Ed Miliband’s Shallow Vision of Human Flourishing https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/politics-current-affairs/2021/06/ed-milibands-shallow-vision-of-human-flourishing/

June 9, 2021 | John Gray
About the author:

Having led the British Labor party from 2010 to 2015, Ed Miliband very much represents the moderate, Blairite wing of his party—as opposed to the radical, anti-American, and anti-Semitic wing that took over under his successor Jeremy Corbyn. Miliband has recently authored a book titled Go Big, which focuses on solving a number of policy problems, from declining wages to climate change. In his review, the philosopher John Gray points to the emptiness underpinning Miliband’s political thinking:

[Miliband’s] account of the good life is narrow and shallow. In a short chapter entitled “That Which Makes Life Worthwhile,” he laments that increasing GDP has been the overriding goal of public policy. He has a point here, but he says very little about what gives most human beings meaning in their lives. Religion is not mentioned, any more than national identity is. The enduring needs they express are not explored, and the unspoken implication is they are significant only as sources of division. Personal choice and a diffuse ideal of community are the goods that will shape the future. Anyone who cherishes other values is implicitly dismissed as backward. The contradictions that go with being human are screened out, and instead we are presented with a bland abstraction.

More than any incidental errors and misjudgments, it is this unreal vision that explains the sad comedy of Miliband’s political career and the near-universal rout of [British] center-left progressivism. . . . His book is an exposition of the worldview that has taken the center left close to extinction across nearly all of Europe, and now threatens Labor with a similar fate.

There have been several turning points in the fall of Labor. Tony Blair was in power for more than a decade, but even as he secured the support of sections of the middle class, he set in motion the party’s detachment from its historic [working-class] base—a trend that [his likeminded successor] Gordon Brown did nothing to reverse. . . . Jeremy Corbyn’s animosity towards his own country, and his studied inaction regarding the virulent anti-Semitism at work in his party, led many Labor supporters to break the voting habit of a lifetime in 2019. Devised to win over middle-class families worried about student fees, Corbyn’s bourgeois populism completed Labor’s transformation. From being a coalition of workers and intellectuals, it became a party of graduates.

Read more on New Statesman: https://www.newstatesman.com/ed-miliband-go-big-review

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