Why the left is losing the war.

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trippie
Why the left is losing the war.

It's articles like this, that contribute to the lack of understanding. Here is a guy that should know better and what does he do with his position? Write some drivel about nothing. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/872878--walkom-recession-and-... If the left is failing then it should look no further then at the people that now what socialism is. People in position of responsibility that have sold out and tried to reform instead of rebuild. You don't want militancy in the ranks? You want to marginalize them? You don't want to call a spade a spade? They you get what you get.

Fidel

I think capitalism has to do a proper swan dive before voters will be ready to choose the left. There will be no real recovery anywhere in the western world under the neoliberal scheme of things in the next ten years. I think we could see the NDP in federal government before very long.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Relax dude.

trippie

Cueball,

Relax? Seriously?

Miss-information is what's holding things up.

The sooner you address the matter the better.

Fidel,

I'm thinking educating and preparing while waiting for the swan dive would be a good idea.

trippie

Cueball,

Remember back a few month ago, after all that G20 public inquiry thing was going on?

I was posting comments about having a citizens inquiry and not waiting for the bourgeoisie to do it. We had a little debate over it. How are things looking on that file right now?

The sooner we come to terms with our environment, the sooner we can take steps to correct our path.

Peole like Walkom know better, and they should act accordingly. If not, we should let them know. If they don't change then we should move on.

I've sent this guy an e-mail before in hopes of starting a dialoge. He replied once and that was it. What am I to think?

Fidel

I think this is a good article from American Michael Hudson describing how the left(Labour and social democrats) lost its way over the last 30 years.

[url=http://michael-hudson.com/2010/05/neoliberalism-and-the-counter-enlighte... and the Counter-Enlightenment[/url]

We have to get back to Marxian roots on classical economics. We can't support the junk economics of neoliberalism that is wrecking the international economy today after a 28 year glorious run in the sun. Real left parties have to start promoting a shift of taxation off of labour and consumers and back toward taxing land and property.

These neoliberal ideologues over the last 35 years have managed to reverse an 800 year trend toward governments and courts favoring debtors over creditors. The bastards have basically brought back rule by a financier oligarchy and banking elite in our life times.

Rabbledouser

Walkom is dead on. Socialism has failed around the world, with a few notable exceptions. Even China has seen the light and is embracing capitalism. Returning, as Fidel would have it, to Marxian roots, would certainly add nails to the socialist coffin. Unions which face up to reality and make concessions maintain the membership's jobs. Those that don't, put their members out on the streets. In the mid 80's in Victoria, Safeway was the only unionized shop and were hurting because of that. They had perhaps 8 stores in the greater Victoria area. They went to the union and asked for concessions, the union decliined the invitation and within months, all but three Safeways were closed and all those jobs, those union jobs, lost.

Fidel

As Michael Hudson says, there is an alternative to neoliberal ideology.

[url=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-social-welfare-stat... Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology[/url] 2006

Are higher taxes and strong social "safety nets" antagonistic to a prosperous market economy? The evidence is now in

Jeffrey Sachs wrote:
von Hayek suggested that high taxation would be a "road to serfdom," a threat to freedom itself.*

von Hayek was wrong.

thorin_bane

I give this character 2 days before getting the boot, any takers?

Fidel

Full-time job creation numbers are fewer and fewer after each ideologically induced recession. Three decades three recessions. They are losing "political capital" because of their failed ideology, and they are keenly aware of it on the right and "centre"-right.

Rabbledouser

thorin_bane wrote:

I give this character 2 days before getting the boot, any takers?

Already lasted longer than that, you lose.Tongue out

Fidel

He's just another confused Canadian looking for answers. You've come to the right place, 'douser.

Iwant Liberty

Fidel, you're absolutely on the right track:  "I think capitalism has to do a proper swan dive before voters will be ready to choose the left."  Actually, capitalism did a swan dive many decades ago, some would say more than a century ago.  Unfortunately what we have now is an economic system that is no longer serving the people -- only special interest groups, including bankers & big corporations.  Everyone wants "in" with the government so that they can rule the roost. 

Remember:  true capitalism is about the freedom to do with your money what you want, without the cops knocking on your door.  But we've never really had that.  Not in my lifetime anyway.

What we need is to get the government off the backs of the people and to stop giving handouts to all the special interests that demand priviledge and power and do so in the name of the greater good (which always means what's better for them!).

If the Left can convey the message that they stand for true freedom and getting the government off the backs of the people, then magic will happen!  Because THAT has not been tried for more than a century.

Fidel

Fidel wrote:

I think this is a good article from American Michael Hudson describing how the left(Labour and social democrats) lost its way over the last 30 years.

