Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Anthony Giddens, Gaddafi and the Third Way.

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Lord Giddens of Enfield and the Third Way.

Anthony Giddens the former director of the LSE, and noted theorist of the Third Way, has been in a spot of bother (More Here).

Baron Giddens , after a trip to Lybia, observed in  March 2007,

“If Gadafy is sincere about reform, as I think he is, Libya could end up as the Norway of North Africa.”

As one-party states go, Libya is not especially repressive. Gadafy seems genuinely popular. Our discussion of human rights centred mostly upon freedom of the press. Would he allow greater diversity of expression in the country? There isn’t any such thing at the moment. Well, he appeared to confirm that he would. Almost every house in Libya already seems to have a satellite dish. And the internet is poised to sweep the country. Gadafy spoke of supporting a scheme that will make computers with internet access, priced at $100 each, available to all, starting with schoolchildren.

Will real progress be possible only when Gadafy leaves the scene? I tend to think the opposite. If he is sincere in wanting change, as I think he is, he could play a role in muting conflict that might otherwise arise as modernisation takes hold. My ideal future for Libya in two or three decades’ time would be a Norway of North Africa: prosperous, egalitarian and forward-looking. Not easy to achieve, but not impossible.


Who is His Lordship?

Many people who studied sociology in the 1970s and 1980s began with a foundation course based around Gidden’s Capitalism and Modern Social Theory. An Analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber. This was a solid, if somewhat summary, overview of the bases of contemporary social thought – a seen through the ‘founding fathers’.

A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism (1981) followed. This attacked Marxism as a dogmatic mono-causal theory. In place of economic determinism we should pay attention to a multiplicity of social antagonisms, from class to sexuality to state and social power. It outlined an overall left agenda for social advance, bringing Giddens close to radical socialism on some issues. He developed his own ‘structuration’ theory, which is basically a conceptualisation of everything agreeable to left-of-centre sociologists that has ever been said about structure and agency. By the time of the 1995 Second Edition and the Fall of Communism Giddens dropped socialism (or ‘the cybernetic model of socialism’) altogether. He began to talk of being “beyond left and right”.

Third Way.

In the rest of the decade Giddens developed the theory, and policies,  of the Third Way. There was no alternative to capitalism, only different ways of managing it. Social democrats backed equality and social justice within this framework. They should modernise society (welfare reform onwards) and help everyone ‘pilot’ their way in the age of globalisation.

Tony Blair appeared to endorse this approach. In practice, Blair’s leadership was used to turn  the outward practice of the Labour Party into a form of Christian Democracy (favouring social solidarity and market economics). Giddens’ own influence has left little ideological imprint. I wonder if even the author read Over to You, Mr Brown – How Labour Can Win Again (2007).

 Giddens was beguiled by Gaddafi. He illustrates that the ability to willingly let the wool be pulled over one’s eyes is not confined to the left. ‘Tends’ ‘Coulds’ and ideal futures apart the fact that he could not see the basic character of the regime speaks volumes about Giddens  The creatures that  have found progressive radicalism in Islamism are paralleled by this state intellectual who discovered the merits of the Green Book State and  its Great Helmsman.

Some say that there is no stupid idea that some intellectual somewhere has not come to support (as Karel Čapek observed in the  War of the Newts ).

Giddens, unable to show much for his labours,  proves that at least.  


Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm

9 Responses

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  1. So Giddens thinks the Libyan assassination squads and the torture chambers were all malicious rumours, does he?

    Anyone remember what ORWELL said about intellectuals?

    ‘One has be be an intellectual to believe anything so stupid; no normal person would believe such a thing …’

    At least Mandelswine is/was in the mire for the invitations aboard oligarchs’ yachs and a £22,000 Patek Philippe.

    Bingo Little

    March 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    • It is strikingly stupid of the man, isn’t it?

      As a Sociology (and Politics) graduate I have a special interest in Giddens.

      Andrew Coates

      March 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

  2. I thought this was particularly vile:

    Miliband anger over Gaddafi lecture
    (UKPA) – 1 day ago

    David Miliband has said it was “horrific” that a London School of Economics (LSE) lecture in his late father’s name was delivered by Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saif.

    The Ralph Miliband memorial lecture was given by Saif Gaddafi last May.

    LSE director Sir Howard Davies resigned last week over the university’s links to Col Gaddafi’s family, in particular the decision to accept £300,000 research funding from a foundation controlled by Saif Gaddafi.

    An independent inquiry into the extent of LSE’s links with Libya is to be conducted by former Lord chief Justice Lord Woolf.

    The LSE’s Ralph Miliband Programme was set up in 1996 with a donation from a former PhD student who had been inspired by the socialist.

    Asked on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show about last year’s memorial lecture, former Labour foreign secretary Mr Miliband said: “It’s horrific.

    “The Ralph Miliband Programme at the LSE was founded by a former student of my dad’s in the 1950s who said he’d learnt more in the seminars of my dad – who was obviously on the left – he’d learnt more about the right because my dad believed in showing all sides of opinion.

    “The idea of Saif Gaddafi giving a lecture under his name is just horrific to him and horrific to the whole family obviously.”

    Mr Miliband added: “I think there’s a wider issue – the LSE has announced an inquiry into whether at any stage their academic independence has been compromised, I think by Lord Woolf. It’s very important that that’s carried through.”


    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm

  3. […] 2007 belief that Libya would become the Norway of the region without regime change (see also Andrew Coates) and [former Financial Service Authority head] Howard Davies’ bizarre equation between Gaddafi […]

  4. […] Saif Gaddafi ind som ph.d. studerende.Og, som Giddens selv har fremhævet, er der såmænd et vist intellektuelt fællesskab.  Både Giddens og Moammar Gaddafi er kritiske overfor kapitalistisk markedsøkonomi, og Gaddafi […]

  5. This is interesting:

    “Dear David Held,

    Just a few hours by air from where you live, Colonel Gaddafi is stepping up war against his own people. His use of propaganda, terror, mercenaries and imported heavy weapons remains headline news down here in the southern hemisphere, where I now live. Stories of your links with Libya are news here as well. The reports suggest that you have handled yourself with fair-minded openness. Yesterday’s statement in openDemocracy strengthens that impression.[1] That’s why, in the same spirit of candour, I trust you will let me ask you further questions about the wider significance of what you have done and how you might handle the trouble that has come your way.

    Your consociation with Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, a man whom you befriended and mentored, and from whose charity your LSE Global Governance centre took a sizeable sum of research money, produced unwelcome news….



    Andrew Coates

    March 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm

  6. […] forsøg på den slags midterfetichisme ved, så fostrer sådan en tilgang oftest blot vage, pinlige resultater, alt imens den luller proponenterne ind i en falsk […]

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