Dan Hind Profile picture
Independent publisher; co-presenter, Media Democracy podcast; fellow, Democracy Collaborative; editor, Tax Justice Network.
17 Oct
There's lots of "should I stay or should I go?" on my timeline at the moment re. Labour. It's important to bear in mind that the new arrivals in 2015 form part of a large, floating constituency of people who grasp the implications of the 2008 crisis, the climate crisis and ...
... were drawn to direct action (UK Uncut, Occupy) and electoralism (remember the Green surge?) at various times. Labour's establishment left the door open to these people and they rushed in to support Corbyn, along with existing left members, and re-joiners.
This floating constituency includes a number of different traditions - red, black and green. But if it has a core commitment it is to democracy, however that's glossed. It doesn't identify with Labour necessarily and seemed to treat Corbynism as something else to try.
Read 7 tweets
23 Sep
Just caught up with this excellent interview on everyone's favourite tech podcast. The point @doctorow makes in it about the urgent need to stop using private sector operators to deliver public goods is absolutely spot on.
This applies very obviously in the tech sector, where we are leaving key elements in the systems of political communication and material distribution in private hands, instead of acknowledging their constitutional significance and creating public institutions.
(Much the same can be said of the traditional media, where the state has given private sector institutions a privileged position to describe the political and they have exacted a horrendous piece for the service they provide.)
Read 5 tweets
21 Sep
The Tory shires are Tory for much the same reason: the working class were driven out of them faster than they could organise electorally. PR would make things better in the US, as here, of course. But their written constitution is every bit as stupefying as our non-existent one.
The vision - labour intensive, technologically sophisticated co-operative food production - is intensely appealing. But to stand a chance it must be tied to a broader vision of democracy itself as a cooperative endeavour, characterised by communication between equals.
It's this vision - tying reform of the state directly to reform of the economy - that can unify diverse popular constituencies, and provide a template for radically democratic initiatives below the level of the national state.
Read 6 tweets
9 Sep
The key question - the hard question - is the one @jemgilbert has asked elsewhere: why were Labour likely to lose in December, regardless of its position on Brexit?
You can argue that we could have held onto the 2017 position with some tweaks. But it's a wild leap to claim that that was a winning proposition by last December. It wasn't even persuasive to many members of the Party by then.
Labour's problems run much deeper than the Brexit issue. It still seeks to be the sole competitor with the Conservatives in a FPTP system when electoral geography almost guarantees that they will remain as junior partners in such a system.
Read 5 tweets
8 Sep
Fond memories of canvassing for Labour in East Kent last year, and being told by people with money that, while it was true that they were for remain and leaving was very unfortunate, in the end they were Conservatives and that was more important.
And being told by older working class voters that they just wanted Brexit over with, and Johnson had a plan if he had a majority. And what had become of Labour, anyway? So, while they weren't usually Conservatives, that was enough for them.
And people in the 20s, almost unanimously able to see through the lies about Corbyn and Labour, and the Brexit psychodrama, telling me, beaming, that they were all registered and ready - often for the first time - to vote, and to vote for change.
Read 5 tweets
6 Sep
This piece notes that elected representatives don't think enough about how public subsidies to science and technology play out as real world innovations. But then it says they should. But they don't. Why will they, just because someone says they should? project-syndicate.org/commentary/pol…?
It is a bit like saying "crime is bad, so people who do crimes should stop doing crimes." Like, sure, but what mechanism do you propose for changing the behaviour? And one sees this over and over in liberal complaints about the delinquency and incuriosity of representatives.
The state is structured in a way that rewards some behaviours and punishes others. TDGAF about monetary policy, or technological innovation, or democratic media reform, because at the moment doing so is at best a distraction, at worst a career-ending act of self-sabotage.
Read 6 tweets
4 Sep
Now that @coopuk have been banned from advertising in the Spectator, maybe we take seriously the idea of apply "Preston Model" principles to the co-operative movement. At the moment the co-ops give at least some of their money to media operations that oppose co-operation.
This is justified on the grounds that they have to reach potential customers. But there is another way, that embeds the co-operative sector in the media sphere - with all the implications that has for workers in it - and builds public understanding of the co-operative model.
The co-op takes the portion of its marketing spend it currently gives to rightwing media operations and put it into a 'co-operative media fund'. Members of the co-op then to decide vote how that money is distributed to journalists' co-operatives.
