Latest federal political opinion polls - started Friday, September 3, 2010

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NorthReport
Latest federal political opinion polls - started Friday, September 3, 2010

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NorthReport

No new poll but.....

 

Bellwether by-elections ahead

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/856298--hebert-bellwether-by-...

 

NorthReport

Harper 'Bloc bashing': MP
The Bloc's Carole Lavallée responds to Stephen Harper's comments over free parks passes

 

 

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/09/03/bloc-quebecois-propag...

Uncle John

On the previous thread in this continuum someone mentioned that the Media were always biased against the Left. I tend to look at politics in four dimensions, and the four dimensions of politics seems to have boiled down to this.

1. The Democracy/Justice/Foreign Affairs/Military/Police dimension ("State"), which is primarily concerned with whatever concept of Law and Order and Democracy of the person speaking of it. I would think the Left would be pro-Democracy, pro-the Rights of the Accused, pro-the use of Diplomacy instead of Military, and pro-the rights of people who tend to be oppressed by Police. The media are going to take either side on this group of issues. In Canada the Liberal Party used to have a home in the left here, and one of the considerable qualms people may have about Michael Ignatieff and certainly have about Stephen Harper is that they are on the right in this dimension, whereas the vast majority of Canadians are on the Left. This is how you "stand up for the little guy" without necessarily being socialist. This is where you fight against discrimination (with a utilitarian intent). Not wishing to be higher than a yellow dog, the Media loves to play on certain Dictatorial, Authoritarian, Exceptionalist, and Militaristic impulses seen on the Right here. However they do not take them seriously.

2. The Economic dimension, defined as buying and selling and marketplaces. ("Markets") I would think that the Left would be very low on the Von Mises spectrum, as it should be. Generally the Left would support government involvement in and regulation of the economy. The Libertarian right would call for as little government involvement in the economy as possible except (mostly hypocritically) on issue 1 (more police to protect My Private Property). My criticism of most conservatives who are very Law'N'Order and pro police state bureaucracy is that this stance consumes too many economic resources. The business-owned Media are going to jump to the Libertarian bingo-callers in the business sector in no matter what society you live. The NDP is generally left here (although less so than in the past), Tories and Liberals Right. Let it be free, and tax it efficiently and regulate it effectively to maximize government revenue to pay for 1., 3., and 4.

3. The Utilitarian dimension. ("Scoiety") The greatest good for the greatest number, also described as Social Policy for People. Pensions. Health Care. Food security. Welfare. Unemployment. Working Income Tax Benefits (The WhITBys Jim Flaherty loves to talk about). All of the parties have some kind of Social Policy, if they want even a glimmer of a chance of being elected. Most Conservatives believe in more or less the status quo with incremental changes backward or forward, and a vocal minority believe this dimension should not even exist. Sorry, but it does. Having a utilitarian impulse is a necessary qualification.

4. The Environmental Dimension. This is a new entrant in the field of Ideology. If you believe in Environmental Justice, Regulation, and some kind of sustainable prosperity for all, you would have already shown your leftist colours on some of the other 3.

Then again all these dimensions conflict with each other as well as having "Left" and "Right" spectrums within themselves, forming a 4 x 4 matrix. For example you could say that a peaceful society leads to a greater good for a greater number, so therefore we should have more police on the street. A "State" solution to a "Utilitarian" goal. You could say that Free Markets provide the greatest good for the top 75%, who must be gradually taxed about a third to pay for the other 25% for some kind of economic equality.

I don't think any Canadian is hard left or hard right on all 4 things, because such stances tend to lead to hypocrisy. In the same way I don't think the media can be consistently left or consistently right on all things. It is hard to pull a surprise on an eager audience if you are one-trick pony.

NorthReport

Many, or probably more accurately, most people have no idea how much progressive material does not get published by the mainstream media, because they don't want to antagonize their corporate advertisers. Sad but true. 

NorthReport

What nonsense.

 

Democratic rule turns into game of horse trading

 

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/opinion/Democratic+rule+turns+into+game+ho...

NorthReport

 

Poll showing Grits even with Tories deceiving

 

It's not that Ignatieff has caught up but that Harper has lost ground

 

 

In at least one major poll -- conducted last week for EKOS Research Associates -- the Tories and Liberals are now tied at roughly 29 per cent of voters each.

This has provoked a lot of pundits and headline writers to insist Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's summer bus tour of Canada has been a resounding success. Ignatieff has gained a second life, some have insisted. He is growing into his job as a professional politician. He has a chance to win a majority next election. He will be better in question period. His job at the head of his party is safe -- for now.

But is any or all of that true?

Despite a Toronto Star headline this week that proclaimed "Liberals pull even with Tories," the fact is that the tie between the two parties is, according to EKOS, "more of a story of Conservative losses." Rather than a story of Liberal success (and Ignatieff's rebirth), the headline could have said "Tories topple back into same abyss as Liberals."

Both of our major parties have failed to capture the public imagination or secure voters' trust. At 29 per cent, both remain well short of the roughly 40 per cent of popular vote needed to win a majority in Parliament.

At the beginning of summer, the Tories had an 11-point lead over the Liberals. Now the two are in a statistical dead heat. But this is not the result of some surge by the Liberals. Rather, over the past 12 weeks, the Tories have shed eight percentage points, while the Liberals have gained just three.

