Monday, November 20, 2017

Chris Hedges Looks at The True North.

The first two words give it away, "Pity Canada."

Chris Hedges looks at Canada and sees us succumbing to the U.S. contagion only behind the mask of moderation. On reading this you may think he goes too far, is too harsh. Perhaps, but not entirely. And, yes, it is harsh in challenging us to take a fresh look at how we're governed in Canada today and what that portends for the future. We must come to grips with this.

Pity Canada. Its citizens watch the stages of U.S. decline and then, a few years later, inflict on themselves the same cruelties. It is as if the snuffing out of democracy across the globe and the rise of authoritarian regimes are a preordained Greek tragedy and all of us, in spite of our yearning for liberty, must ominously play an assigned part.

Canada is currently in the Barack Obama phase of self-immolation. Its prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is—as Obama was—a fresh face with no real political past or established beliefs, a brand. Trudeau excels, like Obama, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in empty symbolism. These “moderates” spew progressive and inclusive rhetoric while facilitating social inequality, a loss of rights and the degradation of the environment by global corporations. They are actors in skillfully crafted corporate advertisements.

Liberal democracy is bifurcating, giving rise to two new regime forms: ‘illiberal democracy,’ or democracy without rights, and ‘undemocratic liberalism,’ or rights without democracy,” writes political theorist Yascha Mounk.


Trudeau, Macron, Turnbull, Merkel and Obama, because they appear to champion liberal ideals, discredit not only political “moderates” but also the core values of a liberal democracy. When the public rejects feckless politicians it also rejects the supposed values they represent. Fascism rises out of failed democracies where elites mouth the feel-your-pain language of liberalism while selling out the public. This was true in 1917 Russia, in Weimar Germany and in the former Yugoslavia.

Canada, like France, Australia and Germany, will never descend to the levels of nihilistic violence and mass shootings that plague the United States. There is enough of a residue of its socialist programs, such as universal health care and public education, to prevent it from becoming as cruel and heartless—although there will be efforts to steadily defund and destroy these programs. Canada, France, Australia and Germany will not crash their economies trying to maintain an empire they can no longer afford. But they are, nevertheless, steadily marching toward the new authoritarianism, toward joining the despotisms rising up in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. The model for the future is not Liberté, égalité, fraternité—it is China’s ruthless corporate totalitarianism. Where is Tommy Douglas, the great Canadian socialist who once described the free enterprise system as giving elephants the right to dance among chickens, when you need him?

These “moderates” substitute personal style and esthetics for politics. They offer no real solutions to the assault by corporate capitalism and to growing social inequality. They preach fatuous bromides, like Candide, about “the best of all possible worlds” while ignoring the disasters and suffering around them. They call for tolerance and civility while empowering corporate machinery that creates an intolerant and uncivil society. They are mountebanks and charlatans. Their singular skill is to peddle in political form the drivel of positive psychologists. They make us, at least temporarily, feel good about ourselves. They use gestures—Trudeau kayaking down the Niagara River for World Environment Day—to mask their collaboration with corporations in the exploitation and poisoning of the natural world. Trudeau, despite his progressive rhetoric about climate change, is facilitating the building of new pipelines through Canada and the United States to export more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, one of the world’s most catastrophic assaults on the ecosystem. Obama’s environment record looked as if it was lifted from Sarah Palin. Turnbull and Merkel are no better. This rank hypocrisy, extended to all issues, is what dooms the proponents of “undemocratic liberalism.”

The “moderates,” like those on the far right, refuse to acknowledge reality. They speak and act as if we live in a democracy rather than a system defined by Sheldon Wolin as “inverted totalitarianism,” one where the consent of the governed is a joke, elections are legalized bribery and public policy is determined not by popular will but by corporate lobbyists. It does not matter, as illustrated by the Republican tax plan now before the U.S. Senate, what is just or what the public supports. There are no institutions left in the United States that can authentically be called democratic....

