Thursday, December 31, 2009
The Blair-Mandelson Disease
The "Third Way" in Politics
The definitive history of the so-called "Third Way" in politics has yet to be written. It emerged in the mid 1990's and was supposed to position itself between existing actual conservative neo-liberalism and a non-existent and stereotyped socialism of the past. When that history will be written it will surely be seen as one of the shortest-lived political ideas and, when applied, to have had the most disastrous of consequences.
The openly Third Way politicians - Blair, Schroeder, Clinton, Kok, (Netherlands) D'Alema (Italy) have now gone. The leading Anglo-American academic exponent was Anthony Giddens who gave up being a theoretical sociologist to become a public intellectual promoting the Third Way. In doing so - as is common with this type of trajectory - he diluted the supposed ideals of his original profession, namely to respect evidence, challenge assumptions and properly research those issues of which one has little knowledge.
In September 2006 the British political and satirical magazine Private Eye published a piece about the practice of the Third Way. The hook for the article was the riots in Hungary after the then Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, was quoted as admitting at a party meeting that: "We lied throughout the past one-and-a-half or two years. We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening and we lied at night." Gyurscany had previously, according to the Private Eye, declared himself to be "Hungary's Tony Blair" and had paid for the translation of Giddens' book on the Third Way out of his personal funds.
Not surprisingly in February of 2006 Tony Blair, prime minister of the UK, had flown to Budapest to support Gyurcsany. While this was at the state level Gyurcsany had a non-governmental connection with the Third Way because he, again according to Private Eye, was the Hungarian representative of a Third Way organisation Policy Network. The London-based Policy Network organization was set up in 2000 to promote third-wayish slogans. The founder and honorary chairman of the Policy Network was Third Way advocate Peter Mandelson , now Lord Mandelson, a cabinet member of the Blair government and who had also visited Gyurcsany in Budapest.
The Blair-Mandelson Third Way connection in Hungary was thus established under circumstances of dramatic and negative political effects triggered by the self-declared Third Way politician.
It is now widely recognised that Third Way policies - which promoted privatization, public-private partnerships and increased deregulation - were some of the causes of current political and economic problems. Sometimes the best way to discredit ideas is by ridicule and for this reason the Third Way is here presented as an infectious disease using the standard layout and language of medical text books to describe it, under the heading of "The Blair-Mandelson Disease."
The Blair-Mandelson Disease
Despite its recent appearance in Hungary (see above) the origin of this disease is unknown. It was thought to have originated in the right hand pew of a church during a sermon on "All that is decent".
The Giddens studies which found that the disease originated between extremes and dynamically sought a third way palliative have been discounted. (ed note. The lack of evidence and approved methodology used in these studies has caused some researchers to call for the team to be brought before the ethics committee.)
Symptoms and Signs
The most noticeable symptom is a poly-mendacity which develops into a self-effacing non-response to differential diagnosis. Proxy violence is common in which the sufferer reveals extreme self-righteousness and world-blindness. There is a Spanish variant known at Blair-Mandelson(P) (Portillo) which adds to the common symptoms a scathing contempt for the weaker of the species.
Sufferers first present demanding a stringent ASBO treatment. (Anti-Social Behaviour Order)
Core sufferers appear to secure high profile but temporary positions. From there they spread a mild form of the disease throughout the infected society which results in a collapse of administrations, erroneous amputations, increased functional illiteracy at Universities, proliferation of millionaires cells, large ex gratia transmissions to ancillary sufferers, the development of mafia-type lesions and palpable "scapegoating" (one variant of which is the belief that brown men with moustaches are WMD carriers). The mild form is self-limiting and at the peak the ancillary sufferers shout, demonstrate and burn cars in an apparent attempt to exuviate the core carriers. In industrialized countries this usually means electoral defeat, in transition countries the disease develops either Jeltsin-type symptoms or mutates into a virulent form of centripetal populism.
The disease has been somewhat contained as the result of a more robust immune response manifested in West Europe and a similar, and stronger, anti-body development in Japan.
At time of writing it is thought that the Blair-Mandelson disease, with or without the Portillo variant, will continue to seek opportunistic infections in East Europe.
Without any known vaccines treatment is constrained. The mendacity of core sufferers makes diagnosis and symptom discovery difficult. The mild sufferers are helped by comparing the before and after onset regimes. That the disease is self-limiting means that patients should be isolated until the spasms cease. On no account should positions of responsibility be taken by people who have operated in close proximity with the core sufferers even over the short term.
Sources: Giddens The Third Way and its Critics (Polity Press 2000)
Private Eye, 29 September 2006 (No 1168) page 2
The Merck Manual - various years
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