Friday, March 9, 2012

Is it Ignorance??

It seems to me that it is not at all difficult to understand what has been going on in Canada for the past five or six years, politically speaking. The scale and depth of the poisoning of the political system orchestrated by Harper and his party is remarkably clear. Even some rightwing pundits in this country don't deny the stark reality Harper's blatant anti-democratic tendencies, his attacks on accountability, freedom of information, House procedures, freedom of speech among the public service, and now on the voting system itself.

And on top of the rather frightening extent of Harper's malfeasance, his supposed strong suit - fiscal responsibility - has been little to brag about. His denial (or lack of anticipation) of an economic crisis that we all saw coming was almost comical. And though the deficits that his government has run have been partly a result of an international crisis, they were significantly inflated by his overspending in the period prior to the downturn. And, perhaps more importantly, most of the factors that insulated the Canadian economy were Liberal policies that Harper vehemently opposed during his time in opposition, and Harper always maintained that deficits should be illegal in the first place. 

Given the magnitude and obviousness of Harper's shortcomings, we are left with troubling questions. Under most circumstances one would expect not just unpopularity for Harper but near insurrection. There is little doubt that among his large number of detractors, Harper is surely the most vehemently despised leader in recent memory, if not of all of Canadian history. However, the failure of a large minority to appropriately react to his malfeasance begs the question - is there just a huge number of people who are completely ignorant of how our political system works, or is supposed to work? Very bad people have been elected in the past. Nixon was reelected even after the Watergate scandal had begun to break. Lestor Maddox was elected governor of Georgia on a staunch segregationist policy and let us not forget that the Nazis were elected with about 44 percent of the vote in 1933. There is no doubt that democracy sometimes favours the very worst kinds of people. But the more I see in contemporary Canada, the more it seems to me that a huge swath of people are just so uninformed and many are so apathetic that it really doesn't matter how criminal or Machiavellian Harper becomes, the only thing that will defeat him is the inevitable boredom of the electorate.

However, any way one looks at it, the tolerance of Harper's misconduct and political corruption is deeply disturbing and demonstrates not only the ignorance of many Canadians but bodes very badly for the future of this nation as a solid democracy.


Beijing York said...

However, any way one looks at it, the tolerance of Harper's misconduct and political corruption is deeply disturbing and demonstrates not only the ignorance of many Canadians but bodes very badly for the future of this nation as a solid democracy.

This scares me more than Harper. Too many people are dismissing his undemocratic tendencies. I blame the useless mainstream media in large part. They have conditioned the public to react to what the PTB consider the right buttons.

This electoral fraud DWARFS adscam. And yet only a few brave journalists are giving this story the weight it deserves. A study in contrasts is wholly depressing.

thwap said...

Ignorance and apathy.

Plus, let's admit it. The "left" hasn't a clue how to lead an insurrection.

If a nice middle-class homeowner came out and asked you: "How do we get rid of this guy?"

What would you say to them?

kirbycairo said...

Sadly you are right of course Thwap. In the context of modern command capitalism in which we live an illegal, criminal government is largely invulnerable because people are so disconnected from their communities and their political institutions.

And even though dictatorships are in some ways inherently unstable, they can last for years even in the worst conditions. Look at dictatorships like the Shah of Iran or Khadafi in Libya, they can go on for years simply because people don't know what to do or are too apathetic. The truth is that Murbarak lasted years and the Arab spring only arrived because the price of food became too unstable and high.

Anonymous said...

question. I keep hearing about how under the liberals we had a surplus and so on. but the right wingers say the surplus was allll a lie b/c Paul Martin just 'shifted the debt onto the provinces'

is that true?
or are they pulling that one out of their asses just like everything else?

kirbycairo said...

It is, in fact, true that Martin helped to balance the federal budget by downloading services onto the provinces, a common technique followed by provincial governments also who download services onto municipalities. It creates a de facto balanced budget but overall services do decline and people actually pay more for the services they do have, in part because of economy of scale.

But it is true that Martin knew and understood the threats posed by banking deregulation and was fairly diligent in the way that he controlled the financial sector compared to many other countries. And it is true that Harper opposed his efforts at every level. There is no question that if Harper had been PM from, say, 2000 onward, Canada would not only have been at war in Iraq but the Canadian economy would have been a remarkable mess come 2008.