The novelist and social critic James Baldwin wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.


Anonymous said...

Anyong>>>>Sad but true.

Toby said...

Canadians have a long history of adopting whatever the Americans do about ten years later. We have only had a few bright exceptions to that.

Hedges is right. Try telling your family, friends and neighbours this stuff. You'll get a lot of pushback.

Lorne said...

Hedges seems to know Trudeau and his ilk well, Mound.

Owen Gray said...

A sad commentary on what we've become and where we're headed.

The Mound of Sound said...

I can't say that Trudeau is a bad man but I sure won't say he's a good man either. He recognizes issues he chooses to deal with and ignores many others. In this he follows the pattern established by Harper. His predecessor was somewhat malevolent about it and I don't sense that in Trudeau but the outcome is nevertheless quite similar. I think we may have entered an era of government on "cruise control" evidenced by the shocking levels of cognitive dissonance in today's policy making.

Trailblazer said...

Anonymous Toby said...
Canadians have a long history of adopting whatever the Americans do about ten years later. We have only had a few bright exceptions to that.

And that exception would be PE Trudeau!!


The Mound of Sound said...

You could add Lester Pearson to PET, TB

Trailblazer said...

You could add Lester Pearson to PET,

Before my time in Canada , Mound.

PE Trudeau put Canada on the map for me; eventually I migrated and became a Canadian.

All politicians are vulnerable to the realities of life they are little different to everyone else.
Finding and choosing a good representative pits similarly defective voters against similarly defective officials.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff is a problematic (on both sides) is a conundrum!


Northern PoV said...

Thanks for posting this, Mound.

but, too harsh?

methinks too optimistic:
"There is enough of a residue of its socialist programs, such as universal health care and public education, to prevent it from becoming as cruel and heartless"

Anonymous said...

Actually PET and JFK were the pioneers of post-modern 'undemocratic liberalism' - or neoliberalism. They killed the economic-progressive 'New Deal' policies of the post-war era with a social-progressive pivot.

Justin Trudeau is the very reincarnation of Pierre Trudeau. (Contemporary Trudeau-mania BS also collapsing before the first term. PET was reduced to a minority in 1972.)

All style, no substance. All SJW stuff while giving the rich the keys to the kingdom. The only difference is that the rich have hogged all the wealth out of the economy after 5 decades of leeching, looting, mooching and gouging. And instead of SJW-stuff being cutting edge, it has turned ridiculous and totalitarian.

The future is a revival of post-war democratic economic nationalism with a focus on constitutional values. The Democrat party was a den of racist KKK miscreants before FDR. This time moderate transitional change is coming from the Right.

(Progressives really only stand for SJW-stuff. I've seen them bitch about neoliberalism since Clinton, Blair and Chretien expanded on the neoconservative era of Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney. But since neoliberals are social progressives, progressives will always be sheep to neoliberal shepherds - always believing they are being saved from the wolves while being led by them.)

The Mound of Sound said...

Actually, Anon, people who begin exclamatory diatribe with "actually" tend to be full of shit. Not all but most and you're certainly well within their ranks.

Pierre Trudeau was a pioneer of "post modern undemocratic liberalism." The only thing profound about that claim is your ignorance. I doubt that you've ever argued the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a superior court of law. I say I doubt that because you would have to be a fucking moron to argue that the author of that was an instrument of post modern undemocratic liberalism. Why don't you just stick to gutter talk about "snowflakes" and "cucks"?

By the way, what are your favourite Charter cases? Which decisions do you consider best advance liberal democracy? Which do you imagine best reveal Pierre Trudeau's "post modern undemocratic liberalism"?

I'm sure you don't realize it and I haven't the interest in explaining it to you but you're really making a fool of yourself.

Anonymous said...

PET even bungled the constitution! We're the only developed country with a constitution that can't be amended!

It takes agreement among all 10 provinces to reform the anti-democratic senate - when it only required the agreement of a super-majority of provinces to repatriate the constitution in the first place! How absurd is that?

