Author Topic: How to save Liberal Democracy?  (Read 1425 times)

Razgovory

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #60 on: July 15, 2018, 04:21:06 pm »
What makes these "populist"?

Each one of them only got enshrined in law and regulation after long campaigns mobilizing people en masse.


I don't think that makes specifically "Populist".  Desegregation was in set forward in large part due to unelected judges making very unpopular rulings.
I've given it serious thought. I must scorn the ways of my family, and seek a Japanese woman to yield me my progeny. He shall live in the lands of the east, and be well tutored in his sacred trust to weave the best traditions of Japan and the Sacred South together, until such time as he (or, indeed his house, which will periodically require infusion of both Southern and Japanese bloodlines of note) can deliver to the South it's independence, either in this world or in space.  -Lettow April of 2011

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Jacob

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #61 on: July 15, 2018, 04:25:45 pm »
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left-wing populism is centred on the notion of equal dignity for all - workers rights, women's right to vote, desegregation et. al. are all examples of morally laudable left populist issues, IMO.

Ok so those should be liberal ideas except for the workers rights part where they go overboard and suffocate the economy, like France.

But my main point is, these don't seem to be populist left ideas to me. Not in the last 15-20 years at least (workers' rights excepted). In fact, pushing the boundaries on equality is precisely what seem to have alienated the working class from the left.

I'm not particularly concerned in this discussion about whether any given issue was more effectively championed by liberals, organized labour, doctrinaire socialists, or any other group. The relevant point is that the various changes were achieved through popular political mobilization; hence populism. Liberalism was once considered a dangerous radical left position - especially when it agitated for on these issues. Thus the list represents various leftist populist movements - whichever individual ideology you wish to credit - which is the relevant response to Raz' question.

And yes I agree - these ideas are not particularly relevant in terms of populism in the last 15-20 years (or longer). That is sort of the point I'm making. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of compelling leftist populist ideas these days, and that is - I expect - part of the reason for the surge in rightist populism.

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I do agree that leftist populism is a possible, albeit very dangerous antidote to losing to the far right. However, it will have to be on the same avenue where the left has always won - economic benefits to the "plebs", simple enough ones so it will register next to and instead of "immigrants are taking your jobs and robbing you blind and they have a different skin colour, plus gays are yuk".

Let's hope we are not at the point where this is the only alternative though.

With the ever growing gap in economic inequality and the slow (and sometimes speedy) erosion of the social safety net, economic populism may come back in vogue again. The trick to make it work will be, IMO, to formulate the arguments and proposed solutions in a way that seems current in the age of social media, remote work, the prevalence of service work, etc.

Jacob

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #62 on: July 15, 2018, 04:30:48 pm »
I don't think that makes specifically "Populist".  Desegregation was in set forward in large part due to unelected judges making very unpopular rulings.

You may be right - I'm not an expert on the era and the movement.

That said, the specific mechanism of implementation is not what makes or doesn't make it populism in my eyes. The reason why I'd consider desegregation a result of populism is that - I thought - it involved mass mobilization of protesters and voters, it lent itself neatly to black and white (ahem) slogans, and it became a defining issue where many people wouldn't support someone in favour of segregation whatever other issues they might agree on.

If/ when Trump's supreme court bans abortion that won't make it less the result of Trumpist populism, even if it the final step is taken by a handful of judges.

Jacob

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #63 on: July 15, 2018, 04:37:39 pm »
Do you think that is related to migration?

I think it's a likely theory.

In Denmark - as I understand it - they've avoided that by making "be shitty to immigrants" a common position across most of the political spectrum, with the Social Democrats formally making that a policy position.

Conversely, the nationalist party has avoided taking on most of the fascist tropes, focusing mostly on "be shitty to immigrants" and regular politics, while still buying in fully to the mechanisms of Danish democracy. Of course, they're the second largest party as well, but they're not a threat to democratic institutions.

I guess it's great if you think multiculturalism is a crock and foreigners should shape the hell up - you can vote across a whole range of the political spectrum and have that position respected.

Razgovory

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #64 on: July 15, 2018, 05:01:32 pm »
I don't think that makes specifically "Populist".  Desegregation was in set forward in large part due to unelected judges making very unpopular rulings.

You may be right - I'm not an expert on the era and the movement.

That said, the specific mechanism of implementation is not what makes or doesn't make it populism in my eyes. The reason why I'd consider desegregation a result of populism is that - I thought - it involved mass mobilization of protesters and voters, it lent itself neatly to black and white (ahem) slogans, and it became a defining issue where many people wouldn't support someone in favour of segregation whatever other issues they might agree on.

If/ when Trump's supreme court bans abortion that won't make it less the result of Trumpist populism, even if it the final step is taken by a handful of judges.


