Taking it to the streets


Brian Topp considers the Occupy Wall Street protests.

There are false roads open – like the fantasist right-wing populism of the American Tea Partiers. And there are better roads open – like modern, prudent, determined and fearless social democracy, of the kind Jack Layton was talking about. Perhaps we will go down that first road, brought to us in Canada in our mild Canadian way by Stephen Harper and his team. Hopefully we will go down the other, on offer in Canada through Mr. Layton’s team.

But the Wall Street occupiers are there to let the Wall Street revellers and bonus-hunters know that their own particular party – and the whole approach to government that made it possible in the United States and here in Canada – has just about had its day.


Taking it to the streets

  1. A systems crash has widespread unexpected effects. The ‘occupy’ movement is just one of them.

  2. Why does this person still have a tribune in the Globe & Mail?????

    I would be demanding equal time if I were Paul Dewar or Roméo Saganash or Nathan Cullen.

  3. Or maybe we will go the way of Greece with a union thug like Topp giving out the goodies to his union pals

    • Thug? What evidence do you have that Brian Topp is either a “a violent person especially a criminal” (Oxford) an “aggressive and violent young criminal” (Websters) or  “a man who acts violently, especially to commit a crime?” (Cambridge University Press)

      Your hyperbole is ridiculous and it’s embarassing that so many people are so reflexively anti-union that you got 5 likes for your defamatory comment.

  4. Topp’s letting the centrist mask slip – he didn’t explicitly say “false consciousness of the proletariat” there, but he’s certainly expressing it.

    • I think Brian Topp’s sophisticated, nuanced message there is that he’s in favour of goodness and against badness.  Same with the Occupy Wall Street Protestors.

      • Fair enough, yes.

      •  I don’t know many people in favour of badness and against goodness.  Rest assured that if “goodness” means I play “ant” to their “grasshopper”, I have no problem downing tools.

  5. There’s that knee-jerk anti-union ‘tude again.

    Unions were a western invention folks.

    • So was the Holocaust.  So was the Manson Family.  What’s your point?

      • Holocausts and mass murders have occurred all over the world, at all different times in history.

        What’s YOUR point?

      • And I thought you were against the use of hyperbole?

  6. One of my biggest concerns about Brian Topp is the possibility that he’s a hard-core socialist disguised as a “social democrat”.  Columns that tacitly support the Occupy Wall Street protests don’t exactly allay these fears.

    • I don’t know why. The ‘occupy’ protests aren’t socialist, although I’m sure there are socialists among them. But then there’s every other level of society involved as well.

      • The Occupy protests are almost entirely composed of the early-20s children of well-off middle-class professionals advocating a wide variety of things that seem to come down to the common theme of “We deserve free money, and we should take it from the rich.” That’s a reductive but pretty authentic socialist message.

        • No, there are unions, professionals, homeless, pilots, cops, wealthy….you name it, involved.

          Everybody in fact….in spite of efforts to pigeonhole them as one thing.

          • Keep telling yourself that; I’m sure it’ll make the conspiracy theories about its failure easier to believe later.

          • I don’t know what you’re watching, but there are ‘occupy’ movements in most cities in the US….and you can see they are all types of people, and from all over.

          • There sure are. There’s one in Ottawa. You know what a bunch of people yelling ridiculous things on Parliament Hill is called? A weekday.

            They’ll accomplish nothing, because they aren’t actually engaged in the political process; they’re the same underemployed grad students, union goons, professional activists and posers that show up for every protest, have some fun, feel self-righteous, and change the minds of no one not already on their side.

          • @TheAVR:disqus 

            Well nothing like judging the whole thing from Ottawa and your pet ideology.  LOL

        • Get informed: 

          “The crowd—while represented widely in the media as white, liberal college kids—is surprisingly diverse, including raging grannies, street kids, union workers, professors, ex-bankers, longtime activists, human rights lawyers, Native American band members and ex-military. Political views span the spectrum, from anarchist to right-wing libertarian—complicating efforts toward any kind of unifying objective or mantra. Across the continent, the motley movement, which began with a call to action by Vancouver-based magazine Adbusters, is gaining traction with similar protests planned for Washington, D.C., Chicago and even Toronto.”


          • 1.  If they don’t have a “unifying objective” or coherent message to communicate (never mind an actual policy prescription or two), then I think the rest of us are perfectly justified in ignoring them.

            2. If they do have a unifying objective or coherent message to communicate to us, I wish they would tell us what the hell it actually is.  Otherwise, they’re just wasting space, oxygen and skin.

          • Ignore them at your peril.

          • Ignore them specifically? Sure.
            Ignore what they represent — a deep and broadening sense of dissatisfaction with the current corporatist economic system?  Probably not wise.  Marie Antoinette tried that.

          • “Ignore them at your peril.”Right. So we should pay rapt attention to an amorphous collection of people who cannot tell us exactly what they want or propose.  But they’re really upset.  But they can’t agree exactly on what they’re upset about, they’re upset about a lot of things.  Some are upset about some things, others are upset about other things.Sounds to me like paying attention to that incoherent babble and trying to make sense of it is the perilous thing — perilous to your sanity.