Voters simply seem to be as sour on the Tories now as they have been on the Liberals for most of the year. The Tories' momentum is undeniably dropping, but the Liberals are not exactly roaring ahead.

 

 

 

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Poll+showing+Grits+even+with+Tories+...

Debater

Looks like the Con writers like Gunter are trying to put the best spin possible on their declining fortunes.

Stuart_Parker

The really important stats in these polls are the vote-parking numbers. Even when all the undecideds are removed, around 15% of voters are picking the Greens or "some other party" (other, even when the Greens are separately tallied ofter rises as high as 4%). From second-choice preferences, we can see that this 15% is likely to break in a way that pushes the Liberals into the lead, except in Alberta where "some other party" is local Wildrose supporters hoping for a second Reform or third Social Credit. 

ottawaobserver

Someone made an interesting point to me recently that we should not assume that a party's vote breaks along the lines of its second choice support. 

Suppose the second choice of Party A breaks 2:1 for Party B over Party C, but most of Party's A firmest supporters are the same folks as the ones who pick Party C as their second-choice.  Then when Party A support starts to fall away, we'd still see most of it go to Party B, as the Party C second-choice supporters are the most hardcore Party A supporters, and would only vote for Party C if Party A no longer existed.

In other words, firmest of support and second choice may not be completely independent variables, or at least we shouldn't assume even distributions of one variable over the other, is what this person said to me.

Stuart_Parker

ottawaobserver wrote:

In other words, firmest of support and second choice may not be completely independent variables, or at least we shouldn't assume even distributions of one variable over the other, is what this person said to me.

Great point! You've melted my mind, for the better.

ottawaobserver

Pretty much what I said to the political scientist who made it to me, too.  thanks.

nicky

Ott Ob's point is illustrated by recent events in Britain. At the time of the election polls showed that the second preferences of Lib Dem voters broke about 3 to 2 in favour of Labour over the Conservatives.

Recent polls have showen that the LIb Dems have fallen from 23% in the election to about 13% with 3/4s of the fall off going to Labour. The remaining 13% now prefer the Cons by about a 4 to 3 margin. Obviously Labour, consequent on the coalition, has peeled off most of the Lib Dems who preferred Labour to the Conservatives. The Conservative minded Lib Dems have mostly stayed still, happy with the coalition.

ottawaobserver

Thanks for that interesting example, nicky.

Stockholm

Another example is how the NDP tends to win hands down as the second choice of BQ voters - yet when the BQ vote has gone down in the past it has tended to go Tory more than NDP. I think this is because the BQ backers who have the NDP as their second choice also tend to be the more committed BQ supporters while the ones who have the Tories as their second choice are more likely to be swing voters.

junebug

Uncle John wrote:

 The Libertarian right would call for as little government involvement in the economy as possible except (mostly hypocritically) on issue 1 (more police to protect My Private Property). My criticism of most conservatives who are very Law'N'Order and pro police state bureaucracy is that this stance consumes too many economic resources. The business-owned Media are going to jump to the Libertarian bingo-callers in the business sector in no matter what society you live.

Then again all these dimensions conflict with each other as well as having "Left" and "Right" spectrums within themselves, forming a 4 x 4 matrix. For example you could say that a peaceful society leads to a greater good for a greater number, so therefore we should have more police on the street. A "State" solution to a "Utilitarian" goal. You could say that Free Markets provide the greatest good for the top 75%, who must be gradually taxed about a third to pay for the other 25% for some kind of economic equality.

You've skewed the libertarian stance to fit your reasoning.  It isn't "more police to protect My Private Property", it's believing that the federal government should be limited in scope; limited to: enforcement of laws, enforcement of contracts, and maintaining a national defence.  I would argue that Libertarians are more in favor of personal freedom, and far less inclined toward a police state than those on the left.  Libertarians believe civil liberties trump all, but they are not anarchists, and do reconcile that some form of law enforcement is necessary - though their powers should be quite limited in scope (much more limited than they are currently) - held to narrow mandates, and kept under vigilant watch by the citizens they serve.

A good example of just who is more inclined toward an authoritarian police state is watching what happens when a private business owner fails to comply with one of the hundreds of a socialist government's regulations.

Stuart_Parker

junebug, I just have to ask: what brought you to rabble.ca?

Non-NDP leftists have a hard enough time fitting in here so I'm curious to know how we got a far-right anti-government type in our midst.

KenS

Curious, but not necesssarily completely out of place. Its a question of how people fit into the discussions. We've had a few "house conservatives / libertarians".

junebug

Stuart, I would assume that those who claim to be most in favor of social tolerance for people of all stripes would be the least likely to have a problem with a (sometimes) dissenting voice joining the discussion; provided said voice was not engaging in personal attacks, or rude behavior (things I would never do).  Am I right to assume that?  I promise to be cordial...but yes, I do find my views tend to be different than most of those around these parts.  There's always room for differing opinions, no?

Debater

Stockholm wrote:

Another example is how the NDP tends to win hands down as the second choice of BQ voters - yet when the BQ vote has gone down in the past it has tended to go Tory more than NDP. I think this is because the BQ backers who have the NDP as their second choice also tend to be the more committed BQ supporters while the ones who have the Tories as their second choice are more likely to be swing voters.

