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Lessons for Europe's Social Democrats from the Obama Campaign

David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International, wrote this guest blog post:

In the final days of the 2008 US presidential campaign, John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, accused his Democratic rival Barack Obama of being a "European socialist". McCain based this characterization on Obama's taxation reform program, a plan to "spread the wealth around", which, in fact, is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the tradition of progressive taxation in America.

The charge that Obama was a covert "European socialist" was especially curious since it was made during the weeks in September and October when the Republican Bush administration was nationalizing the American banking system. Certainly European social democrats found McCain's characterization laughable: there was nothing "socialistic" about the Obama campaign's stated policies. What did the candidacy of Barack Obama have to do with European social democracy? And what could social democrats possibly learn from a political campaign in the United States - the bedrock of unfettered capitalism and the epicenter of the global financial crisis? Plenty, according to the German journalist Werner A. Perger. Perger spent time in late summer 2008 in the US speaking with labor union leaders, political activists, and progressive thought leaders.

His essay Der Populismus der Aufklärung (The Populism of Enlightenment) was published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Perger points out in his essay that there is a long history of cross-fertilization between progressive movements in the US and Europe. The New Deal of the Roosevelt era served as a model for postwar economic policy and the establishment of the Soziale Marktwirtschaft (social capitalism) in Germany. More recently, the pragmatic Third Way economic policies of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair resonated in Germany with Gerhard Schröder and the Red-Green coalition. Transatlantic progressive cooperation came to an end, however, with the Bush administration and a prolonged period of neoliberal orthodoxy. Now the global economic collapse has discredited neo-liberalism, and the success of Barack Obama's presidential campaign - what Perger calls "visionary pragmatism" - lays the foundation for renewed collaboration between European social democrats and American progressives.

America, Perger believes, is at a similar crossroads as it was in 1932. Will it bring forward a similar leader like it did during the depths of the Great Depression?

"Have we reached a new phase in American politics with Obama's campaign for change, similar to the breakthrough from the depths of the Great Depression? (.) Just as Roosevelt was able to win over Americans for his New Deal Keynesian reform projects with his intimate radio addresses, so can Obama , the charismatic speaker, avail himself of modern communication means to convey his program of progressive change." (note: all translations are mine -DV)

What impresses Perger is the ability of the Obama campaign to form a broad-based "coalition of the willing" consisting of organized labor, minorities, college students, highly educated professionals. What holds this coalition together, Perger asserts, is a strategy of "good populism": a positive vision of the future that taps into the American Dream, the principles of fairness, equality, and prosperity through hard work. He contrasts this with the negative populism we see in Europe with the divisive rhetoric of the left-wing parties and the right-wing populism of cynicism and white resentment we witnessed at the McCain-Palin campaign rallies. If President Obama is able to keep this broad coalition together during his time in office, Perger believes, it could become a force for real change with implications beyond the United States:

"The centrist reformer Barack Obama could make the Democrats the core of a reform movement which, the support of labor unions and the institutions of social welfare , could make the nation a model that, as in the past, would fascinate others. America could become a democratic and social experiment in civilization worth of emulation."

So what are the lessons for Europe? Perger acknowledges that Europeans have little to learn from the "content" of Obama's campaign for change. The policy objectives - universal healthcare, good public education, renewed infrastructure, and a more robust safety net for average citizens - have largely been realized and are embraced by conservatives and social democrats alike. No, social democrats need to study Obama's bottom-up organizing strategy, the "enlightened populism" that created a broad coalition which embraces pragmatic - instead of ideological - solutions to our most pressing problem.

Perger points out that, to a large extent, learning from America requires social democrats to return to their roots in the labor movement. The Social Democrat Party (SPD) once excelled at organizing at the grass roots and can learn how to do this once again from its friends across the Atlantic:

"We need to relearn how to maintain contact with the base, how to establish roots in our own communities, how to run political campaigns from the bottom-up, how to stay on the offensive in debating the issues, to draft large-scale political programs not just in the board rooms and circulate them among party aides, but to engage citizens in discussion about these initiatives in their neighborhoods and in their towns."

