Follow-up on ‘Racism or Economics?’

A week or so ago I posted about a question I had seen asked by a lot of people dismayed by Trump’s election – ‘is it really about the economy? or really about racism?’ I claimed that this is really two different questions wrapped together – a social scientific question, of what causes or explains what, and an emotional question, of whether to empathise with anti-establishment rage (even while thinking it misdirected) or not.

Multiple friends have pushed me to recognise that there’s actually more wrapped up in this question, and some of it is can be answered more confidently.

One big issue, perhaps the simplest and most direct, is about condemnation and exculpation. To say ‘voting for Trump is racist’ implies a serious moral judgement on voters. I think sometimes when people say ‘this isn’t really racism, it’s misdirected economic distress’, the subtext is that such a moral judgement is unfair. It’s an attempt to excuse and defend, not just one explanatory hypothesis among many.

But, as a friend of mine pointed out, the explanatory question is actually fairly irrelevant to this question of condemnation. Even if racist sentiment wasn’t the primary motive for an action, the action can still be egregiously racist – can still express and reflect a failure to see non-white people as fully human. And I have to say that I think voting for Donald Trump is an example of such an action.

If some supposedly economy-focused voter, who really just wanted more tax cuts or more infrastructure spending (or whatever Trump was promising that week), was willing to support someone who associated with, promoted, and inspired explicit white supremacists, promised to ban a religion from entering the country, and constantly associated undocumented migrants with a non-existent rise in crime… then they were expressing indifference to the obvious fact that electing this candidate would impose life-ruining costs on millions of non-white people. And that indifference is itself dehumanising and racist.

The other question is what to do. I think for some people saying ‘it’s really about the economy’ is a way of saying ‘what we need to do is reach out to Trump voters with a economically populist, but anti-racist, message.’ For others, saying ‘racism is the driving force’ is a way of saying ‘what would work best is more militancy, more confrontation, more active assertion of our opposition.’ Which of those two stances is correct isn’t a question about why things happened in the past but about what could happen in the future.

While I’m perfectly happy saying that voting for Trump is a racist thing to do, I’m really uncertain about that practical question. In part that’s because both sides can say, with some plausibility, that the other plan has already been followed and failed. Decades of politicians condemning racism in the harshest terms, decades of politicians promising the address the ‘very real concerns’ of anti-immigrant voters, and here we are.

Obviously the question of what is the best political strategies for progressives is an important one, but it’s a daunting one and I’m not going to try to answer it here. I think there’s some value in distinguishing the four different questions noted above, and in recognising their significant independence of one another – in particular, that even if economic factors are the biggest explanatory factor for why people vote for Trump, doing so is still racist.

(I should also note that the question of how progressives should deal with Trump-voters is a different and harder question than how they should deal with Trump and his government, which I think is another relatively easy question: oppose and obstruct it at every possible turn.)

Posted in Uncategorized, US Politics | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

On the Supposed Logical Consequences of Free Movement

(Part 1 here). The other thing my Leave-voting friend said (echoing things I’ve heard in conversation from others) was this:

“Secondly, if migration is a right and A Good Thing, then logically population will flow to the 1st world cities and eventually you will have a few incredibly densely populated conurbations and the rest of the world largely abandoned.  Is that a good outcome?  Many countries – the UK for one – constructed policies to prevent that happening within their states because most people felt it was not.”

 I can see where this concern comes from, but as stated I think it’s a kind of ‘spherical-cow physics‘: if you simplify your model enough, with a single metric of desirability and people’s choices explained simply by desirability, then the logical result will be everyone living in a few super-cities (which, for the record, I don’t think is a good outcome). But such simplified models aren’t really useful, for various reasons:

  • People vary in what’s desirable to them (hence lots of people either never move to big cities, or actively move away from them);
  • People have lots of reasons not to move, like attachment to home, family, culture, etc.;
  • There are feedback effects (a destination can become less attractive if it’s too densely populated);
  • Things other than migration affect population, like birth and death rates (if one area has much higher fertility than another, migration from the first to the second would stabilise populations, not concentrate them);
  • Timescale matters – a problem in ten years is one thing, a problem in a hundred years is i) probably beyond our ability to affect, and ii) may well not happen just because some other parameter will change drastically in the intervening period.

