Jack Layton: the Tim Hortons of the left

124 posts / 0 new
Last post
Jack Layton: the Tim Hortons of the left




Jack Layton is a phenomenon. The media is abuzz about him. On the left it seems that everybody loves him. He's the only straight guy cool enough to get his face on the cover of a queer mag. But I think the real story is getting lost in all the hype. Because the real story is this: “Jack” is a political donut. All sugar icing on the outside (or make that maple glaze) and a big hole right in the middle.

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/for_the_sake_of_argument.shtml?sh_itm=6e87e97eebed3... Full story [/url]


Prepackaged somewhere in Ontario and shipped out to the provinces yet still called fresh.

Yep. That's Layton alright.


I assure you, he was absolutely fresh when he was frozen. [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

So the real problem with Jack is that he is turning the NDP into a party actually capable of being elected?

A Keynesian, Just Society, Pro-Labour government-in-waiting isn't something we should applaud?

Instead, we should just leave the real power in the hands of the Friedmanite, Corporatist, Neo-conservatives, as it has been for more than a decade, because compromise with the views of unwashed masses is somehow degrading?

Needless to say, Hister pissed me off.

Mr. Magoo

Hister's spot on here. The NDP should be taking both ideological and strategy notes from the Communist Party of Canada. By holding fast to their ideals and not allowing themselves to be co-opted by "compromise", the surviving 7 card-carrying, embittered, burned-out members of that last-place party can enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes from knowing that if they'd ever been within 10 miles of any seat of power then they'd have done the right thing with it. And that's not nothin'.

Selling out one's theoretical ideals for the short term reward of "actually making a change somewhere other than in your head" means selling your soul to the devil, and clearly the NDP's collective soul was sold the first time those populists got a seat. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]



So the real problem with Jack is that he is turning the NDP into a party actually capable of being elected?

Tim Hortons is a great Canadian success story, isn't it?
[img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 31 March 2004: Message edited by: leftcoastguy ]



the struggle vanishes into an amorphous campaign for democracy

I actually like democracy [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] I don't get this criticism. I think a campaign for a deepening of our democracy could provide some of the breeding ground for the type of economic platform the author might be looking for.

Running a campaign on "lets nationalize x" isn't that attractive to anyone other than left policy wonks (like myslef) but if we steep it in concerns over the democratisation of our economy, maybe we'd have a chance.

Who is Stan Hister?

Stephen Gordon


Originally posted by Lard tunderin' jeesus:
A Keynesian, Just Society, Pro-Labour government-in-waiting isn't something we should applaud?

A bit of trivia: the most prominent new-Keynesian economist is [url=http://www.whitehouse.gov/cea/mankiwbio.html]Gregory Mankiw[/url].

Be careful of what you wish for... [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 31 March 2004: Message edited by: Oliver Cromwell ]


Exactly. Since when was nationalization a good thing in itself? It was always conceived of as a means for workers to get control over the economy - and pretty much failed at that. Since the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over again but expect different results, promoting state ownership for this reason is nuts.

People like the author have to get past the idea that somehow the entire social order can be transformed in a single term of government - or for that matter by government on its own over any length of time. If the change to something different happens, it'll be like the transition from feudalism - incremental, not without occasional reversals, and people won't identify it as having happened until decades or a century after it did.


There was good and bad in what Hister wrote.

If the party tries to dance around the main issue of the centralization of capital and power in our system, then we will never get to the heart of the matter.

Hister errs in simplistically slamming a minority Liberal government supported by the NDP. The aim would not be to keep Paul Martin in power, but to force him to reverse neo-liberalism as much as possible.

If Hister says we should go for broke and call for socialism, and that following this course might make the NDP win power at the federal level, I'd say he's mistaken.

Holding the balance of power is probably as much as we can reasonably expect.

I also like Panitch and Gindin, though they're often vague about how to achieve their goals as well.


