Layton reacts to Ignatieff's shots about him

102 posts / 0 new
Last post
Life, the unive...

Sean you are obviously just looking for a fight.  I am not sure why.  You are arguing about things not being said.  It simply isn't worth the blood pressure medication.

Sean in Ottawa

And for those of us who are NDPers if we don't stand up for what our party is, what its prioorities is and how it identifies -- who will?

And if we don't care about how we define our priorities, what we present as what we care about -- what do we care about?

Votes? Seats? Polls? Statistics?

or people?

Aristotleded24

Life, the universe, everything wrote:
I specifically talked about what people SEE themselve as, not what they are.

I find myself leaning towards krop and Sean on this one. The reason we talk so much about the "middle class" is because the "middle class" lifestyle is held up as something to aspire to. As this discussion shows, the term is problematic because it means different things to different people. My personal problem with the term is that when I think of "middle class," I think of someone graduating high school, going to university/college and maybe doing some travelling, then getting married, having children, and buying a house in the suburbs with 2 cars and maybe even later buying some cars for the kids. That certainly does not reflect my reality or aspirations, it does not reflect the reality or aspirations of people I've met since I moved to Winnipeg, and I'm certain that it does not reflect the reality or aspirations of a majority of people. Frankly, the "middle class" to me is an illusion, and it boggles my mind that, for example, having a family is held up as the norm when demographic studies will tell you that the number of single people in society is unprecedented, or that people are waiting a long time to have children, if at all. It's for that reason that language around "middle class" or "working families" does not speak to me personally. I think one of the reasons for the decline in voter turnout is that society has not caught up to these realities, and as a result people are becoming disengaged. So language around "working families" or the "middle class" or "hard-working Canadians" doesn't do it for me. Language around "the kitchen table versus the boardoom table" or "a green and prosperous Canada where nobody is left behind (from the 2004 campaign)" is much better.

[url=http://www.liberalslikechrist.org/about/workingclass.html]Why we on the left should never use the term "middle class:"[/url]

Quote:
By persuading Americans that they are for the "middle" class - with whom almost everybody wants to be identified - and letting the Democrats be identified with the "lower class," the G.O.P. is winning the hearts and minds of voters who, by every standard, ought to be Democrats. By the time one generation has wised up, there's a new one falling for the Republican promises of tax cuts for "the middle class", and they too have to learn that most of G.O.P. tax cuts are designed to go to the fat cats at the top end of the "middle class", and they have to learn the hard way that, when services for the "poor" are cut by Republicans, they and their families are among those low income people.
        The most progressive era in America's history was the time when the vast majority of the population had no illusions about it's social status. They were not ashamed of their poverty, but that didn't mean they went around identifying themselves as members of the "lower class". They had another choice in those days, one they didn't have to be ashamed of. They considered themselves members of "the working class"! The vast majority of Americans then as now were workers. But when they got organized and stuck together, they had tremendous economic, social and political power. Those who work for a living still outnumber by far those who live off the labor of others, but the power of the "working class" has been dissolved into the meaningless mush of the "middle class."
        By seducing large numbers of working class people away from their poorer brothers and sisters, the G O P has managed to crush most of the progressive causes in recent years. If they had not been so stupid in their choice of presidential candidate in '96, they would now be in full control of all three branches of the national government, not to mention all the state houses and even mayoralties of our largest cities. We can't count on their repeating such mistakes. It's time we progressives wised up. When are we going to start fighting the treachery of the "middle class" scam? From this point forward, we ought to consider it treason for any Democratic leader or activist to utter the words "middle class" (except to enlighten their working class friends)

Sean in Ottawa

And I'll add this-- I hate the Liberals like North Report does because they take up political space that ought to belong to solutions not obstruction.

The last big blow-out I had with other NDPers was over the exact same thing-- the party defining itself as primarily for the middle class.

This has to be the one thing I will fight for as long as I care about the NDP. It is not trivial.

We seek to hide the most vulnerable, have police pick them up and take them away, have jobless statistics no longer refer to them, send them home with their issues rather than care for them. Our society is doing this increasingly, focussing on more mainstream concerns. This is a trend worth fighting against.

Must we buy that bullshit that we need to forget the most vulnerable to help the worker? What kind of solidarity is that? Does someone think a more inclusive definition would turn off a self-identifying middle-class voter? That is sad.

Sean in Ottawa

Ok-- I can go home and do something else-- at least one person sees there is a problem with this.

My fustration is not that many people see things through this classist lens but that this is how people are seeing things here-- a place inclusive, progressive but apparently more partisan than either, as that is the only explanation I can imagine for why this is such an illusive recognition.

Thanks Aristotle, you have no idea how that made my day. I did not want to be alone on this, of all things in of all places.

al-Qa'bong

ottawaobserver wrote:

al-Qa'bong wrote:

As a voter, do you find incredible pride an attractive quality?

