Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Community vs individualism. Freedom and responsibility. A liberal manifesto.

by Jerome a Paris Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 10:26:14 AM EST

A number of people used my post yesterday to mention the sense of community that can be found on DailyKos (and the same has been written about eurotrib on other occasions). This is a topic that I think about a lot, and yesterday's comments, together with a few recent articles on the topic, make me want to expound on this theme, which I think is at the heart of today's ideological confrontation between the ascendant conservatives and the liberals - or between the proponents of unbridled individualism (and selfishness) and those that care about the common good.


The WSJ's Opinion Pages have this article today about the Olympics, which notes that the public seems interested only in individual performers and not so much in collective sports. they link this to the lack of underlying ideological drive that made collective victories (like the famous 1980 victory for the US hockey team against the Soviet Union) so significant. Now that there is no such force binding us together, we care mostly about individual performance, personalities, success stories - and apparently the Olympics do not deliver this as well as American Idol or similar shows. The WSJ piece does not identify this as such, but this is a pretty stark acknowledgement of this trend.

The Economist had a similar story last week about the inexorable rise of professional, independently popular politicians in the UK, who are thus not attached to the party machine, and are much less loyal to the party and its leader of the day. That trend has long been visible in the US, where party discipline has never been as strict as in the UK, and where independently wealthy candidates have long been a feature of the game.


Is the chronic indiscipline that is plaguing the final phase of Mr Blair's administration the inevitable consequence of habits formed during the years of big majorities and of a prime minister whose power to reward and punish is in rapid decline? Or is it that something fundamental has changed in the way MPs themselves behave?

A bit of both is the answer, but the surprising part of it is the new-found independence of MPs. Because of the professionalisation of politics--few MPs these days have major interests outside Parliament--the power of the whips to bully and cajole should have grown. For young and eager careerists that still holds true, but it leaves out a lot of MPs who are neither and, for them, the ties that used to bind have loosened.

One reason is the erosion of ideological differences over the running of the economy. Not only are tribal loyalties less strong, but the stuff of politics has changed. Issues such as ID cards, religious hatred and no-smoking zones don't split easily or obviously along party lines, opening up the possibility for shifting alliances that coalesce temporarily to thwart government.

Like everyone else, MPs are also less deferential to authority than they used to be. They are more likely to have personal opinions that differ from the party line policy and the self-confidence (or vanity) to air and act on them. That vanity is fed by the requirements of 24-hour news channels which are always ready to give a platform to the outspoken or dissident. Disloyal backbenchers have a lot more fun than dogsbody junior ministers.

Individual MPs have become more autonomous for one other big reason: the power of incumbency. They now have ample private-office budgets, which they use to dig themselves into their constituencies. With the money to do regular mail-shots, run their own websites and compile e-mail lists of constituents, MPs have the means to communicate directly with their electorate and put themselves at the heart of any local single-issue campaigns that will raise their profile.

Thus:

  • loss of ideology
  • less deference to authority
  • local legitimacy vs national one
  • loss of effectiveness of centralised "power machines"

(I'll get back to how the current Republican party fits in this - or not)

This is all part of a general trend towards more individual freedom, independent thought, and the general unravelling of the great structures that used to hold our societies together: the church(es), unions, big party machines, life employment in big, hierarchised corporations. People knew their place in society, and there was little tolerance for deviants and uppitiness (especially from  minorities or women).

The big social changes initiated in the 60s brought freedom to all, many more rights to those that were stifled or oppressed or simply ignored in society, a lot more tolerance for differences, and more generally the right for each of us to decide on its own what could make him or her happy. That has unleashed a burst of creativity and of variety, and a bewildering confusion/cacophony/wealth (your pick) of behaviors, motivated by the right, nay the imperative, to find one's own way and to pursue one's individual path to happiness. It has of course brought a backlash from the traditionalists (and/or from those that benefitted from the earlier system - the older workers already at the top of the pyramid, the middle aged white males who had all the power at home and his society) and the "culture wars" that are still being waged to this day.

The social revolution has been accompanied by the same kind of change on the economic front, in the form of a decades-long push by the conservative to promote individual performance and individual reward over the collective kind. Thus, the Reagan-Thatcher push to get rid of all the great collective institutions of the recent past, to cut taxes, and to deregulate. The individual must be set free (to earn more), and the measure of its performance is simple: money. Salaries, stock market performance, asset prices and goods ownership  have become the main way to judge the "value" of a person, and the economy has slowly been organised to judge people on that sole basis, and to make it possible for individuals to capture value (note the verb here: not to create, to capture). Thus the fight against tools of public regulation of the economy (starting with taxes), against the institutions of collective bargaining (unions) that supposedly harm individuals's rights to get the best deal on their own.