[url=http://michael-hudson.com/2010/05/neoliberalism-and-the-counter-enlighte... and the Counter-Enlightenment[/url]

We have to get back to Marxian roots on classical economics. We can't support the junk economics of neoliberalism that is wrecking the international economy today after a 28 year glorious run in the sun. Real left parties have to start promoting a shift of taxation off of labour and consumers and back toward taxing land and property.

These neoliberal ideologues over the last 35 years have managed to reverse an 800 year trend toward governments and courts favoring debtors over creditors. The bastards have basically brought back rule by a financier oligarchy and banking elite in our life times.

This is one of the most important  things I've ever posted on babble imho.  What's happened over the last 30 years is, in every sense of the word, un-American. What's happened over the last three decades or so is what the original American colonialists and certain Constitutional framers were trying to avoid re-creating in the new world which was rule by a European financier oligarchy.

2dawall

I am not familiar with Walkom very much so if the commentary here is informed by what he has written elsewhere or previously, I apologize. Yet what I read in that particular piece above (and only that from him that is) is that unions today are short-sighted, narrowly focused and acting like the guilds of yesteryear. In that of itself I really find no fault. I look at what Buzz Hargrove has done with the CAW (as opposed to the how and why the CAW started) and I only find confirmation of that. I look at the behavior of the UFCW for the past 30 years across Canada and I only see more confirmation of and more ammunition for that argument. I know that Bruce Allen, a local CAW president for the St Catherine's area has written more about this with what I take to be closer insight. I wish he submitted articles here (if he does under a nom de plume, again I apologize); he is one of the more underrated activists, writers we have in this country.

 

 

Fidel

Thomas Walkom wrote:
In the ‘30s, Canada’s unemployment rate hit 20 per cent. This time, it is less than half that.

But the feds don't count the unemployed like they used to either. The Liberals made sure of that, Mr Walkom. Short memory?

The truth isn't in the numbers in another measurable way in terms of full-time job creation. The numbers were better before FTA and before NAFTA.

We've lost somewhere more than a third of a million good paying jobs in Canada since start of the 2000s and replaced many of them with lowly paid, non-unionized, part-time and seasonal jobs. More than $6 billion dollars in higher pay wages have been sucked out of Ontario's economy since 2003.

This is all good if you want to hand control of the country and economy over to bankers and foreign creditors. It's an excellent way to enslave the country and future generations with massive debt. I think they call it feudalism or colonialism or a mix of both. But it isn't democracy, Mr Walkom.

Cueball Cueball's picture

trippie wrote:

Cueball,

Remember back a few month ago, after all that G20 public inquiry thing was going on?

I was posting comments about having a citizens inquiry and not waiting for the bourgeoisie to do it. We had a little debate over it. How are things looking on that file right now?

The sooner we come to terms with our environment, the sooner we can take steps to correct our path.

Peole like Walkom know better, and they should act accordingly. If not, we should let them know. If they don't change then we should move on.

I've sent this guy an e-mail before in hopes of starting a dialoge. He replied once and that was it. What am I to think?

Information has nothing to do with anything. Everyone knows what is going on. They just have to look at their bank account and they can see it. At the end of the day it is organization that counts, and what is lacking, not critical thinking, or knowledge.

milo204

But he's right in the sense unions have gotten soft on confronting corporate dominance and challenging policy and being a voice for people.  It might not be their fault, but it is the case.  When was the last time there was a general strike?  A factory occupation?  

The problem is the owners of the country have decimated the unions by destroying many of industries that have been organized in the private sector, slowly whittling away their benefits with each recession or signing trade deals that make sure union jobs get transferred to developing countries with no labour rights.  This has left the entire population on a hook, with rising debt, stagnant income and few rights at work.  They feel they have to make concessions just to keep whatever meager piece of the pie they currently have or they'll be on the street.  It's capitalism at it's finest.

in some ways, and chomsky has alluded to this, this is the perfect climate for organizing.  Most of the population is essentially in favor of the principles and ideas of the left, but like the tea party in the states, they are only being spoken to by the extreme right that is working against them.  

absentia

After this recession ends, there will be plenty of jobs, tra-la.

Why does everyone, on right and left, think job-creation is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Job creation is a crock. For one thing, it's never gonna happen. Once the factories have moved to China or Korea, they're not coming back. A few more real estate agents and store clerks may be hired, but they'll never get living wage again, and the unions ... Well, anyway, there is no going back: no past circumstance will ever - can ever - be reproduced.    

And that's okay, because employment was always a bad idea. Whoever coined the phrase "wage-slave" knew his onions. Dividing the world into bosses and workers was probably the biggest mistake humanity ever made (though compound interest is right up there.)

We need to work to produce things like clothing and bicycles, roofing tiles and corn chips. But who says it has to be under the auspices of a company, by powerless peons? If the government won't regulate corporations and protect workers, then the workers need to become incorporated. Everyone a freelancer (you can assemble teams or crews, if you like, but it'll get more complicated). Somebody needs work done, negotiate a contract.

