Most politicians like to claim to be “pragmatic” these days. The latest is Jeremy Corbyn, who now claims his economic program is “just pragmatic”.
George Osborne likewise claims he is only being pragmatic about the public finances, getting the deficit and debt under control, whilst actually his clear, but unstated, aim is to permanently reduce the size of government.
New Labour always claimed to be being merely “pragmatic” when it claimed that people didn’t care who provided public services, but for some reason kept coming down on the side of outsourcing to private providers. Or that liberalizing labor markets was just a pragmatic reaction to globalization. In reality Brown and Blair, but especially the latter, were more liberal democrats than social democrats – favoring market or market-like solutions whenever possible.
Now Jeremy Corbyn seems to be attempting to soften his image by claiming to be merely “pragmatic” in his economic policies – whilst in practice favoring old-fashioned statist public ownership and planning as the preferred solution. Which prompted me into thinking about this universal appeal to ‘pragmatism’ and where it comes from? Continue reading