When the BQ vote goes down, it also tends to benefit the Liberals, and some BQ voters actually pick the Liberals as their 2nd choice.  That's why the drop in BQ support in Quebec in 2008 helped the Liberals have a marginal recovery there in the last election as Chantal Hebert pointed out.

Stockholm

From 2006 to 2008 the BQ vote fell from 42% to 38%. The NDP vote in Quebec went from 7% to 12% and the Liberal vote went from 21% to 24% - but let's not forget that the Tory vote fell also from 25% to 22% - so its tough to figure out who took votes from who.

Stuart_Parker

junebug wrote:

Stuart, I would assume that those who claim to be most in favor of social tolerance for people of all stripes would be the least likely to have a problem with a (sometimes) dissenting voice joining the discussion;

What can I say? I wish this place worked that way and sometimes it does. I was not encouraging you not to participate; I was just surprised you were here and so I wanted to know how you found the site and got interested in it. Most people who get involved turn up because of their affiliation with the NDP, labour movement or activist groups with a high proportion of New Democrats or trade unionists in them.

Quote:
provided said voice was not engaging in personal attacks, or rude behavior (things I would never do).  Am I right to assume that?  I promise to be cordial...but yes, I do find my views tend to be different than most of those around these parts.  There's always room for differing opinions, no?

I'm happy to see you here and welcome the diversity you bring. But I'm not a mod here, just a poster and not even a very regular one.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

junebug wrote:

You've skewed the libertarian stance to fit your reasoning.  It isn't "more police to protect My Private Property", it's believing that the federal government should be limited in scope; limited to: enforcement of laws, enforcement of contracts, and maintaining a national defence.  I would argue that Libertarians are more in favor of personal freedom, and far less inclined toward a police state than those on the left.  Libertarians believe civil liberties trump all, but they are not anarchists, and do reconcile that some form of law enforcement is necessary - though their powers should be quite limited in scope (much more limited than they are currently) - held to narrow mandates, and kept under vigilant watch by the citizens they serve.

Come now, let's be frank. The main function of the state in libertarian theory is to protect private property. Everything else is left to the miracle of private enterprise, otherwise known as the virtue of selfishness. This Randian fantasy is the fruit of the poor woman's mentally unbalanced state due to her unhappy early life in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

In reality, humans are not rugged individualists, we are social animals, who would be nothing without the society in which we are raised and live our lives. I personally agree that government is not a beneficial force, but I believe that private property is an even more noxious invention of our species.

I believe that anarchism, that is, making decisions solely by the uncoerced consensus of the community, is the most desirable theoretical way of organizing society, but it would be quite a trick to get there from here. (BTW, have you read Ursula LeGuin's novel "The Disposessed"? It is the philosophical mirror image of "Atlas Shrugged", and it is a much better and wiser work, in my opinion.)

Thus we are left with the need for government to enact laws which will curb the more egregious abuses of the Capitalist economy in which we find ourselves. Regrettable, but the only alternative is to allow the banksters and robber barons to create a new feudal era. Perhaps in a few more centuries it will be possible for the state to wither away, but not just yet.

Debater

Stockholm wrote:

From 2006 to 2008 the BQ vote fell from 42% to 38%. The NDP vote in Quebec went from 7% to 12% and the Liberal vote went from 21% to 24% - but let's not forget that the Tory vote fell also from 25% to 22% - so its tough to figure out who took votes from who.

I agree with you on that.  In a country like the United States where there are only 2 parties (except for a few elections where there is a 3rd party), it is much easier to determine where the vote is going.  If it's not going to the Democrats, it's going to the Republicans, and vice-versa.  In Canada, where there are 4 or 5 parties, it's much more difficult for a political analyst to figure out where the vote is going when it goes up and down.  It is very frustrating for all the federal parties in Canada nowadays to figure out what is happening in certain ridings, because the vote can go in so many different ways.

NorthReport

 

Guns and Grandpa

Mr. Layton is seeking to navigate these shoals while doing minimum damage to his team. Despite all the noise from opponents, he has made encouraging progress (consider NDP MP Charlie Angus's position, for example). Hopefully he'll succeed. If the numbers aren't there for his thoughtful and constructive proposals, in my - as always strictly personal - view, he would have to consider accepting higher costs in order to ensure New Democrats don't provide Mr. Harper with the margin he needs.

Although they clearly don't know it yet, this issue doesn't work any better for the Tories. In addition to demonstrating its contempt for democratic reform, the gun-registry issue demonstrates this government's increasing tendency to make mistakes that ensure it cannot grow outside of its core vote.

Why are they doing this? Why did the Conservatives decide to bring the gun-registry issue back into the centre of Canadian politics? Mr. Harper's team believes that the public understands this issue to be about "waste": The registry costs in excess of a billion dollars; criminals aren't registering their guns; so get rid of the registry and everyone will thank Mr. Harper.

The unanimous voice of Canada's police chiefs has destroyed any chance that this will occur.

That being so, the real harvest of the government's stealth registry bill will be to remind Canadians of why they don't like the Conservative Party. In other words, the registry is still capable of doing the same political work it was designed to do when it was introduced.