Just a thought. There may be other ways of going forward. But mainly the left needs to distinguish gears. Reverse doesn't work. And we need to stop accepting the language of the right, all their terms and definitions and frames of reference. We need to call things as they actually are. It's not like there was a shortage of smart, articulate lefties!

milo204

the big problem is, how do you move from an ownership, boss-worker society to a worker controlled environment.  First the workers need to get organized enough to take over the means of production and make it happen, and that is essentially a union-like structure.

that is a major shift that might take 50/100 years to implement, and it starts by working people organizing themselves so that the power difference isn't so huge.  To me the first step is getting the population informed enough so that they know the current financial system is screwing them and how.  Then people can begin to organize and implement the change that starts chipping away at the corporate dominance of the country/world and hopefully get to the point where there is no bosses or owners.  

As it is right now, the idea of collective ownership scares the crap out of most everyone so we got a long long way to go before things like worker control become a reality.

absentia

milo204 wrote:

the big problem is, how do you move from an ownership, boss-worker society to a worker controlled environment.  First the workers need to get organized enough to take over the means of production and make it happen, and that is essentially a union-like structure.

No, no, no! Not organizations. That would going back. Organizations gain power and become corrupt; lose power and become impotent; are always hampered by dissent, difference of interests and priorities and vision. Individuals. This is what the stupid tea party shoud be doing and won't. Breaking down the conglomorates, the institutions, all the organizations.

Quote:
that is a major shift that might take 50/100 years to implement

There isn't 50 years. The shift, whatever it turns out to be, will happen much sooner than that. Unaided, the shift is going to look like a landslide and a whole lot of people will be under it. If the right is allowed to give the decisive push, the shift will look like that sludge in Hungary, and a whole lot of people will be burned before they drown. If the decisive shove is gicven by regular people, all over the place, acting on their own .... who knows?

Quote:
... the first step is getting the population informed enough so that they know the current financial system is screwing them and how.

Absolutely. That's the hard part, with them in control of media.

Fidel

absentia wrote:
Job creation is a crock. For one thing, it's never gonna happen. Once the factories have moved to China or Korea, they're not coming back. [...] We need to work to produce things like clothing and bicycles, roofing tiles and corn chips.

I disagree. And this is where social democrats in the Nordic countries have shown how to create competitive economies in light of the neoliberalorama of the last 35 years.

Swedish social democrats, for example, observed what was happening in the 1980s with G8 powerhouse economies Japan and Germany and US competing for electronics and manfacturing. The Swedes decided that they would let the giants compete dog-eat-dog fashion for those jobs while creating niches for themselves in medical research, telecommunications, wood products, chainsaws, cars even and so on. The Swedes decided to invest in people and education and job skills training to supply fickle multinational corporate demand for skilled workers.

Meanwhile our ideologues here have gutted EI and other investments in people. Western corporations follow the approach to invest in middle and other management and squeeze them to squeeze more productivity from the lowly skilled and replaceable read "flexible" labour force a la neoliberal ideology. And Nortel workers can tell you how well that worked out for them as the ideology failed to allow Canada's flagship telecom company to compete with telecoms like Nokia and Ericsson in the late 90s-2000s. The Swedes stole contracts in Europe and Japan to supply then with high tech 3G and 4G telco switching equipment.

And now North American car companies have lost market share to European and Asian car manufacturers for a number of reasons. One of them is socialized medicine. Private health care costs are said to tack on anywhere from $1000 to $1500 dollars per US made car over and above Eur-Asian competitors. It's been said by US car company officials themselves that they can compete with Toyota and VW and Hyundai but not with Japan and Germany and Korea. The Yanks will allow their car companies to lose even more jobs and money sooner than admit that the conservative-capitalist ideology is broken and costing them dearly in terms of jobs and competitveness.

Canada needs not to compete with China or Mexico or other countries where large low wage workforces allow for longer production runs of just about any cheap plastic widget or corn flake someone might want to produce. No, Canadians need to invest in people and manufacture what other countries want to buy, and because Canadians will be the best in the world or among the best in the world at such and such a technology or service or whatever. We have everything we need to become an economy of the future. But competing with third world developing economies for low tech production is not where we want to be. That way is a road to serfdom.

ygtbk

Fidel wrote:

As Michael Hudson says, there is an alternative to neoliberal ideology.

[url=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-social-welfare-stat... Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology[/url] 2006

Are higher taxes and strong social "safety nets" antagonistic to a prosperous market economy? The evidence is now in

Jeffrey Sachs wrote:
von Hayek suggested that high taxation would be a "road to serfdom," a threat to freedom itself.*

von Hayek was wrong.

Any proof, or just an assertion? von Hayek had it closer to right than anybody else in the 1940's, so far as I can tell.

absentia

@ Fidel

That would have been fine, 30 years ago. In fact, Canada wasn't doing badly, then. But that time has passed.