Read 9 tweets
1 Sep
If the government rip the guts out of the BBC and the right set up a UK version of Fox News, will the labour movement here - the unions and the cooperatives in particular - finally build communicative resources that can break the power of the right? theguardian.com/media/2020/aug…
The Guardian, Mirror and BBC have given elected leaders of the labour movement an alibi for their acceptance of a media consensus that is *at best* ambivalent about working class organisation and is adamantly opposed to radical change in political economy and foreign policy.
This media consensus is a comfortable enough habitat for many Labour MPs, who see themselves as a kind of Team B for British capitalism. But it is a disaster for anyone who wants to address climate change or head off the threat of an increasingly confident and wealthy far right.
Read 8 tweets
28 Aug
Why are the boomers all Tories these days, you ask? It is worth noting that they always have been. Infamous ultra-leftist Denis Healey pointed out that the post-war settlement lasted until the people who were adults in WW2 started retiring in the late 1970s.
Labour failed to offer more than continuity Keynes + paternalism in the 1970s. Or rather it refused to adopt the only possible model for a dynamic advance on social democracy - Bennism. As a result Thatcher could claim the future while Labour sought to defend the past.
The right was going on about how it was fine, morally admirable even, to make money by any means necessary. And there was money to be made in the Great Selloff. Meanwhile, the left seemed to be led by people who knew Aneurin Bevin personally, or by Aneurin Bevin tribute acts.
Read 7 tweets
14 Aug
The fact that the BBC, with an annual budget of £4 billion, manages to leave so many British people so radically ill-informed is not a sign of failure. It is, to borrow a phrase from Walter Karp, the sign of "a remarkably subtle success."
(Karp's original: "When 58 percent of the thirteen-year-olds tested by the National Assessment for Educational Progress think it is against the law to start a third party in America, we are dealing not with a sad educational failure but with a remarkably subtle success.")
It is useful to consider how much effort and ingenuity goes into any given distribution of knowledge and ignorance. We don't set out to be wrong. We have to be coaxed or browbeaten or tricked into error - sometimes by people who know what they are doing, sometimes not.
Read 4 tweets
14 Aug
I wonder how many people who voted Conservative in 2015 to avoid "chaos with Ed Miliband" still think that the problem with British politics is that someone else is being manipulated.
I wonder how many people who couldn't bring themselves to vote for the Labour Party under Corbyn because it was structurally racist still think the problem with the British politics is that someone else is being manipulated.
The UK's system of political communications leaves *us all* intensely vulnerable to manipulation by well-funded and self-serving actors. They dominate political parties and media operations. They understand the stakes and they are ruthless in protecting their privileges.
Read 5 tweets
12 Aug
Govt economic policy since the pandemic started has focussed on attempts to 1. maintain existing structures of authority in the economy (eg the furlough scheme maintains the employee-employer relationship intact, even though its basis as a private transaction has collapsed) ...
and 2. preserve existing patterns of consumer behaviour (subsidised restaurant food); get back to the office, and back to Pret. The space is wide open for an opposition party, Labour for example, to set out a response that starts from a recognition that Something Has Changed.
Despite everything they had to wade through Corbyn-McDonnell destroyed the argument for austerity and began to set out an economic model fit for the 21st century. It is radically easier to make their case now, yet Labour now seem unwilling to try. Why is that?
Read 4 tweets
6 Aug
Why are some on the left so wary of sortition? I understand that you wouldn't want randomly selected groups exercising sovereign power, but is there more going on?
The recent historical record shows that *even though random selection has always thus far been used in elite-dominated circumstances* the results are easily as good as those achieved by appointed experts and elected officials - and sometimes much more radical.
A good example is the Irish constitutional convention which proposed the establishment of explicit, enforceable economic rights - including a right to housing eg) constitutionalconvention.ie/AttachmentDown…
Read 16 tweets
4 Aug
There is no road to a cooperative commonwealth in England that does not run through the reform of the institutions of organised labour - the trade unions, the Labour Party and the cooperative movement itself.
By all means seek to reform the Labour Party. But without a democratically vibrant and well informed labour and cooperative movement the Party will have little or no space to pursue a radical agenda *even if it wanted to.*
Limiting ourselves to electoral competition within these institutions is a recipe for exhaustion in defeat or corruption in victory. We must take control of these organisations *in order to transform them.* And that means developing a constitutional model and implementing it.
