If only such voices as that of Lord Maurice Glasman received a hearing in today’s Democratic Party. According to this remarkable article in the Guardian, Glasman has the ear of Labour’s leader Ed Miliband in urging an alternative direction for Britain’s Left – one that he calls “radically traditionalist.” According to the article, Glasman “is making a plea for rootedness, an organic rather than an atomised society, the reassertion of place and identity, and the re-creation of a society founded on stable work, or as he prefers to call it ‘vocation’ – a key word in his lexicon.” He is urging adoption of significant reductions of immigration (which he believes suppresses the wages of lower income workers and which he understands to be a policy of “the bosses’ agenda that overwhelmingly benefits the highest earners).” More broadly, he seeks to recommend policy that places a central focus on “rootedness” – particularly the contributions of those seeking stable work in support of families and communities – and not itinerancy, as current policy throughout the West now favors. In his critique of the free market ideology that pervades the thinking of today’s elites – whether on the Left or Right – one hears distinct and definite echoes of G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc.

What’s all the more striking is how similar many of Glasman’s arguments are to those of Phillip Blond. While Blond has the ear of Tory’s PM Cameron (now in a bit of trouble), Glasman is the “conversation partner” of Labour’s Miliband. If the spectrum of political possibilities in England looks more attractive than that in the U.S. today, perhaps there is yet hope for the FPR agenda on this side of the pond.

(h/t Rod Dreher)

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  1. “Indeed, things sound hopeful over there.”

    A voice crying out in the wilderness, and “things sound hopeful”?? Hope springs eternal from the most meager of rations. Not unlike the optimist who fell ten stories calling out at each window bar, “alright so far”

  2. I know, I am probably a little bit overly optimistic. But the willingness to say such things is something that would be difficult over here.

  3. Lord Glasman (MP) reminds me a bit of Dr. Paul (MC), which can be both good and bad. On balance, I think both have a lot of interesting things to say. Too, both ought to be careful not drift too far into class warfare (or at least that which might be interpreted as such).

  4. While I agree with Lord Glasman’s general sentiment, the severe restrictions on immigration scare me (while low skilled labor replaces the jobs of low skilled labor, I’ve been reading plenty of evidence lately that skilled labor increased American jobs). Of all he says, what has the most rhetorical force, I imagine, is the line drawn between us and the outsiders. Does the political viability of localism have to rely on such a precarious (Palin-esc?) and almost virulent sentiment? If so, how many other positives are we undermining? And in general, it seems converts are often those with the strongest faith.

  5. Barry McCain,
    We are in a condition of de facto “class warfare,” if by that you mean that one class controls the levers of political and economic power to dominate another class. One need only recall the more obvious manifestation of “socialism for the rich” that was brought fully into the open in recent years. It is only when those being gutted seek to tilt the balance that we suddenly hear denunciations of “class warfare,” a phrase that hardly describes what’s being proposed. If a system that is now arranged to benefit deracinated members of the “creative class” is not, by current definition, “class warfare,” then neither would be a system that sought to benefit small, local, widely distributed ownership of productive capital. Funny how it’s only considered “class warfare” when the concentrated wealth and power of a small group of rent-seekers is questioned.

    I submit that if we truly seek to avoid outright class warfare, we’d best work hard to enact policies that support rather than further decimate the middle class and working poor. It’s time to discard the tired accusation of “class warfare,” and the tired mythos that everyone has a fair shake in America today.

  6. Matt,

    I’m not wholly convinced one way or the other about the veracity of various immigration claims (I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle, which would favor a limited immigration influx), but what’s refreshing to me is someone on the Left raising questions about the impact of immigration on the low-wage labor market. What prominent politician on the Left today is willing to raise such questions – the Party that purportedly represents the interests of the dispossessed?

    But I think you’re right that the more insistent question is that of membership and belonging, a question that is largely off the table for members of every party today, except when it’s applied to a vague national membership. If we exclude the legitimacy of inside/outside distinctions, then ultimately the nation itself must be seen as illegitimate. I think it’s the view of many people here that sub-national memberships are also legitimate, and Glasman’s arguments on behalf of more local solutions and settlements would be a consequence of recognizing that legitimacy. This would be an actual manifestation of “multi-culturalism” and “diversity” which is on the lips of every elite, if not in their practice. However, to have legitimacy and vesting, the default needs to move away from wanton mobility and toward membership and belonging in those communities.

  7. Mr. Deneen,

    I agree with much of what you say. My chief fear is that the term “rich” is applied too broadly, so as to include “anyone with more money than me”. True enough, “socialism for the rich” is a real problem, and there are many rich “elites” who abuse their power. The trick will be, of course, preventing abuse without stiffling (or penalizing) hard work and industriousness.

  8. NJR,
    Wow, that was quick. Thanks for the link.

    I don’t doubt that Glasman went too far in public statements, as he acknowledges in the addendum to this piece. However, it seems clear to me that mainstream neo-liberals got frightened by the traction of someone who acknowledges such influences as “Aristotle, Miles Davis, Aldo Moro, Lionel Messi and the Pope.” The wagons were immediately circled, with requisite feminist accusation and all.

  9. “Their view is the Blue Labour brand is now too contaminated to continue with the project in its present form. They still hope it will be possible to salvage some of the ideas and themes…”

    God forbid the citizenry carefully hear, read, and consider the nuances, advantages, and distadvantages of a given politics and policy. How could anyone live a life worth living without the insdiously helpful crutch of “branding”?

  10. What is fascinating to me is that Immigration is and will always be a prudential political decision; it is (or ought to be) possible to advocate for “none, some, lots, or all” under changing circumstances, locations, or times and not run afoul of immutable first principles.

    The fact that it now has the appearance of a first principle only makes me wonder which *real* first principle(s) are they really defending? I can only assume that Lord Glasman’s compatriots (heh, Peers?) are irrevocably bound to hear any discussion of immigration as code (or the vernacular Dog Whistle) of racism now and forever.

    The speed at which his project was executed makes one wonder whether he also had the bad form to attempt to discuss homosexual immigration.

  11. Someone says something beyond the constraints of conventional wisdom and so the gatekeepers pronounce any dealings with them to be “untenable”. As if the entire farrago of current totalitarian politics are not well beyond the frontiers of “untenable” already.

    No, in Britain and America alike, the politician is advised to recite chapter and verse of musty platitudes fixating upon circumstances three decades….at lest, out of date.

    Needless to say, the current crop of self-esteeming sots think debate is kryptonite. After all, those who might not agree with you are obviously seriously deranged. The Soviets might have collapsed under the weight of their dodgy rhetoric some time ago but an Iron Curtain of The Mind continues to throw up all manner of barricades.

  12. Only to be considered on “this side of the pond” with a soft touch of the federal government and the strong grip of the states and counties.

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