It is a neat trick, making Mr. Ignatieff look good. You'd think the Conservatives would focus on other priorities as they get closer to an election.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/brian-topp/g...

junebug

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Come now, let's be frank. The main function of the state in libertarian theory is to protect private property. Everything else is left to the miracle of private enterprise, otherwise known as the virtue of selfishness. This Randian fantasy is the fruit of the poor woman's mentally unbalanced state due to her unhappy early life in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

In reality, humans are not rugged individualists, we are social animals, who would be nothing without the society in which we are raised and live our lives. I personally agree that government is not a beneficial force, but I believe that private property is an even more noxious invention of our species.

I believe that anarchism, that is, making decisions solely by the uncoerced consensus of the community, is the most desirable theoretical way of organizing society, but it would be quite a trick to get there from here. (BTW, have you read Ursula LeGuin's novel "The Disposessed"? It is the philosophical mirror image of "Atlas Shrugged", and it is a much better and wiser work, in my opinion.)

Thus we are left with the need for government to enact laws which will curb the more egregious abuses of the Capitalist economy in which we find ourselves. Regrettable, but the only alternative is to allow the banksters and robber barons to create a new feudal era. Perhaps in a few more centuries it will be possible for the state to wither away, but not just yet.

I will have to look for "The Disposessed", sounds like an interesting read.  Though, by the same token, I suppose I should read "Atlas Shrugged" first to have the benefit of comparison.

And, as I'm sure you know, Ayn Rand was hardly the inventor of libertarianism; nor are all libertarians "mentally unbalanced".  I prefer the work of Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich von Hayek, both - in my opinion - are brilliant...far from unbalanced.

Also, being a libertarian does not mean turning a blind eye to the fact that humans are social animals; rather it's a belief in limiting government to a size and scope that does not interfere with an individuals right to determine for themselves how they'd prefer to live, and at what cost, etc.

Just because humans are social creatures does not mean they need a one-size-fits-all government.  Private property works much better than an individual or collective body presupposing they know better how another is to behave than the individual themselves, especially within their own dwelling.  We may not all be "rugged individualists", but I believe rights worth fighting for include the right to be left alone.

The idea of an "uncoerced consensus" is not that far afield from the brand of libertarianism to which I ascribe my views.  I believe anyone should have the right to do as they please, provided they don't impede another's right to do the same.  But social creatures or not, humans are inherently selfish, and thus you need enforcable boundaries like the property lines that come from ownership, lest every conflict that arises amongst those either unwilling or unable to share devolves into armed conflict.

I agree we need a government of the people to enact laws, and yes the primary responsibility of those laws should be protect the private property of everyone across the board - whether that be from polluting corporations or gun-toting loners.  But capitalism isn't the enemy...nor is it our current system of economy.  We live in an era of corporatism, which is the collusion of governments, and big business - where one institution is almost indistinguishable from the other, to the detriment of the constituency.  Banksters and robber barons continue to thrive, and would lose their subsidies, and competitive advantages when forced to survive in an unfettered market.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

junebug wrote:

But social creatures or not, humans are inherently selfish, and thus you need enforcable boundaries like the property lines that come from ownership, lest every conflict that arises amongst those either unwilling or unable to share devolves into armed conflict.

This is all way off topic for the thread, but just one more point. I do not agree that humans are inherently selfish. In my opinion, selfishness is a cultural attribute, not a biological one. It just seems to be "human nature" because Western culture, and all the other dominant cultures in historical times have been characterized by selfishness. However, see for example this article on Wikipedia about "gift economies" and the cultures that give rise to them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_culture

KenS

If you take out the prejuding word 'selfish' and instead ask if humans are [perhaps] incapable of making sacrifices that are going to cost me or mine..... then there are lots of cultures that do not have individual selfishness, and lots that can sustain the ecological balance when there is little pressure and limits on them... but where are the cultures who without having an extraordinary 'discussion' and effort, deal with pressures and limits in a reasonably responsible fashion?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Sorry, Ken, but I don't think I understand your question, even after reading it several times.

 

KenS

There are lots of cultures that do not have individual selfishness.

And lots of cultures that can sustain the ecological balance when there is little pressure and limits on them.

But where are the cultures that deal with pressures and limits in a reasonably responsible fashion?

 

In other words: attributing the problem to 'selfishness' of and for the individual is too narrow. And that there are cultures that are 'unselfish' in that sense is not sufficient.

Does that make sense.

 

If not, we better stop. Wink

Sean in Ottawa

Individuals have rights and that includes to a limited degree the right to have property-- it is illegal to just take someone's property away.

When we speak of property rights it is important that we all understand what we are speaking about because it is a misnomer. Property never has rights people do. So when we speak of property rights these are a class of individual rights -- for individuals who own property. As well these rights are never considered in a vacuum but in consideration of other rights and that is where the trouble comes in. So when we confer on individuals additional rights because they own property and these rights conflict with other individuals who do not own property we start to do away with the notion that humans are equal. Those humans with property-granted rights would be -- shall we say-- more equal.

As well, in all cases the notion of property rights are always relevant only when they conflict with either collective or individual rights.