Obama's historic victory, Perger concludes, represents a challenge to structural rigidity of European politics. It also presents an opportunity for progressives on both sides of the Atlantic to collaborate and learn from each other. A fruitful trans-Atlantic collaboration could lead to American-style grass-roots (or "net-roots") political organizing in Europe, and Europe-influenced social policies in America.

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Pat Patterson on :

Except Roosevel ran against Hoover demanding a balanced budget, no deficit spending and probably the one thing that got Roosevelt elected was a promise to repeal the Volstead Act(18th Amendment). The fuzzy warmth that many feel for the Roosevelt years is often done so without any regard for the recovery only occuring when war broke out in Europe and the US, with a nice big ocean, was able to provide the munitions, equipment, oil and food (cash and carry of course) that allowed industrial production to revive. In fact the aptly named Roosevelt Depression of '37 and '38 saw industrial production lower than that of '32 and the jobless rate to be the highest of the entire period. I hope not, but are David and Mr. Perger hoping for another great war to save us from the idiocies of transformative meddling. Or are we doomed to new versions of the TVA which has outlived its charge by some 50 years?

John in Michigan, USA on :

Some thoughts: You suggest that Obama isn't socialistic, it's just that his vision, rhetoric, and promised policies have a lot in common with European socialists, and they could learn from each other...but not because Obama is socialistic, its just because...well, why exactly? If they dove-tail so well, why isn't it reasonable to describe Obama as socialist? Are you saying that David Cameron's long-out-of-power conservatives could follow the Obama playbook? Of course not, it wouldn't work nearly as well, because...they're not socialists! -------- Under Bush, America's income tax system became MORE progressive, as the number of Americas paying NO income tax steadily increased. To put it in crude mathematical terms, on a graph of income earned (X) vs income tax paid (Y), the slope of the curve didn't change much, it's just that the X-intercept (where Y=0) moved to the right. Obama isn't repealing all the Bush income tax cuts, he is only repealing the tax cuts for the rich (defined as the two earner urban middle class household such as Obama was before the book deal). Therefore he won't be restoring anything, he will be making a progressive system even more progressive. His promised increase to the social security tax also isn't "restoring" anything, it is taking a regressive tax and making it somewhat progressive. Besides, a progressive tax system is only one half of the socialist puzzle. Not only must you take from the rich, you must also give to the poor, as in direct wealth transfers. That is the accusation vs. Obama, that he wants to replace the safety net model with a model of wealth transfers. Under the wealth transfer model, the less wealthy get benefits even if they are not having an economic crisis of any sort, thus permanently altering their incentives to work and save. Of course, Obama made so many impossible promises it is difficult to say what he really plans, but that is the accusation which is reasonable given his early campaign rhetoric and his tiny voting record. -------- If the neo-liberal consensus has collapsed, how do you explain Obama's economic team? Why would he select a team made up mostly of mainstream, neo-liberal economists? I'll believe the neo-liberal consensus has collapsed when we have a decade-long Depression...unless that happens the better analogy is that we are having one of the periodic financial panics that are in fact predicted by the neo-liberal model. The only paradigms that have been overturned are those for modelling long-term financial risk. On the fundamentals, there's been no paradigm shift, in my opinion...today's resurgent Keynesians still call themselves neo-classical (neo-liberal) economists. But if there has been a paradigm shift, then what would you call the new paradigm, if not socialist? -------- If the bank bailouts were socialist, why was Michael Moore against them? Is he not a socialist in your universe? (For the record, the bank bailouts are corporate welfare, which is socialist in my view...but all the hard-core socialists I know are AGAINST these bailouts) -------- You realize that a lot of people in the world (not just the US) consider many of FDR's policies to be socialist? Perhaps you are saying that European socialists themselves aren't socialistic? Otherwise your post makes as little sense as your rhetoric during the campaign season.