However, what ever way you look at it, Harper inherited a surplus and he eliminated it with corporate tax cuts, and didn't return any of the services that Martin had downloaded. And he did this in the lead up to the worst recession in more than 70 years and his corporate give aways actually only helped corporations eliminate more jobs.

Anonymous said...

and kirby, sometimes I get as down in the dumps as you do about the seemingly willful ignorance of the Canadian public. BUT, I keep reminding myself of this fact: we have had 6 years of Harper, a minority gov't in which he could really do nothing. no REAL change to get people upset. people have been lulled into a sense of false complacency. what we need, and you said it in a previous post, is for Harper to keep pushing the envelope, then people will start to notice. its happening now

and btw, I spent the last 6 years ignoring politics b/c literally nothing was going on. it was mostly quiet. it was only through chance that I found out what a psycho Harper is and now I am more active than I have been in years. its only a matter of time before more Canadians wake up.

doconnor said...

I don't see how you could say the last six years have been quiet. Didn't you notice the whole coalision crisis? The constant suspense as to when the Liberals will stop compituating to the Conseratives? The next few years probably will be relatively quiet because the opposition will have far fewer options.

It was quite clear to us what kind of person Harper was during the last six years (and before). Perhaps you can answer Kirby's question and help us understand how you failed to notice what Harper was doing.

Anonymous said...

doconnor: I didn't have television for 5 years and I spent my time reading books and playing video games. Did not have a clue what was going on in the political spectrum.

and by 'quiet' I mean, he could not institute earth shattering reforms like higher taxes, or banning abortion, or privatizing healthcare, all things that would get the attention of MOST canadians vs. those who actually give a shit.

now that he has his majority he can do all the crazy shit he wants and maybe it will get him un-elected in 3.5 years!

thwap said...

Just to be clear: I didn't mean to come off as an a-hole there.

For a number of reasons I've been incredibly busy with family and work issues and I haven't attended to some events protests that I'd wanted to, ... including Occupy Toronto, where I'd only been able to go down and participate a couple of times.

I was skeptical about the practical results that would flow from those protests in any case, and I'm pretty sure their failure to achieve anything didn't lie with my absence.

So it occurred to me that other people who generally agree with us also don't come out and they might be a little less committed to politics than we are and a little more cognizant of the futility of our protests than we are.

With this shitting upon the electoral process, ... the fundamental basic of any representative democracy, harper has crossed a line for me.

This is the cause. It might not immediately resonate with everyone, especially oppressed groups, but if we don't have this, how can we expect to move forward on anything else.

kirbycairo said...

Anonymous - there are many people who, like your did for the past while, lose touch with the political reality around them. Some lose touch because they find it too depressing, some just can't be bothered. Unfortunately it is at those time when people really lose touch that the worst things can happen - the subtle (apparently not 'earth shattering') things that actually, in the long run make the most difference. Harper's quiet, stealth agenda has worked its way for years now and the impact is huge and we are just beginning to pay for it. Even if the Conservatives will even let themselves be pushed out of office again (and I am not sure they will ever allow it) generations will be paying the price for things that many didn't even notice was happening.

kirbycairo said...

I agree thwap - this may in fact be the catalyst that changes many people's minds over the next couple of years. It will take time to seep into the collective consciousness, as many large scandals do. But I have said here in the past that the mood has significantly changed in the past while and the future remains uncertain. However, as I have also said, given the hints dropped by the Harpercons in the past, I am not convinced that they will even allow another election if it looks like they will lose, and if they did allow one and they lost they might find some excuse to refuse to give up power. People don't believe such a thing can happen but people are generally hopelessly naive. If they studied history they would be more pessimistic about the possibility of a genuine coup. Any government that is willing to break this many laws and operate wide-spread voter fraud etc, would not be too hesitant to take it to the next level.

Freedomlover said...

Between 40 and 50% of Canadians can't read at an adult level, according to numerous polls including OECD ones. People who can read properly don't realize how little is comprehended by the semi-literates. I am convinced that most people who think books are boring are incapable of reading them with any ease. The media serves up pap for these people and that's where they get their ideas from. They don't do independent thinking.