I think it's a question of what one takes pride in.  Everyone takes pride in something.  If you were attacked for something you had worked hard on, Al, you'd probably say in response that you were proud of it too.

 

 

Lemme put it this way:

 

Jack comes in from outside on a snowy winter night, looking obviously pleased with himself.  Olivia says to him, "My my, Jack, you look like you're sitting in the catbird seat tonight; what's up?"

 

He replies, "I just wrote my name in the snow."

"Oh really," she snorts, "and I suppose you're proud of that?"

"Indeed I am, Olivia, it's twenty below out there."

"That's incredible, Jack."

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

kropotkin -you must move in different circles then me.  Tim's and other such service jobs have always been jobs mostly for older workers, not students, in my neck of the woods.  Increasingly in fact they are becoming jobs for the 50 plus crowd facing impoverished circumstances as retirees or close to retirement age.   As such how they see the world and how your friends see the world are going to be very different.  I don't need a neo-marxist professor to tell me that.  Maybe this is an urban/rural thing?

Yes it is partly the urban/rural but we have Walmart greeters in Burnaby as well.  But when I say work at Tim's I mean the youth stuck in dead end jobs not knowing how they will pay the rent at the end of the month when their hours were cut for asking for a day off. I am not talking about seniors supplementing their pensions.  Hell if the youth had something to supplement maybe they could live on a McJob too.

The new Mayor of Calgary is a good example of how to speak to urban youth. If the NDP is too have any chance of ever forming government they must win a majority of the urban ridings, its simple mathematics. I do not believe that the demographic that can achieve that for them is enamored of the term middle class.  To me its very old school in a bad way.  

Lets all settle down. Sean and I were at each others throats not long ago for no good reason but I like it better when we discuss things instead of fighting and I'll bet the people who merely watch and read would agree.

Life, the unive...

I wasn't really talking about people supplementing their pensions, because often people don't have a pension, rather that they are simply a mirror image, if a little greyer than your friends.  Or if I was being overly pessimistic it is their future selves they are seeing.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Yes the specter of seeing your "boomer" parents impoverished  and reduced to working at a Walmart's regional centre and yourself working in a dead end Tim's job in the city is the reality I am talking about.  And as Sean pointed out middle class as a term certainly excludes all our citizens living with disabilities. As a society we need to be inclusive with our language and as a party the NDP needs better writers.

Aristotleded24

kropotkin1951 wrote:
As a society we need to be inclusive with our language and as a party the NDP needs better writers.

I've always maintained that the dedication of rank-and-file NDPers to making Canada a better place is amazing and remarkable, and the only think I find more amazing and remarkable than that is the strategic incompotence of the people calling the shots.

Polunatic2

What ever happened to "working families"? I agree with Sean's point that the language should be more inclusive than "middle class". 

I also think that Layton has a lot to proud of from his days as a city councillor. 

MUN Prof. MUN Prof.'s picture

Polunatic2 wrote:

What ever happened to "working families"?

That language didn't play with the unemployed and unattached.

What about "bags of mostly water"? Broad enough?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What about "Canadians"?

Aristotleded24

Catchfire wrote:
What about "Canadians"?

I remember this question coming up in a group, and the answer was that for the NDP to be successful, it had to aim its messaging squarely at helping the "left behinds." Some Canadians are doing well, some are not, and I think it can be confusing.

Personally, my favourite is the contrast between the "kitchen table" and the "boardroom table" because it's a contrast everyone understands, it's the most simple and inclusive language I've ever heard, and there's no ambiguity if, for example unemployed people count as "working Canadians" or single people count as "average families."

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

ottawaobserver wrote:

Bella.Freeborn wrote:

Gee.... it was Jack Layton's ultimatim to Paul Martin over private healthcare that cornered him into defeating the Liberal minority in 2005 and gave us the first Harper government.  And Jack also propped up Harper in 2009 ostensibly because of EI changes (which in fact were mere window dressing).   The NDP has only voted against the Conservatives when they were sure that the Liberals would support the Tories.  Nobody has taken a principled stand for a very long time.

Hi Bella.  Just popped over to check this out after seeing the link at National Newswatch, I bet.  How are things going over at Liberal Caucus Services?  Nice of you to stop by and confirm that the Liberal talking points haven't changed once in the last four years.

By the way, Canadians voted the Liberal government out.  I know that's hard to internalize as a Liberal.  Have a nice day.

ottawaobserver, it's highly unlikely that a Liberal plant would admit that "nobody has taken a principled stand for a long time." There are plenty here who question the NDP's committment to social change, and neither those here nor this new babbler deserve your personal attacks an accusations. Either respond to her argument or go back to fawning over Jack's latest display of integrity. And that goes for everyone.

Otherwise, welcome to babble, Bella.Freeborn.

Life, the unive...

