ANSWER: Name this socialist

rc-am rcollins at
Sun Aug 15 16:41:12 PDT 1999

Max (and a ps. to Michael P),

I think I get where you're coming from, but am still unclear how you think a focus on health care would leave out the 'thorny' issue of abortion, which is after all intimately connected with health care.

> As I see it, the current configuration of the U.S. left is a
> federation
> with fairly clear lines of demarcation (labor, women, race, gays,
> and various single issues). I suspect it is much different in
> countries with substantial laborist or social-democratic
> cultures.

I'm not sure about that. the same kind of pre-packaging of political representation goes on here, and I would even argue that it's more pronounced than in the US, or at least takes a slightly different form, which might well have some quite disastrous consequences.

any kind of representation which operates on the basis of identity (what you call the constituency groups) it seems to me work this kind of exclusion of certain issues, and perhaps more insidiously, it's a function of the representatives of particular groups generally being amongst the more privileged of those groups. or, to put it another way, the moment they are defined as groups, the more privileged tend to percolate to the top as seemingly natural representatives, which means that the issues _they_ perceive as being of importance are those which only affect _them_ adversely. hence, the issue gets narrowed right down to those which affect (say) white, privileged gays (and maybe lesbians) as the pre-eminent issues of what gets presented as _the_ gay and lesbian m/ment. any work on anything else gets called (and organised as) coalition work, as if there are no gays and lesbians who might _at the same time_ confront a 'combination' of issues less amenable to this kind of 'representation'.

but the soc dems/labourites here have been very adept at not only including but sponsoring the reps of these 'constituencies' at the same time as those constituencies have been progressively marginalised and in many cases criminalised...

> Of course, the labor parties have their own problems,
> but that's a different story.

yes. be careful what you wish for.

ps. Michael, it's not a question of 'being concerned with one's own specific problems', since doesn't this assume that what you would define as 'specific' is already defined as such by not being representative of the 'broad masses of people'? what are these 'specific' issues that should be sidelined so we can all get along better? but in any case, I don't think that's the problem at all with however you would define the self-absorption of what after all is only a small part of a constituency which doesn't exist as a constituency at all outside their licensed connection to their constituents. and, in most case, it isn't workers as a whole who delegate the LP, just as it isn't gays and lesbian as a whole who delegate certain reps who go on to speak on their behalf. perhaps it's the issue of delegation itself that needs to be thrown open?

Angela _________

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