I agree if Trump's supreme court bans abortion it won't really be a populist move.  Populism is more than just a mass movement.  It's about being for the "people" against the know-it-all "elites" using "common sense" solutions to complex problems.  I think that's enough scare quotes in a sentence.  Right-wing populists (and right now most western nations are having trouble with the right-wing variety rather than the left-wing type), have a disturbing tendency to attack minority groups or the poorest strata of society by tying them to elites.  For instance, claiming there is a conspiracy by cultural Marxists (I don't know exactly what that is) to destroy the West by flooding it with Muslims.
I've given it serious thought. I must scorn the ways of my family, and seek a Japanese woman to yield me my progeny. He shall live in the lands of the east, and be well tutored in his sacred trust to weave the best traditions of Japan and the Sacred South together, until such time as he (or, indeed his house, which will periodically require infusion of both Southern and Japanese bloodlines of note) can deliver to the South it's independence, either in this world or in space.  -Lettow April of 2011

"I love how Raz just becomes the caricature for exactly what he is claiming doesn't actually exist...and he doesn't even know it! He is 100% oblivious to the irony of his own statements." - Berkut telling a lie.

Raz is right. -MadImmortalMan March of 2017

Solmyr

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #65 on: July 16, 2018, 04:41:47 am »
Then again of course, that whole migration and multiculturalism topic is giving the decisive support to the fascist government in Hungary, and the country has no measurable sized immigration from different cultures.

People who hate immigrants the most are usually the ones who don't ever interact with immigrants in any way.

crazy canuck

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #66 on: July 17, 2018, 12:49:40 pm »
Then again of course, that whole migration and multiculturalism topic is giving the decisive support to the fascist government in Hungary, and the country has no measurable sized immigration from different cultures.

People who hate immigrants the most are usually the ones who don't ever interact with immigrants in any way.

It is one of the bits of hope I have, as immigrant populations increase and interact with local populations, that particular right wing populist tactic will become less effective.
"You don't get to support the modern Republican Party while decrying everything that the modern Republican Party actually DOES, and those are the very things that have resulted in Trump being the face, brain, and heart of the Republicans.

There was the possibility that this was not the case, that Trump was just this anomaly of the radical right - that there was room for sane, adult Republican leadership that would have to deal with Trump and his radicalized brownshirts while still holding to true to some core of their values. That did not happen though. Instead of the Party moderating Trump, they have embraced him 100%, and are doing their best to emulate him, and they are certainly following him faithfully.

The Republican Party *IS* Donald Trump now. Not because he made them so, but because they made HIM so."  - Berkut

dps

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #67 on: July 17, 2018, 01:02:30 pm »
Then again of course, that whole migration and multiculturalism topic is giving the decisive support to the fascist government in Hungary, and the country has no measurable sized immigration from different cultures.

People who hate immigrants the most are usually the ones who don't ever interact with immigrants in any way.

It is one of the bits of hope I have, as immigrant populations increase and interact with local populations, that particular right wing populist tactic will become less effective.

Another reason I have more faith in the US and Canada than in Europe.  For all of our racial problems, we do a better job integrating immigrants than most European nations.

Oexmelin

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #68 on: July 17, 2018, 01:06:44 pm »
I agree that increased interaction can help. Still, it's not a panacea. Nobles interacted for centuries with commoners, without ever thinking of granting them political rights. Ditto for white masters and black slaves. And, as the flurry of stories about "pillars of the community" being deported, people are also quite ready to make exceptions in their mind for the "good black people" they know, or the "good Mexicans" they know, and the other, bad Mexicans.

It requires a robust political discourse that goes well beyond the sort of weak utilitarianism that we seem to fall back to (i.e., "immigration is good for the economy"). Because utility can easily be decoupled from dignity, and we already see that fact-base discourse about crime, work, labor, education, etc., has only limited reach. It breaks my heart every time I see people trying to denounce black people getting shot by saying that they had good grades, or a good job, etc.  It really struck me recently that, for all of its crudeness, the US propaganda produced in the 40s and 50s (which we now see circulating again) use "values", and the "spirit of America" rather than economic utilitarianism.
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Oexmelin

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #69 on: July 17, 2018, 01:12:25 pm »
Another reason I have more faith in the US and Canada than in Europe.  For all of our racial problems, we do a better job integrating immigrants than most European nations.

Whether or not this is true (and I do think it is quite debatable), you end up with very similar problems, namely that there is a significant proportion of your population that vociferously disagrees with it (and vociferously disagrees with increased integration of your historic African-American population, where the US's track record should perhaps give you pause). And those portions of the country where integration happens well, and which could warrant some optimism, are politically underrepresented - and I see no sign of change on that front. Amazing integration in New York, and California, and New Jersey, will not impact profoundly the voting patterns of the over-represented rural America. 
Que le grand cric me croque !

crazy canuck

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #70 on: July 17, 2018, 01:14:44 pm »
I agree that increased interaction can help. Still, it's not a panacea. Nobles interacted for centuries with commoners, without ever thinking of granting them political rights. Ditto for white masters and black slaves. And, as the flurry of stories about "pillars of the community" being deported, people are also quite ready to make exceptions in their mind for the "good black people" they know, or the "good Mexicans" they know, and the other, bad Mexicans.