Catchfire wrote:

ottawaobserver wrote:

Bella.Freeborn wrote:

Gee.... it was Jack Layton's ultimatim to Paul Martin over private healthcare that cornered him into defeating the Liberal minority in 2005 and gave us the first Harper government.  And Jack also propped up Harper in 2009 ostensibly because of EI changes (which in fact were mere window dressing).   The NDP has only voted against the Conservatives when they were sure that the Liberals would support the Tories.  Nobody has taken a principled stand for a very long time.

Hi Bella.  Just popped over to check this out after seeing the link at National Newswatch, I bet.  How are things going over at Liberal Caucus Services?  Nice of you to stop by and confirm that the Liberal talking points haven't changed once in the last four years.

By the way, Canadians voted the Liberal government out.  I know that's hard to internalize as a Liberal.  Have a nice day.

ottawaobserver, it's highly unlikely that a Liberal plant would admit that "nobody has taken a principled stand for a long time." There are plenty here who question the NDP's committment to social change, and neither those here nor this new babbler deserve your personal attacks an accusations. Either respond to her argument or go back to fawning over Jack's latest display of integrity. And that goes for everyone.

Otherwise, welcome to babble, Bella.Freeborn.

You are such a hypocrit.  When you post as a regular poster you are entitled to be one.  When you post as a moderator you are not.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

In retrospect, "fawning" was a poor choice of words. I was upset at how a new poster who dared enter this pissing contest was treated. I retract it.

Pogo Pogo's picture

editing out post.  Issue is resolved.

remind remind's picture

Yell

Bella.Freeborn

Thank you.  I am not a Liberal plant, but rather a lifelong -- albeit disappointed -- NDP supporter.  My comment was a reflection of having watched too many lost opportunities to bring down the Harper Conservatives. 

I am happy to be a new rabbler and look forward to other debates and discussions.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Welcome aboard, Bella!

George Victor

Doug Saunders puts forward descriptions of "middle class' in his Arrival City: The Final Migration and our Next World:

"One way to define a middle class is by identifying the middle income range: you pick out those families that earn between 75 per cent and 150 per cent of a country's median income. The economist Brank Milanovic did this for the entire world, dividing all 6.7 billion people...

"The middle class can also be identified b y their role and self-identification. Even if much of the 'middle class' todayare better paid factory workers and computer operators rather than the traditional bourgeoisie, an important identifying characteristic is their ability to deploy savings and investments to alter their future status.

"The middle class, by almost universal concensus, are those who can easily take care of all their food, housing and transportation needs in a sustainable way cross generations and who also have a consistent ability and willingness to borrow (and repay) money for investments in future growth, to accumulate savings and capital, to put their children through any level of education, and to gather enough resources to start a business, expand a house or buy a vehicle without sacrificing living standards.

"As it happens, n the developing world this level of security and comfort tends to be attained at almost esactly the income level defined by Milanovic in his study."

Clearly, the term "middle class" is something we aspire to, rather than actually attain in large numbers, the last few (30?) years.

 

Sean in Ottawa

I still don't get teh emphasis on middle class. It is not an inclusive term by any definition and that was the point I raised. I can't help but feel that this is a distraction from that. The poorest in our society might wish to be middle class but they certainly do not consider their challenges to be the challenges of the middle class which is the comment that got all this rolling. Seems the distraction has more momentum than the initial concern about classist non-inclusive language for defining a party priority and the secondary concern that such classist and non-inclusive language is not what motives the so-called middle class NDP voter. They are motivated most by social justice and principle, I believe and at least this one is turned off by any suggestion of a failure to remember inclusivity in defining party principles and goals.

Sean in Ottawa

I still don't get the emphasis on defiing in detail the term middle class. It is not an inclusive term by any definition and that was the point I raised. I can't help but feel that this is a distraction from that. The poorest in our society might wish to be middle class but they certainly do not consider their challenges to be the challenges of the middle class which is the comment that got all this rolling. Seems the distraction has more momentum than the initial concern about classist non-inclusive language for defining a party priority and the secondary concern that such classist and non-inclusive language is not what motives the so-called middle class NDP voter. They are motivated most by social justice and principle, I believe and at least this one is turned off by any suggestion of a failure to remember inclusivity in defining party principles and goals.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Like all political parties these days it seems the NDP is choosing to expend its efforts on the people who vote and that "middle class" demographic is the target audience. However a majority of the people who don't vote are the ones being screwed and suffering in their poverty.  

No, not the middle class demographic, but rather the demographic who self-identify as middle class.  There is a difference.  I realize there are some on this list who think it is our job to explain condescendingly to the poor benighted worker that s/he really is working class, not middle class, and should therefore describe themselves as such.  I suggest they go try out that tactic on a few doorsteps and tell me how many teeth they have left when they come home.