Of course, that freedom, both on the social and the economic front, has generated a lot of stress. Many people are happy to have such freedom, and enjoy it, but many are also scared of it, overwhelmed by it, and some long for the good old days when not as much was possible but at least one knew its place in society, did not have to fight all the time for it, and lived more peacefully. For many, also, freedom has led to abuse, whose consequences have been paid by the "abuser" of by society. In the social sphere, this has meant more fluid relationships, as people do not feel constrained to remain forever stuck with the same spouse or to hide their sexuality or their social origins ; in the economic sphere, it has meant ruthless brutality by individuals and corporations in the pursuit of short term profit, via layoffs and the like.

Many feel uncomfortable with (or even overwhelmed by) the levels of effort that are required to function in today's society, and long for simpler answers. The renewed practice of religion, the quest for spirituality, and the focus on "values" are reactions to that.

The genius of the conservative movement has been to ride the massive changes of the past decades by providing a compelling narrative. They essentially acknowledge that the whole thing has been about freedom, but they have captured that word by splitting the whole thing into two totally different strands - the social, and the economic, and treating them very differently. Freedom is good, and the changes in the economic sphere are good, and come from that "freedom" - the empowerment of the individual must come from its economic performance, its capacity to make money. Thus, the trends on that side are encouraged. The second part of the narrative is to say that the uncertainty that comes with it come from the loss of "values", i.e. the unravelling by the liberals of the (idealised) wholesome life of the 1950s, which has brought nothing but grief: divorce, abortion, drugs, crime, lack of respect, uppity newcomers (women, minorities, gays, etc...), and a general sense of drift. Thus, that evolution is not about freedom, but about the loss of "respect". The harsh realities of the past (the discrimination, the violence within families, the stifling conformism) are ignored, as are the underlying "collective" pillars of economic success (public infrasturcture and long term investment, social safety net, strong regulations, etc).

In a word, the conservatives have managed to capture the fundamental liberal value behind the past few decades (freedom) and distorted it into a propaganda tool to promote irresponsibility in the economic sphere (the "grab what you can" economy) and excuse it in the social sphere (it's not your fault your wife left you even though you beat her, it's because of the liberals who put silly, dangerous, ideas in her head). Respect is not the same thing as responsibility.

Today's conservative movement = freedom without responsibility + "respect", i.e.  blame the liberals for what's wrong.

Of course, the economic policies pushed by the conservatives have little to do with freedom, as that freedom is accessible only to a very small minority, but they have managed to convince everybody else that they belong, or could belong to that minority.  The social policies of the conservatives have very little to do with freedom either, of course, but they have successfully moved the debate there form "freedom" to "values", used as a codeword for "know your place" which speaks to an increasing number of people as their ferocious economic policies create more and more social dislocation.

And the ultimate irony is that the conservatives, while valuing "freedom", have successfully built a political machine that tolerates very little deviation from the party line, and that punishes any lack of loyalty to the chief King George. The fact that  they enforce discipline ruthlessly within the party (just like they enforce ruthless discipline wihin corporations) shows that they understand very well the power of collective action - provided that they lead it, and that they have to face isolated and divided opposition.

All of this tells me a number of things:

  • liberals have to reclaim the mantle of freedom - on the social front. Freedom of choice, freedom to be who you want, freedom to enjoy your life as you care to;

  • we have to accompany this by capturing the concept of responsibility, both personal and political. The social upheavals that conservatives complain about are the consequences not of liberal policies or lack of values, but of personal irresponsibility, promoted by the conservatives themselves with their "grab what you can" policies and their lack of care for anybody but "you";

  • finally, the notion of the common good must be reintroduced. We all crave for community,and we all know very well that freedom can only be exercised meaningfully within society if there are rules that everybody obeys. That means good government, that does not interfere in your life, but arbitrates  conflicts fairly. That means a government that fights irresposibility, that is blind to money, does not favor corporates over individuals, and is capable of taking care of the future, and gives a value - and a place - to the invisible commons, by punishing behavior that damages the future to provide present "value". Community is not about enforced discipline, it is about being together and/or sharing responsibility.

Individualism is not about the "grab what you can" economy. It is not the "winner takes all" world. It is the freedom for individuals to be as they want, as long as they are responsible, i.e. that they acknowledge that they belong to a community and that their acts can have consequences for others. Freedom is about taking responsibility for what you do with others, and valuing them.

We do not live alone, in a vacuum. That's the liberal slogan: "you are free and you are not alone".

Display:
This is logically posted on DailyKos:http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/2/18/102320/616.

As usual, recommends welcome over there.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 10:27:26 AM EST
Great diary. This is something all progressives need to counter - the idea that 'freedom' is not our value.
by lemonwilmot (lemonwilmot at gmail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 11:05:02 AM EST
The Winter Olympics are less interesting for the British and US public because their countries athletes win far less medals than in the Summer Olympics.

