Friday, May 3, 2013

The Shine is Coming off. . . .

The embarrassing attack by the HarperCons on any kind of thought and refection reached the height of folly this past couple of weeks and it seems to demonstrate a faltering government which seems to be incredulous at the thought that they will eventually lose power. First we have Harper's bizarre attack on reason in which he makes a clearly intentional linguistic association between sociology and criminal activity. Then came the embarrassing pontifications by Harper's pathetic lap-dog Poillivire in which he stood in the House and disparaged the very notion of intellectualism, and where he tried to replace argument with tautology by telling us over and over that the only cause of terrorism is terrorists.

Ok, so we have known for a while that this government hates facts. Facts can make certain kinds of policy seem necessary and prudent, and those policies might not reflect your ideological bent. The obvious solution? Close down all aspects of government which investigate facts in any vaguely objective sense, disparage all intellectualism and vaguely scientific ideas, promote a kind of old-fashioned (frighteningly crude) know-nothingism of the down-home rural kind, and then rule by constant appeals to fear. It is, if you will pardon the rather weary comparison, a classic fascist strategy. Fear sometimes works. But it usually has a fairly short shelf-life. People grow tired, and they eventually begin to want real answers. And the classic rural know-nothingism in which people eschew intellectuals has a limited scope of voters.

However, here is the dilemma facing the HarperCons. They have constructed their entire political identity around this fear and know-nothingism. They have lost sight of real old-fashioned policy-making in which people look at what is going on, look at possible solutions, and then sit down and get to work. When you function in a top-down dictatorial way for too long, the very notion of discourse, flexibility, solution-finding, and cooperation becomes foreign to you. In other words, you begin to believe your own BS until you can no longer function in any interactive way. This is precisely  what has happened to the HarperCons. They have promoted fear and ignorance so long, they have been so bellicose and hateful for so many years, they have spit bile at any and all opponents for long that they have lost sight of functioning as a normal political unit. In other words, the HarperCons have made a fatal political mistake - they have mistaken rule by fear and know-nothingism not as a political strategy but as real life. They have shouted for so long that they can't hear themselves (or anyone else) think. And so they continue to imagine that all they have to do is shout louder and more virulently and everyone will fall into line.

"Make some ads showing Trudeau dancing and takes some quotes out of context and we will be popular again," the war-room Tories say. And when it doesn't work they are incredulous. "Call our opponents some more names," they must be saying, "people will like us again."

But the shelf-life on their fear and hate is running out and they are familiar with no other strategy. They don't know how to intelligently engage potential voters with real policies or ideas because they have purged their party of anyone who ever had a real idea or any real integrity. Remember that fateful moment when Edward R. Murrow took down Senator Joseph McCarthy? The dreaded Senator McCarthy was a one-trick pony. He knew only fear and he depended on it for compliance. When the great Mr. Murrow metaphorically stripped McCarthy bare there was nothing there but a sad man yelling at a world that wouldn't listen. The only thing that made McCarthy anything was that he intimidated people and sewed fear into the hearts of a gullible nation. Once that was gone and people realized he was nothing but bluster, he became little more than a tragicomic figure.

And so it is quickly becoming with the HarperCons. They are yelling and poking fun at their new perceived opponent but people aren't listening. And because this is all they know, their only option is to yell louder and with more pathetic displays of school-yard obsession. And like all autocrats, Harper has now settled into power and even he cannot see that his constant barrage of scandals are piling up to rob him of all credibility, even from his core. "We lost three billion . . . . so what, we are still good money managers." Like all autocrats, Harper's ego has gotten so big that he simply cannot imagine a time when he is not absolute ruler of all he purveys. So he frets and fusses and when the emperor's clothes are finally gone, he won't have so much as a bath robe with which to cover up his long record of complete failure. 


Anonymous said...

Hey...easy on the 'rural know-nothingness'! Lots of urban idiots out there, lots of smart farmers. You know better than to use cheap and inaccurate stereotypes.

kirbycairo said...

Dear Anonymous - I refer to that rural tradition that actually eschews "book learning" and actively prides itself on not being educated or in any sense intelectual. It has, by various people, been referred to as "know-nothingism" for a long time and is an ideology that has historically and in general terms been associated with a segment of the rural population both in North America and Europe. It is in no way intended as a stereotype of rural populations in general as my work on Mary Russell Mitford demonstrates.

Fightfordemocracy said...

All this tells me is that Canada desperately needs a modern voting system that reflects what the voters want. Over 60% of voters voted against this character. In most countries claiming to be democratic this would not be a "majority". If Canada were a real democracy, Harper would not be where he is. He got in by 6,000 votes and it is extremely likely that the last election was "won" dishonestly.

Canadians are kind of stupid - the ones I know anyway. They are also passive and gutless, except in Quebec. I am referring to the people I unfortunately have met, of course. I like to think that far, far away, over the horizon, somewhere in the mists, are intelligent, brave and active Canadians. I don't know for sure that they don't exist and it keeps me going.

Owen Gray said...

The less there is to offer, Kirby, the more obnoxious the salesman.