Nobody needs any more frickin' cars! If Canadian manufacturers had any sense, they'd have converted the car factories to make mass transit vehicles for ourselves and other smart countries; we'd have been first on solar technology and so forth. But it's too late now. Too much has already been looted and gutted. The Industrial Age is finished. China and Korea (probably India, too, if it doesn't wake up in time) are going to be stuck with a lot of plastic crap - and shoes, and tractors, too - that nobody can buy. Plus all the environmental and social fallout. They'll cope.

Pretty soon, there will be no manufacturing, nor shipping of raw materials and finished goods on a large scale. There will be local craftspeople, making necessities for their neighbours, from local resources. Everyone is going to be self-employed. Get a head start by seceding from the rat-race now. 

Besides, imagine all the damp underwear in government offices, when four million articles of incorporation are filed in one day. Every one of those corporations will demand tax-breaks, deferments and bail-outs.

j.m.

ygtbk wrote:

Fidel wrote:

As Michael Hudson says, there is an alternative to neoliberal ideology.

[url=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-social-welfare-stat... Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology[/url] 2006

Are higher taxes and strong social "safety nets" antagonistic to a prosperous market economy? The evidence is now in

Jeffrey Sachs wrote:
von Hayek suggested that high taxation would be a "road to serfdom," a threat to freedom itself.*

von Hayek was wrong.

Any proof, or just an assertion? von Hayek had it closer to right than anybody else in the 1940's, so far as I can tell.

And, when you examine von Hayek's words in an era post-neoliberal reforms you see the road to serfdom - a handful of wealthy people (the consolidation of political and economic power by the elite, as David Harvey says in "A Brief History of Neoliberalism)") and the rest fighting it out (in relative terms) at the bottom.

So in the 21st Century not only is Hayek wrong but also his prescriptions produce another threat to freedom.

Fidel

absentia wrote:
Pretty soon, there will be no manufacturing, nor shipping of raw materials and finished goods on a large scale. There will be local craftspeople, making necessities for their neighbours, from local resources. Everyone is going to be self-employed. Get a head start by seceding from the rat-race now.

I think that in the long term, as in maybe within a several decades from now, most manufacturing will become localized. Some guys in China or India will design some really high tech widget that everyone needs to make some aspect of our lives easier or better, and there will be very high tech manufacturing machines locally which will be retoolable and programmable to the new design specifications. Designs only will be transmitted around the world and produced locally using local materials and local machinery. It could lead to the Marxian concept of communities and even workers owning the means of production.

And I think manufacturing will continue to be important sectors of all first world economies for some time into the future. We will make things smarter and more high tech than before. Bad designs are out, like GM minivans where the trim falls apart, and those dash decks that slide off and down the front into a black hole where all your nickels and dimes and importantr papers get stuck and baked by the sun. Ya, all those bad designs are not going to sell cars in the future, and it won't be the union guys' fault - it'll be management's fault and the designers not designing cars that people want to buy.

I agree with public transport, too. In future, after the end of oil, a lot of cities not on the international railway transit routes will die. And i think that rural towns and villages will proliferate where nature can support people ie. where electrical power from falling water can sustain communities. But this piling higher and deeper in concrete jungles will taper off. We can't afford to leave important planning decisions to "the market" though. There has to be some human decisions made by people educated and trained in the art of governance and sustainable green economic planning. Developers and their corrupt friends in the local clique only make things worse apparently. I think we need more competitive voting system and transparent democracy overall in order for that to happen though.

absentia

Ah, Fidel, what an optimist you are! I wish you luck.

Fidel

ygtbk wrote:

Fidel wrote:

As Michael Hudson says, there is an alternative to neoliberal ideology.

[url=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-social-welfare-stat... Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology[/url] 2006

Are higher taxes and strong social "safety nets" antagonistic to a prosperous market economy? The evidence is now in

Jeffrey Sachs wrote:
von Hayek suggested that high taxation would be a "road to serfdom," a threat to freedom itself.*

von Hayek was wrong.

Any proof, or just an assertion? von Hayek had it closer to right than anybody else in the 1940's, so far as I can tell.

It's all there in Sachs' assessment of the OECD data. On average, incomes in the Nordic countries are slightly higher than for the English speaking countries. By 2006, flexible labour market policies weren't working to lower unemployment levels by significantly more than is true of the Nordic welfare states. And since meltdown of the neoliberal ideology as of 2008, our U rates are even higher.

What all economists agree to as being key to higher standards of living is investment in research and development leading to innovation and higher productivity associated with high standard of living countries. And the Nords do that as well as any country with around 3-4% of GDP going to R&D. Canada falls down in this area with business sector spending on R&D being one of the lowest in the developed world. This is what we get for handing off so much of our economy to foreign ownership after drinking the ideological koolaid since 1985 or so. Canada has every kind of natural and human resource we need to become a world beater but end up stuck in the mud with oudated ideology for British free trade theory and Chicago School voodoo holding us back and representing a threat to the environment etc. Socialism for rich people is proving just too expensive all the way around. That is what is unsustainable and leading us all down the road to serfdom.

