Monday, March 1, 2010

Harper Hates Democracy. . . .

I read a really interesting book in manuscript form over the weekend while I was nursing my cold. It is about a man's personal journey to political enlightenment throughout certain adventures in England, the US, and Latin America. The adventures, such as being held in an El Salvadoran prison, are interesting but what I found particularly good was that it reminded me of why so many modern right-wingers hate democracy so much. The book uses a quote from Milton Friedman, the gist of which is that if democratically elected representatives enact any policies which are perceived to be controls on the so-called 'free-market' then these decisions are a priori anti-democratic. In other words, Friedman used the argument that Democracies are good only so long as they bring about decisions that he  agrees with, otherwise they are not actually democratic at all. 

This reminded me that modern right-wingers (and this doesn't necessarily apply to old school tories) hate democracy because they don't believe that the people of a nation can form a general will that has as its goal some kind of social plan, particularly about the distribution of resources. But since this is the primary goal of democracy, to believe such a thing is to hollow out the entire concept.

I remember a meeting in the 90s where a World Bank official was speaking about so-called 'good governance' and democracy in the Third World. The WB official was suggesting that Third World democracies had to follow the World Bank policies of eliminating social programs and deregulating markets. But when asked "what exactly is the point of democratic elections if the agenda is already set by a set of World Bank officials" the man had no response. 

Men like Harper hate democracy because they want us to believe that there is no society, just a bunch of individuals pursuing their own wealth. The last thing they want is the population actually deciding how society should be organized or how resources should be distributed and used. In other words, Harper wants his model of society to be perceived as 'natural' and immutable; and not something that democratic processes should be able to touch. Ironically of course, Harper's model actually consists of using the government to funnel tax-payer's money to large corporations while pretending that they believe in 'free markets.' 

Harper hates democracy because he hates people and loathes the idea that we can get together and collectively decide on our future. But society does exist and it belongs to the people who form it and we have democratic processes to decide on how we will form that society. If the market was all we needed, there would be no need of democracy. 

Milton Friedman is, by the way, quite dead and his model will die as well. Harper is a follower of Friedman and has shown his contempt for democracy again and again. But people will eventually realize that tyranny is not freedom and that society and the economy belongs to them and not to the CEOs of Bay Street, and the people will eventually take it back and the Harper era will be considered a dark period of our history. 

Either that or Harper and his ilk will slowly destroy everything good that society has built. 

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