In the meantime, if the construction labourer or the steelworker or the school custodian want to call themselves middle class, I can't be bothered to "correct" them.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Malcolm if you meant me when you made this insulting and ignorant statement all I have to say is your attitude is not very inclusive and go fuck yourself you arrogant asshole.  If on the other hand you meant someone else then I'll just tell you that you are not very inclusive and that is why your party loses election after election to right wing nut bars like Devine and Wall. I love your violent imagery as well.  That must be a real selling point to voters that in your face knock out your teeth if you disagree kind of swagger.

 

" I realize there are some on this list who think it is our job to explain condescendingly to the poor benighted worker that s/he really is working class, not middle class, and should therefore describe himself as such.  I suggest they go try out that tactic on a few doorsteps and tell me how many teeth they have left when they come home."

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Tell you what, Kropotkin, here is my experience of the more dogmatic elements on the left - including a significant number of babblers:  There is a lot of condescension.  Seriously.

I actually deal with quite a few working class people every day.  Few of them would self-identify as working class.  Most would self-identify as middle class.

For some on the left, apparently this is a problem to be fixed.  That view seems to me . . . oh, what's the word? . . . condescending.

My experience of working class people is that, in general, they don't like to be treated with condescension - and that some will be very forceful in expressing that dislike.

Now, perhaps I am an "arrogant asshole" and perhaps I should go "fuck [my]self."

Or perhaps the three fingers pointing back at your own good self tell a truer tale that the one finger you're pointing at me.

And BTW, when you and your "party" (whatever tiny conglomeration of purists and true-believers that may be) manages to lose an election with 37% of the vote, then maybe I'll bother listening to your electoral expertise.  The Saskatchewan NDP has some serious issues to work on.  I have yet to see any evidence that you provide us with any useful insight.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Oh, and just so we're clear, K - that last post was meant to be condescending.

Sean in Ottawa

Malcom if you are referring to me, please read more carefully. That was a strawman argument and I called the poster on it several times. There is no excuse to keep riding that very dead horse.

I never defined any working person as being middle class (or not). I did point out that it was beyond a stretch to assume that EVERYONE identified themselves as middle class which is what we have to do in order to define Layton's Statement "the challenges of the middle class" as inclusive. I am fascinated by the grotesque contortions of logic being made here to try to dispute my contention that the "challenges of the middle class" is not inclusive.

I was told those people, who work at Tims identify as middle class (even though I did not bring them up at all). I added that there are people who do not call themselves middle class-- be they unemployed, or disabled, or homeless etc. When I could not afford to see a dentist, put food on the table or pay for basic necessities I can say, I never at that time considered myself middle class. I don't think my kind became extinct when my personal situation improved. I also do not consider the situation I was in to be unique.

Certainly those who aspire to middle class do not necessarily consider themselves as currently facing "middle class challenges" but in fact are facing the challenges of aspiring to middle class and want some attention to those as well. The question of aspiration is irrelevant-- another straw man.

But then I was told that no, pretty much everyone aspires to middle class and to aspire to means to self identify as (using some logic I can't follow). I did say to define people by class is unacceptable among progressives and that middle certainly implies something below-- so whomever is framing that statement is assuming we need to pay more attention to those who are middle than those above (fine) and those below (not fine). I don't much care who we are excluding "middle" implies we are excluding some people below and that message is clear and offensive from the NDP.

So, who on earth here actually wants to make the claim that everyone is middle class? -- that there are no persons excluded by a "middle class challenges" priority? Or are we just going to keep fighting against the things that have never been said and accuse me of being condescending and lecturing based on words I never, ever said?

Then we have the almost humerous logic that I did not include everyone as middle class and therefore it is me being not inclusive.

I am annoyed at the tactic of ignoring what a person is saying in order to argue with great passion against what they never said. That tactic is one of giving the self pleasure rather than engaging in what the other person is saying.

So...

Do we or do we not think that the "challenges of the middle class" are inclusive?

The challenges you face reflect where you think you are now not your aspirations. Do we really think that everyone thinks they are already middle class?

Next question, if we assume that by saying middle class challenges we are leaving out people facing challenges that perhaps are even greater like where to sleep tonight, do we care about those people?

Next question, do middle class NDP voters care about those people?

I think the answers are:

No, not everyone thinks they are currently facing "middle class challenges";

We are leaving out people we care about;

The so-called middle class NDP voter cares about and is motivated by those other people.

This has nothing to do with me lecturing anyone about how they identify. I can be accused of lecturing people who claim to be progressive about the need to be inclusive and not forget the most vulnerable. I can live with that.

Call me whatever you want but please connect it with something I have actually said.

 

Stockholm

Bella.Freeborn wrote:

Thank you.  I am not a Liberal plant, but rather a lifelong -- albeit disappointed -- NDP supporter.  My comment was a reflection of having watched too many lost opportunities to bring down the Harper Conservatives. 

