NDP Caucus meeting in Regina

75 posts / 0 new
Last post
Cueball Cueball's picture

I think that Al Q. meant that  Thomas Carlyle believed that the "masses" were dumb and inarticulate. That Thomas Carlyle was an leftist "elitiest".

George Victor wrote:

al-Qa'bong wrote:

Stockholm wrote:

Why CAN'T we all just get along???

 

That's what I heard Mike Ignatieff say on The House this weekend.

 

It's a good thing to say if you want to disarm those you're snowing, and liberals like you and Iggy tend to use this sort of language quite a bit.

We in the working class are naturally suspicious of such tactics.

 

George Victor: 

"Are you feeling sort of  "liberal" these days, Stock, a tag applied by an admitted member of the "working class"?   You must remember never, ever to say things that have already put forward by "liberals" or "Liberals."  This identifies you immediately as liberal, or Liberal.

Do NOT expect reasonable - or even intelligent - responses to such appeals.  As you can see, a "natural" suspicion - in this circumstance, one might even say paranoid reaction -  is all one can expect. Statements from the gut, mean diddly squat to such folks."

 

Cue, on the "gross ignorance" of Malcolm and Stock:

"Not that Stockholm would disagree with you. Indeed you missed the boat there, too. Stockholm is in complete agreement with eliminating class, and class analysis from political discourse.

Not to mention, I think your construction of racist slang, as being comparable to economic terminology like "working class" and "poor" shows gross ignorance of racism. Maybe you don't even know what it is. Other than someone taught you to not use certain words because other people find them offensive."

 

Cue, on the virtues of George Victor:

"I have news for you, making generalized statements is not to be mistaken for objectivity. Seriously, you are old enough now to know better. Someone surely must have taught you enough basic social skills so that you don't always come off like a smarmy and manipulative prig?"

 

 

Ah, "objectivity" rules...one must never respond in kind.

 

What I mean George is that if you are going to say something to someone say it to them, and about what they are saying, don't talk around them, as if they are not there.

al-Qa'bong

remind wrote:

Al'Q wrote:
with the dumb inarticulate masses

 ...and yet some people had a fit about George using  the phrase "the great unread".

Carlyle, writing in 1848, was using "dumb" in the sense of "mute" or "voiceless."  The masses had few ways of articulating their grievances or being heard during the Industrial Revolution other than by taking to the streets, machine-breaking and rick-burning.  The response of the ruling classes was sometimes articulated through musket fire, as at Peterloo.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Cueball wrote:

Malcolm wrote:

laine lowe wrote:

I recognize that it's considered passé to even address any class differences in this day and age. Heaven forbid we try to unite people who are being equally screwed by our corporate culture. Today's political arena is focused on balancing appeal along varioius divides: urban/rural, environmental/economical, cultural/religious, regional, etc. Politics by polling rather than principles.

 

We aren't going to unite people very effectively if we impose labels on them.  "The working class" do not see themselves as working class.  (For that matter, significant swathes of "the poor" do not see themselves as poor.)

You seem like a reasonable person.  I suspect you don't refer to African-Americans / African-Canadians as "negroes."  You probably avoid referring to First Nations people as "Indians."  Two generations ago, it was perfectly acceptable to refer to a person of mixed First Nations and European ancestry as "Half-Breed" - provided the European ancestors were Scottish, and in such a case, calling the person "Métis" would have been profoundly offensive.  But very few of us would refer to such a person as "Half-Breed" now because such a person would find that term offensive and would likely prefer "Métis."

I fail to see why the phrase "working class" should be a shibboleth, when virtually no one in the country identifies themselves in that way.  I'm sure they'll all respond so well to some university educated suburbanite like Stockholm explaining to them that, really, they should describe themselves as "working class" and that their own self-understanding is a load of shite.

Hey Stock, come visit me.  We can go out canvassing in North Regina and you can try it out and we can report back to Laine on how many NDP voting doorsteps we got chased off. 

This is an absurd reiteration of the idea that poor people and working class people should be ashamed to be poor or working class. The difference between organizations which offer a world view where being poor, or working class is something to be proud of and one that believes it is something to be ashamed of sends this message by talking as if they are dirty words, or even somehow comparble to racist slang, in this case, is that the latter feed into the mythology of consumer capitalism, whereby all people have a shot at the "brass ring" by teaching them we are all fundamentally the same, and "beyond" class, and everyone has a shot at the "apple pie" dream.

 

 

Bullshit.

