Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, July 04, 2018
 
Pro-business socialism

Democracies have a certain tendency to slowly swing between values that are traditionally attributed to "the right", and values that are attributed to "the left". Many countries over the last century had both left-wing and right-wing parties in government, with swings sometimes happening faster, sometimes slower. But values aren't the only factor that can cause swings. Money is also a big factor, especially in a world where media have influence and advertising is effective.

Traditionally the effect of money was helping the right-wing parties. In many countries over many decades the right-wing parties stood for an alliance of business interests and conservative values. Policies like deregulation pleased both business and conservatives for different reasons. In the 80's the right fought for privatization, while the left stood for an outdated model of nationalization.

However, somewhere in "center-right" territory there is a spot where conditions for business are optimal. Move further to the right, and politics become more and more harmful to business. Business loves globalization, while further to the right politics become nationalist. So if you keep up with the news this year, you will notice that business leaders are far from happy with the policies of right-wing governments all over the world. Business isn't happy with Brexit, business isn't happy with tariffs, and business doesn't like to be told where they can build their factories. In a globalized world, business can "shop" for the country with the lowest taxes or lowest environmental regulations or lowest labor cost. " First" doesn't fit very well with that.

In the end a center-left government can be more business friendly than a far right one. A right-wing party in government moving further to the right leaves a lot of empty room in the center, which is ripe for the taking. Whether the right-wing people then claim that the left are all socialists has no effect on businesses, who vote with their wallet, not their emotions. A few environmental and worker protection laws would be way cheaper than a government trying to reverse globalization. I bet that in the coming years business will be increasingly supporting left-wing parties, because in the end those are more pro-business than the populist right-wing parties.

Comments:
Theoretically correct. The problem with it is creating a left-center party is almost impossible because its own activists drag it further left. Joe Crowley was a politician who fits perfectly to your "center-left business-friendly globalist". The keyword is WAS, as he lost his seat to a 28 years old self-declared socialist who demand healthcare for all, government jobs for all unemployed and other standard socialist stuff.
 
What's happening in Australia is that the anti-regulation/pro-business 'right' is doing whatever the hell benefits business, and using that sweet donation money to convince the socially-conservative, isolationist, nationalistic bigots that they're... well. NOT hippie progressive socialist lefties, ergo not the enemy. This buys the votes of a massive socially-conservative base, while enacting policy that is directly against their interests. When the effects of this policy is felt, the left are blamed for that one time a decade ago when they were in power. "Years of government and we're STILL cleaning up the previous previous previous government's mess! That doesn't mean we're incompetent or in any way responsible for part of it, but that the mess was seriously THAT BAD." (And other accusations which don't stand up to even the slightest fact-based scrutiny. We live in a post-truth world.)
 
@Tobold

As Gevlon said, a left-center government is pretty much a utopia, as the radical left elements will always drag the 'median' more and more towards the left. Also, the left is still mostly uniform in the west, encompassing a wide range of the political spectrum, while the right has started to distance itself from the extreme radical-right elements. Which is also a factor on why it's a lot easier to implement a center-right government that is pro-business while also encompassing some socialist elements. In your initial post you assume that the moderate-right parties have all died down, and only the far-right is left, which is completely false.

@Cam

"What's happening in Australia is that the anti-regulation/pro-business 'right' is doing whatever the hell benefits business, and using that sweet donation money to convince the socially-conservative, isolationist, nationalistic bigots that they're... well. NOT hippie progressive socialist lefties, ergo not the enemy. This buys the votes of a massive socially-conservative base, while enacting policy that is directly against their interests."

This reads as if you're saying that this "massive socially-conservative base" (massive implies even a majority) is made up of "isolationist, nationalistic bigots". If this is the rhetoric that the left is using, then it's no wonder people are turning away.
 
In your initial post you assume that the moderate-right parties have all died down, and only the far-right is left, which is completely false.

No, I assume that the moderate right parties are pulled to the far right, which is completely correct. Examples are the US Republicans, the UK Tories, the German CDU/CSU, Poland, Hungary, Italy, and the list goes on and on. I don't think that the right has any better chance against being pulled to the far right than the left has against being pulled to the far left.
 
@Tobold

"I bet that in the coming years business will be increasingly supporting left-wing parties, because in the end those are more pro-business than the populist right-wing parties."

They are already supporting leftist doctrine by embracing the left's ideological, group-think orthodoxy. The only thing stopping them from dominating in the business sense is what remains from the fallout of the "Bernie" effect. As soon as the left gets over it squabbles from the election, things will change. The Republicans know this, which is why Trump is so heavy on pushing tariffs right now.
 
As both the left and right become more ideological I think businesses be less likely to support parties, but also less likely to oppose them through fear of retaliation from parties, press or public. I would expect to see (or not see since it is mostly hidden) an upturn in behind-the-scenes lobbying for more moderate policies.

I also think the traditional tick-tock of democracies is at risk of breaking as the key institutions (free press, independent judiciary and rule of law) get attacked by leaders who are increasingly taking steps to make rule changes that strengthen their support and disenfranchise their opposition.
 
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