I know exactly what you mean. Harper was on the run in December 2008 when the Liberals and NDP formed a coalition - all it would have taken would have been for Ignatieff to not have reneged on the deal and Harper would have been forced out of office and we would now be into into year two of a Liberal/NDP coalition government that would be bringing in a cornucopia of progressive measures - but thanks to THE LIBERALS - it was not to be. Ignatieff and his party decided it was preferable to prop up Harper for two years in exchange for NOTHING than to form a coalition government with the NDP. Ignatieff should hang his head in shame for that should never be forgiven.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

K - I made a general observation about recent rabble discussions of class.  You decided that I was saying a whole bunch of things about you personally and specifically and then proceeded to suggest I do anatomically impossible acts.

To my mind, this entire argument about the language of class (as distinct from an actual discussion about class) is a pointless diversion.  The people the Layton piece was addressed to (a particular subset of NDP supporters), with a very few exceptions, are likely to identify as middle class or to accept the shorthand reference.  I'm not the one making an issue out of this.  (In fairness, the subsequent p*$$**g match was mostly not from you either.)

I actually agree with much of your substantive comments about class - and that most of the people the NDP represents and appeals to are NOT actually middle class in the usual technical meaning.  I just fail to see the point of insisting on sociologically correct technicalities in the context of broadly or narrowly targetted partisan appeals.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Malcolm and kropotkin, knock it off. Fercrissakes.

Sean in Ottawa

Malcolm wrote:

Tell you what, Kropotkin, here is my experience of the more dogmatic elements on the left - including a significant number of babblers:  There is a lot of condescension.  Seriously.

I actually deal with quite a few working class people every day.  Few of them would self-identify as working class.  Most would self-identify as middle class.

For some on the left, apparently this is a problem to be fixed.  That view seems to me . . . oh, what's the word? . . . condescending.

My experience of working class people is that, in general, they don't like to be treated with condescension - and that some will be very forceful in expressing that dislike.

Now, perhaps I am an "arrogant asshole" and perhaps I should go "fuck [my]self."

Or perhaps the three fingers pointing back at your own good self tell a truer tale that the one finger you're pointing at me.

And BTW, when you and your "party" (whatever tiny conglomeration of purists and true-believers that may be) manages to lose an election with 37% of the vote, then maybe I'll bother listening to your electoral expertise.  The Saskatchewan NDP has some serious issues to work on.  I have yet to see any evidence that you provide us with any useful insight.

Malcom let me be clearer if it helps-- there are people in this country worse off than the lowest paid worker. I am not talking about middle class and I am not talking about working class a term you entered in to the conversation. Those people, traditionally the NDP claimed to champion as well as workers. This is not just a worker's party.

I am glad that you think that "dealing with" the working class is your contribution although the very framing of that sounded quite snobbish to me. Still, we are trying to talk about people who are unemployed, sick, homeless, elderly etc. Are you trying to tell me that all of those people are covered by a priority of middle class challenges?

Please tell me you are not senior in the NDP because I don't really want to go political party shopping right now and I remain confident that this is a significant communications mistake not the thinking of most NDPers. I am a little shocked that other NDPers here are not coming in to this to defend the party as more inclusive than the statement and to say that statement does not reflect their priorities and values.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Catchfire, I rather thought that Kropotkin and I had come to an understanding. Might I respectfully suggest that telling people to "knock it off" when they've kissed and made up is unhelpful?

Sean, if you care to read meanings into my post that simply aren't there, feel free. But surely there are some better things you can do with your time.  You don't like "deal with?"  How about "interact with," "have dealings with" or maybe just "talk to." The BS that you are reading into that is offensive from start to finish. I don't deal working class folk as a "contribution." I have relationships - personal and professional - with these people. However, because I do NOT fit the usual sociological definition of "working class" (though coming from a working class family) I do try to remember the distinction. It's a matter of respect.

Let me reiterate my last comment to Kropotkin: 

"I actually agree with much of your substantive comments about class - and that most of the people the NDP represents and appeals to are NOT actually middle class in the usual technical meaning.  I just fail to see the point of insisting on sociologically correct technicalities in the context of broadly or narrowly targetted partisan appeals."

Finally, if you're the sort who leaves a party because you can't stand it when someone calls you on your condescension, then I can't say I can find any reason to respect you. Taking one's bat and ball and running home is hardly an admirable act.

al-Qa'bong

I work at a trade school.  Part of what I do is to question our perceptions about the meaning of language.  When I ask what "working class" means, I usually get a positive response.  Some identify as working class, some as middle class.  Some equate working class with "lower class," but not many.

Then I get to haul out Raymond Williams and tell them that the term "working class" originated as a source of pride among the "industrious classes" who were those of their time who would git 'er done, as opposed to the idle classes who lived off their labour.

al-Qa'bong

...does what?

 

And what the hell is "whinging"?

 

We whine in Canada.

