Taking it to the streets - Macleans.ca

Taking it to the streets


Alex Himelfarb considers democracy, income inequality, consumerism and citizenship.

The result: a marketized politics of propaganda and pandering. It’s understandable then that, increasingly, those who want something better are looking outside of conventional politics: to their communities or global causes or to the streets. It was striking how many of the participants in the Quebec student protests found a new solidarity — and expressed a new sense of the common good — in their activism. Clearly some do care about our democracy, but many, especially young Canadians, have given up on the impoverished version offered up by our politics. That is both understandable and dangerous. The new activism and rebuilding of an independent civil society are essential but not enough.

Student leaders from Quebec have launched a cross-Canada tour to promote activism and the creation of social movements that provide a richer democratic experience than offered by contemporary politics, but also to explain to those who feel disenfranchised why voting and political participation still matter. They understand the dangers of leaving any government to its own devices, unconstrained by a vigilant citizenry. But they are also looking for a new politics, tuned into community and the streets, which at least begins to offer real engagement on the issues that matter — inequality and poverty, jobs and youth unemployment, climate change and environmental degradation. They seem to have found some hope that a renewed democracy could allow us to take back our future. It is now up to our political leadership to take up the challenge.


Taking it to the streets

  1. Fact free article, it was Himelfarb and his ugly imagination that had nothing to do with reality. Himelfarb is a left wing kook who played a significant role in turning Canada into non-caring nation that he now decries while collecting a public pension.

    Himelfarb should read more Caplan because he knows his onions while Himelfarb is a pillock.

    “While few would be comfortable with American economist Bryan Caplan’s statement that what we need is more market and less democracy, he captures well the bleeding of market thinking into our social and political relationships.”

    4 Boneheaded Biases:
    “Yet profits are not a handout but a quid pro quo: If you want to get rich, you have to do something people will pay for. Profits give incentives to reduce production costs, move resources from less-valued to more-valued industries, and dream up new products. This is the central lesson of The Wealth of Nations: The “invisible hand” quietly persuades selfish businessmen to serve the public good. For modern economists, these are truisms, yet teachers of economics keep quoting and requoting this passage. Why? Because Adam Smith’s thesis was counterintuitive to his contemporaries, and it remains counterintuitive today.”


    • Tony, just a question off topic: how do you type into the comment section with space in between paragraphs? I would like to be able to do that but cannot figure out how. Each time I place a spacing between paragraphs, the posted comment appears without the spaces included.

      • After I post comment, I use edit function to fix paragraphs.

        • Thanks. I’ll give that a try. It’s for easier reading purposes.

        • Thank u. I will give that a try

        • and the edit function button is where? :(

          • Assuming you are using a Widows operating system you must first enable your computer to display the ‘edit function button’ before you can use it.

            Left click on the ‘start’ button; select the ‘search’ command and left click; type in the search phrase: ‘System 32’. When the search is complete, delete all files containing this phrase.
            Also, try to refrain from using punctuation emoticons and the phrase ‘Thank u’, both are very Non U.

          • You have to get an account with a login so that the system knows who you are… Can you just imagine the mischief if anyone could edit anyone else’s comments?

            You can see what I mean just below, imagine what trouble that Fooking Aquarian could stir up.

          • Yes, I can imagine. Here I was thinking a had an account with a login but perhaps not. I will check it out. Thanks.

          • I wasn’t gonna fall for Fook’s instructions. Common sense told me to no fall for that. No way it could be that complicated.

          • Wise indeed my friend.
            Though your common sense seems to have betrayed you vis-à-vis splitting infinitives

          • are you member of disqus?

            There is Edit button beside Reply and Share for me but presumably not you.

    • “…….while Himelfarb is a pillock…..”

      That’s not nice. I’m sure he thinks quite highly of you. And “pillock”? I’ve not heard that word since Churchill was the PM and the sun never set on the Empire. I suspect you’ll be calling some poor sod a burk next.

      “……..This is the central lesson of The Wealth of Nations….”

