This book attempts to understand how two sister centre-left parties, the British Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP), have sought to adapt to the modern era and effect changes. It identifies and examines a range of drivers for Labour's desire to experiment and find new forms of citizen engagement. Linked to the influence of the New Social Democracy (NSD) is the lingering legacy of the new public management (NPM) reforms implemented in the public sectors in both countries. For Labour, democratic renewal is an attempt to secure wider legitimacy in neoliberal settings; similarly, the NSD is also linked to the debates about the perceived shift from government to governance. The NSD has attempted to respond to these debates and in Britain a concerted effort has been made to reformulate the role of the state and, by extension, civil society. The book examines how far the NSD has influenced Labour governments in Britain and Australia. It establishes Labour's interest in democratic renewal, specifically, the role of political participation and civic engagement in the wider context of democratic theory. Given that the NSD calls for an 'active citizenry', this is important. A central motif of democratic theory is an ambivalence about the role of political participation in a modern liberal democratic polity. The book explores how far New Social Democratic governments in Britain and Australia have been successful in seeking to link new forms of public dialogue to existing democratic decision-making processes in the modern western world.
adapt to the modern era and effect changes. What underpin
these changes are deep-rooted questions of identity: what do the p
stand for? Who and what do they represent? Do these adaptations
even matter? These and other critical dilemmas and problems face both
Since the 1980s and the dominance of neoliberalsettings in both
countries, these long-standing questions of identity have become more
critical and pressing. In the ‘heyday’ of the 1950s and 1960s, when both
were mass parties with significant levels of party membership, it was
regime reflected the interests of long-standing neoliberal trade agreements between the US, EU, and Gulf State sponsors of jihadism ( Bichler and Nitzan 2014 ). As Jessop (2006 , 162) explains, US capital accumulation in neoliberalsettings demands a ‘regional structural coherence’ constituted by state and non-state alliances to defend shared economic interests.
These alliances and the financial networks they correspond to were justified in the eyes of AQ supporters (and potentially for supporters of the US) through the propagandising and obfuscatory effect of
US-affiliated industries in conflicts throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries ( Gleick 1993 ; Gleick et al. 2014 ). During the Korean War, for example, US forces destroyed dams in North Korea, causing a drought for local farmers and catalysing widespread conditions of starvation and malnutrition ( Chomsky 2004 ). Similar behaviour was also undertaken for economic gain in neoliberalsettings, as, for instance, when US companies withheld loans for clean-water projects in Haiti during the 1980s ( Lacey 2008 ). For different political and economic reasons
remain embedded and accommodated within neoliberalsettings.
This is not to say that many on the centre-left do not seek broader or
even more ‘authentic’ forms of engagement, but NSD benefits politically
from a more shallow form of democracy, or at least a highly individuated one characterised by ‘narcissistic’ forms of civility (Papacharissi
2009). Ultimately, the NSD effort at democratic renewal is an attempt
to reconfigure a social and political movement built upon collectivist
ideals to accommodate a world characterised by a more reflexive and