Friday, March 20, 2015

"How did we get here?" . . I hate to have to ask. . .

"How did we get here?"

This is the timeless question of people who find themselves in a country (or world) being enveloped by the politics of hate, fear, militarism, jingoism, and fascism. This is the question that people find themselves at war inevitably ask when the bullets start flying and the bombs start dropping. "How did we get here?" or "How did we let our leaders take us off this precipice?"

Well, it may be a frustrating and a timeless question, one that is painful to ask and one that is even more painful to answer, but if you have been paying attention to Canadian politics over the last ten years, you know the answer.

Apparently we get here through a fairly simple formula. First, have a media that is compliant or supportive of the government's rightwing agenda. Easy peasy - we have had that for a while now. Then take a political party that is rooted in racism, militarism, sexism, and corporatism. Check. Then let that party in government so it can legislate more or less by stealth for ten years or so, gradually undermining the courts, the democratic mechanisms, the legislative branch of government, the legal mechanisms that are meant to protect people against the arbitrary use of power, etc. Got that. Now, over a period of a decade or so let that government gradually change the mood of the nation and create a space in which racism, militarism, and jingoism become once again socially acceptable. And suddenly you find yourself in the midst of a national decline toward fascism in which the federal leader can blatantly lie about major national and international issues with little fear that he will be called out on his lies, in which the leader can use inflammatory, racist language and the racist slime that once hid in the corners of our society are suddenly free once again to proclaim their racism from the rooftops.

Sadly, this is where we now find ourselves. And as progressives we are startled by the speed and ease with which the nation slid toward fascism and racism. But we are only surprised because we, as progressives so often do, underestimated the remarkable ignorance, hate, and malleability of the general population.

Well, the jig, as they say, is up. Genuine fascism is at the gates, so to speak. Oh, of course, at the moment our fascism is not the same as that which manifested itself in various countries of Europe in the 1930s. At the moment we have a friendlier, more 'legitimatized' form of fascism. But make no mistake about what is going on. At the moment we are just pushing that proverbial envelope of racism and militarism that once defined Euro-fascism. But it will surely take only one more election victory (gained by an ever more compromised electoral system) to push us into a more full-fledged form of fascist/corporatist government.  It is not a long way from a government proroguing parliament specifically to avoid falling, to a government cancelling or overturning elections. And if you think such things can't come to our seemingly quiet and 'peaceful' nation, I have only one word for you - VUKOVAR!

13 comments:

Owen Gray said...

Another excellent post, Kirby.

Omar said...

We got here a long time ago. It happened when we stupidly allowed the District of Alberta to join our Confederation in 1905. With the grand benefit of hindsight, I think any clear thinking progressive can see that was a huge mistake. If it wasn't for the drunkard Macdonald and his fervor to create a nation linked by rail, that fucked up little district would have likely joined the United States. Something they pine for today anyway. The west wanted in. Now I want them out. Thank you very much.

Scotian said...

Omar:

While I certainly have some issues with Albertan attitudes politically speaking, what you said here I find repugnant and not much better than what comes from the mouth of our PM these days. That is reprehensible.

Kirby:

Agree with Owen, another excellent post, but then I expect that from you as I've noted before. This was what I was warning of all these years, that the true hidden agenda of Harper was not socon, but process and rule of law, that abuse of power and theft of rights was where his real threat was to us, and here we are today, my words sadly having proven true.

This was why I was pleading with progressives to recognize the threat not just to Canada, not just to centrists and "Libs" but also tho their own core principles and values, that by letting Harper in he could and would destroy the tools they would need to create national progressive policies and laws. This was all foreseeable before Harper became a PM, I know, because I was seeing it and shouting from the rooftops about it. The treatment "progressives" gave me for it have left me somewhat embittered about them, because if they cannot recognize that obvious a threat to their own core values and principles because they let their issues with their electoral rival the Libs get in the way, then they have no place running a government in my view.

At this point this next election is our last chance to save what is left of the Canada we all love, progressives, centrists, and even many/most true Canadian conservatives. It is why I say we need a massive wave election pushing Harper out this time, that the Libs are the only possible vehicle for that large an effect, and that this time out the need for progressives to vote Lib to stop the right wing crazies is not empty rhetoric it is pure unvarnished factual truth! Same with centrist conservatives, they too need to swing this way, because where Harper is going is a path that will permanently destroy all of the good works Canada stood for and did in its history.

