'Common good' rediscovered


Avro
No Party Affiliation
#1
November 04, 2008
Linda McQuaig

The pivotal moment for me in the U.S. presidential campaign came during the Republican convention last August, when Rudolph Giuliani couldn't get the words "community organizer" out of his mouth without laughing.
After eight years of Republican rule – during which the rich happily trampled on the poor in their rush to the Wall Street trough – the notion that someone would organize the poor to assert their rights struck both Giuliani and his Republican audience as simply funny.
If Republicans fail today in their efforts to keep the poor from voting, Barack Obama will end up president of the United States. The fact that his early instincts led him to try to organize the powerless rather than hop onto the corporate ladder suggests a taste for meaningful democracy. This has stirred hopes that Obama may be the transformative leader so many – in the U.S. and around the world – have yearned for.
Obama has shown little inclination to alter the dismal pattern of U.S. foreign policy. But he does seem potentially poised to do something else of great importance – to begin reversing the immense damage done by the neo-conservative revolution launched several decades ago by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
In fact, conditions for an assault on this vicious economic revolution could not be better. The disastrous administration of George W. Bush – culminating in the current financial meltdown – has exposed the deep flaws of unbridled capitalism.
Turning the ship around won't be easy. Pushed by powerful interests, neo-conservative policies – tax cuts, social spending cuts, privatization, deregulation – have become the basic tool kit of Anglo-American governments in recent years, including, of course, Canadian governments.
Indeed, the Reagan-Thatcher model has taken on the authority of a religion – "the market as god," as Harvard theologian Harvey Cox has dubbed it. Its core belief holds that society is an economic jungle where all just advance their own interests. Shunted aside has been the notion of society as a co-operative effort in which everyone has certain rights as well as responsibilities, and that together we work toward a "common good."
Obama has reintroduced the language of the "common good" and "social responsibility," and he's made some policy promises – on taxes, social spending and regulation – that lead in that direction.
But whether this opportune moment is truly seized will depend on more than Obama's inclinations. It's one thing to have the democratic instincts of a community organizer. It's quite another to have the fortitude – even in the Oval Office – to resist the demands of the powerful, with their control of the media and the economy.
Ultimately, rolling back the neo-conservative revolution will depend on the ability of the public to keep the heat on Obama by organizing campaigns, by pressuring elected officials, by marching in the streets if necessary. Only by providing a counterweight to the power of the elite can ordinary citizens compel Obama to deliver on the extraordinary expectations he's aroused.
Here in Canada, the moment is no less ripe.
In the federal election last month, a mere 37.6 per cent of Canadians voted for the winning Conservative party, which remains deeply mired in the Reagan-Thatcher ideas – ideas that are hopefully soon to be out of favour in the White House.
If ever there was a moment for people everywhere to begin pushing back against the neo-conservative edifice that has so damaged the common good, that moment begins after the celebrations tonight.

Toronto Star
 
darkbeaver
Republican
#2
It's amazing that people who should know better still can't help investing in the pretender. Maybe it's a sign of desperate times when we abandon what we know to chase sparkling glass beads and pipe dreams.
 
scratch
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by darkbeaverView Post

It's amazing that people who should know better still can't help investing in the pretender. Maybe it's a sign of desperate times when we abandon what we know to chase sparkling glass beads and pipe dreams.

We don't know or haven't experienced desperation as they did in WWII, the Great Depression and WWI.
People today feel that they can buy themselves out of a jam. What they don't know is that they are being had.
scratch
 
darkbeaver
Republican
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by scratchView Post

We don't know or haven't experienced desperation as they did in WWII, the Great Depression and WWI.
People today feel that they can buy themselves out of a jam. What they don't know is that they are being had.
scratch

Double plus for sure. And we don't know because our education has been ****.
 
darkbeaver
Republican
#5
Campaign rubbish America’s vacuous presidential campaigning

By Paul J. Balles (external - login to view)

3 November 2008

Paul J. Balles explains why “listening to America's presidential candidates debate has been akin to getting too close to a compost heap that has only evolved to a rich dung heap”.

Why do political candidates insist on talking rubbish? I know, "rubbish" isn't a nice, sophisticated descriptive term, but it fits. "Nonsense" is too generous, and there are a few others that really shouldn't get into print.

