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Is Ideology Dead ?...

by ValentinD Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 09:45:30 AM EST

Rather than assigning a political colour to people according to where their words and ideas seem to position them, we might rather need to learn, and acknowledge that one does not always speak from an ideological viewpoint, but based on and looking at a real-life situation.
This seems to be the new way in politics: rather than governing from the centre, raising above it to face the reality directly, without the bias of a predetermined political position, without the skewed 3D glasses of a particular ideology.


Take, for instance, railway employees. Their working conditions today can be safely defined as ultramodern - an indisputable fact, no matter how one might look at it.
If a 1930 worker was told that the said working conditions are considered difficult (say, because of the need to wake up early, or push a few buttons, pay quite a lot of attention and bear -- the stress for some, the boredom for others). Our 1930 worker would likely spit aside and smirk back at whoever told him that.
A lot of responsibility, certainly, stressful situations, definitely, but difficult work conditions?...
This is just normal evolution as the society becomes more and more advanced technologically. Work conditions get easier (or else we should think about re-defining the word "difficult", as happened with the word "liberalism", whose sense for many today is closer to socialism than centre; but I digress).
Does stating all this amount to someone positioning on the rightwing side of the political spectre? Does it necessarily imply a hidden political agenda, aimed at harming workers' rights or benefits?

The French trade unions (and particularly so the likes of CGT, FO or Sud), are considered amongst the most leftwing unions in Europe.
Until not so long ago still in the "class warfare" mode, it was only in the '90s that the CGT started to take their distance from the communism (amongst other things, quitting the communist inspired World Federation of Trade Unions in 1995; leader Louis Vianet resigning from the political bureau of the French Communist Party; accepting certain negotiations rather than downright going on strike and so on).
Even so, the tone for most French trade unions remains proletarian-inspired even today (some might say this is just PR, and still!); there still are strikes defending purely political positions and interests (the warfare against "le démentèlement du service public" is probably famous now). The underlying idea continues to be that trade unions would somehow encarnate genuine representatives of the people - before political parties   ; and in spite of France featuring the lowest rate of union membership in Europe, at about 9%).

Now, the question would be, does stating all this make one rightwing oriented (let alone hard-right). Is this a sign (let alone "proof") of thatcherist propaganda, well, why not say it plainly, of being For the Bosses, Against the Workers!
Indoctrination, lack of nuance, can sometimes reach appalling heights, having as consequence the asymptotical descent towards zero of any chance of a meaningful debate.

Also, let us consider a statement that clearly contradicts certain libertarian ideologies: that people, men and women, would not be completely socially-conditioned, enslaved to socially-constructed, imposed roles; but would also be, from time to time, capable to think with their own minds, to step out of the well trodden paths the society (broadly speaking) prepared for them.
Now. Is that the same as saying that life is totally up to the individual? In spite of certain sociological and anthropological studies, the truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle - there are moments when opinions and decisions are made under influence, others less so, and the degre of free-will and critical thinking in life varies wildly depending on the person, her history, and the context.
It is most likely mistaken to deal with people as if they were helpless (the big-brother syndrome, characteristic of the political leftwing: on the pretext of helping people, we actually tell them what to do and what to think by means of a tight array of laws and regulations that direct the individual towards the axiomatically "good" behaviour in the smallest details of his personal, social and economical life) - or leave people in difficulty on their own, because they would somehow deserve it, for want of enough effort or qualities (as the hard right sometimes implies).
Society leaders should probably not focus their ('progressist') policies only or mostly on victims, and especially not shy away from having a clear definition of what a victim is at a given moment, in a given situation; but they should not focus on elites and best-achievers alone either.
There should be social-support policies where they are truly needed, preferably avoiding broad categorisation or basing on incomplete or not deep enough statistical surveys), and there should be economical-growth policies. The two are actually not so opposed to one another today as they were some decades ago, especially as we move towards a society of preferred-jobs employees, where work is almost never life-threatening, rarely health damaging, less and less disliked.

This kind of oppositions and extremes appear today as ideological by definition, and promoted by people whose interest is to back a certain ideology and fight opposing ideologies.  Psychological research tends to suggest that ideologies reflect motivational processes, as opposed to the view that political convictions always reflect independent and unbiased thinking. ( Jost, J.T., Ledgerwood, A., & Hardin, C.D. (2008) - this would also seem to indicate that those who decry conditioning are or were conditioned themselves (and have difficulties accepting a society that is not so by and large).

A good example in the matter is the French political leftwing - especially the French Socialist Party -, whose main political slogan, even now, after three consecutive defeats in presidential elections and an internal deroute in terms of defining a unique political line, whose main slogan, I was saying, remains the aged "let us wage war against the Right"

A simple Google search on "Battre la droite" will reveal this simple (and saddeningly simplistic) line as the only flag capable to federate French leftwingers, from the far left, LCR and PCF, to the PS and the Green party.
This lack of an elaborate political program -- worse, this lack of pragmatism (and focus on ideology instead), probably constitues the main reason for the UMP electoral victories in 2007.
(this statement is likely to be taken as yet another indication of political bias of the undersigned)

Mainly ideological approaches such as these, are  opposed to pragmatic, rationalist ways of dealing with issues. Pragmatic rational policies do include humanism, care for the economic growth and at the same time for reducing unfair inequalities; defend freedoms and rights while rejecting social and economical libertarianism that lead to chaos and egocentrism.

Such positions started to surface in the 90s already with leaders like Bill Clinton, or Tony Blair and find good audience today in Barrack Obama or Nicolas Sarkozy, despite numerous exceptions and mistakes each of them might have made.

Someone was arguing about the coming death of ideologies.
An BBC article in 2002 (link here) entitled "The mysterious murder of ideas" was quoting Professor Russell Jacoby of UCLA lamenting the decline of political thought in recent years.

After all, Daniel Bell, a Harvard sociologist, had already mentioned the death of ideology in his famous book. His reflections though were more in line with Karl Marx's old prediction of a society without classes, following the advent and final success of the communism.
But then even before Bell, in 1941, James Burnham had sketched the contours of a sort of technocratic-bureaucratic society born on the ruins of communism, capitalism and even democracy.

If we look at it retrospectively, Burnham's vision seems as the less inaccurate, and maybe even now, as we speak, we are actually watching the last ideologues throwing their final burning arrows before their beloved dreams and utopies melt, fade away, die down under the uninspiring blows of the oh-so-prosaic pragmatism.


Update [2008-11-17 16:11:19 by ValentinD]:


The above list of unreasonable, unrealistic dichotomic views can certainly be completed.

An example could be the difficulties moderate republicans meet with their rational stances against the "fundamentalist" ideology. No further than John McCain picking Ms.Palin for candidate vice-president, in a moment he should have shown his maverick talents and targeted the center and the undecided, is the most obvious proof of bad, irrational rightwing ideology at full throttle.

Another example could be the article by former NY governor Eliot L. Spitzer in the today issue of the Washington Post.

"The new president's team must soon get to the root causes of the mistakes that have brought us to the economic precipice. ...

"But these are all mere manifestations of three deeper structural problems that require greater attention: misconceptions about what a "free market" really is, a continuing breakdown in corporate governance and an antiquated and incoherent federal financial regulatory framework.

First, we must confront head-on the pervasive misunderstanding of what constitutes a "free market." For long stretches of the past 30 years, too many Americans fell prey to the ideology that a free market requires nearly complete deregulation of banks and other financial institutions and a government with a hands-off approach to enforcement. "We can regulate ourselves," the mantra went.

"Those of us who raised red flags about this were scoffed at for failing to understand or even believe in "the market." During my tenure as New York state attorney general, my colleagues and I sought to require investment banking analysts to provide their clients with unbiased recommendations, devoid of undisclosed and structural conflicts. But powerful voices with heavily vested interests accused us of meddling in the market." (full article here)

This is the new politician: refusing "ideology at all cost", and being more of a pragmatic technocrat.

I might also remind the skeptics the number of people and media from the right which supported Barrack Obama. Washington Post has certainly gone a long way from a fierce supporter of George W Bush and the war in Iraq.

Or The Economist - one should read the long string of issues before november where the paper was loudly supporting John McCain, even advising his campaign, only to end up endorsing Obama. Colin Powell, however compromised, is a good example too.

And this is not just about endorsers, but about the endorsed: Obama met John McCain today and even talked about "working together". Skeptics might say this is rather due to the serious economic situation rather than Obama's personal pragmatism.

I will again direct these skeptics to the On The Issues website where the rational, pragmatic posture shines through each and every obamaian declaration.

As to Nicolas Sarkozy, here is an article speaking precisely about Sarkozy's pragmatism (or realism) - Google automatic translation here.

Sarkozy's latest measures to sustain employment were called "an ideological turn coat" -- of course, by ideologists, who are positively unable to see anything else but ideology, in any political or social event or measure. One more proof about the decadence and eventual death of Ideology.

I could find many more such examples, but this suffices for the point to be made, I suppose.

Display:
Obama and Sarkozy have very little in common, and certainly Sarkozy has no wish to reduce inequalities -with the possible exception of inequality between him and Bill Gates.

UMP has been far more ideological than the French left and centre those last few years -and by last few, I mean at least since 1997, if not 1983 (excluding parties that do not intend to govern of course). The pragmatism is now purely a feature of PS and Modem and wholly absent from UMP, which is a machine for power, not for good governance at all.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 01:07:28 AM EST
You must be aware of the anti-unemployment measures that brought Sarkozy accusations of betraying his ideology.
No later than today the Economist speak about the Socialist Sarkozy.
Why ? Because, as the economic libertarians that they are, Economist journalists can only think in terms of ideology. Being ideologues, they imagine everyone else is, and read anything through this prism. Sarkozy is certainly not "socialist", just like he isn't the dangerous, hard right bad wolf he was framed to be in the electoral campaign.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 04:23:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Sarkozy is certainly not "socialist", just like he isn't the dangerous, hard right bad wolf he was framed to be in the electoral campaign.

He was a demagogue then (focusing on the anti-immigrant "toughness" rhteoric and dog-whistles) and he is a demagogue now. What else is new.

Call is pragmatism if you will. I'll call it opportunism and spin. Say it's ideology on my side if you care to.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:43:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anti-immigrant toughness...  see, this is an example of pragmatism, actually.

For the Left, there are two possible positions: pro or against immigrants, both of them ideological.
For a realist, there are two indisputable facts:
one, that most immigrants are poor and ghetto-ised;
the other, that most citizens in poor or immigrant areas cannot stand any more barbarian actions.

None of these facts are ideological, they are there, on the field. There actually is a minority of barbarians, hence need for public safety measures.
There actually is poverty and precarious life, so aid should be provided, and at the same time illegal and family immigration diminished.

This is pure reality and rational approach.
You see this as rightwing because you probably consider any discussion about safety as such. Thing is, there actually is insecurity, that's not an invention of the rightwing to scare people into voting them in.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:51:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A realist would say that there are "indisputable facts":

  1. one, that the first insecurity most poor people face is economic insecurity, and that you don't solve that by making work more "flexible" (ie giving the freedom to corporations to pay people less, fire them more easily, and impose inconvenient worktimes);

  2. two that immigrants in addition to being discriminated against by their looks in the pursuit of jobs and other activities, are scapegoated and (conveniently) blamed for the economic insecurity that other lower class people feel;

None of these facts are ideological, they are there, on the field. There actually is a minority of barbarians (demagogic politicians and employers willing to exploit vulnerable populations), hence need for public safety measures.

There actually is poverty and precarious life, so aid should be provided, and at the same time illegal use by bosses of immigrant workforces to lower wages should be pursued.

This is pure reality and rational approach.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have made a good point.

I am against unlimited overtime work, against blackmarket jobs, and I am all for ordering bosses to pay more!

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:14:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thing is, there actually is insecurity,

What, then, am I to make of things when I can look at the statistics and find almost no correlation between how insecure people feel as measured by opinion polls, and how insecure people actually are, as measured by reported crime rates?

What am I to make of the fact that people are more concerned about terrorism than about drunk driving?

I haven't run the numbers, but I strongly suspect that there is a much stronger correlation between the viewership/circulation of Murdoch "news" outlets and fear of crime and terrorism than between actual acts of crime and terrorism and the fear thereof. You may balk at calling this propaganda, but then I'd like to know what it is...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:40:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Terrorism is a diffuse issue that frightens a lot, and particularly so as it remains hidden.

Insecurity in poor immigrant neighbourhoods is more real than that, and the talk was about the fear of people who live there.
At least, I am not aware of any stats pointing to a discrepancy between fear and crime rate in that precise case.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The people in poor immigrant neighbourhoods overwhelmingly don't vote for "tough-on-crime" "anti-immigrant" politicians, though...

And terrorism is a non-issue. In the last decade we've had what? ten terrorist attacks against civilian American and European targets? Twenty? The median terrorist attack clocks in at a couple of hundred dead and wounded - the mean a bit more, but not excessively so.

Against the next best thing to a billion people.

That's less than a thousandth of a percent mortality and morbidity from terrorism. Influenza kills and maims more people every year because shabby health care systems fail to vaccinate at-risk demographics than terrorism kills and maims every decade.

It's a non-issue.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But it is made into an issue. It is put out there and framed as something the public should be concerned about. It is constructed as a social problem.

Now who is leading that debate and producing that type of rhetoric?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:14:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well airplane accidents also are far less fatal than car accidents. Still you see the effects of one and the measures taken to avoid them. ALl a matter of perception.

Terrorism has been made into an issue by the neocon administration as a way to grab power.

People's voting reasons are more than just street safety. Certain places also became areas where the rule of law is suspended. In these conditions, voting reasons become a more complicate thing than just left/right. We can even discuss the view people have about democracy in certain places.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Define "take measures." Measures are not taken to avoid airplane accidents which include having the secret police go through the airlines' confidential computer systems to look for cost-cutting on maintenance. Airline executives are not picked up by the secret police and put in a dark hole for months on vague, non-specific charges that the secret police suspects that they may be tampering with the safety margins on their airline's planes. The very notion is absurd. Yet such measures are taken against "terrorists" (read: Random brown people).

And airline safety wasn't high on the agenda in the last couple of election campaigns that I witnessed either, so the attention paid to it seems far more in line with the magnitude of the actual problem.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:13:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the BBC, alluding to the Royal Society's centuries-long and as yet chastened monopoly over distribution of "Arts, Manufactures and Commerce" among the purposefully rent illiterate and innumerate masses, or classes if one likes, that constitute the Anglo-Saxon imperial state:

"The wind has gone out of political thought, certainly among politicians, but equally significantly from commentators, intellectuals and political theorists." ...

At the root of this depletion of political thought is a "fetish* of pluralism", believes Prof Jacoby.

"What I think has happened is a lax idea of pluralism has begun to gut political thought," he said.

Let us recall before exploring the appalling "Twin Peaks" of received wisdom, also known as ideology, and
observed stochastic "economy," implied by Prof Jacoby's niggardly assessment of worldly mechanics, Tho. Pynchon's delightful recreation of applied science in the wilderness of British America in Mason & Dixon.

OK, done: Prof Jacoby has no one to blame but himself, which wouldn't do, for reducing --or rationaizing-- all political struggles among peoples to a mere and abject deplorable fetish*. Perhaps he has written and broadcast elsewhere factual information that models agency and strategic features; perhaps he has published some synthetic theory, philosophically speaking, of the structuration (of industrial nations') political economies; I wouldn't know, given his particular podium before an international, Anglophone audience is, ethically speaking, limited by space, time, and so-called ethnicity. (Have you noticed the www convention, AP I believe, of single-sentence paragraphs?) Review also, for example, Lacan on jouissance or Adorno and Weber on the "marketplace of ideas" or the McKinsey Quarterly for that matter. Sample headlines ...

Getting patients to take their medicine--Improving adherence to drug regimens can save lives and reduce health care costs (2006); Overhauling the US health care payment system, During the next five years, rapid innovation may restructure the value chain of health care payments and change the sector's balance of power (2006); Assessing the impact of societal issues--A McKinsey Global Survey: Executives place the environment and climate change in a class of their own when evaluating the impact of societal issues on shareholder value. They also indicate that companies are getting a little better at managing sociopolitical issues and understanding what the public wants (2007); Eight business technology trends to watch--Over the next decade, eight technology-enabled business trends will transform many markets and businesses. Creative leaders should start using them now to craft their strategies (2007); Using energy more efficiently: An interview with the Rocky Mountain Institute's Amory Lovins--The cofounder and chairman of a prominent nonprofit research institute offers advice to CEOs who want to save costs by using energy more efficiently and discusses the role that regulators should play in channeling the power of market forces to reduce energy consumption (2008); Why baby boomers will need to work longer--Most US baby boomers are not prepared for their retirement, and neither are the US and world economies. Boomers can help mitigate the consequences by remaining in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age (2008)

Ideology is not dead, far from it. Ideology thrives on training regimens in ones employment and schooling and punative socialization, those "soft" disincentives to deviate from normative behavior and prescribed intellectual formation of rational efficiency, simple or unambiguous communication, and I mean standardized coda. Such as "synergy" or "rationalization" which are devoid of meaning. Review Lyotard, Foucalt, Wallis Budge, Orisha, anything Chinese, Aborigine on "plurality," autonomy of one.

So I recommend this essay. It is provoctive in its deficiencies.

--------
* FETISH disambiguation


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:34:11 AM EST
Ideologues usually make one single and at the same time huge mistake that skeptics and relativists in their grim mood fail to notice:
people are fundamentally rational beings. Ideologies will always end up trying to grasp for some affective bit in their human preys. But be they simple minded, uneducated, poor, oppressed, gullible, their fear, their sense of honour, their empathy turned to serve interests; yet there will still come a time, be it only a moment long, where rational, critical thinking will put the necessary millimeter of distance for the Reason to shine and the rats to run for their hideaways.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 06:29:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What a beautiful summation of your ideology:

  1. An unfunded statement of what people truly, deep-down are. Since you here nail-down the fundamental nature of man any sign to the contrary can be brushed of as manifestation of the superficial layers hiding that fundamental core.

  2. A claim of the evilness and wrongness of other ideologies.

  3. A narrative of why your ideology will win in the end.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 06:17:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I got carried away :) I deeply despise lies said for ideological reasons.

The absence of an ideology, as DoDo doctly explained, is not an ideology in itself.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 06:08:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I agree with DoDo.

What I do not agree with is your claim that you do not have an ideology. You have here displayed a lot of assumptions and values in a coherent narrative. That is, you have displayed your ideology.

Your claim to lack an ideology does not make it so, just as some marxists claims to lack an ideology - "Marxism is a science, not an ideology!" - does not make that true either.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 04:44:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your way of thinking is correct, but you do realize that this way you will be able to "impose" an ideological label on everybody, no matter !

It is not my claim alone that "make it so".
I also tried to argue, and I regret not having convinced you. Someone at the center will be seen as conservative by the left and socialist by the right. Someone above the center as I position myself, is, in plus, a weird bird that no one really sees what it wants.

I don't think I displayed assumptions as such, but different situations that have several facets and I argued for considering all those facets. I'm not against immigrants, but I do think we should consider the locals' view of them and its causes (not always racism).
This is the kind of politically-neutral, rational argumenting that I claim myself of.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 07:12:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
Someone at the center will be seen as conservative by the left and socialist by the right. Someone above the center as I position myself, is, in plus, a weird bird that no one really sees what it wants.

Center is not an un-ideological position. An absence of ideology would not be placable on a political scale.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 07:25:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... you're a centrist, he's an opportunist :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 10:36:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Careful, someone else already has copyright on that term - DoDo, if I remember well (so double-beware!) :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 08:33:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I said above the center. If you follow my different position, just like is the case with some politicians, they seem contradictory. Some look like left, others more center or right wing, others more like real-politik.

This doesn't show opportunism or maverick-ism, but exactly that we don't fit political scale, which is based on ideologies.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 08:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

the underlying idea being that the unions somehow encarnate the genuine representatives of the people, before political parties  - and in spite of France featuring the lowest rate of union membership in Europe, at about 9%).

Public sector (and in particular public transport) workers go on strike by proxy because most other workers find it very difficult go on strike in France, for many reasons that are mostly not linked to the lack of popularity of unions.

It's easy to see that the population clearly makes a difference between grèves catégorielles (public transport workers defending their narrow interests) and grèves plus générales (the same on striking for a wider purpose) - there is much less patience for the former, much more for the latter - indeed, they are usually well supported.

So yes, unions do represent the people, and more than 9% of workers.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 07:24:34 AM EST
"go on strike by proxy" ? :) And do you find that normal, no matter the reasons?

As to the lack of popularity, it is probably because people are pragmatic and don't believe belonging to a union will be of much use. It is precisely what a secondary school teacher told me a few months ago.

As to the population, we should rather talk about the French being instinctively in favour of of unions, of protesters, of anyone who manages to appear as a victim. This particular technique is extremely well mastered.

As to unions somehow representing the whole people, I would invite linca to comment on the quality of the Democracy in France, as opposed to that in the US that he criticized not long ago.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 04:29:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
define normal.

It's certainly better than the aternative where workers have no way of being heard and don't see their right protected. It's NEVER easy for workers to get unionised, unless you have strong instutional bias to do so, as more than a century of history shows.

But of course, this is just about workers "playing victim." Bleh.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:46:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Normal, as in democratical.

Workers should be attracted into adhering to unions, I guess, and political parties should be closer to the base.
So well, no, in this case I don't say it's "playing the victim".
The right way I think is not for unions to do the work for the political parties, but for the democracy to improve.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:55:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The right way I think is not for unions to do the work for the political parties, but for the democracy to improve.

The job of political parties is to do politics. The job of unions is to secure a larger share of the value added for the workers. Is the distribution of wealth between employer and employee not a political question?

As an aside, several political parties have historically been joined to labour unions at the hip - where the parliamentary arm of the labour movement worked to secure workers' rights using the legislative process, the unions worked to secure workers' rights using collective bargaining. What is so odious about this combination, then? Certainly, it has been effective at building just and equitable societies.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Distribution of wealth and work conditions are certainly political when the talk is about work or economic policies. When it is part of the debate employee-eployer at company, branch, or field level, it's union stuff.

The Labour party should be the ones militating for higher taxation of financial revenues, not unions. Unions are not elected and not delegated to lead the country. The trade unions should be the ones militating for bigger salaries and lower work hours in a given industry, not political parties.

Sometimes union business is valid for everybody else and so becomes a matter of national politics (like the nation-wide minimum salary in France, or the limit of the working hours per week).
But as a general rule, union business is specifical to a certain company or field. Sarkozy reportedly told the CGT union boss, literally: "if you intend to block down the country, then I'll give you my office and my chair, and you will lead the country".

When a political program is voted in, expecting trade union rebellion, as if the vote was not given by the people, is anti-democratical.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 11:50:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do unions form their policies?  At their conferences, attended by their members.  Through ballots and referendums, voted on by their members.  Through decisions taken at branch meetings and AGMs and fed upward through the structures.  Fine, it doesn't work as nicely as all that, not every single member is involved or cares to have their say, but it isn't all down to the whim of the union leaders.

Unions represent their members.  When issues constantly arise in workplaces, then there are things that unions cannot always achieve in one workplace alone, they need critical mass to create change.  

You point out the minimum wage. Health and safety standards are another, in the UK provision of learning courses and skills training is a huge arm of most unions - but none of this can be done in individual workplaces alone.

Climate change, not of direct concern to unions?  I'd argue it is. The workers have a home life as well as a work life.  Rising prices in gas and electricity without adequate increase in salary, pushes low paid workers into poverty.  Now, separate union branches could argue it out with their respective employers in individual workplaces to increase the salaries of workers and get nowhere with that or they can argue it out with the government to take countrywide action to support people who need subsidies to pay their fuel bills, and introduce policies that can help many more people than the ones the unions directly represent.