It requires a robust political discourse that goes well beyond the sort of weak utilitarianism that we seem to fall back to (i.e., "immigration is good for the economy"). Because utility can easily be decoupled from dignity, and we already see that fact-base discourse about crime, work, labor, education, etc., has only limited reach. It breaks my heart every time I see people trying to denounce black people getting shot by saying that they had good grades, or a good job, etc.  It really struck me recently that, for all of its crudeness, the US propaganda produced in the 40s and 50s (which we now see circulating again) use "values", and the "spirit of America" rather than economic utilitarianism.


The effect is at a more fundamental level, distrust of immigrant populations decreases as the percentage of immigrant populations rise.  The obverse is also true - in communities where there is a low immigrant population, distrust is high. Here is one example - first google hit because I am lazy  :)

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Social trust ameliorates collective action problems by allowing multicultural societies to adopt more inclusive and equitable public policies directed toward newly arriving immigrants. However, existing research warns that increasing ethnic diversity from immigrant populations can undermine levels of social trust, hindering mass support for redistributive policies that empower low‐income minority populations. This article examines the relationship between U.S. state‐level social trust and immigrant access to social welfare programs using multilevel regression with post‐stratification to estimate state‐level attitudes of distrust. Distrust is found to be associated with reduced immigrant access to redistributive social programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid. Interestingly, patterns of distrust and strict immigrant welfare exclusion are more pronounced among low immigrant Southern states, while high immigrant states exhibit relatively inclusive and accommodative policies.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/polp.12115

"You don't get to support the modern Republican Party while decrying everything that the modern Republican Party actually DOES, and those are the very things that have resulted in Trump being the face, brain, and heart of the Republicans.

There was the possibility that this was not the case, that Trump was just this anomaly of the radical right - that there was room for sane, adult Republican leadership that would have to deal with Trump and his radicalized brownshirts while still holding to true to some core of their values. That did not happen though. Instead of the Party moderating Trump, they have embraced him 100%, and are doing their best to emulate him, and they are certainly following him faithfully.

The Republican Party *IS* Donald Trump now. Not because he made them so, but because they made HIM so."  - Berkut

Oexmelin

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #71 on: July 17, 2018, 01:54:22 pm »
Que le grand cric me croque !

The Minsky Moment

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Re: How to save Liberal Democracy?
« Reply #72 on: July 17, 2018, 06:57:16 pm »
Topical:

The Democratic Coming Apart:
http://bostonreview.net/politics/david-runciman-joshua-cohen-democratic-coming-apart

Some thoughts, from a particularly American perspective:

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The relationship that we have now with Congress, for example, has started to become a relationship of not doing things. It is the inverse of meaningful change. That’s a failure. I say in my book explicitly that I think democracy promises two things to people: dignity (by way of their voice) and results. It promises problem-solving.

What Democracy promises is representation. "Dignity and results" - the Chinese system does that. It's certainly not unique to democracy. American democracy in particular is designed to get action where there is consensus, relative inaction when there is not.  That is WAD.  In a federal system if there is no national consensus, then the federal system gets clogged up but the states can act.

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n the twentieth century it was the threat of catastrophe—through world war, economic catastrophe, and the threat of violence and civil breakdown—that made the connection between voice and problem-solving. Challenges of that scale—what we now tend to call existential catastrophes—were galvanizing for democracy. Fighting a war of national survival collectivized the experience of problem-solving.

I agree with that - and it's not just the experience in the abstact.  It's Iowa farm boys and Southerners and city slickers being thrown together as comrades in a pressure cooker.

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Saving us from nuclear catastrophe or saving us from intelligent machines that turn out not to have our interests at heart—these are enormously technical questions, and they feed into an idea that problem-solving is somehow removed from democratic life. It’s the provinces not just of experts, but these detached bodies that hover above democracy

The 20th century had lots of those kinds of problems.  How do we deal with concentrated corporate power and private control of utility chokeholds (railroads, oil pipelines, power grids)? How do address the tendency of capitalist finance to periodically fall into crisis?  How do we mobilize to fight and project power across 2 oceans? How do we develop and deploy nuclear weapons, and then how we address a world with other, hostile nuclear powers. How do we get humans into space and then to the Moon and back? etc. The solutions to many of these problems invovled creating expert and technocratic bodies, albeit subject to democratic oversight and control.  It's hardly a novel issue.

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Likewise, thinking about intelligent machines is much, much harder for a democratic public than things like economic depression.

Really?  I very much doubt that.


The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.
--Joan Robinson