Thursday, November 29, 2012

There's Only One Position and It's Filled

Call him what you like, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness, the Baron of Bland, today's Corporate Canada has its administrator in chief and we call him Stephen J. Harper.

Here's a secret:  the Liberals and New Democrats want Harper's job.  They want one of their guys to become the next C.E.O. of Corporate Canada.   They want Harper out.   They're not trying to dismantle the corporation.

I read a lot of nonsense about what the "left" should be doing or how the "progressive" parties should be doing this or that.   And each time I see those references I ask myself, "what 'left'" or "what 'progressives'?"

There was a time when most everything on the other side of the Conservatives could be considered left or at least slightly centre-left.   Then Harper showed up with his prime directive to shift Canada's political centre far to the right and fix it there.   And, with a great deal of help from people with names like Ignatieff and Layton, that's exactly what he's done.

Harper said we wouldn't recognize Canada when he was done with it and it turns out he was right.   He was so right that now it's also nearly impossible to recognize the Liberals and, even more so, the New Democrats for what they used to be.   Harper can be justly proud for beating the socialist stuffing right out of the New Democrats, sending them running for cover as Latter-Day-Liberals.  Sorry Dippers but you've been royally Tony Blaired.

Isn't it odd that the Canadian people don't much care for Steve Harper as a person.   They certainly don't trust him.   But that doesn't matter, does it?   They think that, overall, he's running the country more or less okay.  

The Canadian people think he's a somewhat competent administrator and that's what prime ministership has become today, administration.   And who can blame the Canadian people for seeing it that way when the opposition parties are looking to fill that same job?

So what are we reduced to?  We're waiting patiently for Steve Harper to screw up so badly that enough voters will turn up at the polls to turf him out.   That could be a while because Steve has shown us his greatest talent - engineering election wins out of thin air.   His campaign strategy has always been the same - "That guy,  are you serious?"

But there may be another way, one that doesn't depend on Steve Harper falling down a flight of stairs.   That's to do the one thing he can't.   That's to become genuinely progressive again.      And the neat thing is, once we restore progressivism to the heart of our politics, we can generate powerful policy platforms and present a vision that speaks to the concerns of Canadians, that resonates deeply with the voting public.   If that means leaving the security blanket of corporatism, and it does, then the country and our people are far better off for it.

If you're still not convinced, look at it this way.   Progressivism is the key to the future of the Canadian people as we, and the rest of the world, meet the challenges that this century has in store for us.  It is the glue that holds together and nurtures the strongest, broadest and most vibrant middle class, the very cohesiveness without which we are in for a very rough time very soon.  It's time for a bit of housecleaning on the left.


Owen Gray said...

An excellent post, Mound. Harper was not alone in staging the coup. The other parties were complicit in the corporatist takeover.

The only way out of this morass is for one -- or all -- of the opposition parties to become genuinely progressive -- and to get the vast majority of jaundiced Canadian voters to support them.

The Mound of Sound said...

I am routinely amazed, Owen, at how many Liberal and New Democrat supporters truly think their parties are progressive.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. A truly progressive political movement does not exist in Canada anymore. The Liberals and NDP are racing each other to become centrist neoconservatives in the hope of gaining power. The only possible progressive political movement might be the Greens, but I'm not even sure about them.

I think Chris Hedges got it right. The only pathway back to a progressive society will be through a populist progressive movement (or a catastrophic, civilization threatening climate disaster - whichever comes first).

I think you have linked to his before, but I'll provide the link again for good measure:

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon. The next piece I wrote, "When I Look at the World I Always See Canada," references the points you make.

As for the Greens I find them progressive, particularly in comparison to the Libs or even the NDP. The Green policy is set out on their web site. Unlike the other opposition parties they don't leave their policy masked until an election campaign arrives. That's probably because the Green policy platform is inherently defensible against the government and opposition alike. You should check it out. I did and that's why I joined.

the salamander said...

Can you expand on 'progressivism' ? Define it in a minimalist way ? Less than 50 words.. I'm non partisan, an artist/writer and left handed. Slow learner but I do learn. A single parent. Grew up on a farm. Worked or visited almost everywhere in Canada except Cape Breton and The Territories. I don't go to church.. anymore.

I want Canadians to be able to vote for someone who truly respects them, their country, their environment. I want Canadians to enjoy the Canada I've been privileged to inhabit for 60 + years .. I may be an idealist, but I think people will come out to vote for someone they believe is actually curious about them.. in a friendly and honest way.

Is Thomas Mulcair curious about my family or me, or my next door neighbor who sells mattresses ? Is Mr Trudeau curious about a taxi driver in Hamilton or a truck driver from the Yukon? Why are politicians and government so focussed on Israel, or abortion? Will progressivism answer my questions or those of other citizens ?

Why aren't you running for PM Mr Mound ? You show a damn sight more curiosity and care and attention to this country and its people than any 'progressive' conservative, liberal or new democrat I've seen from Ottawa or Alberta

Your essay 'When I look at the world I always see Canada' should be in schoolbooks.. primary to university .. Your writings stun me .. all of them

We are not seeking a 'champion' Mr Mound .. we have one in you.. and so many others.. What we are seeking is thousands upon thousands of champions, individual caring Canadians just like you.. to step forward, take good care of our precious country.. and our planet.