We need as close to a 1993 wave of repudiation against Harper as happened to Mulroney as we can get. At this point we need to not just remove him from power but make clear just how offensive we as a society found what he did with his majority in both process and policy aspects. The only way to get there is with a Liberal majority under Trudeau, Mulcair clearly has failed to inspire outside his base support, and indeed support for the NDP has dropped since 2011, not gained, while the Libs have exploded again under Trudeau, in both polls and by-election results, not to mention fundraising. By every objective factual real measure only Trudeau's Libs can do this thing, so it is time to suck it up and do so, not because we all love Trudeau and the Libs, but because Harper is just that bad and we need to be clear about it!

I know I sound like a broken record, but that is because I saw this coming all along, and I also can only see one way to deal with it, and for all the partisan shots taken at me, I have yet to see anyone actually repudiated the core facts I base my judgment on.

Sorry Kirby, I'll try not to let my anger on this point get too intense here, it is just SO frustrating for me at this point given a decade as Cassandra.

Kirby Evans said...

@ Owen, Thanks.

@ Omar, I understand that there was a historical problem with Alberta becoming part of the federation. But then revisiting that history will not serve much of a purpose.

@ Scotian, I understand your frustration. As usual we agree on most things. And despite the fact that I am far left of the Liberal Party, I suspect that you are correct in as much as there is probably little chance of a NDP government at the moment, and a Liberal victory will at the very least repudiate the worst of the Harper style and policy. In the long run, however, we need to put our faith in the millennials and the gradual turn toward a group who actually believes in the positive aspects of government and all that that implies.

Scotian said...

Kirby Evans:

I have only ever been advocating a Liberal unity action to be rid of Harper ever since he created the CPC. Once he is gone and his party starts eating itself and hopefully Red Torism comes back into power then I am fine with going back to older or differing voter choices. If we were in other circumstances for example I would be looking very seriously at voting Green because of the respect Liz May has earned from me with her actions as its leader. Until we get there though I refuse to take my eye off the main prize, the removal of Harper and preferably with as big a repudiation as possible to try and help undercut the worst of the damage he has been doing to us all.

I've never wanted to advocate like this. I was always the person who said it mattered more to me that you vote than who you voted for, although I did add I preferred it to be an informed vote but still, voting participation was important! So for me to have to take the line I have this past decade is difficult, but I can only advocate for what I see as the best option based on the realities I see before me, and that is all I have ever been doing this past decade now. I haven't been saying it because I like it, or because I am a partisan, I've been saying it because everything in now over four full decades of political watching/involvement tells me so. That is why I get so frustrated these days, and why one of the best ways to rise my ire is to pull out that long used and now decade long disproved trope "Lib Tory same old story", even leaving aside the point that the CPC is not Tory and has nothing to do with real Toryism.

This is how we got here, too many people took our system for granted, too often said it couldn't happen here. I by virtue of being that process geek understood just how weak and vulnerable our system was to someone willing to abuse it the way Harper has, and that was why I kept trying to get people to care more. We are damned lucky the Charter is there, it is really the sole protection we have left from Harper these days, and he is clearly working his way to undermining and destroying its power.

We got here because in no small part progressives in particular let their own lust to finally best the Libs, their hated electoral foes get in the way of their seeing the truth of what Harper truly was, and in this I especially blame the leadership. I can forgive the voters for not seeing it, but I cannot accept that I could see all this but they could not, no, they made a choice, or they let their Lib hatred blind them, either way though they failed when they were most needed to protect the values and policies they were supposed to champion.

People say well what about the Libs, why didn't they do anything, the truth is they were the only party constantly warning about the threat of Harperism. Not always in the best manner, and I do think they overfocused on the socon side, but then trying to get people to care about process issues is a real problem, I know, I've tried for decades, so I can see why they did. Whatever other sins the Libs have on their accounts, that they failed to call out Harper is not one of them. Indeed, if the Dipper voices had added strongly to them then this could have been prevented, because they had the credibility at the time and if they rose above their usual differences with the Libs to say so then it would have likely impacted the awareness of causal voters that the Harper warnings form them actually had merit instead of being empty rhetoric.

Omar said...