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/growth/canadas... sorry state of innovation[/url] This country holds just 1.36 per cent of patents filed worldwide, compared to 30 per cent for the United States. 

No great country was ever renowned for its small business owners or ditch diggers. The point is that we can allow the Yanks to siphon off our oil and fossil fuels on the cheap for only so long before the country has to start earning a living. Continuing on as America's gas tank is unsustainable in the long run. Eventually the ideology will transform Canada into a banana republic without the bananas.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Fidel:

I have been reading that very long article by Michael Hudson "NeoLiberalism and the Counter-Enlightenment". I haven't finished it yet, because I am a slow reader, but I already agree with you that it is a very important piece of work. Thank you for posting the link.

absentia:

People are naturally more inclined to cooperate to get things done than you think. Every individual as a separate business entity cannot work, or at least it cannot sustain any sort of technological society, with things like computers and the internet. You may be correct that this is what we will be reduced to, but if you are, we can all kiss our asses goodbye.

milo204:

I have been thinking for a few years about your question "how do you move from an ownership, boss-worker society to a worker controlled environment"? I think simple tax policies could go a long way to accomplishing this. So, for example, what if the Income Tax Act defined workers cooperatives and then stated that enterprises which complied with the definition would be exempt from corporate income tax? Of course, the individual members of the coop would pay income tax on their salaries, but the business itself would pay none. This would be a huge competitive advantage over conventional wage-slave style corporations.

 

absentia

I'm not at all saying people don't want to or  shouldn't co-operate. Of course they should.

But, since corporations have all the legal rights of a citizen and some extra ones, citizens should claim the rights of a corporation. They can still get together to price-fix or deforest a mountain or even build a hospital.

A lot of jobs are treated by the employer as "contract" work. That is, the worker gets no benefits. But if the "contractor" has only one client, the government still taxes hem as an employee - no tax-breaks.

Of course a lot of problems could be remedied by taxation and regulation and all the things government would be doing if government belonged to the people. Since government belongs to the corporations, the only way to get it back is to incorporate. I'm not being entirely flippant.

siamdave

milo204 wrote:

.......

The problem is the owners of the country have decimated the unions by destroying many of industries that have been organized in the private sector, slowly whittling away their benefits with each recession or signing trade deals that make sure union jobs get transferred to developing countries with no labour rights. 

........

- actually, the problem is that 'we the people' have allowed them to do this, and many other things, with little or no protest - most people even approving, through their voting for one of the major parties undertaking this destruction of our country. Using the language of victimhood simply ensures we will remain helpless victims. It is, in a way, the major failure of 'the left' to fail to communicate this, and the various related things, in a way to awaken the people to what is really going on - although of course ultimately it is 'the people' themselves who must shoulder the blame. There are many of us, few of them - we have the power, at any time, to simply take back our country, through fully democratic means. If 'we' have the will to do so. One can but recall the old, but true saying - people tend to get the government they deserve.

trippie

Fidel:

 

Great work there.

siamdave

Iwant Liberty wrote:

Fidel, you're absolutely on the right track:  "I think capitalism has to do a proper swan dive before voters will be ready to choose the left."  Actually, capitalism did a swan dive many decades ago, some would say more than a century ago.  Unfortunately what we have now is an economic system that is no longer serving the people -- only special interest groups, including bankers & big corporations.  Everyone wants "in" with the government so that they can rule the roost. 

Remember:  true capitalism is about the freedom to do with your money what you want, without the cops knocking on your door.  But we've never really had that.  Not in my lifetime anyway.

What we need is to get the government off the backs of the people and to stop giving handouts to all the special interests that demand priviledge and power and do so in the name of the greater good (which always means what's better for them!).

If the Left can convey the message that they stand for true freedom and getting the government off the backs of the people, then magic will happen!  Because THAT has not been tried for more than a century.

- someone's been reading waaaaaay too much capitalist propaganda with the 'thinking' part of the brain parked somewhere - maybe while watching tv or something. Capitalism did a 'swan dive' a century ago? and now 'bankers and coroporations' run everything? Who do you suppose 'bankers and corporations' are, if not Capitalism incarnate? They have been running things almost completely since the 70s.

'capitalism is about the freedom to do with your money what you want..' ?!? - actually, that's closer to democracy which, as Gandhi said so eloquently quite a few years ago, is a good idea we should try it some time.

