Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Great Undoer

Canada's next great leader will not be a doer.   Our next great leader, if we are lucky enough to have one, will be an undoer - a leader who will systematically cut out the rot that has beset this country slowly for decades and then very quickly, very powerfully over the last decade.

Canada doesn't need reforming.   Canada needs restoring, rehab if you like.

We need to rehabilitate Canadian democracy.   Stephen Harper has shown us how easily one man can undermine our democratic freedom.   He has shown how even a country with solid democratic traditions can be subverted to the will of a ruler with despotic instincts.

Our American cousins have shown us the absolute corruption that follows in the wake of corporatism.   The executive and legislative branches fall and, eventually, the judiciary falls.   The working classes, blue and white-collar, once known as the Middle Class, become what the powerful are willing to openly call the "Precariat."   Political power is captured by the Few and then wealth and power are transferred from the many to that Few by their "bought and paid for" political apparatus.   Democracy is quietly suffocated.

We need to restore our faith in ourselves which begins by restoring our faith in our institutions.   That means undoing the myriad of ways Stephen Harper has sequestered our institutions and transformed them - the public service, the armed forces and, now, even the national police - into his personal, partisan political agencies.   No longer can any prime minister's office be the gatekeeper that blocks the public's access to their own institutions.  There will be no next great leader who fails to reconnect the public with their government.

Our American cousins have given us reason to worry about these things.   Barack Obama was supposed to be a great undoer of the mind-boggling excesses of the Bush/Cheney era.   In many aspects he has simply failed.  In others he has worsened the deplorable situations he inherited.   Obama would certainly get an A+ rating of approval from someone like Ronald Reagan.

Like America, Canada has undergone a shift to the right across our political spectrum.   Harper, with the helpful assistance of people such as Ignatieff, Layton, Mulcair and Trudeau, has already achieved his prime directive - permanently shifting Canada's political centre far to the right.   What had been a proud party of the Left is now the Latter Day Liberals.   What had been a proud party of the centre is now the Conservative Lite Libs.   This is not to say that Canada may not drift even further to the right in the years ahead.  Indeed we may, particularly with the anchor to the Left gone.   There is no force to pull us back, to even our political keel.   And Obama has shown that we will have no great leader, no grand undoer, while our nation lists this badly.   We have to make a conscious choice to reverse this, to restore what we once had.

The next great leader will not meekly, apologetically defend the Left, he/she will champion the Left and the Centre-Left.  You cannot fight corporatism that undermines our democracy from the Right.  You cannot fight to break the corporate media cartel that undermines our democracy from the Right.  You cannot fight the growing challenge of inequality of wealth, income and opportunity from the Right.  You cannot restore Canadian democracy from the place where it never was when it was healthy.   All of these fights and all of these goals lie at the heart of progressivism.

Undoing all this is a progressive fight, one that has to be fought from the Centre-Left.  The next great leader won't have to be told that.


VULT CULT said...

Based on what's going in the US, don't expect that to happen in Canada. The political process if fixed so that a progressive/liberal can never get elected, let alone be effective in fixing things. People thought Obama was going to be such a person and he wasn't - it was a fallacy to believe that any one person could really undue all the damage of 60-70 years of right-wing/corporation/religious domination.

This establishment if you will has effectively dismantled democracy in America. The PRISM scandal is but the latest example of why it cannot be trusted. And more importantly, it demonstrates how thoroughly incompetent they are at dealing with real problems. People in America saw this initially with 9/11, then conveniently forgot this with the smokescreen of a war in Iraq. After the fixed election of 2004 however, people's eyes finally opened with Hurricane Katrina.

Unfortunately it's going to take a lot of rock-bottom collapses of things to really open peoples' eyes, ears, and minds up to how bad and truly dangerous things get when a nation allows a conglomerate of movements to band together and take over.

My biggest fear is - with the effects of global climate change becoming more and more permanent with each day - when peoples' eyes do finally open up it may be too late.

The Mound of Sound said...

I certainly share your concern, CV, that our hope of restoring democracy may be overtaken by the disruptive impacts of climate change.