Repugnant, eh? Badge of honour. Anyway, I'd be curious to know just what part of NS you call home because outside of Halifax Metro (the regions I lovingly call the Tribal areas) the backward attitudes of most of the populace found there isn't many steps up the anthropological ladder from those found in said District of Alberta. *And* if you're going to throw around PM Harper comparisons so dramatically I'll point out that your Pavlovian commitment to all things Liberal Party of Canada isn't terribly different from those who so slavishly drool over all things Harper and the CPC. Your ravings against the NDP border on unhinged at times.

Kirby Evans said...

Let's keep it civil everyone please.

I agree with most of what you say Scotian. I think the NDP, like the left in 1930s Germany, significantly underestimated the dangers of the rightwing. But the Liberals did too in their way by moving so far right that many of their economic policies were very close to Tory. In other words there is plenty of blame to go around. At the moment the NDP under Mulcair and Anne McGrath has really indicted itself in Harper style politics and that is sad. But the focus must be on defeating Harper and the move toward fascism.

doconnor said...

"the truth is they were the only party constantly warning about the threat of Harperism."

It was the Liberals who unconditionally supported the Harper government for most of the minority period.

Scotian said...

Omar:

Thank you for illustrating my concern about your statement. That retort of yours was as ugly and no better than what we hear from the PM.

Kirby:

Sorry, but that was more than just being "uncivil" in my books and demanded some retort, but I have kept it to a respectful level compared to what I was given. I'll not take it further with that person, I think they have shown themselves for what they are. I will not though simply be slandered and my home smeared without some response, but I will also respect your wishes too, I hope you can accept this line I walked here.

As to your point regarding the Libs shifting too far to the right, no disagreements here, the problem though is that in itself did not excuse the blindness on what Harper was for me. Like I said before, I'll excuse the Dipper voters for not catching it soon enough, but the leadership, nope, sorry, there I can't do it. Which was why I said in 2011 Layton won the battle to lose the war should be his political epitaph.

I'm not excusing the Libs for their sins in any of this Kirby, but lets face it, by 2005 the only ones with any real power to stop Harper because of how weakened the Libs had become because of their own actions was the NDP. That is why I then as well as now place significant responsibility on them, because I have this funny quirk of blaming only those with the power to make a difference who do not, it is that practicality thing in me.

Whole I appreciate the progressive issues with the Libs rightward moves, I have a problem with that excusing the unwillingness and/or inability of Dippers to see Harper for what he was, not when his own record was as open as it had been. There is a reason why I've always said the Lib Tory same old story was fair with the PCPC but not with the CPC after all, and if you cannot see even that much daylight between them then you clearly cannot see reality as it is, or at least not publicly admit it, and I find that worrisome in those wanting to govern whatever their ideological/political nature.

As you say though the most important thing is stopping Harper, and it is clear there really is only one way to do so at this point, and I've already explained that argument, and you clearly do not see a different path either. The one thing I can say is that I always fought to stop Harper and the rise of the Harperium and all it entailed, my hands are clean, and I will not be lectured to at this late date by those that suddenly recognize the threat Harper is now (no, not aimed at you Kirby), nor will I pretend those that helped create this situation should still get to profit by it, which I'm afraid I see far too many Dipper partisans still trying to do. If they can't even know put their partisanship aside and recognize reality as it is, then they have no business ever being allowed near the halls of power aka government.

Bottom line, Harper must be stopped, and there is only one real way to do it. Are people serious about stopping him or not, that is MY only concern at this point.

Scotian said...

doconnor:

Lets not forget why, it wasn't because they agreed with him in general, it was because he was making so much confidence votes hoping to get brought down to get that majority given how damaged the Libs were. Damn them for what they did, sure, but do so honestly please.

Omar said...

Scotian, let me get this straight. You refer to my comments as repugnant and reprehensible and when I call you out on it, you double-down and imply I'm the one being uncivil and that *my* incivility demands you to retort? Are you really that obtuse or do you just play being so on the Internets? lol

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Kirby. I remembered the gist of that comment I left here and I reworked what I could recall into a post on my blog.

Cheers

MoS

doconnor said...

"it was because he was making so much confidence votes hoping to get brought down"

Ha! That's a new one. The Conservatives prorogued parliament to avoid a confidence vote and a few month later when they had to pass a budget the only condition the Liberals asked for was more confidence votes.

"Harper must be stopped, and there is only one real way to do it"

A coalition government that brings in proportional representation.