But it’s a bit unfair to harp on issues like these. I suspect the point isn’t really about mathematical modelling, but more a sort of test of what sort of disagreement we’re having: are supporters of free movement so fanatical that they’ll say ‘yeah, even if it would lead to dystopian overcrowding in London, I’d still oppose deportations etc.’? Or will they instead say ‘no, if that was the foreseeable result I’d support border controls, but that’s not what will happen’? If the former, I come across like a crazy zealot; if the latter, I seem to have conceded the principle and the disagreement is just empirical.

And it’s not like overdemand for housing, infrstructure, etc. resulting from sudden rushes of people to the same big city isn’t a real issue – that kind of ‘overcrowding’ has been a big thing, for instance, at least since the industrial revolution (though my understanding is that it’s debated how much this was about the carrot of jobs and how much about active stick-type efforts to drive peasants off the land). Sometimes people arrive faster than housing, transport, and other sorts of infrastructure is expanded, and that’s a problem.

But I still think the choice which my friend’s argument tries to push onto supporters of free movement is sort of a false one. Mismatches between where people are moving and the infrastructure to support them can be addressed in a variety of ways – coercive intervention, subtler forms of incentive-manipulating (e.g. policies to encourage jobs or people to go to places more able to accommodate them), greater investment in infrastructure, etc. Saying that coercion isn’t a legitimate tool isn’t saying you can’t do anything at all.

(To use the reproductive analogy I like to return to, sudden changes in people’s reproductive habits can also be disruptive to public services etc., and that warrants political effort to solve those problems. But coercing individuals into having kids, or into not having kids, isn’t a legitimate tool for that political effort.)

Moreover, border controls arguably cause more severe overcrowding than they prevent – they just push it into refugee camps, detention centres, and developing countries that happen to border war zones. My friend’s question suggests abstracting from here-and-now to consider hypothetical long-term outcomes, but the problems worried about are already happening, in part because of the policies the question seeks to justify.

Posted in British Politics | Tagged , | 4 Comments

On Ownership of Territory and ‘Taking Back Control’

A Leave-voting friend who read my post last week emailed me some questions:

“You say we don’t own our national territory, but an awful lot of people feel they want to, and in a democracy that means there is the risk–and now the fact–that power may settle on them…so is it sufficient to be right, when the political will is wrong?  What this means is that progressive politicians may have to do more than protest about views they don’t agree with…I think the left vs right metaphor may be exhausted and no longer helps us to understand politics…see [this guardian article].

Secondly, if migration is a right and A Good Thing, then logically population will flow to the 1st world cities and eventually you will have a few incredibly densely populated conurbations and the rest of the world largely abandoned.  Is that a good outcome?  Many countries – the UK for one – constructed policies to prevent that happening within their states because most people felt it was not.”

These two comments are distinct enough that I’ll respond to them in separate posts. The first one touches on some things I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I half-regret the phrasing I used in that previous post, that ‘we don’t own our national territory’, because it suggests a general hostility to the idea of collective ownership and collective action. It sounds like I’m saying we should just think in terms of globe-trotting individuals and some laws for them to operate under. And that’s not what I think. In a sense I support people collectively owning their national territory, but it all depends on what ‘collective ownership’ is contrasting with, what’s being denied. Is it contrasting with private ownership, or ownership by an invading rival collective? Then I’d support it, even while opposing a collective right to exclude others from moving here.

But the really important contrast, I think, is with simple powerlessness, with bad things happening and everyone hating it but not being able to do anything about it. The Brexit rallying cry was ‘take back control’, and that’s an important and valid aspiration. What dismayed me about ‘Leave’ messaging is that the way it actually spelt out ‘take back control’ was overwhelmingly in terms of taking it back from someone else, whether immigrants or the EU, identified either as having seized control from us, or as needing to be controlled.

But control isn’t zero-sum: control for one party isn’t inversely proportional to control for another. You can give one community of people more control over their lives without anyone else having to lose control, by making them organised enough to identify what they want they want done and organised enough to get it implemented. Conversely, chucking out some designated bad guys, all by itself, often does nothing to increase people’s actual control over things (the difficulties of so many post-colonial states is surely a supportive data-point here).

So I don’t see a principled contradiction between open borders and collective control: establishing collective control (the good kind of ‘owning our national territory’) has really very little to do with being able to coercively block individual travel plans – it’s much more to do with having institutions and people who can regulate macro-scale phenomena in ways that are actually effective and responsive to ordinary people’s interests. It’s largely to do with what we might call (deliberately unfashionably) ‘economic planning’, or (perhaps more fashionably) ‘economic democracy’.

