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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

ground zero politics « Previous | |Next »
May 15, 2007

The legacy of Tony Blair, the UK Prime Minister, is a strengthening of the centre of government, through the creation of a department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as in Australia, to push through reform. This is not just command and control, as Blair is also associated with a quasi-market approach that works by putting users in the driving seat in education and health whilst ensuring that equity is protected through state regulation. That approach also requires central lead to create quasi markets and regulation.

Peter Brookes

In his farewell speech Tony Blair looked back to when he was elected in 1997 and said:

So 1997 was a moment for a new beginning; for sweeping away all the detritus of the past. Expectations were so high. Too high. Too high in a way for either of us. Now in 2007, you can easily point to the challenges, the things that are wrong, the grievances that fester. But go back to 1997. Think back. No, really, think back. Think about your own living standards then in May 1997 and now. Visit your local school, any of them round here, or anywhere in modern Britain. Ask when you last had to wait a year or more on a hospital waiting list, or heard of pensioners freezing to death in the winter unable to heat their homes.

It is that phrase..."1997 was a moment for a new beginning - the sweeping away of all the detritus of the past" .. that disturbs, especially when the social, economic and political past continues in the present. The past is what is changed it is not liquidated.

The historic inheritance and structure of British politics cannot be "swept away" like so much rubbish in the morning. It is structural. What would replace those political structure of parliament? A "new beginning", like some ground zero that leveled everything into debris? Blair never did anything like that at all. He actually fell back on the old centres of imperial power" such as rule from above, glorification of "hard" power, imperial ambition, corruption.

Liquidation of history is a trait of neo-liberalism isn' t it. Raze the past and start again. It reminds of Descartes who claimed at the beginning of the Meditations that we can destroy everything that came before us and build philosophy anew from the foundations. It's a desire to be found in a lot of philosophers, a desire to get rid of everything and start again. This metaphysics of destruction is a version of modernity and modernism; one that basically says we can destroy and start again.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:54 PM |