Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why Not Try Socialism?

The NDP is having a really hard time these days. They don't seem to know who they are -- and Canadians don't know who they are either. Rick Salutin  writes that perhaps its time for the party to return to its roots -- not because returning to the past is a good idea, but because socialism is making a comeback:

Maybe it’s time to go back to Coke Classic, by which I mean socialism. I don’t say this out of nostalgia, it’s sheer opportunism based on empirical evidence. Because, consider the recent, shocking revival of the term:

Bernie. He says he’s a democratic socialist and always was. It should’ve sunk him when he ran for mayor in Vermont in 1981, but he went on to Congress, the Senate, then hijacked this year’s Democratic presidential race and exacted a partly “socialist” platform in return for supporting Hillary.

Corbyn. Very old-fashioned leftist, without Bernie’s personal appeal. (God, I miss him.) Corbyn’s a postwar Atlee or Nye Bevan British socialist. But he’s moved his party and many beyond it. Even for a clear relic, “socialism” has been a plus.

Hillary. Hold the guffaws. Her sole contribution to political jargon has been, “It takes a village.” It’s not her coinage but she adopted it. That sounds to me like another way to say socialism.

 But the really persuasive evidence can be found in the young:

The young today know the economy may never let them own a detached home, or even a car, and they’re making peace with that. When you turn 16 now, you don’t immediately run to get your learner’s permit. That’s a sea change from earlier times.

What do they care passionately about? Connectivity. If they had to choose between a house (and car) or the Internet, there’d be no hesitation. I’m not restating the messianic claims made 25 years ago about some revolutionary transformation of human nature due to the Internet. But I do think there’s been an anthropological shift in the baseline of what counts as normal, day-to-day human experience.

Till now – since forever – one of the ongoing, always underlying human states of being was aloneness, out of which you stepped often into social contact and then back again. Society was never absent but you weren’t surprised to slide in and out of solitude. I don’t mean anything romantic; just nobody around at the moment and that’s fine.

Now the default state is connectivity. People don’t disconnect as they move from home to work or just dart out to the store. They, especially the young, are always connected. They wake in the middle of the night and check where their friends are. They don’t panic if they go offline (adults more so than youth, I’ve found) but what’s normal is connectedness.

Perhaps Mr. Salutin has a point.

Image: noebie.net


Lorne said...

We just watched Michael Moore's latest documentary, "where To Invade Next," Owen. While at times quite simplistic, it reminded me of how much more European in sensibilities and values than American we are. I often think that one of our greatest impediments as a country is the fact that we are so close to the U.S. physically, and therefore subjected to a constant barrage of propaganda from 'the greatest country on earth.' Were that not the case, I think the term 'socialism' would not be, for some Canadians and politicians, a dirty word.

Owen Gray said...

Historically, we've always had a mixed economy, Lorne, realizing that a big country with a small population can't let certain goods and services be market driven. However, in the United States, the mantra has always been, "The best way is our way." Our former prime minister bought that hogwash -- hook, line and sinker.

Steve said...

Socialism really works when the people work. If you take the best from Singapore and Austria you have a enviable lifestyle. Two bedrock tenants, affordable housing and public transportation.

Owen Gray said...

Neo-liberalism has equated socialism with communism, Steve. The two concepts are distinctly different from each other.

Anonymous said...

If by Socialist society you mean that we do not neccessarily own our home but rent affordable price controlled accomodation , it could work.
Socialism could also mean that we may not own a car , but have good public transportation!
This would give those with lesser paying jobs the opportunity to live with little debt.


Owen Gray said...

Socialism rests on the simple premise that there is such a thing as society -- something which Mrs. Thatcher said didn't exist, TB.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

That's a really interesting observation by Rick Salutin Owen, that the young are passionate about connectivity. As you posted the other day referring to Henry A. Giroux statement that Neoliberalism atomized people, this in itself is reason enough to bring socialism back.

It's interesting Owen in Canada all of the social programs like UI, Health Care, Pensions etc were implemented by our governments at the behest of the people. The Canadian government did not on its own create and implement these progams. That was a time when governments listened to the people and the people showed they wanted socialism. That's true democracy.

On the other hand the Harper government did not implement Neoliberal policies at the behest of the Canadian people. He excluded Canadians completely from the decision making and did most of his policy making behind close doors. Neoliberalism was imposed on Canadians.