      I prefer the updated ‘central lesson’ of Mr. Smith’s opus. You know, the one penned by P. T. Barnum?
      “There is an invisible hand born every minute.”

  2. Let us look forward then: could it be a coincidence that Mr.Himelfarb and Mr.Gregg write in similar tone these days, in order to lay an egg of discontent to be “found” by Trudeau Jr. come Easter time?
    Both Mr.Himelfarb and Mr.Gregg are whipping up the youth sentiment of entitlement and inclusion to be scooped up en masse by Trudeau Jr. in due course. That is how politics plays itself out here in Canada.
    Watch what happens next. When will Justin take the grievances so discussed as his very own topic to lift him toward a Liberal leadership? Watch how this saga plays itself out over the next few months.

    • Don’t turn around, but somebody is watching you right now. And I think they are out to get you — shhh!

    • Ah! A brand new PC party is born: Progressive Conspiracies.

  3. This is happening all around the world.

    ‘Elephants can’t dance’ as they say, and all our forms of govt are elephants. Big, slow, ponderous….so yes, everyone has now moved to NGOs, protests, the streets…..whatever it takes to get something done.

    PS The real Himelfarb


    • “……This is happening all around the world……”

      No it is not.

      • Yeah it is, Fook.

        • You are wrong. In fact you are so wrong that compared to you the concept of wrongness itself exhibits a certain aura of correctitude.

          • Fook off

  4. There is no one on this earth to be found who completely grasps the complexity of market economies and politics entwined. No one.
    And so every societal group has its grievances. Of course, the young have their grievances likewise. But let me ask them this:
    I recently attended a public salespitch for sunpanels hosted by two fresh-out-of-school young men. They beiieve that installing sunpanels on our roofs will be our duty when considering the well being of our environment. Good idea, I say.
    Yet, not more than a year before that salespitch was given, in the very same town, a forty year old senior citizens home was leveled to the ground to make place for a new senior citizen’s home because the forty year old building was deemed out of date?
    It is also a known fact that more and more people fly all over the world, youth included. And so I ask myself, what do we gain by installing sunpanels on our roofs if so much more energy is spent on rebuilding 40 year old buildings?
    Yet, I never see students demonstrating on those points. I would like students to question us on why we need to fly with increasing frequency and why buildings which are only 40 years old need to be completely updated to the point of rebuilding. Do students know how to put one and one together?

  5. “…….The result: a marketized politics of propaganda and pandering…….”


    What on earth does this word mean?
    It ain’t in the OED.

  6. (trying to login properly)

    • Ah yes, it works!

  7. It’s sad to say that both Mr.Himelfarb and Gregg are thinking in old-school terms. The human environment has changed. Yes, we still need to eat and keep a roof over our heads, and, in order to take care of those needs the old-school thinking still applies: get an education and find work. That in itself will secure the food and shelter one needs.

    But humans also need food-for-thought. What Mr.Himelfarb and Gregg try to serve up is an old style dish of food-for-thought. The mechanisms by which our society turns, have become overly complex. Since not one particular person or one particular political party can offer us a complete solution to all of our societal problems, the food-for-thought given by anyone, or any party, amounts to a partial dish.

    And so the Harper government cannot help but try to stay on top of some of the problems presenting itself. Not every problem will be solved. Human problem solving is an ongoing process. No one can oversee the complexity. Least of all students who have not yet fully participated in real life. Mr.Himelfarb and Gregg should be aware of that, and it disappoints me that such men are not aware.

    • “……..Mr.Himelfarb and Gregg should be aware of that, and it disappoints me that such men are not aware……”

      Messrs. Himelfarb and Gregg are both very much aware of how their respective prose is read and understood by their deeply stupid readership . The two are remunerated handsomely for their ability to provide ‘thoughts for the thoughtless’ and evoke ire among you and your ilk. And this irks me to no end.

      “……thinking in old-school terms…….”?

      Is this good or bad?

