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Saturday, April 9, 2011

On thwap and honesty as the best policy

Full disclosure here: I like thwap. Honest, spirited and refreshingly nasty. Although he is given to the occasional vulgarity. Makes me feel all naive and earnest by comparison.

Was just reading his stuff (I'd recommend it to anyone of a progressive mindset, by the way), and had to comment. And then I thought to throw the discussion open to a wider audience. (That means both my readers.) So, read thwap's post here.

What I said in response:

And there, old thwapster, is the conundrum, isn't it.
The whole "engage with honesty" thing is a challenge. You and I both, along with more than a few of our progressive brethren, have basically run out of patience on more than one occasion with corporate/right-wing shitheaderry. Why, in god's name, must we waste hours and hours going back to first principles and defend ourselves from idiocy?
Why do we have to recycle every discussion and repeat over and over again that concern for due process and effective criminal-justice policy is not the same thing as being soft on crime and subscribing to some notional hug-a-thug approach?
Why do we have to spend time explaining that our discomfort with Harper's crypto-totalitarian disdain for democracy doesn't mean we're ready to surrender to the terrorists and steal money from hard-working taxpayers before forcing them to marry gay Muslims?
This is where I sometimes run out of answers. I'm all for engaging people with whom I disagree in a spirit of openness and respect. Especially when I'm talking to liberals of the big-L variety. You've put it very clearly and succinctly yourself, in fact, when you write that you get on fine with individual Liberals even as you despise their party. (At this point I could go for the cheap laugh and protest, with my most innocent wide-eyed expression, that some of my best friends are well-meaning Liberals.)
Easy enough for me to say, I know, and god knows I don't always manage to live up to the high-minded impulses behind such nice words. Sometimes, in fact, I may even descend to patronizing condescension, or even, god help me, genuine rudeness.
It's a delicate balancing act, I know. And there are times when, despite my naive good intentions, I start losing faith in my ability to find that balance. Today, I just don't know what the answer is.



  1. Things aren't broken enough yet. Not enough people are going hungry, living on the street, dying underfoot. Morally inconvenient? Sure. Morally intolerable? Not yet.

    Plus, we're dealing with homo sapiens about whom we know almost nothing.

  2. OB,

    I'm more saying that we shouldn't be afraid of alienating people.

    In my mind, the NDP is especially weak because they've tried to meekly move with the rightward trend of politics over the last few decades.

    One example of how we have to speak fearlessly is Israel. People are starting to speak out against Israeli atrocities. We've still got a long way to go, but the whole "anti-Semite" canard is starting to die. For as long as it's operational though, the "debates" are limited so long as people are afraid to speak out for fear of being branded as Hitler Jr.

    We should ask ourselves why we're socialists, establish why, and then argue that we're right with passion. Don't run away from it the way US-Dems ran from "liberal."

  3. I remember the sleazy accusations of 'raising taxes' Liberals threw at the NDP last go round, for proposing the same rescinding of corporate tax cuts they are now promising this election. The usual suspects have switched rhetorical gears blatantly, completely and unapologetically. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    In the US, as Bill Maher said, 'over the last 30 years the Democratic Party went right wing and the Republican Party went to the insane asylum.' Here in Canada, where ever the NDP becomes a valid, regularly attainable provincial governing option the provincial 'liberal' and 'conservative' parties invariably merge into a default right wing pro chamber of commerce party, whether they're called 'the BC Liberal Party' or 'The Saskatchewan Party'.

    If the NDP actually did develop the support to become a really attainable federal governing party the federal Liberal Party and the Conservative Party would merge into a single vaguely progressive sounding corporatist Bay Street Party to keep them out so fast your head would spin.

    The so called 'progressives' still supporting this party are really just tribalists who can't imagine changing the colour of their socks from red to orange.