These are the kind of examples for why Unions should be political and why they should negotiate with the government.  It is a form of consultation.  It is another method for getting evidence on how real working people are being affected or could be affected by Government policy.

When my Government gets things wrong, I want my union to say so. I want activist organisations to say so.

You can complain about unions having influence. What about all the other lobbying groups? The voice of business is usually much greater than the unions. The voices of those elitist super wealthy few are drowning me out, and millions of others like me. Yes, I want my union to be political.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:11:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unions are about issues related to work, workplace and such. Not the climate change or the deceitful publicity. There are the environmental associations, consumer associations, immigrant-aid associations etc.

Associations can manifest, but not block a country's railways because they don't agree with this or that policy - except when the whole public opinion is against, and there are general strikes.

When government gets it wrong concerning work issues it is the job of unions to protest.

The civil society organizations form a layer much stronger and more competent. Unions are just a part of it, and they're concerned with work issues.

I don't complain about union influence, but about giving them a censor right over the democratically elected representatives of the people.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:20:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unions represent people.  Business lobbying groups represent businesses. Not the interests of the people.

If my union wasn't challenging the government that is unreachable to me as an ordinary citizen with no influence, then who would be there to protect me?  I can write to my MP, but to have an effect, I'd need to organise mass action to make my MP listen to me.

So I'd need to organise and get other people mobilized and active.  You mention civil society organisations and unions being a part of that - well that is all I am asking for. So rather than me trying to set up my own single cause structure for lobbying on, I could tap into structures that are already there.

Unions do not have have direct line to the prime minister. They do not have direct influence to be in control of all the policies the Government produces. They have to produce infallible evidence to back the case they are arguing, to try to influence the change they believe will benefit their members (be it work related or indirectly impacting on their members' lives).  They have to develop high level expertise to take to civil servants and ministers to try to negotiate and influence on policy.

All business has to do is flash some cash. And they are in. big discrepancy there.

And if you aren't aware of it, UK unions actually have much lower status in law which has severely diminished their strength, and taken away many rights over striking and so on. And unions are not just about strikes or action.  That is a hugely outdated image, especially for UK unions.

btw there will never be any situation where the entire public opinion is against something.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:02:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Both unions and businesses are associations of people and both represent their own self-interests.  

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:08:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Both represent what they think are their best interests.

We've seen recently how well that works for everyone.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:10:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just questioning the framing of the comment.  It's not people v. businesses.  It's working people v. owning people.

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:21:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But in terms of who has more power? And more money also?

Business groups kick off about regulation and not letting the free market be truly free to let them do things how they wish to.

The UK unions are fairly restrained by legislation that limits their activities, US unions even more so. It isn't an even balance.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:18:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To expand on my comment to poemless: business interest groups are like the old pre-universal-suffrage voting system in various countries, when people's vote was weighted on the basis of their wealth.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:43:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to be assuming some prinicple based on your own local experiences.  Here in America, unions have a ton of money, and I can assure you, not all gotten the honest way.  Heads of unions and CEOs are cut from the same cloth here.  And how much power do the unions have?  Well, there's a debate in Congress about bailing out the auto industry, which has repeatedly effed up, with our tax dollars.  Who is for it?  Dems.  Who does labor give money to?  Dems.  

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:54:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Union honchos can be as money-grubbing as middle-ranked managers, yes. But if you add up the money/campaign contributors of unions and divide it by union membership, and then add up the money/campaign contributors of business owners and CEOs and divide it by their numbers, I bet there is a difference. Which is the point.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. Businesses represent capital, not people.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:39:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about those myriads of very small businesses? Made by people like you and me, and who employ a majority of working people today.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do the majority of those working people own the majority of the working capital?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but their employers are often not the vicious capitalists some seem to assume them to be, but people like you and me who opened a coffeeshop or a barbershop with their feeble savings and are not exploiting or lobbying anyone. Any worker can be tomorrow in that situation, especially as more and more micro-credit banks start off.
A huge majority of people works for these small employers, people like them, not for the big corps'.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:46:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A huge majority ? including the state employees as working in a very large company, the median employee works in a company employing 200-1000.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
97% of companies in Europe are micro-companies (under 50 employees).

In France, it seems there are about 5 million employees in micro-companies and about 9 million in companies with under 250 employees (wikipedia TPE/PME and pme.gouv.fr).


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not "a huge majority of employees work for very small companies". That's "a fifth of French employees work for micro-companies, and a minority for companies under 250 employees".

And a 200 employees company is already quite large.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Granted, my mistake. The number of employees is quite large anyway, but that's not the point.
I actually had in mind the proportion, 97%, which is about the number of TPE - small businesses, not employees.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:44:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most small businesses employ tens or hundreds of people. High street micro-businesses are very much a footnote economically - and they also have a very poor survival record because they're often undercapitalised as start-ups.

It's nearly impossible to start a workable small business without a decent stash of capital.

Of course it's not impossible, but even with microcredit it's hardly the open door you seem to assume it is. Most business don't become profitable for at least a couple of years.

As for employers - some are good, some are bad. Either way, workers do not have the same degree of control over their personal finances that employers do.

When your personal welfare depends on having a job, you're in a position of permanent political inequality with the caste which decides whether or not to employ you.

You seem to see this as a natural phenomenon, when in fact it's merely expedient and traditional.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:01:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those aren't the businesses on the other side of labour conflicts with unions.

Made by people like you and me,

Aren't unionised train drivers and capitalists also people like you and me?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you speak about small capital capitalists, yes.

Unionised train drivers, at least in France, were in a logic of lets do as much damage as possible and force them to submit.
Their reasons were hanging tight to privileges.
They were used to act from a very ideologic point of view that might be familiar to yourself :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So in what way are you and me similar but French train drivers and big capital capitalists not?

Methinks you again used a common right-wing phrase without thinking and can't get out of it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all :)

French train drivers and big capitalists share something called privilege. As said above. Sigh.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:14:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is higher pay a "privilege" ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:03:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Somehow I suspect there aren't many coffee shops which have been put out of business by over-aggressive train drivers.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:07:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither by over-greedy big capitalists, if you want.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:57:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah now... I can't generalise for other countries but in the UK this is exactly what happens. A Tesco opens on a high street and we lose the family run locally owned greengrocers because their custom has been taken away.

A starbucks opens and the local coffee shop closes, because the custom has been taken away.  By great big fat multinational chains.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:40:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a sensitive issue in France as well.
Small businesses and "artisanal" shops were protected and multinational chains spreading restricted inside cities.
With the result that there are still fewer and fewer traditional shops and more and more cheap, arab or chinese run shops. (not that anyone has anything against them, just that people's run for cheaper and cheaper stuff will just not be suppressed)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:32:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one owns that capital?  I guess those CEOs are just babysitting those summer homes...

What happened to the reality based community here?

BTW, anyone in the room besides me (and I assume In Wales) actually IN a union?

Trust me, I loved the things before I had to join one.

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

by poemless on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:49:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I still like it.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:00:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one owns that capital?

That's not the point. The point is that money talks. That means that it doesn't matter how many people are represented, what matters is how much money is represented.

anyone in the room besides me (and I assume In Wales) actually IN a union?

I am. (In fact, just last week we elected our new representative.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unions in strategic positions can bring a whole country down, and they won't hesitate to for certain interests. Not even federal unions, but a few determined small unions are enough. Or this has no counter-power, no democratical check. This kind of interpretation of the "right to go on strike" is not democratical. That's the case I was speaking about. I know it's an extreme one.

Unions represent people their worker quality and for worker issues, and as such I am totally for strong unions, like the German kind. Parliaments represent people.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And a few well placed capital owners (much fewer than members of any unions) can bring a country's economy down. That's not democratic either. But hitting on unions seem so much more popular...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:13:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not. The same stands for subprime bankers, Alan Greenspan and the likes. I posted two articles on the matter already.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:19:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If one thinks that this is a disproportionate exercise of union power, a simple and easy solution is to create a tenured civil service class similar to the Danish tjenestemand with higher salaries, greater job security, better pensions, etc. but without the right to strike.

This was rejected in a deliberate - ideological, if you will - political decision. By the very same people who are only too happy to use the bully pulpit to inform those who would have been covered by such an arrangement that they shouldn't be striking because it hurts society as a whole.

You want someone to blame for the train strikes? Blame Sarko and his friends for trying to run vital infrastructure on the cheap.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 10:16:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What one could see as ideological in the Danish example, frankly, beats me. I think it would be the best approach.

By the way I'm not looking to culpabilize anyone in particular, the Sarko line is quite cheap IMO.
I just don't think unions should strike over national policies, distribution of funds, investments and so on, but about work-related issues, that's all. Unions should not short-circuit democracy. They're not more legitimate than democratically elected institutions.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What one could see as ideological in the Danish example, frankly, beats me. I think it would be the best approach.

The decision that I call ideological above was the decision to abolish the system.

But that aside, I think the system itself was also a manifestation of ideology - namely the ideology that there are certain parts of the infrastructure that are too important to be left to the whims of the market (recall that the civil servants I described couldn't usually work for private companies - although with the privatisation mania that's been gripping our politicians some of them have been loaned out to the newly privatised companies (for obvious reasons)).

By the way I'm not looking to culpabilize anyone in particular,

Oh, but you are. If you argue that striking train drivers hold all of society hostage, you implicitly argue that the strike is the fault of the train drivers. You could just as easily turn this on its head and argue that the government ("Sarko and his friends," if you will) shouldn't be trying to eat its cake and have it too - and that stuff like train strikes is the kind of thing that just happens to happen from time to time when you try to eat your cake and have it too.

Your line of reasoning assumes that the current configuration of the French rail services is inevitable, and that it is up to the rail workers to adapt to it. The alternative narrative that I presented assumes that strikes among untenured workers are inevitable, and that it is up to the French rail service to adapt to it.

the Sarko line is quite cheap IMO.

Well, as they say; billige point er også point...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 11:50:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have but two problems with railway unions, since we are dissecting the issue.
One, that this is a critical area for a country - like the electrical grid, medical emergencies and a few others. I think the Danish solution you mentioned would be the best - obviously everybody's interest is against it.
Second, I think unions pursuing political goals is not a sign of a sane democracy. I wouldn't protest it as long as that political action continues to concern job issues and to cover a limited scope, a company, or an industry. Otherwise, it looks much like using the members for political advancement rather than the other way around.

Other than these two points, railway-ers or anyone else can strike as long and as often as they see fit.

(btw I merely touched the issue of the French unions' political colour; I could have spoken of the student or college unions, magistrate unions and many others whose hard leaning to the left leaves absolutely no doubt; by this, they decredibilize their own action and open the way for abuses from the side of the government; I found it extremely undemocratical for president Sarkozy to boast that "today no one notices strikes anymore"; this is were some unions' lack of reasonable-ness and politicking led: the Power is able today to frame any strike being so)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 06:58:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think there should be a ban on moving capital in order to influence political decisions? Or is capital allowed to go on strike for political gains?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 06:03:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Proper regulation is my middle name.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder why it's always such a big problem that unions are left-of-centre.

The owners and upper management of large companies is almost universally to the right of whatever goes as "centre" in your political culture (which in today's political culture means that many of them are far-right cultists). Many if not most of the people employed in the police and military are right-of-centre. If unions did nothing more than mirror the ideological distribution of civilians who aren't owners or part of the upper management of large companies, they'd be left-of-centre. And surely, unions aren't supposed to represent upper management and owners...

As an aside, unions really actually aren't far left - most of them are to the right of where they were thirty or so years ago, but the Overton Window has become so fucked up in the meantime that they look bright red...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 12:17:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think unions are naturally of a leftish sensibility, I think this is normal, just like managers and capitalists tend to lean the other way.

But I'm speaking of sensibilities. The word is very important. No one should get out of his role and act on its own sensibilitites rather than the role he has in society (police to protect the citizen, not be authoritarian, army to protect the country, not to use strength to rape women and burn villages and so on).

The turf for politics is the political parties and the democratical institutions. If others think they're more legit, they're no longer democratical.
Do I believe democracy (in its present form) is the best way? I don't know. We can discuss that, but I'd rather have my union activate for my protection as a worker.

I agree with you about unions being framed red. This is why they need not do more PR and more framing back, but keep factual, irreproachable and bold, in our defense, not that of an ideology.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 06:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who decides what the "role" of unions is in society? The roles of the police and military are spelled out in the constitution. Now, I haven't read the French constitution, but last time I read the Danish one, I didn't see any mention of unions, nor of their powers and prerogatives. So as far as I can tell, unions are nothing more and nothing less than NGOs - that is, collections of citizens - using the leverage that they have by force of their constitutional rights as citizens.

And as an aside, I still think your idea of democracy would cause most of the Enlightenment thinkers who came up with the concept to spin in their graves if they could hear it. To give an admittedly extreme example: Were the electorate to decide - by duly amending their constitution - to impose apartheid or to remove the suffrage for brown people, it would be the moral obligation of all civilised citizens to work for the overthrow of this new constitution. Clearly, such anti-apartheid activists would be more legitimate than all the duly, legally and democratically elected officials of such a country.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 10:51:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government is genuine when he says that when it comes to the economy, the trade unions and the CBI (business) are the two key stakeholders.  

We've had two recent economic summits in Wales to discuss the recession and how to tackle it and the strength of partnership the unions have with the Government is truly to the benefit of the whole population.

Where ValentinD says that unions should not be politically involved with anything outside direct workplace issues, we've shown here that the contributions of our unions during times like this is absolutely vital.  It is the partnership arrangements that determine to an extent the role of unions in working with the Government.  When Governments refuse to work with the unions, that's when we see real difficulties.

I guess another point I'd like to make is what is democratic about a system of governance that doesn't see a role for genuine open consultation and negotiation with NGOs, unions and other 'activist' organisations -  the ones who have a far more in depth expertise of the issues affecting the groups they represent?  

Understanding that with that expertise they can make links across sectors, themes and groups that go wider than any specific single cause remit is massively beneficial.  Services fail when things don't align, when there are gaps that have been overlooked because the service design was developed by people with too narrow a knowledge base, unable to see 'out of the box' if you like.

So like you, I'm not convinced unions should stick to direct worker related issues, there are other things with relevance that it is important to include.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 11:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've often said that in Denmark it can be hard to figure out where the state ends and the private sector begins - that's even more explicitly the case with the unions. Many - if not most - of the rules governing the labour market (rules that, in - say - France, would be made by Parliament) are negotiated, regulated and enforced by the labour unions, and the most important unemployment benefit scheme is managed by the unions - indeed it grew out of purely private unemployment insurances provided by the unions.

Thirty years of uninterrupted rule by syndicalists and pre-Schröder Social Democrats will do that to a country :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 01:51:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're both forgetting that I praised the way union-ism works in Germany. It is preferrable to have strong and active unions, competent negociators too.

Economic issues almost always touch employees' interest (there are so few true workers left today, that I kind of prefer employees).

But what would you say if your Welsh (ok, not a world economic power, but still, for the sake of example) went on strike Against Multinationals or Ultraliberalism - ie, for a clearly ideological issue.
I can perfectly understand French post office employees on strike against privatisation, for instance. I cannot do the same regarding those on strike for the "preservation of the Public Service", which is a matter of public policy which in fact has only positive effects on them personally and on the respective service.
They go on strike (supposedly) in the stead of the citizen, ie, opposing elections (by which people chose a non-left candidate).
Hence they use their right for a kind of political coup (keeping proportions) which would not benefit them in any way.
These are ideological attitudes to be avoided for their own credibility (and probably against the law as well).

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 07:59:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But what would you say if your Welsh (ok, not a world economic power, but still, for the sake of example) went on strike Against Multinationals or Ultraliberalism - ie, for a clearly ideological issue.

I fail to see how going on strike against transnats is beyond the scope of labour rights. Some of the worst offenders on labour rights are precisely the transnats you don't want unions to strike against. One of the fundamental principles of all labour organisation is that abusing labour somewhere is abusing labour everywhere - partly out of an ideological sense of solidarity with the oppressed, but more pragmatically because slave labour abroad undercuts our bargaining position at home.

So dock workers refusing to unload a container of iPods because the factory they were produced in is abusive to its labour force is a strike directly against a company policy that harms the interests of the dock workers.

As for striking against neoliberalism, I can see various tactical and strategic problems - how do you know when you've won? What concessions would you demand?

But going on strike against a neoliberal government, on the other hand, is perfectly reasonable if you think the strike has a reasonable chance of hurting it more than it will hurt you. You'd support, I hope, a strike against an Islamic (or Christian) fundagelical government, even if it came to power through elections? And surely neoliberalism isn't any less noxious than Shari'a?

I can perfectly understand French post office employees on strike against privatisation, for instance. I cannot do the same regarding those on strike for the "preservation of the Public Service",

What's the difference between striking against privatisation and striking for preservation of the public service? I fail to see the distinction.

They go on strike (supposedly) in the stead of the citizen, ie, opposing elections

Bullshit.

Elections are decided on a fairly small range of issues - and the issues that unions usually strike over aren't usually among them. Further, during an election campaign, politicians will frequently make different - and conflicting - promises to different interest groups in society. Why shouldn't unions protect their interests when politicians try to undercut their own promises?

(Why people believe that a right-wing politician won't try to undercut labour rights and dismantle the public service is something of a mystery to me. But when you poll people, they apparently do. So, in a sense, when unions strike against the dismantling of the public service, they're just demanding that the politicians do what the voters apparently thought they were doing all along...)

These are ideological attitudes to be avoided for their own credibility (and probably against the law as well).

The Underground Railroad didn't have much credibility in the Confederacy either. Nor was it precisely legal...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:17:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really have nothing to add to your post. You put in there everything I tried to explain before :  ideologisation and internationalisation of labour unions, solidarity with the oppressed, slave labour... I'm afraid if I continue this you'll quote from the Little Red Book... Like a few others, your posts too are a perfect study case for what an ideology is: a religion without an explicite god. Utopia is too nice a word, if we look at what Stalin or Mao did about theirs...

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 02:02:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Equating solidarity with the oppressed with Stalin's purges seems... a shade far-fetched, if you ask me. Or perhaps you dispute that labour in China (and elsewhere) is oppressed?

At any rate, the internationalisation of labour interests can hardly be laid at the feet of the unions. If you internationalise capital, you internationalise labour interests. This is straightforward, generally acknowledged economics that no serious economist - left or right - disputes: In an era of globalised capital, doing offence to workers in China does direct and measurable harm to the hard and fast numbers on my bottom line in Denmark. Permit me to repeat: This is straight out of page 0 of any textbook on globalisation you might care to pick up.

So, if labour unions aren't supposed to defend the direct, measurable and extremely concrete interests of their members, then WTF are they supposed to do?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 03:32:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Distribution of wealth and work conditions are certainly political when the talk is about work or economic policies. When it is part of the debate employee-eployer at company, branch, or field level, it's union stuff.

An artificial distinction, if you ask me. When Parliament enacts a law stipulating that a labourer may not lift more than so-and-so many kg pr. day (on account of protecting his back from injury), it is usually the unions that end up enforcing it. When the unions negotiate terms for overtime pay, it is often the police that enforces it (or rather, the tax collection agency, because they're the ones who settle debts that the debtor refuses to pay).

And I also doubt that you'd apply the same distinction to - say - green politicians and pro-environment NGOs. Why shouldn't Greenpeace agitate for a cap on CO_2 emissions? Should they leave that to the political parties who are supposed to formulate nationwide policy?

That would be a curious kind of democracy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 03:29:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My distinction is not that.
Unions should stick to job and worker issues, environmentalists to environment, civil rights associations with civil rights, and so on and so forth. Greenpeace would never involve in the remuneration policy of car industry - unless they have some green interest in it.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:23:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And maybe there is some work interest in green issues?

Some industries are declining.  Workers get made redundant.  Let's say that the green agenda in many ways is good for a country as well as being good for a planet.  Let's say a country commits to a significant investment in developing an infrastructure for renewable and green energy.  This creates new jobs, redundant workers can be retrained and learn new skills and be kitted out to take on these new jobs.

There is a role for unions to play here, in supporting these workers but also in encouraging government and persuading them that this is a good course of action to take. Renewable energy helps to meet energy challenges, new jobs keeps people from needing benefits and from possibly not finding jobs again etc...

Now, if we kept all these things entirely separate and didn't let unions form and promote policy on green issues then it could take much longer for governments to come around to a more innovative way of thinking, they wouldn't have the forethought to retrain workers being made redundant from certain sectors and the links between apparently separate policy areas (environment, energy, employment, welfare) would be missed.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Silence from M. Valentin]

I'd like to hear his answer to this.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:09:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
:)
I would just repeat myself. Trade unions should be concerned whenever their members are concerned in aspects related to their work. If green stuff is, let there be green then. If areas of interests of NGOs, civil associations, unions, intersect, I don't see a problem in getting involved from each of the concerned party.
By mentioning environment, I meant green issues unrelated to a certain industry and their unions.
I also mentioned deceitful publicity. I said I don't see unions getting into it, except directly concerning its members in work related matters.

I'm repeating myself.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:54:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should NGOs stick with one specific area of policy? There may be various tactical and practical reasons for wanting to avoid mission creep, but I don't see any principled ones.

It seems to me that what you're complaining about is that some NGOs have members who hold influential positions within society and that those NGOs can mobilise those members to exert their influence, and that this gives them an influence that is not in proportion to their membership.

If that is your concern, then I suggest you take aim at the chemicals lobby, the finance lobby and the aeronautics lobby before laying blame on unions. Very few unions actually wield disproportionate power. And those who do do so only because various right-wing governments have been too miserly to create a cadre of tenured, well-paid civil servants with good pensions and high job security to handle critical infrastructure.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:17:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"go on strike by proxy" ? :) And do you find that normal, no matter the reasons?

Withholding labour is a basic human right. If you don't have the right to withhold your labour, you are a slave. Of course, that means that withholding labour can be used as a means of political leverage. If you object to this, surely you must also object to the exercise of other fundamental human rights (such as free speech) in service of political objectives. Otherwise, you'd have to explain to me what makes withholding labour so different from those other fundamental human rights that it justifies treating it so differently.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:47:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In principle, I agree with you.

But like free speech, labour withholding is regulated. If transport workers block the country because they don't agree with government's education policies, I don't see how their companies, or their ministries can negotiate an end of the blockage.
The government will defend his political program as voted by the people, by and large, which has precedence over this or that work category.

But I do think general strikes produced by general public opposition to a measure can be acceptable.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 11:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They can end the strike by altering the proposal. Or even by acknowledging the legitimate interests expressed by the unions in question and discuss the issues with them in good faith. It's not like they have to bend over backwards to comply with every single demand the union makes, but the "good faith" thing is kinda important. If people have good reason to think that they're being fobbed off with stalling tactics and cosmetic changes, they're going to demand concessions up front and in public before sitting down behind closed doors with their opponent.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 03:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the unions themselves need not be reasonable and in good faith. I agree that in general workers have the rough end of the deal but that does not make them angels per se. Even when they are legitimate (not quite always the case but most often they are), acknowledging the legitimate interests will not necessarily lift the blockade.

Honestly, there is something about public service that make the right to strike amendable with some reserves. For instance, hospitals will at the very least treat emergencies. It would be unacceptable that they do not.

