Inventing the future and governing the present

Ideologies as closed, ‘totalizing’ systems are a thing of the past. But if by ideology we mean a set of ideas which mark out positions which are more or less progressive or more or less conservative, then we can assert that ideologies are happily still with us and will continue to be so.
Values and ideas are the foundation of democratic socialism, but they are not enough in themselves. We are going to take up positions involving realities and the nuts and bolts of government as well. An ever-present temptation for the Left is to invent the future and let the Right get on with governing the present.
Democratic socialism must avoid this temptation. It is of course our bounden duty to invent the future and ‘imagine’ the 21st century, but that does not involve giving up on our calling to govern the present and attempting to transform it, realistically and rigorously, under the banner of social justice and equality of opportunities.
Democratic socialism seeks to represent the majority wishes of our peoples. This means taking on board the contradictions to be found within any majority.

Commitment and responses
The work of the Commission takes as its starting point the simple fact that the Left, faced with a radically – and sometimes dramatically – changing world and equally radical changes in economics and society, also needs to change and to put forward fresh approaches.
The Commission’s efforts are directed towards preparing these responses and above all, to debating them.
We went to avoid a discourse of false certainties and mere statements of general principles. That would be a ducking of responsibility. Nor are we going to take cosy refuge in a discourse consisting entirely of questions. Not because we do not ask questions, but because we must go further. We have a duty to provide answers, and that means committing ourselves.

Replying to neo-liberal fundamentalism
The new fundamentalism of the neo-liberals is seeking to establish a worldwide hegemony over ideas and impose its own blockade on communication.
Democratic socialism has to break this blockade. We have to start from the conviction that, despite the insistent neo-liberal message, it is not merely just, necessary and feasible to defend a social model founded on welfare and the idea of a cohesive, non-fragmented society, but that ordinary citizens will increasingly demand that we do porno mexicano, for the negative impact of the period of neo-liberal hegemony is already becoming apparent.
This forms part and parcel of the growing need to affirm democracy and reassert its dignity. The deification of ‘the market’ we are currently witnessing is rather disquieting, raising as it does the question of whether the market or democracy would be the first to go if there were ever to be a conflict of interest between democracy and the power of the market, backed by neo-liberal fundamentalism. It is worth recalling here that while there has never been democracy without a market, there are certainly market economies without democracy.

Globalization as the new frontier of development
Globalization is an irreversible phenomenon of our time. We have entered a new age based on the globalization of the world economy, and the Left cannot approach this reality in a spirit of rejection.
The Global Progress Commission proposes to analyse the phenomenon, see what effects it produces, and put forward progressive policies optimizing the advantages and minimizing the cost.
Globalization creates the possibility of opening up a new frontier of development, where old dogmas are no longer of any use.
The fundamental questions clamouring for answers are:
– what can and should States be doing in the face of the omnipotence of the market? What can be expected from coordinating economic policies or from a world economic government?
– what should the role of multilateral institutions be in regulating the world economy?
– how should open regionalism processes be handled with a view to reducing the gap between the developed countries and the developing countries, and avoid the creation of opposing blocs?
– how do we achieve the integration of peripheral areas which remain on the fringes of development?

There can be no question at all that the great challenge for democratic socialism is the globalization of progress and development.
The Commission chaired by Felipe González wishes to contribute to the debate on how this challenge should be tackled.

The technological revolution and employment
Democratic socialism’s first responsibility to our peoples is not to waste the opportunity provided by the technological revolution. And our first obligation is to create jobs and thus put an end to the misery which unemployment, the starkest expression of social exclusion, means for millions of individuals.
The development or under-development of any country depends on whether it is capable of joining to the information revolution circuit or not. Those countries which remain outside the technological revolution will suffer from ‘capacity impoverishment’: countries which have not been able or did not want to solve the problems of education, human capital, the incorporation of women into the on-going transformation of society, nor, finally, the problems of sustainable development.
These are the great issues of our time.
The responsibility of those in government is to ensure that the technological revolution is placed at the service of human beings, not the other way round. This means that citizens’ rights have to be our reference point.
Today the major obstacle to making these rights a reality and allowing individual human beings to achieve self-fulfilment is unemployment.
If we are to solve the problem of unemployment, the thinking required on how to share out the available working time needs to involve many countries. And the way in which it is shared out must preserve their ability to compete.
Over and above healthy, stable economic growth permanent structural reformand active employment policies will also be necessary.

Health macroeconomic policies
The sole social legitimization of a successful economic policy is that it creates a fairer society and constitutes progress towards equality of opportunities.
There is an area of general consensus which includes, for example, the need to implement healthy macroeconomic policies, and a conviction that the fight against inflation is not a question of Right or Left, since inflation is the cruellest form of taxation for those on low incomes.
At the same time, we know the political authorities need to take up a progressive stance on concern for citizens’ health, for education and social redistribution, and the need to put the technological revolution at the service of citizens.