Considering Canada is not a democracy, I guess it doesn't matter if we have a fixed constitution, absurd senate and ridiculous head of state (some other country's barbarous relic.) It's all a pretense in any case, no matter which way you slice it.

PET, like Obama, was just another neoliberal who bent over backwards to distract people from the fact he was doing absolutely nothing for the people - while gladly representing the upper-crust for under-the-table remuneration.

Like how PET killed the estate tax and the Bank of Canada being a source of low-interest loans to various levels of government. (I bet PET is smiling down from heaven over his son's infrastructure bank: why borrow even private money at low interest rates when you can gouge the people with credit-card-like interest rates! It's genius!)

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon 10:13. Stay away from your keyboard if you want to conceal your ignorance. Then you can put your time to better use learning the basics of Canadian constitutional law including how it is amended. Stop spewing nonsense. You're making a fool of yourself.

Purple library guy said...

"Pity Canada" -- well, after all, we share Mexico's situation: "So far from God, so close to the USA."

Purple library guy said...

As to Pierre Eliot Trudeau -- he was a very complex, mixed figure and I don't think any simple claim about him can be very accurate. He did some bad stuff, he did some good stuff, he did some in between stuff, and sorting out which bits had the most impact would be very difficult. Seemingly unimportant things like refusing to help the Yanks blockade Cuba could yet turn out to have been historically very significant.

Anonymous said...

Anyong......How Does Canada Govern Itself, Or Does Britain Do It?
The British Constitution and the American Constitution, which are very different, are blended in Canada. Like the United States; Canada has a federal form of government. It was copied from the American example, with variations inspired by American experience and Canadian needs.
The division of authority between the Canadian Parliament and the provincial legislatures is much the same as that between Congress and the state legislatures. But instead of leaving the provinces all the power that was not specifically conferred upon the Dominion, in accordance with the American principle, the Canadians adopted the opposite principle. They gave the residue of authority to the federal government. This seemed to be the great lesson taught by our war between the North and the South, during which the framers of the Canadian constitution did most of their work. Thus the Canadian constitution bears the indelible stamp of the American Civil War. In practice, however, the provinces have gained in power through judicial interpretation of the constitution.

Anonymous said...

Another difference is that no province can legislate on banking or criminal law. These are subjects wholly within the federal field. The criminal law is therefore uniform throughout the country, and so is the banking system.
Our duplicate system of courts, federal and state, was also rejected in Canada. There the same courts, with permanently appointed judges, administer both federal and provincial law. Yet another difference is that the constitution bound the federal government to subsidize the provincial governments.
Canada resembles the United States rather than Britain in having a written constitution. This is the British North America Act (commonly referred to as the BNA Act) of 1867 and its amendments. But if you take it literally it will give you very false notions of how the country is actually governed, as we shall see presently. The reason is that Canada also has an unwritten constitution—like the British—and this governs the operation of the written one.
The most vital part of the Canadian system of government is wholly British and totally un-American. It is the fusion of the executive and the legislative branches of government in the cabinet, which is chosen from the leaders of the majority party in the Parliament at Ottawa. When the Canadians formed their federal union in 1867, they already had this British system in the provinces. They were so convinced by experience and observation that it was better than the American, with its separation of powers and its checks and balances, that they would not consider adopting ours.

Anonymous said...