To me the right to withdraw your labour has to be seen in the context that you are hurting the party negociating the share going to the workers with your stopping your work. This actually matches a private, competitive company a lot better than a monopoly delivering a public service (hospitals are local monopolies, SNCF a countrywide one).
I don't think that the right to strike ought to be understood as the right to severely hurt people who have no say in the bargaining. On the other hand, there must be a right to strike for almost all workers (there can be a case for a few exceptions, but very few).
So some compromise needs to be made -for example, you could have the train system run for free with regular service on strike days (actually, you do in most cases). They're not easy and probably have to be case by case, but I think public service is special. Which means it should also be defended from neo-liberal assaults, of course.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There actually used to exist a tenured civil servant role in the Danish public sector that didn't have to right to strike. Precisely to serve those roles - such as train driving, teaching, emergency medicine, etc. that are time-critical and either have large ripple effects in the rest of society or endanger people if they are not provided.

It was abolished because it was considered too expensive.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:04:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would personally be quite in favour of this.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never meant to imply that you weren't.

The reason I mentioned it is that there is a not-so-subtle subtext to the "too expensive" argument:

As you seem to agree, paying people a fair compensation for signing away their right to strike is not actually too expensive by any reasonable cost-benefit accounting. So the real thrust of the "too expensive" argument is that paying people a fair compensation for partially signing away their human rights is more expensive than using the bully pulpit to intimidate them into not exercising those rights.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:45:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not signing away their human rights, such a typically ideological exaggeration. It's signing to guarantee continuation of service so that people don't die because involved in a work conflict. That's all. This is what pragmatism against blind ideology.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:53:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The two are not mutually exclusive. A non-disclosure agreement is also signing away parts of your human rights (in this case your right to free speech). Do you think that this is also an exaggeration based on a blindly ideological understanding of free speech?

The point here is not that contracts that temporarily and conditionally restrict our exercise of fundamental rights are odious - far from it - the point is that such clauses must be compensated in reasonable proportion to the restriction they place on your rights.

Signing away the right to strike means signing away a very important political tool, as well as a considerable part of your leverage against your employer, so it should be used sparingly and compensated generously.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:09:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed.
Political tool? No, elective democracy is based on political parties, not NGOs or trade unions.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:11:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That view of democracy seems to me to place far too great an emphasis on formal parliamentary procedure and far too little on civil society.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:17:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An ideological view.

I find it better to vote every 2-3-4 years and let the guys work. Big countries cannot practically be governed, say, by referendum, or other associative means. Just a pragmatic view. Is it possible? I think not, except Liechtenstein and such.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
An ideological view.

I find it better to vote every 2-3-4 years and let the guys work.

What do you think they do, when they work? Politics is a neverending power struggle between different groups for different changes in society. If ordinary people and their organisations leave walk over after the vote has been cast, that just means that their interests will not be considered until you approach the next election. Left on the scene will be the media owners, the lobbyists, the internal wrangling for position in the parties etc. Of course, if you prefer the results that would yield, you would prefer to "let the guys work".

So I guess you mistyped.

An ideological view:

I find it better to vote every 2-3-4 years and let the guys work.

There, fixed it for you.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:30:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No mistyping whatsoever.
I prefer to allow lobby actions around parlamentarians and me be allowed to get along with my life, than have thousands of associations bickering for this or that aspect of a law, or communities asked to vote by referendum every week or so.

Parliamentarian democracy introduces a level of indirection. It is them who bother about it, and are responsible for it. I prefer delegation to direct democracy, I'm not ready or competent to vote on every issue, and I'm not sure we can devise a system of certification of any social organization, their own interests, their own competences and so on.

Bref, the case is far more complicated than just labeling today's democracy as inherently ideological.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:09:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's elective monarchy you're describing, not democracy. At least not democracy in any shape or form that the people who are usually credited with inventing it would recognise.

But hey, what does Jefferson know about democracy anyway :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 10:24:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly, legitimate interests.
Unions' legitimate interest is about work issues, not army or foreign politics - unless it somehow affects workers.
I agree about good faith of course.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:25:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Foreign and security policy always affects workers. Having a colonial empire weakens the ability of workers to secure their interests, because employers can exploit the indigenous population of the colonies (who have few rights and thus cannot organise effectively). Slavery weakens the ability of workers to secure their interests (for much the same reasons). A bloated Mil-Ind complex weakens the ability of workers to find honest work (both by weakening the economy and by channelling resources towards objectionable work).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:26:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As in, directly affects workers.
It is the case with the examples you give, but this should not be generalized into making unions consultable in matters of foreign policy. I'm curious to see how far you are able to push unions' scope of action :)  They should decide military strategy too, and of course have a veto right on the Red Button - its use will most obviously affect workers' rights and benefits.

But then why not bring a communist dictatorship, purely and simply. At least them, you'll believe when they'll tell you it's the people who has the power.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:15:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They should decide military strategy too, and of course have a veto right on the Red Button - its use will most obviously affect workers' rights and benefits.

Well, yes, every major social interest group should have veto rights on the red button. Pushing the red button would be a crime against humanity on a scale not seen since the Great War - doing so against the wishes of a significant minority of the population (nevermind an outright majority) doubly so.

I don't think that unions are necessarily the best fora in which to discuss military strategy - but if they can give compelling arguments for this or that strategy, I see nothing wrong with that. And if some strategy is so anathema to them that they are willing to deploy all their political guns - up to and including the general strike - it would probably behove any prudent politician to ask himself why this strategy has so antagonised a majority (or, even in the most de-unionised countries, significant minority) of the population.

But then why not bring a communist dictatorship, purely and simply. At least them, you'll believe when they'll tell you it's the people who has the power.

I'll assume that this is snark. The unions are hardly the only NGOs that attempt to influence public policy. They're not even the most odious of the various NGOs that do so.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:34:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a snark at all. The point is that there are democratical instances elected for this by the people. Unions shouldl focus on strictly work-related issues, not influence politics. It is not democratical. They do it anyway if they can, obviously.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:40:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
Unions' legitimate interest is about work issues, not army or foreign politics - unless it somehow affects workers.

You're simply asserting this artificial distinction as if it's true, and you've ignored the reasons you've been given which show that it isn't.

What could possibly be more ideological than repeating the same point over and over, and ignoring  extended arguments against it?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:16:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all.
Those are not extended arguments, but utopical thinking typical of the hard left. The comment about civil society vs formal democratically elected organisms is relevant of this.

We cannot extend the "workers interests" at what actually is people's interests. Or people's interests are represented by parliaments and other elected instances in democracies.

As a general rule, mixing genres and then claiming a hold on truth won't bring us anywhere.

Exactly the same kind of false reasoning was made on another diary about women who are paid less because they work less because they're supposed to care for children because of the society-imposed roles - and so on.

This kind of line of thought only shows lack of rigour.

In the end, everything is dependent of anything, so we pick our favourite victims:
workers (as if we're not all of us workers, as if we don't have a democratical system),
women (as if they wouldn't want children, as if they wouldn't like caretaking) and so on.

In short, you may protest that the democratical system bases on parties, parliaments and governments for general-interest issue, and unions for precisely labour related issues.
That may make you a revolutionary-in-waiting, but won't make me an ideologist.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:34:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously, what you think is pragmatical, rigorous lines of thinking - a nice way of note actually responding to arguments, whereas when others disagree with you, despite giving plenty of arguments, they are utopical, wingnuts, show lack of rigour - which you don't actually point out. Funny that in that thread you claimed you had nothing more to say about the argument, yet keep rehashing it here in this thread.

A last one for the road, straight from one of your links :

Powerful and influential doctors continue to express fears that the increasing proportion of women in medicine will lead to a loss of power and influence and professional status.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:41:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I speak about rigour and way of reasoning, I also say why.
I also draw a conclusion? It begins with In Short.
I don't simply dismiss and I don't count the number of times I had to correct misreadings, for instance. I also don't bring "others" as arguments to frame someone as isolated. This is rhetorics. My point was that for countries are ruled democratically, not by worker committees.

As to your quote, I had seen that phrase.
SO what's the problem? Did I deny that? Did I ever even comment that? Is anything I said contradicting that?

An ideological will always bring unrelated arguments to decredibilize an opponent. For him, winning is the important thing, not finding the truth or learning something new.

I hope at least you read well your own links on the other debate and learnt that there are a lot of unexplained or arbitrary factors regarding gender differences in pay, other than Male Oppressors.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:55:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope at least you read well your own links on the other debate and learnt that there are a lot of unexplained or arbitrary factors regarding gender differences in pay, other than Male Oppressors.

Which you decided I had denied, despite I having not done so. And the sentence I linked is hardly unrelated to the topic.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As you say.  May I go to sleep now? :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:02:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since you like playing "gotcha", you could have looked to the end of the links, which expanded on the conclusions of the statistical study. Maybe you to could have learnt something, like, "The case-studies show that, when recruiting for sex-typed jobs, employers attempt to match some features of the job with the alleged characteristics of one of the sex"..."If tasks fail to provide a basis for sex typing, the social relations within which they are performed may still provide such a rationale"..."The hours of works form a third basis for sex typing"..."Other job features such as pay, status and prospects may also serve this purposes"..."In other words, job features work as segregation devices because they allow employer to mobilize gender stereotypes"...

Bun then, that book is probably full of ideology and sloppy reasoning itself, I suppose.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course they can be used as segregation means. How can anyone deny this. They allow, but it doesnt mean all employers use them.
This is why I was proposing a sort of standardized CV where requirements be mentioned precisely.  

This is a bit like free speech you know, no matter how many laws you make, people will always find a way around them to pass the message they want (see the recent Christian Vanneste's trial decision).

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:03:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are not extended arguments, but utopical thinking typical of the hard left. The comment about civil society vs formal democratically elected organisms is relevant of this.

Come on, you can't be serious.

There is a healthy and ongoing debate about local vs. centralised and direct vs. indirect democracy that goes back at least to the French and American revolutions and continues to this day. Different countries have settled upon different - mostly viable - solutions for various reasons. Spain, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland - to name just the ones I know - all have varying degrees of devolution of power from the central parliament to more local units. Hardly a case of utopianism run amok (and I note that Switzerland isn't precisely a hard-left country either...).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 10:36:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In principle I agree with you. In reality, there are those cases you mention, and there are those where talk about participatory democracy is but a means to short-cut the established democracy when its results happen not to be to one party's liking.

The best example is the European Union. Most left hardliners are of course against more integration, because they claim it to be an instrument of the bad wolf (capitalism). So they call indirect democracy undemocratical (in spite of the fact that the EU Parliament is elected directly and the Commission represents the democratically elected governments, not the Evil Billionnaires and Multinationals).

So they play the Poll Chord ("polls all over Europe are against Europe") and demand "direct democracy", as more democratical.
Which leads to the EU constitution, an opaque, technocratic document of hundreds of pages, being submitted to referendums, attacked with populist slogans, and being, logically rejected.
Goal attained! 1-0 for the Direct Democracy! Tomorrow we'll vote to Give More Money to the People! After tomorrow, we'll vote For More Sunny Days!

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 07:14:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of representative democracy is that the representatives are supposed to be representing their constituents. So when our elected representatives are deeply out of touch with their constituents - as they manifestly are on the EU issue - it is a failure of democracy. We can debate argue about where the failure is;

Is it that the voters are stupid? That the politicians aren't representing the best interests of the voters? That the decision-making architecture of the EU has fundamental design flaws? That state-level public debate fails to consider the federal issues? That the voters deem the federal level unimportant? All of the above?

But whichever our answer to where the democratic failure originated, there is no denying that a political class that's 90 % pro-EU and a public that's 40 % pro-EU and 20 % don't-know-don't-care signals a failure of democracy somewhere.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 12:29:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMO the cause is cowardice and cronical absence of a spinal chord to many politicians.
They got just so used to deciding one thing in Brussels, than going home and saying something else, mainly that "Brussels" impose "its" regulations on "us".

I just wanted to point out that "Brussels" is our own elected, not some bureaucratical class parachuted from planet Mars.

Voters are not stupid, but (I think Frank said that already) the constitution is too technical. Referendums must be made on simple questions ending in yes, or no, not a 200 pages cryptical diplomatic formulations + annexes.

So this is where the difference between the public and the political class comes from, IMO.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You find the same thing if you google for "battre la gauche" (on a smaller scale, but then the left was not in power in the past election).

What did Sarkozy get elected on, exactly, in your view?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 07:26:23 AM EST
Oh, that's easy:
on racism, lies, clientelism, lies, show-business, propaganda in a controlled press, reducing every complex issue to a dichotomy with one position expressed as a caricature, creating the fear of the other, lies, dog whistles to the extreme-right, and photo-ops of jogging. And more lies.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 08:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You forgot about the lies...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:16:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are of course correct: the right has no need to beat the left - except maybe in local elections.

Sarkozy was elected on a few good slogans about more work vs more gain, more purchase power by reforms, what means to be French etc. But through all this, blew a wind of pragmatism.

I think he won because his rational pragmatism was convincing enough. He managed to convince enough people that he actually wants to DO things.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 04:32:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Sarkozy was elected on a few good slogans about more work vs more gain, more purchase power by reforms, what means to be French etc. But through all this, blew a wind of pragmatism.

Sarkozy was elected by absorbing whole the discourse of Le Pen on immigrants, and capturing his voters. He had no coherent discourse on the economy.

What does "reform" mean to you? Is it: more flexible labor markets, weaker unions, lower taxes, less regulation?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:55:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"more purchasing power by reforms" was Sarkozy's slogan, not mine. He said both parts.
Now it's for the independent analysts to say whether he did any reform, any good one, or not.

As to myself, more flexible labour markets, with much easier and fast hiring, but certainly not the american model.
Not more regulation, but less bureaucracy.
And stronger unions, definitely, and also lower taxes (for the middle class: myself!).
And stronger PME reaching outside France.
Much like Germany.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:02:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
more flexible labour markets, with much easier and fast hiring,

What does this even mean? "Flexible" has at least two or three different meanings, and at least one of them is pure newspeak.

but certainly not the american model.

Care to be a shade more specific? "I want a more managed economy, but certainly not the North Korean model," kinda leaves a lot unsaid, doesn't it...

Not more regulation, but less bureaucracy.

Should that read "not less regulation"?

lower taxes (for the middle class: myself!).

Why? You very probably get more back in services than you spend in taxes. European-style government is a really good deal for anybody who isn't in the top 20 % of the income distribution.

And stronger PME reaching outside France.

PME?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 02:20:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"more purchase power by reforms"

He did deliver on that one, you can't argue about it, once you realise that it's the microphone that stopped working in the middle of his sentence, which was:

"more purchase power for the already rich at the expense of everyone else, by reforms"

And deliver he did, with the Paquet Fiscal, with the depenalisation of business crime, with the Tapie settlement, with his gifts to private media, with...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:21:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he won because his rational pragmatism was convincing enough.
In other words, Valentin believes that he successfully projected an image of employing a pragmatic style which he used to contrast with an opponent which he successfully painted, arguably, given the results, as ideologically driven.  He successfully used "code" to attract the Le Penn element so as not to drive away too large a segment of the middle.  

Did he figure this out by himself or did he have some particularly effective campaign manager/strategist,  a French Rove?  Is there evidence of a political realignment in France or is this still as much a case of fatigue with the Socialists after a long run?

Market Trustee makes a point that ideology has not disappeared so much as it has been camouflaged by being  embedded into culturally normative social conditioning.  While that approach is probably more successful in the long run, it would seem to take time to accomplish.  

Perhaps the true danger of emphasizing ideology is that this only appeals to a minority of the population, and that one or both sides can ramp it up to such an extent that it turns most people off to politics, when politics is framed in terms of ideology and is continuously and vituperatively argued on rational grounds by one side and on grounds of emotion and values by the other.  This provides scope and time for one side or the other to change the terms of discussion to the disadvantage of the other side.  This is one means whereby those who have a clear ideology and have intentions and policies designed to help the majority, call them "the reality based community," can be totally subverted by means of symbolic manipulation undertaken by those who, while having no interest in the majority except as grist for their mill, take the time to understand their mentalities and effectively, if deceptively, appeal to those mentalities..

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I read a diary like this it's clear we are working from different ideologies. I was going to say, different definitions of ideology, but then I realized that this in itself is also an ideology.

In my ideology, the very idea of being outside ideology is impossible. There seems to be nothing more ideological than the claim that you have stepped outside ideology and are now looking at the practical.

That, for me, is the ideological move par excellence.

by Upstate NY on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:31:54 AM EST
I refer back to a comment I made on DoDo's diary:


Ideology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An ideology is a set of beliefs , aims and ideas, especially in politics. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare Weltanschauung), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society.

So we are discussing our visions of how things should be and our ways of looking at things.  Even if this is personal and doesn't result from being a member of a political party or being a political activist (ie not buying into an organised ideology), it still counts as ideology.  I see yours and mine being very different.

I used softer words such as what you say 'comes across as' because I don't want to go pointing my finger and saying you are this or you are that.  My impressions come from the way I read into the language that you use and the concepts you are putting forward.  Also your view of what constitutes 'right wing' may well be a bit different to mine.  So you put yourself as moderate where I put you on the right based on the way you have discussed these issues with me. You think I am left wing conditioned but you don't think that you could be right wing conditioned?

The one thing about right wing rhetoric is that it does a fantastic job of getting the message over that this is all common sense, rational and reasonable and because most of the messages you absorb (through the French media you believe to be left wing) are aligned with right wing rhetoric, it's the 'norm' to you that you think is moderate. I haven't been able to express that too well.

This makes me wonder if it is a good time for the political compass to get rolled out again?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You might have realized that this is in part an answer to points you made in your post above.

Ideology is a set of beliefs and ideas that pretend the reality is a certain way. A bit like many scientifical theories, that first are built (based on certain hints) then are proved - more or less by bending the reality to fit them.

I try to see the reality without using a pre-established way of looking at it. My deepest concern is objectivity. I know it's a big word, but this is what interests me. If things are shown to be this way, I have absolutely nothing to add, and I approve all those quota laws. I won't adopt leftwing ideology, but I certainly won't value much the rightwing one either.

Pretending to be outside ideology is not ideology, exactly like being an atheist is not a kind of religion, but the absence of it(see poemless below).

You put me on the right from your viewpoint. Upon reading me more completely, american republicans will likely count me on the center, maybe even center-left (I think machine guns must be strongly regulated, for instance). So it's all a matter of where you look from.
You can return me the argument and say I am right wing conditioned, which is why I endeavour to find arguments and reasons, without starting from an ideological base, but really interested to know the truth.

French Left made a terrific job in depicting itself as the people who have a heart, who are sensitive to others' misfortunes, implicitly putting in opposition the rightwing.
Hence the famous phrase an indignated Giscard d'Estaing threw at Mitterrand: "vous n'avez pas le monopole du coeur!".
So French left emphasize the emotional, caretaking side, while the right does the same with the rational, economical side.
One might even say the Left belongs to a feminine archetype, while the Right belongs to a masculine one! :)

I'll return the reasoning: are women instinctively of the left, and men of the right? I don't think polls show that, though.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 04:57:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes I think the simple fact of speaking about rationality points one as belonging to the rightwing.

Bringing arguments in a discussion about "protection of the feeble", rationalizing the thing,
is already a sort of lack of heartfelt warmth towards the marginalized, the weak, the victims - for which anything possible should be done immediately, come what may.

Only a rightwing person would be capable of saying that "we cannot receive all the people of the third world" as immigrants, because we simply lack the ressources. A true leftwinger will never say this, it's about compassion, a matter of the heart.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:15:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I even think that even speaking against ideology per se, points someone as belonging to the rightwing.

I know no genuine rightwing ideologue, 200% convinced and 200% convincing. On the contrary, leftwing ideologues seem to be the ones truly in love with their ideology, with ideologic stances in general.

And this is normal. The Left being about progress, always fostering utopies, it is normal that their positions be naturally more ideological.
Reducing them to the cold reality and even colder reasoning, is the rightwinger's method par excellence :)

An anti-ideology essay is by definition rightwing.
So here I am, exposed!
:)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:27:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only a rightwing person would be capable of saying that "we cannot receive all the people of the third world" as immigrants, because we simply lack the ressources. A true leftwinger will never say this, it's about compassion, a matter of the heart.

Come on, this is a bad caricature!

There is a variety of views on how to deal with immigration that can broadly be considered "leftist" - but the notion that we should just invite all Africa's poor onto our shores isn't one of them. The closest you come to that is the ones (like me) who say that as long as we keep raping the third world and systematically denying it its shot at equality with the material standard of living of The West(TM), we have no moral high ground from which we can argue that they should stay in "their own countries."

As an aside, if all the hungry of Africa decided one fine day to pick up their clothes and start moving north, there'd be damn all we could do to stop them.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 03:18:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IOW, only a rightwing person would frame the immigration issue in the context of a giant whopping strawman of the entire Third World immigrating, not a moderate.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 03:24:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't say "we should invite", I said, "should not forbid". Nuance. The left cannot do un-nice things - not publicly, anyway. Well, could not do. Left changed too, just as did the Right - they all go to the centre.

I wanted to point to the compassion string in leftwing ideology.

I can agree with your statement about the moral ground, though.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't say "we should invite", I said, "should not forbid".

A distinction without meaning. A clearly articulated policy of "I do not forbid you from entering my home" is not materially different from a clearly articulated policy of "I invite you into my home." The style is a bit more convoluted and a bit less polite, but materially it is the same policy.

I can agree with your statement about the moral ground, though.

Where do you see our moral high ground? The principle of sovereignty? National self-determination? Fairness?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:34:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My distinction is neither polite or impolite.
I said that the Left seems to tend to compassionateness, and would never issue statements, as one implying they would be against, say, immigrants.

I don't think we have a moral high ground. I didn't say we have one either. We could discuss whether our civilization is more advanced, but moral high ground?... Naah.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:40:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry. I misread.

Preview is my friend :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:49:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Ideology is a set of beliefs and ideas that pretend the reality is a certain way.
...

I try to see the reality without using a pre-established way of looking at it. My deepest concern is objectivity.

An objective examination of the word "ideology" would show that it is used in a variety of ways (cf. In Wales' quotation from Wikipedia). In some of these uses it is critical or pejorative and is related to politics, in others, k to p below, it is quite neutral and much wider in scope.


    Here is a list of ways the concept of ideology has been treated in recent decades, according to Terry Eagleton. Note that this is more up-to-date than most lists... this one more readily identifies a variety of more refined and elaborated positions by various thinkers.

a) the process of production of meanings, signs and value in social life;
b) a body of ideas characteristic of a particular social group or class;
c) ideas which help to legitimate a dominant political power;
d) false ideas which help to legitimate a dominant political power;
e) systematically distorted communication;
f) that which offers a position for a subject;
g) forms of thought motivated by social interests;
h) identity thinking;
i) socially necessary illusion;
j) the conjuncture of discourse and power;
k) the medium in which conscious social actors make sense of their world;
l) action-oriented sets of beliefs;
m) the confusion of linguistic and phenomenal reality;
n) semiotic closure;
o) the indispensable medium in which individuals live out their relation to a social structure;
p) the process whereby said life is converted to a natural reality.

http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/ideo4.html

This broader sense (k to p) is not just a late development, the word began in this wider, non-pejorative sense:

Ideology first appeared in English in 1796, as a direct translation of the new French word ideologie which had been proposed in that year by the rationalist philosopher Destutt de Tracy. Taylor (1796): `Tracy read a paper and proposed to call the philosophy of mind, ideology'. Taylor (1797): `... ideology, or the science of ideas, in order to distinguish it from the ancient metaphysics'. In this scientific sense, ideology was used in epistemology and linguistic theory until lC19.