Capital - by definition, the 'excess production' of those who produce things, 'excess' beyond what they actually need for day to day living (which is a malleable idea, with the average 'capitalist' believing this necessity to be considerably less than the average worker) - so 'capitalism' is, by definition, a system whereby there are a few 'owners of production' and a great herd of essentially powerless workers working their lives away to maximise this 'excess of production' - called Capital - which makes those owners of production wealthy. Certainly *they* get to keep their money and do with it as they like, as long as they can keep a lid on democracy, which they have been managing to do very well - but to confuse 'capitalism' with 'democracy' is one of the fundamental lies of capitalism.

'getting the government off the backs of the people' is another basic capitalist lie - actually, government is the only protection people have against the 'rule at all costs' capitalists - there are only a few of them, but they are very powerful and very ruthless, and 'democratic government' is the response of 'we the people' to organise together to protect ourselves from the capitalists, or others of their ilk, call them what you will. It is very understandable that capitalists hate government beyond the maintenance of a good police force (which understands who they are really working for) to protect them from 'we the people' and other things necessary to the maintenance of a good and compliant and efficient workforce - and it is simply crazy for 'we the people' to turn off our brains to the extent we get sucked in by such crap and work to create and maintain our own chains - one reason the capitalists love the television so much, as it is the greatest 'brain turner-offer' ever invented. But that's another story - I just couldn't let this plea for a return to the 'good ol days of unfettered capitalism' pass without comment.

trippie

in my opinion, if there is anything wrong with the left it is based on this. A poor understanding of what Socialism and Communism means.

 

If Walkom was truthful this is what he should say. He should then say the many attempts at Socialism that failed, becuase the bourgeois of those countries remained in power, has demoralized the left. It has given the capitalists amunition to use against us.

 

When you say socialism , the right brings up Russia, Cuba, China and then you're left standing there explaining that away. Wasting your time.

 

The Left needs to accept the terms Socialism and Communism.These words, their means, the phylosophies behind them, are what the working class needs to understand.

 

Talk to some one about property rights and they think your going to take their iphone away from them.

 

I have to explain what the word bourgeoisie means to people.

 

This is why the left is losing the battle.

 

Total lack of basic understanding. Why? Because the bourgeoisie capitalist class has been very, very busy making sure the working class is left in the dark.

 

Basic undertanding of what capitalism and socialism are.

 

In Russia the Marx book Capital becaome a best seller. That is how they started to learn and how the working class were able to gain control. Even if it was for ashort time before the bourgeoisie took back power through Stalin.

trippie

Here's a few suggestions.

1- start learning how to hold citizen inquiries.

2- demand that working class philosophies are taught in school.

3- demand that working class history is taught in school. (examples like why how the workers formed Unions, various labour battles, Historical figures , how phylosophies were formed, deffinitions of things like Labour-power)

4- run our own candidates, seperate from the already established bourgeois parties,  in elections. ( and don't worry about winning, that will happen at the right time).

 

Basicly all the things that we spend countless hours doing ourselves. How many books and articles hav eyou read on working class struggles, philosophies, the Russian revolution, the different members of the various socialis camps.

 

What's the differnece between Democratic Socialists and Social Democrates?

What's  a Maoist? A sparticus?

Who is Marx?

The list goes on and on and it's never coverd in school. I had to do it all on my own.

To free my mind, I had to research everything on my own.

 

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

And they will not now, nor will they ever teach any of that in school.

absentia

Oh, schools change. Education reflects the society of which it is a function.

These days, even universities have a hard time retaining an idealistic lecturer: not only are there "concerned" citizen groups out to get them fired, but the students have already been brainwashed and turn on anyone politically tainted. The right is very, very good at propaganda, and people are so damn easy to con!

That Hudson piece is excellent, but how many people will read it? It was hard work, and i'm both clever and interested. How do you translate it into something most citizens can relate to? And that will fit on a bumper sticker? Rap for the kids and, for old people, something like the Burma-shave ads? Nursery rhymes, maybe - that worked first time around.

What the left has done wrong is try to win elections by playing on the other guys' field, by the other guys' rules. Flexible looks a lot like indecisive. Co-operative looks a lot like craven. In politics, the buzz-words, fashions and issues change all the time. But right and wrong, truth and falsehood remain the same. We should have stuck to a set of core values and a simple, blunt vocabulary, and made it our business always to translate Newspeak into truth. 

Maybe it's not too late.

 

ygtbk

von Hayek wrote "The Road to Serfdom" as a warning that totalitarianism (whether labelled as fascism or communism) was a threat to liberty. The book is not about taxes, regardless of what Jeffrey Sachs says - read it for yourself. The subsequent history of the 20th and 21st centuries has, I think, proved that von Hayek's warning was prescient.

Fidel

And just look where NATO is today. They've expanded into Eastern Europe and Central Asia in surrounding their former cold war adversaries. The US is the only superpower now with nuclear weapons on foreign soil and roaming the seven seas. The US Military still maintains anywhere from 700 to 1000 foreign military and other air bases, communications installations etc in foreign countries and spending on all things military at a rate of 50% of all other countries on earth combined. And this is supposedly to protect America and Europe from a cold war threat that doesn't exist anymore. There can be no legitimate purpose for nuclear weapons.