Ok, so all this may be fine and dandy in principle. What about actual politics, here and now? I’m much less confident in what I think about that – partly because reality is more complicated than principle, partly because principles are my professional forte, more than political strategy.

But I do think my friend is right to suggest that “progressive[s]… have to do more than protest about views they don’t agree with.” In particular, suppose I’m right that people’s right to collectively control the conditions of their lives is limited by the rights of individuals. Even so, when I say that, or when the government says that, or when an elite university or the European commission says that, it’s perfectly natural for Leave-supporters to hear it as another attempt to impose outside control over them. I said above that what dismays me about the Brexit campaign is the oppositional, zer0-sum framing: ‘take back control’ interpreted as ‘take control away from these others who have too much of it’. To greet the result with ‘no, you can’t do that‘ risks feeding into exactly that zero-sum framing.

So for purposes of political strategy it’s probably a good idea to be positive first, not just unremittingly negative. Not just identifying ways that Brexit is bad, but offering positive ways to ‘take back control’ against the impersonal drives of our own capitalist social system rather than against other people.

But I’m far from the first to say that, and I don’t at present have a well-developed sense of how to build in that direction (though the article linked above mentions the New Economics Foundation, so check them out).

In a way my choice of a topic for a first post played into the narrative of left-leaning people just denouncing the right and saying ‘you can’t do that‘. But immigration is such a prominent topic that not addressing it, and not starting honestly with my own starting-point, would have felt like tip-toeing around an elephant.

(Next post will address the second half of my friend’s comment, which echoes things I’ve heard from a few different people at different times.)

Posted in British Politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Is it the economy (stupid), or racism (stupid)?

(The title is a riff on ‘It’s the economy, stupid!’)

Why did so many people vote for Trump? Over the last year I’ve read a lot of articles and posts that, starting from dismay, take one of the following two lines:

  • It’s unfair, patronising, and simplistic to just write off Trump-votes as expressions of xenophobia – we should focus on the real economic distress that these people are feeling, on stagnant wages and lost jobs.
  • It’s evasive special-pleading to not recognise the driving force of xenophobia or racism here (and actually more patronising not to take people at their word); xenophobic racism is a real and powerful phenomenon in Western societies, not just an epiphenomenon of economic interests.

Are Trump (and Le Pen, UKIP, etc.) doing well because of economic hardship, or because of racism? Do they reflect fallout from the 2008 financial crisis or a backlash against multiculturalism and the progress of things like the civil rights movement? (Here’s just one example, which expresses the dispute especially clearly: is “White Nationalism… the prime mover, [or] a symptom”?)

I always feel torn by this question,  and I think part of the challenge is that it’s really more than one question, wrapped up together. On one level it’s a causal question, of the sort that dispassionate social science could investigate: what in fact led to all this? Which past events would have had to not occur, for this not to have occurred?

Would all this not have happened, if there had been no financial crisis and average incomes had kept on increasing (or, more radically, if the benefits of that increase had been spread more evenly)?

Or was some sort of xenophobic backlash inevitable, however well people were doing economically, with things like the financial crisis just providing the pretext and the catalyst, and global movement of jobs and labour just providing the target?

It’s hard to say with confidence. And the two aren’t mutually exclusive factors: maybe both factors are necessary, maybe the outcome we see wouldn’t have happened without both economic stagnation and also pre-existing traditions of xenophobic nationalism. More social science is needed, I suppose, and if anyone can suggest relevant data I’d welcome it.

But there’s another question lying beneath the causal one, a question of emotional relating. The movements in question express a lot of anger, and whether we think of xenophobia as the prime mover or as a symptom decides, in part, how we relate to that anger.

If this anger is really a product of economic distress, then most left-of-centre people will think that the anger is, in itself, appropriate and warranted – just displaced, misdirected. The reaction will be “yes, you’re right to be angry – but the right target isn’t migrants, it’s capitaism/neoliberalism/laissez-faire economics/globalisation/etc.”

But if xenophobia is the prime mover, then most left-of-centre people will think that the anger is unwarranted, something that should simply be let go of. The reaction will be “no, you’re not right to be angry – the things you’re angry about (racial diversity, the declining prestige of Christianity, etc.) are good things that don’t deserve your anger. Maybe the lefties also think you should be angry about capitalism, but that would be a distinct, independent anger.

