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Re the US, the key demographic bias in the support of Sanders is towards the young. Clinton's support among minorities is skewed to older cohorts - i.e. those with something to lose economically as much as in terms of rights. Trump's support (as 2slugbaits notes) is largely mainstream Republicans defending their gains rather than grieving over losses. It is reasonable to expect the young to have a larger appetite for risk than the old, but what also appears to be at work in the Sanders surge is their self-consciousness as losers not only in the present (because of student debt) but in the future too (because of growing inequality and possible automation of whitecollar jobs). Re the UK, it is a commonplace that those who resent immigration are typically those who have been impacted by it the least. Nostalgia isn't a satisfactory explanation as many are living in small towns that have little-changed in decades. One way of explaining this paradox is that they anticipate greater future losses precisely because of the growing gap between their immediate environment and that there London.
Is there any evidence that supporters of Brexit, or Trump, see their preference as risky? (This isn't rhetorical - I genuinely don't know). In other words, are they consciously willing to gamble on the possibility of a large downside because they envisage significant upsides? My unrepresentative anecdata suggests many leavers are determinedly uncalculating. They see this as a free hit rather than a throw of the dice.
@Luis, 1. What qualifies one to be a Tory is a matter of circumstance, affection or feeling (Burke) more than reasoning (Oakeshott). Marxism by definition requires an act of intellectual will. You can be born a Tory but you can't be born a Marxist. 2. You concede amelioration but are sceptical of the possibility of an alternative. In other words, you demand that the critics of capitalism provide what you have already ruled unlikely if not impossible. 3. "Asking what changes would increase the real freedom of working people" is only radical (i.e. unconventional relative to the times) if it offends a centrist (i.e. the conventional). For example, a minimum wage is not radical, but a basic income is (you may not be as much of a centrist as you suppose).
@Luis, 1. You don't need a certificate of authentication to be a Marxist. 2. Making capitalism better is not an alternative to capitalism. 3. A radical centrist is a category error.
Frederic Jameson (a Marxist) famously said "it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism". His sardonic point was that ideology denies the possibility of systemic change, not that alternatives are literally unimaginable or that capitalism isn't vulnerable to criticism. One way this ideology operates is by insisting on a higher threshold of credibility for a utopia than a dystopia. This is now a commonplace of politics. You can see it in the derision of Leave's "vision" (or lack of) and the tolerance accorded Remain's "project fear". This allows for incremental (and decremental) change, but denies the possibility of a fundamental reordering. Ironically, scepticism about utopias owes much to Marxism, which helped replace the linear idea of progress with the dialectical mode of thought. Marxism treats capitalism as a utopia by analysing the gap between what it promises and what it delivers, but concludes that it is potentially dystopian because of its inherent contradictions. Most Marxists are pragmatic rather than prescriptive when it comes to the future, which means their utopias are often banal (see Chris's comment above). Far from rendering their position "not very strong", this actually makes it both feasible and attractive, which is why liberal critiques of Marxism tend to characterise it as a form of mad religion as much as they harp on about Stalin and Mao. The heart of Marxism is scepticism, which is why it is furiously denied.
Someone who struggles to control his emotions tends to see emotional responses everywhere. Similarly, those who believe that the world is "inevitably tragic", as opposed to arbitrary and absurd, tend to be oblivious to comedy. The subject under discussion is the "Nigella Lawson of economics", not a nineteenth century German philosopher.
Tyler Cowen made some interesting observations along the same lines today. "Look at it this way: there is no general case for being the first rat to leave a sinking ship ... Since 'wait and see' is an option, leaving has to be much better than staying, given the mathematics of the expected value of irreversible decisions".
The BBC has a pro-newspaper bias, which has led it to give undue prominence to strongly-voiced opinion relative to facts. This has been exacerbated by social media, which the BBC treats as a form of opinion poll and therefore inherently "balanced", even though much of it is sculpted by newspapers. This bias has two major causes. The politicisation of the structural antagonism between print and screen since the 80s has caused the Beeb to be cautious in criticising newspapers. Compare and contrast its hesitancy over phone-hacking (waiting till others broke the story) with the papers' hounding of the Corporation over Savile. The second cause was the Birt reforms of the 90s, which led to an increase in personnel crossovers from print to screen and back again. BBC "lifers" are almost extinct, hence the reverence for David Attenborough, while TV journalists know that their career prospects require them to maintain friendly relations with newspapers (and other media). I'd suggest that there is a degree of conscious (if reluctant) bias in the Beeb's approach, and not just institutional stupidity.