Um wasnt this dealt with in a previous thread


Where it was generally accepted that running with someone only because they might get elected was wrong? And that we should vote for the candidate best for that riding or who best upheld the principles of the NDP and not someone who had a higher profile but different principles and might win but didnt seem like a NDP'r at heart?


I think that this article should be read as taking the position that socialism is an end in itself, and that Layton, by not making socialism the end in itself, is showing that there is no core belief that unites the various policies and positions he advocates, no matter how attractive they may appear to the left.

However, I do not agree that socialism is an end unto itself. I have always believed that the reaosn why socialism ought to be supported is that it makes the lives of those living under such a system - and especially those with less power and less money - better.

When the tenets of traditional socialism collide with the objective of making people's lives better, I believe it is the former that should be changed. One of the things that we learned from the Soviet experience is that concentration of power and centralized systems do not make people's lives better (now note: this is very different from saying that *socialism* does not make people's lives better).

Many of the principles of traditional socialism - such as nationalizition of banks and/or other key sectors or industries - amount to the transfer of a large centralized entity from a private interest to a public interest. The essence of socialism is that the ownership is in the public interest. But there's nothing in socialism that demands that we have large, centralized banks and/or other key industries.

Many other of the principles of socialism are fixated on capital and other forms of materialism (quick, whip out your phrasebook and review 'dialectic materialism'). But in many cases a fixation on materialism, whether publicly owned or privately owned, is not what makes people's lives better.

My representation of myself as *worder* is a classic example of this. I don't want to be a "worker", dammit. I want something in my life beyond that. But in order to get beyond that, I have to be able to conceive of socialism as something that is interested in something more than the flow of capital and the organization and pursuit of material wealth.

Even more importantly, I need to stop thinking of myself as a member of the "worker class" that lives in perpetual warfare with some other "non-worker class". My interests are much more faceted than that. My brand of socialism has evolved beyond a fixation on capital. My response to capitalism has matured from "capitalism is wrong" to "capitalism is obsolete." My revolution against capitalism, these days, consists in my ignoring the dictates of capitalism all together, and directing my life toward those things that make my life, and the lives of others, better.

It seems to me that this column objecting to Jack Layton is more a defense of old socialism - a socialism that still wants big, centralized things, that still wants to depict me as part of a class rather than as an individual, that is still obsessed with capital and materialism. This sort of one-dimensional socialism has never appealed to me. It has never been realistic.

Indeed, this sort of socialism represents all the things I dislike about capitalism. These huge corporations are huge, monolithic, centralized and impersonal. They roll over the individual without thought or care. They are completely obsessed with money and property to the expense of exerything else. And the individual, to them, is nothing more than a number, or worse, an open-gulleted consumer. A worker.

Now Jack Layton may be as much opportunist as ideologue (though one must ask how much of an opportunity he can be if he has chosen to run under the NDP banner). And that would be a criticism, were it fair. But abandoning tents that have had better days in the 1800s does not make him a doughnut (or any of the other multi-coloured allusions you care to name). It simply means that he, unlike some socialists, is able to learn from experience and is able to take into account, in the formation of a political agenda, social, technological and cultural changes.

-- Stephen Downes

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Well if you really are a troll you will shortly turn into stone. We shall see.

1. Gotta control the commanding heights of the economy. If you develop more de-centralized forms of property afterwards, that's great...

2. If you hide your goals, even from your friends on the left...how the hell are you going to get anywhere?

3. Best of luck to Jack. Really. But if he moves left it will be because we pushed him. What's wrong with starting that push a little sooner?

Did you hear the story about the 12 dwarves (should be 13) and the hobbit? It went like this... [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 01 April 2004: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

swallow swallow's picture


There's no mystery about what's missing here, about what should be where the hole in the donut is. It's an alternative to capitalism, i.e. a vision of socialism. But it's been a very long time since the NDP even pretended this was on its agenda. When you think of NDP “stars” like Bob Rae or Roy Romanow or Gary Doer, you don't exactly think of New Jerusalems. Even the notion that these guys were trying to “change the system from within” is laughable. They were/are an integral part of the system, as committed to defending it as any Tory or Liberal.