I won't open to far with the controversy of collective vs individual rights except to say that there are those who argue that collectives (groups) only get their rights as individuals and those who assume that together they have additional rights. But the notion that on top of your property you can have additional rights is extremely regressive.

I guess we want an example? So for now in Ontario you can have a no-pet clause in your lease. However, the clause has no effect because the individual's right to have a cat or dog etc. trumps a rule the landlord makes out of his/her desire. (You are of course responsible for any costs/damages incurred to the landlord for your keeping of a pet but the landlord cannot stop you from having one.) Now if we had more property rights then landlords could prohibit individuals from doing certain things (individual rights) asserting property rights. Very slippery slope there--

Individuals, as I say, do have the right to property. But the fact that they have that property does not extend them to any additional rights other than the actual ownership of the property. There are people who want individuals to have additional rights on top of that. Essentially, that would be a rollback of much of the human rights gains over the last couple hundred years including the right to be treated equally regardless of economic status.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Ken:

Yes, I think I get your point now. It reminds me of the Easter Islanders, who apparently cut down all the trees on their island over the course of a few generations, thus rendering it uninhabitable. And of course, no modern culture is dealing appropriately with the ecological downsides of technology. On the other hand, the traditional Inuit way of life was subject to very rigid constraints, and their culture managed to deal with it quite successfully.

Sean:

When I speak of my philosophical disapproval of private property, I am not urging that theft be legalized, or socially accepted. I am suggesting that the very concept of physical objects having an owner is a cultural construct, and not a universal characteristic of the human mind, such as language is. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that this belief in the concept of the ownership of property is the root cause of most of our social ills. I have no idea if it would ever be possible to get rid of this from a society that once had it, but it would certainly be very difficult. Nonetheless, that is one of the idealistic goals of anarchism, as I understand it. A few religious communities seem to have come pretty close to this ideal, and perhaps some of the republicans in the Spanish Civil War. To me, it is mainly a concept that I use to keep arguments over property laws and policies in perspective.

 

Debater

NorthReport wrote:

It is a neat trick, making Mr. Ignatieff look good. You'd think the Conservatives would focus on other priorities as they get closer to an election.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/brian-topp/g...

Interesting comment.  Topp is pointing out how the gun registry issue seems to be a good one for the Liberals so far.

Sean in Ottawa

Michael,

sorry- my comment was not trying to suggest you believed in legalizing theft-- it was to say that we already have property rights in a fashion and that these rights are, I think, a subset of individual rights. The point is if we recognize any more property rights than we already have then we are actually interfering with individual rights creating a hierarchy of individual rights.

The example I gave -- real estate-- is rich with these-- most tenant protection statutes the world over would be in conflict with a notion of property rights as that would serve to even further tilt the power between tenant and landlord away from tenants-- to enhance landlord's property rights is nothing less than to reduce tenant rights. People like to think more and more rights is a good thing so they sell it that way. But of course when you think about it most assertions of rights are in fact conflicts and therefore allowing more property rights would come at the cost of individual rights.

I am not an anarchist although I can surely appreciate parts of the philosophy you are explaining and without disagreement. My reason for not being an anarchist comes from a belief that it is impossible in practice and that humans achieve great things (including survival) only by working collectively. I see working collectively as needing organization and structure in order to introduce fairness and therefore support government. As well, I also tolerate capitalism as a creator of wealth-- not because I like it but because I have no alternative. I cannot tolerate capitalism without strict limits to it and alternate means of division of wealth to minimize its unfairness. I believe, therefore, in the social welfare state.

So what I am saying is I am opposed to capitalism, I am in favour of collective moves to create fairness and to take care of each other. I am not aware of any instrument better than the social welfare state to do that. It is not that I am in love with the construct itself-- but I'm committed to its result in terms of creating greater justice, and the ability to take care of each other.

Another thing-- perhaps you might think of this like you do of other property or perhaps not-- I also believe in public property and shared value-- be it common security, health care, education, social justice. I suspect that collective property itself, however, is not in conflict with your beliefs although practically, I can't imagine a way to organize and develop these public social goods without the social organization anarchism rejects. Again this is not about right and wrong-- this is my own belief of how things should work among the possibilities of what can work.

I don't have a principled stand against anarchism as I understand it expressed by some-- my problems with it are practical (unlike capitalism which I dislike on grounds of principle as well as practicality even as I recognize that sufficiently "fettered" it can have some collective purpose, at least until we can find an alternative way to do it). On the other hand I find others describe anarchism as a form of radical libertarianism. This I reject on quite a few grounds, both the practical and the philosophical.

I guess in part I see ourselves as all being parts of a collective web that turns in to exploitation once it is denied and needs collective recognition and protection.

Perhaps, I can express this better later-- need to think on it but hopefully this explains part of where I am coming from.

Sean in Ottawa

I should add-- that I too want to keep so-called property rights in perspective-- that perspective, I believe is individual rights which property rights threaten to distort.

Current property power (I prefer power to rights because it is more accurate in this case) which includes ownership, title and disposal already bring with them a great deal of power. I don't like the idea of this power being turned in to a right that can challenge others-- it is a power that is enshrined in every belief and legal system and does not need to be codified as a series of rights as well. the power that comes from ownership already severely interferes in the exercise of other people's individual rights as it is. the idea that those individuals with this power, who already have their own individual rights should have additional property rights to be invoked when they come in conflict with the rights of other individuals who do not own property is repulsive to me and without any social or justice purpose.