Reform and the role of the State
The specifically progressive character of a political approach emerges when it comes to deciding on the role of the State. Neo-liberal fundamentalism advocates an emasculated state which abandons everything to the market or to the influence of powerful pressure groups.
We do not want nationalist, populist, bloated States, and we want bureaucratic centralism even less. But we do not want feeble public authorities and States whose capacity for democratic decision-making is dependent on the major concentration of power in a few hands which is created by the deregulated drive of the market and by globalization.
The social legitimation of political power involves the role of the State with regard to citizens’ welfare, educational opportunities, health, pensions and access to all the other social rights and public services – in short, social cohesion policies.
Not everything can be turned into a market. A market requires a regulatory framework, and that framework can only be defined by the public authorities. Public services involve citizens’ rights, and the State must guarantee those services.

Freedom of movement of capital
As regards the relationship between the market and democratic public authority, the Left would like to put forward a regulatory framework for international movements of capital to help prevent severe financial crisis situations from developing.
The Left should at the same time propose mechanisms for prevention of and rapid response to financial crises, which are more and more frequent and increasingly harsh.

Dog Art: depicting dogs barking, training, and doing dog agility

Dogs have been a favorite subject of many artists for centuries. From cave paintings, to the times of Renaissance art and medieval swords, to modern day computer illustrations, dog art has evolved through the years. Dogs are seen as the symbol of loyalty, and during the Renaissance period were often painted with married couples to represent fidelity.

Today, canine art has taken many forms: traditional art with handsome Labradors sunning themselves, art in photography with interesting angles and a seemingly non-posed context, and colourful illustrations of happy go-lucky dogs doing dog agility or ones with hard edges and meaningful stares. has over 2000 illustrations, clip art and stock photos of dogs a nice idea to enjoy or for a simple present for someone. Many depict the sweet and easy going personalities of family dogs and their relationships with humans, while in contrast to that, many convincingly illustrate what artists long ago did not capture: the fury of the snarling angry dog. (Some were so convincing, that it made me want to go out and buy some dog pepper spray!)

Although modern art may be edgy and much in demand, classical art still is top-notch when it comes to auction time. has a yearly auction that coincides with Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show called Dogs in Art Auction. The most expensive painting sold last year was American artist Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s (1819-1905) Pointer Retrieving a Woodcock, which sold for $23,900 to a collector in the southern states via the Internet. Auctions can be wonderful events; held to raise funds for many canine organizations.

Assistance Dog Institute is a non-profit organization that is training dogs not only on the basics (sit, heel, stay, and how to stop a dog from barking, etc,) but teaches them to turn on lights, open doors, pull chairs and retrieve dropped objects for children and adults with physical disabilities or other special needs. They too often have fund raisers including golf gifts and tournaments or silent auctions. Vendors usually donate new items or weekend stays in the California wine country, but anyone can clean out and organize your clothes closet to find treasures to donate.
Greyhound Gifts is also an organization devoted to the welfare of canines. Susan O’Hara combined her passion for the greyhound and a life-long love of creating hand made ceramic sculpture, and created unique pet gifts. Greyhound pottery vases, sitting greyhounds (greyhound statue) and a head silhouette refrigerator magnet are a few. A portion of all Greyhound Gifts sales directly supports similar greyhound rescue adoption groups to Golden State Greyhound Adoption which is my favorite.
It sounds crazy, but with one organization, not just humans, but the animals themselves can get involved in producing the art that inevitably contributes to their well-being. Dog Scouts of America’s goal is to increase awareness about the human/companion animal bond, and to promote responsible dog ownership. They have many activities and educate owners how to teach using positive reinforcement. One of the activities in particular is teaching dogs to paint. They then hold art shows and even auction off the paintings to benefit organizations which train service dogs for people with special needs.

Art Appraisal Online

Today, getting art appraised can be as easy as getting a quote for term life insurance over the phone. It can take a matter of minutes to get a ball-park figure, or it can take longer to get a more detailed answer. To reach a larger audience, recently many art appraisers have chosen to join the electronic information super highway and move their businesses to the internet.

