Sunday, November 05, 2006

The "Real Left" Stands Up on TVO & in Progress


Shalom Lappin does a fine job of setting out the ideas of the Euston Manifesto on the TVOntario program The Agenda, now online here. He's followed by Morton Weinfeld, a sociology professor at McGill, who ably defends progressive internationalism in a conversation with Buzz Hargrove of the Canadian Auto Workers, Corvin Russell of Rabble.ca, and Laurie Adkin, from the political science department at the University of Alberta.

I winced at some of the things Buzz had to say (I rather like Buzz) and I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for Corvin Russell (maybe he should have taken a few minutes to gather his thoughts first), but Adkin did manage a valid criticism of the Euston Manifesto, in that it fails to properly take into account the relevance of ecological collapse and related matters.

Take global warming. Could anything be more important? It is not as though a "Eustonian" perspective should be incapable of addressing it. I've tried to, this way: Global warming is a macro-economic problem, with vast ecological, cultural and geopolitical implications. It may be the greatest single impediment to global human progress. Its impact will be felt mainly by the poor. In other words, it's a class problem. More of that here.

Jeffrey Sachs makes some important points about all this:

Our political systems and global politics are largely unequipped for the real challenges of today’s world. Global economic growth and rising populations are putting unprecedented stresses on the physical environment, and these stresses in turn are causing unprecedented challenges for our societies. Yet politicians are largely ignorant of these trends. Governments are not organized to meet them. And crises that are fundamentally ecological in nature are managed by outdated strategies of war and diplomacy.

Some unhelpfully sweeping statements in that essay, and some false either-or choices implied, I thought. But what he's saying deserves to be taken seriously.

Brian Brivati makes an excellent case for clear thinking here, in Progress Online:

We should not abandon liberal interventionism. It is a new system for the relations between states and we are in the very early days of developing it. Of course there have been terrible mistakes and the cost in human life of those mistakes should haunt anyone who advocates interventions in the future. Moreover, the nature of the interventions we favour need to become much more long term, linking the right to development with the responsibility to protect. So we can do it better and we should do it better. There is a legal case for intervention and under the UN charter we are obliged to fulfil our responsibility to protect. Victory in the global war on terror will only be achieved by policies that link the use of force with economic intervention to promote development. But more than all of these things, democratic socialists should retain a sense of our moral commitment to global citizenship. Universalism is deeply unfashionable at present but the moral imperative of our responsibility for each other as human beings is more urgently required than ever.

2 Comments:

Blogger dirk said...

Hey I understand some of the points in the EM,but unfortunately it is a creation of academic types and authors,and I see it as more a manifesto of bloggers,trying to define themselves in that huge space that is the blogsphere.
Not that,that is a bad thing,its just that intellectual types like to talk(there are exceptions), rather than hit the street and actually do something.

Tenured professors,academics,authors in "most" cases are cut of from the lives of ordinary people.
They are more likely to benefit from the status-quo.Usually the last to buck the "system",and with whom career is everything.
But before anyone jumps all over me,notice the quotes around most.Of course there are exceptions to this.But I will always put my faith in the ordinary people.

6:31 PM  
Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

"We should not abandon liberal interventionism." So very true, but how do you make all democracies rallying together?

Look at the pitiful state of UN, being teared apart by the infight of democracies and the (unsurprising) unity of dictatorships. A real mirror of the world's ills.

11:04 AM  

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