KenS

What kind of courses do you teach at a trade school?

Sean in Ottawa

Malcolm wrote:

Sean, if you care to read meanings into my post that simply aren't there, feel free. But surely there are some better things you can do with your time.  You don't like "deal with?"  How about "interact with," "have dealings with" or maybe just "talk to." The BS that you are reading into that is offensive from start to finish. I don't deal working class folk as a "contribution." I have relationships - personal and professional - with these people. However, because I do NOT fit the usual sociological definition of "working class" (though coming from a working class family) I do try to remember the distinction. It's a matter of respect.

Cute how you zero in and focus on a small part of my post that had very little relevance other than to retort some anger back to you and then you ignore everything else. Distract, evade, obfuscate -- you don't think that this is easily seen through? Even cuter to acuse me of doing what you have done throughout the thread -- argue against what is not there.

How about coming back and addressing the substantive parts of my post--

And to be clear-- yes it still looks like your relationship with "these people" as you call them is coming across as name dropping rather than understanding especially as you continue to refuse to acknowledge that I was not just talking about working people as I have said over and over and you ignore over and over. Now why don't you move on to find a typo in my post since you seem determined to focus on everything but the main points being raised?

And frankly I do not put any weight in to the experiences and insights of a person who thinks everyone who works considers themselves as middle class and considers their challenges to be middle class challenges.

How about we think of examples of middle class challenges:

How to buy a house in an unaffordable market;

How to manage without a pension for tomorrow;

How to care for ill relatives;

How to deal with increasing costs of necessities;

how to pay for higher education for their kids.

How about we think of examples of challenges people who cannot aspire to middle class consider:

How to make the rent next month (or find a place they can pay rent for);

How to stop the phone from being cut off;

How to stop the pain in the jaw without just pulling the tooth;

How to get a job;

How to get to the job;

How to put food on the table or whether it is better to try to pay the rent this month;

How to manage without a pension TODAY;

How to manage the people banging down the door asking for money;

How to put clothes on the backs of their kids;

How to pay for this prescription or decide what to do without to get it or how bad it will be not to fill it;

Yes these are all challenges but these are not the same challenges. And if you can't see the difference between the lists please don't go after picking one here or there that might be shared-- there are themes. One is long-term security which is the theme of the middle class and the other is day to day survival which is the theme of those who have less than the middle class.

The middle class, includes many we understand only one or two lost pay cheques from no longer being middle class but those one or two pay cheques are hugely significant for those without them.

To use my personal experience. I know the difference between my life today when I can use Visa to pay a bill that I don't have enough money for and know the lights won't get cut off and that I definitely have the rent covered for next month. It is an entirely different world-- one that you seem to express no knowledge about even if you know it in theory. And I remember the struggles when I had no such "comfort." Today I am much better off even though more than half my income goes to housing and I live in the very cheapest townhouse in the city.

My political conviction is based on this. The understanding that I am struggling with what I have but am light years from where I was and want to never forget those who live today as I lived only ten years ago. I put my tongue in to the corners of my mouth where I feel the teeth missing that were lost only because I could not afford a filling and understand that you know nothing about what you are talking about. I know as I struggle to make sure I can pay for the crown for a tooth, that at least I have basic dental insurance that I live a different life from when I could not fill a cavity. If you ever experienced poverty, it seems you have forgotten what it is like.

Further this middle class first thing is not a minor idea-- this is the idea of setting taxpayers against those who have no income. It is a conservative ideological conspiracy that I will not have the NDP fall in to without at least my personal one-person complaint.

Yes, the middle class suffers but no, they are not the only ones and any time they are mentioned as an objective for our attention, so too should the people worse off than them (us) otherwise we encourage the greatest political scandal of our time where the middle class is set upon the poor for the few resources left on the table after the wealthiest have indulged themselves. It is this Mike Harris-inspired appeal to the middle class that they are the ones paying for the excess of welfare etc. that we fall in to when we embrace this garbage. The NDP should never, ever draw lines between the poor and the middle class by any definition and must include BOTH in every statement of interest, sympathy or desired policy direction.

And no again, this is not trivial. This is who we are.

 

George Victor

Sean: "Cute how you zero in and focus on a small part of my post that had very little relevance other than to retort some anger back to you and then you ignore everything else. Distract, evade, obfuscate -- you don't think that this is easily seen through?"

 

 

That is the standard here, Sean. You'll have to take up cussin' or you'll have a coniption!

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Okay Malcolm I cans still work with others after a good argument.  I think the language is not helpful and it is sloppy and should not be showing up in anything.  It is bad writing.  Do you get my point now? I have been an organizer in many elections and have only ever worked for one party.  Whoever wrote hopefully will give their head a shake and do better next time.