John in Michigan, USA on :

More thoughts: Liberation Theology? Reject "middle-classedness"? What is Rev Wright if not socialist? Doesn't that make Obama socialist up until a few months before the election? Sí, se puede...are you saying that if César Chávez had been a European farm worker, he wouldn't have allied himself with European socialists? With whom would he have allied? You can talk all you want about Obama's pragmatism, but in his case pragmatism is willingness to compromise, it is not his governing philosophy. In other words, he isn't primarily a technocrat or similar form of philosophical pragmatist. So when Obama compromises, what is his starting point from which he meets his opposition half-way? I suggest a reasonable label for that starting point might be socialism. But if not socialism, what? It is because he is able to be pragmatic that I have proposed calling Obama the first neo-socialist. But it remains nearly impossible to judge what Obama really is...we still haven't gotten past the point of him being an empty vessel into which everyone pours their hopes and dreams...

Pamela on :

Why do so many of us think Obama is a socialist? Gee, David, I dunno. Maybe it's because he characterized the Constitution as 'fatally flawed' because it doesn't address 'social justice'? ------------ ""The centrist reformer Barack Obama could make the Democrats the core of a reform movement which, the support of labor unions and the institutions of social welfare , could make the nation a model that, as in the past, would fascinate others. America could become a democratic and social experiment in civilization worth of emulation." Oh please. Just. Go. Away.

David on :

John, are you saying that all Christians who embrace the Social Gospel are socialists? I've never heard Barack Obama espouse "liberation theology". But there is a strong impulse of social justice in the New Testament that has influenced progressive movements for centuries, including the abolitionists and civil rights movement in America. To deny this impulse is to reject the Gospels outright.

John in Michigan, USA on :

David, David, it would help this discussion if you defined your terms. How exactly do you define socialism, and do you consider yourself socialist, if you don't mind me asking? I don't know why you bring up the Social Gospel when we have Liberation Theology, which was clearly a key part of Rev. Wright's sermons and church mission statements, even though he no longer uses that phrase. And Obama was a full-blown believer, until suddenly, he wasn't. Mere words that Obama didn't really mean? Crass and brutal pragmatism? A sincere change of heart? Until we get to know more about the new, post-Wright Obama, it is impossible to say. But it is certainly reasonable to conclude, as many have, that until proven otherwise, Obama is acting cynically, as does nearly every other politician on the planet. In general, believers in the Social Gospel are likely to believe in socialism, although the Social Gospel is defined differently by different churches, so it is hard to say if the one always always implies the other. In the case of Liberation Theology, there are enough explicit references to socialist and even Marxist concepts that I have no need of such a hedge. For most of his adult life, Obama believed in the doctrines of TUCC and Rev. Wright (who [i]personally[/i] brought Obama to Jesus), which were firmly routed in Liberation Theology, even if at times during the campaign the TUCC web site was altered to remove the explicit references.

Pat Patterson on :

Since the idea of the Social Gospel is mainly a Protestant tenet that argued capitalism was evil, that the unions should have more say in government and that government should be a socialist welfare state then that would indicate that those Christians who adopt such a view are indeed socialists. However they have mostly failed because it seems the rest of us tend to want to keep religious dogma out of law making or is David now arguing for a contradictory point he was making for months about all those evil domininionist Protestants taking over the securlar government. Plus cute trick if one rejects a particular religious idea about the NT then somehow that involves rejecting the actual document itself. That's like saying one doesn't really like the World War II Monument and find that you are now pro-Nazi! As to never hearing about any comments Obama made about liberation theology one could ask how many times did David visit TUCC? Or did Sen. Obama stay home and watch football on the days when Rev. Wright railed against capitalism and called for a different paradigm. Being a member of such a church certainly does not eliminate that person from political life nor does it mean that he is less a Christian than someone else. But it certainly does mean a sympathy or even belief in a socialist view of the universe that has no problem in using the Social Gospels as somehow a special interpretation of the Bible that is above criticism or study.

