Competitiveness, social justice, and the Third Way

Paul Cammack:

This paper addresses two questions. How are social justice and competitivenessreconciled in Giddens’ Third Way? And what are the implications for the goal ofmaking capitalism work in the interests of consumers and in the long-terminterests of society?

The argument put forward is that the Third Way reconciles competitiveness andsocial justice by redefining social justice, and other key social democratic valuessuch as emancipation, in terms of the logic of competitiveness itself. While thisdoes not mean that there is no scope for reform in the Third Way, it does meanthat that there is nothing ‘left-of-centre’ about it.1 Social democracy, whatever itsshortcomings, sought to set limits to the operation of capitalism in accordancewith values derived from a normative framework independent of its logic. TheThird Way, in contrast, not only accepts that logic, but seeks to perfect it bypromoting individual enterprise and removing social, cultural and institutionalimpediments to competitiveness at every level. As he embraces and pursues sowholeheartedly the notion of a perfectible capitalism, what Giddens should sayis: ‘Capitalism has to be made to work. That is in the interests of consumers, andin the long-term interests of society.’ The Third Way (Giddens, 1998)systematically subverts the core values of social democracy by re-interpretingthem so that they fit with the logic of neoliberalism. Over to You, Mr Brown(Giddens, 2007) continues the same process, and as a consequence reveals theintellectual and practical limits of Third Way reformism.


Papers in the Politics of Global Competitiveness, No. 6, Institute for
Global Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University, e-space Open Access

Read full article at Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy




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