Social capitalism regurgitated

There is a small political publishing house based in the badlands of East Anglia that on occasion sends me press releases in the hope that I will review their product. Not free review copies of books, but rather “promotional offers for the press”. Needless to say I have not bitten.

Arena Books is now tempting me with a blurb about the latest opus from Robert Corfe, whose one-man mission known as the “Social Capitalist Network” (which, incidentally, is based at the same address as the publisher) bemoans the state of liberal democracy, laying the blame squarely at the feet of the Labour Party of which he was once an active member and local councillor. To give an example, Corfe’s 2009 offering, “The Death of Socialism – the irrelevance of the traditional left and the call for a progressive politics of universal humanity” contains a bizarre educational manifesto that betrays the author’s quaint obsession with tradition and discipline. It even includes a call for school pupils to “stand and bow when addressed by a teacher”.

Corfe’s peculiarly English variant on third-way ideology continues with a discussion of the “reality of power relationships in the nation state”. Whilst I have not read “The Democratic Imperative”, and have no intention of doing so, it is clear from the blurb that author is a dyed-in-the-wool Westphalian, and, what is worse, shamelessly proud of it…

“It is clearly shown, through a variety of reasons, that democracy as an all-inclusive system of government is only workable within the nation state. This partly explains the crises of the EU, and the shortcomings of the UN’s Security Council.”

Arguments prefixed with “It is clearly shown…” are to a physicist as red rags to a bull. Actually, that is a dodgy analogy given that the beasts are colour-blind, but the meaning should be clear. It is impossible to demonstrate in a scientifically rigorous manner a truth of political economy. That kind of thinking should have died out with old-school Marxists, but now and again we see it return with the more eccentric and politically protanopic corporatist thinkers.

Corfe’s stated aim is to “empower national politicians”. Sorry, but I am more likely to pay constructive critical attention to writers who talk genuinely and with humility about politics as a means of empowering people and facilitating social dialogue. Forget the politicians, who can and do look after themselves. They certainly don’t need any help from the likes of Robert Corfe.