Toggle Commented May 17, 2016 on Regulation, & BBC bias at Stumbling and Mumbling
There is a wider issue here. Since the 80s, coverage has narrowed in many areas, and not just on the BBC. Industrial correspondents have disappeared, business news is predominantly City news, and the coverage of housing (as news) has largely been reduced to prices and mortgages. Journalistic expertise has narrowed in many more areas than politics. This is both ideological and structural, e.g. the disempowerment of local government has reduced national coverage of regional politics (the North of England has been particularly obscured), while devolution has ironically allowed English audiences to be under-served on Scottish and Welsh politics, with consequences that were only too apparent last year. Much of the difficulty that the Remain campaign currently faces is the result of decades of treating EU news as a matter of elite negotiation. What we're witnessing today is not just the neoliberal emptying of politics and its substitution with gossip and PR, but the product of decades of increasing centralisation and the incapacity of the Commons to act as an effective check on the executive.
Re "Westminster-based political reporting encourages closed hierarchical politics rather than more open egalitarian ones". Hence those whose careers are dependent on insider dealing have cause to resist the "new politics" for reasons other than partisan bias. In other words, the criticism of Kuenssberg should not be that she's a closet Tory but that her "expertise" is too narrow. The reason she is so disappointed that a coup against Corbyn hasn't been launched yet is that she has no real contacts in his camp. This means she becomes less relevant from the perspective of her bosses at the Beeb (who do care about "balance") with every passing week. What will get her the sack is not a petition but Corbyn sticking around. Her frustration is positively Shakespearean.
The problem with the sharp distinction between “what do you think?” and “what do you know?” is that the value of the latter is prioritised and its interpretation easily detached. In other words, "experts" (often white male PPE grads) decide they are better equipped to translate the data of the oppressed into meaningful action. This is the same elitist delusion that lies behind the concept of "Big Data": there is a truth that is accessible only to those able to stand outside the dataset (one thing "windy feminist theory" has going for it is that it is often written by women). As JRG noted above, this will entail other biases.
@Igor, all clubs have the same size squad of 25 (8 of whom must be "homegrown"), though there's no limit on the number of U21 players they can select in addition. The advantage the big clubs have is squad depth, in the sense of more proven quality on the bench. However, the issue with injuries is largely about the balance of the team - i.e. not having to chop and change and try to fit square pegs into round holes. Rotation can be counter-productive. You may recall a fella they named "Tinkerman" at Chelsea a few years back.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2016 on Nobody knows anything at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Luis, Not so much. Many sage heads were predicting at Xmas that Leicester would struggle in the 2nd half of the season because everyone had already played them once and wouldn't be surprised again, but their results remained consistent. There's nothing particularly unusual about their style: defend in depth, break at speed. Stats-wise, they scored fewer than Spurs and Man City and conceded more than Spurs and Man Utd. This suggests efficiency in the sense of not "wasting" goals in big wins, but it also suggests that they got lucky, as they did with injuries.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2016 on Nobody knows anything at Stumbling and Mumbling
One notable thing about Leicester is that they had the oldest squad in the league. Of course, this doesn't in itself mean anything - Spurs had the youngest - but you can see the angle for "the story". I'm sure Golman would have appreciated it: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Some Other Blokes
Toggle Commented May 3, 2016 on Nobody knows anything at Stumbling and Mumbling
I'm pleased to see that the debate has moved on from Hitler to the Enlightenment, which is surely progress. Perhaps we can call it William Godwin's Law.
@smoth, MM said "Labour", without any qualification. Let's be charitable and assume he meant "lefties" (a famously homogeneous group with uniform opinions). My question remains: how did the lefties allow Blair to become a party member, be nominated as an MP and then selected as party leader? The only rational answer, which you hint at in your "anymore", is that the sensibles were gradually supplanted by the lefties. Given that these are different people (otherwise it's a lot of the same people and they've been "radicalised" to a remarkable degree), this would suggest that the party has been subject to an entryist coup on a scale that dwarfs anything in British political history. This theory was debunked by The Guardian (no friend of the left), which found little evidence of far left infilitration but a lot of returnees who had been disillusioned by Iraq and Blair (i.e. people who had been members during Blair's rise to prominence and may well have voted for him). The narrative of entryism explains why "Labour's antisemitism problem" is cast as endemic, when the available evidence suggests it is trivial (see the Stern-Weiner link in the post). Insisting that Labour has been "swamped" or "infected" by an antisemitic left is a way of denying that ordinary party members rejected Blairism. It's evidence of the instrumentalism of a technocratic elite and their denial of agency to party members.