Here is the 'eternal' medal list of all Olympic winter games

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total

  1. Russland* 119 83 83 285
  2. Deutschland* 114 110 91 315
  3. Norwegen 103 99 82 284
  4. USA 75 75 52 202
  5. Österreich 45 61 63 169
  6. Finnland 42 53 52 147
  7. Schweden 41 32 43 116
  8. Kanada 35 32 41 108
  9. Schweiz 34 35 41 110
  10. Italien 33 31 32 96
  11. Frankreich 25 22 31 78
  12. Niederlande 23 30 20 73
  13. Südkorea 12 6 5 23
  14. Großbritannien 9 5 15 29

As to the individual liberty vs. personal choice to belong to a community: ET would be more succesfull and foster more interpersonal cohesion within the community if it had a clearly defined purpose akin KOS, which's immediate and ultimate goal is very simple: Support and elect more truly democratic candidates into office on the state and federal level.

ET has shown that this not possible because too many  academic 'anarchist' posters still hate socialdemocrats and rather support one of the various Murkles.


"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 11:20:57 AM EST
What's a 'Murkle'?
by lemonwilmot (lemonwilmot at gmail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 11:35:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here are some of them:

Murkle big:

http://www.technik-didaktik.com/sonstiges/witze/Bildergross/Merkel.jpg

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 11:56:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahhh, that Murkle.
by lemonwilmot (lemonwilmot at gmail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:20:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As to the individual liberty vs. personal choice to belong to a community: ET would be more succesfull and foster more interpersonal cohesion within the community if it had a clearly defined purpose akin KOS, which's immediate and ultimate goal is very simple: Support and elect more truly democratic candidates into office on the state and federal level.

We are however quite thinly spread across countries with non-intersecting political systems, especially in these early stages of ET growth.

dKos grew out of shared support efforts for a single party, that party had a countrywide candidate for president which everyone could work for and candidates make up part of a national caucus.

I recall that you are more involved with European politics than I, do you have particular suggestions for actual parties/individuals we could usefully organise around supporting?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:02:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One big hot thing which really is a time bomb  waiting to explode is the new EU Commission policy on their propaganda efforts towards the populace.

It is currently making some waves within and -out  the EU institutions in Brussels. Have a look at the article in the EUreporter underneath. The EUreporter is as close as you can get to a Brussels version of the Drudge report. Chris White has published Peter Sennekamp's article 'For Schuman read Truman' a few days ago. Click on the print version of the paper on the right.

http://www.eureporter.co.uk/

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:40:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, before I forget. Peter Sennekamps article has all the ingrediants of good old politival bully games, a lot of 'bad guys', big corporations shaping the official press releases of the EU institutions, sleaze, corruption, the shady politics of trans atlantic think tanks, the 'death grip' of Washingtonian neocon bullhorn agencies on newspapers in Brussels, old boy networks, young opportunistic media guys stuffing piles of euros into their pockets, desperate politicians... You get the idea.

Btw: Peter is now on a short holiday on Mallorca getting ready for his de-capitation next week in Brussels.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:03:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Send his head ET's way when it rolls into the basket.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 02:10:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What federal level? What are you talking about?

And we can't get involved in elections: dKos does it by fund-raising. We can't do that. At the EU level we can only talk and agitate, at best. We can't contribute one euro to most (any?) elections in Europe.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:39:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can run for office...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:40:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only we as individuals. In the same way that we as individuals can get involved in and donate to and so on local parties.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect there is some hidden legal knowledge implicit in what you're saying...


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:17:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh?

I'm either missing a joke or losing my mind. Anyway, assuming that was a question rather than a joke: see this discussion.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:19:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm experimenting with wisual snark. In this case, the meaning was "I want to get the information out of you". The diary you link is 2 months before I got here, thanks.

Is it linked from the wiki?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:22:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, that was just weird.

Yes it is. It's under something - think tank, I think.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:23:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rules can be quite strict - even donated time counts as support.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:23:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can write a letter to the European Commission as stakeholders and make the point that the national rules don't allow the formation of pan-european political parties. This could set in motion a directive. Then we'd have an EU-wide debate on political campaign finance.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:25:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A worthwhile idea. Diary it! Address how to get this across in the face of universal resistance from the national parties. Which EU competence would this come under? I'm not trying to be discouraging, they're just the questions that occur to me immediately. You're probably better able to answer those questions anyway.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:36:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe better able to research it...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:37:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's what I meant: you have a head start on researching it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:41:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I know you're a safe target for experimental snarky weirdness. Sorry about that.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:26:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I  sort of understood it, but the implications were unpleasant enough that I assumed that you meant something slightly different.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:37:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:38:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This sounds like a great idea, but it seems to run up against some of the problems of practical politics.

  • Individual freedom is a libertarian concept, and is one of the wings of the right. The left's equivalent, socialism, requires a central agent to run the overall system.
  • Responsibility flows from individual freedom. If the state is there to make sure that your neighbor has heat, or that the homeless have shelter, or that the price of gasoline is low enough, then there's a reduced need for individual freedom. Alternatively, the social fabric in rural Kansas is pretty tightly knit. It has to be, because there is little governmental support. I don't know of a European comparison; perhaps rural Poland?
  • Everybody (except for sociopaths) is in favor of the common good. The difference between right and left is what the best way to get it might be.

In my opinion, trying to co-opt the mantle of freedom is going to be very hard for the left to accomplish. How do you argue for socialized medicine, for example, if by its very nature it places restrictions on what an individual can choose for health care coverage?