The real boss
Americans are sometimes misled by the fact that government in Canada is conducted in the name of the king. By the letter of the BNA Act, the king rules Canada through the governor general, whom he appoints. In turn, the governor general supposedly rules the provinces through lieutenant governors, whom he appoints. But in reality the Dominion government chooses the governor general and the lieutenant governors—who, like the king himself, are only figureheads.
The real head of the federal government, legislative as well as executive, is the prime minister, in whom all power is concentrated and all responsibility focused. He does not rim for election to this high position, nor does he hold it for any fixed period. Moreover there is no law defining it.
The requirements are political rather than legal. The prime minister must be a member of the House of Commons and, more than that, he has to be the leader of the majority party in the House. If he fills the bill, the governor general has no other choice than to appoint him. As prime minister, or real head of the executive, he picks and controls the cabinet. These heads of the various executive departments he selects from his own followers in the House, where he and they remain. There they are answerable to the other members for any and every administrative act.
With the help of his cabinet, the prime minister leads the debates in the House and directs the legislative program. The Senate, unlike ours, is not elected but appointed, has no special powers, and is politically, though not legally, subordinate to the House of Commons. Thus the prime minister runs Parliament as well as the administration. And he can continue in power indefinitely—as long as he remains the acknowledged leader of the House of Commons. But the moment he loses this leadership he has to resign, unless by calling an election he can get a new house that will follow him.
Here is the internal balance of the Canadian constitution, which is quite different from the balance in ours. On the one hand, the members of the House of Commons can turn the prime minister out of office at any time, which enforces his responsibility to them and through them to the people. On the other hand, he can turn the House out to face an election at any time, which gives him a disciplinary control over irresponsible members. As soon as a deadlock appears, it forces a general election, thus ending the deadlock by an appeal to the people.
There is no fixed period for general elections, either federal or provincial. One can be held at any time the government wishes. But there is a limit of five years to the life of the Canadian federal Parliament and the provincial legislatures.
Loosening the reins of empire
Canada got independence without having to fight to it. The American Revolution taught Britain never to tax a colony again. But it also persuaded the British that they should not let the remaining colonies get out of hand or they would break away too. This meant trying to hold them by controlling their governments, and the result was a growing strain in each colony. A little over a century ago two miniature rebellions in Canada startled London into sending out a leading statesman to find what was wrong and how to put it right.

Anonymous said...

This man was Lord Durham, whose report is a milestone in the history of Canada and of the whole British Empire. He insisted that the only way to keep the colonies was to let them govern themselves as they wished. The magic power of liberty, he proclaimed, would hold the colonial empire together. Soon the British government put his formula to the test, and at once it began to work. That was almost a hundred years ago.
Though mistress in its own house, Canada was a subordinate partner in the Empire. The British government had the legal right to veto any act of the Canadian Parliament, a right that was used once in the early days of the Dominion and never again. Canadian legislation was liable to be overridden by acts of the British Parliament arid could not touch the subject of merchant shipping, which Britain regulated for the whole Empire. Canadian foreign relations had to be conducted, at least formally, through the channel of the British Foreign Office. And Canada was bound by the actions of Britain in declaring war and making peace.
These remains of imperial control were all removed after World War I, in which Canada played an important part and earned the right to equality. Along with the other self-governing dominions, Canada got the right to have its own diplomatic service, inaugurated in 1927 by exchanging ministers with the United States, and later extended by exchanges with many other countries. In the imperial conference of 1926, the following important declaration was unanimously adopted: “The group of self-governing communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions … are autonomous communities within the Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another.” After much further consultation between the governments of the Empire, this principle was translated into law by the Statute of Westminster, which the Briitish Parliament passed in 1931.
The last remnants of subordination
of the constitution Canada has to go to the British Parliament. This may seem strange in light of the fact that the other dominions can amend their constitutions themselves. The explanation lies in Canada’s dual nationality. A formula has yet to be found
We should also notice another question that worried many Canadians during the years between the two World Wars. They argued that as long as the Dominion retained the British connection the country might he plunged into war by a decision of the mother country over which Canada had no control—as in 1914.
This question, upon which the Statute of Westminster was silent, was finally answered in 1939. When Britain then went to war, Eire declared its neutrality, South Africa wavered on the brink before plunging in, and Canada asserted its independence in this most important decision of all by making its own declaration of war.
Even today many otherwise well-informed Americans cannot quite grasp the fact that Britain no longer exercises any control over Canadian policy. Canadians are more than a little sensitive on this point. There is much truth in the shrewd Canadian jest that the only way Britain might persuade Canada to do anything is to suggest the opposite.
What about imperial teamwork?

