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December 13, 2011



A good post - thanks.
Modern parties of the Right have a terrible tension built into their ideology. They are committed to economic neoliberalism, which is unwilling and unable to stop undermining traditional values, bent as it is on commodification and extension of the domain of the market via permanent Struggle. So Rightists are doomed never to be able to turn the social clock back unless it suits neoliberal corporate interests - as it does with labour law. At the same time rage is stoked up by the extension of cultural liberalism, which proceeds according to market logic as well as because of what remains of entrenched social democratic ideology and laws. The tension can only be managed - never discharged - by periodic culture wars and outbreaks of near-insane scapegoating. For a vivid display of all this in action, see any edition of the Daily Mail and the psychodrama that is the modern Republican Party.
Whether Cameron can or will permit the rage to build up such that the UK - actually, just England - withdraws from the EU, I doubt. The Eurozone countries are on the face of it trying to construct an economic neoliberal's Utopia, a kind of permanent punishment regime for deficit spenders and would-be social democrats. It's hard to see the City and CBI passing up the chance to take part in all that just to appease the cultural fury of conflicted right-wing English MPs and a third or so of the electorate.

Dick Pountain

Another great post Will. Did you ever read a 2006 NLR piece called "A Lockean Europe?" by Kees van der Pijl? He also located 1973 as the pivotal year, and offers some interesting connections to Daniel Bell, Sam Huntingdon and the Tripartite Commission - a more or less organised offensive against social democracy.


I hadn't been aware of the van der Pijl article - thanks for the recommendation. This whole post is very strongly reminiscent of Daniel Bell's contemporaneous 1970s analyses of "the cultural contradictions of capitalism"...

On the United States, there is also Andreas Killen's rather interesting book, 1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America (2006), which identifies 1973 more widely as the fulcrum of the post-war era.

Dick Pountain

I hadn't come across that but it sounds absolutely essential (I have a bee in my bonnet about Warhol as bellwether of things to come). Will get it, thanks.

Will Davies

Thanks, Boursin and Dick, for the references. Interesting stuff.

Wikipedia also throws up the curiosity that Lyndon Johnson died on the very same day (22nd Jan) that the Roe v Wade ruling was made.


Very interesting post and comments, thank you.

“Britain's membership of Europe, which attracts very little public support…”

I always think there would be much more support for the EU if people realised that a great deal of our law on employment protection derives from EU law. When tories talk out “red tape” and “regulation” they very rarely specify exactly what they are talking about - but what they are referring to is rights and compensation rules on unfair dismissal, redundancy, and obligations in transfer and take-over situations.

Oh, I googled Mr Van der Pil and found this very recent interview:


Dick Pountain

That interview is very good - thanks Micheal

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