I wonder, through all the different rhetoric, just how far apart most of us are on this. Perhaps less far in substance than we might think.

junebug

Michael Moriarity wrote:

junebug wrote:

But social creatures or not, humans are inherently selfish, and thus you need enforcable boundaries like the property lines that come from ownership, lest every conflict that arises amongst those either unwilling or unable to share devolves into armed conflict.

This is all way off topic for the thread, but just one more point. I do not agree that humans are inherently selfish. In my opinion, selfishness is a cultural attribute, not a biological one. It just seems to be "human nature" because Western culture, and all the other dominant cultures in historical times have been characterized by selfishness. However, see for example this article on Wikipedia about "gift economies" and the cultures that give rise to them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_culture

 

Interesting read, thank you.  I do note however, that in gift economies the giving is not done without expectation of receiving something in return, which seems an awful lot like bartering to me...and in the wiki article you've linked I see that the 'gifting' can often devolve into a system of bribes amongst those who wish to curry favor or attain competitive advantage - be they kings or generals.  And that's my point really...I think it is in our nature to compete...for resources, for favor...at one time our individual survival depended on being 'the fittest', or having "the most", or at least more than someone else.  To me, a market economy, one that is free of any partisan meddling is the most humane way to organize a society.  I liked the idea of a gift economy at first blush, but upon further reflection can see where the conflicts would arise; that wiki article provides a decent insight into why or how that could happen as well.

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Sean:

One big mistake most people make in their conception of anarchism is to assume that it is contrary to social organization and cooperative enterprise. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I have seen it argued that an anarchist society would have to be far better organized than a coercive one, but the organization would be purely voluntary, not enforced by law.

I agree with you that Capitalism cannot be abolished any time soon, and must therefore be tightly regulated by law for the forseeable future. I also agree that in practice the best choice of those available to us here and now is Social Democracy, which is why I support the NDP, rather than some fringe leftist party.

Finally, I should say that I am always appalled at the image of anarchism that the public gets from the actions of a bunch of foolish young men who pointlessly break windows and destroy other property during protests. In my opinion anarchist philosophy does not imply this sort of behaviour at all. Of course, it is not strictly forbidden, because nothing is. However, it is counter productive in the extreme, and these fools are doing exactly what the established power structure wants them to do. In effect, they make it impossible for any respectable person to even acknowledge an interest in anarchist ideas. Fortunately, I don't have to worry too much about respectability.

 

Sean in Ottawa

The difference I have with this is that while I recognize that humans have some drives to compete and to selfishness, I see civilization as a historical progression towards an understanding that we do better when we moderate those and cooperate as well. Humans, have learned to cooperate and not always for immediate reward or even to curry favour but out of goodwill towards each other. And we have developed both tendencies.

Humans do indeed compete. But when they need to they also perform acts of altruism and they create systems that manage and balance these things. Just because humans have a tendency to greed and selfishness does not mean these are the only tendencies we have, these are the only ones to support organizationally or the best way to structure society around. In fact, I think society is formed around a balance of these. That balance allows us to survive and thrive by both taking care of ourselves and helping each other; acting in competition as well as cooperation.

when it comes to the survival of the fittest, this concept is perverted into a political ideology unsupported by evidence. Define "fittest"? the ability for humans to communicate, imagine and cooperate with each other and to help each other is exactly what made us so far fit enough to survive. Other animals achieve their fitness in various degrees of individual and group fitness. The "fitness" to survive was never predicated on that being purely individual and historically it has not been that way.

The concept of intent including selfish or altruistic is not part of the Darwinian equation for most beings, I should add. Survival for most had nothing to do with intent among beings incapable of reason although you will see dramatic examples of sacrifice, group behaviour and seemingly altruistic acts among animals acting by instinct. I think it is fair to say both self preservation and mutual cooperation have always been a part of instinct-- even prior to reason and humans inherited along with reason both-- and in fact with reason the ability to know when each should kick in.

Sean in Ottawa

Michael, I like the ideal and appreciate what you are saying. I also think, now that I read your explanation, you may be right that the difference is not so much about organization but about coercion. I am not very knowledgeable about Anarchism (in part because I never was optimistic enough that people can function without any coercion at all which you may no doubt find as negative) and am not criticizing it.

In a way part of this is related to my belief in the fundamental equality between action and inaction. To do nothing is as much a decision as to do something. So if you have a consensus, or even a majority agreement to do something or not to do something and  I do believe that the minority ought to go along (unless there is some rights conflict) and even be bound to which is coercion. Otherwise there is no collective. In other words if you agree to participate in a group decision, then you can be bound by it and not be able to just do your own thing. Part of the value of this coercion is in part to allow a collective decision to take place and then moderate the individual selfishness to negate that by making selfish decision.

It is the balance between these tendencies that I think allows people to survive as I say.

I very much appreciate that vandalism is not condoned automatically or required by Anarchism just as rudeness is not condoned or required by free speech. However, I do agree with coercion in this case as well, in that those who want to vandalize should not be allowed to because their freedom to make that decision is infringing on someone else's freedom not to be vandalized.

