Theresa May as Third Way politician

British P.M. Theresa May is another Third Way politician in the tradition of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. From her speech:

“Government can and should be a force for good; the state exists to provide what individual people, communities and markets cannot; we should employ the power of government for the good of the people. Time to reject the ideological templates provided by the socialist left and the libertarian right and embrace a new centre ground in which government steps up — and not back — to act on behalf of the people.”

I’m puzzled only by the “new” claim. The third way between government management and market freedom was explicitly Roosevelt’s policy in the 1930s, Johnson’s in the 1960s, and Clinton-Blair in the 1990s. So I predict we’ll see minor variations on the same old policies and variations on the same old pathologies.

2 thoughts on “Theresa May as Third Way politician

  • October 5, 2016 at 12:54 pm
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    Usually when the government “steps up…to act on behalf of the people”, it steps on them instead.

  • October 6, 2016 at 5:58 am
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    May is at least explicit, because here we find in spades the claim that the purpose of the state it to make men moral or that statecraft is soulcraft. There is no attempt to fudge things by saying the state should provide “true liberty” through its coercive programs. She is about employing power–as is Trump and Clinton and indeed most politicians for the last 100 years. One can find a scholarly source for this view in Robert George’s MAKING MEN MORAL. Also, the former classical liberal, John Gray, also moves in these circles. (Read his book, STRAW DOGS). Further, this view generally disparages reason by conflating reason with Cartesian rationalism and constructivism more generally (that is, where reason structures rather than discovers the nature of things). I am happy to say that there are plenty of good intellectual responses to this sort of thinking, but now the espousal of naked political power is forthrightly claimed in our political world. These are dangerous times.

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