Michael Gove speaks during a Conservative Party campaign event to celebrate the result of the General Election, in central London on December 13, 2019.

Far too often, innovation in government is treated as though it were a mischief rather than a model.

Writing in his Prison Notebooks, ninety years ago, the Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci defined our times. “The crisis consists precisely of the fact that the inherited is dying – and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”.

Gramsci’s analysis was developed between 1929 and 1935. The stability of the Edwardian Age – of secure crowns, borderless travel, imperial administrative elites and growing economic globalisation – was a memory. The inherited world of aristocratic liberalism had gone.

But a new world of liberal, democratic nation states with welfare systems, social insurance and cross-class solidarity was still a distant prospect. And for those who were charged with leadership there were any number of morbid symptoms affecting their bodies of politics at that time.

Economic depression had undermined faith in Western democracy. Traditional political and party structures broke down while protectionist trade barriers went up. Ideological polarisation divided families and societies, competition for resources generated international conflicts and new technologies offered expanded realms of opportunity but also unsettled traditional patterns of working, and threatened new and horrific means of destruction.

Now, our age is not the 1930s. But it is an age of morbid symptoms. The model that the current generation of political leaders inherited has been crumbling.

For much of the period since 1945, Western nations have had relatively stable party and political structures. The leaders of those nations, political and business, have justified their positions on the grounds of meritocracy – we’ve proved through our exertions we’re the best and also – on grounds of efficiency – we’ve shown through the spread of economic growth and greater opportunity that we deliver.

But since the financial crisis of 2008 those foundations and assumptions have been systematically eroded.

Across Western Europe we’ve seen the political system we inherited fracture. Traditional Social Democratic parties have either been eclipsed or undermined to their left. Syriza in Greece overtook Pasok, Podemos in Spain took huge chunks out of the PSOE, the Dutch Labour Party lost three quarters of its vote in the last general election dropping from the 2nd to the 7th largest grouping in parliament. The French Socialists were left for dust by the radical leftists of La France Insoumise and the …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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“The privilege of public service” Michael Gove’s Ditchley Lecture – full text

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