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

Why we come here

by Helen Wed May 24th, 2006 at 06:04:10 PM EST

from the diaries. -- Jérôme

During the various conversations I had at the Paris meeting on Saturday somebody said to me "y'know I'm not really sure why we're all here. It's not like Kos where there is a single government to organise against. We're all from different countries with completely different agendas. We have no real purpose".  At the time I gave an answer that I felt scratched the surface of my enthusiasm, but as I sat on the Eurostar watching the French countryside recede at speeds reminiscent of a Star Trek view screen I couldn't let the question go.

Although we are a clone of the Booman Tribune community, it seems that our common  view comes from DailyKos. In my opinion the Kos community has evolved considerably in the last two years. Back then they were stalwart supporters of the Democrat party, working diligently to get their guy into the White House. But the loss in November '04 devastated them and they went away and licked their wounds for 6 months. Or rather they didn't, instead they sat back and wondered why they lost and came to some startling conclusions. They realised that, as constituted, the democratic party couldn't win an argument in an empty room, let alone with the republican party. And what has begun to emerge is a new concensus that is is obviously about a new organisation, but there seems to be a different emphaisis. They are unashamedly liberal, willing to question the most basic tenets. Unafraid of standing up for what they believe.

The talk on Kos is rarely about policy. But when it is, the common strand of brave, militant, unapologetic liberalism underpins everything. It's what David Sirota describes as the tell-tale signs of a true progressive populist movement emerging - one that is not just a wing of the Democratic Party Establishment in Washington, but an actual movement bubbling up from outside the Beltway, based on real conviction, and serious about seizing power. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/2006-the-year-the-progre_b_21398.html

It is that which is energising us. We recognise this philosophy, it is theirs and it is ours too. What amazed me when we sat in the cafe was how so many people of different nationalities, backgrounds and viewpoint were able to come together. Whatever our policy differences, and they are legion, we hold that common passion for a popular progressive politics.

So when asked what we are for my feeling is that we are more than a mere coming together of like-minded people.  Perhaps it is pretentious to say that we are somehow part of a larger phenomenon that is building a new politics that understands old ideas surrounding cheap energy & globalised corporate capitalism simply cannot continue as they have. That we need new new perspectives, that the observance of rights and dignities are important in building the just societies we hope to preserve in the decades to come. Or perhaps it is simply a recognition that the way we do things now doesn't work for the majority of people any more. Perhaps our conversations earlier about our shared philosophy, both started by colman, mark a start on that process of crystallising a larger purpose.

Fairness and Freedom

Hypothetical question

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 08:37:20 AM EST
beautifully stated, helen.

there is the potential for enormous growth in the seeds we water here.

they point the way to a new politics, a new interactivity, a new responsibility for the decisions that have such overarching repercussions, presently made in the privacy that we are being rapidly denied.

transparency should be the new code, and decisions, such as military intelligence etc which by their nature cannot be so, should be protected by an even more rigourous system of check and balances that the ones bush is merrily dismantling in the usa.

weh have to be honest about the corruptibility of our leaders, and take special precautions to prevent the abuse of power that has become endemic in the halls of influence.

we need rewards for whistleblowing, not punishments.

we have been left ignorant by design, and we owe it to ourselves and the future of this planet to gently wrest the keys from the drunk drivers who are wilfully ignoring the signs to slow down and rapidly reassess out inbred entitlement, and the terrible blowback that thence ensues.

our wealth and privilege in europe is built on the backs and resources of millions of dollar-a-day thirdworlders, who are coming calling for the bill, standing around our cities watching us, often resentfully, from their second-tier viewpoints.

our lifestyle model cannot be exported without suffocating the planet, therefore it behooves us to stand down, live more of a voluntary simplicity and share in what we know (our greatest 'natural' resource) through education and microcredit initiatives, technology (sustainable natch) and enlightenment principles, forged out of the historical tragedy of our own bloody experiences.

we are self-referential animals, and possess great tools to analyse and understand ourselves and the social structures we create and inhabit.

if we took the cream of what we've learned and gave it back as payment for the slaves, minerals, and fuel sources we have extracted from them for centuries, then the accounts can be squared.

the faster we do this voluntarily and 'in anticipo', the smoother transition we can effect.

there is a real need for pushback against past paradigms that seek to domnate our present ways of doing things, ergo ET!

is your sig a reference to the dangers of drowning in east anglia?

lovely diary...

'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 Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 09:56:16 AM EST
Ha, no. It's just a weak joke about advice by Nick Mason of the Pink Floyd that is ruined by explanation.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 10:03:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the nice diary. I think the west or maybe the the world is in the middle of a paradigm shift. Maybe bloggers are more aware of this. I definitely feel that the people here on ET are aware of this and that they are willing to help to define this new paradigm in a way that is a fair as possible for all and not wait until it is again defined by some obscure entities. But that's not all - I think the people here are also willing to fight for the manifestation of this new paradigm, in words - but my guess is also in deeds.
by Fran on Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 10:05:33 AM EST
 Unfortunately, "Fairness and Freedom" and "Hypothetical question", both excellent and interesting, are now archived and cannot be commented in their original threads.