Let me cite some more sophisticated reactions to the same experience:

Max Fraad Wolff, an instructor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University, points to a disconnect between the economic crisis and the lack of meaningful discussion in the presidential race: "We are still talking tax cuts – despite a forecast of a 1-trillion-dollar budget deficit. We are still talking energy independence – despite the fact there is no chance of that."

Mario Murillo, associate professor of Communication at Hofstra University in New York, faults John McCain who "...talks about the [Alvaro] Uribe regime [in Colombia] as 'the best ally of the US in the hemisphere' that deserves a free trade agreement with Washington, demonstrating quite clearly how disconnected he is from the reality on the ground".

Murillo also notes that Obama "...needs to be updated about the major contradictions surrounding the Uribe government, including its links with paramilitary death squads on the US State Department's terrorism list. The popular movement is screaming out as we speak, and nobody up north seems to be listening!"

One might expect American presidential candidates to be adequately informed about what's going on in South American countries.

Before the last debate, Barack Obama prodded McCain to raise an issue the McCain camp has been using to attack Obama's character by trying to identify him with one-time terrorist activities of the "Weatherman" group. Obama responded:

“Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago. Forty years ago, when I was eight years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts,” Mr. Obama said. “Ten years ago, he served and I served on a board that was funded by one of Ronald Reagan’s former ambassadors and close friends, Mr Annenberg.”

Instead of doing his homework, McCain and his vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, going into "rubbish" mode, saw an opportunity to attack.

What a waste of time and effort by two candidates for the next president of the US. While the candidates have given only brief lip service to the issue of the economy – American and not much world economy – they have hardly dabbled with other important issues. While wasting time repeating the mantras they've been preaching for months, they haven't even taken up the serious issues related to the financial crises.

They repeat and repeat "what my tax programme will do, what my position is on health care, what we should do about developing renewable energy", without ever revealing important details of what they will do.

What they say they will do and what they can do are two different things. Most of the positive measures either candidate has proposed would require legislation by the US Congress.

If McCain truly followed up on his promises to reform Washington, he would run amok of the majority of the US Congress. If Obama kept his promises, he would have to double everyone's taxes rather than giving tax breaks.

Too much of American presidential politics is repetitious rubbish that eventually turns listeners off. People stop listening. TV pundits deceive themselves into believing that viewers still care after 19 months of campaigning with the same worn slogans and updated personal attacks.

Listening to America's presidential candidates debate has been akin to getting too close to a compost heap that has only evolved to a rich dung heap.
 
Avro
No Party Affiliation
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by darkbeaverView Post

It's amazing that people who should know better still can't help investing in the pretender. Maybe it's a sign of desperate times when we abandon what we know to chase sparkling glass beads and pipe dreams.



Now that you have gone back on your word of ignoring me perhaps you could tell all the good folks here at CanCon why it is you don't move to Cuba and flee the system you spew hate at ad nauseam.

You can talk the talk beave but are gutless when it comes to walking the walk.
 
barney
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by scratchView Post

We don't know or haven't experienced desperation as they did in WWII, the Great Depression and WWI.
People today feel that they can buy themselves out of a jam. What they don't know is that they are being had.
scratch

Yeah, but I have the same education as most and I don't go believing a market run by profiteers is suddenly going to to turn around and save me. People may work like dogs but they're still lazy bums when it comes to things of an intellectual nature.
 
Tyr
Free Thinker
#8
One might expect American presidential candidates to be adequately informed about what's going on in South American countries.

Case in point would be Little Annie Oakley not knowing that Africa was a continent, not a country..

The commentary on American political aspirants is pretty much how it's been since the "RayGun" yrs. It's alot of verbose bull that they pretty much don't even believe themselves.

The closest to any of them came to even having something coherent to say has been Obama and I'd attribute that to the fact that he really didn't care what garbage the RNC dragged out, becasue there wasn't anything to drag out.

It was refreshing after 20 yrs of absolute bull (to be fair, I'm including Clinton in there as making the list along with the Bush duo and Reagan) to hear him speak about something other than the other party
 
scratch
#9
Explain.
Please.
All due respect to you.
Regards.
Sincerely
scratch
 
barney
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by scratchView Post

Explain.
Please.
All due respect to you.
Regards.
Sincerely
scratch

(I'll assume this post was for me.)

