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Author Topic: The Globe and Mail on Jack and Socialism
Political Will
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posted 30 January 2004 09:36 AM      Profile for Political Will     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Check this out

http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040130/COSALU30//?query=Layton

I don't agree with everything said, but to see this debate in the mainstream press is fantastic.

We do need to be reminded now and then that without alternatives to capitalism, we will only be a bandaid. Social concerns are not enough. Where I disagree with Salutin is that I think Jack understands this very well, and is a far cry from another Tony Blair. We've had the third way bullshit in Canada, we called it Liberal.

I don't know how the "I 'm pround to be a socialist' thing will go over with most either.


From: Red Square, The Rock | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Tim
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posted 30 January 2004 11:12 AM      Profile for Tim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It's worth looking at the original interview, which was discussed over here. I thought Salutin's treatment of Layton (with phrases like "chirps Jack", and selective quotes) was quite unfair.

Edited to add:
Here's a more readable version of the interview

[ 30 January 2004: Message edited by: Tim Hutchinson ]


From: Paris of the Prairies | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Scott Piatkowski
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posted 30 January 2004 11:44 AM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yeah, Rick, did you really need to use words like "chirps", "pipes" and "burbles" to dismiss what Jack said?

And, did you have to speculate that "You can picture Leo and Sam thinking glumly, This guy doesn't get it." Actually, I read the inteview when the link first went up, and I didn't picture them thinking that, or even being glum at all. In fact, I would think they would have responded differently had they felt that he "didn't get it".


From: Kitchener-Waterloo | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jimmy Brogan
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posted 30 January 2004 12:05 PM      Profile for Jimmy Brogan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Much of the 19th century was taken up with the struggle for everybody's simple political right to vote. The battle for equal economic rights -- in areas like health, education and subsistence -- took up much of the 20th century. Largely under the threat or fear of socialism and communism, even hardy supporters of capitalism eventually bought in. There may be holdouts, but most proud right-wingers like Stephen Harper (and Belinda Stronach) do not deny those universal social rights any more. Yet if capitalists gave in on equal social rights, socialists gave in on the economic route to reach them.

The premises of capitalism and the free market are now as widely accepted on the left as the social agenda on the right.


How can you take anything the man says seriously after this flight of fantasy?


From: The right choice - Iggy Thumbscrews for Liberal leader | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Tackaberry
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posted 30 January 2004 12:56 PM      Profile for Tackaberry   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yeah good call Scott, I agree, sortof. I dont think the intention was to "dismiss"

But I think the intention was to make Layton seem cheerful and hopeful, and the old guard marxists (Salutins characture) as, well, glum as he said.

He was trying to juxtaposition the new left and old left, that's all. That being said it is approaching dishonest (even though I agree with Salutin's main thrusts) to read verbs liek chirp into a print article. How the fuck does he know how it was said? The context isn't enough to support these verbs.

[ 30 January 2004: Message edited by: Tackaberry ]


From: Tokyo | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
hibachi
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posted 30 January 2004 01:02 PM      Profile for hibachi   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Sniping from the extreme left like this only gives Jack and the NDP more credibility.

As for building this house now versus political polemics, I am 100% behind building this house now, which puts me 100% behind Jack Layton.

Being trashed by Rick Salutin is part of the initiation ceremony into Canadian politics.


From: Toronto, Ont. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
weakling willy
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posted 30 January 2004 01:12 PM      Profile for weakling willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
By the side of the road, like Foulfellow and Gideon laying for Pinocchio, wait Sam and Leo

Too bad the Globe didn't do an illustration based on this fantastic image.

Salutin can be criticized for how he summarizes the exchanges in the interview, but he raises a central and recurring problem with social democratic politics: how can you make the system work while changing it? or can you keep the system, without the system ending up working you? An age old Babble debate, I know, but I agree with Political Will that its good to see the debate fall into one of the most read Globe columns. It may even sell a few more copies of Canadian Dimension.


From: Home of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 30 January 2004 01:18 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm not Rick Salutin's hugest fan, although I find once in a while he has a great flash of insight. But I actually don't understand the virulent reactions to this column. Rick Salutin rarely trashes anyone. His trademarked approach is to look for the nuances. In fact, he sometimes gets trapped in microscopic nuances that don't end up illuminating much at all. One often wishes for even the thinnest bracing of logic to give his columns some shape.