David on :

"Since the idea of the Social Gospel is mainly a Protestant tenet" That is ridiculous. If anything, the Roman Catholic Church has been leading the charge, and Pope Benedict XVI discusses this in some detail in his First Encyclical ("Deus caritas est"), even as he criticizes Marxism directly. Pat, you can even find this on Wikipedia. It is interesting that Pat and John are still worked up about Rev. Wright even as the rest of the nation has long since moved on. Barack Obama gave a brilliant speech about race and his relationship with Rev. Wright in Philadelphia that will be read for many years. Question to Pat and John: did you bother to listen to the speech and read it? Or are you still convinced that Obama is a MMT (Muslim Marxist Terrorist) that nothing he says is worth considering.

Pamela on :

"That is ridiculous. If anything, the Roman Catholic Church has been leading the charge, and Pope Benedict XVI discusses this in some detail in his First Encyclical ("Deus caritas est"), even as he criticizes Marxism directly. Pat, you can even find this on Wikipedia." David, you have a serious reading comprehension problem is you think the Catholic Church is 'leading the charge'. Here is Deus Caritas Est http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html Scroll down to Part II,to the "Justice and Charity" subhead where Benedict discusses this. Some quotes: " Since the nineteenth century, an objection has been raised to the Church's charitable activity, subsequently developed with particular insistence by Marxism: the poor, it is claimed, do not need charity but justice. Works of charity—almsgiving—are in effect a way for the rich to shirk their obligation to work for justice and a means of soothing their consciences, while preserving their own status and robbing the poor of their rights. Instead of contributing through individual works of charity to maintaining the status quo, we need to build a just social order in which all receive their share of the world's goods and no longer have to depend on charity. There is admittedly some truth to this argument, but also much that is mistaken." [ ] Faced with new situations and issues, Catholic social teaching thus gradually developed, and has now found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax. Marxism had seen world revolution and its preliminaries as the panacea for the social problem: revolution and the subsequent collectivization of the means of production, so it was claimed, would immediately change things for the better. This illusion has vanished. In today's complex situation, not least because of the growth of a globalized economy, the Church's social doctrine has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church: in the face of ongoing development these guidelines need to be addressed in the context of dialogue with all those seriously concerned for humanity and for the world in which we live. [ ] 28. In order to define more accurately the relationship between the necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two fundamental situations need to be considered: a) The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of POLITICS (my emphasis) [ ] The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is NOT THE CHURCH'S RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE THIS TEACHING PREVAIL IN POLITICAL LIFE. [ ] The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. SHE CANNOT AND MUST NOT REPLACE THE STATE. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply. ------------------ Just read the whole thing. Here's an interesting article in National Catholic Reporter from abut a year ago on the state of the Catholic Church in Latin America and how Liberation Theology is faring. http://ncrcafe.org/node/1406

Pat Patterson on :

To jog my memory I did go to Wikipedia for the Social Gospel and the Social Gospel Movement which, considering it is the basis for the UCC, was essentially a Protestant movement of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Plus the Roman Catholic church refers to the Social Doctrine which is a much different and current. I can't address the Roman Catholic reaction simply because I really don't know that much about that faith other than to remember that except that when visiting Nicaragua John-Paul II refused to see some of the priests in the government unless the recognized his authority and submitted. But at least David didn't call John or I racists this time but he did try to pull a slight of hand by denying that the Social Gospel movement was anything other than exactly as I described it. A movement that has only survived among some Protestant sects such as the UCC or the Unitarian-Universalists that would welcome socialism in the US as a fulfillment of a particular interpretation of the Bible.

