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!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How do we know what we think?


I notice that I have recently started to use the phrase „corporate interests” – as in "politics in deep thrawl to corporate interests”. I generally don’t like politically-loaded words since, as Orwell memorably expressed it, they so quickly lead to the death of thinking and the tyranny of words and slogans. It also means that we alienate others and end up talking only to those who agree with us. So why have I started to use the phrase – and what exactly do I mean by it?
It started, I suppose, when I first realised the extent to which both the media and political parties have been penetrated by multi-national business money and its perspectives.
It was obvious from the beginning that New Labour policies were shaped to keep the party safe from the attacks of the Rupert Murdoch media empire – but the infamous Bernie Ecclestone scandal at the very start of New Labour rule in 1997/8 was a shock to many (demonstrating so vividly how business people could purchase policy and access to legislative power – on the American model). But I suppose I thought this was just a bit of anglo-saxon distinctiveness.
As, however, other governments followed the path of neo-liberalism - and money and greed became more respectable, scandal after scandal followed (eg Enron). The global financial meltdown opened everyone’ s eyes – not only to the immorality of the big players but their utter shamelessness. And the growing centralisation of the media – and its unreliability – has also hit me hard recently. When I developed my type of gentle socialism (under the influence of Tony Crosland’s writings of the late 1950s and 1960s) we really did have a "mixed economy”. Power was reasonably balanced then in the UK (and the rest of Western Europe) between the various forces of labour and capital – and capital was not so monolithic. The word "„corporate” is another word for multinational (or big) business – and my use of the phrase "corporate interests” was shorthand for my disgust for the extent to which such corporate power is now, literally, out of control.
And its grip of the media means that the onus is on those of us object to the imbalance to demonstrate how little competition actually exists now in huge swaithes of the "market” at whose alter we are all supposed to worship. I’ve mentioned already on the blog a couple of recent publications which have exposed the extent of big business influence on the EU - Bursting the Bubble (Alter EU 2010); and Backstage Europe; comitology, accountability and democracy (2010) by Gijs Jan Brandsma.
Today I came across a summary of an academic treatment of the subject – Quiet Politics and Business Power – corporate power in Europe and Japan.
This is on Daniel Little’s excellent blog – and the article led me on to a previous post of his which is very important in answering the basic question of „how we actually know that things work the way in society that we think?”

The Guardian has an interesting piece about a new European left initiative. But I'm not holding my breath!

And, at last, we have one of the female Bulgarian painters represented! This is one of my favourites - Alexandra Mechkuevska who painted mainly in the 1930s and 1940s(I have two of hers). Not one of her best - but too few of the paintings I show have figures!

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