This chapter draws together the main strengths, and seeks to overcome the weaknesses, of the critics discussed in Part II. This amounts to a theoretical framework with which to reconstruct key Third Way themes in Chapter 8. The critics’ weaknesses are summarised in terms of their understanding of both the left/right dichotomy, and the wider relationship between social change and political values. However, their ability to link the Third Way to structural conditions and material interests, and their subsequent defence of a left/ right distinction through a critique of the market, needs to be maintained. A disparate, ‘cultural’ critique of the Third Way is outlined as a means of overcoming the limits of more traditional critics. This is rooted in a historical debate concerning how the British Left should respond to Thatcherism, drawing on theories inspired by neo-Gramscian democratic socialism and post-Marxism. The key strength of the cultural critique is that while it recognises the significance of sociological change, it continuously seeks to shape it through progressive political interventions. However, the cultural critique has weaknesses of its own. While its focus upon politically inflecting social change implies maintaining the left/right distinction, it does not by itself deliver a distinctively leftist project.
KeywordsSocial Change Political Identity Material Interest Cultural Critique Left Project
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