In part this is why I jumped in here-- I did not want to see a discussion about whether or not to have so-called property rights when individuals already had rights with respect to their property within their individual rights- the granting of additional property rights designed to trump other people's individual rights drove me to comment here. And of course that seems to be at least one point where we are in agreement that we don't need any more so-called property rights invoked in law than we already have. We might debate somewhat on which of the existing property-related individual rights are too much however as I think we already have too much and I suspect you think we have a lot too much and Junebug may think we need all we have plus a whole new head of rights for property owners on top of that...

Sean in Ottawa

Michael, I appreciate as well the distinction between what is practically possible and what is to be aspired to as a philosophy.

I am quite interested in Buddhist thought and recognize that it is an aspiration towards what is not possible in our imagination but certainly makes us better to aspire to it. When I am at my best I am leaning towards a standard I know I cannot meet but am better for being a little bit closer to it. a better person can lean further but there is no doubt that what little change is inspired is worthwhile.

I say all this distinguishing between a religion and a philosophy of the same name. I have found myself very much opposed to religion because I think we are each morally held to our own account and have the responsibility to be moral actors rather than follow instructions and to think rather than take on faith that which is central to our existence. (That on top of all the usual arguments against religion which I may share but not enumerate here-- injustice, exploitation, harm, lack of personal accountability etc. etc. etc.)

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Michael, I like the ideal and appreciate what you are saying. I also think, now that I read your explanation, you may be right that the difference is not so much about organization but about coercion. I am not very knowledgeable about Anarchism (in part because I never was optimistic enough that people can function without any coercion at all which you may no doubt find as negative) and am not criticizing it.

It is interesting that you should make this point and then in your next post state your strong opposition to religion (which I share). The fascinating point is that to my mind there is a strong analogy between the claim often made by Christians and other religious people that it is impossible for a human being to live a virtuous life without believing in God, Heaven and Hell, and your statement quoted above. Any thoughts on that?

 

Sean in Ottawa

Wow. I had not thought about it that way. I see your point that it seems like a contradiction.

I think the reason for it is that I believe in democracy and have no trouble being coerced to follow a decision reached legitimately by the society I am a part of.

To go a step further, perhaps religion is analogous to a form of "taxation without representation"

anyway, now that you put it this way, I guess I don't feel much different about illegitimate governments acting undemocratically than I do religions. Indeed, the concept of magic in religion (Virgin Birth etc.) is no more ridiculous than magic in the capitalist system  (so-called justice by trickle-down).

Your connection has not won me over to Anarchism, but I like the way it made me think ;-)

I certainly consider religion to be a social construct so it is comparable to a political system-- you are right there. I remain somewhat hopeful that we can aspire to a better social construct than either illegitimate anti-democratic governments or religions although in Canada right now - I guess you pick your poison or take a healthy does of both.

Now that's a downer. Ugh. Harper as a religious cult leader.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Wow. I had not thought about it that way. I see your point that it seems like a contradiction.

I think the reason for it is that I believe in democracy and have no trouble being coerced to follow a decision reached legitimately by the society I am a part of.

But Sean, the point is that you are not being coerced. You believe in the democratic process, therefore you voluntarily follow what you consider to be a legitimately reached democratic decision. You are acting freely, and no threat of punishment is necessary. Now, the followup question is this: Do you really believe that you are all that unusual, and that although no force is necessary to obtain your cooperation, most other people are different, and less likely to respect such a legitimate democratic result?

 

Sean in Ottawa

hmm-- I guess my approval is at a macro level of the process. But I also obey other laws that I may not agree with just because I believe in the process. Perhaps my belief in the macro process coerces me to comply with an inividual law or requirement I do not believe in.

As well, I am involved in organizations that only work when you respect the will of the group and in others where you must respect the will of a boss or hierarchy. I understand and respect these systems even if I don't agree with individual decisions. For the most part I can exercise a right to free speech but then I still must do what I am told t do or what the majority wants. At times I can influence that power through persuassion but not always.

All this is normal isn't it?

Sean in Ottawa

I have to say, I'm finding this exchange very rewarding -- interesting-- nice when this place can be like that.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

hmm-- I guess my approval is at a macro level of the process. But I also obey other laws that I may not agree with just because I believe in the process. Perhaps my belief in the macro process coerces me to comply with an inividual law or requirement I do not believe in.

As well, I am involved in organizations that only work when you respect the will of the group and in others where you must respect the will of a boss or hierarchy. I understand and respect these systems even if I don't agree with individual decisions. For the most part I can exercise a right to free speech but then I still must do what I am told t do or what the majority wants. At times I can influence that power through persuassion but not always.

All this is normal isn't it?

That is for you to decide. But if it is normal, then it should give you cause to doubt your belief in the theoretical necessity of coercive social organization. I am glad that you found my not-very-expert views on anarchism interesting, but I think you have now seen all that I have to offer, so I will shut up for a while.

 

Sean in Ottawa

I think I'll need to think about what you said and read elsewhere as well.