So now you can find out what the birthday gift idea your grandmother had for your grandfather way back when is it worth today more quickly and easily than ever before. Most art appraisers only require you send them a photograph of the piece, the original and answer a questionnaire. Some can give instant verbal appraisals over the phone or via email. They can estimate the value by the condition and authentication of the piece. Appraisers can even tell you how much a piece has depreciated as a result of something like water damage (or heaven forbid something like a spot of salad dressing on the canvas).
Maynard Elliot an appraiser who started has an online form to fill out the information about your piece and then get a timely response. His appraisal service is mainly for collectors securing their investment, insurance agents for customer appraisals, insurance companies for claims settlement purposes, to insure an item, contemporary, decorative or otherwise, art galleries and corporate collections, artists selling prices supported, educational resources, charitable institutions and donations and estates and trusts. Elliot has quite a distinguished background in Art History and Art Appraisals and his extensive study of art goes back 40 years.

Fine Art Appraisals online is also among the many companies offering this service. They charge $75 verbal appraisal and $175 written appraisal for all media including paintings, sculpture, prints and photography.

A well-known online appraiser is Ask the Appraiser on They teamed up with Ebay in 2003 to better serve the community with services for appraisals of pieces for auctions. But it’s not just for Ebay. It’s a simple online service that comes with a tutorial to explain step by step the process. You can get an instant appraisal via email, or send a digital photo and description for a more detailed appraisal. They appraise such items as antiques (art, furniture, etc.), ceramics, coins/currency, collectibles, glass, jewelry and gems, sporting goods, sports (football equipment/memorabilia, basketball, soccer, horse racing equipment among other sports memorabilia), stamps and toys and dolls. For a nominal fee you can even ask them to check out an Ebay auction online and tell you what the item is worth.

Many of these art appraisers are members of The Association of Online Appraisers (AOA). It is a registered 501(c)(6) not-for-profit international association for personal property appraisers who are involved in offering online written appraisal reports (either as individuals or via an appraisal management company) through the use of digital images and Internet online reporting. Their mission statement is to promote and encourage professionalism and ethical conduct among online personal property appraisers. You can search for an appraiser online through their website:

Modern technology in the online industry could bring such services even closer with VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) solutions. Online appraisal could be as easy as a telephone chat via the internet in real time. Watch for it. It could be coming soon to an online appraiser near you…

Famous Artists of Impressionism

Impressionism was a 19th century art movement that began as a group of Paris-based artists who began publicly exhibiting their art in the 1860’s. The name of the movement was derived from Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise(Impression, soleil levant). Critic Louis Leroy coined the term in a satiric review published in Le Charivari. Characteristics of impressionist paintings are visible light brushstrokes, light colors, open composition, emphasis on light and how it changes (often displaying the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, and unusual angles. The artists mostly painted outdoors and many were landscapes. Some of the most famous artists of the Impressionist movement were Edouard Manet, Camille Pissaro, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot and Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Claude Monet’s famous boat studio
Claude Monet loved painting light and water and was interested in the subtle changes in atmosphere that would cast light and dark shadows. He mostly painted many gardens and landscapes, but later because of his love of boating, he used a small boat as a studio, where he floated up and down the river Seine while he painted. One of his paintings Le Bateau Atelier depicts his floating boat studio.

Edouard Manet scandalous nude portrait
Edouard Manet painted modern day life and every day objects. Manet originally learned to paint in the traditional style, but after meeting Claude Monet and the other “Impressionists”, became more spontaneous and bold. He used expressive outline, severe lighting contrasts, rich texture and deep color. He also painted many portraits, and was most famous for his nude portrait Olympia, which at the time was quite scandalous.

Edgar Degas skillful paintings of horses and plus size women
Edgar Degas’ skillful drawing, and perceptive analysis of movement made him one of the masters of progressive art in the late 19th century. Although he was considered as an impressionist, some of his work shows classical and realist styles, and other times romanticism. His favorite subjects were portraits of groups (most notably ballet dancers) and horses. In the late 1800’s, he painted many nudes of women (or what would be referred to today as voluptuous orplus size women), bathing or grooming themselves.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir loves boats and portraits
Pierre-Auguste Renoir worked closely with Monet during the 1860’s, and although they both painted boats, river resorts, scenes in Paris and nature, he was particularly attracted to painting people, and often painted friends and lovers. ‘Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre’ (Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette), an open-air scene of a popular dance garden on the Butte Montmartre is one of the most famous paintings of Pierre Auguste Renoir. It sold for 78.1 million dollars U.S. Other famous paintings were Girl With a Watering Can (1876) and Umbrellas (1883).

French impressionism
French impressionism influenced artists throughout the world, including Americans J. M. Whistler, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Willard Metcalf, John Twactman, Child Hassam and Richard Earl Thompson.

The Lighthouses of Richard Earl Thompson
Richard Earl Thompson (1914-1991) was one of the artist that had continued this art form. A dedicated Impressionist, he devoted a lifetime of effort to capturing the quality of nature’s light on canvas. His works have a striking resemblance to that of Claude Monet, and include gardens, sailing, lighthousesand many more beautiful collectibles.