Or as some say on babble: "A vote for Layton is a vote for Bush." [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


I found myself at the same time feeling vindicated and annoyed by this column; this may explain my very confused brand of socialism.

On the vindicated side, I don't know how long it has been since I have heard the NDP talking seriously about challenging corporate power. We talk about specific (and even ocassionaly systematic) abuses, but there comes a point at which you think that even an electoral entity like the NDP could put together a damn good case for changing the structural imperatives of Canadian Capitalism; better, get people nodding in approval. Moreover, I too have noted that, for all Jack's popularity with the 'Left' (and with me, mind you) the focus has been on feel-good leftism: environmental responsibility, cultural diversity, peace. The negative side has been to focus on this particular PM, and ignore the structural reasons why this PM is in the position he is in and doing the things that he is doing.

And by the way, I agree with all of that; from the environmentalism to the rottenness of PMPM. It just frustrates me when these are being sold in the place of providing a real economic alternative to corporate control.

Now for what annoyed me: Well, what does the author expect? He admits himself that as a whole the Left is woefully unprepared to present structural alternatives to Capitalism; why should the NDP, an electoral entity, be any different? And more, is that what socialists should be basing our votes on in an age where even our smallest victories come at huge cost? There is absolutely no way, in the current positioning of political power and opinion in this country, that the NDP can afford to be seen as hard-liners with a rigid socialist litmus test; we would send people fleeing in the other direction, perpetuating corporate power.

I want to see concrete actions taken against corporate power. I want to see the NDP be the electoral voice of the movement that takes it on. But we're all in the same boat, and to expect the NDP to go further than all but the five or six die-hard Marxists left in Canada is simply unrealistic.

Stephen Gordon


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Gotta control the commanding heights of the economy. [/b]

And where would they be?


Thye problem I have with strident socialists is that, stripped of their dogma, are essentially demanding that they be given control of the surplus of power in society. Central planning and allocation is the same whether the bureaucrats are wearing suits or overalls. I endorse Troll's and Coyote's statements -- I too find that the author is demanding a certain kind of granular, idealized existence that doesn't reflect my (or most other Canadians') lived experience as individuals.

[Edited by Michelle to replace Coyote's real name (which he used to use on babble) with his alias.]

[ 16 September 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

My note on the "commanding heights" was as a comment on the remarks of "Troll." There's a view on the left that [i]only[/i] small economic institutions are the necessary and sufficient conditions for moving forward, er, leftward. I think this is unrealistic.

Most observers are familliar with the powerful financial institutions and the gigantic influence they have...(as an example)

I hasten to add that a [i]democratisation[/i] of any large economic (or other) institution is a pre-requisite to making it work in a better way...

Stephen Gordon

How do you democratise a bank?

Edited to add: Sorry about any potential thread drift.

[ 31 March 2004: Message edited by: Oliver Cromwell ]


Credit unions?


Well, I used to believe that about Credit Unions, but I'm a member of Coast Capital Savings. CCS has absorbed so many smal CU's now, it's almost indistinguishable from a Big Bank, and the directors are more and more likely to be indistinguishable from Big Bankers. The latest candidates all looked the same to me: bankers.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture


Originally posted by Oliver Cromwell:
[b]How do you democratise a bank?[/b]

Call it a Credit Union and split the difference?

We already have financial institutions that are more responsive to public pressure and concerns than the big banks. And they still make a tidy sum...

Further, the practical exercise of developing and carrying out public policy in a democratized bank, (for example) should very well have a salutary effect on the participants and the public. That is...maybe we could do this with other institutions? I mean, there's nothing like governing to get an idea of what it's like to...govern.