The reason you ticked me off is because I think tired old messaging is not what the party needs to make significant breakthroughs in urban areas. I was in Saskatoon at the Labour Day Picnic and I don't believe for a minute using terms like middle class would appeal to the neighbourhood people who attended. Especially in the phrase; "And to replace it with New Democrat leadership that cares about the challenges that middle-class families face right now."  

Tell that the people in the park who  were there not for the rah rah union speeches but for the hot dogs and see how impressed they are with your language.  The NDP needs a consistent message and I keep hoping it will be directed at more than the challenges of the middle class.  Imagine if you got the people from the neighbourhoods around the park to come out to vote in the percentages that farmers from outside the city do?  That what I am talking about.

ottawaobserver

Oh brother, I hate it when my friends fight.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Yes, the middle class suffers but no, they are not the only ones and any time they are mentioned as an objective for our attention, so too should the people worse off than them (us) otherwise we encourage the greatest political scandal of our time where the middle class is set upon the poor for the few resources left on the table after the wealthiest have indulged themselves. It is this Mike Harris-inspired appeal to the middle class that they are the ones paying for the excess of welfare etc. that we fall in to when we embrace this garbage. The NDP should never, ever draw lines between the poor and the middle class by any definition and must include BOTH in every statement of interest, sympathy or desired policy direction.

And no again, this is not trivial. This is who we are.

 

Sean, I not only agree with this, but I find it an inspirational statement. I also suspect that Malcolm agrees with it, but once battle lines are drawn people find it difficult to back down. In another thread, I tried to intervene when Malcolm was condemning those who use the "working class" terminology, but to no effect. I don't know why this issue of what class people call themselves is so important to him, but in my humble opinion it seems to blind him to the content of what his perceived opponents are proposing. I suggest you try to get some emotional distance from this debate. It isn't that important.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Ottawa Observer-- I real feel for you torn in a situation like this. But sometimes these are not trivial lines. What we are fighting abut is how far should the NDP cease to be what it is in order to pander to those who likely will never support it anyway. How confident could the NDP be to appeal to the self-identified  middle class while explicitly including others who are worse off. I doubt that anyone would be turned off by that.

It goes beyond messaging it is about the very substance of what we are. And I see myself not as a radical leftie that does not make compromise and move to the centre in some respects to get more support. To me to forget everyone but those who identify themselves as middle class is a move to the right not the centre. Even at the centre we remember who is the most in need-- even the Liberal party, who will never do much to help them won't forget them in their rhetoric.

Anyway, I have posted long here and passionately but not out of hatred for anyone here. I am not trying to attack individuals here. I am only trying to hold ont to the fundamental core of what I most care about. I also want to signal to some others who have felt the NDP does not care that some of us do and within this party there are still some who will stand up for this.

I also believe that Jack Layton remains one who will and that is why I have only characterized that as a terrible communications mistake and never assumed that this is really what he meant to say.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

There may well be a way - and there could certainly be great value - to "rehabilitate" the idea of "working class" among those to whom that term is normally applied.

I'm just not convinced that whinging about innocuous phrases in a narrowcast political begging letter is particularly useful.

 

(Edited to address the sentence fragment helpfully pointed out by al-Qa'bong.)

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Michael, at no point in my life have I EVER condemned those who use the terminology "working class."  What I have done is criticized those who seemingly insist that it is the only legitimate terminology and that any references to that particular demographic must necessarily address them with that terminology.

Kropotkin, we are absolutely agreed that stale talking points will get us nowhere.

Sean your hypocrisy is really quite stunning.  Your most recent post is a tissue of distraction, evasion and obfuscation, laced with a large dose of lying and slander. You really do need to grow up.

Alternatively, you could take up Kropotkin's (since withdrawn) suggestion in post #76.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Malcolm wrote:
Sean your hypocrisy is really quite stunning.  Your most recent post is a tissue of distraction, evasion and obfuscation, laced with a large dose of lying and slander. You really do need to grow up.

Malcolm, this is over the line into a personal attack. Dial it back, now. This is your second warning from a moderator in this thread.

Sean in Ottawa

Malcolm, once more your response to me is entirely content free other than the personal attack already responded to.

And quite an attack it was given that you still will not touch the substance of the discussion or identify what you think I am lying about.

The most charitable way I could receive your post would be to take it that you are aware of what I am saying but do not care about those issues and are thus blinded from the point.

It is okay not to care about what another person cares about but that does not make them a liar. I called you a liar because you kept arguing things I was not saying. As insulting as that may have been I substantiated it which you have not. I realize we are not to call people names here. Sometimes I think people get away with it-- in those cases the difference is usually they at least take the effort to explain what justifies the name calling and sometimes there has been enough of that on both sides.

A second somewhat charitable interpretation is that somewhere you misread something I wrote and have relied on it ever since. If that is possible then please go back and reread from an objective point of view. I find it mystifying that you cannot see my objection even if it is not one you consider important to you.