There is certainly truth in your suggestion that the urge to be transgressive has contributed to the use of stupid language on the left, but we should recognise that transgression is relative and can arise through the shifting of boundaries as much as by stepping over them. The interpretation of any criticism of the Israeli state as anti-Zionism, and the conflation of that with anti-semitism, is a political strategy of linguistic manipulation that Orwell would have recognised, even if his self-declared heirs struggle to spot this amidst the darkness. @Matt Moore, "As long as you are a socialist, atheist, anti-imperialist, and anti-Israel then you are accepted". So how did Tony Blair ever become a member?
@Passing By, The original post did not confuse the dismantling of the coal industry with the destruction of mining communities because it only mentioned the latter, not the former. If you mention apples but not organges, you can't be confusing one with the other. "Those mines were grossly uneconomic and closure was long overdue". Had the UK closed all of its mines in the 1950s and 60s, as economic "logic" would have dictated, shifting to reliance on cheaper coal imports and the use of oil and gas, the effects of the oil crisis in 1973 would have been truly catastrophic (many countries shifted demand from oil to coal at the same time, increasing international prices, but most industrial nations had the advantage of domestic coal production to fall back on). Odd though it might seem, the "lights out" of the 3-day week in 1974 was actually a sign of the UK's strategic strength - i.e. its ability to rely on domestic coal. The "weakness" that this entailed was that it gave the NUM enormous leverage, which was the Torie's beef. Of course, it's worth remembering that the NUM had been anything but militant in its history. There were no national strikes between 1945 and 1972, and only 3 in total (1972, 1974, 1984-5). The decision to accelerate the decline of the UK coal industry was political, not economic (see the Ridley Plan of 1977). Privatisation of electricity could not proceed if that industry was tied to coal, and therefore limited in its ability to increase margins through supply abritrage, not to mention potentially at risk of industrial action. Destroying the NUM, which inevitably meant destroying or at least undermining coal-mining communities, was central to this. "First, the preceding Labor governments did not close the mines when they should have done". Not so. Mines were closed under all postwar governments. This was a cross-party policy. The idea that 1984-5 was somehow the fault of Labour is akin to blaming the 2008 financial crash, the subsequent recession and the resulting spike in government debt on Gordon Brown (go on, you know you want to). "Second, the miners themselves, through their union (NUM), did not use the considerable economic and political strength they had to negotiate transition packages for unneeded miners". Again, not so. The NUM cooperated in the strategy of managed decline from 1945 on. The strikes in '72 and '74 were over wages (which had fallen in real terms relative to other workers due to inflation), not pit closures or redundancies.
So, israeli gunner, what you're saying is that we need to show more passion? That only through a commitment to FIGHT can we BRING OUR CLUB BACK from wherever it has temporarily disappeared to down our MISERABLE TUNNEL, yes? Let me think about that for a minute. In the meantime, on behalf of everyone, I'd like to thank you for your timely and cogently-argued contribution Your fallow gunners
Toggle Commented Apr 29, 2016 on On obliquity neglect at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Passing By, You're confusing the dismantling of the coal industry with the destruction of mining communities. They're not the same thing. The biggest reduction in employment in coalmining occured over the course of the 1960s, but no one sees that as being destructive in the way that the smaller reduction in the 1980s was. The point at issue was not the destination (coal had been in "managed decline" since WW1), but the route taken. In other words, the manner in which pit closures were accelerated for political rather than economic reasons (related to electricity privatisation and the "dash for gas" as much as outright class hatred), and the inadequate support offered to the communities in terms of new jobs and retraining (this was largely left to the magic of the "market" with predictable consequences). The idea that the closure of the coalfields was inevitable, so no blame can be attached to those who did the closing, is just a variant on "there is no alternative". There was an alternative in the manner in which the industry was wound down and in the attitude of disregard displayed by the Thatcher government.