Here he sets up Jack as optimistic, the Marxists as dour and ponderous. The rhetorical effect of the piece is the reversal at the end, and the basic point of this column is that the deep, old questions don't go away. So the caricatures at the beginning -- and they are caricatures -- are just for that rhetorical effect. I don't think he's being dismissive of Jack -- on the contrary, he situates him squarely within a broad contemporary stream of non-ideological, "pragmatic" electoral leftism ranging from Tony Blair on the far-right "third way" to more traditional social democrats back home, recognizing in a fairly non-evaluative way that this often vainly "pragmatic" stream has emerged out of historical conditions.

If he missed anything, it's that Jack probably understands, at some intellectual level, where Gindin and Panitch are coming from. It's just that he has to navigate a real world of immediate politics in which he has been immersed for a couple of decades. But it's also true that you can't factor out the effect of this distortion from Jack's remarks. What you commit to publicly does in fact constitute your politics to a large degree.

[ 30 January 2004: Message edited by: rasmus raven ]


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
davidtudor
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posted 30 January 2004 01:24 PM      Profile for davidtudor     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
well so what if a couple of ivory tower types are not hearing enough intelectual "inevitabil path of history" (predicting the end of history is best left to right wing nutballs) stuff to fulfil there expectations. this kind of article should be viewed as the typical middle of the road canadian would view it. its evidence that jack is not a raving ivory tower commie, this can not possibly hurt us.
From: brierisland | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tom Vouloumanos
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posted 30 January 2004 01:26 PM      Profile for Tom Vouloumanos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I read the original interview. I think Salutin's article was harsh but I think that the questions which were posed were not only hard for Jack to answer but I think most NDPers.

The reason why an NDPer cannot answer if they still believe in socialism as an alterntive to a capitalist economy is that in practice the NDP, like most social democratic parties around the world, has given up on the project.

I think the majority of NDPers believe that by fighting for social justice and equality on an issue by issue basis, this will eventually lead us to where we want to be. The long Journey Jack was referring to.

I am not at all convince of this strategy and I do belive that the broad based left should seriously discuss and debate economic alternatives. I think if we do not attack the fundamentals of economic power relationships then any social democratic gains can be easily unravelled. Silently, many on the left have accepted the economic system we live in yet wish to humanize it.

Those who remember my (long) posts on babble during the leadership race will recall that the heart of Pierre's campaign was this idea of economic democracy.

I am a strong advocate of proposing a long term clear vision of where it is we want to be and what kind of economy we want to live in..not because we can get there tomorrow but because we can build it in small incriments right now.

It is a debate we need to have...because honestly right now the party cannot answer the question:

What kind of economy do you want in practical terms?

A good begining is on Pierre's Démocratie économique pour les Amériques Page


From: Montréal QC | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 30 January 2004 01:48 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The reason why an NDPer cannot answer if they still believe in socialism as an alterntive to a capitalist economy is that in practice the NDP, like most social democratic parties around the world, has given up on the project.

I think the majority of NDPers believe that by fighting for social justice and equality on an issue by issue basis, this will eventually lead us to where we want to be. The long Journey Jack was referring to.

I am not at all convince of this strategy and I do belive that the broad based left should seriously discuss and debate economic alternatives. I think if we do not attack the fundamentals of economic power relationships then any social democratic gains can be easily unravelled. Silently, many on the left have accepted the economic system we live in yet wish to humanize it.


I fully agree with this -- and so would Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch. The fact is, you can't plan strategically if you don't have a long-term goal. It's not that you should be dogmatic about the nature of the goal -- it can be debated in the light of new experience and history. But that debate, and a recognition of the importance of a deeper political project, is central to the ability to succeed in the long-journey at all, as opposed to the disappointing pendulum politics we are now engaged in.

Fundamental to this, as you say, is the need to address basic questions of power. Without addressing these, piecemeal, issue-by-issue changes are unlikely to endure, and unlikely to inspire for very long. Issue-by-issue campaigning outside an articulate long-term perspective is self-defeating in the long run.

One of the tools needed to address basic issues of power, and to develop long-term political vision, is political theory and mass political sophistication. Yet there is both an absence of political theory in the activist base of the party, and an absence of recognition on both the near and far left of the inadequacy of the old theories, and our collective need to forge new ones. It is a pressing need for the left.

Tom, if you would like to be part of some process of initiating and facilitating this kind of dialogue in a structured, sustainable way, send me a PM.

[ 30 January 2004: Message edited by: rasmus raven ]


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
FPTP
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posted 30 January 2004 02:01 PM      Profile for FPTP        Edit/Delete Post
Having promised myself not to spend too much time on Babble today, I will only suggest the following:

We should be looking at Lula's experience in Brazil. I.e. the biggest threat is ensuring that the "market" doesn't panic. Like it or not, if NDP make big gains, there will be a negative knee jerk reaction. Thus, it's interesting to see what Lula had to do to maintain the confidence of foreign lending markets that he wouldn't send the economy in an inflationary tailspin.