Thanks for all this.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

junebug wrote:

I agree we need a government of the people to enact laws, and yes the primary responsibility of those laws should be protect the private property of everyone across the board - whether that be from polluting corporations or gun-toting loners.  But capitalism isn't the enemy...nor is it our current system of economy.  We live in an era of corporatism, which is the collusion of governments, and big business - where one institution is almost indistinguishable from the other, to the detriment of the constituency.  Banksters and robber barons continue to thrive, and would lose their subsidies, and competitive advantages when forced to survive in an unfettered market.

After re-reading this thread, I decided that I owed you a response to this paragraph. I agree with you that the political/economic system under which we currently suffer is not the Capitalism that was described in "Wealth of Nations". I also agree with your definition of corporatism, and that this is what the American Empire currently practices. In fact, I would suggest that it is very difficult to distinguish this corporatism from the Fascism of Mussolini and Franco. And, of course I agree that banksters and robber barons currently thrive.

Where I differ from you is in imagining that the removal of governmental regulation of business would in any way improve the situation. On the contrary, I believe that the only way to prevent Capitalism from becoming rampant corporatism is to have a democratic government which is independent of the influence of large corporations, and thus able to maintain robust laws which control the excesses of greed that would otherwise lead to monopolies, price fixing and all the other anti-competitive practices which undercut the theories of Adam Smith.

Indeed, after many years of thought about this question, I am of the opinion that the only way to have a pristine "Free Enterprise" system would be to have international laws which put absolute size restrictions on all business entities. When you read "Wealth of Nations" it is clear that Smith assumed that every market sector would have dozens of firms engaged in competition, and all of his conclusions are based on this assumption. As soon as any one or any few firms possess a dominant position in a given market segment, Smithian Capitalism becomes robber baron corporatism. Unless there were a way to restrict the worldwide market system such that no business entity could acquire more than say 5% of any market segment, the ideal of Smithian Capitalism is nothing more than a fairy tale.

I do not believe that any such world wide limitation of the market dominance of corporations will ever come about. Thus, I do not believe in ideal Capitalism any more than I believe in Santa Claus. Therefore, my only recourse is to work for a "mixed economy" as practiced in North America during the 1950s and 1960s, before the resurgence of the banksters and robber barons. Yes, they are doing fine right now, but we will not change that by regulating them even less than we do now.

We must crack down on them, and regulate them much more harshly, plus tax them much more heavily. Much higher marginal income tax rates on the wealthiest individuals are also necessary, to redress some of the widening gap between rich and poor which has developed over the last 30 years. A legislated maximum ratio between the highest and lowest paid employees of any business would also be useful. Many public utilities which have been privatized should also be re-nationalized, to remove the money sink of swollen corporate profits.

All of these measures are distasteful to me, since I am an anarchist at heart, but I see no other practical short term alternative, except a new feudal age, with 90% or more of the population becoming powerless, impoverished peasants.

 

siamdave

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Individuals have rights ...

- I don't think you can make that kind of statement as a 'given' - take it back to basics, to man in the jungle, and individuals have no 'rights' at all - it's simply who survives and who doesn't. The idea of 'rights' is completely a man-made idea, and as such it can have any number of definitions - but whatever the definition is, a 'right' is nothing more than something we agree on amongst ourselves - or perhaps have imposed from elsewhere (the 'right' for instance of droight de siegneur, for example). In modern democracies, we like to think we have various 'rights', but simply walking down any street shows pretty clearly most 'rights' are pretty friable - I may have a 'right' to security of the person, or something, but that doesn't help much when the gang of toughs cormers me and mugs me. Not to rag on, but any discussion like this, it seems to me, has to work from clear basics, and 'rights' are something we negotiate, not something we 'have' like some kind of god-given thing that is writ in stone. Too many people in many places seem to believe they have god-given 'rights', and do not realise that whatever 'rights' they have are very directly tied to 'their' governments, and if they do not keep a close eye on these governments, they may find they have a lot fewer 'rights' than they think. Kind of like the idea of 'democracy' - we are rapidly losing ours, because so few people understand what is happening and are not in the streets defending it. A lot easier to lose than to get back.

siamdave

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I guess we want an example? So for now in Ontario you can have a no-pet clause in your lease.

- but going a bit deeper, if we are going to have any kind of equality in our society, then how can we justify any individual collecting rent from others for their 'right' to have a place to live? (beyond a simple non-big-business thing of renting out a spare room or something for temporary residents etc) This is one of the worst facets of capitalism vs social democracy - in a true social democracy, 'we the people' would collectively own the 'collective' apartment-style residences (private houses would, of course, be as always, owned by the owner) - and fair rents set - I'm not talking about charity (that would be available for some, of course).

(the money for this is another issue, but like everything, once we get the capitalist parasite out of our veins, there will be more than enough money to look after everything ... rather than capitalist 'profits', we would have some form of social savings from which much would be possible - the 'excess profits' the capitalists now claim, reverting to the people who actually create such profits, as they rightfully should ...)

Debater

New Nanos Poll: Conservatives tied with Liberals in support

Cons: 33% (-2)

Libs: 33% (+3)

NDP: 16% (-5)

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20100907/nanos-poll-100907/

 

Nanos says the NDP appears to be losing support with urban voters, particularly in Ontario, over the long-gun registry issue.

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