(Note that both of these views are compatible with being angry at Trump voters – and they should! The question is whether that condemnation says ‘you’ve made a terrible mistake in directing your in-itself-warranted anger’ or ‘you’ve made a terrible mistake out of unwarranted anger’.)

If this is the question on left-leaning people’s minds – whether to endorse xenophobic anger but see it as misdirected, or reject it as something that should be let go – how could we answer it? Well, a question of what this anger is ‘really about’ is a question of meaning, of what a pattern of feelings and thoughts in someone’s mind is representing.

Unfortunately, the most plausible way of thinking about this question of meaning would take us back to the causal question. Someone’s anger is ‘really about’ whatever most directly caused it, even if they for whatever reason express it as being about something else. But then we’re back to asking what caused the anger in question – what in fact made these people so angry in the first place? If the right answer is “a mixture of things”, then is there even a determinate fact about what the anger is ‘really about’?  And if there isn’t, how should left-leaning people relate to it – as something to be redirected, or simply rejected? Is it psychologically or sociologically possible to do ‘a bit of both’?

(Apologies for a post that began with a question and ended with more questions. I’m not saying I’m uncertain about whether to fight this xenophobic movement with all means available – we have to.)

Posted in Political Philosophy | 5 Comments

Why migration is a right

Migration seems to be at the heart of the rising wave of right-wing populism: a major motivator for Brexit, a major campaign issue for Trump and the European Neo-Nazis who look to him for inspiration. I’m probably going to talk a lot about this being a problem, and what to do about it, so I should probably start by articulating my own starting point for thinking about migration, why I think migration is a right and why the drive to ‘take back control’ of migration flows and make border controls tougher and more stringent is not just misguided, not just needlessly cruel, but fundamentally illegitimate.

The anti-migrant position has two layers. The first, usually implicit, is the feeling of ownership over a territory: that our government has the right, on behalf of ‘us’ the people of X nation, to decide who does and who doesn’t enter, and to imprison or forcibly deport those who disobey. That frames the debate as a question of how ‘we’ should exercise that right – more carefully or more generously.

The second layer is then a certain answer to that question: ‘we’ should exercise that right very carefully, because letting in too many people could be harmful and dangerous, and any harms or dangers to people already living here ought to be assigned the highest priority. It’s ‘our’ country, so we are entitled to (for instance) weight the slim chance that one out of a thousand refugees might harm someone over the near-certainty that hundreds of them will be brutally killed if turned away, or the very certain harm inflicted by holding them in indefinite detention. ‘America First’, adjusted to local tastes.


‘The Real Spirit of Australia is a Fair Go For All’; from Adam and Ned Richards’ Walk to Canberra 

A lot of progressive responses engage on the terrain of that second question, arguing that ’we’ ought to exercise our right to control entry in a generous, compassionate, open-handed way. They say – we ought to let them in because the alleged dangers and harms are incredibly over-stated. Or – we ought to let them in because they bring all sorts of benefits, paying taxes and working in our public services. Or – we ought to let them in because that’s what ‘we’ stand for, that’s the kind of virtuous collective we should try to be (see ‘give me your tired, your poor…’, or the image to the left).

I think these kinds of response are completely right. Migration is usually beneficial, and the supposed harms associated with it pale into insignificance next to the harms caused by border controls – deaths in illegal transit, customers generated for people-traffickers, lives wasted in refugee camps, lives wasted in detention centres.

But there’s a deeper problem with the anti-migrant position. That first layer, the assumption that we have the right to exclude and include at our collective discretion, is already wrong. People have the right to move and live and work peacefully, and any infringement of these rights needs to be justified by specific evidence of wrongdoing or danger.

I could support this just by claiming that people’s right to exercise basic human functions like movement and habitation is more basic than the the rights of states and other institutions. Travelling between countries is like travelling within a country, or like having children (the other major determinant of population dynamics), a simple human action that institutions should collect data on and regulate the safety of but shouldn’t directly interfere with. Even when the pattern of how many people are having babies, and where and when, is socially inconvenient (too many babies born here, too few born there, pressure on housing, pressure on healthcare, etc.)! When the overall ebb and flow of human lives causes problems, institutions can and should look for solutions to those problems, but those solutions can’t include forbidding people from travelling or breeding, let alone declaring that only people who enter or are born with official sanction are ‘legal’. Babies or migrants, no-one is illegal.