Also, Schroeder in Germany and (although he's not in power now) Jospin in France would be interesting.

[ 30 January 2004: Message edited by: FPTP ]


From: Lima | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Coyote
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posted 30 January 2004 02:32 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I read both articles in question, and I have to say that these are the kinds of questions that tear at me. I believe in the necessity to challenge the logic of capitalism, and the power of capitalism. That said, there is no way to convince people you're right if the minute you gain power they lose their jobs. Never mind that jobs have been shed by capital-friendly governments.

It honestly puts me at a loss. Sometimes I think our discussions about post-capitalism border on the ridiculously naive; sometimes I think not talking about it is irresponsible in the extreme, an abandonment of the socialist project and the hope it has offered for so many for so long.


From: O’ for a good life, we just might have to weaken. | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tom Vouloumanos
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posted 30 January 2004 03:29 PM      Profile for Tom Vouloumanos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Tom, if you would like to be part of some process of initiating and facilitating this kind of dialogue in a structured, sustainable way, send me a PM.

I will be working on this after the election, we want Pierre's EcoDem page to evolve into an open forum where we (NDPers and others on the Left) can debate vision and strategy. Originally, we wanted to get this underway after the leadership race, but due to the proximity of the next federal election and time constraints, it was decided to plunge into this after the election.

With such a space for discussion, we can look at ideas from Parecon, models like Mondragon, events that took place in Spain in the 30's, left-libertarian movements in Latin America, the co-operative movement thrpighout the world etc. as well as how all these various expressions of economic democracy can be aided by a left government. We want to talk about where it is we want to go and how can we buid those real alternative here and now.

I think it is paramount that the various tendencies on the left talk to each other..but yes, the idea is to create such a forum, for discussion, debate and eventually action.

Ideas and contributions will be welcome to this ambitious project.


From: Montréal QC | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Coyote
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posted 30 January 2004 03:31 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
This is a great project, and I would be more than happy to help out if at all possible. PM me if you feel the whimsy.

If nothing else, it could give me a place to discuss with others the things that keep me awake at night in between games of minesweeper.


From: O’ for a good life, we just might have to weaken. | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Scott Piatkowski
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posted 30 January 2004 08:13 PM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
RR, I don't think my response was particularly virulent. Rick could have juxtaposed the positions of the hard left and the parliamentary left without framing Jack's with such mocking descriptives. Moreover, there is nothing in this print interview -- or any print interview -- that would support saying that the interview subject "chirped" or "piped".

Jack is as left wing a leader as the NDP is likely to have in my lifetime. But, he understands that "shouting" left-wing ideology isn't going to get a single NDPer elected this spring. Most voters don't even understand the concept of left vs. right. Of those that do, there are just a handful that would categorize themselves a far left. So, it makes sense for Jack to talk about "how we get this housing built". In that sense, he "gets it" far more than Rick is giving him credit for.

Lastly, at risk of encouraging thread drift, I believe that Gindin is one of the architects of the CAW's endorsement of strategic voting in the 1999 and 2003 Ontario elections. I dare say that such a strategy is a true sign of someone who "doesn't get it".


From: Kitchener-Waterloo | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
not a terrorist
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posted 30 January 2004 08:37 PM      Profile for not a terrorist   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
When I first read the article Salutin refers to I was cautiously optimistic.

Jack seemed to be leaving the door open to challenging the power of capital and working towards genuine economic democracy.

But then I read some of the interviews referred to in another babble thread on Jack's election strategy and I adopted pretty much the same reading of the first interview as Salutin. I realised that Layton is not prepared to look at radical solutions to the economic power imbalance in our society. It's too "old left" for him.

My original reading of his interview with the old Marxists was just wishful thinking. There must have been a bit of chirping going on. I just didn't hear it until now.


From: montreal | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
John K
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posted 30 January 2004 10:14 PM      Profile for John K        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
"Capitalism is a social system with its own internal logic," intones Sam. "At some point it stops working and this poses the question of what you will be replacing it with." "It is something to think about," chirps Jack. "If you're on a truthful journey, you can't be sure where you will end up."

While on first blush, Jack's answer may seem glib, it's hard to give an intelligent answer to a stupid question.

As Salutin rightly points out, the socialist emphasis on equality and social rights likely saved (and continues to save) capitalism from the internal logic to which Gindin refers.


From: Edmonton | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged

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