@Neil, One thing that many football fans were conscious of in the 70s and 80s was that they were indulging in a theatre of internecine warfare - i.e. attacking each other, even if only verbally - beneath the gaze of their class "betters" in the Chairman's box and the more expensive seats. The problem wasn't that the Tories were elsewhere, but that they were in the ground. That's why there was a grassroots revulsion in the 80s against hooligans as provocateurs playing into the hands of authoritarians (naturally the media rarely reported crowds booing pitch-invasions or rucks), which led to the increasing politicisation of fans through supporters' groups and fanzines and a growing concern with material issues from safety to ownership and prices. Tories don't talk about class in the same way that the Queen doesn't carry any money. Pretending that something is irrelevant (or quaintly harmless) is a way of avoiding challenge. Their studied indifference is the product of years of expensive education and repressive socialisation. And for the record, Germans love playing England at football and are sufficiently rivalrous to have nicked the "Three Lions" song. You have mistaken the xenophobic shit pushed by British tabloids (which doesn't really have a German equivalent, even in Bild) for the mutual respect between fans in the two countries. See the recent Liverpool-Borussia Dortmund tie for ample evidence.
Spot on, Chris. I'd add a couple of thoughts. The idea that football crowds have shifted in composition from working class to middle class since the early 90s is overplayed, in part by a media still wedded to homogenised caricatures (from thugs to prawn sandwich-eaters). As the evidence of the Hillsborough inquest made clear, the "animalistic" fans on the day included off-duty doctors and police officers who tried to help the injured. You can expect there were plenty of other less relevantly-skilled professionals there too. All seater stadia, higher prices and football tourism have nudged attendance at grounds higher up the social scale since then, however I don't think this has been as significant as many people think. The idea that working class fans are to be found in pubs watching Sky while the grounds are full of bankers and lawyers is just another caricature, and one that still emphasises the boozing of the proles. If anything , class prejudice is less overt today. For most of the 80s, LFC fans were greeted at away grounds with the "In your Liverpool slums" chant. The central scandal has not been the lying brutality of the police (as you note, that had already been established in court), but the reluctance of successive governments to show empathy towards the justice campaign while glibly associating with the sport as it became fashionable, from John Major enjoying the hospitality of Ken Bates, a man who wanted to erect electrified cattle-fences at Stamford Bridge, to Tony "keepy-uppy" Blair responding to the request to reopen the Hillborough case with "Why? What is the point?". Today we have a PM who can't remember which claret and blue side he is supposed to support. Class matters.
@Jim, "My system works ... by making welfare less psychologically attractive. The daily payments could be made relatively financially attractive, precisely because getting them would be a pain in the arse." You're essentially reviving the less eligibility principle and the workhouse. In other words, you are advocating real discomfort (not figurative "pain") as a quid pro quo for benefits. But why should someone who has worked solidly for 10 years, and paid their taxes in full, be obliged to suffer this discomfort, even temporarily, due to the decision of an employer to make a job redundant?
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2016 on Why not full employment? at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Jim, You say, back in the day "the dole ... had negative social connotations and wasn't as generous". Unemployment Benefit in 1979 was 21% of average wages while JSA today is 11%. In terms of stigma, I think you'll find that the relentless propaganda of tabloids and TV since the 80s has made benefits less "socially acceptable", not more. @Bob, You say, "a living wage job ... sets a wage floor whilst giving the private sector an incentive to automate away jobs". Nope. The private sector is actually incentivised to maintain shit jobs, paid for by the state, whose labour product they can take a cut of, even if only in the form of a management fee - see A4e.
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2016 on Why not full employment? at Stumbling and Mumbling
The irritation of the economists is misplaced. I suspect Chris is making a joke here at the expense of Mervyn King, a man whose view of the world was heavily influenced by having to deal with idiots like Fred Goodwin and who then found himself faced (albeit briefly) with idiots like Randy Lerner and Joleon "a weight off our shoulders" Lescott. Despite Chris's claim that "this is not an idiosyncratic example", I think most people would concede that the peculiarities of remuneration in the banking and football industries cannot easily be explained by mainstream economics, though political economy (specifically public choice theory) makes a decent fist. Chris makes the point about bankers being overpaid to prevent stealing. I'd add that footballers' wages (treated as a package with transfer fees) can be thought of as an indirect form of voting - i.e. an expression of supporter preferences - which is why low-paid fans demand that the board "spend some bleedin' money". Villa's problem is that the fans think they're being denied this voice, through Lerner's reluctance to spend at what they consider the "right" level for a club of its pedigree (it's wage-bill is 12th out of 20), hence they have headed for the exits (a la Albert Hirschman).