I don't see how this angle is going to work...

by asdf on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 11:46:52 AM EST
Well, there is "theoretical" choice between healthcare providers selling stuff and the "real" choice of taking the only one I can personally afford.

Alternatively, socialised medicine is an area where the emphasis on the common good can allow us to be more individually free in other areas. If you are not held in by large company health insurance schemes, your working and living options may increase.

The social fabric in Yorkshire mining towns was pretty tight, despite the presence of some governmental support. This "government provision destroys the social fabric" is precisely the kind of myth that the right likes to use that we should not meekly accept.

I'll leave Migeru to answer to the libertarian/socialism line, if he is good enough to do so for me.

As for "everyone is interested in the common good." That is of course true. Politics dictates that everyone is for the good things. But, the right's policies are not working in promoting the common good. That is the message that needs communicating.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:08:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alternatively, the social fabric in rural Kansas is pretty tightly knit. It has to be, because there is little governmental support. I don't know of a European comparison...

My cousin grew up in Berlin/DDR. When she came for the first time to visit us in the West I took her out to a party at some friends place and later to some pubs. The next day she confessed (somewhat still incredulous): "But, but, but...I thought that you in the West were all so unsocial people."

Surprise! West Germans are on average members of seven non for profit social, cultural, political, sports, religious and/or other associations, clubs and 'communities'.

It doesn't depend on income and is not an urban vs hinterlands thing.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:16:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You put it better than I could've hoped to.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:32:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Individual freedom is a liberal concept, in the classical sense of the word.  The libertarians and liberals have always been more closely aligned, ideologically, than the conservatives and libertarians.  Modern liberalism evolved out of classical liberalism (roughly libertarianism).  It didn't take much change on policy, for me, to switch from the Libertarian Party to the Democrats.

Now to socialized medicine: By saving money for consumers -- Medicare is far more efficient than private insurers; it's not even close -- people (and companies!) are provided with an increase in real income, and they, therefore, are offered more choice.

The left is more capable of claiming the mantle of individual freedom on cultural issues.  But the Republican Party is, in no way, the party of individual freedom on economics.  It's the party of cronyism.  Hearing George W. Bush talk about markets makes me feel sick to my stomach.  The giveaways are stunning.  Take the tax code for example.  Dick Cheney, a couple of years ago, paid 20% of his income in taxes, on income in excess of one million dollars.  (I remember this, because I was furious.)  I paid 26%, on income of about $8,000.  Doesn't sound like progressive taxation to me.  It doesn't even meet the Republicans' view of "fair taxation" -- the flat tax.

Liberals are plenty capable of capturing the title of The Party of Individual Freedom.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:30:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a different take on your first 2 bullet points:


  • Individual freedom may be a libertarian concept, but progressives have fewer problems with most libertarian tenets - e.g. freedom of sexual orientation, reproductive choice, -  than the right does. We differ from the libertarians only when it comes to the duty of government to secure a level social playing field.

  • I would say that responsibility comes from a desire to be a part of the community. By the standards of a libertarian, rural Kansas is far from a hotbed of freedom - not only are the liberties I describe above significantly circumscribed, but the region also lacks economic opportunities.

And why should universal health insurance ("socialized medicine" has become such a loaded term) be at odds with personal freedom? In Germany, every patient is free to consult any doctor who accepts patients with statutory insurance - which means almost any doctor in the country.

And don't get me started on freedom of speech...

I agree with Jerome - the right has propagated a feeble and crippled version of freedom, and we need to call them on it.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:56:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Individual freedom is a libertarian concept, and is one of the wings of the right. The left's equivalent, socialism, requires a central agent to run the overall system.
You forget left anarchismanarchosyndicalismlibertarian socialisn. As you can see from his post upthread, Ritter is quite likely to try to sever my head for bringing them up, but they do exist, though not in the US.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 02:20:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yikes, the formatting of the links is awful...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 02:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, ok, but under "anarcho-syndicalism" it says "to liberate themselves, all workers must support one another in their class conflict." That's just the opposite of American-style Libertarianism, which opposes the "must" concept.

If Jerome wants to go in the direction of Libertarianism then in the American West, at least, he would find a fair amount of sympathy. Unfortunately I doubt that most Europeans (or Americans, for that matter) will be happy with the platform. Here are some of the planks:

  • Banning Pornography Endangers Women
  • Why "Anti-Terrorism" Laws Threaten You
  • Government Schools in Crisis
  • The Green Gestapo
  • It's Time To End Social Security
  • Will You Be Safer If Guns Are Banned?
http://www.isil.org/resources/lit/

Some of their arguments have some points of truth, but generally--at least in American politics--the Libertarian movement is a small part of the broader Republican effort to reduce taxes, increase individual freedom, etc. Now clearly Bush is not following the positions that his party advertizes, and there are plenty of people upset about that.