Pamela on :

First, allow me to address "A movement that has only survived among some Protestant sects such as the UCC or the Unitarian-Universalists". I don't know WHAT the Unitarians are. I went to a friends funeral that was presided over by a Unitarian 'minister'. She went on and on about "The Spirit of Life and Love" but not once did I hear the words "Jesus", "Christ" "Lord" or "Amen". I was a bit surprised. *ahem*. When I spoke about it to a friend, she assured me that the only time I would EVER hear the words "Jesus Christ" in a Unitarian house of worship would be when the janitor falls down the stairs. It's getting late here and I don't have the energy to go thru my papers or look it up, but when I took an interest in this - late 70s-early 80s - I seem to remember that liberation theology certainly DID have its origins in Latin America Christian churches which are primarily Catholic. I do recall that the 2nd Vatican Council gave great leeway to local pastors to think 'outside the box' about how to address the problems specific to their congregations. The confluence of land reform - or attempts at it - Castro, etc. all contributed. But it did start in Latin America Catholic churches. The name Gutierez (sp?) sticks in my head but I can't remember why exactly. Now let's talk about Black Liberation Theology. That has different roots - Protestant and American. Look up James Cone. I had heard of neither until Jeremiah Wright hit the headlines. Jones has said that it is based on Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement of the 60s, Malcolm X and Christianity's concern for the oppressed and the marginalized. In Cone's theology, the oppression has one source - white supremacy. It's purpose is to teach black people to be Black Christians without shame. Historically, according to Cone, Black churches have taught their congregations to expect their reward in heaven and in the meantime, keep your head down. When I was researching, I found this, from which I will selectively quote: http://www.acton.org/commentary/443_marxist_roots_of_black_liberation_theology.php --------------- For black theologians, white Americans do not have the ability to recognize the humanity in persons of color, blacks need their own theology to affirm their identity in terms of a reality that is anti-black -- “blackness” stands for all victims of white oppression. "White theology," when formed in isolation from the black experience, becomes a theology of white oppressors, serving as divine sanction from criminal acts committed against blacks. Cone argues that even those white theologians who try to connect theology to black suffering rarely utter a word that is relevant to the black experience in America. White theology is not Christian theology at all. There is but one guiding principle of black theology: an unqualified commitment to the black community as that community seeks to define its existence in the light of God's liberating work in the world. As such, black theology is a survival theology because it helps blacks navigate white dominance in American culture. In Cone's view, whites consider blacks animals, outside of the realm of humanity, and attempted to destroy black identity through racial assimilation and integration programs--as if blacks have no legitimate existence apart from whiteness. Black theology is the theological expression of a people deprived of social and political power. God is not the God of white religion but the God of black existence. In Cone's understanding, truth is not objective but subjective -- a personal experience of the Ultimate in the midst of ------------ This is why I have said over and over again that Obama attended a racist church. I do not say it carelessly. And if you take anything away from this post, please understand that the 'Liberation Theology' that began in the Catholic enclaves of Latin America have NOTHING to do with the Black Liberation Theology of James Cone. Now good night.

John in Michigan, USA on :

There are some individual UU churches that are closer to their Protestant heritage and believe in Jesus as The Christ. For example, at First Parrish in Concord (Massachusetts) (established 1636) or at some of the UU churches in England you will get a service that is almost Anglican. But most UU's think of him as a very wise human being, or possibly a prophet. It is a matter of individual conscience; ministers will take into account the beliefs of the deceased and their family. Actually it has a bit in common with how chaplains work in the military, where a Catholic chaplain, for example, might have to give a funeral for any number of other denominations. If you've ever lived in a small town, or been to a funeral in one, you may find that often there is only one clergy member in town so they stretch things a bit to give services for people in the town who are of a different faith. Well for UUs every sermon is like that...Sounds crazy, I know, but it's how we roll.

Pamela on :

Good morning John, So, would it be correct to think of Unitarianism as non-denominational dieism?