The simple (ha!) issue of the control of pension funds is another potential example. That one can (and did?) bring down a right-wing provincial government...

jeff house

I think the author believes that "nationalization" of industry is the heart of the donut.

He says:


Expropriate the expropriators” used to be a rallying cry of the socialist left. Now you'd almost have to look up nationalization in a dictionary of antiquarian terms.

I think this is basically an argument for Canada copying Cuba. Such nationalizations could never be contemplated unless elections were abandoned, since capital has sufficient power to cause massive economic consequences.

So, after four years of this, the NDP would have a 2% share of the popular vote, and the reforms would either be reversed, or the government would end elections.

I think Mr. Hister comes close to admitting this when he says:


So long as a tiny minority owns most of the wealth — and that's truer than ever today — then democracy is largely a sham, and no amount of refining it is going to change that.

I do not think democratic elections are a sham.
Probably Jack Layton agrees. And while they could be improved, they can't be dispensed with.

I think that, despite the quoted comment above, a substantial redistribution of wealth does not require nationalizing the economy. Scandinavian countries have shown that this is possible.

So, for those who think that nationalizing the economy makes sense, I ask: And how would you deal with the certainty that the population will not vote for this, ever?


I don't think the NDP will have much of an impact until they can show that they can manage money. There's lots of examples of NDP catastrophes but few ex. of NDP fiscal responsibility. Yes, the corp world will do their best to sabatoge them but that's obvious. They will need to court big biz in some way or they'll be in the boonies for ever.



Originally posted by jeff house:
[b]So, for those who think that nationalizing the economy makes sense, I ask: And how would you deal with the certainty that the population will not vote for this, ever?[/b]

Why, that's easy! Re-education for all! [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

I was so annoyed when I read this article today that I didn't write anything at all about it because I knew I was going to be unreasonably rude. I can't imagine how Jack Layton could possibly be considered some kind of mushy middle centrist who comforts the rich, which seems to be what this article was implying.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The author has provided a service. He's reminded us...or those of us that actually care anymore...about some sort of society different from the current shining and eternal gloriousness of capitalism. (Did I say eternal?) It may be uncomfortable to some, but Jack won't lead us to the promised land. We have to do it ourselves...
So go ahead and vote for Jack. I probably will. But I ain't deluding myself...

Some folks just don't want to consider the question(s) at all. What's the goal? How do we get there? Who's on our side? [img]cool.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 31 March 2004: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]


I take issue with the statement that there are no good examples of NDP fiscal prudence.

That was Tommy Douglas's CCF wasn't it?

And in Saskatchewan, didn't the NDP clean up after Grant Devine's Conservatives?

And the Clark gov't had relatively good numbers whatever the BC media and other liars said.

The Rae NDP wasn't extravagent (as Thomas Walkom shows in "Rae Days.") Just look at the mess Harris and Eves left behind after they destroyed public services whereas the NDP tried to preserve things in the face of federal downloading and a massive recession.

I'm not saying that i find all these gov'ts inspiring. I'm just saying that we should put to rest this notion of spend-thrift NDP.

BACK TO TOPIC: "The Art of the Possible" can be restrictive if we have a limited view of what is possible. It can also be a very effective way to view politics.


The kind of talk in this article gets under my skin--its the very reason people feel uncertain about revealing their socialist tendancies...there are cynics are around every corner claiming to understand socialism better than anyone else.

Look, Jack Layton is the best chance Canada has got to move forward with the rest of the civilized world. The other choices just have us retreading selfish, money driven policies that lead to fewer and fewer people holding all the power.

Capitolism is a trickle UP system.

To get out of it, we need someone who can understand it and develop incrimental changes that we can all live with that move us on to that wonderful utopia. I agree that there is really nothing else worth setting our sites on, but it will work better if we don't leave anyone behind.

So: If the writer understands the problems so well, please step up and represent the solutions. Otherwise put your support fully behind the next best thing.