This isn't about "making" people be ashamed of being working class.  This is about RESPECTING people's right to be identified as they see fit.

Cueball, it appears you're just another elitist who has the right to apply labels to people regardless of what they want to be called. 

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

laine lowe wrote:

Don't think I didn't notice Malcolm equating my use of the term working class with racist slurs. I was so taken aback that I almost flagged that post as offensive but thought why bother.

As for knocking on doors, I have no desire to knock on anymore doors for the NDP. Certainly sounds like the rank and file campaigners have changed dramatically from the days I used to canvass for votes. Kind of saw the writing on the wall on the last campaign I worked on in the late 90s. I won't name names but I was amazed at how far up the ranks our team leader rose.

 

Again, I call bullshit.

You may not like facts, Laine, but the point remains that two generations ago, that was the term preffered BY THAT GROUP!!!!!!  Today, that group prefers a different term - and those who would apply the former term would (rightly) be described as racists.

 

So, what is the correct term for a person who continually insists that a group of people be labelled by a term they reject?

JKR

Malcolm wrote:

When someone shown me a mass of people who want to be called "working class," I'll happily call them that.

So what term do you use?

The NDP seems to like the term "ordinary Canadians."

"Middle class" is also a popular term, especially in the US. But that leaves out the "lower class."

I think most people would agree that classes do exist, and that the upper class is gaining more power by the minute. Growing class inequality is an issue. If we don't have terms to describe classes of people, how will we be able to tackle the problem of class inequality in the first place?

I think capitalist elites want to make it taboo to describe classes in order to sweep the whole problem of class inequality under the rug.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Malcolm wrote:

Cueball wrote:

Malcolm wrote:

laine lowe wrote:

I recognize that it's considered passé to even address any class differences in this day and age. Heaven forbid we try to unite people who are being equally screwed by our corporate culture. Today's political arena is focused on balancing appeal along varioius divides: urban/rural, environmental/economical, cultural/religious, regional, etc. Politics by polling rather than principles.

 

We aren't going to unite people very effectively if we impose labels on them.  "The working class" do not see themselves as working class.  (For that matter, significant swathes of "the poor" do not see themselves as poor.)

You seem like a reasonable person.  I suspect you don't refer to African-Americans / African-Canadians as "negroes."  You probably avoid referring to First Nations people as "Indians."  Two generations ago, it was perfectly acceptable to refer to a person of mixed First Nations and European ancestry as "Half-Breed" - provided the European ancestors were Scottish, and in such a case, calling the person "Métis" would have been profoundly offensive.  But very few of us would refer to such a person as "Half-Breed" now because such a person would find that term offensive and would likely prefer "Métis."

I fail to see why the phrase "working class" should be a shibboleth, when virtually no one in the country identifies themselves in that way.  I'm sure they'll all respond so well to some university educated suburbanite like Stockholm explaining to them that, really, they should describe themselves as "working class" and that their own self-understanding is a load of shite.

Hey Stock, come visit me.  We can go out canvassing in North Regina and you can try it out and we can report back to Laine on how many NDP voting doorsteps we got chased off. 

This is an absurd reiteration of the idea that poor people and working class people should be ashamed to be poor or working class. The difference between organizations which offer a world view where being poor, or working class is something to be proud of and one that believes it is something to be ashamed of sends this message by talking as if they are dirty words, or even somehow comparble to racist slang, in this case, is that the latter feed into the mythology of consumer capitalism, whereby all people have a shot at the "brass ring" by teaching them we are all fundamentally the same, and "beyond" class, and everyone has a shot at the "apple pie" dream.

 

 

Bullshit.

This isn't about "making" people be ashamed of being working class.  This is about RESPECTING people's right to be identified as they see fit.

Cueball, it appears you're just another elitist who has the right to apply labels to people regardless of what they want to be called. 

So you are saying that if some corporate executives want to be called the "grand inquisitors" its slanderous and rude for me to simply point out that there is an economic analysis that identifies them as being "corporate executives"?

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

JKR wrote:

So what term do you use?

The NDP seems to like the term "ordinary Canadians."

"Middle class" is also a popular term, especially in the US. But that leaves out the "lower class."

I think capitalist elites want to make it taboo to describe classes in order to sweep the whole problem of class inequality under the rug.

 

The point of my initial intervention was that the insistence on using the phrase "working class" was ill-conceived.  The purpose of political communications is to persuade people.  Calling people by labels they reject is pretty boneheaded.