John in Michigan, USA on :

Good morning! Historically, Unitarianism was simply Christianity without the Trinity. The thinking was, the Trinity was not divinely inspired, rather, it was a doctrine invented by the Church as a sort of political compromise. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Servetus]Michael Servetus[/url] was burned as a heretic in 1553 for preaching this. He believed Jesus was divine, but rejected the idea of a Holy Ghost. Contemporary Unitarian-Universalism goes way beyond non-denominational, and indeed, way beyond deism. Belief in the existence of God, or not, is a matter of individual conscience. We have atheists, agnostics (like me), and various species of transcendentalists, polytheists, as well as deists and other sorts of monotheists.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"Unitarian-Universalists that would welcome socialism in the US as a fulfillment of a particular interpretation of the Bible." Speaking as a Unitarian-Universalist myself, most of my fellow UU's would (sadly) welcome socialism, but most wouldn't see it as fulfillment of anything in the Bible per se, rather they would likely see it as fulfillment of universal moral principles that all religions have in common. Obviously, I disagree completely with my fellow UU's about socialism. Any right-thinking observer would have to acknowledge that socialism (other than strictly voluntary socialism such as families, some businesses, co-ops, etc.) tends to limit and ultimately degrade the human spirit, rather than lift it up. I can still call myself a UU because we are a non-creedal religion, i.e. there is no dogma you have to accept in order to be a UU. I am the most conservative UU you will ever meet.

Pat Patterson on :

In fairness I should have pointed out that many of the points John raised are indeed true but in a historical context the Unitarians were much influenced by the Social Gospel Movmement of the 19th Century, as were many of the many of the Protestant churches but certainly might not have felt the same religious compulsion to fulfill those ideas. But rather as the culmination of a humanistic rationale that started as an arguably religious idea.

David on :

"Any right-thinking observer would have to acknowledge that socialism (,,,,) tends to limit and ultimately degrade the human spirit, rather than lift it up." John, do you think that Europe is "socialistic" and that the human spirit is "degraded" in Europe? Have you ever been to Europe? Just asking... The grinding poverty I see here for so many families is hardly lifting many spirits.

Joe Noory on :

Politicking and running for office are nothing like leading and acting, despite the ideas of supporters so quick to take up an unhealthy lack of sceptism. I would suggest letting Obama take office before you try to chisel his head onto Mount Rushmore.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"A fruitful trans-Atlantic collaboration could lead to...Europe-influenced social policies in America." Name a single European-influenced social policy that Obama wants for America that is inspired by Europe's conservatives? Or any of Europe's non-socialists? I didn't think so. When Obama looks to Europe for policies, he sees Europe's socialists, and little else.

Pat Patterson on :

Does anyone even admit to being a conservative in Europe that would be recognizeable as such in the US? I fear that the Golden Age is past and that the Europeans have found themselves in the Age of Lead.

Zyme on :

I guess there are. On the national level in Germany, our ministers of interior affairs and defence come to my mind. While the latter contantly lobbies for changing the constitution so that the Army may be used within our borders in case of a terrorist attack, the former even argued that this might also be achieved by changing the preconditions of enacting martial law. Pretty detailed descriptions of Schäuble can be found here - although 2 years old, they have not lost their accuracy. http://www.worldproutassembly.org/archives/2007/01/german_interior_1.html I guess this kind of policy would be considered conservative even in the USA ;) And now consider that all this goes on while no major islamist terror strike has succeeded here. So you can make a guess who gains the upper hand once such a strike occurs.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Interesting article about Schäuble. It is remarkable that there is actually debate over whether the government has the right, in extremis, to shoot down a hijacked civilian aircraft when all else has failed. I can imagine all kinds of debate about who makes the decision, under what circumstances, etc. but the right to do it seems almost beyond debate. Will it take reform of Germany's Basic Law in order for Germany to be able to defend itself against asymmetrical attacks? Will the GSG 9 have to learn how to operate Surface-to-Air (SAM) missile batteries? However, I will say that permitting military action in response to “attacks on the foundations of the community” seems overly broad and vague. The time to have this debate and resolve this question is now, before it becomes an issue. Hopefully it never will.