 So, I'll add some ideas here:

 Colman's analysis of the gross abuse of the notion of "freedom"--and particularly how it is so often reduced simplistically to economic freedom is very astute and right at the heart of a major problem area.

  Though "fairness" may be "old", as he seems to lament, that is not, for me, a drawback.  More important, "fairness" is both powerful for obvious reasons in its appeal and it also well encapsulates what is so deficient about the programmes and ideological views so opposed by many of us here.  Fairness is what I believe many people are palpably aware is missing from political affairs and they rightly long for it.

  All of this seems to have been accepted and incorporated into what Colman did already in the "faireurope" site.

Another point I'd like to interject is that the very essential issues of corporate powers and their too-often supposedly counterpart, political (or public authority powers) is directly and astutely addressed in the latter chapters of volume 2 of Popper's The Open Society where, some sixty years ago he urged that people move beyond a focus on and a concern for political power alone, in favor of a fully general view of the essential need for some checks and controls on all power generally-- that is, _both poltical and economic factors of power.

  This necessarily implies that some market regulation is always necessary in order to achieve the fair society.  The essential interest is in understanding how to decide which markets are best placed under more or less public regulation and why that is the case.  I do not think that those who approve such a view should be shy or coy about their reasons and the arguments in favor of their views; that is, I think they have every interest in arguing the merits of their beliefs directly and openly and straight-forwardly not only because, simply put, the merits are I believe quite compelling but also because the central if not the only overriding virtue of democracy is in the opportunities it affords publics to actually learn, grow, and better understand where their political interests lie and why that is so.

  You might consider that from another seemingly more practical point of view: suppose that you did have a rather effective formula for selling your political agenda and that it's success was due largely to its rather deceptive character--that is, people are led to find a set of beliefs appealing more because they are allowed to be mistaken in what they mean than because they actually see and agree with their meaning.  Question : how long and how effectively can such a "clever" sales approach be expected to prevail before it is necessary to redevise new strategies to compensate for revealed weaknesses and counter efforts by opponents to expose and undermine the beliefs' theoretical (principled) foundations?  

  Do you want, that is, to have to engage in what can be described as constant rear-guard actions to defend and support your public-relations efforts or couldn't you simply do better to actually undertake the longer-term but more durably effective work of educating people--which has to be done anyway--in how to recognise their political interests in fair and general freedom as opposed to some impoverished version of freedom which means "all of the freedom one can afford to buy on the private market" ?

   I promise to persist annoyingly on these and other points in this, to me, fascinating area of discussion.

  [ And, (hint, hint) I take the opportunity to reiterate here how very valuable are the points and the analyses and arguments Popper offers in his The Open Society to the central features of the topics under consideration in this thread.  ;^)   ]

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 10:32:57 AM EST
Interesting revelations. As far as I understand the main reasons why people came here were their good intentions (expressed in popular progressive politics). Its followers armed with militant liberalism. How aristocratic.

"Only liberals really think. Only liberals are intellectuals. Only liberals understand the needs of their fellows." said one American author in 1984 and laughed at them in another book calling them radicals who crop up in every generation under many disguises. He continued: "Radicals always see matters in terms which are too simple - black and white, good and evil, them and us. By addressing complex matters in that way  they rip open a passage for chaos."

US under Clinton and EU under Barroso have fallen into trap of liberal radicalism and deserved rebuke from Russian FM Lavrov:
"I do not believe the West would be interested in seeing the Council of Europe become a place where just one out of many models of democracy would be made a criteria to judge each and every other state," he said. "The world is much more complicated. It's not black and white."

Liberalism has future only if it can restrain itself according to moral values which are boiled down to understanding that we are all humans whatever our ideological, ethnic or religious differences.

I have talked to many Westerners and found worrisome easiness they talked about punishment of whole nations for crimes committed by individuals. I recoiled when one Englishman said to me: Syrians were caught in Hariri murder, they should be punished. Not Assad, Syrians. Then comes the turn of Iranians, Russians, whatever.

Nobody can deprive us the right to judge everything what's going on in different countries however question about sources of credible information remains. Western media may be used cautiously as a source of information, too often it shows its prejudice, bias or credibility gap. Very possible local sources are of no better quality. The best way is travel or life in respective countries and even then it will be only subjective knowledge.

To share our subjective knowledge is the main reason why I came here.

by FarEasterner on Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 11:53:02 AM EST
is there a good diary on the meet-up over the weekend?
by BooMan on Tue May 23rd, 2006 at 08:53:54 AM EST
Try this one...

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 Tue May 23rd, 2006 at 09:05:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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