A different sense, initiating the main modern meaning, was popularized by Napoleon Bonaparte. In an attack on the proponents of democracy -- `who misled the people by elevating them to a sovereignty which they were incapable of exercising' -- he attacked the principles of the Enlightenment as `ideology'.

http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/ideo8.html

In the wider sense there there is no escaping ideology; what's important is to try to become aware of it and that means not just condemning obviously biased political arguments, while naively assuming that one remains untainted by ideology and that one can think about the world "without using a pre-established way of looking at it". This is true only of the most crude and obvious "pre-established ways". Of course none of us can escape all pre-existing ways of thinking; we exist at a specific time in history and we draw on our culture's general ways of thinking about the world, much of which remains pretty unconscious. Also those general ways of thinking will in some cases have been influenced by the narrower sense of ideology.

We are not totally determined by our culture, but nor can we just step outside it to some pure vantage point. Part of the value of philosophy is to try to critically examine very fundamental concepts and sociologists of knowledge try to examine the relations between society and ideas. Both Williams and Barthes are sarcastic about those claiming to be free of ideology and able to think about the world in some pure, non-ideological way, independent of history and its "pre-established ways of looking at" the world:


Meanwhile, in popular argument, ideology is still mainly used in the sense given by Napoleon. Sensible people rely on EXPERIENCE (q.v.), or have a philosophy; silly people rely on ideology. In this sense ideology, now as in Napoleon, is mainly a term of abuse.

Raymond Williams

ibid.


...just as bourgeois ideology is defined by the abandonment of the name 'bourgeois', myth is constituted by the loss of the historical quality of things: in it, things lose the memory that they once were made [including concepts, like ideology].
...
Myth does not deny things, on the contrary, its function is to talk about them; simply, it purifies them, it makes them innocent, it gives them a natural and eternal justification, it gives them a clarity which is not that of an explanation but that of a statement of fact. [....] In passing from history to nature, myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of essences, it does away with all dialectics, with any going back beyond what is immediately visible, it organizes a world which is without contradictions because it is without depth, a world wide open and wallowing in the evident, it establishes a blissful clarity: things appear to mean something by themselves.

Roland Barthes

http://www.autodidactproject.org/quote/barthes1.html



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 08:19:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The concern of this diary entry was of course points b) to i), particularly the Napoleonic meaning. The question (is it dead?) points to the ideology rather than the people attached to it, who may be silly or less so.  

In the wider sense, obviously the problem isn't even posed. Awareness is the important thing, indeed, and those were simple examples of obviously biased arguments, not condemning them, and even less some claim to objectivity - merely the concern for it.

My claim is that the last 30 years (since Bell declared ideologies dead!), biased argumenting dominated political and social life, to a larger and larger extent, and it likely led to a Rational counter-reaction, more fidel to the spirit of the Enlightenment.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 07:29:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My political compass :
Economic Left/Right: -3.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.51

HAH! THERE !

(although I do consider several questions impossible to answer and absurd to ask, which were forced on me; otherwise, I would have definitely been on the exact center)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:35:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I would have definitely been on the exact center"

"Then I thought of myself as Nowhere Man -- sitting in his nowhere land." John Lennon

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold" W.B. Yeats

:-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 07:21:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or you can look at it the other way around:
everybody's in that "no where land" and growing tired of the endless quarrels and pulling to the left or to the right by the respective Keepers of the Truth :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:20:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, sure, there you are in the middle with your common sense, while all these silly people have their competing ideologies - see my longer comment.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:01:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well no, the whole people is usually in the middle. Ideologies are always imposed by activist minorities.
I'll read all longer comments aside, I don't want to rush into replying.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:00:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm no keeper of the truth and I'm open to having my mind changed, and I've enjoyed the challenge to my views.  Being challenged to explain and defend my views makes me question whether I have good enough grounds for holding them, plus I wouldn't like to cut myself off from taking on board other perspectives and ideas.

So how about fine, have it your way with the use of the word Ideology and let's say that what you have discussed is your perspective and your interpretation of the issues and how they are dealt with via public policy and so on?  Is that a more acceptable way of phrasing it for you? It more or less amounts to what I mean when I use the word ideology in these discussions.  Were I to write an essay specifically discussing formal political ideologies then I would frame it formally and define it, but here, I refer to my own perspective when I talk of my ideology.

And my perspective is based on real life too, informed by many different things. But my life experiences and the life experiences of the majority of people who I have come into contact with, are not necessarily going to be the same as yours.  So what you consider to be pragmatic and based on real life and common sense in your bit of the world and how it operates, is not the same as mine.

Can you take on board the thought that there are many sections of the community that you know little of?  Perhaps too little of to make a judgement?  

You stated before that you aren't that interested in disability issues, having not known anyone well who has a disability. Now, you are free to have an opinion on things relating to disability and how you view it but should you and others who have no experience of or depth of understanding of disability and the many issues related to it, have to the power to make decisions on policies that affect my life and that of other disabled people, without consulting representative organisations and without having disabled people fully involved with the decision making and policy design and implementation?  Because that is broadly what happens, and that is why activist organisations campaign for better rights and try to influence policy decisions.  Can you see that that is valid?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:50:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"You stated before that you aren't that interested in disability issues, having not known anyone well who has a disability."

This seems to me a very strange and individualistic reason not to be interested in a topic (I'm also baffled by the phenomenal unlihelihood of anyone not knowing anyone with a disability well).

I have not known anyone (well or not) who starved, had AIDS or sclerosis, lost his home to repossession or to a storm... That will not make me uninterested in their respective issues.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:33:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the sense of my words, was that before meeting InWales, I had not known anyone with a disability, and I didn't have a particular interest in it, and I wanted to emphasize the importance of her explanations on the matter. Actually it was a tribute paid to her detailed posts.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:03:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have not known anyone (well or not) who starved, had AIDS or sclerosis, lost his home to repossession or to a storm...
In what blessed spot of France do you dwell?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In short, Paris. And of course by "knowing", I meant more than "having seen in the metro".

Well, I'm not saying it won't happen, ever. I'm still fairly young. But I don't think that repossessions are frequent -nor are tropical storms or tsunamis of course. As for starving, should I know anyone who did, he no longer would.
And I DID cherry-pick my diseases. My aunt is in a wheelchair (as is a more recent friend), my mother in law almost deaf, I helped blind people in at school, have friends with cancer...
And I have probably known people who had AIDS without being aware of it, of course.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I watched a friend and neighbor die of AIDS.  His partner was a consultant with whom I had worked and who returned to England for the health care.  The owner of our favorite Mexican restuarant about 5 miles from our house lost their home and businesses, which were adjacent to a tornado almost two years ago.  I have known older people who had serious health problems due to sclerosis, presumedly from alcoholism.  I don't know anyone who is or who has been starving, but I know food insecurity is a problem for many in my area and is much worse elsewhere.

While I pray that Paris remain blessedly free of these afflictions, I doubt that she is and I certainly doubt that she will so remain over the next year.  This will certainly be the case for Britain and the USA.  It is my experience and observation that we live our lives surrounded by suffering but that most of us avoid recognizing most of that suffering, especially that which does not happen to ourselves or those close to us.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:54:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"is my experience and observation that we live our lives surrounded by suffering but that most of us avoid recognizing most of that suffering"

I'm not saying that it doesn't exist in Paris. Of course lots of people have AIDS in Paris. Apparently none of the people who know me well enough to tell me suffer from AIDS, that's all.

As for hunger, well, it exists I'm sure but
-Paris is a rich enclave
-Remember we are socialist buggers.

"Soupes populaires" are quite common -and indeed there's one near my place. So getting one meal a day is quite straightforward if you need it.
In fact, my brother serves weekly at "La Chorba", an NGO that delivers meals that don't annoy any religion (they started purely for muslims as the name indicates but now it applies to all), and I wouldn't hesitate to suggest going there to anyone. It's decent food.
I also give quite a lot to "food banks", when it is directed to people I don't know. Do you think that if someone I KNEW starved I wouldn't start there?
Anyway, our safety nets make it less likely to suffer some of those poverty afflictions than in USA (repossessions are EXTREMELY rare). And you can get cheap food at open air markets.

"especially that which does not happen to ourselves or those close to us"

I must admit that I haven't propped up all the homeless I see in the metro.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 01:08:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille

I apologize if my post implied any criticism of your compassion.  That was not my intent.  On reflection, perhaps it is partly difference in our ages that account for your not knowing people with AIDS.  We knew the couple I referred to to as neighbors in the late '80s when there still was no generally available treatment for aids, and I lived in Los Angeles where there was and is a large gay community, many of whom we knew.  Your comment brought memories flooding back.  Fortunately, AIDS is no longer a death sentence, and, with medical care, those with AIDS can remain symptom free indefinitely.  And I certainly do not intend to criticize you for not living where there are tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, etc.  But BTW, you do know someone who at least temporarily lost their home due to fire---Jerome and family!

I was struck by the fact that I had experienced most of the things you listed, and I think I got carried away with that without reflecting on how it would sound to others.  I too try to help those less fortunate than I, but these days that is likely to a considerably lesser extent than you do.  I am chagrined that I have thoughtlessly posted something that might be seen as a slur on your character.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 02:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, don't worry, I didn't take offense.

You have experienced those things, and I other ones: as I said I cherry picked what I had NOT experienced. Thankfully my gay friends have been spared by AIDS. Maybe Europe was better in its adoption of condoms.

And in fact, I don't think I do that much. When I look at myself and at my brother I often feel embarassed. Let's say that I will always do something when I see a need but don't make great efforts to find the people in need (and, yes, I do know people who lost their homes to a fire, and offered Jérôme to stay with us -it was impractical and it didn't happen). Actually that's a typical example: I would be willing to do things but it often does not happen.

In that respect I have a painful memory that I have difficulties forgiving myself for. There was a fire in the building across a courtyard from mine. The window of my room opens on a roof. One night I heard someone shouting from his window to call the firemen. I went but by the time I got to my phone heard a neighbour shouting that they had been called. I returned to my room and he had jumped (or slided on a pipe) on the roof -his window had been just one floor above it. First guilt there: I closed my window, and went back to watching from the kitchen to see if the firemen were coming. He kept shouting "call the firemen".
After a while, with the fire having spread to the other room (the one with the window above the roof in question), I saw an arm. And THEN he said "there's my mother". By that time there was no realistic access to the window.
But if I had asked whether there was someone else in the flat from the start, I reckon I could have taken my bed's mattress with his help through the window and maybe his mother would have jumped on it (the two of us could not have safely caught her in our arms -this would have been on the very edge of a roof).
I could never know for sure but I have every reason to believe that she died in that fire. Maybe she WOULD have died jumping. But I didn't try anything.

I don't think I was quite the bastard that night, but I certainly was not the man I want to be.

And so we go, wishing we were doing more to help people but in fact living most of our lives amongst each other. We still think that when we have a bigger house we will volunteer to host people, like children temporarily coming to France for health reasons, or yougsters having been thrown out by their families (often for being a free mind and not willing to be forced to adopt a religion they don't believe in), or something. Yes we'll give money to some organisations sometimes, but I think that's not satisfactory. It's time and involvement that must be given.
Hopefully those "we'll do it one day" will really happen. But my main wish is for society as a whole to become more altruistic. That's where the difference would truly be made.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Keepers of truth" means that ideologists act a bit like the faithful, I didn't mean you in particular, especially that you said you are open to debate. This is already a rational, reasonable approach - the only one that can build bridges with other people.

I agree that pragmatic can differ by experience, but I'm ready to discuss that and be convinced otherwise. That is a pragmatic approach in itself. I don't hold my conclusions as axiomatic.
So my judgements are based on arguments. If I am contradicted, I think about it and reply, or change.

I already said I believe civil associations are justified, there's no question about it, and they should be involved in the decision process, at least consulted.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:33:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing how the political compass is calibrated, this almost makes you a fringe extrem neo-liberal lunatic. It considers a typical US democrat as middle of the left and middle of social libertarians.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:35:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"lunatic"

Can everyone just stop the name calling already? The political compass doesn't generate those labels.

by Nomad on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I should clarify that I do not by any mean reckon that Valentin IS a lunatic.
It was a way to express that the middle of the political compass had nothing to do with "middle". The compass is calibrated to hold John Kerry to be a flaming leftist (with all the caveats that even 2 dimensions are not enough to fully describe someone's views of course).

In order to emphasise that the political compass was strangely calibrated (as in a compass that would only have "North", "Norther" "West" and "Wester as directions), I deliberately used extreme words, without implying that they were actually justified, since the compass does not make anyone anything in actual life.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:26:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No offense taken. It's InWales suggestion, you should discuss that with her :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:05:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The ET Political Compass would underline your point (to show it, Colman needs to bring it on-line again). All but one guy was in the bottom left quadrant, self-declared conservatives (Starvid, Martin, some friends of Jérôme) and the two undeclared neocons included; and some who both identify as, and are recognisably, centrist found themselves way to the left.

But, I am not sure US calibration alone can be the cause... especially considering their placement of British parties on their compass. There can be false assumptions on how people view the test questions. Behind many, there seems to be a naive leftist assumption of the universiality of right-wing views. Whereas, a conservative or even a moderate may fully endorse a high-flying idea -- as long as we are speaking about the in-group. What this naive leftist assumption sees as right-of-center view will only come forward against some appropiately antagonised outside group (immigrants, people with different-coloured skins, felons, welfare recipients, 'privileged' public workers).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:20:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I took the test upon a suggestion from InWales, you should discuss its pertinence with her, I guess.
I am ready to take any other test or questioning to prove the reasonability of my views :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:07:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 'ET Political Compass' is a map of ET readers' Political Compass results, currently off-line (it was in a Wiki overloaded by spammers). Thus I am not at all against the test or your taking of it -- I am discussing the interpretation with Cyrille.

BTW? Cyrille, I don't remember if you took the test and where it placed you -- which would be interesting inasmuch as IIRC you're a MoDem/Bayrou supporter, and thus probably as close to the center as possible in a French political context.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:58:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had to look up IIRC but yes YDRC (You Do Recall Corectly). I'm actually a member, although I think I am late in renewing my subscribtion, how would I know, they never mentioned money, and I keep receiving the commission documents (haven't been able to produce anything myself of late though)...

I did take the test but did not then asked to be placed because I found it a caricature -I was so far to the left despite answering a straight centrist ticket (actually, when I was unsure of my opinion, I simply entered the MoDem one).

I remember being very close to Jérôme, somewhat more liberal in social terms and maybe a shade more conservative in economics, although I may have been slightly to the left in that one as well.
It made ET look like a group of crazy leftist extremists that found Pol Pot Reaganian and that's unfair when only half of us are ;-)

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:07:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
crazy leftist extremists that found Pol Pot Reaganian

Why, wasn't he? Same hostility to intellectuals, same abandonment of inner cities :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:54:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
His numbers:Economic Left/Right: -3.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.51

That places him about where Gandhi is--somewhat left-libertarian.

My own numbers:Economic Left/Right: -6.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.90

That places me between Mandela and the Dalai Lama but further towards the lower left corner. Almost all active political figures in "the west" are in the upper right quadrant, with Romano Prodi being the closest to the left-right axis.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:05:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some said the test is not well balanced. Or just blog isn't, compared to the population and their elect :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:11:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some said the test is not well balanced. Or just this blog isn't, compared to the population and their elect :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My claim is precisely that ideologues cannot conceive others can be outside ideology. They imagine everything is ideological, motivated by an ideology, and that those who pretend otherwise, only follow a peculiar kind of ideology, nothing more.

I could also call it the ideology's vicious circle :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 04:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your definition of an ideologue seems weird to me.

And ideologue is someone who cannot conduct any form of self-criticism as to the basis, sedimentation and practice of his/her beliefs.

I would say those who claim to be outside ideology are naive at best.

Someone who understands that the step outside ideology is a step into the ideology of certitude is someone who will tend to be self-critical about one's beliefs, someone who will always contest their assumptions in theory and in practice.

by Upstate NY on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:27:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a definition, but a reply to a previous post.

But I agree with you, this is my problem with ideologies. When evidence seems to deny articles of faith, ideologues would still just not give in, sometimes not even debate, often would just call others ideologues back.

Your last phrase defines much of what I think is the best approach to issues.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:10:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ideology is mostly used in a pejorative sense, and ideologues are rightly derided, in my view.

Yet that doesn't mean it's possible to think/exist outside of ideology. The only option seems to be to recognize, contest, and always critique the prevailing modes of ideology, including our own.

I note here and elsewhere a reference to Marxism which presupposes that this "ideology" is about alternative economic systems. Clearly, this is an example of thinking that hasn't been updated in a few decades. No serious Marxist today would posit that there is an alternative economic system other than capitalism. Yet everywhere I go we are having these discussions about alternate economic systems. When last I left Marxist theory, I noted that the goal of Marxism was to seize the state apparatus so that it could do the bidding of the proletariat. But the system itself doesn't change, only the people in charge of the levers.

Obama, for instance, understands this, and that's precisely why he used the words, "Spread the wealth." It's all about redistribution and not subversive revolution.

This should be obvious since the very people calling for new regulatinos and new paradigms aren't rejecting capitalism itself. Instead, people like Krugman or Roubini are capitalists, inside the system of capital. Even our very own Jerome here works inside the system.

So, we are confusing ideology mostly when we discuss these grand ideas for what are relative tweaks inside the ideological field of battle. It seems that by and large, almost everyone agrees on the economic system.

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:14:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No serious Marxist today would posit that there is an alternative economic system other than capitalism.

Ummmm, I'd contest that, but that would demand a diary of its own and too much of my time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:35:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess what Upstate NY is saying is that any Marxist who would posit that there is an alternative economic system other than capitalism is not "serious."  (To be taken seriously.)  Not whether such people exist.  

I want your diary!

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

by poemless on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:41:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, who would these Marxists be?

From Althusser to Zizek, I haven't read those claims.

In my reading of Marxists, the goal of revolution is seizing control of the levers of the economy.

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well... lemme chart some central points of that unborn diary.

  • There Is No Alternative is historically a very narrow view about a system barely 250 years old, whatever one thinks about the viability of Marxist alternatives
  • holding the levers of the economy is not yet capitalism
  • 'applied Marxism' doesn't start nor ends with state monopolism -- in fact in the end, even the state as we know it would go
  • what you said applies more to what was realised by Soviet-style communism, especially after the end of the NEP (which indeed some term state capitalism -- with the apparatchniks functioning de-facto owners of capital)
  • there are some non-Soviet examples (1956 Workers' Councils in Hungary, Zapatista villages in Chiapas)
  • Žizek is into analysisng, not into proscribing


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:11:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although this Žižek article may be topical.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:40:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not that there's absolutely no alternative. It's that the apocalypse has a better chance of happening than another economic system taking root.

And I never wrote about apparatchiks taking control of the levers.

Representatives of the proletariat do it, and thereby effectively redistribute the wealth.

The reason why Marxists I named aren't proscriptive is because they see no point in proscribing another system. But Zizek is proscriptive about a great many other things. From Darfur to the Balkans and a great many other situations, he has ventured into political proposals.

What do you mean by analyzing? It sounds like another one of these theory/practice divides that we're laboring under in this diary.

"Applied Marxism?"

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:03:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In my reading of Marxists, the goal of revolution is seizing control of the levers of the economy.
But this can be misleading.  Marx and Engels were rather hapless as actual revolutionaries and their goal of seizing control of the levers of the economy was very theoretical.  Lenin and Trotsky actually accomplished that goal and it is quite possible that Marx and Engels would have been horrified by the process.  Yet the identities of Marx and Lenin have been concatenated into "Marxist-Leninist," thereby discrediting the fine analysis and sociology of Marx with the deeds and methods of Lenin.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I guarded against going back to Marx by writing about Neo-Marxists in the last 30 years.

These are the people who counsel seizing control of state apparatuses. Nor would Soviet Russia count as a capitalist society that was seized.

According to people such as Althusser and several other Neo-Marxists, it's not that there are no other alternate systems. It's that capitalism is so thoroughly pervasive and entrenched that the world's whole way of life is gripped by it. In other words, alternative systems cannot displace it at the fundament. Look at China. From agrarian society and suddenly there's hypercapitalism there.

On Wall Street, the managers have been reading Karl Marx and passing around his books for the last decade or so. It's considered reading that will help you get ahead. The dunderheads used to read books like, "Who Moved my Cheese?", and now they've graduated to Marx. Which no doubt explains credit default swaps as well.

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I guarded against going back to Marx by writing about Neo-Marxists in the last 30 years.
Yet you never referred to Neo-Marxists.  Thanks for your clarification.  It makes the comment more meaningful.  I have little familiarity with the writings of the Neo-Marxists.

The dunderheads used to read books like, "Who Moved my Cheese?", and now they've graduated to Marx. Which no doubt explains credit default swaps as well.
LOL! You can lead them to Marx, but you can't specify what they will get out of him.  
A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep or touch not the Pyrian spring.
-----Alexander Pope


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:57:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are some Marxists here, or here. They discuss the financial crisis, or climate change and such.

Wouldn't you count the classical socialdemocracy as an off-spin of Marxism? Up till the "third way" 1990s, certain Marxist awareness was still there. If Lenin's bolsheviks would not had taken the call to revolution that seriously (in barely capitalist Russia, of all places), Marx's legacy in the 20th Century would probably had been very different.

Ideologies (as world perspectives) are not dead really. Instead, a strong selection towards public awareness is taking place, especially now, once the "only" Soviet alternative is defeated. Only those ideologies that fit social legitimation needs of power/wealth holders are promoted, while others are ignored or ridiculed. This period is special by the degree of control of ideology selection. But once consensi of G20 dinners and intimidation of free tanks would cease, more various ideas will be discussed.

by das monde on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 11:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd definitely call it a logical outgrowth of Marx/Engels. Ditto for Stalinism or Maoism. Marx wrote a lot, not of all it consistent or perfectly clear, and a majority of it more descriptive than prescriptive. Times changed, ideologies changed.

But then I also think that one of Marxism's problems has traditionally been a certain tendency among it's adherents to treat Marx as a Prophet and his writing as scripture. I far prefer the notion of him as one of the nineteenth century's greatest thinkers who revolutionized how we think of society and spawned a political movement. At least that's what I think his relevance is today.

by MarekNYC on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 12:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see Stalin first of all of a practitioner - the implementer of the Marxist-Leninist thread in the "real world". (As opposed to Hitler, who was more a "theorist" but supported by some "practical" industrial-financial classes). Mao copied quite a lot on Stalin's understanding of proletariat dictatorship. Both Stalin and Mao consolidated their powers following historical examples of their own countries (aka Ivan the Terrible, etc)

Apart from compulsory (and rather formal) indoctrination by Soviet education and politicization, what would be examples of Marx's adherents treating him as a Prophet?

 

by das monde on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:11:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I basically agree with you on Stalin - I was simply seeking to illustrate the other extreme of Marxism in practice.

On Marx as prophet and his writings as scriptures though, I stand by my point. If you look at the debates during the Second International period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, or those within the SPD during Weimar, there is a strong tendency among the participants to argue from Marx rather than from a broader perspective. That is, you'd get ideas 'refuted' by saying that they went against this or that in Marx's writings, rather than a genuine counterargument. Then there's the whole teleological aspect of the Marxist narrative. There I feel that Marx himself bears quite a bit of blame. All in all, Marxists seemed to often forget that Marx was just a human being who lived in a certain period of time, a brilliant one, but without psychic powers and quite capable of being wrong.

by MarekNYC on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 01:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I clicked on the links.

Gould and Buchanan seem to be adopting Engels especially for their science fights.

The problem with capitalism is that it has been adopted all over the world. Once ingrained systemically, the transition to alternatives seems like a bit of fantasy.

I recognize that it is but one ideology, and yet its pervasiveness and ability to adapt and encumber resistant movements make it all the more formidable. Capitalism seems better able to accommodate a critique of metaphysics in the wake of Marx.