          • “a deep and broadening sense of dissatisfaction with the current corporatist economic system”

            Thwim, I just don’t have much time for someone who tells me they’re dissatisfied with the current corporatist economic system, unless they’re prepared to tell me specifically what they plan on replacing it with.  Then at least we have something to debate.

          • @865444ea1a3aec1b5f1890dd40359673:disqus 

            Well  it doesn’t take much in the way of brains to know what they’re protesting about.

            Oh…sorry, Bean

          • @865444ea1a3aec1b5f1890dd40359673:disqus Well, a system that separates politics and special corporate interest groups… just for starters.

          • Of course. After all, it’s not like we elect people specifically to look at our society and systems of governance, and provide them with resources and access so that they can make the best determinations possible to help govern not just now, but how we proceed in future..

            ..or at least, we sure didn’t last time around.

            Do I have the perfect answer? Hell no. Do any of them? Hell no, but essentially saying, “Well they should go away and shut-up until they come up with it” is pathetic.  The first part of solving a problem is realizing we have one. Well, these guys are a big wake-up signal that we seem to have a problem, and that wall-street seems to be a big part of it.

          • “Surprisingly diverse” is code for “Yeah, this crowd is actually pretty overwhelmingly white, young, and middle-class, so let’s pretend the tiny smattering of others isn’t that tiny, because that’s a more interesting narrative.”

          • Again….stop watching Fox and tripping over your ideology.

    • so what is it you’re afraid of?

    • What a load.  Harper is dying to be able to cast Topp as a union loving hard core socialist. 

    • I always thought the term “social democrat” was a thinly veiled synonym for “socialist,” with the latter being avoided because of its more direct association with communism. 

  7. Great article from Forbes Mag. posted in G&M comments:

    “We need a robust, engaged public debate about incredibly complicated specifics that are unfortunately, much more messy than the reductive idea of corporate greed.

    It’s not sexy. It’s not fun. Financial regulation is boring and difficult and that’s part of why the task has been done so badly thus far. If that’s to change, we have to pay attention.

    We have to pay attention when the Durbin amendment, that was intended to put bad banks in line, inadvertently caused that pesky Bank of America fee. Instead of blaming government for the $5 on your debit account, spend an hour to switch banks.

    We have to pay attention to Ron Suskind’s claim in Confidence Men, that Timothy Geithner essentially told the President that he’s not his real mom and disregarded “an order from President Obama calling for reconstruction of major banks.” Go yell about that.

    Because the only way to keep excellent intentions like reigning in corrupt pre-paid forward derivate practices from being implemented in a way that actually benefits the companies they were intended to punish is to read the same U.S. code as the lawyers who found loopholes, and by getting your news outside of a Facebook feed.

    And please, stop comparing #OWS to the Arab Spring. The protestors in Tunisia literally would have died, and are dying, to have what we have—a democracy. The next general election is November 8th.  No one should have the right to protest that didn’t exercise his or her right to vote.”


    • LOL Forbes is incredibly nervous about this it seems.

      That comes from being clueless

  8. “Do I have the perfect answer? Hell no. Do any of them? Hell no, but essentially saying, “Well they should go away and shut-up until they come up with it” is pathetic.”
    Thwim, I’m not asking for them to have the perfect answer.  I’m just asking for them to have a single effing idea or two to propose.  Is that too much to ask?
    And I did not say that they should go away and shut up. They have every right to beak off, this is a democracy.   I just said that they deserve to be ignored if they can’t come up with some alternatives to suggest to us to replace the status quo.  These are supposed to be serious-minded people, aren’t they? 
    My main beef is that a given criticism of any public policy is, IMO, meaningless unless that policy is compared to some alternative.  Otherwise it’s just argument in a vacuum.

    “We should all be better off.”

    “Well, tell me HOW you propose that we should accomplish that.”

    “I’m not telling you.  I just think we should all be better off.”

    “Gee, thanks for your useful contribution to public policy.”

    • And once again I point out that we elect people, make it so they don’t have to have day jobs, provide them all kinds of resources and access specifically so that they can think about those sorts of things, and perhaps come up with solutions when problems are pointed out. Hell, ideally they spot the problems before we do too, but that may be being a little idealistic.

      Still ignoring when people point out problems, even if they don’t have any specific solution is asinine.  If someone comes along and says, “Huh. Looks like there’s a crack in your foundation wall there,” then saying that unless he can give you a suggestion for how to fix it he should be ignored is just plain stupid.

      Worse, if it’s your neighbor he tells that to and you’re saying, “Oh we should just ignore him until he comes up with a solution” then that’s not only asinine, it’s bordering on malevolent.

  9. Funny how when clean people with jobs have protests they’re smeared as racists and idiots, but when unclean left-wingers without jobs illegally occupy other people’s property, this is somehow hailed by the same people as “democracy.”

    • Yes, it’s too bad people don’t make these judgements on the content of their protests..

      ..oh wait.

      • Are you saying that the Occupy hooligans are to be judged better simply because they’re left-wing and otherwise unpopular?

        • I’m saying they should be judged based on whether what they’re saying makes sense.

          • and…

            a) Was that standard applied to the Tea Party?

            b) Are you saying that the Occupiers make more sense than the Tea Party? And would you say that simply because you’re a left-winger who agrees with other left-wingers?

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