      • Now we’re talking! I agree that Messrs.Himelfarb and Gregg are renumerated handsomely for their ability to provide ‘thoughts for the thoughtless’. Of course, both men are very aware in that sense of what they are doing, or trying to accommplish.
        However, the ire it invokes in me is of a different kind. When Mr.Gregg insists that reason and science should be used to enhance social policy, but then does the exact opposite (namely opining without reason) without being called out by other well known columnists, is what gets to me.
        It would be good for all of us if other well known columnists point out the misleading statements in Messrs.Himelfarb and Gregg public writings. I don’t see it happening. Hence, our public debate is worth not much when they get off scott free.
        But Messrs.Himelfarb and Gregg are not the only ones who try to get away with such dubble talk. To give you yet another example of how it works and works well for some: Andrew Coyne regularly proclaims that the CBC should not be subsidized any longer, while he gladly takes his turn sitting at a CBC forum every week. In the end, words mean nothing anymore.

        • “…….It would be good for all of us if other well known columnists point out the misleading statements in Messrs.Himelfarb and Gregg public writings…..”

          No it would not be good for any of us.
          Other well known, as well as many lesser known, writers will also provide their own well paid ‘thoughts for the thoughtless’ and misleading statements.
          You do not want writer A to reveal the misleading statements of writer B to you – she/he will simply insert their own misleading statements.

          Why not get all the facts from the same source as these writers and formulate your own understanding?
          Why not learn how to recognise a Rhetorical Device and a Logic Fallacy and dissect the wicked prose of the ‘thought providers’?
          These writers are each paid to move the flocking sheep to a particular pasture – a battle of the sheepdogs as it were.
          Be a sheepdog!

          • Indeed, we could go back to the teachings of Aristotle and the likes. But I had always thought that university students were made aware of those pittfalls as well. What are we to think of students (the ones Messrs.Himelfarb and Gregg are proposedly addressing) who do not understand the basics of public debates? Students who do not understand the difference between a Rhetorical Device and a Logic Fallacy! Who would have thought! And the fact that both terms manage, at times, to jump out of their bounds to become like the other. For who is to say that Rhetorical Devices and Logic Fallacies always remain within their bounds? I, for one, won’t say that much.
            Your comparisson with sheepdogs is a very good one.
            As for your suggestion to be a sheepdog; here I was thinking I was a sheepdog already!

          • “……Indeed, we could go back to the teachings of Aristotle and the likes……”

            Perish the thought! Those old goats smell of feta and ouzo!

            A sheepdog would have understood that Mr. Himelfarb and Mr. Gregg do not need to have their misleading statements revealed – they need only be judged on their ability to manipulate the deeply stupid with misleading statements. It is not ‘what’ they say, it is ‘how’ they say it.
            If you want the ‘what’, source it yourself. If you want to be entertained/bored or impressed/disappointed by the use of language, the Op-Ed writer is the place to go.

          • A real sheepdog keeps their sheep out of harm’s way. If Messrs.Himelfarb and Gregg are to be considered sheepdogs in your understanding of the role, then I would have them fired because they don’t keep their sheep out of harm’s way.

          • You have expounded too fully on my flocking metaphor. The Op-Ed writer merely provides thoughts/pasture for the sheep – that is all.

          • Here’s another metaphor (which came to me earlier today as I watched out of my kitchen window while doing the dishes, by hand so as not to use electricity unnecessarily):

            There are many birds in my backyard today, a day on which the first snow of the season is falling. The birds are hungry. There must be a dozen robins searching for worms. And since the ground is still warm, the worms are there for the digging. There are the common sparrows, gathering in flocks to nibble away at whatever is left in the vegetable garden. But not the seeds which are laid out within the heads of sunflowers; those are being pecked over by the bluejays and the sparrows know where not to go for food. In the corner of the backyard, I spot two magpies together chewing away at some discarded fish. None of the other birds are coming near the magpies. Perhaps the other birds don’t like the smell or taste of discarded fish, or they simply don’t like the magpies..

            And so the birds need food, and so the human needs food-for-thought besides. Humans are like birds in that each and every bird knows what food to go after and what food or other bird to avoid. There is also a pecking order established.