But the point is that the left is the party of the state. Big government is ok because, run well, it helps people. Regulations that control guns, utilities, accounting, etc. are needed to restrain unbridled libertarianism. And a side effect is that there are constraints that limit individual freedom of action. This is not bad, this is the way classical leftist thinking works.

Is there actually a Libertarian party in the European political mix?

by asdf on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:13:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you mean by libertarian? Anarcho-capitalist or Anarcho-syndicalist?

Everyone over at DKos will interpret Jerome's "libertarianism" as "Anarcho-capitalism". If you want to know what "libertarian" instinctively recalls to Europeans, check out Ken Loach's Land and Freedom.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:21:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think asdf means American libertarianism.  It's a mistake to immediately tie libertarianism (American) in with anarcho-capitalism, because most libertarians, in my experience, are not anarcho-capitalists.  That's a very small group.  The Libertarian Party basically calls for the government to protect people, their rights and their property.  That's it.

The anarcho-capitalists write literature outlining what a world without government will look like.  ("Will" because they actually believe the government will be destroyed, eventually.)  They're completely oblivious to the concept of the tyranny of the majority and fail to see that, for example, the hypothetical private police forces they've thought up are just as dangerous as governments.

Most people -- liberal, conservative and libertarian -- rightly (in my opinion) find their ideas to be insane.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember the Ferret legalization single-issue Lt. Governor candidate from California?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:56:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that you mention it, I do.

I still owe you a picture, as well.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 10:52:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent diary, Jerome.  You've picked up on the Republicans' warping of attitudes to fit their agenda quite well.  However, I don't think one can really separate the economic side from the cultural/"moral" side.  My honest opinion is that the Republicans' stated views -- not their actions -- about personal responsibility on the economic side is not all wrong.  People should be encouraged to take care of themselves and to avoid the need for government help whenever possible.

I think the government's place should be to say, "Look, we all go through tough times, and you're going through times that are quite tough.  We're going to help you get through this -- ensure you can feed your family, keep a roof over their heads, etc -- and make opportunities available to you that will reduce the chances of needing our help in the future, like money for training and education, better schools for your kids, socialized health care, and other necessities."  That's the place of a liberal, western government, in my opinion.

As far as the culture war is concerned, I'm cheering for it.  We need to have that fight.  It's long overdue.  I'm tired of the Christian Right being taken seriously.  Someone needs to step up and call them out as the extremists they are.  They're enemies of freedom.  I'm waiting, very impatiently, for a politician to say, "Hey, guess what!  You don't get to control our personal lives, you fucking nutjobs."

The idea of recognizing our responsibilities to others is right on.  The Republican line isn't even close to consistent on personal responsibility issues when it comes to (say) the environment.  Someone needs to ask, "Mr. President, is it a form of personal responsibility to give tax breaks and legal protections to corporations that pollute the air my kids breathe?  Why should that be my family's responsibility?"

The talking points practically write themselves.  They're just waiting for a liberal who has the guts to use them.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:15:34 PM EST
Now, here we go again.

Another lengthy discussion which has nothing to do with our situation in Europe. The influence of the right wing fundamentalist Christian whacko brigade on our countries national politics?

Zero.

When will ET start to walk in its own shoes?

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:24:55 PM EST
Well, when I get the time to write some diaries.

But also when you get the time to write some diaries...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:04:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree, Ritter. The line that Blair, Barroso and Berlusconi (not to mention Sarkozy, to some extent, if he came to power) are pushing on the economic front  is very close to the one I describe. I agree that the culture wars are not very relevant in Europe, but the economic agenda is very much so today.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't get into Berlusconi, Sarkozy and Barroso, because I honestly don't know a great deal about them, but Tony Blair seems to push a Republicanish agenda on economics only in his words.  He may preach freer markets and deregulation, which I'm more in favor of than most people here at EuroTrib, but I don't see it.

The only difference is that Blair and Brown don't seem to be slashing taxes on everything.

The culture war in Britain -- and, I think, throughout the West over the next century -- is going to be focused on security/privacy issues.  The police state mentality is alive and well among too many British politicians.  I'm glad the Tories and Lib-Dems (along with a few escaped slaves from Labour), even if it's just opportunism rather than a genuine demonstration of values, have shown some willingness to fight it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:37:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But who knows that Blair/Brown are running a classical Keynesian policy (tax and spend?). It's perceptions that matter, and Blair's words fully support the conservative point of view (the one that says that Europe is sclerotic, declining and needs 'reform'). It's no accident that the latest buzzword is 'liberals (in the European meaning) vs protectionists' and that it has been pushed by Blair's pal Mandelson along with Barroso.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:46:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think I'd call it a classic Keynesian agenda.  Keynesianism doesn't call for raising taxes to stimulate the economy.  If you raise taxes to pay for new spending -- let's say you set the new revenue exactly equal to new spending for simplicity -- then nothing has changed.  You've simply shifted the money around, when the Keynesian goal is to pump up the money supply and inflate-away the downturn.

You're, of course, right that perceptions matter, and Blair's words certainly support the "liberals-vs.-protectionists" politics of the situation.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 02:46:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The influence of the right wing fundamentalist Christian whacko brigade on our countries national politics?