Iwant Liberty

Iwant Liberty wrote:

Fidel, you're absolutely on the right track: "I think capitalism has to do a proper swan dive before voters will be ready to choose the left." Actually, capitalism did a swan dive many decades ago, some would say more than a century ago...

siamdave wrote:

...Who do you suppose 'bankers and corporations' are, if not Capitalism incarnate? They have been running things almost completely since the 70s.

Ok, I think we're arguing semantics. Just like the term Socialism has been grossly distorted, so has Capitalism. What we have today is State-Captitalism whereby state power (coercion) is used by Corporate interests for their benefit.

siamdave wrote:

Capital - by definition, the 'excess production' of those who produce things...- so 'capitalism' is, by definition, a system whereby there are a few 'owners of production' and a great herd of essentially powerless workers working their lives away to maximise this 'excess of production'

Capital is the stuff that is invested to produce greater wealth. The "excess production" is wealth itself. For example, you and I don't need to grow our own food; we rely on farmers producing "excess food" so that we can do do other specialized things.

siamdave wrote:

....Capital - which makes those owners of production wealthy. Certainly *they* get to keep their money and do with it as they like, as long as they can keep a lid on democracy, which they have been managing to do very well - but to confuse 'capitalism' with 'democracy' is one of the fundamental lies of capitalism.

Agreed... confusing capitalism with democracy is entirely incorrect. Democracy is a system of deciding who rules, whereas Socialism and Capitalism are systems of deciding who should make stuff and who should own the stuff.

siamdave wrote:

'getting the government off the backs of the people' is another basic capitalist lie - actually, government is the only protection people have against the 'rule at all costs' capitalists - there are only a few of them, but they are very powerful and very ruthless, and 'democratic government' is the response of 'we the people' to organise together to protect ourselves from the capitalists, or others of their ilk, call them what you will.

The reality is that the Corporatists, the ones who heavily influence the state, use the state as their weapon. Just as any special interest group would. The only solution is to reduce the power of the state. Government is not there to protect the people, not even in a Democracy. It is there to protect the power and influence of special interests. The common man is always left without a voice no matter who is in control.

siamdave wrote:

It is very understandable that capitalists hate government beyond the maintenance of a good police force (which understands who they are really working for) to protect them from 'we the people' and other things necessary to the maintenance of a good and compliant and efficient workforce - and it is simply crazy for 'we the people' to turn off our brains to the extent we get sucked in by such crap and work to create and maintain our own chains - one reason the capitalists love the television so much, as it is the greatest 'brain turner-offer' ever invented.

I agree completely.

siamdave wrote:

But that's another story - I just couldn't let this plea for a return to the 'good ol days of unfettered capitalism' pass without comment.

The swan-dive of what is today's State Capitalism is going to force the common man to revolt against the chains imposed upon him.

Iwant Liberty

On a related note, are there any folks here who share my view that government is never beneficial for the common man?  I believe the only way to achieve real social justice is to limit the power of the state because the state is built on a foundation of fraud and it is necessarily corrupt at its core.

Fidel

I think the problem with left versus right within the context of democracy is that each of group pushes society in opposite directions when in power. It's like one guy pushing on the front of the car stuck in a snow bank. Meanwhile the guy at the back of the car is pushing in the opposite direction. The net result is nothing plus a lot of propaganda for effect.

Capitalism has failed in various experiments since 14th century Italy. Socialism is a relatively new idea by comparison. I think it's time the whole world tried pushing in a new direction relative to the one we've been pushing toward,  and we need to push all at once for the sake of gathering momentum sooner than later.

[url=http://monthlyreview.org/598einstein.php]Why Socialism?[/url]

genstrike

Iwant Liberty wrote:

On a related note, are there any folks here who share my view that government is never beneficial for the common man?  I believe the only way to achieve real social justice is to limit the power of the state because the state is built on a foundation of fraud and it is necessarily corrupt at its core.

Yeah, well so is capitalism.  Sometimes, the state can take some of the edge off.  For example, I like having a healthcare system that doesn't suck.

Farmpunk

Walkom's piece meanders some, but doesn't he blame everyone at the end?  He's dumping on the unions a little heavily, certainly, and never mentions political parties. 

The split in perception, I think, happens when the most powerful and visible unions are public.  So the greater public equates unionization, and leftiness in general, with two tiers of employment: public and private. 

So when the Walmart worker sends their kids to school, and they come home with all sorts of fund raising gimicks - from grade one and up they turn the little kids into free labour - and then the worker reads about the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund buying large swaths of the market, and it's time to pay some dental bills....