But it might be more persuasive to argue negatively, by explaining why the opposite view seems to me self-undermining. So, here’s a question: if a national population has a right to control entry to its territory, is that because of history or present reality?

79bbe928425335163eac45d1168a74cbcc97bbeff88889bbafbdbb391f3f9824You might say it’s from history: ‘we’ have been here for a long time, that makes it ours. But if history matters, then I think actual history has to matter, and actual history is largely a succession of forcible, illegitimate, seizures of power. If ‘we’ took the land by force, then it never became legitimately ‘ours’. This problem is particularly obvious with settler societies like Australia, Canada, and the US, and that’s why it makes sense to ridicule anti-immigrant movements in those countries using cartoons like these, where Native Americans sardonically comment on white people calling for an end to illegal immigration.

I think the same self-undermining logic is present in non-settler societies too. Even setting aside the competing claims on British land of the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and so on, there’s also the fact that the reason why those lands have their current governments and borders is, ultimately, because some factions won and others lost in  various wars in the 17th century.

Of course 17th-century wars seem pretty irrelevant to modern politics – but doesn’t that just suggest that what matters is what’s going on now, not back then? Maybe national groups get ownership of land from the fact that they’re living there right now? But, for a start, that makes it hard to deny that someone who has lived in a country ‘illegally’ for 20 or 10 or 5 years has thereby acquired a right to stay, so it undermines any case for deportations.

But more basically, this approach is self-undermining too. If the idea is that the ongoing process of people living their lives generates a right to the land where they do it, why does someone’s living their life in Oregon give them a right to a say in who can enter Texas, but someone else’s living their life just over the border in Mexico doesn’t, even though the latter is way closer? The only answer is: because the person in Oregon lives under institutions that also rule Texas, and the person in Mexico doesn’t. But now we’re in a circle – we’re appealing to the very facts about borders and governments that claim rights over territory that we were meant to be justifying.

The upshot is, we can’t really say that we own our national territory. It would be better to say that we borrow it from humanity, and our institutions administer it in a kind of stewardship. If that stewardship is to be legitimate, it can only be because it serves the interests of human beings – all human beings.

Posted in Political Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blogging Again

I’m re-starting this blog after a hiatus of six years – a hiatus significantly longer than the roughly one year that I actually blogged for, so honestly I’m surprised it’s still here. But here it is, good old wordpress I suppose.

When I ran this blog before I was a 23-year-old PhD student in Toronto; now I’m a 29-year-old Postdoc in Canberra. Looking back, I sadly have to admit that my engagement in politics was fairly low even then, and subsequently declined. I’m re-starting the blog because I want to reverse that decline. I feel like recent developments in world politics demand it.

Part of the reason for that decline was a longstanding sense of directionlessness. My formative political experience was the Iraq war, and that was in many ways a demoralising experience: firstly in that the movement didn’t achieve anything, and secondly in that it was the supposedly left-wing party that was launching the war. It made it easy to feel that all parties and politicians were basically the same, that ‘the system’ was insulated from popular influence, that things had settled permanently into a soft-Neoliberal centrist equilibrium.

I suppose that means I should be grateful that the opposite seems true now. Parties are being captured by insurgencies from both left and right, ‘the system’ reels from one unanticipated upheaval or intrusion to another, and I, like many people, feel like I genuinely have no idea what the world will look like, politically, in a few years. There’s no longer any difficulty in identifying the right direction: it is, in the first instance, against Trump, Bannon, Farage, Wilders, Le Pen, and their ilk.

Another part of the reason I lapsed out of political engagement was my situation as an immigrant. Should I mainly follow the politics of the UK (where I’m from), of Canada (where I lived, and where my partner still lives), of Australia (where I live now), or of the USA (which is what everyone talks about endlessly)? To some extent the events of the last few months have helped here, in showing more clearly that it’s the same issues, the same ideas, the same movements, all over the world. But also to some extent I’ve just realised that, well, it’s important and I had better start paying more attention to all of them.

So I’m hereby trying to re-radicalise myself: attending protests, lobbying MPs, donating money, and of course, most fun though most uncertain in usefulness, blogging.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Occupy Wall Street: An 8-Point Non-manifesto

I’m stuck in a bit of a dilemma over ‘Occupy Wall Street.’ I support it, of course, but I feel torn over what to say about it. On the one hand, as a supporter, and someone paid to think about things like ‘justice’, if I don’t make an effort to articulate what I think it’s about, I seem to be playing into the hands of those who accuse it of having no message beyond “smash capitalism and replace it with something nicer”.