What I also find interesting is that our welfare state is tied to our democracy so that when leaders like Harper and maybe Trudeau want to rid of socialism, their dismantling of our democracy, is also the dismantling of our socialist welfare state.

Socialism can only be created by sovereign, independent nations. This is why the global neoliberals ultimately want to destroy sovereign nations along with these nations democracies.

The biggest threat to neoliberalism both domestically and globally is socialism.

Ray Blessin said...

1. Begin to reduce university tuition with a goal to elimination.
(One of Glen Clark's goals)
2. $10 (or $0) per day day-care (Quebec does it for $7!)
3. Eliminate MSP premiums. Ours is the only Province that has them!
4. Stop PPPs and IPPs!
5. Eliminate transit fares! Imagine! - Just imagine the effect!
All that’s needed is the political will! (We wouldn’t be the first.)
6. Establish a Provincial Bank. (Remember W.A.C.'s Bank of BC? What happened to it?)
Check out the Bank of North Dakota http://banknd.nd.gov/
(Credit unions ALL donate money to the "Liberal" party!)
Check it out, search for “credit union” here:
7. Take back BC Hydro from Accenture! (Not to mention Corix, Kinder Morgan, & Fortis.)
Take a cue from Manitoba!
8. Re-gain control of BC Ferries. (Build the boats here.)
9. Stop the repeated plundering of ICBC.
10. STOP privatization. (Try to reverse it.)
11. Properly fund health-care and education!
(A no-brainer if there ever where one.)
12. Raise taxes! (It's called sharing)

Back in the day, when Tommy Douglas would hear a voice in the crowd shouting, "WHERE'S THE MONEY GOING TO COME FROM?

Well, Tommy would say: "It'll come from those that have it!"

Owen Gray said...

I have no doubt that Tommy would be mortified by the evolution -- or devolution -- of his party, Ray.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Pam. And, as Salutin says, those who believe socialism is dead have been misinformed.

John B. said...

"Those who have it" have already warned us that they'll take the money with them and flee to Libertopia. Obama should have called their bluff when the bankers and vultures threatened a capital strike.

In my recollection Mulroney was the Canadian politician who introduced to a national audience the practice of employing sneering references to "socialism" and "the socialists". He might have picked it up from Pocklington during the campaign to trash Joe Clark, or maybe he'd already caught it from the Yanks he used to sing for back in school days in Baie-Comeau and then later in the boardroom at IOC. The habit caught on quickly after the man-children from the Goldwater and Let's-Free-Enterprise clubs began working their way out of their parents' basements into the EDAs.



Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, John. Migrant worker programs in several countries are a direct consequence of neo-liberal economic policies. They are, in effect, 21st century versions of debtors prisons.

Anonymous said...

Lets face it ; Socialism is alive and well for large companies!
Social values may be a tough sell in this age of 'me first'
I ask.
Is there a real desire for Socialism or is the desire just for the redistribution of wealth?
Many people are annoyed that they cannot afford a house or car ; is that a realistic goal?
Is that all life is about: ownership?


Steve said...

Migrant worker programs are the modern equivilant of indentured slavery. Its explotation no matter how you frame it.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Steve. It's the New Feudalism.

Owen Gray said...

Good question, TB. The economic Masters of the Age maintain that private property represents the apex of human evolution. There are some things, however, which should be held in common.

Anonymous said...

Owen, consider this!


Buying a 'home' can be a burden on those that can afford the purchase but not the maintenance!!!
This is why we see 'white trash neighbourhoods".
The world is filled with ideas to further credit and banking so as to continue the fallacy of unfettered growth.
The longer we ( of a certain age) live the more scams we see to continue the illusion!

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Anon:

"Thatcher's idea is now at a point of crisis. Housebuilders are not building enough houses, and the proportion of people owning their own homes has been falling since 2007. People have long ago found that it does not always make you free to be shackled to a mortgage, still less if you cannot cross the increasingly high threshold into ownership. In London and the south-east, businesses lament the effects on them of expensive housing caused by the lack of mobility of potential workers."

The financial meltdown of 2008 was caused by an obsession with home ownership. There were some people who simply couldn't afford the mortgages.