Com'on.....there are enough 'wacko brigades' at work .
Our national politicians work on a tactical level, the 'Wacko's ' work on a strategical one. See for instance The World Economic Forum (Davos).

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking only for me (keine umlauts, traurig):

Mich zu toten, erwurgte man euch, ihr Singvogel meiner Hoffnungen!  Ja, nach euch, ihr Liebsten, schoss immer die Bosheit Pfeile - mein Herz zu treffen!  Und sie traf!  Wart ihr doch stets mein Herzlichstes, mein Besitz und mein Besessen-sein: darum musstet ihr jung sterben und allzu fruhe!

(Nietzsche.  Das Grablied  ims Zweiter Teil - Also Sprach Zarathustra.)

And it's nice to know they aren't extinct.  

But you are correct and I will endeavour to dial it down in the future.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:23:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A very insightful summary.

But - I think it misses the point.

At this point I'm not sure what the point is, and I'm going to have to think about this some more. But at a first iteration it goes something like:

People do not want real freedom. People want their greed, brutality and stupidity legitimised and cosseted, not challenged.

I'm talking about (what is arguably) a majority here.

Hence 'freedom' doesn't mean freedom in any mature sense. It really just means the freedom to be an abusive, acquisitive asshole. And this is really all the freedom that many people seem to want.

One of my first comments on dKos was about how it seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of the Right that they have very limited imaginations, and are blind to empathy and compassion. They literally do not feel what the rest of us seem to feel. If employees die in a mine accident, there's no genuine regret, no ability to think 'But how will the widow and the family survive?' It's simply an embarrassment because it will have an effect on the bottom line.

This attitude seems to be hugely infectious, and I'm sure we've all come across people who act like the proverbial abusive assholes and excuse it with 'It's nothing personal - just business.'

So - I don't think the answer is to try to reclaim freedom, because I suspect secretly most people already know how the game is played. The real message of the Right is that these ethics aren't just acceptable, they're to be encouraged at every possible opportunity.  

I'm wondering if perhaps a less abstract appeal to self-interest would get more traction. The inevitable result of promoting these values is that life gets increasingly harsh for increasingly large sections of the population. If they can be made to understand that they will not be on the winning side if they support this war, they're more likely to understand why continuing support for it is a very bad idea.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:56:01 PM EST
I asked the question what the purpose of ET was. Is it to be the European mirror image of KOS/US? Electing democrat candidates on the state and federal level. Yes? Well, then where is the discussion about who they are and what we can do to get "our" candidates elected in the MS or to the EP?

Or is it something else we are up to?

Some sort of academic 'salotto' to prove that we accumulated book knowledge? No?

As I said above:

There's a Brussel based journalist who broke some major news and is now facing his imminent de-capitation because of that.

It's a nice gangster story to happen next week. Full of drama and emotions, too. It is  REALPOLITIK.

KOS does Realpolitik within the spectrum of the power game of the US Democratic Party. ET cannot replicate this. But still, it needs to get closer to the debates within the EU institutions to acquire 'street' credibility.

Peter Sennekamp's story is just that opportunity.


"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:58:12 PM EST
Some sort of academic 'salotto' to prove that we accumulated book knowledge?
Yes, to a large extent this place functions like a gathering of graduate students in a cafe.

Apart from somewhat 'idle' talk there is an attempt at serious policy discussions and a tension towards policy proposals.

On the other hand, nothing would please me, personally, more than getting seriously involved in European politics. You already warned me privately about 4 months ago that it's a shark pool, but anyway. You can see that from my diaries: (EU Review and LocustWatch)

Another think I'd like to do personally is go to the Athens European Social Forum in May.

We also have a couple of meet-ups in the works, one in Paris and another in the UK somewhere. Would you like to coordinate a Brussels meet-up? Put up a diary about it.

I think I don't think we can (or should) do is tie ET's goals too closely to any one European party. No matter how strong my sympathies for the PES, I don't want to limit my choices as I know there are European politicians I would support outside it, and a lot of assholes within it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 02:40:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I think I don't think we can (or should) do is tie ET's goals too closely to any one European party

Exactly.
ET should be an academic forum, free and open to anyone .
Any tie with a political, cultural , economic.....organisation would limit the exchange of opinions.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:05:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've called it an open-content think-tank. It can't be "academic" either (not that I'd personally have a problem with that).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Elco B, Do you envision ET actually taking action?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 04:04:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ET taking action ?  not really.
I'm already engaged in some local and regional actions (environment, fare-trade, and peace-education).
I see ET as a reference to other people, other regions and country's and what's going on there.
Think global - act local.
On ET there is a lot of thinking that's keeping up the perspective and is a gem of a source for inspiration.

On the other hand, if we ever in Europe would have a European President with the same agenda as King George, I might ask you where you left that manual "how to fire a RPG-launcher".
----note for Interpol : only the last sentence is a joke------------

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 04:49:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I ask because I see the European Parliament as a potential focal point for action.

