Monday, May 16, 2011

The Human Alternative. . . .

I find it fairly interesting the way Liberals and Conservatives in this country are desperately trying to portray the NDP as a wacky socialist throw-back to the 1960s. Acceptance of this characterization is based itself on an old idea - the idea that the NDP has not changed its policies in forty years or so. However, despite the fact that there are some on the far left in the NDP, overall it is now a party more or less of the centre. Their primary political goals nowadays are a strengthening of the CPP, a more solid commitment to universal health-care, a tax system that doesn't let corporations get away with murder, and some effort to control what is gradually shaping up to be an environmental disaster. It is all pretty tame really and anyone who attempts to characterize them differently is just intentionally feeding on stereotypes for the sake of partisan gain.

But even if the NDP was a throw-back to a more genuine socialist effort, I say bring it on. Far from being wacky or dangerous, socialism is the only thing that will save us from environmental destruction, oppressive economic inequalities, corporations that have gone completely out of control, and a slowly degrading state of democracy. There is no doubt that the process of globalization has made any socialist effort significantly more difficult. Corporations have fairly effectively created a atmosphere in which states have a limited independence to control their own economies. But there is also a growing international awareness of the power of corporations to control people's lives and the need for real reforms before it is too late. The economy belongs to the people, not to multinationals, and if the people want to take control of the system, then they can and will. One needn't be a radical who believes in no market process whatsoever to believe that economies can be run in the interests of average people and that corporations should not be controlling all of the social, political, and economic aspects of our lives.

The only reason that people perceive the NDP agenda to be radical or whacky is that they have bought into the spin of neo-conservatives who have created an ideology which convinces people that they are entirely at the behest of corporations and that there is no alternative. Well there is an alternative, and it means limiting the power of corporations to set the agenda and to create an economy in which people matter. It is not a radical alternative, it is a human alternative.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Right-WIng Media. . . . .

Anyone who doubts the right-wing bias of the media (and is actually intellectually honest) surely must have had a wake-up call when every newspaper in the country but one endorsed a Harper Majority.

More evidence is found here. The media is making more out of this story than out of Harper ministers lying to the House or the Harper Government being the very first one in the history of the Commonwealth to be found in contempt of parliament. The right-wingers who still think that the media has a left-wing bias or that the CBC is run by a secret Marxist cell can now be officially certified as a whacko.

Some Timely Thoughts From Hazlitt . . . .

"All things move, not in progress, but in a ceaseless round; our strength lies in our weakness; our virtues are built on our vices; our faculties are as limited as our being; nor can we lift man above his nature more than above the earth he tends. But though we cannot weave over again the airy, unsubstantial dream, which reason and experience have dispelled  . . . yet we will never cease, nor be prevented from returning on the wings of imagination to that bright dream of our youth; that glad dawn of the day-star of liberty; that spring-time of the world, in which the hopes and expectations of the human race seemed opening in the same gay career with our own; when France called her children to partake her equal blessings beneath her laughing skies; when the stranger was met in all her villages with dance and festive songs; in celebration of a new and golden era . . .  the dawn of that day was suddenly overcast; that season of hope is past; it is fled with the other dreams of our youth, which we cannot recall, but has left behind it traces, which are not to be effaced by Birthday and Thanks-giving Odes, or the chanting of Te Deums in all the churchs of Christendom. To those hopes eternal regrets are dur; to those who maliciously and wilfully blasted them, in the fear that they might be accomplished, we feel no less what we owe - hatred and scorn as lasting!"

-William Hazlitt

Though written nearly two hundred years ago, this is a remarkably poignent observation by that enduring man who, in a time of dangerous and tumultuous politics, never abandoned his principles in the face of apostasy on the part of most of his contemporaries. And his lesson is clear for us today as it was in his own time; to resist those who would rob the world of its genuine abundance and reduce us to no more than servants of an economist's ideology. The human imagination will reach beyond these bullies of the badlands and into the world they will tell us cannot exist.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Liberals limp into their future. . . ...

I love this stuff. It really is priceless. The first major action of the Liberal Party of Canada in its process of rejuvenation is to bypass their own constitution. Classic! The Liberal Party of Canada wants to recreate itself and its first message is that 'we don't even obey our own rules."

Good stuff. Really good stuff.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Future is Coming and Conservatives are losing the Struggle. . . .

Here are a few of the reasons that the Conservative Party is a sad and hopeless relic. Though it managed to secure a small majority, a few years of the Government in this position will be enough to demonstrate why this party will be short lived.

- The Environment. Though the right-wing pundits keep insisting that there is no environmental crisis, time will prove them desperately and hopelessly wrong. The CPC has absolutely no environmental policy except to rape and pillage it as much as possible for fun and profit. A generation from now the people of Canada, if there any left, will look back in shame and amazement that people elected a party with no concern for the future.

- Corporate Tax-Cuts. Since the onset of Globalization, corporations have gained more and more power to control every aspect of our society. This will prove absolutely disastrous in the future. The income gap gets wider every year and Conservative policies are designed to increase this gap even further. The greater the income gap in a country, the worse its democratic (and usually economic) health is. In the next 25 years people will begin to see the real horrors that such policies bring about and they will know exactly who to blame.

- The death penalty. It is no secret that Harper and most of his supporters are avid advocates of the Death Penalty. They have been unwilling in recent years to make an issue of it publicly, but pressure from Harper's evangelical supporters will make it an issue soon. The world is slowly turning its back on the death penalty. It is barbaric and primitive and future generations will look upon it with the kind of shame with which we now look at slavery.

- Democratic reform. The Conservatives oppose any kind of democratic reforms and even seem to oppose an active citizenship involved in the democratic process. Almost every country in the world has abandoned the First-past-the-post system because it is unrepresentative and unfair. Within a generation a vast majority in Canada will be looking to ensure a fairer and more representative system and the Conservatives will continue to oppose it, demonstrating that they are a party of the past.

- Partisanship. Everyone, even his supporters, know that Harper is the most partisan leader this country has ever had. More and more people are looking for a more cooperative kind of politics. Young people everywhere are disengaged from democracy because they are turned off by the partisanship of politics today. The time has come for a new kind of politics and more socially minded political parties such as the NDP and the Greens are learning from this. The Conservatives are obsessively partisan to the point of attempting to destroy anyone in their way. They are not interested in discourse and compromise. This will be central to their downfall, just as it has been for the Liberals.

- Antiquated Social Agenda. The CPC has been trying to take us back to a past in which women and workers had no rights and gay people were criminals. Everywhere people are struggling to push forward a more enlightened social agenda. And we are slowly winning. Whenever the back--benchers in Harper's government finally get fed up and introduce private members bills that reflect their fundamentalist religious agenda, support for the CPC will dry up faster than a disappearing lake.

In every way that matters, the Harper government is a relic that deserves to be relegated to the dustbin of history. Historical progress often consists of one step forward two steps back. But the those who oppose a fairer, more democratic, economically more just, more cooperative world, will slowly be relegated to the past, where they belong. People are slowly waking up and this election is in fact a sign that change is coming. It often at the brink of real change that a certain percentage of people panic with a fear of what will come. In such a period of transition, those who are gripped with fear temporarily join the forces of darkness. But history eventually runs right over such resistance. Conservatives will enjoy their days in the sun just as reactionaries often have in history. But their end is near. Conservatives will always form a part of our political consciousness, but I believe that this is the last hurrah of this particular brand of 20th century neo-right christian fundamentalist conservatism. History has already made its verdict, it is only waiting for the rest of the people to catch up.

What do you think of Young MPs?

I must say that the second most significant disappointment, after the election of a fascist majority, is the attacks on young MPs that are going on everywhere.

Next time you wonder why people between the ages of 18 and 25 don't vote just think of all the attacks that have been perpetrated against young MPs in the aftermath of this election. Young people are marginalized, belittled, and berated by the political establishment when they actually get involved. So why would they bother to vote? Do people really want the young involved or do they just want them to stay quiet and obedient?  And for all of those who hate the NDP, just keep in mind this will just bring more young people to the party with the most women and the greatest number of youthful MPs ever elected. And eventually the next generation will crush the conservative agenda and eliminate the power of corporations to run our political system.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A few Quick thoughts on the Liberal Predicament. . . . .

I have read a lot of bloggers, journalists, and radio call-in Liberals for a few days now. They have all sorts of reasons for the Liberal defeat and ideas about building it back to an important political party.

Let me pare it down to the simplest formula that I think really applies. NEW IDEAS! That is all that matters. For the past seven years or so the Liberals have simply not created a new set of policies that embraces real political reform, real transparency, real social democratic ideas, etc. They have been satisfied with little ideas like a few buck for students here, and a few dollars for homecare there. While many of them have been ok ideas, the Liberal Party simply needs BIG new ideas that will capture the imaginations of people.

If the Liberal Party really wants to rebuild, it needs to do rebuild not the party the ideas of the party. I really think that is what it is about. But if they try to simply get a new leader and run on the same old tired ideas, it really won't get them anywhere. The truth is that the Harper Conservatives have never "won" power. The other parties have 'lost.' The reason that this is clear is that the Conservative Party of Canada has NO new ideas, not-a-one. All their ideas are old ones from the Reagan era. A Party with new ideas that really look to the future will beat the Cons easily.

My message to Liberals, don't rest on your past. Be bold. Be radical. Invent a new politics and new ways for people to think about politics  - that is what will win.

We'll change henceforth the old tradition. . . . .

From Shelley's Mask of Anarchy -

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.

And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and yew,
What they like, that let them do.

With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise
Look upon them as they slay
Til their rage has died away.

Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.

Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you  -
Ye are many, they are few!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A few thoughts on the so-called Election. . . . .

Well I personally think the prospect of a Harper majority is deeply frightening. Harper has had ties to racist groups, he has been head of the largest organization in the country that opposes universal medical care (and social programs in general), he has clearly made statements in the past that indicate he would favor Western Separatism, he has said that he doesn't care about the unemployed, and he just generally embraces an ideology that favours that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. These are just very simple facts.

I also think it is hilarious that people continue to condemn members of the NDP for their inexperience and their supposed fiscal incompetence. First of all, provincial NDP governments have demonstrated that they can govern more or less like other parties regarding their fiscal 'responsibility.' But more than this, it doesn't matter  that much to me anyway. Frankly, I would take an idealist who believes in social equality and helping the poor over a selfish, pro-corporate capitalist any day, regardless of their perceived competence.

The recriminations by a surprising number of Liberals against the NDP which continue apace, are also sort of amusing. I mean the gall of the NDP to actually take part in the democratic process and try to win seats! The victory of the Tories is a direct result of one thing; people voting for them. And many who voted for them were Ontarians who once voted Liberals but were afraid of the NDP.

At the opposite end of the spectrum I think it is a little ridiculous for people to talk about the death knell of the LPC. They basically won the same number of seats that the NDP won in the last election so why would they be out of the running for the next? Frankly, given how politics goes nowadays, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the LPC won the next election with a majority. Stranger things have certainly happened. I mean two months ago if I had suggested that the NDP would form the official opposition with more than 100 seats you would have said I was crazy. Imagine an invigorated party under the leadership of Justin Trudeau. He is young, attractive, charismatic, and obviously intelligent - there is no telling what he might achieve.

On the so-called 'merger' front, I don't think it is a great idea. The creation of a two party system in Canada is deeply troubling. The US system is profoundly broken and the US is on its way to bankruptcy and historical oblivion. And the divisive two-party struggles have helped to lead them there. I think a number of parties with different opinions helps society by increasing discourse and continually opening up possibilities. What we really need is not party mergers but meaningful political reform. This country is almost unique in its continued commitment to a first-past-the-post system, and it is time to change this. No party, not even ones I support, should ever have near dictatorial power, particularly after receiving only 35-40 percent of the vote. It is just wrong. And  Harper has demonstrated that a man like him should NEVER have unchecked power.

As society becomes more complex and difficult, coalitions of all kinds will become more and more necessary. We need governments that leave their extreme partisanship at the door of the legislature and embrace discourse, cooperation, and compromise. This is the only way forward, without it we are doomed. With this in mind, I commend Elizabeth May and hope that her presence opens up the possibility of more discourse with an eye to more cooperation.

And lastly, keep in mind that Harper has demonstrated that his favoured political style is to govern by stealth. I predict he will attempt to destroy this country in the same way that he has in the past; through carefully placed non-legislative actions that undermine education, knowledge, equity, information, democracy etc. Just because Harper doesn't attempt to bring back the death penalty in the first year or outlaw abortion, or other directly legislative horrors, doesn't mean that he is not trying his best to destroy Canada as a viable social democracy. Make no mistake, Stephen Harper is a profoundly evil, twisted, religious extremist, and he will do anything to destroy civilization as we know it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dreamers of Dreams!!!!!!!

"We are the Music-Makers and we are the Dreamers of Dreams!" 

Vote for Change folks. Vote for a better world in which people, not corporations, really matter!

In the words of Percy Shelley, the greatest poet in the English language, 'the poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."

Go out an legislate with the dreams of poetry and the policies that matter!