Matt has raised an


Matt has raised an interesting point: New Labour is to the right of Old Labour in relative terms, but in absolute terms, it is to the left of the New Democrats in the US. Thus, Matt says, why does the DLC and other New Democrats embrace Blair and New Labour and folks like the old guard at the American Prospect have its reservations?

My first instinct is to say, well England is England and the US is the US; chalk up their individual positions to their unique political cultures and history. But, it wouldn’t be so bold to attack the very premise of Matt’s argument: is New Labour really to the “left of mainstream thinking inside the Democratic party?” Read its latest manifesto. All things being equal (because it still is another country), what in it couldn’t conceivably been uttered by Bill Clinton -– or Joe Lieberman? Just because Britain has nationalized health care and stronger unions, it doesn’t mean that it’s a socialist paradise. Couldn’t it be said that New Labour is to the right of the mainstream thinking inside the Democratic Party?

The thing to remember is that the main dividing line between New Labour and New Democrats and the more recalcitrant portions of their respective parties is a realization that the industrial age has come and gone and that we now live in a interdependent world which demands different policy responses in order to live up to the values of fairness, equality, opportunity, etc. that progressives cherish. If you drill down past the name-calling and the various issue positions, at the root of the divide is that New Labour and New Democrats are people on the left who have come to terms with -– and even embraced — the market. In Britain, this entailed a more drastic break (one that culminated in the Labour Party repealing its Clause IV which called for the nationalization of the means of production). In both countries, it has resulted in a shift in how government provides for its citizens -– namely, finding ways to help people get what they need to compete in the global marketplace and using the power of the market to achieve social ends.

I don’t want to go on and on and on about this, and before the “netroots” starts burning my digital likeness in effigy, let me say that there is a lot more to say about this as it relates to foreign policy, domestic policy, and political strategy. That said, check out the relevant books on the topic: Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw’s Commanding Heights (which lays out the history of the rise of the market), Andrei Cherny’s The Next Deal (which only gets more relevant as time goes on), and although I have yet to read it, Thomas Friedman’s latest, The World is Flat, I am sure has a lot to say about this.