I feel trapped between

and the estimable Mr Himelfarb
especially -

Then .. I read you .. and feel we are moving far too slowly.. letting ourselves be overtaken by events and taken down by political predators .. As a very beautiful and bright woman often says to me.. 'You're not a victim, you're a volunteer ..'

I assume you did not receive a Diamond Jubilee medal..
An oversight .. on Stephen Harper's part ...
It was you or Justin Beiber ..
and .. uh .. well ..

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, I'm not sure I can convey progressivism as succinctly as you would like. It's a term that has been put to and exploited for many purposes by many people for good and bad.

To me, the spirit of progressivism was best captured by Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt in his "square deal" speech delivered at Osawatomie, Kansas in 1910. You can find it here:

You can also read excerpts of the speech from one of my posts from a couple of years back here:

Roosevelt's words need to be thoughtfully considered and digested. There is a lot of wisdom there we badly need today.

the salamander said...

I read 'Teddy' .. and will read n review again, carefully .. very much appreciated .. I'm far more interested tho, in what you have to say .. Ed Deak has to say, Alex .. Thaila, thwap, Sask, 6th, Alexandra Morton... Damien, Raif.. and uncounted precious others

I'm hoping the list of champions gets out of hand .. busts out of the corral.. rampages.. runs wild .. tramples all partisan lines

And .. that mainstream media wakes up (aside from exemplar/warriors we all know about) and starts reflecting the Canada we love and live in.. not the fabricated and faux construct of Harper et al

VULT CULT said...

Best way to think of Harper is - he’s Canada Dubya.

To right-wingers in America, George W. Bush represented the intersection of the movement’s three major areas – the foreign policy chickenhawks, the Evangelical Christians, and the corporate oligarchy (aka the establishment). That Bush through his personal life, or via his families’ political connections was able to unite all three of these under the banner of the Republican Party was Karl Rove’s third greatest political success (number 1 and 2 being getting Dubya installed into the White House via fixing numbers in the US Supreme Court, and Diebold). In many ways, Dubya represented the ultimate version of Nixon, Reagan and his father all put together. Combine that with controlling Congress and the Supreme Court and it’s clear to see - that was great for the right-wing. It was a complete disaster for everyone else on the planet. The untold damage these actions have caused throughout the world – we might never recover from.

The reason why the Republicans have not had someone in office as President since 2009 is largely because the establishment has come to the conclusion that the rest of us already came to in 2001, having someone like that in authority is disastrous for their existence.

Harper is the next generation version of Mulroney in that he’s been able to unite several factions across the right - the old factions of the Reform Party (which I think have many common intersections of beliefs not too dissimilar to the manufactured Tea Party movement in America), the Canadian corporate establishment, and just enough people still disenchanted with the Liberal Party via the Sponsorship Scandal to hold onto office. One key difference between Mulroney and Harper was that the former neutralized the Pequistes by integrating them into the party and making a lot of broken promises, while the latter simply have them scatter into irrelevant parties like the BQ, and now the NDP such that their influence is negligible.

What you’re seeing with the NDP and Liberals today, is exactly what happened to the Democratic Party during Dubya’s years in office – that is believed that because of his win, they needed to pander to the right-wing viewpoint/interests and subsequently abandon any left-leaning or progressive view. What ends up happening is – the establishment decides that it’s better to have real right-winger in office than a pretend one under the belief that the former will be more successful. This is where I think Canada is now.

In time, the Democrats learned that being a right-winger was fucking up the country, and rather than pander to that, it’d be better to pander to everyone else.

Since 2009, the biggest problem in America has been that because the corporate establishment has so much control over so many aspects of society, real progress beyond that is more or less held back.

What’s really needed both here and in Canada is a way for someone or a movement to really get people’s attention beyond a means the establishment can control. I’ve said it before – the only way any real progress is going to be made towards addressing society’s problems (be it local through global) is a movement that operates and reaches people to act beyond the establishment’s outlets of control. How to create such a movement that gets people to act but itself be neither co-opted by the establishment, nor corrupted to become something twisted and evil, is the question I ponder.

Anyong said...

After being away from Canada for seven years before returning in 2007, I have to say it was nothing but re-entry shock when I got here. While in South Korea, MOS kept me a little up-to-date after beginning his blog in 2006 which I was thankful to be able to read. However, it did not take me very long to learn things had changed so much here, it caused me to return to SK in 2008-2010 and again returning in late 2010. I am now back in Canada since Feb 2011 and I am most in agreement with MOS regarding his blog "When I Look At The World I See Canada" because when a person is out of the country for a period of time and it should be at least two years because the first year one is getting used to their new surrounds, and, in a position to compare, we see things other Canadians refuse to even discuss who have not lived in another country other than the US. It is not diffuclt to realize that Mr. Milton Freidman with his belief system as how the world ought to be run, who passed away in 2011 is alive and well in this country as well as the US. At least when living in SK one does know exactly what the government there is. MOS is not far from the truth regarding his blog.