I don't have a strong view about which term should be preferred, although "working people" does seem to have a resonance that "working class" does not.  When the NDP first used "ordinary Cannadians" in 1984, it worked well.  Since then, not so much.

I'd probably agree that the economic elites prefer that people don't identify in terms of a class analysis.  However, calling people "working class" if they don't think of themselves as "working class" is a waste of time.

But then, creating phony shibboleths is easy work compared to doing any actual political organizing - and hence it's perfect for the purer-than-puritan whingers on Babble.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Cueball wrote:

So you are saying that if some corporate executives want to be called the "grand inquisitors" its slanderous and rude for me to simply point out that there is an economic analysis that identifies them as being "corporate executives"?

 

The difference, of course, is that I presume you aren't trying to make allies of the grand inquisitors / corporate executives.  Thus, alienating them by the use of a label they reject probably wouldn't hurt your successful persuasion / organization.

However, the NDP wants to earn the support of those people you demand be labelled "working class."  I think calling people by labels they reject is counterproductive when you are trying to win their support.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

I'm a big believer in calling groups of people what they want to be called.  I don't understand, particularly, why African-Canadians went from preferring "negroe" to "coloured" to "black" to "African-Canadian."  But then, I don't have to understand or even agree.  If they (so far as we can get a consensus) prefer to be called, "African-Canadian," then that's what I'll call them.

It's a respect thing, you see.

When someone shown me a mass of people who want to be called "working class," I'll happily call them that.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Cueball wrote:

Not to mention, I think your construction of racist slang, as being comparable to economic terminology like "working class" and "poor" shows gross ignorance of racism. Maybe you don't even know what it is. Other than someone taught you to not use certain words because other people find them offensive.

And yeah, sure, let me know. I will come canvas North Regina anytime, if you give me a place to stay. But I am warning you I wont be canvassing in support of the NDP particularly very much.

 

By the way, your slander about "racist slang" pretty much proves that you have no clue about what you're talking about.  Two generations ago, descendents of First Nations women and Scottish men preferred the term "Half-Breed" to the term "Métis" - which referred to the descendents of First Nations women and French men. That's not "racist slang.  It's what we in the reality based universe call a "fact."  (It's also a fact that the term Métis is now the preferred term by those same people.)

Perhaps you'd like to consider the remote possibility that people can call themselves pretty much what they want without your permission.  And that they are under no obligation to accept the labels you demand they accept.

JKR

Cueball wrote:

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain something that most kids learn by the time they are 12. Its about time you did too.

 

That's rather harsh.

Cueball Cueball's picture

The difference is that race is not about "self-identification". By this example I am showing you the subtle distinction between people being identified by things that are not totally part of themselves, such as economic status, social position, and race, which is an incontrovertible part of who you are.

So, Black people are not going to go around identifying themselves as "Metis", or "half breeds", as you put it, because they happen to "self-identify" that way... because they can't. And this is precisely why "pejoratives" of that particular kind are completely different than making completely objective economic analysis of social systems, and categorizing people by their place in a set of social relations, because social relations are mutable, race is not.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain something that most kids learn by the time they are 12. Its about time you did too.

Lord Palmerston

Survey data from the US generally shows that the vast majority identify as "middle class" when the choice is between lower, middle and upper (no surprise there).   But when the option of working class is given, a substantial proportion identify as such.  To quote Zweig again:

Quote:
The conventional wisdom has it that most Americans identify themselves as members of the middle class so political appeals to the middle class are appropriate for building winning messages. It is true that large majorities say they are in the middle class when the choices given are “upper, middle, lower” or “rich, middle, poor.” But when “working class” is given as a choice, 45 percent to 55 percent of Americans put themselves in the working class.

We do not yet know just what people mean when they identify themselves as working class. We do not know who else they think is in that class with them, and who is not. Nor do we know the strength of that identity in comparison with other identities, whether racial or in terms of particular interests such as being a hunter, a volunteer firefighter, a little league coach, or a “pink lady” hospital volunteer. But it may well be that Americans are ready to hear and identify with class talk when it illuminates the realities of their lives and points to political practice that will improve their and their children’s lives.

Meanwhile, an ABC poll had 39% identifying as working class.

http://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/1106a1MiddleClass.pdf

I don't have Canadian data offhand, but I expect similar numbers.  A pretty substantial group, and probably the majority of the NDP "universe."

 

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

I guess that means a lot of people have low self-esteem, according to recieved wisdom here.

George Victor

quote: "Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain something that most kids learn by the time they are 12. Its about time you did too."

