‘States rights’ comes to Europe

by John Quiggin on September 17, 2010

Looking at the Sarkozy government’s attempt at ethnic cleansing of the Roma, The Economist’s Charlemagne had the following observation about

the vociferous protest from the European Parliament. On September 9th it passed a strongly worded resolution denouncing discrimination against the Roma, and singled out the commission for its “late and limited response”. The row thus brings out the contradictions of European democracy: an elected national government finds that its resort to populism is confronted by the European Commission, an appointed body, and by the European Parliament, a distant chamber elected by a minority of voters.

It struck me that you could replace “national” with ” Southern state”, “European Commission” with “US Supreme Court” and “European Parliament” with “US Federal government”, and the analogy with Brown vs Board of Education would be just about perfect (except that it’s the Parliament driving the Commission and not vice versa). Then I noticed that Chris had proposed an almost identical substitution in relation to economic policy here.

This is the first time I can recall the European Parliament playing a key role in a conflict between the central institutions of the EU, such as the Commission and a member state. If the Parliament and Commission prevail, as they should, it seems to me that this will change the effective political structure of the EU, in the direction of a federal democracy. I’d be interested in the thoughts of those closer to the action.

Amman travel Bleg

by Ingrid Robeyns on September 17, 2010

Myself and some frequent CT commentators are about to leave our homes for Amman, to attend “the 2010 conference of the Human Development and Capability Association”:http://www1.ju.edu.jo/conferences1/oirsite/Home.aspx. It’s a packed program and I’m rushing in and out, so will have very little time for any sightseeing, and no time to travel outside Amman at all. Yet I hope to see at least something else than the University Buildings and my hotel – perhaps visit the most interesting Mosque or historical site of Amman? Any tips?

Stuff I’d like to have time to blog about

by Henry on September 17, 2010

Another episode in “What David Moles said”:http://chrononaut.org/2010/09/16/many-writers-have-all-the-virtues-of-civilized-persons/

Art Goldhammer on “the Sarkozy meltdown”:http://artgoldhammer.blogspot.com/2010/09/astonishing-rebuke.html

bq. The problem is that this statement was a lie, according to Merkel. … astonishing public rebuke, Merkel’s spokesperson …The idea that Sarkozy would simply have invented an exchange with Merkel and that he would have invoked her “total and entire” support without having cleared it with her beggars belief. A president who behaves in this way permanently discredits himself. Plummeting in polls, attacked for human rights violations, chastised by the Pope, sued by Le Monde, and now slapped in the face by Merkel, Sarkozy seems to be coming unhinged, prepared to say anything and do anything to retain his increasingly tenuous hold on power. How long before an open revolt breaks out in his own party?

“Matthew Yglesias”:http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/harvardperetz-controversy-illustrates-folly-of-charitable-donations-to-wealthy-u-s-universities/ on Martin Peretz and the university donation business.

bq. It’s really too bad that Harvard has chosen to take this tack. Obviously the only person in this conversation who’s questioned anybody’s right to “free speech” or exhibited a weak “commitment to the most basic freedoms” is Peretz himself. Equally obviously, Peretz’s right to be a bigot does not create a right to be honored by prestigious universities. My alma mater is doing a disservice to their brand and to public understanding of the issues by deliberately obscuring things in this manner. It would be more honest to say that Harvard is a business run for the benefit of its faculty and administrators. The business model of this business is the exchange of prestige in exchange for money. Peretz has friends who have money that they are willing to exchange for some prestige, and Harvard intends to take the money.

Should We Fight For ‘Social Justice’?

by John Holbo on September 17, 2010

Of course we should fight for social justice. Justice is good. And it’s social. Broadly speaking. So I’m asking about the term, not the thing. I ask because I see that Senator Gregg has come out against justice. Near as I can figure.

Normally I would say it is a bad idea to drop a term just because someone like Glenn Beck gets everyone wound up about it. But I tend to think ‘social justice’ just means justice. Of course people have different ideas about what justice is, but ‘social justice’ doesn’t really express those differences. It’s vaguely associated with 1960’s-style stuff and socialism, but not in a way that sheds any light. Not in a way that really says anything.

Example. I’ve finally gotten around to reading Erik Olin Wright, Envisioning Real Utopias, on Harry’s recommendation. I’m not that far yet, but near the start there’s a section on ‘social justice’ then a section on ‘political justice’. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference. [click to continue…]