As for accusing me of slander, a legal term, I'd be more than willing to identify myself to you so that you can sue me-- I think you would find that somewhat disappointing and costly.

Finally, Malcolm, you seem to think that I have some reason to slander you etc. Since my only contact with you that I am aware of has been in this thread and I don't know who you are, that seems unlikely. Since you came in swinging with this comment you might have a source for our conflict there:

"I realize there are some on this list who think it is our job to explain condescendingly to the poor benighted worker that s/he really is working class, not middle class, and should therefore describe themselves as such. I suggest they go try out that tactic on a few doorsteps and tell me how many teeth they have left when they come home.

remind remind's picture

Funny thing about the use of labels, people usually reject them. Especially when they are being imposed upon oneself and are really negative no matter how the spin..

Moreover, people talking about "working class pride" and its being missing is such a log of hogwash, as to be right wing propaganda.

We have  alleged lefties here disparaging the "working class" by saying such things as; I fought/worked/pulled myself up by my bootstraps to become 'middle class', I am not working class, but I know "working class because I came from it". And other such intonations of the same. 

As the reality appears to be that some on the left want to perceive they are better than others, namely working class people, because they are now 'middle class', having pulled themselves "up" there.

In order to be "up there" in the middle class, they need other people to be down there as "working class" or even "under class", or apparently in their own minds they ain't anybody. So why would they want to assist the classes below them to have a decent life?  truth apparently is they really don't.

What IMV is happening is that blue collar workers are rejecting white collar workers notions of supremacy, while those others who fit neither category don't give a rat's ass, as to anyone's phoney class pretentions and condescending attitudes. They will exist outside the system as much as possible because they know the system is fucked and in self destruct mode.

Sean in Ottawa

Or more to the point-- we should be avoiding classist language and when we want to refer to people's circumstance we can use terms like "middle income" rather than "middle class"

I suspect a lot of people with lower incomes have less trouble hearing terms like "lower income" than "lower class"

For myself, I tend to receive the word "class" as referencing income and when I start a conversation in that area I use the term income. Here I was complaining about a term already referenced as class.

It seems strange in this thread that when I said there are people who do not identify or feel they fit in to terms like middle class, some thought I was calling others as "working class" or something else. The sole point was that "middle class" is not inclusive and is in fact offensive to some.

So to answer the question what they could have said is that the "NDP will have as it priority the challenges of those in middle and lower income families." Now perhaps they can test that but I think that is the best representation of what we are looking for and it does not exclude anyone but the very well off.

Now Remind-- who here said they worked/fought or pulled themselves up from the bootstraps to become middle class? I said that I was better off than I was ten years ago but I did not attribute that to anything I did. In fact I caught a lucky break. And I never did subscribe or identify myself as working class-- because I reject such notions. I certainly did move from lower income to what is  considered middle income and have faced the very different set of challenges of both income levels.

Perhaps you are speaking of someone else? Otherwise there is a world of distinction in your complaint between someone who says that life sucked and now it doesn't as much but I remember, and someone saying that they orchestrated that transition and therefore so should/can everyone else. The difference is quite insulting so I want to think you are speaking about someone other than me since I am careful to never, ever claim personal responsibility for my better fortunes. I happen to be a person well in touch with both the concept of randomness and the concept of public good. I don't think anyone mentioned "boot straps" before you did.

Another reason to avoid labels that end in class is the very offensive but popular consideration of "cultural capital" which can mean anything from the good fortune of having parents who were educated and spoke well to extremely classist notions that are often tinged with prejudice and bigotry. Mid-high-and lower income as terms are much more objective and less judgmental. I would prefer if the NDP wants to make lines that these are the lines they draw avoiding concepts of class altogether.

Sean in Ottawa

Perhaps some of the confusion in this thread is a question of a charitable reading of Layton's letter to read "middle class" as "middle income," and I may have contributed to that. At moments, I have responded reading and meaning it to be income and at other moments I have reminded people that references to class are classist and should be avoided. This comes from an attempt to read it the best way possible.

I was offended by it even as I read it to mean middle income because that is not inclusive. If I should have read it down the line as middle class in a meaning other than income then my complaint would grow exponentially as would my feeling about some other's comments in defence of it or in defence of the notion that it is trivial.

I usually try to read something in the best possible light so when I hear "middle class" I usually take that to mean "middle income" because any other notion of class is an obscenity even if I remind the person that the word class should be avoided. Now this may be more semantical than my complaint was. Some here seem to be wanting to forget that the original complaint I raised was not about terms or identifying people or semantics but about clearly non-inclusive language regardless of the specific definition you choose-- I had hoped not to delve deeply in to the specific multiple definitions possible for a term that is by any definition exclusionary of many people who the NDP is supposed to stand for and with. Somehow a pissing match emerged from there that I can only suspect began as a partisan defence of the indefensible but I hope I am wrong on that score.

Pages

Topic locked