I am uprooted, I have not community smaller than Europe.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 04:59:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, but I guess ET so far has not enough active participants to be effective in any action.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 05:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, with the amount of attention most Parliament actions get (when they're not about banana shapes or allow for pictures of busty barmaids) even a small group paying attention could have a disproportionate influence.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:33:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ritter, I would urge you to expand on your ideas. Write a diary, write a long comment, something.

KOS does Realpolitik within the spectrum of the power game of the US Democratic Party. ET cannot replicate this. But still, it needs to get closer to the debates within the EU institutions to acquire 'street' credibility.

Peter Sennekamp's story is just that opportunity.

Street credibility with who? With the institutions? Or did you mean something else?

How does ET get closer to this debate? Merely by publishing on it? Or? Are there promotion steps needed?

These may sound like idiot questions to you, but I skimmed over the article you pointed to and I'm not sure quite what you are suggesting.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 04:00:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ritter, I would urge you to expand on your ideas. Write a diary, write a long comment, something.
Ritter, write your first diary! I've been waiting for that for months. Don't forget to include pictures.

Peter Sennekamp is a good excuse for a first diary. A Brussels meet-up a good excuse for a second diary.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 04:02:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent diary, Jérôme, and I agree with mostly everything, particularly the way the conservatives have turned freedom upside down.

Now what I'm going to say may seem like a cheap shot, but it's not done in that spirit.

...the freedom for individuals to be as they want, as long as they are responsible, i.e. that they acknowledge that they belong to a community and that their acts can have consequences for others. Freedom is about taking responsibility for what you do with others, and valuing them.

is a good summary of the way I feel about freedom of expression in a case that has much preoccupied us.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:38:36 PM EST
I was going to point that out and I though nah, better not.

Mejor no meneallo they way in Galicia (the one in Spain, not Ukraine).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:51:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're going to start applying old wives' wisdom, whatever will become of us?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 04:11:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that there are two places called "Galicia" is old wives' wisdom?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 05:04:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
_ in Galicia (the one in Spain, not Ukraine)._

Poland and Ukraine post 1945, Poland 1918-39, Habsburg 1772/95-1918 (but with extensive, Polish dominated autonomy from 1869 on), Kingdom of Poland before that.

Map of Galicia

That's Galicia, the pink line is the current border between Poland and Ukraine (not shown on comment since it would screw up the thread)

by MarekNYC on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 05:57:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I knew you'd take me to task for the imprecision... ;-)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 07:33:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a matter of fact, I agree with you.

As a really cheap shot in return, let me note that religious types, in particular nowadays Muslims, indeed need to realise that in Europe, they live in essentially secular communities, and trying to impose their religious norms to bear on others is not appropriate nor responsible!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 06:48:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thoughts.

Books like "Moral Politics" have already addressed this issue, coming to the same conclusion.  Most of us, us being politically active people on the left (of the "center" as represented by the U.S. Congress, which is not in fact center at all...), know this but do know know what to do about it.  

I've been reading that "European Dream" book and he actually outlines how the equation of "freedom" with "individualism" dates back to the onset of Capitalism and the Protestant Reformation.  That is, for the last 4 hundred years or so "Freedom" has actually been shorthand for "Freedom to exclude others."  The Conservative movement has simply taken this idea to its most dangerous and extreme end.
And he suggests it is time for a new definition of "freedom", meaning the freedom to be safe, comfortable, healthy, educated, etc. which requires some sacrifice of individual gain for the common good.

So far as ET's "mission" goes, I've been around the liberal blogosphere long enough to have witnessed the way in which aligning an on-line community with one political party or one political or religious ideology squeltches debate and actually prevents all of the options we have for solving our problems from being discussed.

I think one's ideas, statements, etc. should stand on their own and not be accepted or dismissed solely on how they help or hurt a political party or candidate...


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 04:10:46 PM EST
A few random thoughts on the topic, which is a very important one:

Why the winter Olympics are getting drubbed by American Idol in the states or anything about team sports in the Olympics affected by Cold War choosing up sides has some merit, but there are other factors--Americans have never been all that into winter sports, and the Olympic teams are unknown, new every time, etc.  The counter-example is the Super Bowl, which this year got the largest audience in American history save one other program, the final episode of M*A*S*H, back when there were but 3 networks and PBS. Something like a billion people watched it worldwide, and while the Seattle Seahawks were a draw in some parts of the world, much of the interest was in the Pittsburgh Steelers--a team with a strong identity directly related to the city of Pittsburgh, and an ongoing mutual relationship with the people of that city.

On the larger question, the individual v. common good is one of those either/ors that operate in some fields and situations, and not in others.  There was never a real contradiction between them in the 60s liberation movements, nor is there now.  Witness your average anti-war demonstration, even today, when various groups march under their banners, but they are marching together for the common cause.

Nor is there a theoretical contradiction in the major religions (though there is always a tension), and even in political thought it is a matter of emphasis in most systems.  