On the other hand, if I try to say something I run several risks: Who told me I can speak for a movement of hundreds of thousands? And then it could too easily become long, elaborate, over-theorised, explaining how everything everywhere fits into my favoured framework. Or I might say something really stupid – I am an amateur, and about as good at detailed institutional design and political strategising as I am at carpentry or volleyball.

So what follows is an attempt to find some middle path between saying nothing and burdening a promising movement with one more philosophy student’s half-baked ill-edited manifesto. I’m throwing out this non-manifesto (it’s honestly not a manifesto) mainly to see if people agree with me behind the shared-but-sometimes-uninformative slogans.

Eight Points, Beginning with ‘Why Want More Economic Equality?’

1)      Firstly, economic equality promotes equality of consumption, and this promotes net happiness, due to the diminishing marginal utility of money.

(That is, the same resources can do more to improve people’s lives if distributed equally. If you lack food, shelter, security, or healthcare, then the money to pay for that can be a huge benefit, whereas if you’ve already met all your pressing needs, and spend the same money on comparative luxuries, you won’t benefit as much.

This way of putting the point is fairly abstract, but is implicit in complaints about poverty and related suffering – the suffering of the poor is objectionable because it’s avoidable, i.e. because we could avoid it without inflicting equal suffering on someone else.)

2)      Secondly, economic equality promotes equality of power, and this promotes better and fairer collective outcomes.

(Money gives power in obvious political senses, campaign funds etc., but also in changing the bargaining positions in lots of individual dealings – making employees less dependent on employers, and non-working partners less dependent on working partners, allowing people to respond more effectively if they’re abused or mistreated.

This also affects large-scale but unplanned market outcomes. If people have money to spend, there’s an incentive to meet their needs; if they have no money, then there’s no incentive. And if people have so much money that the whole economy depends on them not going bankrupt, then there’s a powerful incentive for others to make sure they don’t go bankrupt.)

3)      Thirdly, economic equality expresses and symbolises equality of value. Two people who have equal ‘human dignity’ should have similar chances to live happy and comfortable lives.

(This could be taken as a matter of moral principle, or simply as a question of psychology: that people a likely to be less alienated, less inclined to anti-social behaviour, etc. when their economic position makes them feel respected – at least, under some cultural conditions)

4)      Fourthly, right now greater economic equality will tend to promote overall economic growth.

(Because economies are governed by extensive feedback, more money, services, and jobs for the majority of the population means more money for them to spend, more jobs in providing them with things to spend that money on, etc.

Of course the money has to come from somewhere, most likely either borrowing or increased progressive taxation. But both of these are fine. If funded by government borrowing (i.e. if an economic stimulus) then there are more goods and services in circulation, borrowed at extremely low present interest rates, which will be easier to pay back if growth raises state revenues and reduces state expenditures.

If funded by taxation (i.e. if a redistribution of wealth), it still has a net stimulating effect because poorer people tend to spend more of their money, while firms are at present spending and investing little.)

5)      Consequently, the requirements of general economic growth presently coincide with the principled considerations of egalitarian philosophy, forming an powerful case for measures to increase economic equality.

(Such measures would, in particular, include redistribution of wealth downwards, increased provision of public services available to all, increased organisational power and legal rights for unions and workers generally, and increased restrictions on actions by wealthy individuals and companies, especially financial ones, that might enrich them at the expense of others.)

6)      In spite of the above points, the general trend of political change across the Western world is the opposite.

(That is, governments are either leaving inequality untouched, or increasing it, by cutting public services, providing the rich with advantageous tax regimes, etc. There does not at present appear, nor has there in recent years appeared, a major electoral option that would reverse this trend.)

7)      Consequently we can infer that for some reason  the present political system of the Western world will not act to promote economic inequality unless compelled to so.

(The ‘some reason’ might be the vices of individual politicians, the prevalence of right-wing ideology, the political influence of powerful economic actors, or some subtle combination. What is widespread at the occupations, it seems, is not an analysis of why the state serves the rich, merely a sense that it does.)

8)      Hence it is necessary for a social force supporting greater economic equality to be formed. The congregation of large numbers of people in symbolically important locations can serve as one step in the formation of such a force. 

Posted in Canadian Politics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments