For those people who are surprised by Harper's recent attack on the long-form census, you probably haven't been paying attention to his personal past nor to his political tradition. The foundations of modern Toryism are rooted in the British reactions to the Revolution in France.Ever since that time conservatives have been particularly afraid of ideals and ideas. Fearful Tories and aristocrats saw the roots of the revolution and Jacobinism in the exposure of the People to ideas of thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau. Men like William Pitt and Edmund Burke were particularly fearful that if average Englanders were exposed to too much education and too many ideas, revolution would be the inevitable outcome and chaos would ensue. The British Conservatives were already armed with an English tradition of reactionary attitudes as they displayed in the Gordon Riots in 1780 when crowds of people were whipped into a conservative frenzy of hatred and violence that left hundreds dead and wounded. Soon after the revolution in France the British Conservatives made it a central tenant of the political modus operandi to whip up fervent feelings against intellectuals and dissenters such as the great Joseph Priestley whose house and laboratory was destroyed by one such mob. Ever after the events in France many conservatives used fear of intellectualism and dissent as primary political motivation for their followers. Hitler was particularly adept at targeting intellectuals as people who corrupted and destroyed traditional (read conservative) values. Many conservatives were particularly opposed to universal education because they feared that there is nothing more dangerous than an educated working-class who would never be satisfied with their lot in life if they gained an education and a knowledge of social possibilities.
Harper is a modern personification of these kinds of attitudes. One of Harper's earliest moves as PM was to end almost all federally funded adult literacy programs. Like Mike Harris, Harper and his crew only see education as valuable when it is entirely functional, results oriented, and serves very basic needs of corporate labor demands. Any ideas, information, or education that does not conform to the simplest elements in the Conservative agenda are to be banished as unnecessary, or even dangerous. Thus if opposition members want to discuss the overall strategies or potential abuses in the war in Afghanistan they are branded as Taliban dupes. If statistics emerge that suggest that the Conservative 'tough on crime' agenda is a meaningless, politically motivated effort at gaining votes at the expense of billions, then those statistics must be 'unreliable' or even 'fabricated.' Ideals and ideas have long been the enemy of men like Harper and this is the way it will always be. If Conservatives have their way they will soon have a Fox-like television station in Canada which will promote its own brand of Canadian know-nothingism and they will fill our airwaves with ignorance and lies.
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