Again, the most well-known Neo-Marxist theorists have pushed Marxist thought into our century, and yet they recognize the dominance of the capitalist model as being so pervasive not because it's the better one (necessarily), but because of its evident entrenchment. That doesn't mean there aren't other models out there, communal, etc. It just means that those models are, for all purposes, impractical at the moment, and any chance they have of becoming dominant is usually rooted in the complete collapse and total failure of capitalism. Which won't do much for the proletariat, I suppose.

by Upstate NY on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 12:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The pervasiveness of modern libertarian capitalism is not necessarily deep. It's only some 15 years ago that the privatization fever (or utility, transportation, communication services) started in Western Europe.

The biggest obstacle for alternative views is the "self-interest" of leading industrial and political classes, I think. They pushing forward this libertarism as de facto social legitimation. The power-holding classes made quite a progress in the recent decade in accumulating a critical mass of economic and political power. By now they are almost autonomous from the masses (and any "dangerous" ideas).

Several aspects of ideological isolation dynamics can be found in Naomi Klein's book "The shock doctrine". I will give two examples from there:

  1. Prior to Pinochet's (and similar) coups in Southern America, the developing countries there were quite on their own way of building their societies and economies, independent on either Moscow's socialism or Washington's capitalism. The governments were pro-active and positively interested in building egalitarian social structures. Naomi Klein even uncovered a letter of Kissinger, where he expressed urge to intervene not because the Allende government was terribly pro-Soviet, but because it was building a more attractive alternative economic system. The South American coups resulted in quite a genocide of any leftist sentiments. (But now South Americans apparently build some autonomous anti-libertarian relations anyway.)

  2. Friedman's economic theory had a marginal academic status until the 1960-1970s, until Wallstreet-backed think-tanks started to support his convenient Chicago school handsomely. Their academic status still rose very slowly, but they were very active in recruiting and educating students from developing countries (from Chile, especially). They took full initiative with Reagan and Teacher. After they "took over" IMF and the World Bank policies, libertarian ideology was offered as the "Washington consensus"  all over the world, from Bolivia to Poland and Russia, from Mandela's South Africa to "pragmatist" China.

This pervasiveness of libertarian ideology might turn out to be a relatively short episode, after all.
by das monde on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me be clear here about Friedman. I'm not talking about Friedman's models. If Friedman never existed, we'd still have capitalism.

If you look at late capitalism today, especially it's global character, the dismantling of this system would cause such upheaval, especially when it comes to distribution of energy resources and food, that many hundreds of millions would die, if not billions.

It's so systemically entrenched at a global level that a move to another system is the equivalent of radiation therapy to remove a cancer.

Here and there, there may be alternative models, but globally it seems to be the model most countries have adopted.

by Upstate NY on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:44:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This flavor of capitalism is not to last long. Although it may repeat itself after 70 years or so. (The magic 70 years - exactly the time for a generation to be born and die out.)

This global capitalism is a problem, in all its unsustainability. The world we know is dismantling before our eyes.

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...

I am not talking about imposing other global order. I do not recommend any particular global order at all. In contrary - global top-to-down economic solutions must be resisted. To survive this economic crash, every country, community must have freedom to make decisions of its own. Someone would strike then ingenious solutions very probably. That's why plurality of ideologies is welcome now.

I wish this capitalism to retain most of its structure and buzzing network as it can. But the global system must be open to voluntary unscripted adaptations of its parts. What is not welcome is to let clubs of G20-lite leaders of wealth and power holders to decide everything. That would likely to lead to reversing all social evolution of the last 120 years, back to "Oliver Twist" scale gaps between haves and havenots.

by das monde on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:31:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you on everything except when you seem to say it would be impossible to exist outside of any ideology.

Do you not believe in the existence of absolute truths, btw, do you think that everything is relative to the viewpoint one takes?

For instance Sarkozy during the electoral campaign brought this argument, in a debate about immigration:

"Mr. Le Pen can be a far-right extremist; yet if he says 'the Sun is yellow', I will not say it is blue in order to not appear as agreeing with a far right extremist".

This is what I call an out-of-ideology approach. We look at the raw facts. Is there an immigration problem? We look at the reality and without ignoring human rights, we craft solutions by a technocratic approach.
(btw, does quoting Sarkozy with an apparently favourable view on them place me with the Right?...)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, saying there is an immigration problem requires an ideology defining immigration. When the bulk of the immigrants to Paris came from the rest of France, despite similar consequences in crime participation, it was very hard to talk publicly about an "immigration problem".

In the same way, "The sun is yellow" needs a language defining "yellow". Some don't.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:30:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, this is why I asked someone further down whether there are absolute truths.

Immigration is a common term, with one absolute (ie not relative!) meaning, it's definition is not ideological in any way and goes uncontested.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:35:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Immigration" in Le Pen's discourse, when saying there is an "immigration problem", explicitly means "Immigration of people with darker skins". When Sarkozy says "There is an immigration problem", is he using the Le pen innuendo or using an "absolute" meaning ?

Nobody would talk about "immigration of the elderly towards southern France" yet it fits the "absolute" meaning.

Even in mathematics, truths require axioms to be demonstrated...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:03:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
YOu're correct, but that is not because Le Pen is extremist, but because european immigrants (or elderly ones) hardly pose any problem at all.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:37:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does your definition of immigration include children and grandchildren of immigrants ?


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:44:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, the issue of integration into a new country sometimes does not disappear after the first generation.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:48:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that's already another definition of immigration.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:49:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really, if we really want to look at the problem comprehesively. I'm just being pragmatic about it.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:51:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're seeing an immigration problem where others are seeing an integration problem. (And integration problems are not necessarily linked to immigration). What would you think of saying to a grandchild of an immigrant, "Go back home" ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:58:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but I would make immigrant reception ("accueil") policies that would help him well integrate from the beginning and help educate his kids and help their town so that they don't end up thinking they're a community isolated from mainstream society.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:57:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, is that Sarkozy's "pragmatic" policies ?

And again, why is a grandchild of an immigrant causing problems an "immigration" problem ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:00:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who mentioned Sarkozy here ?

The grandchild is an immigration problem when he is not integrated into society because mistakes were made with immigration policies, immigrants became ghettoised and so on.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hahem, you introduced Sarkozy's talking about an "immigration problem" in this very thread.

There are people who are not integrated in society, in a very similar way to grandchildren of immigrants, but who aren't grandchildren of immigrants. Why would you want to dissociate the problems of those grandchildren from those of other people not so well integrated ? Note that in 2005, among the suburbs that rioted, some were definitely not immigrants suburbs.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:25:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mentioned Sarkozy's statement that if Le Pen says the Sun is Yellow, this won't make him, Sarkozy, say that it is Blue.

I didn't discuss his immigration policies, which is a whole different subject. I (or you) can make a diary entry on that if you like.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:36:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My mentioning Sarkozy was to illustrate a simple principle of pragmatism:
keep an open mind and don't dismiss ideas only because you don't like those who issue them.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:37:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you point anybody in this thread that outright dismissed a concept because of who originated it ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:44:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well you see where it brought us: I give an example of pragmatic approach, a principle of debate, and you make a whole case about immigration policies.
I'm glad to hear you don't contest the principle, this is exactly why I formulated it so simply.

(else you may also wonder why Sarkozy felt the need to say those words about the blue sun)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:48:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because Sarkozy's example is not one of a "pragmatic approach", but one of a "dog whistle", adopting Le Pen's framing and program on immigration, which is at heart racist, while attempting to block critics by claiming to adopt such a pragmatic approach.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In what way are Sarkozy's immigration policies racist?

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In that they are xenophobic, and are applied in a racist way by the police, through random ID controls in places where people with darker skins live.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:03:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to mention creating a whole Government Ministry dedicated to "Immigration and National Identity", headed by one of Sarko's close lieutenants, thereby linking immigration and the very notion of French identity, as if the former is potentially a threat to the later.

This Ministry has published target numbers of deportation per year (was it 25000 deported in 2007?) and is diverting a large proportion of police officers for this aim, to the detriment of, you know, getting after the burglars, car thieves, murderers and other fine people.

If this is not extreme-right-winger baiting, then I'm a beauty queen in Alaska.

by Bernard on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:37:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think integration is not related to what someone is integrated to ?  If National Identity only means learning and accepting basic republican values, in what is that racist or xenophobic ?

Can someone be deported to their own country, to their own family ?

Alaska must be cold this winter.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:39:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly, people can be deported to "their own" country ; German jews who had fled to other parts of Europe were, indeed, often deported back during the second world war. And some even met family members there.

And defining "their own country" for people having spent most of their childhood and adult life in France depends strongly on point of view.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you believe returning Armenian illegal immigrants back to Armenia is the same thing as sending German Jews to Germany and to camps?

Is this respectful towards the victims of that genocide?

How long is the left going to throw nazism back at us the others, for any line that does not coincide with the Left Holy Word?

If there is one thing I like about F. Hayek, is the way he argues Communism and Fascism are basically  the same thing.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:40:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You asked a question. I answered. It is possible to be deported back to one's own country. And quite regularly, France deports people to places where they have a high probability of being killed, and some have died because of it.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 04:33:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a good and recent American movie, "The Others" that deals with deportation of illegal immigrants.

I guess the bottom line here is that there will always be good and nice first, second, third... generation immigrants without citizen status who will be sent back because they didn't observe the law when entering/remaining in the country.

One will argue in favour of their personal tragedy. It can be tragic for someone who feels French when he is returned to his country of origin, or his parents or grandparents country of origin though he may not expect torture in that country. He will have to bear the consequences of his own or his ancestor's non-observation of citizen law.

The question is what weighs more - the law or personal issues? I believe these deportations are tragic but also a case in point to demonstrate that you don't just obtain citizenship by wanting it or by presenting a fait accompli.

'The' right will always argue in favour of the law that is there to control/limit immigration; 'the' left will sense a responsibility towards their de facto fellow citizens, a sense of responsibility, and guilt in view of our relative wealth at the cost of theirs.

I guess (don't know) that there are few who'll have to expect 'torture' upon their return; a much lower standard of living - and the loss of social life/family/loved ones in France are the major concern.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 04:41:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The right will also rewrite the law to make it much, much harder to stay in the country. And then, as inhumane expulsions are made, say that "we are only applying the law". An impressive trick that apparently fools some.

Deportations are not about obtaining citizenship but the right to stay.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 04:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You had a good point in your previous comment above where you say that people who are deported get killed. I think it would be better, i.e. more efficient to focus on these precise facts, get figures and debate them instead of criticising the government's effort to deport this and that number every year.

The right is in favour of stricter laws. Why? They have in mind that Europe has to expect a much stronger flow of immigrants towards Europe in the coming decades. It's a way to "control" immigration. How do you feel about this? Do you think that immigration does not need to be limited or controlled in any way? This is not a suggestive question. I simply wonder...

"Deportations are not about obtaining citizenship but the right to stay." -

Hmm. If someone doesn't have citizenship, he may not stay as if he had. In what way aren't deportations about citizenship? French citizens don't get deported.

People who live in France without citizenship or EU membership have the right to stay for a limited period of time.
If they seek asylum or want to immigrate, they must follow the rules. If these rules get tighter, well, you can of course debate that and propose other solutions or advice politicians not to worry about immigration and just welcome everyone. I simply don't think it's all that easy.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People get killed after deportation, some get killed during the deportation. Recently, the French government wanted to send a plane of Afghan refugees back to the very peaceful country of Afghanistan.

Also, the number of people to be deported is an important aspect of Sarkozy's policies. The law in UK and France are similar, the number of illegals are, too, yet one has set an aim of 4000 deportation while France has set an aim of 26 000.

Legally, it is not compulsory to be a French citizen or have asylum to remain in France, thankfully. Family, parents, employees, are allowed to. And of course, many want to get nationality, yet are deported before they are able to ask for it. The laws are so tough, that Sarkozy's family are allowed to get around it.

Compare the French situation with those of Italy and Spain - who gave papers to all those living in the country - or the US - where much fewer, relative to the number of illegals, are deported.

Finally, the idea that "they are all gonna come and invade us" is using Le Pen's discourse, not anything based on any reality. There is no overwhelming mass of Africans wanting to come to France, like there was no overwhelming immigration from Eastern Europe when these countries joined.

Which didn't prevent the "pragmatic" Sarkozy to deport people to Romania at the end of 2006, a week before they'd be allowed to come back... Reaching his aimed number, appearing tough on immigrant so as to get the racist vote was very important. Indeed, these ugly deportation policies are not implemented because of an actual fear of the effects of immigration, but so as to bait the Le Pen vote.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:58:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We felt that aspect of the Sarkozy evil in our own way.

My wife (herself the daughter of two immigrants) has a cousin who dated for years a Paraguayan over two continents. That is SERIOUS relationship -years despite living thousands of kilometers apart.

One day he decided that he would be the one to make the move, come to France and marry her. A heartbreaking one since he has two children from a previous wedding. But apparently he made the move just too late, and the law was made massively harsher just before they got married in August 2006. He won't have his citizenship for years yet, and any lengthy return to Paraguay to meet his family would set back the clock.

It serves no societal purpose but, hey, Sarko needed to make it clear that he had fully embraced the Le Pen agenda in order to deliver on the most worthy goal of the universe: getting his demented ego into the Elysée palace.

This man is hardly an uneducated burden too: he has a PhD. But his field is social work, so I guess he'd count as unwanted in our new neo-liberal France.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 06:14:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This story is moving, indeed.

Now, when you look at this situation, there seems to be little that this man can do since the rules have changed. He cannot have his French citizenship anytime soon. I don't know 'these people' ;) but would moving to Paraguay be an option for the couple? What would her status be there? -
I mean no one forces them to stay in France, either. If the French government is incompetent enough to show PhDs the door or simply to not welcome them in - nothing should hold them back, and he should seek his career in Paraguay and be together with his children, too.

I don't support these strange policies but all that can be done at this point is: draw the logical consequences. If France 'doesn't work', emigration is always another option.
 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 07:53:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They will stay in France, and eventually he'll have his citizenship.
First, you don't seem to appreciate how difficult it is for us westerners to adapt to a much poorer standard of living (yes, that is not something to be particularly proud of). Although, as a translator, she would probably be able to work from a distance

Then, he wouldn't have custody of his children anyway.

And she has recently had breast cancer (despite being just 29). She is apparently fine now, but still with treatment. But I guess she'll want to stay in a country that has one of the best health systems. Paraguay is a poor and terribly unequal society. Not necessarily the dream place to live in.

Still, she did consider it for a while. Now even he has his friends here and I don't think it would happen. I guess what stopped them really was that it takes a brave person to choose Paraguay over France when you are used to having a thousand things we don't really notice anymore. We are spoilt brats.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:12:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two other examples : a friend went to Chile for his post-doc. He met his girlfriend there. The next post-doc was in France : the only way she could come was with them married. The good ending is that the friend will probably end up working in Chile, but in essence, they probably wouldn't have married as fast without this necessity. And of course, since there are no gay marriage in France, if they had been of the same sex it would have simply been impossible for his loved one to come...

Much more problematic, I know a couple of a Moroccan and a French. They married two years ago, now have a kid, but things aren't going along so well anymore between them. Getting a divorce is impossible, though ; the woman would have to leave France, and parents living in two different countries can be a bit harsh for raising a kid. (Not mentioning the legal difficulties that would come from determining who is legal guardian). At least there isn't one beating on the other - there have been cases where a battered wife leaving her husband was then deported...

I read many mixed couples from Copenhagen were now living in Sweden, because it was the only way they could live together - what kind of pragmatic solution produces those absurdities ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:37:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should tell your friends to look into what the EU can do for them. There have been a couple of - ah - interesting rulings in this respect. The essence of what the Danish newsies have reported is that the European Court has ruled that living and working legally in another country for any lenght of time makes residency and work permits federal jurisdiction... and that the free movement of labour means that if you're legal in one country and your residency is a matter of federal jurisdiction, you're legal all over the EU (or possibly the Schengen). Punkt, aus, schluss.

So a three-week trip to the Netherlands might be the solution to your friends' problem...

This has caused considerable consternation among certain unsavoury Danish politicians, because you're right, we do have rather a lot of couples living in Malmö (although not all of them for that reason - the undervalued SKK makes having an income in DKK and expenses in SKK a financially attractive proposition in its own right. Plus, houses are cheaper in Sweden because they haven't had a neolib government to Ponzify them for quite as long).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 11:25:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"First, you don't seem to appreciate how difficult it is for us westerners to adapt to a much poorer standard of living"

Oh, I do, I do. But the fact that France is still a nice place to be also puts into perspective the hardship of obtaining citizenship in the first place.

While I don't agree with these odd immigration policies, I believe that IF there is a need to control or limit immigration which I assume is there, at least to some degree, the better way to go would be to accept the status quo, hand out papers to those who are already here (as linca explained got done in Spain) and tighten regulations for those who newly arrive. That way there won't be any bad surprise later. It is inhumane to welcome people into the country and later drop, i.e. deport them.

To not grant citizenship to foreigners upon marrying a French citizen - is VERY bizarre to say the least.

Well, since these deportations take place, I'd still be interested in figures of torture and killings those deported actually experience... because much of the hardship actually seems to be the lower standard of living that awaits them. It sounds (is) right wing rhetoric. I've actually had to adjust before... but it still isn't a matter of life or death, like when linca is comparing the situation to the deportation of German Jews back to Germany in WWII.

It is a pity that the underlying "standard of living" argument somehow discredits the more serious concerns with regards to systematic deportations.

Your friends have decided to remain in France, and I wish them all the best; he'll have his citizenship, as you say, and hopefully, she's healed for good.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As we are saying, the need is there so that Sarkozy could get Le Pen voters. If fact, the current demographic set-up of France could welcome some more (young, hard working) immigrants to help pay for the social system.

As for the matter of life and death, right now every few months people die, trying to escape the police that come to arrest them - do these people think being deported is a matter of life and death ? (Note that not having the proper papers to live in France is not a felony, in France). The known unknown number is that of thousands who die trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea - a less absurdly harsh policy, giving hope of actual migration, would also result in fewer such deaths. The unknown is that of statistics on what happens to the deported : the French state is not interested in them, and for a volunteer organisation, following up on thousands of people in a hundred countries, many of them not caring so much about human rights and free speech, isn't easy.

Deportations is not only a life and death matter (and I was not comparing the current deportation with those of the second world war, just pointing out the absurdity of saying "you can't deport people back to their own country") : making sure there are thousands of illegals in France is quite useful for those employers that rely on immigrant labor (mostly agriculture, food and house building - strangely, those people are traditionally UMP voters), and also has a cost in terms of unreceived taxes on that undeclared labor - which could be useful to fill the coffers of the Sécurité Sociale. More worrying, thanks to denunciations of parents that had come to register their kids for schools, and arrests of parents that were taking up their children after school, now they may stop sending those children to school...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 09:03:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The known unknown number is that of thousands who die trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea"

Not all die. So there is still a very significant number who try to come to Europe but there are no exact figures, neither this way nor with regards to their forced return except the number of those actually deported (because these numbers are LePen voters' delight...).

Fact is this debate lacks facts - no matter who it is who is not going after these figures or who is deliberately withholding them.

What also strikes me is that you say that people (everyone?) has the right to stay in France (no citizenship needed? no Green card? no visa?) - and then, you talk of thousands of illegals in France.

So, again, it seems that you and I lack facts.  

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 09:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Facts aren't only numbers, (although they are important, and show the policy is "statistics" driven, i.e. in the summer of 2006, the government claimed it would examine all parents of children asking for papers - only Sarkozy announced beforehand the number of people who would get papers, and strangely the number of people getting papers matched - i.e., people in similar conditions got papers depending on when the decision about them was taken) but also, as we pointed out, various absurd and tragic situations people are put in by this policy. A policy you "assume" is necessary, despite any argument or fact in favor of it, except that it allows Sarkozy to get the racist vote.

An unfair law that serves no purposes should be repealed even for one death.

Legally, some categories of immigrants have the right to remain in France and thus to get papers (Carte de séjour) without asking for the French citizenship. Ill people who could be healed if sent back to their country, family of people who have the right to stay in France (because the right to live with one's family is a human right) ; usually, foreign employees have no limit to their visas... But even for those being illegally in France, forcefully deporting them requires more arguments than simply wanting to appease racists.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 09:56:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"A policy you "assume" is necessary"

I DON'T KNOW whether it is necessary.

"Family of people who have the right to stay in France (because the right to live with ones family is a human right)" - Sure.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 10:38:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of this "IF there is a need to control or limit immigration which I assume is there" having forgotten the IF. Excuse me.

What I mean is that the deleterious effects of the policy are established, even if some of the problems are not fully quantified. So the debate should be about the need to control or limit immigration ; and even if such a need were "proven" (which will have to depend on a whole lot of assumption about what is "good" for a country), whether the policies being applied are not overly harsh.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 10:45:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you. I can follow your sound arguments.

I wonder, is it really so that these projections of (I exaggerate) millions of Africans wanting to come to Europe are a myth? It's not only about immigration that currently takes place but also about what is yet to come. Are these arguments really only used by far right extremists?

"it is not compulsory to be a French citizen or have asylum to remain in France, thankfully."

How is this in the UK? Apparently I have no idea about the "right to stay" in France. I've heard of cases a few years ago where people came to France (and had family in France), worked here for three or four months and then had to return to their country where they stayed a certain time before returning to France again. So, there must be some law limiting the duration of stay in France (??).

According to what you say above, "immigration" seems 'easy' since everyone may remain in France. All this sounds a lot like double standards (not yours but French authorities applying two measures...).

What may be worse than the deportation per se are these grey zones - of having a right to stay on one hand and fiercely implemented 'rules'(?) for deportation on the other. The ambiguity is 'inhumane' in that it causes fear and creates an agonising sense of insecurity.

The US relies heavily on their illegal immigrants for cheap labour. Deportations aren't of primary concern there, rather the precarious situation of these illegal immigrants.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 06:46:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I still protest to the word "deportation", which seems to imply some prison island or work colony.

Sending illegals back would not be possible without the agreement and the "collaboration" (oh the vicious word!) of their native countries (hence the problem when most of them throw away their passports) - which still remain their motherlands, who rose and educated them.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 07:44:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, come on !

deportation - definition of deportation by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

de·por·ta·tion  (dpôr-tshn, -pr-)n.1. The act or an instance of deporting.2. Expulsion of an undesirable alien from a country.
hm()

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Are you joking ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 01:52:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. "Deportation" has a negative connotation but the term is neutral and the correct one to use in this context.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:01:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't, I'm sorry. The term is not so neutral and it also means being banished, exiled (from one's own country) which I dare suspect is the underlying statement here, rather than "send back".

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:48:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deportation sounds like being sent away from a place where a person is allowed to stay to a different, non-identified, possibly insecure or dangerous place.

My Webster's defines "deportation" as follows: 2. the removal from a country of an alien whose presence is unlawful or prejudicial.

According to this definition, deportation does not include being exiled from ones OWN country.

You prefer to say "send back" - to their country of origin. The country of origin may not be where deportees will feel "at home". In most cases, they'll feel at home where they are "illegals" though according to linca, all are allowed to may remain in France so that there would be no "illegals" but I think he was talking of a basic human right, not of the legal status according to French law of those who are "sent back".

However anyone feels about it, the technical term for this forced return to their country of origin is still "deportation".

BTW: I'm not sure of this but I believe that in German usage, the term "Deportation" is mostly (only?) used with regards to 'transport' of Jews in WWII or other groups of people during wars in general.
There is another, a German word used for sending illegals to their country of origin: "Abschiebung" which translates as "deportation" or literally as the fact of being 'pushed off/away', which isn't a much nicer word, either.

I understand the political implications that you see. You would have to choose the term "repatriation" which would be a more positive word that would also consider the deportee's country of origin as his home.
I wonder, though, whether 'repatriation' wouldn't require the deportee's consent at being repatriated...