It's no secret that our society is oligarchic in nature and that the interests of that oligarchy dominate the governmental system. Even your most average of average Joes knows this. This hasn't changed since the days of the depression and the world wars. Everyone also knows that as part of the 'masses' he/she is, at some level a commodity to be used by the oligarchy for the good of the oligarchy.

You'd think that after all this time of being used, people would be able to see past the rhetoric of "fiscal responsibility" spewed in times of crisis by people who's entire existence is based on one-upping each other on your dime.

Let's face it, it's easier to believe in Camelots and other such delusions than accepting and dealing with reality. If they did, mass desperation would set in pretty quickly (shortly followed by flaming anger).
 
talloola
No Party Affiliation
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by TyrView Post

One might expect American presidential candidates to be adequately informed about what's going on in South American countries.

Case in point would be Little Annie Oakley not knowing that Africa was a continent, not a country..

The commentary on American political aspirants is pretty much how it's been since the "RayGun" yrs. It's alot of verbose bull that they pretty much don't even believe themselves.

The closest to any of them came to even having something coherent to say has been Obama and I'd attribute that to the fact that he really didn't care what garbage the RNC dragged out, becasue there wasn't anything to drag out.

It was refreshing after 20 yrs of absolute bull (to be fair, I'm including Clinton in there as making the list along with the Bush duo and Reagan) to hear him speak about something other than the other party

Right on!!!!!
 
Cliffy
Free Thinker
#12
barney,

For a purple dinosaur, you are pretty smart. What I fear is that now Obama is in, things may not change the way everyone expects. He was whisked into office by a people looking for a messiah and that is and of itself very dangerous. I don't doubt his sincerity but he is surrounded by vultures and many of his advisers are neo-con hawks.

It is beginning to look to me that we may be in for some same old, same old.
 
scratch
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by talloolaView Post

Right on!!!!!

I agree with your comment excepting `Clinton`. In my opinion a superb statesman and diplomat.
rgs
scth
 
Tyr
Free Thinker
#14
Clinton was (and still is) a superb statesman and diplomat. Unfortunately, that had very little to do with elections in the US but was rather the outward (worldly) projection of American ideals. He didn't have the politics of terror expoused by the RNC or the illegal slaughter in Iraq (courtesy of the Bush "bunglers) to contend with.

Internally he still had to contend with the evangelical loons, and the politics of extremism set forth by the RNC.

He pretty much ground the luddittes under his heel and moved the US into the 21st century (only to have it all "undo" by the bungling Bubba Bush in 8 short years)

Now it's the cyclical event where the RNC screws the country royally and the Dems come in and fix it.

It will be at the bottom of the cycle again after Obama's two terms and then they get to do it all over again
 
barney
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by CliffyView Post

barney,

For a purple dinosaur, you are pretty smart. What I fear is that now Obama is in, things may not change the way everyone expects. He was whisked into office by a people looking for a messiah and that is and of itself very dangerous. I don't doubt his sincerity but he is surrounded by vultures and many of his advisers are neo-con hawks.

It is beginning to look to me that we may be in for some same old, same old.

I'd say your assessment is pretty much on the ball except that it's dangerous only in that it will allow the status quo in the USA to continue unchallenged and that may well lead to Depression-like conditions in a few years, simply because you're still dealing with a system that naturally places no value on the lives of the masses it presides over. Hawks have to do as they're told just like everyone else, it's just that their function is to play their strong cards when there's a need to invade some oil-rich country or intervene on behalf of some dictatorship that didn't do its job and let people get out of hand.

Just to add to what I said before, I'd argue that many of the horrors of the Great Depression could have been prevented had the oligarchy had but the slightest interest in the most minimal welfare of the masses they presided over (that's ignoring their systematic repression of any groups dedicated to protecting people from the employers on whom their very lives depended). Only when the problem was beginning to negatively affect that very oligarchy did you get any kind of aid for the masses (most of which can't be starving for the oligarchy to stay wealthy). Likewise, the world wars would never have occurred if it hadn't been for the oligarchy's fear of populist movements in Europe being so great that they preferred to set the stage for a global conflict in order to suppress them (in part by distracting the population with the age-old fear of the "other").