Where there is an indisputable problem is in the current public discourse since the Reagan years in the U.S. No one has been effectively speaking for the common good, or explaining how government does or can contributes to it.  Mostly we've had rhetoric playing on fears and fantasies, and the elevation of greed to good. It's not about individualism finally.  It's about greed.

Fear is easily enflamed, although it makes perfect sense for the relatively powerless to be conservative, to be reluctant to see what they do have threatened by change.  

I believe that articulating the effect of the common good on individuals and families is the great necessity of our time.  We are all in this together.  We are not separate universes, nor are we indistinguishable lumps in a mass.  We are first of all social animals, and depend on each other.  We depend on the health of the same planet.

 Sometimes sacrifice for others is needed.  We call this heroism.  It doesn't require dying in battle or running into a burning house. But we also don't want to be suckers---to sacrifice for nothing, or for someone else's gain. Most primal societies on this planet learned all this long ago, and developed cultures which incorporated it.  There's nothing more conservative than that.        

     

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 06:07:02 PM EST
Great post, but I gotta take exception to those WSJ assholes looking for a way to blame the public for NBC's shitty ratings.  So far as I can tell, that whole thing is just a crock.  The truth is that NBC's coverage sucks.  Everybody I know hates it.  I love the Olympics, but if I had to depend only on NBC, I wouldn't be watching either.

It's nice to hear about all of the different sports, and even see clips of the highlights, but no one wants to watch every single Olympic event -- especially all chopped up to the point where you can't follow anything.  That's what the network is doing.  

No one wants to watch it for 3 and 1/2 hours every night for two weeks and that's what they're trying to force us to do.  They'll show one or two athletes at a time from each thing before they return to the one you're interested in.  They've made it so you literally cannot watch a sport you're interested in without seeing all the others.

It's completely stupid.  The other thing the greedy fucks are doing is that they've got such ridiculous "rights" on all the footage, that other shows and networks can't even air clips.  How the hell do they expect to attract any interest?  Honestly, I think it's terrible what they've done to the Olympics and to see the WSJ pondering what's wrong with us because we're not watching makes me sick.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 06:42:57 PM EST
hey 'american idle' is the new olympics!

q: what's the only thing harder and scarier than strapping yourself onto a sled and zooming down an ice-chute?

a: getting up on stage and opening your soul

plus i bet nbc is drowning you in sickly doses of commercials while they have you all happy to see such form and grace!

or folks coming off the track and hurting themselves for life....

steroids for gold

tissue for glory!!!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 10:39:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"American Idle"

Love it.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sun Feb 19th, 2006 at 12:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nice bit of social philosophy, jerome...

dogsbody, indeed....

my compliments on your exsquisite command of english, as well as your grasp of the underlying differences between RESPECT and RESPONSIBILITY  --- see i do caps too!

Many feel uncomfortable with (or even overwhelmed by) the levels of effort that are required to function in today's society, and long for simpler answers. The renewed practice of religion, the quest for spirituality, and the focus on "values" are reactions to that.

i agree totally... the much vaunted 'freedom from everything' is a compassless world, a doorway into ignorance and cluelessness.

it is good and necessary to tear down what is false in the attitudes and mores bequeathed to us by our forbears, but if we don't erect something, some code, to pass on, then we will have done only half the work.

now more than ever we need clarity of language...

doublespeak has come to rule, and your parsing and clear redefinitions of hoary chestnuts, um i mean core values are good food to chew on.

the eu is complex, and opaque.

each country within it is also.

our union is new and still nebulous; we have the luxury of not being the dominant superpower, with all the traps we know so well, so we can learn from our own history, especially when we see a recycled, updated version of the naked greed cloaked with cloying hypocrisy we practiced so efficiently and destructively for centuries reaching across the globe from across the atlantic.

there is so much disinformation, blogs like kos and here are like cracks where the light can shine in, on good and ugly alike.

hooked originally by the quality of snark on kos 3 years ago, i have learned so very much, and am as passionately concerned with american politics as i have ever been for a page-turning thriller.

911 did indeed 'change everything'.

there is no more time or room in the world to remain ignorant and apolitical: it is down to the pawns to win back the board, as we outnumber our oppressors; we have been busy with trying to build lives, while droning wasp swarms have gathered in the neighbourhood.

no more peaceful picnics till we get up and sort this out, worldwide.

if we do not identify with the suffering 4/5ths of the planet, then we are probably exploiting them.

forums like this are a wonderful fountain of fun as well as knowledge.

one helps the other down, and stimulates the appetite.

and if we are going to go down, i want to remember the laughs.

so thanks all you diehardcore eutribbers, this blog is going from good to great, just like i watched dkos do.

peace out

the ignorant pilgrim

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 10:29:29 PM EST
I think it's revealing that rarely anymore do we find the word "equality" in these lists of liberal values anymore.

After all, wasn't the slogan of the French Revolution Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité?

Freedom, equality, community (roughly translated into modern terms).

Whatever happened to equality?

by TGeraghty on Sun Feb 19th, 2006 at 12:01:59 AM EST
That would be the next musing, hopefully...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2006 at 06:04:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]