I have repeatedly argued that our politics of division reinforced by our corporate media has sapped the country of much of the social cohesion we will need to see Canadian society through the trials of this 21st century.

The "conglomerate of movements" you write of is addressed at length and in chilling detail by Andrew Bacevich in "The New American Militarism." In this book he chronicles how America's radical right, radical Christian fundamentalism, the military establishment, and the military/industrial/commercial warfighting complex amalgamated to give rise to a new, democracy-destroying militarism and the ascendancy of a permanent warfare state.

Bacevich is no leftie. He's a retired, career U.S. Army officer and combat commander turned academic.

VULT CULT said...

I've heard of him and read some of this stuff online - he sounds like he's got a really good handle on this. I will keep his book in mind.

The thing is, I believe that the political process is fundamentally damaged both in the US and now Canada (fyi - I'm a Canadian who's been living in the US for the last 15 or so years). And any leader that it produces will be always hindered by this conglomerate of movements (sorry cannot think of a better term; believe me I've tried on my own blog).

If we as a species are really going to address the problem our future generations are going to have to deal with - then we have to find a way beyond such political processes to reach and engage the broad masses around the world to collectively pay attention and focus and work together on some level to stopping global warming. And it has to be a means of communication that exist beyond political, economic, social, and societal boundaries.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi CV. I'd be grateful for a link to your blog.

You may be right that the political process in the U.S. and Canada is fundamentally damaged. Democracy certainly appears to have been usurped by corporatism and we're down to the last vestiges of an independent and free press.

There are so many forces at play, so much dislocation underway, at the moment that it can be hard to make sense of what's happening in front of us much less what that might portend for the near and mid-range future.

The Occupy movement, like the Arab Spring, were just the opening salvoes in a broader unrest that is building. Some, much brighter than me, have already predicted the 21st will be the Century of Revolution.

While I believe we could be facing a century of revolution, I have studied enough of that subject to know how, more often than not, it is a devastatingly cataclysmic process. Will order emerge from it or just a new variety of chaos?

We still cling to so many outdated modes of organization that it's hard to imagine where we will find the flexibility and strength we will need to meet the challenges coming our way even if we could rally the will.

You know, there was a time I was convinced I would be safely in Valhalla before this darkness descended. It's coming on a lot faster than I had imagined and now I'm not so sure I won't see some of it.

VULT CULT said...

It's http://

I've actually got a link to your blog, which I read from time to time!

I used to think as you did - that some day I'd be rich and me and the Mrs. can find some nice place in the world to hide and enjoy our remaining years.

A year or two ago, I realized that isn't going to happen because of the rapid pace of global warming - I realized there really won't be anywhere in the world where its effects won't be felt; and I think that'll come much sooner than even I thought.

And over the last few months, in advance of this, I fear the horrible things that inevitable violence brings when peaceful revolution is made impossible, will cripple our global society's ability to deal with such things like global warming.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for the link, Vultch. We do seem fairly like-minded.

As for me, I think my spot here on Vancouver Island is as close to ideal as I could hope for. My house is situated on a granite escarpment well above sea level. We have plentiful freshwater resources and the ability, if needed, to create reservoirs in the nearby mountains should the snowpack begin to falter. We have plentiful marine life including oysters, clams, mussels, crab, prawns, cod, halibut and salmon plus a healthy supply of deer and elk and I do know how to hunt and fish and have plenty of gear for both. I also know how to grow fruit, leaf and root vegetables.

On the island most of us are preppers of a sort. The government constantly exhorts us to be prepared for the "big one" - a Fukushima-magnitude subduction earthquake off the west coast of the island. We do tend to keep survival supplies on hand, just in case.

As for life below the 49th though it's anybody's guess. I think with a society as ethnically, racially and economically fractured as America's, coping with the impacts of climate change is going to be very challenging. For example, drought coupled with groundwater collapse and coastal retreat due to sea level rise could trigger a fairly sudden problem of internal displacement. What happens if America faces a major retreat from the south?