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Equality or barbarism?

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CHIMO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 08:37 AM
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Equality or barbarism?
Its a pleasure to give this years Charles R. Bronfman Lecture in Canadian Studies. And for this honour I am most appreciative to the University of Ottawa. I said its a pleasure to give the lecture because it gives me the opportunity to say something about current Canadian politics by which I dont mean the daily fluff of Question Period, but rather the broader, more alarming trend of contemporary thought and practice.

Its become a truism to say that we are living through the most serious economic crisis since the 1930s. Clearly we could have used the past two years to rethink current assumptions about politics and economics and go in a new direction, as did happen in the aftermath of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Have we done this? On the contrary, the evidence is that Canada plans to stay put. Once the current stimulus package is completed next spring, the 2008 pre-crisis status quo will be re-established. How did we get there?

Writing in The New Yorker magazine two years ago, David Frum, the Canadian born speech-writer for George Bush, asserted that the conservative revolution launched by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s had as its specific purpose the rolling back of social democracy in the Anglo-American world. Thats probably not how the Thatcher-Reagan project would have been described by an American, for whom, as we saw in the debate last year on health-care reform, social democracy is largely an alien concept. But its not surprising that Frum would think in these terms. He was, after all, born and raised here in Canada, in a political culture where the broad social and economic values established after the Second World War have commonly been described as social democratic; and I think his formulation does capture what that conservative revolution of the 1980s and 90s meant, in its attack on all the great advances of the postwar era. The idea, as Nobel Prize winner in economics, Paul Krugman, has pointed out, was to get government down to the size where it could be drowned in a bathtub. (Krugman was quoting another conservative.)

So what was the situation here in Canada, in the U.S. and the U.K. that so disturbed these new conservatives? I will try to put it in context. Virginia Woolf once said that following WWI, there was a widespread yearning for the pre-war years. That was certainly not the case following World War II and the Great Depression of the 1930s. There was no such atavistic desire for a rerun of the past. On the contrary, throughout the advanced democratic capitalist economies there were virtually unanimous calls for social reconstruction. A young English soldier writing home from Italy just before the wars end, had this to say:

We have almost won the war, at the highest price ever paid for victory. If you could see the shattered misery that once was Italy, the bleeding countryside and the wrecked villages, if you could see Cassino, with a bomb-created river washing green slime through a shapeless rubble that a year ago was homes, you would realize more than ever that the defeat of Hitler and Mussolini is not enough, by itself, to justify the destruction, not just of 20 years of fascism, but too often of 20 centuries of Europe.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/87613...
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 09:50 AM
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1. Thanks for this, it is excellent...
and well worth the read. Ed Broadbent is one of the few politicians for whom I have great respect. I would, however, quibble about one thing and that is his lack of criticism for his party as well in this excellent lecture. The NDP is not innocent in how we got from where we were to where we are, imo, especially the NDP under Mr. Layton.
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CHIMO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:20 PM
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2. Well
If you want to get from here to there, it will be harder if you diss someone off.
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:42 PM
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3. Leaving out one party that holds some responsibility for the current...
environment while "dissing" all others doesn't get us from there to here either. Mr. Broadbent's lecture was excellent but, by not apportioning any responsibility to his own party, he dilutes his message and that is unfortunate, imo.
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CHIMO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 01:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. OK
I don't think that his words will make any change in the Conservative nor Liberal thinking. He still will have some influence in the NDP.

But that would be my approach.
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 01:30 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. What influence would you see happening?
I am genuinely curious.
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CHIMO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 06:15 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. For An Example
The principles given in his speech.

If he were to criticize his party openly it might cause a split. If he can influence others to his ideas then he waits for the time where his ideas are accepted as the correct direction to take. In all this I am not making any statement on the NDP. In fact back in the 2006 election I recommended that the NDP not attack the Liberals but only attack Harper. My thoughts were that if Harper increased the number of seats in that election then in the next election voters would possibly turn to the NDP.

In any event, politics is the art of the possible. So until the worm turns we don't need more arguments inside the opposition parties. Once Harper is weakened, I expect that the opposition to his rule, from within his own party, will put him out of business.

Back to your question. I believe that he still has quite an influence in the NDP and within the general population.
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. You make some very good points...
I certainly agree he is still held in high regard with his party and Canadians as a whole. The only point I would disagree with is that Canadians would not turn to the NDP, they never have and the NDP's average support is 15% and has been for a very long time. I am not adverse to seeing it happen I just don't think it will.
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