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 06:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and yet I dislike this kind of positive/negative framing.

Here's what I have:

Deportation
De`por*ta"tion, n. [L. depotatio: cf. F. d['e]portation.] The act of deporting or exiling, or the state of being deported; banishment; transportation.

In their deportations, they had often the favor of their conquerors. --Atterbury.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

New Pocket Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary © 2005 Oxford University Press:
déportation depɔʀtasjɔ̃
feminine noun
internment in a concentration camp;

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 07:43:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a different Webster's... ;)

I still believe that this is just about a difference in language usage.
When I look up the German word that is used to describe the process of sending people to their country of origin, it's not the same as the one describing deportation (to concentration camps), yet when I look for a translation - I'll still arrive at deportation in English period.

Deportation (German) - deportation (English)
Abschiebung (German) - deportation (English)
Abschiebung (German) - Expulsion/reconduite à la frontière (French)  

Déportation (French) - deportation (English)
Expulsion (French) - expulsion (English)

Maybe "EXPULSION" is the better, less controversial word; it doesn't say anything about where anyone is going - just that someone is not allowed to remain in the country where he resides and that he is sent across the border.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 03:59:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But when people seeking asylum is denied it, they are not just told to leave across the nearest border. They are - quite often forcefully - taken to the country where they are deemed by come from. Deemed by the authorities denying them the right to stay, that is. It is not rare that asylumseekers and authorities disagree on where they come from.

So deportation is the correct description.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 04:27:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. I don't believe that it's a coincidence that the word "deportation" exists both in French and German, yet it is not used today when people are forcefully sent out of the country and to their presumed country of origin.

  2. In English usage 'deportation' also implies that people might be transported to find themselves in a place that is foreign to them, in a precarious, maybe dangerous situation. In French and German usage - it's rather the shortest way to human hell... - While tragedies occur due to deportations, and it may always be an emotional tragedy of some kind, it's not an automatic death sentence, either.

Expulsion is therefore the more appropriate (more PC-correct, too) word to use in German and French. It simply says nothing about the 'receiving end', i.e. the country where they will go.

3) What would be the situation when you would you use the word "expulsion" since you don't think it's correct to call deportations expulsions?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 05:12:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe non-Anglo-Saxons in general are more sensitised to the difference of either deliberately sending people to a concentration camp or the Gulag, places that were explicitly created to punish or harm or kill people, - or else to send them to their presumed country of origin because citizen laws restricts the rights of people to remain in any given country.
If both are put on the same level, it also implies that the deporting country is somehow responsible for the situation (from lower standard of living to starvation, from restrictive authoritarian regimes to killing fields) that people will find in their 'home' country.
The idea is that asylum-seekers will ask for asylum for a good reason and that it will be granted when the reasons are considered valid by local authorities. Those are the rules.

If there are 'legal holes' in this system, there is injustice and people are forced out of the country only to find torture and death, there is a problem that must be addressed differently.

To question the reality of deportations as they take place today (not just their scope) also questions the value of citizenship as such. Doesn't it?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 05:43:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Valentin: deportation is the technical English word for "expulsion" in France.

Just language differences; of course for us French (and probably a number of EU countries), it has a more sinister meaning.

In the US, the INS (or the USCIS as it is known today) is deporting undocumented aliens.

And yes, one can be deported to one's own country: if the USCIS is "escorting to the border" (that's US English for "reconduire à la frontière") or "deporting" a French citizen who's been staying in the USA for 20 years without documents (visa or Green Card) to France, the person in question is effectively, well, deported, even if he/she doesn't have any family left whatsoever in France and just wanted to go on with his/her life in the US.

by Bernard on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:32:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand that. The problem is that deportation has a negative connotation coming from the deportation of jews. Proof that the use of this term is not coincidental or neutral, this has already been invoked by linca (is he/she not French too?), as fit for comparison with today's "deportations". It is to what I protested in the first place.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:51:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a problem for us French because, indeed, deportation has a negative connotation in our culture due to our history.

But again, deportation is just a regular and legitimate technical term used in English language (well, American English at least) and  comparisons with WWI are no excuse to refrain from using it, which is why I used a US-centric (hypothetical) example.

by Bernard on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 06:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The term was used here in the French sense of deportation of jews. This is enough to protest against using it.

In English too it can mean banishment, exile - see comments above.

It is precisely this kind of excesses that this diary entry stands against.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 07:16:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was the first to introduce the word deportation - of undocumented migrants - in this thread. You object to the comparison with the deportation of Jews by the 3rd Reich. Fine; my example was actually with the US immigration.

I stand by my earlier comment: the major activity of the "Ministry of Immigration and National Identity" is the deportation of undocumented migrants and for that aim, it is diverting quite a number police resources that are unavailable to fight crime.

This, I call it right wing baiting.

Same for linking "Immigration" with "National Identity"; first of all, this is no government business to decide what the French national identity is or isn't. And this is right wing baiting pure and simple: This is code speak; it's playing right into every racist's irrational fear of the brown hordes flooding over our homeland and threatening our white identity.

Of course, we can repeat the official line if we fancy to: its' all about making sure the immigrants learn our language and our values.

I'm not interested in what these people say but in what they do; and what they're doing is perpetuating a climate of fear and permanent suspicion on everyone dark-skinned, French citizen or not. And no matter how well they know French language and Republican values, it's never enough: neither them nor their children or grandchildren will be "French enough" for this kind of people - the kind of people our president is (pragmatically) sending coded messages to.

by Bernard on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 04:57:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're opposing and interpretting what you consider to be the "true meaning" of a governmental policy ("controlled immigration") that was made clear all along the electoral campaign, and also accepted on european level. Your right.

You can see things as right wing baiting, and someone else can reply it's calming down citizens indignated and worried about the savagery sometimes seen on public transport or certain immigrant ghettos.
To say, you're continuing to hold on to your leftwing positions and call anybody else names.

In the end, you're making a speculation ("no matter how well"...), which is your right from a leftwing standpoint.
You're fitting exactly the case I wanted to make: anyone not agreeing with our ideology must be some barbarian, bigot, racist, in any case not a human being whose issues might be legitimate.
Well more and more of these sub-humans voted Le Pen.

Obviously, the left did not understand anything at all from Jospin's humiliation - which we can also see in the PS' recent turbulences. People are going to punish this arrogant left over and over again, the way you punish a stubborn child, until it ceases patronizing and labeling citizens as stupid, racist or bigot when they have legit and perfectly explainable problems.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 08:13:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're opposing and interpretting what you consider to be the "true meaning" of a governmental policy ("controlled immigration") that was made clear all along the electoral campaign,

You're saying we should believe a word of what a politician says during an election campaign? And not try to second-guess them based on their contacts, associates and voter demographics?

That's rich.

You can see things as right wing baiting, and someone else can reply it's calming down citizens indignated and worried about the savagery sometimes seen on public transport or certain immigrant ghettos TV.

There, fixed it for ya.

I'll take it once more for crown prince Knud: The people who actually live in the ghettos, and have first-hand experience with conditions there, do not, in the main, vote for right-wing politicians. The people who overwhelmingly vote for wingnut politicians are the ones whose only contact with the ghetto is through a TV screen.

You seem to assume that what the press reports bears a strong relationship to what actually goes on in the world. That's an assumption contrary to fact. I should know. I've been in a couple of "newsworthy" events and seen the reporting in the commercial press afterwards. You should try it too - it might be enlightening.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:55:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Someone needs to tell me if there's a quick way to put in those quotation boxes - I have no patience typing html code.

Anyway.
As to what politicians are saying. Sarkozy made it a point to return people's interest to elections, indeed to democracy. Papers, think-tanks and poll centers keep an eye on his political program and its implementation. So I guess we'll see how it is.
One thing's certain: everybody wants to believe in electoral promises. We are entitled to, and to hold those people accountable. This is the base of the democracy.

I have no official and reliable statistics as to the situation and reasons of the vote in poor neighbourhoods. I can only tell you that it is not the rich, the office employees or the youth who predominantly chose Sarkozy, but the poor, the workers, the elders - ie, the vulnerable categories.
The "rich" in the fancy neighbourhoods voted left, as they always do. It is them who call the others racists and claim there is no problem in those suburbs except poverty, the rest being far-right rhetorics - and it is them who never go there. (I do speak about France)

Oh well.
From your posts, I retain that politicians are not to be trusted, their programs are deceitful, democracy is flawed, press is on the rightwing's pay. My conclusion is: we need a REVOLUTION !  Sigh...

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 01:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy was predominantly voted in wealthy suburbs; I remember the direct correlation of house prices and pro-Sarkozy votes; but also the youth and elderly people.  
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 02:48:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is hardly what I understood, especially from PS analysis of the defeat - well, excluding Neuilly sur Seine, that is...  Maybe there are some detailed stats somewhere...

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 03:21:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
Someone needs to tell me if there's a quick way to put in those quotation boxes - I have no patience typing html code.

I will tell you instead of someone - who actually made the plugin do it.

European Tribune - Download ET's own Firefox add-on: TribExt

Do you browse the web on Firefox? Then you can download TribExt, a nifty little add-on, written by ET user someone, to navigate around European Tribune easier. It can also be used on Booman Tribune and Daily Kos.

That plugin allows to mark and copy not only the text, but the html-code and paste it as a qoute. Very nifty.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 02:10:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, I'll try the plugin.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 06:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy made it a point to return people's interest to elections, indeed to democracy.

Elections and democracy are not quite the same thing.

Papers, think-tanks and poll centers keep an eye on his political program and its implementation.

You clearly have more faith in both the neutrality and competence of poll centres and belief tanks than I do.

One thing's certain: everybody wants to believe in electoral promises. We are entitled to, and to hold those people accountable. This is the base of the democracy.

Holding people accountable involves distrusting their will to carry out their promises as a matter of principle. If we trusted the police, we wouldn't need the courts. But in a democracy, we have an institutional distrust of the police (for a variety of mostly excellent reasons). So we have courts.

Political philosophy aside, there is, I believe, a French saying that goes something along the lines of "look not at what you eat, but with whom you eat." If a politician who takes money from employers' unions says that he wants to make anti-trust laws more effective, I'd want to read the actual proposal line by line before agreeing with it. If a politician backed by the Catholic Church says that he wants to reform the health service to give easier access to reproductive health care, I'd check with a reputable local family planning NGO before endorsing his proposal. And if an avowedly creationist politician says that the sky is blue, I'd look out my window before agreeing.

Is that really so unreasonable? Or even particularly ideological?

From your posts, I retain that politicians are not to be trusted, their programs are deceitful, democracy is flawed, press is on the rightwing's pay. My conclusion is: we need a REVOLUTION !  Sigh...

Hyperbole much?

I rather like democracy, thank you very much. But I prefer a democracy of active, engaged citizens to a "democracy" of disengaged consumers for whom turning on the television for the nightly advertisements news shows represents the height of their engagement with the body politic.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 03:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have written an interesting diary that generated quite a lot of discussions.The debate has been quite civil and you have proved you can disagree with a lot of people here and argument without engaging into name calling. Until now.

I didn't call "anyone else" names: just the racist people and their racism. As folks around here may have noted, I have very little tolerance for racism and prejudices in general.

And yes, I do object to our UMP government "speaking code" to the racists amongst us. I don't imply that they are necessarily all racists themselves, but they sure do have no compunction in playing the race card.

And for our non-white fellow citizens, this climate of discrimination and "not being French enough" is no frigging left-wing standpoint, but just a regular day in Sarkozia.

And where exactly did you see that anyone "anyone not agreeing with our ideology" must be some barbarian-bigot-racist sub-human?

Racists are idiots and humans: idiocy is a very human weakness. It's racists who do believe there are two categories of people - humans and sub-humans (themselves being in the top human category, of course). You don't have to be a racist to vote for the FN, but you have to be comfortable (or willingly oblivious) with quite a high dose of racism.

Oh, and your "elitist" left vs. "real-people" right: I've heard that for years; that's precisely the theme pushed by the Republicans since Regan. It worked beautifully in a way: they won elections and kept in power until recently - when enough people eventually saw through that horseshit and figured out where exactly the real elitists are (hint: follow the money).

People indeed do have legitimate problems and the politics of Mr Sarkozy and the UMP has only made things worse.

by Bernard on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 05:23:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where exactly... well you said, broadly, that Sarkozy would have appealed to racists (FN voters) by taking on FN policies. But maybe many of those voters were less racists and more feeling that certain areas escaped control, there was less and less the rule of law, fundamentalist islamism was progressing, people were not only refusing to integrate in the French society, but disliking French and republican values.
And Le Pen was the only one addressing these problems - in a bad way.

The view from the left has always been that the causes are social - that immigrants, or their offspring, are never to blame for anything, it is the society which wouldnt do enough for them.
Whoever said anything different was labeled racist and xenophobe, was said to propagate fear etc etc. The whole range of arguments political correctness uses to put its fist in the mouth of those who say otherwise.

So you here did the same thing: you assumed that Sarkozy and his immigration policies, addressed racists, which is the usual French leftwing line.
What if FN voters or sympathizers were not all racists, what if many are citizens who feel republican values are stepped upon, and it is insulting to call them racists (despicable people, not far from nazis), patronize them, exclude them.
It is them who eliminated Lionel Jospin, who made win Sarkozy, and will continue to do so, as long as you guys continue to consider them as such.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 05:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "usual French leftwing line" does not necessarily make the Sarkozy policies not racist. You've extensively pleaded to look at issues objectively and rationally; it's all fine and good to tally the arguments from both sides - now where do we get concrete?

I repeat my request I put to you downthread - I'm interested in your ideas and solutions regarding these political issues. Would you please consider writing them down? We can play devil's advocate until we're blue in the face.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 10:17:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of this diary is that excessive ideologisation of social and political issues is about to bring a return to pragmatism, carried by politicians  who claim (and, I believe, mean it too) to do what is best in a certain situation, refusing ideological categorisation of their actions.
Ideologues, who can only see the world through their ideological filter, are already calling these people opportunists, turn-coats - precisely because they don't fit one ideology or the other.

This led me to say that the dutch policies you mentioned were not so much pragmatic but debatable compromises made on a social-libertarian foundation.
In the same way, I replied to Bernard that what he calls racist policies or code speech targeting racists, are actually pragmatic policies meant to address what are legitimate issues for many citizens.

I gave both of you hints about what I see as pragmatic policies: helping the immigrants, but also considering the locals, the cultural differences, enforcing integration and republican values (in France) along with help for integration and against discrimination. Also accepting in France people with a good chance to adapt - balanced, rational measures that have worked in countries like Canada or Australia.
The same about the more general question of civil rights. Vulnerable people must be protected and helped, but not by introducing other kinds of unfairness or exclusion. Hence, I don't believe in quota laws, except very rare, precise cases and very limited in time. I think both Massachusets vote for and California vote against gay marriage should be accepted as democratical, contested democratically, without throwing insults and contempt at the other. I do think people have a certain degree of free will and critical thinking. Hence we should not legislate for every possible situation, we should not attempt to protect people at all cost, we cannot justify issues only by societal or environmental causes. I think the idea that people are completely irresponsible is wrong, just as the idea that crime or poverty would only be explained by external causes.  
I also believe wrong the idea that people would be completely responsible, that life, success or failure, would be mostly up to them, that crime should only be dealt with by punishment. In short, I would be somewhere between the US (americans call me a socialist) and Europe (where I am positioned to the right).

These are but general ideas. Situations are not dealt with like this, with general statements made upon imperative demand. Laws should not be made from principial reasons, but depending on the concrete case, looking at all facets and considering all sides and how that will profit the society and the individuals.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:49:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I gave both of you hints about what I see as pragmatic policies: helping the immigrants, but also considering the locals, the cultural differences, enforcing integration and republican values (in France) along with help for integration and against discrimination.

That's not policies, that's slogans. How do you think the immigrants should be helped (and helped to do what?)? How do you think the locals should be "considered?" What does "cultural differences" mean when translated into English, and how does one "consider" it when designing policy? How does one "enforce" "republican values?" And what are those "republican values" in the first place? How do you think that public policy can best assist integration (of whom into what?), and how can public policy be used to prune back discrimination?

Also accepting in France people with a good chance to adapt

What does this even mean? You do realise that there are several ways to get into France that France has very little control over? Refugees cannot be cherry-picked like that - aside from the dubious morality of doing so, it's probably in violation of the UN Refugee Convention. Then there's the whole marriage thing - where a policy of making immigration by marriage difficult by making potential immigrants jump through a ridiculous number of insane hoops is not only of dubious legality under both UN and Union law - it also effectively exiles those of your own citizens who happen to be unfortunate enough to fall in love with someone from outside the Union.

balanced, rational measures that have worked in countries like Canada or Australia.

But you haven't actually mentioned any of those measures! All you've done is provide a laundry list of slogans. Australia and Canada have taken a lot of measures over the years that could broadly be said to be based on those slogans - some of them more or less rational and balanced, while others... not so much.

Vulnerable people must be protected and helped, but not by introducing other kinds of unfairness or exclusion. Hence, I don't believe in quota laws, except very rare, precise cases and very limited in time.

OK, this is more like it. There's actually a debatable political principle here. So quotas are bad and need to be thoroughly justified and limited in scope and time. I can buy that (for suitable values of "limited" and "thoroughly justified").

But can you actually give any examples of quotas that have been assigned on ideological rather than factual grounds?

I think both Massachusets vote for and California vote against gay marriage should be accepted as democratical, contested democratically, without throwing insults and contempt at the other.

Reducing a group of people to second-class citizens based on nothing more than their sexual preference is a completely kosher expression of democracy? I disagree, but at least that proposition is sufficiently concrete to be subject to be debated on its merits.

But I do wonder: When those amendments are struck down by the SCOTUS as being in violation of the Federal constitution, will you argue that this should also be accepted as a kosher expression of democracy? Or is a plebiscite "more democratic" than the doctrine of judicial review?

we should not legislate for every possible situation,

Straw man.

we should not attempt to protect people at all cost,

From what? And, as an aside, "at all cost" is a straw man too.

we cannot justify issues only by societal or environmental causes.

Environmental as in the culture you grow up in or environmental as in polar bears?

I think the idea that people are completely irresponsible is wrong,

But surely, you do accept that some people are totally and utterly irresponsible, right? And policies must be enacted to curtail their irresponsible behaviour, correct? I think that's pretty obvious - particularly set against the backdrop of a global economy brought to the ragged edges of another great depression by one of the greatest pyramid scams in history...

just as the idea that crime or poverty would only be explained by external causes.

Here's my suggestion for the question of crime and poverty: We know that poverty causes crime. We don't know how much of the current crime is caused by poverty, and how much is caused by other factors. But we do know that inasmuch as there is poverty, some of the crime is caused by poverty. So I'd suggest getting rid of the poverty. Then there will be less crime, and we will probably have a clearer picture of what causes the crime, since we've eliminated one of the contributions.

I'd call that a pragmatic approach.

As for the causes of poverty... pragmatically, they don't matter much, because poverty can largely be cured with distributionary policies. There may be ideological reasons to prefer other methods as far as possible (empowerment is also a part of lefty ideology, after all) but pragmatically money works exceedingly well to combat poverty...

Laws should not be made from principial reasons, but depending on the concrete case,

Kinda sorta... But taken to excess, this leads to a lex 8 o'clock news syndrome - where each whiff of scandal gives rise to a new law or rule or regulation to prevent similar failings in the future. Such ad hoc laws often create an ineffective and unduly burdensome legal hodge-podge, which lacks both coherence, structure and a clear strategy for what it is supposed to accomplish.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 03:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
because this diary has become near unreadable.

Jake has gotten into depth to important questions but I will restrict my reply to two issues:

ValentinD:

This led me to say that the dutch policies you mentioned were not so much pragmatic but debatable compromises made on a social-libertarian foundation.

So you did, but with little evidence to show for your argument. Again, I don't think you've adequately answered why libertarian rational can never be considered as pragmatic.

The other problem I remain having is also pointed out by Jake - your ideas on pragmatism get obfuscated by a slew of generalities. I don't "get" your side of pragmatism - the word just gets bandied around and it's just a filler word for me. Drop the hints, tell us what you really would like to see happening.

And preferably not in this thread.

by Nomad on Tue Nov 25th, 2008 at 05:15:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, we actually agree on something: not all FN voters or sympathizers are racists. And, as I said above, they just have to be comfortable (or just ignore) the prevalent racism at the heart of the FN ideology and leadership, and they will be just fine.

Because I object to right-wing baiting from the presidential party, I am a patronizing, insulting, fist-in-the-mouth, left-wing elitist?

It's your opinion and this is a free country.

Over time, there has been less and less arguments and more vituperation in your writings.

If you choose to go this way, this is your prerogative; just don't expect me to follow you there.

In my book, each adult takes personal responsibility for one's own words and actions. I assume mine.

You decided to behave the way you do; no one else forced you. You can call this ideology (like I care), I call this values.

by Bernard on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 04:01:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are here patronizing again :) and trying to assume the moral higher ground.

You said that Sarkozy's electoral promises and immigration policies are coded speech targeting racists. I said - and I repeat - that the audience that you call racists are actually citizens who have perfectly legitimate and real reasons to worry, that you deny. And you deny it, because they don't fit the leftwing ideology claiming that "those who appear as weak or as victims must always be right".

The left, just like you do for the third time now, declares those people racists (ie, calls them names), despises them, excludes them. Hence they, with their 15-20%, pushed Le Pen in front of PS's Jospin 6 years ago and ensured Sarkozy wins in 2007.

The speech you call rightwing baiting for racists are actually pragmatic policies addressing legitimate issues of an important part of voting citizens.

You'll likely dismiss this, and I am saying this yet again: the French left, with its custom of picking favourite categories and pushing forwad unreasonable rhetorics and political correctness, is bound to lose general elections for a long time still.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 05:19:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The sun is yellow from the relative position of the earth, through the earth's atmosphere. Have you traveled to see what the sun's real color is?

To say we exist inside ideologies is not a form of relativism. Not at all. Ideologies, even the one that most describes our conceptual framework, are constantly contested, as we learn and develop and incorporate new ideas into the frame.

As for absolute truths, no I have never come across one. I am with Nietszche on this one.

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:36:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea was that from where we stand on the earth, precisely in Paris, the sun is yellow for everybody, and saying that is in this context an absolute truth for all parisians, no matter their political colour.

So when we are all inside the same system, and we see (or measure) the same things, in the same conditions, the result will always be the same; hence, in this context, can be said absolute. A relative absolute, if you like.

Absolute, in the sense that we stick to the raw facts, and not reinterpret them in any way.

A statement is not necessarily bad because it's an extremist who issued it first.

When we note that 90% nurses are women, we don't infer that men would be discriminated against.
We don't infer that nursing is viewed as an inferior job either.
We bring the analysis to the root causes. And if we can't find them, we don't infer anything at all and we leave those poor people alone.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:48:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This question of raw facts and even scientific truths has been debated since Heisenberg but also much much earlier.

Absolute certitudes such as, there are two genders of humans, male and female, have been overturned.

Again, you're talking about an agreed upon perception of the sun (assuming everyone agrees that in Paris, it's yellow, which I actually think people would contest). That's not a raw fact about the sun.

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:56:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They have not been overturned, just like Newton's laws have not been. As long as you keep within the "normal" context, both the two genders and the Newton laws stand. You can leave fall an apple and a feather, and see if you care about Einstein's relativity theory :)

But that was not the point.
The point was that we accept or reject political or social statements based on factual data, and we craft measures pragmatically, not based on some ideological framing.
It is a matter of methodology.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:02:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In certain parts of America, normal means the Earth is flat, there were never any dinosaurs, and evolution is a myth.