Ha Ha!
Thwarp, you had to reach pretty far for NDP prudence. Tommy Douglas and 5.25 will get you a cup of coffee. As for Bob Rae, Whoa, that was a total disaster. I would say that made Ontario fertile for Mike Harris. If you're going to make auto insurance public, you better have the gonads to do it. That was about the time when Wall Street was calling us a 3rd world country.

The NDP will need better/smarter/more savy polititians than Bob Rae and Pink Floyd if they ever hope to get anywhere near power.


If I'm not mistaken, the NDP has the best record for balanced budgets and surpluses of all parties at the provincial level.

Correct me if you have evidence to the contrary, of course.

It is not in keeping with the prevailing myth, however. Conservatives are 'good' with balancing budgets. Just look at Campbell, Eves, Devine, Vander Zalm, Getty, Mulroney, Harris, the list goes on.

The trouble with the myth of a fiscally responsible right is that it somehow survives, even though the right, traditionally, is a fiscal disaster when they get into power. The biggest deficits in Canadian history happened the last the conservatives were in power. The biggest deficits in US history are currently under a regime that is further right than ever before.

The key difference, in my opinion, is in the respect for human values, humanism. The right has enthusiastically embraced a world of graphs, where big cuts in social spending will result in bug spikes in other graphs. It all makes perfect sense in a power point presentation, and no sense whatsoever when you consider the human suffering that happens as a direct result of that sort of policy.

At least the left, and I include the current NDP leadership, seeks to both improve society, and take a humanist approach. The graphs of economists are important, I agree, but they are only a small part of the picture.

It IS possible to both balance budgets, and treat the most vulnerable citizens as human beings. Pretending otherwise, and pointing to an artificial line on a chart, or an inevitably flawed economic theory, is in my opinion the lamest form of obscurantism, and the worst form of destructive self serving sophistry out there.

Ultimately societies are the most prosperous when they have educated, healthy people in them, that live in safe, sustainable communities. The impacts of poverty and poor health cannot be understated, and I would never support a government that pretended nothing could be done about it. Unfortunately, that is the undercurrent of most conservative ideology.

As for the article that started this whole discussion, I found the writer to be smug, and finding fault for no reason other than to feed his own smug feeling of righteous correctness. Silly, and frustrating for those of us who try to accomplish things on this planet. It is fine and good to have a utopian view, but unless you are willing to do the work to take the first of the bazillion small steps to achieve it, you are meaningless.

Unless you are willing to accept that other people have different Utopias, and yours must be open to adaptation and change, then you are nothing but another wannabe absolutist.


I don't think the love child of Albert Einstein and Mother Teresa could have governed Ontario from 1990-95 and come out a winner. The effects of the economic restructuring plus recession that hit the province in 1990 were just that severe and prolonged. That is, after all, what the Ontario Liberals were so desperately trying to avoid by going to the polls so early.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Wall St. [b]never[/b] called us a third world country.
Steven Harper's crowd did.


Hey, I'm with you guys, but, myth or reality perception counts. You're right, pointing to a graph doesn't help the poor, but its no secret that money runs scared from an NDP government. That part of the equation has to change.

ps. I remember a cartoon in Now mag that had an american family driving into Canada. The US side had horrible poverty and Can had health care, etc. The caption was: roll up your windows kids, we're entering a 3rd world country.

weakling willy

I don't want to restart the debates on economic democracy, because Tom V. probably doesn't have the time to spare. But I agree with N.Beltov that one could ask the question of why increasing popular capacities to plan the economy are not on the radar -- not even the least radical elements of the Ducasse platform.

jeff house


It may be uncomfortable to some, but Jack won't lead us to the promised land. We have to do it ourselves...
So go ahead and vote for Jack. I probably will. But I ain't deluding myself...

It may also be uncomfortable to recognise that YOU won't lead us to the promised land.

Nor will anyone else.

So maybe you are deluding yourself.