Zyme on :

"Will it take reform of Germany's Basic Law in order for Germany to be able to defend itself against asymmetrical attacks?" A really tough question. Basically a reform of such a wide range would not be possible, as the Constitutional Court ruling against the "Air security law" based its decision on the first article of the constitution, which is beyond altering. One alternative - one our government has embraced in the last decade - is making use of the 24th article. In the second clause it allows the federal republic to "integrate itself into a system of collective and mutual security", the sole justification for military deployments abroad. The government has two vehicles for this: Traditionally the Nato alliance and rather recently the EU. Only within such structures our government can legally act with its military abroad, which might explain the strong German affinity for multilateral approaches ;) The government will probably continue to intensify the beginning military structures of the EU so that it one day might practically annul the restrictions of our national constitution. This is of course an unpredictable development and it is impossible to foresee the speed of it. The only sure thing is that Berlin will probably make use of any good opportunity to further the cause - so it is dependent on incidents that will strongly affect public opinion and European partners.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"the 24th article. In the second clause it allows the federal republic to "integrate itself into a system of collective and mutual security", the sole justification for military deployments [b]abroad[/b]" But I am talking about military deployments at home. Are you saying that article 24 could be the basis for a deployment within Germany, as long as it was part of a system of collective security? This would be one solution to the hijacked juggernaut airline problem; but I don't think NATO's decision-making systems are anywhere near to being prepared for this scenario. Same with the EUFOR.

Zyme on :

Yes that was my point. And yes, it will be a long road. But probably a shorter than waiting for a new constitution, huh?

John in Michigan, USA on :

A literal interpretation of conservatism would be to defend the status quo. Since Europe is generally socialist as compared to the US, European conservatives will appear more socialist from the US point of view. Further complicating things is, US conservatives tend to style themselves as progressive reformers, just with a different vision of what is progress, as opposed to the type of progress preferred by self-defined "progressives"; A perfect example of US-style progressive conservatism is the US school choice movement, which conservatives have embraced even though, in its purest form, it is radical since it would end or greatly alter the traditional US system of public education. Literal conservatives would be against most reform, unless it is needed to repair or restore existing institutions. US and European conservatives might form alliances on issues of mutual interest, but are unlikely ever to form the sort of international movement that the socialists keep trying to build. This is because conservatives tend to want to conserve national identity, but each national identity is different. Libertarians or classical liberals also have the potential for an international movement, although for a number of reasons they have been less sucessful than the socialists. One way for David to defend his thesis that O is not a socialist, would be to show how Obama drew from trans-atlantic classical liberal thought...except that I don't think there are many examples of this...David?

David on :

Why should I defend Obama as not socialist? 69 million Americans voted for him: either we are a nation of socialists, or the voters simply didn't buy the right-wing characterization of Obama as a left-wing radical. Good question about trans-atlantic influences on Obama. I'll look into that. But one thinker who did influence Obama was his professor at Harvard Law School Roberto Mangabeira Unger, who is now on leave and working for the Brazilian Government. Unger is an original thinker who rejects both neo-liberalism and classical European socialist thinking (I was lucky enough to sit in on a few of his lectures). The fact that Unger will have President Obama's ear could lead to much better relations with Brazil and Latin America in general.

Joe Noory on :