The fact that you said two genders is somehow equated with Newton's laws shows me you're laboring under ideology. Clearly, science has presented facts that show there are more than two genders, and that the very concept of gender is constructed. There's really no debating this at this point since not only the biological evidence shows a significant portion of human beings do not fall into the male and female binary, but that some entire societies don't ascribe to the division either.

Which means these things are socially constructed, or as you put it, normative.

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:08:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may make a poll anywhere you like, not only flat-Earth America, and see if they see more than two genders.
Of course, a poll is not scientifical proof. Neither are Newton's laws, if you care to be rigorous.

Again, that wasn't the point Sarkozy made by mentioning the Yellow Sun. Hairsplitting when the thing is right in front of us.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:24:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hairsplitting?

Try to look into the incidence of hermaphroditism.

The numbers are much greater than you apparently believe.

Like I said, a poll in Kansas yields the absolute truth that the world was created by God.

If that's not ideology, I don't know what is. And those who are certain there are only two genders are indeed also laboring under an ideology.

But, you'd be quite surprised about this: "Make a poll anywhere you like, see if they're are more than two genders..."

If I took that poll on a Native American reservation that's aware of traditions, if I took that poll in parts of the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere, the results would reveal that people believe there are more than two genders.

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:29:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good God, let's discuss declention another time.

Absolute certitudes such as, there are two genders of humans, male and female, have been overturned.

Did you intend to type TWO SEXES OF HUMANS?
or TWO GENDERS IN ENGLISH, MAN AND WOMAN?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:30:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sexes.

But, the original metaphor was very limiting.

The Sun is yellow.

What about sexes? What about race?

I wanted to know if he had raw facts about these sorts of subjects. It seemed to me the precisely proper time to bring these up.

by Upstate NY on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:48:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The original metaphor was not about debating the notion of raw facts, or absolute truth in terms of philosophy. We could discuss that for weeks.

The original metaphor was about refusing ideological interpretations of facts (in every-day-life sense).
Not denying the common sensical assessment of a situation because your ideology would not agree with it, or because you would not agree with the ideology of whoever made that assessment first.

For instace, since you speak about race: I wonder if all this talk about racism isn't mistaken, and certain xenophobia come from cultural differences rather than morphologic ones.
Cases of perfectly integrated non-white race people in western societies are well known - and I remember someone mentioning the contempt "bounty" persons (dark-skinned outside, white inside) are sometimes facing. I thought it is the best example that it is not biological race in question, but cultural factors, and the keeping or abandoning of it.

This is a good example of pragmatic reasoning as opposed to the current culpabilizing political correctness about racism.

As you see, mine is not a highminded philosophical discourse (not that I wouldn't like it), but applied politics - the underlying theme of this diary.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, your last point is precisely why we're in a kind of contest here. I don't look at this as abstract high-minded philosophy at all. The theoretical is already political and practical. You have to have a theory before you act. That seems to go hand in hand.

I only brought things like race and sex up because these two categories are held in such certitude by most people as being fundamentally based in hard science.

When you realize that these categories are contested and contestable as having no real biological basis, then the previous certitude or "common sense" about their truthful or absolute existence ends up being just one more ideological point-of-view.

by Upstate NY on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you have to have a theory to start with, you must be ready to abandon it, were it proven wrong - otherwise it's ideology.

As to the race issue, without reading anything deep on it, mine was a common sensical conclusion (for which I expect to be labeled far-right).

Pragmatism sometimes looks narrowminded because of its temptation to a slightly simplificating approach what I called the everyday-life sense, or Newton's laws).
In other words, rational pragmatism would seem to require brilliant people like Obama or Clinton to really reach a critical mass.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Theory is thought, no?

Same thing.

Thoughts don't appear from out of the blue, neither do values, neither do beliefs.

Ideology is simply one's belief system. If you believe anything, your within ideology. There is no outside.

I just think calls for pragmatism inevitably force me to adopt horrid positions that I don't like. What's pragmatic about pragmatism?

And if you don't read deeply into definitions which most people regard as absolutes (about race for example) aren't you simply deluding yourself?

I mean, I like to know if I'm constantly referring to something I believe is real, but in any sense other than cultural usage, it doesn't exist. There's no essential race out there, neither sociological, nor genetic/biological, not in any field. We can't even define it on the cultural level. There has never been an adequate cultural definition for race, never mind a biological proof that it even exists.

by Upstate NY on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 11:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's pragmatic about pragmatism ?  And yet I nuanced that several times already, for the sake of clarity: I called it pragmatic methodology, or concern for objectivity, refusal of ideology as explanation or framework, I mentioned what we could call the relevant depth of analysis in a given situation, you can call the thing common sense, something empirical, likely to stir you into more search for meaning, but still there for most of us.

As to race, you are actually protesting against the ideologies of the last 40 years, who defined race in absolute, anthropological and morphological terms.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 07:58:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with pragmatism is that first, it allows people to maintain that their position (after much careful thought, etc.) is as close to objectivity as possible. Furthermore, it allows them to engage in debate at the level of dialectical argument, a test of logic and wills, so-called rationality, much as you see in televised debates on television.

By recognizing the total work of ideology, however, you're forced into a more critical and skeptical approach to your beliefs and ideas. You're asked to see them as an interlocking pattern of beliefs that's culturally bound, not solely reliant on logic or common sense, etc. Nietzsche said that the errors in thinking are inevitably the values passed down through the centuries, so that common wisdom never questions itself as long as it regards its bases (DEPTH) as natural or normal or given. Thus, things like sex and race go unexamined. Instead, we argue logically and rationally about the formations of race and sex, but we never actually think beyond that narrative frame to see whether these things have any substance.

by Upstate NY on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:20:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fundament of a rational approach is to always allow space for doubt. Doubt is very important, particularly today as everybody seems to need to appear as certain and self-assured come what may. Concern for Objectivity is the mother of Doubt. Concern for pragmatism will stop Doubt from becoming impractical. I don't believe in ideologies of Logic or what yourself declare "so-called Rationality", but rather in non-ideologies of Doubt and Reason.

"Not solely reliant on logic or common sense"... you say 'not solely', yet you speak about 'recognizing the total work of ideology' and seem to be making an assumption with the hope that it will bring you into a more critical approach by some kind of counter-reaction. Very weird reasoning. One cannot claim that everything is culturally bound, nor that common sense (or wisdom) would always be a mere cultural/social construct. Sometimes they are, other times not so.
A rational approach is also about recognizing one's own limits and realizing tendencies of taking something as the final (common sense) base, the absolute truth.

That's why I said that this seems to require people capable of sensing when they start to take as definitive things that are not so, when it is the moment to halt an analysis, or to continue it, or to declare it undecided.
I rather tend to say it's a matter of teaching people to think critically, purely and simply, a bit like French school did before the advent of  libertarianism in education.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 09:00:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frequently you have made reference to things that you believe are the truth or are common sense and are not social constructs - all objective and rational as far as you are concerned.

My approach is to question everything - the critical approach that you seem to think the left are utterly incapable of.  Who can really truly say where the line should be drawn on what is culturally bound or not?  If you took some of things you consider to be absolute common sense and tried to apply that to a tribe in Africa or the Amazon, would it still stand?  Would it still stand if something that is common sense and in no way culturally bound in your opinion, in France was compared to another European country?

You have made a number of assumptions about many different things here, whilst inconsistently saying that these very things should be questioned.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:47:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yours is a natural objection, and some of my positions were said ideological, sometimes to show that the word can be thrown back at myself, sometimes because (I'm well aware) they actually sound biased.
I call ideologists lesson givers and Keepers of the Truth because the only self-criticism they seem capable of is rather for not being puritanical enough. This is true for the left as for the right, for libertarians, conservatives, or neocons. Eliot Spitzer in the article I quoted said just that.

But as I said above, while doubt, keeping an open mind, questioning and self-questioning, are fundamental, this shouldn't stop one from being pragmatic about things, and avoid getting closed in a vicious circle of relativism.
If we quit the philosophical scene and leave aside ideologies, we'll likely notice there actually are quite a lot of things we know already, but refuse to see, admit, or whose importance we diminish because it doesn't fit with our previous positions or preferred ideology.
The only way to show there's no artificial bias, is sound, honest argumenting.

I gave several examples, that I called obvious:

  • work conditions today, and the political bias of certain unions (that we're not allowed to contest, for risk of appearing in favour of corporations, against the workers);
  • freemarketeers' ideological bias (which we cannot criticize without being accused of socialism);
  • social conditioning (if we contest its preponderance, it usually follows we would support biological determination and traditionally imposed social roles);
  • racism (whenever I brought forth cultural differences as the main cause for xenophobia, I've been accused of denying French institutional racism)

On the other thread, enouncing this simple idea: it always goes both ways (be it about gender discrimination, immigrant integration, or other things), it was perceived by some as "alien", politely contested - until I dared call nursing a noble profession, thus excluding a whole range of arguments at the base of woman discrimination claims; hence I "became" a mysoginist; when I dared more (I am brave, am I not! :) ) and said work conditions today don't compare with those 100 years ago, ah, that, was an ideological statement, pay was brought into discussion (which I never mentioned), I "became" a thatcherian propagandist.  

The only way to show my good faith and my only concern: finding the truth, was to present the two facets and frame it as a question.
Can you really not see how precipitated, ill-thought and ideological these conclusions are?

Of course, you can always turn my reasoning at me and say that by claiming common sense, I would decide what is true and what is not, I would bring forth my certitudes.
This will always be the risk for rational pragmatists: "how dare you say things are so, impose your own truth, claiming logic and pragmatism? it's just a rhetorical method to exclude others' truths!"

False issues. Theoretical. Ideological. We actually know a lot of stuff as true already; relative stuff is much less than we like to admit. Nuancing is not the same thing as relativism. Seeing both sides of a problem, for instance, the employee's and the manager's, the man's and the woman's, the immigrant's and the local's, is an indispensable tool in finding solutions, and a proof of fundamental good faith.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:48:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And there is something else.
Your questions, highminded or not, are theoretical. If you look at my examples, they are all practical issues that matter today. We might speak about races and the importance of the cultural/civilizational factors, or about genders and socially-constructed gender-roles. But what is the relevance of this in real life ? I'll comment on a proper example.

And I might not even be able to find an answer. Being a rationalist doesn't mean being all-knowing. As I said before, it is all about the methodology - especially the refusal of any ideology.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:27:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just reject this idea that this is theoretical and not practical.

That's not how I live my life.

If you think people don't reject binary divisions of sex in real life then you haven't gotten around much. You'd be totally surprised at the incidence of hermpahroditism. On m college campus there are many many students who live this reality EVERY day.

by Upstate NY on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 11:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok... we can talk about hermaphroditism (side debates blossomed everywhere, anyway)...
just remind me, in what way is this connected, let alone opposed to a pragmatic, un-ideologic approach to politics, or indeed, to life ?

I'm not being polemical, just noting that I didn't claim rationalism would pretend to give new definitions to things or situations. If incidence of hermaphroditism is relevant (in general, or in a given situation), then it may well be entitled to be declared an absolute truth :) I still don't see the problem.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:09:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Up above, in a post, you asked me to poll people to see if they thought there were two sexes or not.

That's what I was responding to.

by Upstate NY on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:13:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would think we could agree that SEX is an incontrovertible term, unless one is NOT HUMAN.

"Gender" in languages signifies cultural norms (say, hierarchical social constructs) and the instrumentality of reproductive capability and political ideologies or economics.

There is too that bio-ethical dilemma evinced in clone technologies yet opposed by law that defeats the "rules" of reproductive politics (cf Mary O'Brien, eg), gender politics (a/k/a "sexism" or "feminism"), and scientific veridical methodologies to which arbiters of Western civilizations appeal for rationales, the legitimacy of punative actions.

Some day being born either male or female will cease to carry institutional value. We all will learn to be it.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Dec 1st, 2008 at 12:24:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Within sexual reproduction, all those who are fertile can be divided into sex. Infertile variations of humans not so much.

If infertile variations are divided into the group most similar according - the groups constructed from the  sexual reproduction schemes - then you are dealing with a socially constructed cathegory that is wider then the biological one. So no, sex is not an incontrovertible term unless you deal solely with fertile individuals.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:31:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you not believe in the existence of absolute truths
Such truths may, at best, be presumed to underlie physical reality, but our perception of these truths remains an ongoing process of social construction, the largest recent effort of which consists of the Large Hadron Collider, recently brought on line.  The biochemistry physiology and neruology of our bodies and brains is likewise the in the process of an ongoing investigation and our understanding of our personal realities, including consciousness, are obviously the result of our lifelong educations which, necessarily, occurred with when these processes were even more poorly understood than they are now.

In-as-much as we do not each of us on our own develop all of the perceptual processes we employ, we rely on those provided for us by our parents and community. Thus our view of the world is first inherited and then modified as time passes.  The question is only of whether we recognize this or simply think that our world "exists" in some absolute sense.  So stepping outside of ideology or of our worldview is not a simple thing.  Sorry to disappoint.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:09:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on how you look at it,I think. Doing it from a purist or philosophical viewpoint, as UpstateNY does above, will likely prove there's no absolute truth. Your take ends in the same place, as indeed our view of the world and assessment of events is influenced by a number of factors, social and scientifical, inherited or not, often in continuous evolution.

Both yours and Upstate NY's points, quite valid at first sight, end up in philosophical discussions about life and reality, life as an illusion, reality as phenomenology, relativism, existence as in ontology, knowledge as in epistemology, religions and myths, sex and gender, Heinsenberg's uncertainty principle and so on.

I know about all this. If we push our reasoning that  way, we'll get drawn in endless philosophical discussions hardly likely to bring us anywhere.
I can't find less pragmatic an approach, not even that of political ideologies.

The question is, what do we want? What was my diary entry about? Did it look like a philosophical essay? I don't have such pretence, be it only for the time I'd have to spend on it :)
This diary entry was about Politics. The relation between political ideologies and factual truth. The new approach that seem to take off these days.
My examples were not philosophical, not meant to be. I know where it would lead to start discussions about "what is truth, what is fact, what is factual truth".

I made those reflections from a position of applied political philosophy, from the perspective of, say, someone intending to enter political life, target an office, who knows, dream about becoming President of the United States of Europe.
Such a person, I believe, would have the best chances if he dropped ideological stances and stick to the cold facts, adopt a truthful, pragmatic, rational approach.

I don't care about philosophical hairsplitting, for one and only one reason: I'm speaking politics, applied, real-life politics.
Someone will maybe launch on an analysis of how braintwisting philosophic theories gave birth to political ideologies. I'm aware of that too. It is part of what I am arguing against. How many people, even amongst the highly educated, actually really understand philosophy? It is maybe the time that people be allowed to live in peace, instead of  considered as a mass to manipulate, swung back and forth with this or that slogan, deceitful worldview, emotional appeal, hate speech, visceral stimulation.
Ideologies eventually act as blinds drawn over man's conscience, no better than blind faiths. They manipulate consciences with reasonings that hardly go further than two or three moves. Instead of being told what the world is, what society is, people should be treated as rational beings first, allowed their liberty to do critical thinking. Asked their opinion, not told that this or that category would be discriminated against. Educated, not indoctrinated or culpabilized. Treated with more respect, in the end.

Of course "truth", "reality" are interpretable concepts, "facts" may be in continuous evolution, depend on the depth of analysis and so on.
But what do we care about quantum physics, or general relativity, when in everyday life Newton's laws suffice?
This may seem narrowminded, short-term-ist, but if you look better at my examples, you might seem what I mean.
I could speak about an honest approach - and longer debates might flourish, this time about morals.

So I'll just limit to saying that it's all about refusing ideology or any kind of faith in assessing situations. And using a pragmatic, rational approach for this assessment. That kind of rounds it up for me.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you not believe in the existence of absolute truths

One can believe that absolute truths exist without believing that it is possible to know them (or at least to know that one knows them, which pragmatically is the same deal).

One can also believe that absolute truth doesn't matter. What matters is predictive power. An epistemology that focuses on predictive power usually operates with a finite probability that any given theory is wrong. That probability can, of course, get exceedingly small - for instance, the probability that the Maxwell equations are fundamentally flawed is so minuscule that for most practical purposes it can be ignored.

But really, let's set aside the epistemology for another day. This thread is already more than 200 posts long, and epistemology has a way of adding a hundred and fifty posts to every thread it comes up in :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 10:56:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Argh.

I made the mistake of debating this with a philosophy student, who insists that pragmatism is an ideology.  It's like people who argue atheism is a religion.  Bah!

I don't believe ideology is dead, but it is a popular past time among people who consider themselves great thinkers to go around declaring this and that dead, and slapping a "post-" on every idea they come across.  Suddenly everyone is a coroner.  Apparently we are living in post-history right now.  People are post-racial and post-ideological and post-modern and probably post-human.

But history evolves, takes one step forward then two steps back.  I suspect reports of the death of ideology have been greatly exaggerated.

I myself am an unrepentant leftist ideologue.  But I'm conflicted.  There are certain values I believe should guide the decisions of government, but it seems apparent to me that ideology's exclusionary nature may keep valid options from consideration, from even being debated.  I've come to value pragmatism, to my surprise, at least in top leadership positions.  I think people whose leadership skills I admire, Howard Dean, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, can attribute their success to the fact that they are not bound to one ideology.  It means they do things that I disagree with, but also, they are free to take risks and try new things.  You seem to be concerned with the ideology of the left.  As a leftist, I think it would be super if my government held all of my views, because they are the right and the best and the most noble views.  But I've seen my government beholden to the views of the extreme right, a cabal who undoubtedly think their views are the best and most noble and most correct.  Also, very bad people in history have claimed to share my values.  Having the right and the best and the most noble ideology, which I do, is no guarantee against utter failure.

So, I'm totally up for the current trend in "pragmatic" leadership, if only because it frees people up to defer to their wisdom and the full repertoire of their knowledge and allows debate to evolve past the level of kindergarten name-calling.
 

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

by poemless on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 12:15:41 PM EST
I just added a few points about rightwing ideology, to make the balance right and support my claim to enlightened pragmatism :)
The initial list of examples came from the left, from reasons that can be discovered in a debate I recently participated to.

The main problem I have with ideologies is their inability to accept evidence, even when it slaps them in the face. Obvious truth, a sense of justice by definition neutral and apolitical (a bit like atheism), are my reasons to prefer realism and pragmatism to ideology.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 04:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
valentin, i'm curious, do you amuse yourself going to right wing blogs also, in your role as *centrist enlightened pragmatism propagator?

because it seems to me that you just love a good argument!

being provocative for its own sake is no sin, though it begs a question, namely: is the role of *C.E.P.P.  to sharpen arguments on both sides, and thus reveal agendas better, or is it because *C.E.P.P. as philosophy, being ideology-free, has nothing to sell, there's no 'there' there, no vision, grand or banal?

just the patient unwinding of evolution, errors fail, wise choices succeed, no need of leading a society to somewhere, just unravel the knots as they present themselves, no fuss, no muss...

because also, when i think about the main thrust of the arguments that you love to activate, once again, there's no 'there', they seem reactionary in themselves, responses to ideas, not ideas themselves.

are you taking from both sides and trying to make a new middle?

no disrespect intended, but it makes me wonder whether you have an agenda, conscious or not, i haven't identified yet.

'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 Nov 17th, 2008 at 08:22:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a certified left libertarian (took the test twice to be certain), I can now say it: frankly, I didn't think this blog was so much to the left, that obvious statements ("working conditions are not difficult today") label me as a thatcherian propagandist. Kindly point me to a right wing blog :)

There is no agenda: remember I just questioned In Wales' gender monitoring, and pointed out it can lead to abberations. It then unfolded all by itself.

You are wrong to see a contradiction between not carrying an ideology and having a vision. Rationalists don't need to start with an ideology, even less to force the society to fit an ideal. They help improve, show roads open ahead, help choose an ideal, in a process of discovery with and along the society, not preaching postulates of this or that philosopher.

Feels like a return to the true spirit of Enlightenment, shaking off ideologic excesses and PC, and speaking the truth again. (and remember this is a certified leftwing libertarian :) )

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:06:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't gone reading the previous discussion in depth, but what struck me was this: I see no fault to question the questioning of gender monitoring; however, the debate sparked up by pulling in arguments that smack of those who don't desire (consciously or unconsciously) any questioning in the first place. There is an important distinction to make there and I don't think it was quite clear.

In an aside, the ad hominem "thatcherian propagandist" was not phrased like that - I went out of my way to look up the thread to check on this. The arguments you displayed were called "thatcherian propaganda". IMO, that was phrased a bit too sharp, but that's not my point here: please refrain from putting words in other people's mouth and painting yourself as a victim. And I'll stop here about this. Too much meta these days.

Lastly, as Ted and others are beginning to point out, meaning of the word "ideology" can be haggled over which in my perspective makes it entirely useless. Let the word-smiths do their work first. Instead of trying to assail ideologies, whether existing or non-existing, I would find it more interesting to analyse core values from which political goals and policies can be established.

by Nomad on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:04:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the core values that I was interested in trying to discuss, and also feel it pointless to argue over the word ideology.

There are certain core values and arguments that are traditionally associated with the left, and others associated with the right and plenty that fall in between and even possibly that overlap...

I think some of my point was that right wing rhetoric was being used, in a way that to me felt like a regurgitation of arguments often laid out in the media or through conversations with others who absorb that rhetoric without much questionining of it - perhaps because they don't know how to critique and deconstruct it.  Certain things become part of the language, part of the 'attitude' or values and part of that collective knowledge or 'common sense' maybe that is not properly evidenced or questioned because it feels as though it is and has always been there.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:17:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Lastly, as Ted and others are beginning to point out, meaning of the word "ideology" can be haggled over which in my perspective makes it entirely useless.

It's not "useless", my point was that,like many words it has a variety of meanings, which arose for good reasons. Cf. the word "realism":


re·al·ism  (r-lzm)
n.
  1. An inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism.
  2. The representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are, without idealization or presentation in abstract form.
  3. Philosophy
a. The scholastic doctrine, opposed to nominalism, that universals exist independently of their being thought.
b. The modern philosophical doctrine, opposed to idealism, that physical objects exist independently of their being perceived.

All useful.

It's just important to be aware of these differences, especially the two main meanings of "ideology", narrowly political and pejorative, and the wider, neutral sense, and not to confuse them:

In Marx's polemic, `ideology' was the systematic, limited, perverse thinking of opponents he saw as intellectual tools of corrupt regimes. It is poor practice to limit definitions of words to polemic uses, yet this has been the fate of `ideology'.
...

`Ideology' is invaluable to socially-oriented semiotics because it identifies a unitary object that incorporates complex sets of meanings with the social agents and processes that produced them. No other term captures this object as well as `ideology'. Foucault's `episteme' is too narrow and abstract, not social enough. His `discourse', popular because it covers some of `ideology's' terrain with less baggage, is too confined to verbal systems. `Worldview' is too metaphysical, `propaganda' too loaded.

http://www.semioticon.com/seo/I/ideology.html

The broader meaning reminds us of our dependence on "pre-formulated ways of looking" at the world and is an important area of study, as are the relationships between the two senses:


Bloch believed that even ideological artifacts contain expressions of desire and articulations of needs that radical theory and politics should heed to provide programs and discourses which appeal to deep-seated desires for a better life. Ideologies also provide clues to possibilities for future development and contain a "surplus" or "excess" that is not exhausted in mystification or legitimation. And ideologies may contain normative ideals whereby the existing society can be criticized and models of an alternative society. For example, the notion of the citoyen (citizen) in bourgeois ideology with its individual rights, civil liberties, and actively engaged autonomy expressed something more than mere legitimation and apologetics for bourgeois institutions and practices. Bloch takes seriously Marx's position that the task of socialism is to fully realize certain bourgeois ideals. Throughout his life, Bloch argued that Marxism, as it was constituted in its Social Democratic and other leading versions, was vitiated by a one-sided, inadequate, and merely negative approach to ideology.

http://www.uta.edu/huma/illuminations/kell1.htm




Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:04:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your line of thought goes too far:
someone said that my not so humble opinions look like thatcherian propaganda. When you say that someone's public opinions are propaganda, it immediately follows that that person is a propagandist (ie, a person that spreads propaganda).

