Melnik, Samokov, Plovdiv and Sofia region.
Stripped of his membership of the Union of Bulgarian Artists for a decade for failure to comply with the cultural norms of the regime until being readmitted in 1956. During this period, he was forbidden from painting in the open air - and had to resort to painting the back of his house! This painting went recently for 1,000 euros

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