Monday, 2 December 2013

Onward Into the POO

Slightly ashamed that I haven't written anything for this blog for some six months, but the current state of UK politics is so depressing that I don't feel obliged to offer much else in the way of excuse. Anyway, here's a small philological contribution just to keep it rolling.

In a thoughtful essay on the openDemocracy website Professor Cas Mudde recently analysed the prospects for a return to social democracy in Europe. He was not optimistic, expressing a view that "(Real) social democracy is not just unknown to several generations of voters, but it is contradictory to their individualist or ethnicized worldview", a case for which he offered several strong arguments.

I commented on his essay to say that a major part of the problem was the refusal of the rump of New Labour to even utter the words "social democracy". Here's an extract from my comment:

"I believe a crucial first step is purely semantic: getting people to even use the words 'social democrat', which Labour Party people will tie themselves in knots to avoid saying. The fact that for those 30 successful years following WW2 most of Europe and the USA were social democracies *in effect*, though not in name needs to be better explained. The difference between social democracy and authoritarian state socialism needs to be resurrected and preached in non-technical language, since few to the left of Labour appear to understand it. Even Russell Brand's recent quasi-anarchistic TV outburst was couched in a rhetoric that rejected representative democracy and hinted at coercive expropriation - oppositional youth nowadays appear drawn to the worst of anarchism in unholy mixture with the worst of state socialism."

As a sometime dictionary author I'm greatly impressed by the power of language and the need for accurate nomenclature. As well as restoring the meaning and usage of the term "Social Democracy" we need some equivalent that describes the form of wonky capitalism that's been sprouting in the post-2008 epoch in the UK, USA and Europe. I suggest that a suitably descriptive term would be "Property-Owning Oligarchy", or POO for short.

Oh, and a Merry Christmas to one and all!

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