This constant activity of trying to find reasons to worship the man's every move is becoming ridiculous, and rather sad. It's quite plain that the man has been inhabiting a rhetorical platform in Chicago and on the national circuit which is an environment that entertains socialistic notions that American generally reject, and use a studied, pasteurized vocabulary to do it, one ubiquitous to Europe. It oscilates constantly with "gotcha" taunts to business while bedding with corporate heads, uses carefully reconstituted language to put over stale class-struggle arguments, and all the rest of it. Instead of the endless campaign pitch over his announcements and appointments, why don't you just let them show us for themselves just how it is they will bring us their secularized version of social deliverance they've told us we needed and were going to cause.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"Why should I defend Obama as not socialist?" Well, perhaps because you wrote: "Certainly European social democrats found McCain's characterization laughable: there was nothing 'socialistic' about the Obama campaign's stated policies. What did the candidacy of Barack Obama have to do with European social democracy?" ???? David, if brains are like movies, your brain's director desperately needs to hire a [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Script_supervisor]continuity assistant[/url]. Yes, I read the Philadelphia speech, we discussed it on this very site in the comments, don't you remember? Are you capable of having discussions with real people, or must you treat us as stereotypes? As to your attempt to smear me with "Obama as a stealth Muslim, terrorist, etc." I have specifically, repeatedly, and consistently denied that both in public and in personal correspondence to you. Shame on you. The reason I bring up Rev. Wright is that he is socialist, and a buffoon, and he is back in the public eye, having been released from election-imposed quarantine. Here is a sample: Life Imitates 'Animal House' * Bluto: "Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!" Otter: "Germans?" Boon: "Forget it, he's rolling."--dialog from "[url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077975/quotes]Animal House[/url]," 1978 * "Today is Dec. 7, the day that this government killed over 80,000 Japanese civilians at Hiroshima in 1941, two days before killing an additional 64,000 Japanese civilians at Nagasaki by dropping nuclear bombs on innocent people."--anti-American preacher [url=http://www.foxnews.com/video-search/m/21616411/back_in_the_spotlight.htm?pageid=23170]Jeremiah Wright[/url], Dec. 7, 2008 [url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122911069488902405.html]Hat Tip[/url]. Ayers is back in the news also, he has a book or something. Now that the transition and "all hail Obama" has become a little boring, and Rezko and Blago are in the dock, I think you will find that Obama's dirty laundry is the new hot topic in the media, and you will come to realize what a gentleman (relative to most politicians) was John McCain.

John in Michigan, USA on :

[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Mangabeira_Unger]Roberto Mangabeira Unger[/url] "...was associated with the Critical Legal Studies movement for a brief period in the late 1970s and early 1980s, although Unger has set forth his own criticisms of some of the central ideas that emerged out of this movement..." So if Wikipedia is accurate (hey, it happens sometimes!), Obama's allegedly non-socialist influence is (yet another) a reformed radical... As was [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1044-President-Obama-and-Europe.html#c13043]discussed elsewhere on this site[/url], Obama attended law school just as the Critical Legal Studies movement was being displaced from its position of dominance. It seems he decided even then (1991) to stay out of the controversy and keep himself viable. Look, as I've said before, I am really not sure what Obama is today. I wouldn't be surprised to find his political philosophy to be in transition from what is was in the 80's to something new. In fact we saw some of that evolution between the Philadelphia speech, in which he both praised and criticized Rev. Wright, to the speech a month or so later, in which Obama broke with Wright and left the church. So Obama is undergoing growth and change. Good for him (and I'm not being sarcastic, for now at least). My point is that whatever he is becoming, it is certainly reasonable to describe as socialist the thing that he used to be. And part of him still thinks that way, or did, as recently as Spring, 2008. The funny thing is, Obama's intellectual heritage also has a lot in common with prominent neo-conservatives who broke with the socialism, communism, Marxism, etc. of their college days. I think this must be some of what the Obama-cons (conservatives voting for Obama) sense in him. Most neo-cons openly admit they are former socialists of one sort or another; why shouldn't we expect the same frankness from Obama?

Marie Claude on :

even under Bush administration you had government intrusion in businesses, so you can't have anymore a stricly conservative governance, nor a total socialist governance, depends on the emergencies to treat, this is only in the ideas debats, but the typical lefty's seem not working anymore, a rational lefty person wouldn't advocate them without being taxed of commuunism, it's taboo or looks silly

Marie Claude on :

what's the H... is that guy sayin ? Amero = euro !!!! http : //www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxv9fl8vwa0 I made some researches, they talk about it here : http : //www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1649977/posts http : //www.spp-psp.gc.ca/overview/about-en.aspx http : //www.wikiprotest.com/index.php?title=Security_and_Prosperity_Partnership_(www.spp.gov) also, prepare to die of freezing, OPEC states were bluffing about their "real" reserves https : //www.web-purchases.com/OST_Oil_Hoax_POP5/WOSTJB29/landing.html So, is that the 2009 2010 catastrophe that some experts forecasted ?

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