Blairism and the War of Persuasion: Labour's Passive Revolution

Blairism and the War of Persuasion: Labour's Passive Revolution

Blairism and the War of Persuasion: Labour's Passive Revolution

Blairism and the War of Persuasion: Labour's Passive Revolution


Tony Blair's use of the state to impose and manage the United Kingdom's global and individual identities, which not only defines New Labour but is doctrine in its own right, is analyzed in this look at the Contemporary Labour Party. Compared to Margaret Thatcher's market-led policies driven by social authoritarianism, Blairism is a political construct that persuades with hopes of social progressivism while maintaining the necessary disciplines of global capital. Showing how Blairism invites trust and advocates dialogue but hollows out party democracy to pursue pre-set objectives, this critique clarifies Blair's agenda in order to contest its forms of passive revolution with active construction of alternatives.


Deborah Lynn Steinberg and Richard Johnson

At the time of writing, we are approaching the completion of a second term of New Labour government in Britain, with a third term very probable. This is a significant cultural moment: the hegemony of the party, of Tony Blair himself and of the modernising project of Blairism are arguably at their least stable, and most unpopular on the domestic front, yet seem secure for the foreseeable future. This security exists against rather daunting odds, threatened not least by what has been widely perceived as an ethical minefield, if not fiasco, with respect to the recent war in Iraq. the contestatory tensions accruing to the Blairite project make this a particularly fruitful moment for reflection on the cultural politics of New Labour.

Following the substantive case studies undertaken by the authors in this collection, several things about the British political landscape become manifestly clear.

First, New Labour has clearly broken the ‘curse’ of single terms of office that haunted ‘old’ Labour. Not only does there continue to be an overwhelming New Labour parliamentary majority, but the possibility of meaningful opposition has been undermined by two key accomplishments of the new politics. One is New Labour’s success at appropriating the political centre, which includes a significant portion of the terrain that used to be dominated by the Conservative Party and, indeed, by the New Right, including: the definition of national morality; the ready deployment of the means to war; the preoccupation with discipline and regulation; and the embracing of market-led discourses and solutions. the second is New Labour’s skilful appropriation of much of the language of progressive liberal traditions, including those that have underpinned the liberal-social democratic alliance (that is, the old centre-left middle ground of British politics). These include their oft-cited preoccupations with social inclusion, community and fairness. This latter phenomenon has been compounded by a long-term contraction and dispersal of both old and new lefts, notwithstanding some arenas of vigorous contemporary revival and emergence. Indeed . . .

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