Sunday, May 22, 2011
A Pox On All Their Houses
With some regret I concluded before the last election that there was not a national party or national party leader even remotely worth supporting. They were all, including the polished turd who now camps out in Stornoway, a bunch of dead-enders unwilling to come to grips with the real issues of the day, fixed in 20th century politics and thereby left with no vision whatever for the 21st.
A reader of this blog recently drew my attention to an article chronicling how today's governorship has become incapable of leading, preferring to simply ignore the pressing problems of the day. How true. There's no courageous vision to be had on Parliament Hill.
My post yesterday noted that 17 Nobel Laureates, constituting the Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability, warned that "unsustainable patterns of production, consumption and population growth" were imperiling mankind and most other life on our planet. They emphasized that man absolutely must stop the growth of carbon emissions by no later than 2015 - just four years hence. Reading their injunctions and then looking at the leadership of our Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats - it was simply too much.
Warnings abound. Even the World Bank is sounding the alarm. It reported that, worldwide, major flooding events have tripled over the past three decades. A threefold increase in just three decades. And the bank didn't pull any punches on what was causing this either - "human caused climate change."
If you still don't get it, throw on your chest waders and head to Manitoba. Go a day's drive West and help put out wildfires in Alberta. Or take a meandering drive through central British Columbia and marvel at how our rich, green forests have turned a lovely shade of rust.
So, how does any of this resonate on Parliament Hill? Who is sounding the call to arms? No one. They can't and for good reason. They're all stuck in the "growth and jobs" paradigm. They still view the world through scratchy old 20th century glasses. They can't meet challenges they prefer not to see. They're comfortable enough with chicken scratch politics. They're content to meander the farmyard, scratching the surface in the hunt for an overlooked bit of grain or seed.
20th century politics holds no answers for us in the 21st. Even the brightest minds at the Pentagon understand this. Check out this paper, from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, "A National Strategic Narrative."
The assumptions of the 20th century, of the U.S. as a bulwark first against fascism and then against communism, make little sense in a world in which World War II and its aftermath is as distant to young generations today as the War of 1870 was to the men who designed the United Nations and the international order in the late 1940s.
Consider the description of the U.S. president as “the leader of the free world,” a phrase that encapsulated U.S. power and the structure of the global order for decades. Yet anyone under thirty today, a majority of the world’s population, likely has no idea what it means.
The authors explain that the world has passed from the closed system of the 20th century into an open system for the 21st.
[The] strategy of containment was designed for a closed system, in which we
assumed that we could control events through deterrence, defense, and dominance of the international system. The 21st century is an open system, in which unpredictable external events/phenomena are constantly disturbing and disrupting the system. In this world control is impossible; the best we can do is to build credible influence – the ability to shape and guide global trends in the direction that serves our values and interests (prosperity and security) within
an interdependent strategic ecosystem. In other words, the U.S. should stop trying to dominate and direct global events. The best we can do is to build our capital so that we can influence events as they arise.
It's a good read if only to show that 20th century strategies and pursuits will avail us little in the 21st. That holds true for security, geopolitics, economics and environmental challenges.
What does the "vision" that I find so lacking in Canadian political leadership look like? That's easy. It looks like the honest, open and forthright policies introduced by Labour and reinforced by Britain's current Conservative government. Our leaders, the lot of them, instead shirk their responsibility to do at least as much for Canadians as British governments are doing for their citizens.
If the Liberal Party sincerely wishes to rebuild, to redeem its credibility, this is where they can do it. Take up this challenge, make it their own. Shape a vision of government for Canada in the 21st century. Leave these putzes to wallow in the last century. The crises and challenges are building. They're not going away. Canada won't be immune to them either. If you accept those truths, you're well on the way to charting a path for a Liberal renaissance. If not, you deserve your demise.