John K

Hister's article was certainly the biggest waste of bandwidth that I've run across on the Net so far today.

Sure, Layton's answers were glib to the questions from Panitch and Gindin in the CD interview that Hister dredges up. But it's hard to give an intelligent answer to a stupid question.


It is kinda fitting that the American ultra-conglomerate Krispy Kreme opened its doors in Calgary yesterday.

RickW RickW's picture


Originally posted by leftcoastguy:

Tim Hortons is a great Canadian success story, isn't it?
[img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 31 March 2004: Message edited by: leftcoastguy ][/b]

Tim is owned by Wendy's though, isn't it?

RickW RickW's picture


Originally posted by PINK APE 2000:
[b]I don't think the NDP will have much of an impact until they can show that they can manage money. There's lots of examples of NDP catastrophes but few ex. of NDP fiscal responsibility. Yes, the corp world will do their best to sabatoge them but that's obvious. They will need to court big biz in some way or they'll be in the boonies for ever.[/b]

Well the Martin/Chretien Libs certainly showed how to "manage" money, and I believe the Mulroney Conservatives were equally as good. Now shouldn't the New democrats get a chance?

Poco Greenwood

I have never posted on rabble before, so obviously this article was provocative. however, rabble should not consider this a success. They have chosen to post an article that is not well-written or well-researched.

First, the author rambles on about Layton not embracing 'socialism', without clearly articulating his own vision for a socialist Canada which would make sense in the context of canadian realities. This is irresponsible given the argument the writer is trying to make.

Then, the author decides to criticize layton for entertaining the notion of being part of a prospective minority federal government. Well, you know what, we play the game of representative democracy or we don't. We happen to be a federal political party and i think we need to anticipate these possibilities. Need i remind the writer that substantive, meaningful policy initiaitives, including public medicare, were a result of the NDP entering into a minority government many years ago.

Then, the author criticizes layton for entertaining the notion that if Clark or Copps should want to wonder over to the NDP, this means we are selling out. how is this? Did layton say that we would change all of the NDP's policies, members and caucus. No, he did not. He said if its too right wing over there, maybe you want to consider a party that will not sell out on you as your own parties just have. Why is this so wrong?

Let me be clear, i am not star struck with layton. I think its true that he is big on image, and glossy as hell. There are things that in my view could stand improvement. But give me a break - you can not claim that because he is not adhering to a strictly 'socialist' agenda, he is compromising the party. I would invite the author to, instead of criticizing layton, advance a clearly articulated, carefully thought out version of socialism and advance it within party ranks. Picking on Layton is just the easy way out.

And from the title of his article, 'Layton: the tim hortons of the left', I would say its not Jack whose big on so-called sexy lead lines with holes in the middle, it may be you.

Rufus Polson


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Did you hear the story about the 12 dwarves and the hobbit? It went like this... [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] [/b]

Sacrilege! It was 13 dwarves and a hobbit. The hobbit was largely there to avoid the expedition having unlucky 13 members!


The author is a classic pundit. All critique, no ideas.

As they say about Bush, all hat and no cattle.


Having read Pink Ape's posts, I'm confused as to whether he's with us or agin' us,

but i'll say, yes, i go back pretty far to T.Douglas, but I also took it forward in time, including Romanow (who I don't like for a number of reasons) and i mentioned Rae as superior to Harris on the fiscal side not as an awesome socialist politician.

The myth of ndp fiscal irresponsibility exists in spite of a long record of prudence. Conservatives have a long history of recklessness, going back to Sir John A. and including Diefenbaker, and now Devine and Harris/Eves.

Actually, if there's an ndp leader with the courage and presence of mind to bring this up at the drop of a hat, it will be the glib, tv-friendly Layton.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture


Originally posted by Rufus Polson:

Sacrilege! It was 13 dwarves and a hobbit. The hobbit was largely there to avoid the expedition having unlucky 13 members![/b]

Oops! I forgot about Thorin. Apologies to Dwalin, Balin, Fili, Kili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur. And just in time, since the sun is coming up in sunny Winnipeg...