I'll look into Ted's longer comments.
As a general point, this post does not assail ideologies, but claims that we enter a time of pragmatic realism.
It does not exclude humanist values, but it is no longer ideological in essence.
I suspect people, especially in developed countries, will become more and more fed up with ideological stances, but not as a proof of materialism, consumerism, or bureaucratisation of the society. But rather because a time of Rationalism similar to the Enlightenment is about to begin.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:18:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you say that someone's public opinions are propaganda, it immediately follows that that person is a propagandist

Nope.

Noun    1.    propagandist - a person who disseminates messages calculated to assist some cause or some government

A propagandist is disseminating propaganda consaciously for a cause. But, if s/he is successful, non-propagandists will buy into it, and propagate it further.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 01:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I somehow missed the link for the dictionary quote.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigh. Yes. And disseminating messages calculated to assist .... is called "propaganda".

So a propagandist is disseminating propaganda. Period.

So if I say that your public posts amount to propaganda, I actually implicitely called you a propagandist.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:37:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You really have a problem understanding basic semantics. Or logic. From (A does B) + (C does B) doesn't follow that A = C.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lessons of logic from an ideologue? :)

prop⋅a⋅gan⋅dist  [prop-uh-gan-dist] Show IPA Pronunciation  
–noun 1.    a person involved in producing or spreading propaganda.

dictionary.reference.com

if your opinions are propaganda
and
if you spread your opinions by repeating them on a public forum

it follows that you spread propaganda
=you are a propagandist.

Just like I said before: even when evidence is in front of you, you still won't have it.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:30:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In all ages, people tend to become fed up with old ideologies, the phrases of which became over-used. New ideologies in turn tend (as in their time neoconservatism, socialism, liberalism etc. have been) to present themselves as pragmatic, realist, common sense, obvious truth. (In fact fanatics fail to distinguish objective and subjective and thus to question their own views.)

Then again, in our present time, it's less the rise of new ideologies that I see (neolib/neocon views seem beyond their nadir), more blank opportunism. Sarko is the most obvious example across Europe, though in a much smoother way, Merkel (nut unlike her predecessor Schröder) also displays it. It's not that I entirely disagree with you about their pragmatism, more that I see a pragmatism of power -- the knowledge how to stay afloat while the balance in public opinion, the political elite, and among economic players moves. There are for example the 180-degree turns in Sarko's and Merkel's economic rhetoric.

a time of Rationalism similar to the Enlightenment is about to begin.

Would that be! Sadly, I see too much nationalism (in my region), xenophoby (further West), religious nuttery (US creationists), personalisation-emotionalisation of any issue (chiefly TV media) to believe it even for just the West.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 01:25:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pragmatism implies aims. Most so-called pragmatism is really just realpolitik - which is an ideology of its own.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 01:59:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me to point out: reason lacks aims, it is only a tool to approach aims (and also to make aims more coherent). Thus Rationality alone doesn't tell much about where we are heading (politically).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:09:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Melo, I think, already said that.

Rationalism is a tool, and it doesn't tell the society where it should go, but allows the society to discover its ideals, then helps and accompanies the society on that road.
Ideologies start from an axiom, and struggle to bring the society there, more or less forcefully.
It's not a "society without highminded goals", but about freedom to discover them and and of how to reach them.
Like, instead of telling a young girl she should become a nurse, you make sure she's well educated and has an array of choices, and allow her to discover herself her own way.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:32:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is atheism a religion of its own?

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:25:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is relevant, how?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:44:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saying that absence of ideology constitutes an ideology in itself is similar to saying that the absence of religion is itself a kind of religion.
Well, atheism is just the absence of it. Period.

When there is no ideology, there just isn't any. Full stop.
Only an ideologue can argue that stating that is in itself an ideology.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:53:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't say that absence of ideology constitutes an ideology.

I said that Realpolitik is hardly an absence of ideology.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:56:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and that pragmatism is mostly real-politik. But pragmatism, or realism, is the refuse of ideology.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:04:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think perhaps you a more advised understanding of Realpolitik could be useful. :)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't discussing real-politik, but pragmatism. You said it's mostly real politik. Me, I don't think so. So I didnt deny real-politik being an ideology :) but pragmatism being so (which was your implicit statement).

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:41:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What percentage of pragmatic political decisions aren't based on implicit realpolitik?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:49:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absence of religion is called atheism. Atheism can be viewed as an ideology when the atheist tells the believer that all religion is a delusion. There is no vacuum in this material world. We always believe in one thing or the other.

As long as we are so full of our selves as we all are, there will be ideologies - some that many share with others and others that individuals bring forward and that will reflect who they are (their identity) - their past, present and future - aspirations, hopes and fears, idealism, experiences, culture, family, nation, faith, etc.

Ideologies can range from nihilism to extreme religious/political fanaticism.

I agree that in a time of global crisis at different levels (foremost economic and environmental), classic ideologies have lost some of their (original) significance because the slow reflection on how to persuade others to do things best (according to our own ideals, good and bad) has given way to pragmatism (quick solutions to urgent problems).

While some compare ideologies, others decide, put efficiency (quick results, regardless of long-term effect) first  and move on without caring about such details. This new pragmatism (or realpolitik) is an ideology that just IS. No one consciously decided on accepting it. It's an ideology that spreads so fast that many have become unaware of what it really is - not the death of ideology but an ideology that is about to become (has become?) this World's second nature.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:43:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Realpolitik has always been the default ideology. There have always been implicit balances between castes and tribal groups, but the balances shift only on the basis that idea that one group wins while others lose.

It takes effort to shift a culture in a different direction.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Atheism can be viewed as an ideology when the atheist tells the believer that all religion is a delusion.

It could be, would such views be singular and form a coherent system ("worldview"). As it happens, such views of religion are part of (or even just: result of) a great variety of worldviews.

This is a basic failure of such discourse, an erection of a false dichotomy. In fact the other side of that dichotomy, theism, is not a religion/worldview either -- it is a general class of a multitude of religions/worldviews.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:55:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You say that a general class of a multitude of worldviews or religions doesn't qualify as an ideology. In other words you have to define a given ideology, and when you speak from there or impose your ideological views on others, then you'll have an ideology whereas some general world view - that could have the same impact and be even more powerful - does not qualify as such.

I maintain that there are plenty of powerful constructs just as "pragmatism" that can or should be qualified as an ideology. Has anybody written a book about the new ideology of pragmatism and given it a name? If not, it still doesn't make it less of an ideology than the teachings of the Latter Day Saints or Marxism though we're unconscious followers of this new pragmatism.

This may be the 'erection of a false dichotomy' because of how you define it but I still believe that the idea is right.

Americans elected Barack Obama because they believed in having a choice. He will now direct the course of US politics but he won't do so alone. As all Presidents he will rely heavily on his advisers, and he is also going to seek support and advice from the "opposition". In fact, his approach is going to be pragmatic above all else; defending US (home and foreign) interests, and opposing views will become fewer in view of "the crisis". - Americans elected a President who they expected to best be able to solve the crisis. The only significant ideology opposing this raw pragmatism came from the Christian right. -
Sarkzoy was also elected for pragmatic reasons.

This ideology is "in the air" and people drink it in like they probably wouldn't if they were given a definition and time and incentives to reflect upon it. It seems there is no choice.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 04:03:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would that thirst be the result of some ideological saturation? Or because people would be more and more hedonist, egocentric, thus caring less and less about what others try to indoctrinate them with, and so freeing the road for hands-on approaches as opposed to "lunatic" ones?

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that this is not a question of "lunatics" versus "hands-on" people. It is not a question of the right winning over the left. Ideology hasn't been overcome, but the debate about it becomes mere lunatism when the right (or left) adopts methods and ideas and agents of the left (or right). The 'here and now' is so strong that it attracts all sides of the spectrum.

When this happens, what is the role of the opposition, any opposition? They hinder the natural response as dictated by pragmatism. They become lunatics, not much else. The DOERS will listen when it serves the larger cause ("survive the crisis" - whatever that may mean) and the rest, they will ignore.

This is not the death of ideology but this new 'ideology' may call for a new name. It is driven by the same force as globalisation - resisted by many. It is nurtured by fear (of terrorism), and ultimately everyone will acknowledge the need to react in face of global recession and serious environmental issues.

   

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:13:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Comment responses
I believe that this is not a question of "lunatics" versus "hands-on" people.

correct...the nth straw man V has dragged in for burning.

i'll give you one thing, V, you're one hellacious hairsplitter!
lol
:)

great comments lily, and welcome to the funny farm.

'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 Nov 22nd, 2008 at 07:06:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are both quite beside the point, if I may ! :)

Sorry for "lunatics", in case it bothered anyone - just a borrowed word to emphasize an opposition, I didn't mean any Eurotrib valuable members!
The question was, would people be fed up with ideologies, or just bored with'em, in their oh so modern hedonistic consumerism!  

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 07:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although thinking better, lunatics can be used for utopists, or people following long reaching ideals. It's not necessarily a mean word - just like deportation isn't, right. Or hellacious splitter. Who could bear a sloppy society, with ideas rolling down from Mountain Tops like BLOCKS of ROCKS!

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 07:37:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
never fear V, you'll always be there to test them for purity before rolling them up again!

i for one, feel enormously safer for your efforts.

:)

'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 Nov 22nd, 2008 at 08:09:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one begged any of you guys to come commenting, actually - a few well crafted slogans would have sufficed to this provocateur :)

(but then yourself only bothered with straw men - wazzarealmotive! some rightwing scheme for sure; nevermind then: you, I won't protect! :) )

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 08:29:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right about old ideologies, in fact if you look at this diary entry, others have postulated the death of ideologies in the '60s already, just before the "civil rights" revolution begin!

You call it opportunism because you have an ideological point of view. Like I said before, when Sarko took employment-aid measures, others accused him of being an ideological turncoat. He replied, I still say subsidized contracts are not good, but this is a crisis situation and I am a pragmatist.
Why exclude the possibility that these people (Sarko, Blair, Clinton etc) actually have their nations' best interests in view, and nothing else? Why call anything not fitting into some narrowminded ideological Procust-bed "opportunism" (implying ill will)?


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:24:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ValentinD:
rather because a time of Rationalism similar to the Enlightenment is about to begin

Perhaps then you should sub-title your diary "Is Rationalism Born?"?

I do help you hope so. From where I'm sitting, my impression remains that an opposite trend is dominant in important European countries - a slow slide into increasing polarities and divisive politics fed by increasing populist tendencies. This includes France, Italy, Netherlands, UK, Spain - whereby Sarkozy and Blair have played significant destructive roles. Anything Bill Clinton may have done was annihilated under Bush's ideologies.

Most of the daily topics we read in the Salon are sorrily embattled by populist rhetoric and all too often overshadowed by the ideological fluff of economic hoopla.

by Nomad on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 01:33:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rationalists are also unrepented Optimists :)

Bush was brought by 9/11. An accident.
Populism is brought by political correctness and the difficulty of passing a simplified message. I can assure you that Sarkozy actually believes all those things, accepts being proved wrong and the secret is to find a way to reach the people of all sensibilities, races, origins, levels of education.

Now, did any one else recently strike you as such ? :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 04:57:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
9/11 was an accident?

Really?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:17:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the Great Frame of Things that will bring Rationalim back, well, yes! An accident of the history. A bit like that arch-duke's assassination :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:43:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not going to comment on "an accident" which is, to understate my feelings, rather unfortunately phrased.

Dutch politics has had a long reputation of being pragmatic. This was likely partly facilitated because of the coalition structure that is necessary to form a working government. Whatever it may be, during the past decades Dutch government was unafraid to tackle ideological taboos - softdrugs, euthanasia, abortion, prostitution, gay marriage to name the more outstanding ones. The immigration and integration issues were underestimated, came at the surface during the late nineties and remain unresolved - which goes for most of Europe. As I've analysed somewhere else, the political centre in the Netherlands is actually on the decrease - giving way to populist movements of Geert Wilders (hard-right) and the Socialist Party (conservative hard-left). Both parties, but particularly the xenophobic Wilders, are characterised by exclusive and divisive policies. Currently the Dutch government is formed among others by a Christian bloc which has been for the past year eroding pragmatic policies (creep on drug policy, prostitution, euthanasia regulations) and pushing to strengthen their own ideological world-image (laws of blasphemy surreptitiously being hardened).

In other words, and given the reputation that the Netherlands have long paved ahead in pragmatic solutions to ideologically generated problems, I remain unconvinced of the thrust of your argument that world politics is on the brink of renouncing ideological policies and embracing pragmatic solutions. To the contrary. There's a long way to go.

by Nomad on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 10:55:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are studies showing that it is not the goals of those dutch policies that were wrong, but the way they went about it (ie, many prostitutes remained in a precarious state, drug traffic didn't get lower). Failure to reach pragmatic goals does not necessarily mean that the goals were wrong, but maybe approached with little competence.

Immigrant and religious issues in particular (the main causes for populist movements' revival) were approached badly, from a communitarian viewpoint, without thinking about how those communities' values go together, and where communitarian isolation leads.

I suspect the dutch case was less about true pragmatism, and more about experimenting libertarianism to the extreme.

And then, pragmatism alone isn't enough, IMO, and it fails in real-politik; it must be accompanied by rationalism and humanism and implemented by brilliant people. The idea of "hope" that transfigured America needed someone of the value of Obama. The French right needed Sarkozy's genius. I don't see who could replace them.

It follows that such approaches would need exceptional figures. But maybe they also stimulate their apparition. Because of Obama, maybe more Obamas will dare and make it through.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will repeat myself: The current political trend is an ideological reversing of pragmatic solutions, that is, closer towards an end of pragmatic compromise.

ValentinD:

Failure to reach pragmatic goals does not necessarily mean that the goals were wrong, but maybe approached with little competence.

Please point out where I wrote that the goals have failed? Granted, the existing policies are in themselves not flawless, used as strawmen by the christian parties, but the only way people found out about the holes was by executing them. The goals were regulating euthanasia, abortion, prostitution, legislating gay marriage, and the condoning of soft drugs. All of them work a lot better than the alternative.

Your argue for a rise of pragmatism - I counter that in the Netherlands the reverse trend is visible and what? You argue back that Dutch pragmatism was... not pragmatic and not successful?

Please. Try again, or at minimum show me how they aren't successful. Just claiming that they aren't is not sufficient.

by Nomad on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:18:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only reason I see for ideological reversals, in the Netherlands or elsewhere, is basically about one and only one issue: muslim immigration/integration.

This, for me, is on one hand explained by the 9/11 accident that brought the same kind of polarisation in the US;
on the other hand, this issue is an example of how libertarian approaches fail.

You may see those issues you list as pragmatic policies, but you may also note that it is an enumeration of all the now famous civil rights that have become the Creed of the last 30 years. You may also see them as libertarian policies - ie, ideological.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:34:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "Creed" practically began in the Netherlands - some 30 years ago. These policies are debated and integrated elsewhere because it has been shown that they contribute systematically to a better and more fair society compared to one without those policies.

Reclassifying them as purely "libertarian" is not convincing at all - let me stress, again, these policies have been hammered out between a range of political parties - since coalitions are the only way the Netherlands can be governed. But well, if you keep insisting, I suggest you quickly start changing the Wiki page on soft drugs policy in the Netherlands:

Drug policy of the Netherlands - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is a pragmatic policy.

Bold mine. And while you're at it, also brush up the policy on prostitution - which is based on the similar rational: harm reduction.

But that's not the biggest problem: you're simply beyond wrong if you want to pin this solely on the immigration/integration debate - it either shows how little you have been following political developments in the Netherlands the past 10-12 years, or, that you receive your information/news from filtered (ideologically tainted?) sources.

by Nomad on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:25:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Western society has become more and more libertarian, these last 30-40 years. The emphasis on individual rights as opposed to restrictions and constraints of any kind has grown stronger and stronger, bordering on egocentrism. The same ideology applied to economics brought us the current financial events.
The Netherlands has been a pioneer of social libertarianism. No more taboos - the ideology claimed. "Taboos are artificial, man-made, mere social constructs, even means to control the society, with no real meaning, and limiting citizen freedoms, civil rights."
This is libertarianism. One can see this as life itself, natural evolution, another could argue that that view comes from within ideology - a bit like declaring that the sun spins around the earth.

Following the two WWs and consequence of a rigid society, libertarianism imposed itself, along with the exaggerations and biases normal in this kind of situations. Or between two extremes, there is place for a more measured, less activist approach.

To return to the Netherlands (a country I'm deeply fond of - but don't ask me why): I would be more careful about raising political compromise to the rank of Pragmatism.
(I often consult Wikipedia, but I hang to my critical thinking too)

As to the immigration debate, if you look at previous posts, it is you who seemed to consider it as the main reason for the recent political polarizations.
I added that the causes seem to be  9/11 and the bad compromise about multiculturalim, which is quite far from being or even resembling a fruit of rationalism.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 08:34:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I write that the current polarization is linked to the immigration/integration debate (but again, it is not that simplistic). However, I do not write that the current assault on (what I will continue to call) pragmatic policies are linked to that one issue. You however interpreted as the reason of "ideological reversals" and this is simply not true.

Anyway, we're talking past each other. I don't think there is any way forward in this debate if you persist in conflating "libertarian" with "pragmatic" when it suits you at the drop of a hat to frame policies as "ideological". I think it's intentionally shifting the goalposts.

At this point you will have to make abundantly clear to me what your vision is of pragmatic solutions for issues such as soft drugs policy, prostitution, euthanasia, abortion, gay marriage, immigration, integration, etc. Perhaps you could additionally make clear: can't libertarian rational sometimes not be pragmatic?

Better use another dairy for that; this thread is full...

by Nomad on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 08:11:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we talking past each other? It is not my feeling, with all due respect.

The idea that the Dutch Approach would be pragmatic and modern is fundamental in your argumentation.
IMO, it is a compromise  - as in:  we seek common ground rather than the truth and the best solution.  This may still be pragmatic, but it is no longer automatically so.

My second thought: those compromises were made in a libertarianism-impregnated society, hence heavily influenced by ideology, starting with the postulate that it is wrong to forbid, to limit, to punish; that effort, constraint, traditional principles, are basically wrong (broadly speaking). That was not an independent thinking framework.
For a long time now intellectual elites progagate libertarian positions, the civil rights idea always there (who can oppose a right, right), the modern thing to be, bashing when a majority dares to go against the current, framing as bigot, or dictatorial anyone daring to think differently.
This is just political correctness. Democratical vote should be accepted, even if it doesn't arrange one side. That's the essence of democracy, not insulting the others as bigots, deluded, well, idiotic buttheads, really. We'll show'em, they can't stop the wave!
This is not ok. Libertarianism is an ideology, as you can easily find, and like any other, it sometimes denies free speech (in this case, as obsolete, against-freedom, narrowminded, or simply stupid).

This doesn't mean we should return to a rigid society, but to more rational, mutually respectful attitudes. Wild exaggerations in order to win a point by fist-in-the-mouth postures always provoke a counter-reaction. It shouldn't necessarily be taken as lack of pragmatism.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Words are the canopial tips of semantic trees in a forest of different meanings. Words in phrases often create metaphors, analogues and similes that are hints to how statements might be interpreted or thought about.

To say that 'atheism is a religion' is, like the curate's egg, only good in parts. The full phrase, were it a hint, would be something like 'Think about atheism as a religion'. Saying that one thing is another is different from saying think about one being the other.

There is a fuzziness involved in the latter that some of us enjoy, and some of us don't. Some of us like riddles, some don't.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 12:19:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like a nice riddle.  And I appreciate the ambiguity.  And I am even able to conceive of atheism as a religion and pragmatism as an ideology.  Everything is matter of degrees; absolutes on paper rarely are in practice.  But when I think of ideology and pragmatism, it seems, to me, in practice, the former gives more weight to the nobility of an idea, and the latter, to the measurable effects of an idea.  Ideologies contain an implicit assumption that they are valid, whereas pragmatism has to prove itself valid.  As I've seen illustrated in this thread, ideologies resent event being questioned.  Forget that unions all over America are epic failures - unions are good, and how dare we question that?  Ideologies are like religions - they tend  to resist changing to incorporate new realities.  And if you suggest they do, someone is going to call you a heathen.  Look at Milton Friedman.  The idea was beautiful in its perfection.  Almost destroyed the whole world.  Must have been something else - such a beautiful idea could not have cause such suffering.  Unless suffering was part of the plan.  Yeah - that's it.   People must sacrifice themselves for the vitality of a beautiful idea.  All of the isms and religions may find their way to this inevitable point.  I, myself, think that if we are entering an age where a beautiful idea can be sacrificed for the vitality of the people, that's probably a good thing.

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 01:21:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was going to agree with all of your above - until you mentioned 'beauty' ;-)

Now there's a word looking for a refreshed definition...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:01:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, you know that was difficult to write, too...   I'm playing my own Devil's advocate.

FWIW, I'm using a Schillerian (that's not even a word, I am sure) definition of beauty.  Which I think is quite sufficient.  I'm an ideologue like that.

Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

by poemless on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:12:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As long as you know what it means....;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 03:13:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In my diary update, I gave the example of the free market ideology in the form of an interview of Eliot Spitzer in Washington Post yesterday.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 05:08:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole problem is, according to this Roman Catholic priest, the spread of education.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/3464073/Educated-Catholics-have-sown-dissent-and -confusion-in-the-Church-claims-bishop.html

"The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church's teaching they are "hedonistic", "selfish" and "egocentric", he said. In particular, the bishop complained that influential Catholics in politics and the media were undermining the Church."

It was so much better in medieval times when RC ideology explained everything.

by asdf on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 11:39:57 PM EST
And what's your opinion on this, are people more and more hedonistic, egocentrical ? :)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 05:45:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My opinion is that the purpose of organized religion is to get people to obey, and the ideology professed at a given point in time is a hodge-podge of tradition and convention organized to support the religious leaders' positions of power. Having a book filled with contradicting instructions that you can quote out of context is a good starting point when constructing the ideology.
by asdf on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 09:08:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you'd like to bring some of this discussion around gender inequalities and the impact of societal norms in reinforcing gender roles then you may be interested in taking a look at my FP story today
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:13:52 PM EST
Thanks, I wanted to react to your last post on that, on the other thread, but I didn't find either the time, or the place for it. Maybe I'll do it there.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:30:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe non-Anglo-Saxons in general are more sensitised to the difference of either deliberately sending people to a concentration camp or the Gulag, places that were explicitly created to punish or harm or kill people, - or else to send them to their presumed country of origin because citizen laws restricts the rights of people to remain in any given country.

If both are put on the same level, it also implies that the deporting country is somehow responsible for the situation (from lower standard of living to starvation, from restrictive authoritarian regimes to killing fields) that people will find in their 'home' country.
The idea is that asylum-seekers will ask for asylum for a good reason and that it will be granted when the reasons are considered valid by local authorities. Those are the rules.

If there are 'legal holes' in this system, there is injustice and people are forced out of the country only to find torture and death, there is a problem that must be addressed differently.

To question the reality of deportations as they take place today (not just their scope) also questions the value of citizenship as such. Doesn't it?

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 05:36:13 AM EST
SORRY! - The comment is in the wrong place; I'm only a beginner at ET... :o
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 05:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 08:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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