KenS

Iwant Liberty wrote:

On a related note, are there any folks here who share my view that government is never beneficial for the common man? 

A more direct answer: No.

Like you, they do wonder through now and again

ygtbk

Iwant Liberty wrote:

On a related note, are there any folks here who share my view that government is never beneficial for the common man?  I believe the only way to achieve real social justice is to limit the power of the state because the state is built on a foundation of fraud and it is necessarily corrupt at its core.

I think a minimal degree of government is necessary - I'm not convinced anarchy can work in real life. The justice system, police, and (in the absence of universal brotherhood) the armed forces are easier to justify than, say, progressive taxation.

ygtbk

Fidel wrote:

And just look where NATO is today. They've expanded into Eastern Europe and Central Asia in surrounding their former cold war adversaries. The US is the only superpower now with nuclear weapons on foreign soil and roaming the seven seas. The US Military still maintains anywhere from 700 to 1000 foreign military and other air bases, communications installations etc in foreign countries and spending on all things military at a rate of 50% of all other countries on earth combined. And this is supposedly to protect America and Europe from a cold war threat that doesn't exist anymore. There can be no legitimate purpose for nuclear weapons.

I don't support the national security state. However, I'm not sure that we'll all feel safer when China achieves military parity with the United States. Unilateral disarmament is suicide. Arms-reduction treaties have had some effect and we can hope that they will continue to yield reductions in the stockpiles of the nuclear nations.

absentia

Iwant Liberty wrote:

On a related note, are there any folks here who share my view that government is never beneficial for the common man?  I believe the only way to achieve real social justice is to limit the power of the state because the state is built on a foundation of fraud and it is necessarily corrupt at its core.

What's a common man?

People, in numbers as low as two, organize themselves into some kind of team, to get the work of survival done. Almost invariably, one member of the team is designated as the leader. Organization is necessary to all groups of people and to every member of the group - for protection, for co-ordination of effort, for the sharing of burdens and warmth, resources and culture. That's what gregarious species do.

The larger the number of people, the more complicated organization gets. Of course, that also produces imbalance, opportunism and heirarchy. It throws up a governing class with power; therefore a vested interest in preserving its power, with a tendency to restrict itself to a small pool of potential members, with the result that the ruling class loses contact with the mass of workers and abuses its power. (Then we have to cut off their heads and take their stuff and start over, but a lot of valuable property gets burned and colleteral blood gets spilled.)

Any type of political system can work, as long as the ruling class is honest - that is, the majority of its members actually believe in, and practice, the creed they profess. The advantage of democracy is its inherent flexibility. At the beginning, and during periodic reforms, it makes the rulers accessible and at least occassionally vulnerable, to the 'common man'. Even during corrupt periods, it has the mechanism to supply fresh blood - and fresh thought, and fresh faith - to the ruling class. For better and worse, it makes change of direction possible.

PS However, not all types of economic system are viable. One huge mistake we (the left and the people) have made is to allow the capitalists to confuse in our minds (and language and politics and philosophy) capitalism with enterprise. Enterprise - trade, commerce, industry, wealth-creation - is something people naturally do and that can benefit all members of a society.

Capitalism is one variety of enterprise. It happens to be one that cannot be sustained. It depends on continuous and infinite growth, which isn't possible on a variable, finite plane of existence. And it pretends to create wealth, by moving money (which is a only symol) around. Think of capitalism as a game of Monopoly. When one player has gathered up all the money.... what happens?

Iwant Liberty

I appreciate the feedback.  I'm still skeptical, but have an open mind.  I don't see any of Canada's ruling classes as being capable of providing real solutions.  They've only given us endless wars and more corporate welfare, and in my opinion, a society that becomes more unjust as time goes on (although they use the term "just").   They pit one group against another as they vie for priviledge.  I'm at the point where I pretty much don't trust anyone who claims to have the answers.  The questions are just too complex.  Not a reason to give up, but I don't see real viable alternatives on the horizon.

j.m.

Iwant Liberty wrote:

On a related note, are there any folks here who share my view that government is never beneficial for the common man?  I believe the only way to achieve real social justice is to limit the power of the state because the state is built on a foundation of fraud and it is necessarily corrupt at its core.

Well, there is a difference between government and the state. The state was built on a European framework, inherently corrupt, colonialist and broken. Government existed before the state, and in a variety of forms. Are you against all forms of government?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Iwant Liberty wrote:

On a related note, are there any folks here who share my view that government is never beneficial for the common man?  I believe the only way to achieve real social justice is to limit the power of the state because the state is built on a foundation of fraud and it is necessarily corrupt at its core.

In theory, I support the anarchist view that all government should be abolished. However, in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is a big difference. Practically speaking, I think government is necessary now, and will be for the foreseeable future for all the reasons JKR listed in #42. It's rather like the "What have the Romans ever done for us?" scene in "Life of Brian".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso

 

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