Willowdale Wizard

"thorin in my side
you know that's all you'll ever be
so don't think you know better
cause that's what bilbo means to me"

- the eurythmics

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

WARNING: thread drift...

Funny about Bert and William and Tom (the three trolls)...some threads in babble look like the three of them arguing, with the occassional word thrown in by Gandalf to keep them going until the sun comes up.

BTW, what is the origin of the expression "troll" that is used to describe unacceptable conduct here on babble?

[ 01 April 2004: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

Willowdale Wizard

[url=http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=troll]i think it's[/url] not as much the troll hiding under a bridge as trolling (baiting people needlessly).


I did like the Wilde quote. What used to distinguish social democracy from communism was the roadmap on how to get to socialism not whether or not it was a good idea.

True, the Canadian electorate is not clamoring for socialism and a more radical program may not translate into more votes in the next election since structural/systemic change is not on the agenda. And maybe it's unfair to expect the NDP to be the harbinger of a message they don't really believe in. In that respect, I'm not sure the article was fair to Layton.

Some of those who experienced socialism or whatever you want to call the old soviet system are waxing nostalgic now that they've had a few years to experience the altnerative. [url=http://mondediplo.com/2004/03/11russia]Russia: nostalgic for the Soviet era[/url]


The perception of the past is changing, filtered by the experience of market reforms that are now widely recognised to have been calamitous. The initial instigator of those reforms, sociologist Tatiana Zaslavskaya (18), believes that workers are less likely to own property and are more deprived of rights than during the Soviet era. Manufacturing has not just slumped it has structurally and technologically declined. She says that sectors that met social needs during the Soviet era and raised the standard of living modestly are now in decline. The democratic gains of the period of perestroпka and glasnost are at risk. Polarisation of society is acute: 20-30% of the population are living in conditions of serious deprivation in rundown accommodation and dying prematurely.



BTW, what is the origin of the expression "troll" that is used to describe unacceptable conduct here on babble?

WW is right -- it comes from fishing, not mythology.

[url=http://www.hack.gr/jargon/]The Hacker's Dictionary[/url] says:


troll v.,n.
1. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the post itself. Derives from the phrase "trolling for newbies" which in turn comes from mainstream "trolling", a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don't fall for the joke, you get to be in on it. 2. An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that the have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, "Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll." 3. [Berkeley] Computer lab monitor. A popular campus job for CS student. Duties include helping newbies and ensuring that lab policies are followed. Probably so-called because it involves lurking in dark cavelike corners.

Some people claim that the troll (sense 1) is properly a narrower category than flame bait, that a troll is categorized by containing some assertion that is wrong but not overtly controversial. See also Troll-O-Meter.


I agree that the NDP isn't a socialist party, and that Jack isn't explicitly a socialist. But I also think that the theological obsession with the word "socialist" misses something important. If Jack were to bandy about the word socialist right now, it would marginalize the NDP into irrelevance. People not only don't identify with it, they actively resist it. Existing socialist groups don't help much in rehabilitating the name. They seem unaware that they have a political culture, and that this culture is, by and large, completley repellent to most of the population.

I agree that the NDP has no compelling political analysis and no long term goals, and therefore no plan for how to get there. At the same time, I agree with Jack that too much certainty about where we're going is intellectually and spiritually dishonest. And I think that Gindin and Panitch, while clear on the long-term goals, don't have a plan of how to get there either. There's a lot of "ah-hah! you're a fake!" thrown at other people but precious little sense of what the next steps are, or of how to use existing opportunities, and how to overcome existing challenges. Their clear self-identification as socialists moves us no closer to any long term goal than the NDP does.

To my mind, a key strategic piece that is missing right now is organized political education on a large scale. And that is the missing piece I personally am working to help build.


Topic locked