 

"...someone taught you to not use certain words because other people find them offensive."

 

"Seriously, you are old enough now to know better. Someone surely must have taught you enough basic social skills..."

 

 

Differing political perspectives would appear to be all about "growing up", being "taught"...or something. Although age 12 seems rather arbitrary.

George Victor

But just by suggesting anyone could compare the two as anywhere parallel shows exactly who is in need of perspective and some larnin' Cue. The tactic of exaggeration should be reserved for humour.

Cueball Cueball's picture

If you think that seriously taking up the view that calling someone "working class" is similar to calling someone a "nigger", for or against, is merely a matter of "differing political perspectives" then you have a lot of learning and growing up to do too, George.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Stepping in, moderator hat on.

Malcolm, your posts are pretty hostile, what with the calling of other people's opinions "bullshit". Dial it down.

Cueball, your comments about people needing to learn something are bordering on personal attacks and you need to dial it down too.

George if you could be more direct when spewing invective, and also spew less invective, it would be greatly appreciated.

As for terminology used by the working class (however that's defined), there will not be agreement. Here or anywhere. Sounds like an interesting discussion for a new thread.

Some markers of social location change over time, or at least have the ability to change over time. Age, physical ability and class can, may and/or will change over the course of our lifetimes. Race does not, even though racial identity may change. Again, a topic for another thread, ideally by someone with that lived experience.

Plus, we are all taught to identify with the middle class, whatever our income level, employment type and education achieved. For some this means they want to flatten their acknowledgement of their class privilege, for others it's a way to "pass" into the middle class, and yes that 's based on shame and fear of class-based oppression. Which is very real by the way.

Finally, is there any possible way for this thread to get back on topic?

KenS

The Caucus meeting has been over for days. And I dont imagine there are more than 20 posts in here on the ostensible subject of the thread.

If there was going to be a new thread on the topic, it would have to link to here as the continuing discussion.

Not that there ever was any discussion, even before it turned to pure invective.

I agree with Maysie about class in a nutshell. But there probably wouldnt be much room for that approach even in a more civil discussion here.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Maysie, would you care to make an observation about baseless charges of racism?

Cueball, the use of "Half Breed" has nothing to do with how I put it.  It was, until about a generation ago, the preferred self-designation for descendents of First Nations women and British (usually Scottish) fur traders.  They saw themselves as distinct from the Métis.  Your claim that this was a pejorative term is an anachronism.

The point, of course, was that you and others accused the NDP of lacking principle because it does not frame its communications in terms of a class analysis, nor does it speak to its universe of supporters as "the working class."  If you believe that calling groups by labels they would not use to describe themselves (and which they might find offensive) is an effective means of communications, then you are welcome to start your own party and try it out.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to show me a demographic group who self-identify as "working class," I remain perfectly happy to address them as such.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Malcolm, I think you are making a mistake by basing your opinion on whether or not people want to be called "working class". The point is that, whatever we call the various classes, they are a real phenomenon, and there is real class warfare going on right now. Furthermore, the corporate elite, whatever you wish to call them , are well on their way to accomplishing their long term objective of reversing the historic gains made in the 20th century by those who actually do the work, whatever they call themselves. See, for example http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199505--.htm.

Even if the high priced propagandists who have been making diligent efforts to expunge the "working class" from popular speech in recent decades have had some success, that doesn't mean the problem has gone away, simply that it is more difficult to find the words to talk about it.

 

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Michael, go back and read the thread.  I've never argued that the working class does not exist, nor that class analysis is not a valuable tool in understanding politics and economics.  In fact, nobody has argued that.

The issue here was people criticizing the NDP for not using the term "working class."

If people don't identify as working class, then calling them working class will be counterproductive in trying to generate support within that group.  That's the issue.

I think it's more important to get working class folk to see that the parties of the corporate elite are not on their side.  Cuball and Laine appear to believe it's more important to get working class folk to use a particular term when speaking about themselves.

al-Qa'bong

I don't know about that.  Wouldn't it be helpful if working class people could recognise that they're working class - using the term if that's what it takes - which may help them identify whose policies and practices are hostile to them?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Malcolm wrote:

I think it's more important to get working class folk to see that the parties of the corporate elite are not on their side.  Cuball and Laine appear to believe it's more important to get working class folk to use a particular term when speaking about themselves.

I completely agree with you that the objective is to have more people understand the realities of power and wealth in our society. I am not so sure that Cueball and Laine disagree with that objective.

 

Pages