Today, it's Obama and his administration's job to slowly manipulate people's expectations to something that doesn't threaten the oligarchy. (As to his personality, I don't think it really has that much importance in terms of the job he's there to do.)

In recent years, large sectors of the American population have been questioning things that they haven't since the days of the Depression. 9/11 and the actions of the establishment that followed have caused usually passive citizens to have trouble maintaining their fantastic belief in the benevolence of the establishment. This is not good because it's a short leap from that to viewing the establishment as little more than a tool for allowing rich people to manage poor people.

As I said before, most people are aware of this dynamic but it's unpleasant so they will follow any friendly voice that tells them otherwise. But when there is a doubt in that voice, people have a tendency to search for other answers. If none are available, they will be left with the unpleasant reality of their situation. That's when bad things happen to bad people (as opposed to good people, which is almost the exclusive norm). We can't have that right?

So, you need a new friendly voice. Since the actions of the oligarchy and the political/industrial/military establishment that they preside over has caused people unusual amounts of unpleasantness, you need a distraction with a little more spice than usual: enter Obama.

Controversy over his "left-wing tendencies" (whatever those may be) creates tension necessary to ensure that he continues to be viewed as a "radical" but still a people's leader (i.e. impressive but politically impotent "yes we can" speeches and so on). The fact that he's black and has Muslim associations but acts and talks like a politician works pretty much on the same formula (i.e. he's so "different" that the shock overwhelms objective criticism of the establishment to which he very much belongs).

I hate to reduce it to smoke and mirrors but really it's the oldest trick in the book: distract the audience from what's going on in the background. I'd agree that this is very much the same old, same old only perfected with decades--centuries actually--of practice.

To give you a minor example of how this distortion works at the party level, it's been suggested that the present president was actually coached to talk the way he does ('Bush-isms' and all). Criticism of his 'averageness' by "liberals" was seen by Americans in the mid-west and south to be an example of northern elitism and swayed those votes in favour of Bush. The Obama approach just works in reverse (i.e. they went the 'black Kennedy' route) thus enabling them to corral large potions of the population that were getting so turned off by the same show that they were becoming more open to political alternatives. Same trick, different act.

It doesn't seem to be that different here in Canada: regardless of who gets in, the establishment determines policy and the establishment is heavily influenced by our own--god luv 'em--oligarchy, which is in turn joined at the hip to the American oligarchy. Our guys are just a little less bombastic about the process.


...Sorry for the rant but I figure I should just say it and get it over with.


P.S. About my username, it's not so much a name as a description of what tends to develop when I engage in discourse of any kind--when I'm fully awake, which is rare these days.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh yes.......by the way people.........why the *uck (pardon my Quebecois) is the spellcheck in the Reply page set for American English (i.e. "neighbour" is corrected to "neighbor") on a Canadian forum website????!!!! Will definitely be talking to the administrators of this site about that one...
 
scratch
#16
Barney,

I agree about `same old same old`.

Only the names change whether here or there.

regards,
scratch
 
barney
#17
They change the be look as well--our guys are given that more "respectable" tone.

There may be an exception to the rule: like similar "social conscience" parties elsewhere in the world, some would say that the NDP is actually the closest thing you can possibly get to a viable alternative ('viable' only because it has to really adapt itself to the system in order to be accepted, meaning it becomes very much like other parties, but at least it's recognized). The moment they get into power on the other hand, their government is forced to function according to the rules and so their role is almost identical to that of any other government. Some difference has to exist, like implementing some promised social programs; not being able to do at least that would put the system's legitimacy into question--after all, it's worth giving people tidbits of socially responsible governance if that keeps them pacified (besides, you can always undo it later by getting right-wing people elected--not a difficult task given people's conditioned tendency to vote conservatively).

An NDP government would be forced to cut loose much of the party's populist elements in order to avoid coming into serious conflict with the system. Not doing so would open them to attacks from every direction that would only end in a no confidence vote and kiss any chance of winning again in this century goodbye.

As long as you keep "responsible government" within oligarchy-approved parameters, you can look forward to adding your name to a long and proud list of sell-outs--unless you mess around for your own personal benefit, that's just plain wrong (note the tar-thick coat of sarcasm on that last part).
 

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