June 28, 2007


It's time to give the Third Way a second chance: Securing greater social justice depends on a strong economy, not the other way round (Anthony Giddens, 28 June 2007, Independent)

The long goodbye is finally over and Britain has a new Prime Minister. Tony Blair is gone. Will his distinctive political philosophy, the Third Way, disappear too?

To answer the question, we have to dispel some of the misunderstandings of what that philosophy was, and is, all about. Nothing much should be read into the term itself. The "Third Way" is a label for the need to update left-of-centre thinking in the light of the big changes sweeping through the world, especially the influence of globalisation.

The "First Way" was the traditional left: traditional social democracy, which dominated political thought and practice in the early post-war period. It was based on Keynesian economics and upon the notion that the state should replace the market in major areas of economic life. That approach foundered as the economy became more globalised and as it came to be recognised that the state is often inefficient and clumsily bureaucratic. The "Second Way" was Thatcherism, or market fundamentalism - the belief that the realm of the market should be extended as far as possible, since markets are the most rational and efficient means of allocating resources.

Thatcherism produced some important innovations and restored British economic competitiveness.

Can't blame the poor guy for wanting to cling to the illusion that he's a man of the Left, but market fundamentalism, of course, preceded socialism and Thatcher and Blair, like Clinton and Bush, represent the Third Way, the use of market mechanisms to provide the social safety net and buffer folks from the depredations of the naked market..

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 28, 2007 7:12 PM

Well no shucks, Sherlock.

That "third way," which someone thinks BJ Clinton thought up had been around since Otto von Bismarck.

It is the left-wing myth, warmed over Karl Marx, actually, that our capitalism is based on grinding the masses into increasing misery. Nonsense-this is a Christian civilization. Pray tell, when or where has this "market fundamentalism" ever obtained?

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 29, 2007 3:17 AM

The same place as socialism was--in the wet dreams of the ideologues.

Posted by: oj at June 29, 2007 6:40 AM