Managerialism vs Innovation – “Does management’s pursuit of efficiency crowd out innovation?” asks Chris Dillow, wondering if creating small productivity gains through managerialist efficiency is driving out bigger gains that can be made through innovation.
On politics and the ‘common’ – Alex Marsh on the changing style of political rhetoric and what it shows about our political culture.
A world without work – How might we adapt to an automated future?
I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery. – People really don’t understand the past, part 94.
London 2025 – How the city is becoming just another meaningless point for the globetrotting hyper rich, content to live from the spoils of corruption elsewhere.

, , , , , , , ,

Worth Reading 175: The end of Abraham

The medieval ‘New England’: a forgotten Anglo-Saxon colony on the north-eastern Black Sea coast – A fascinating piece of history: did post-Norman Conquest exiles from England end up establishing a Nova Anglia in the Crimea that lasted for at least two centuries?
Lib Dem runners up: Just how bad things are – In case you’d forgotten just how deep the hole is.
The case against Directly-Elected Executive Mayors – How the Government’s plans for devolution are undermining local democracy.
Clapping, as a cure for impotence – Philip Cowley on the SNP’s new role in Westminster.
Politicians, markets and the Which? magazine strata – Alex Marsh on politicians misunderstanding markets: “To fail to recognise that markets are social structures, and that the state has a fundamental role in shaping a successful market economy, is an analytical disaster.”

, , , , , , ,

Lib-Dem-logoTim Farron’s given an interview to the Independent outlining more of his vision for the Liberal Democrats if he’s elected leader, the gist of which is in this quote:

“You need to motivate people. People vote for a political party because of what is in their wallet or issues that they weigh up in their head. But you join a political party because something gets you in your gut and it’s time we went out there and got people in their gut.”

It tied in with a thought I had reading this post by Alex Marsh earlier. The problem we’ve had – and it’s exemplified by the General Election manifesto – is that we’ve made liberalism look like a list of policy demands rather than an idea. That’s why the Economist can make the bizarre claim that the Tories have “swallowed much of the (Liberal Democrats’) ideology” when they’ve merely dropped their objection ot a few liberal social policies like same sex marriage, while remaining fundamentally illiberal and authoritarian.

When we identify liberalism as nothing more than a set of policies (whether those policies come from centrism or anywhere else) we make it easier for others to adopt a figleaf of liberalism by borrowing those policies while ignoring the ideas that drive them. David Boyle makes the point here that we’ve often chosen “an ecstacy of positioning rather than saying anything clearly at all”. If we let people think that liberalism means “whatever is in the centre ground at the moment” then we shouldn’t be surprised when people claim there’s little need for a liberal party when everyone else is fighting over the political centre. Indeed, we shouldn’t be surprised about our election performance when we define ourselves solely in terms of what other parties are and what we’re not.

That’s why what Tim Farron is proposing for the party is important, and why I’m supporting him for leader. We can’t just be a party that talks about individual policies, we have to be one that links those policies to a liberal vision and liberal values and that’s something Tim does brilliantly. A party that exists solely as a Parliamentary think tank that puts forward a few policies that may or may not be adopted be other parties isn’t one that’s going to have a long existence in the current climate. We might have survived like that when politics was less fragmented, but now there are plenty of other parties for people to choose from, and we have to be the party at the head of a liberal movement.

This will be a new direction for the party, because it’s not just in the last five years that we’ve often retreated to the comfort zone of talking about policy rather than pushing liberal values. If we’re going to recover and grow, we need to show that we’re not just promoting certain policies because they’re good ideas but because they’re linked to our liberal vision and ideology and so if they support one of our policies they’ll like the rest as well. If we don’t make the case for liberalism, no one else will, but they’ll happily brand some form of pseudo-liberalism as the the real thing and claim that real liberalism isn’t needed any more.

, , ,

Worth Reading 172: Rocky Mountain Rangers

Who are the Left? – With demonisation of ‘the Left’ ready to take on again, here’s a handy guide to working out which type of Leftie you are.
What Kind of Leader Do the Lib Dems need? – Tom King looks over the history of Nick Clegg’s leadership before revealing his choice for the future.
Norman Baker looks back over his political career and says farewell after losing his seat last week.
British bill of all kinds of wrong – Alex Marsh on the Tory attitude to human rights. “How many lives in the UK will be improved by the Government’s crass, populist approach to human rights? Very likely none. How many lives globally have already been, indirectly, negatively affected by its stance? Quite possibly thousands.”
The new “skew” of the electoral system in 2015 – Single Member Plurality (or First Past The Post, though no one ever knows where the post is) is a really bad and unrepresentative electoral system, that people study to work out just how unrepresentative it is. Who’d have guessed?

, , , , ,

Worth Reading 159: You can’t checkout from here

Times Like These – Flying Rodent argues that we take the Times far too seriously – indeed, the fact that its habitual grovelling to power isn’t a national joke says a lot about us as a nation.
A different cluetrain – Charles Stross on some of the factors that will drive the politics of the future.
The history of a political surge – A Green perspective on the processes that have driven the recent growth in that party’s membership.
Disaster – Simon Wren-Lewis on the economic hole we’re currently in, and not showing any signs of climbing out of.
Has The Good Right got it right? – Alex Marsh on the latest (though oddly pre-election, not post) manifesto setting out yet another new direction for conservatism.

, , , , , , ,

Worth Reading 156: Gongs per day

Anti-Business – Chris Dillow on why being ‘anti-business’ isn’t a bad thing, and the difference between business and markets.
Universal Basic Income as the Social Vaccine of the 21st Century – An interesting new way of thinking about the idea of basic income.
The narrow politics of slogans and symptoms – Alex Marsh follows on from one of my posts and looks at the lack of content behind the slogans.
The tyranny of the short-term: why democracy struggles with issues like climate change – Not sure how much of this I agree with, but an interesting look at some of the problems with our current mode of democracy.
The mystery of Mingering Mike: the soul legend who never existed – Fascinating tale of a made up musical career that’s now an art exhibition.

And as a visual bonus, take a look at this graphic of exploration in the Solar System.

, , , , , , ,

Worth Reading 133: the last Discovery

Why Vote Liberal Democrat? – Alex Marsh has read Jeremy Browne’s latest book. It’s fair to say he’s not impressed.
How long would it take us to put people on the moon? – Andrew Ducker asks a question I’ve wondered about before, but unlike me, he gets answers.
The Status Quo Is Not a Neutral Position: Fiction and Politics – ” I expect these folks who think pure genre fiction is free from politics think we should just write about a post-racial capitalist utopia, where men are men and women are women. Because writing such a thing is not a statement of politics or morals or values, but of cold, objective fact.”
Politics – why can’t we admit mistakes? – Paul Bernal asks, though I don’t think anyone’s yet found the answer, or an alternative.
Why have the Conservatives not published their “Bill of Rights” proposals? – “The Conservatives do not really want to know what you think about abolishing the Human Right Act and they do not want you to have access to their plans, independent of any media outlet; the Conservatives instead care more about what the Press thinks and what the Press will tell you to think.”

, , , , , , ,