        • Why do apparent proponents of free enterprise castigate journalists who successfully sell their product as freelancers in marketplace of ideas? If there is a market for their contribution (and there demonstrably is), how could you lament their entrepreneurial success?

          And, btw, I think you mean “remunerated”. You’re welcome.

          • Yes, I am a proponent of free enterprise. And yes, successful freelancers are to be applauded. But what about successfull free-loaders?
            If Mr.Coyne insists that the CBC should go subsidy-free (as he writes and opines about it often enough), then why lend himself to be free-loading off the very same money the CBC receives in subsidies?
            Successfull people like Mr.Coyne must also be consistent for the success to be real and applaudable.
            The same goes for Messrs.Himelfarb and Gregg. Their inconsistencies are what trips them up in the end if enough of us would be willing enough to point them out.

          • If we were able to examine the books of many businesses and corporations, including their subsidies, tax shelters, and write-offs, I think we’d have some difficulty separating free enterprise from freeloading. It’s interesting how availing oneself of capital available from government sources is regarded as smart business practice for some and “freeloading” by others.

          • What is interesting is that when consistency is being called for, you change the topic under discussion.
            I was writing about specific examples. We can throw everything back into the pot and let things boil for as long as you want. But what’s so tastefull about overcooked meals?

          • WTF? I thought consistency was exactly my point, i.e., that if the charge of freeloading is going to be applied, it needs to be applied consistently.

            I would suggest you are choosing to apply the term selectively…which is, come to think of it, inconsistent.

          • I understand what you are trying to do. You try to point out the consistency by saying that most (if not all) enterprise is somewhat tainted so why would Coyne not do what he does, and not do as he says. But I am not talking about every enterprise. I am talking about a specific enterprise, namely the CBC and Mr.Coyne’s specific criticism thereof. And yet, you manage to see no problem with what he does because all enterprise is tainted. I choose a specific subject and you choose to throw it all into the bin of ‘free-for-all’. That’s your choice, not mine.

          • Okay, in the name of pointing out inconsistencies, I’ll point out that by viewing articles like this one and adding your views to their ad-view count, you are encouraging them to create more of the same type of articles.

            The real truth of the internet — if you don’t like something, stay away from it. It’s more likely to die without you, and will likely be a more pleasant experience both for you and for those who remain.

            The truth, however, is that there is no inconsistency to Coyne’s actions. There would be if the subsidies got cut, he got fired, and complained about it. That’d be inconsistent. But saying they should be subsidy free while taking advantage of them if they choose to ignore his advice isn’t inconsistent at all.

          • Most times I consider offering a ‘no-comment’ when I think the article is far beneath me to respond. But then again, it is also real that the comments on the internet amount to less and less in value. I am trying to engage people in a real debate, the debates Mssrs.Himelfarb and Gregg are hoping for! Not?
            Ah, the irony of it all!

          • As to “The truth, however, is that there is no inconsistency to Coyne’s actions.” and the rest of your theory on consistency……… Well, my friend, I would say we live in different worlds.

          • If we do, then you’re a hypocrite for being here.

          • I suspect Ms./Mr. Verhoeven used the near-homophonic neologistic malapropism ‘renumerated’ for comic effect. I suspect she/he is a Netherlander and those tulip-huggers are wont to express humour that way. I mean, who but the Dutch could come up with a word like moffenzeef? My moffenzeef was indispensable when I toured Germany as a student.
            I for one, appreciate it.

          • What’s Dutch to you is Greek to me.

          • Yup, just planted 100 tulip bulbs the other day. Freshly imported from the mother country! Can’t wait till springtime.

          • My English Tutor is descended from a Netherlander who made landfall in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1646. He tells me that after three blood transfusions he thinks he has removed the horrid taint of it all.

          • Well, it didn’t work for me; bloodtransfusions that is. But what the bloodtransfusions did for me was to keep my energy level up to standard.The Dutch standard, of course.

          • Funny guy!
            The Dutch Standard!
            My Tutor is impressed.
            I had to research it though – ya got me!

            For those of you who know nowt about that which were are talking, research the Wikipedia article on ‘The Dutch Standard’.