Read 6 tweets
3 Aug
The trade unions' decision not to invest significantly in media production (in contrast to the 30s-40s, when it owned 49% of the UK's biggest newspaper) is a disastrous strategic miscalculation. Same goes for the cooperative movement.
This was meant to be a retweet-with-comment of this, but my tech dept managed to bungle that somehow.
There is an emerging socialist account of political economy and response to ecological crisis that is more persuasive and more interesting than anything the capitalist press can afford to engage with seriously. Yet it is visible only on the margins of the Guardian's coverage.
Read 7 tweets
30 Jul
Lots of anger on the TL about Rees-Spud's "let them eat potatoes" intervention. I can see why. It is infuriating and contemptible to blame those with very little time and money for the choices they make to put food on the table.
But it is vital we reject the framing of obesity/diabetes/malnutrition as a matter of a normal, sensible majority and a somehow deviant minority who can't feed feed themselves properly *no matter what the reason.* (whether it's poverty, moral incompetence or lack of education)
2/3rds of the UK population over 35 is overweight or obese. Even if obesity tracks income perfectly, many people with above average incomes are being made unwell by of their diet. Not only that, many people have metabolic illness and a normal BMI. commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-brief…
Read 9 tweets
17 Jul
The obvious way for the Guardian to address the collapse of its business model would be to appoint Seumas Milne as editor and chief executive. I am sure he would have lots of interesting ideas on how to cut out costs and rebuild the relationship with its readers.
Did it make sense to move to Kings Cross and act as an *rent-paying* agent of asset price inflation in the area? Does it make sense to stay there? Should the people who decided it was a good idea in the first place be sacking journalists who had nothing to do with it?
The comment section could be slimmed down *and massively improved* by moving to a model that draws on deep expertise and helps make it accessible to readers, in order to build political agency. Resources could flow back into investigative work - co-produced with readers/members.
Read 5 tweets
13 Jul
The gap between Starmer's polling and Labour's isn't that hard to understand. The con-lib mainstream in politics and media trashed both the party and its leader between 2015 and 2019. The leader has changed and voters like the depiction of him they encounter in the media.
But many of those who were persuaded that the Party itself was a nest of racists and communists will take longer to come down from the paranoid fantasies about Labour they were fed with their cornflakes for four years.
Those who now control the Party won't challenge those fantasies. Instead they will be relentless in finding ways to "show Labour has changed". We can expect one Clause 4 moment after another from now until the next election, on tax, public services, nationalisation, the lot.
Read 4 tweets
11 Jul
The problem with liberal defences of free speech is that they don't go nearly far enough, to the point where they are an active impediment to understanding. Many people cannot speak freely without endangering their livelihoods.
Those who work everyday in the speech factories depend on the support of editors and owners who can fire or sideline them at any time, with little or no difficulty. Free speech defenders in the mainstream know this, but don't usually mention it.
If your opinions and assumptions don't sit comfortably with the interests of owners and editors you are unlikely to be 'free' to address large audiences regularly. If you have democratic instincts you are unlikely to find a comfortable perch in the big media.
Read 7 tweets
9 Jul
Have now read the Guardian Goes North article. What's striking is its incuriosity; there is strong, sometimes overwhelming, support for Corbyn's programme. So, many people in Leigh and elsewhere voted Conservative while wanting to see the reforms Corbyn would introduce.
*How* December the 19 result happened is interesting. But you get little or no insight into it by interviewing a handful of people and treating their views as a coherent, unchanging whole. Why do the four people chosen by the journalist plausibly stand in for the town?
If a media operation wanted to generate new kinds of knowledge it could convene a representative assembly in a particular place and give them the resources they need to interrogate their shared and opposing beliefs, how they came to them, and how they relate to each other.
Read 5 tweets
8 Jul
The UK needs to move to zero carbon: this means massive state investments in green infrastructure and technology: a shift away from carbon intensive monocultures to much more efficient, small scale agriculture; a complete remaking of the energy system.
Manufacturing needs to repurpose to products that support zero carbon (which will find export markets if the civilisation does decide not to end). All of this is only possible through a massive exercise in democratic planning, and a vast bonfire of the misconceptions.
Given the situation we are in, and the consequences of inaction, the government's statement today is an insult to us all, and should be seen as such.
Read 4 tweets