Anonymous said...

Occasional talk that Canada might combine with the other parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations so that all might speak with one voice in international affairs need not be taken seriously. The idea of drawing the Empire together again is an old one that still finds many supporters in Britain and some in Canada. But it is now further from realization than it has been in the past. If there were no obstacles in other parts of the British world—and there are many—Canada alone would block it. On occasion Canada has vigorously asserted its freedom from the mother country’s apron strings.
Look at the peculiar position of Canada and you will see why. This oldest and biggest of the dominions is the only one that is bound up with any power outside the Empire. And Canada is in the shadow of one of the greatest powers on earth.
Primarily because Canada is American as well as British, Canadians have steadily and successfully resisted pressure from Britain and from other dominions to establish in London any new Empire government in which they would all share. Because Canada is American as well as British, it felt—long before President Roosevelt said so in 1938—that the Monroe Doctrine gave a security to match that of the British navy. Every peacetime proposal for cooperative imperial defense, therefore, foundered in Canada.
Also, Canada’s economic life is much too closely knit with that of the United States to be torn away and tied up tight in an imperial customs union. The nearest Canada ever came to that was in the Ottawa agreements of 1932. But that was when our Smoot-Hawley tariff had dealt Canada a staggering blow. And see what happened afterward. When Canadians found that we too were willing to negotiate for freer trade, they eagerly sought an agreement with us. They even went to London to pry open the imperial agreements of 1932 so that the Dominion might get still freer trade with us as part of an arrangement for freer Anglo-American trade.

Anonymous said...

The last remnants of subordination
Only two limitations upon full Canadian autonomy remain, and these only by Canadian consent. One is in the administration of justice. The highest court of appeals is the Privy Council in London. Canada has stopped all criminal appeals to the Privy Council, and some civil appeals. In all probability Canada will stop the others too when a good solution is found for the problem raised by the second limitation.
The second limitation is that for important amendments of the written part of the constitution Canada has to go to the British Parliament. This may seem strange in light of the fact that the other dominions can amend their constitutions themselves. The explanation lies in Canada’s dual nationality. A formula has yet to be found that would protect the rights of French Canada, the minority, without making amendment too difficult to be practical. Some of the best minds in Canada have been working hard on this problem, and they may soon solve it.
We should also notice another question that worried many Canadians during the years between the two World Wars. They argued that as long as the Dominion retained the British connection the country might he plunged into war by a decision of the mother country over which Canada had no control—as in 1914.
This question, upon which the Statute of Westminster was silent, was finally answered in 1939. When Britain then went to war, Eire declared its neutrality, South Africa wavered on the brink before plunging in, and Canada asserted its independence in this most important decision of all by making its own declaration of war.

Anonymous said...

"They are actors* in skillfully crafted corporate advertisements" - Bingo!
I actually prefer to use a term "front-men." Front-men on a payroll of globalist mafia.
*Junior, his father, Macron, even Merkel.
How many folks can recall that Steven Harper was "discovered" as a candidate for the PM, by his future PMO chief?
By the contrast Putin, and to lesser degree even such small fish like Orban or Kaczynski are independent. Trump too does not belong to the club. And that independence make them so disliked&maligned by the globalist mafia.

Anonymous said...

Anyong...this is what Americans think about Canada.

Anonymous said...

Anyong.....the Prime Minister of Canada has more power than the President of the United States and he cannot be ousted by impeachment (Doesn't exist) nor the ridiculous system of the members of the same party who are the only people to vote him it not but a haw-haw?

William Lyon Mackenzie King, the 10th Prime Minister of Canada (1921–1926; 1926–1930; 1935–1948)
Pierre Trudeau is credited with, throughout his tenure as prime minister between 1968 and 1984, consolidating power in the PMO,[18] which is itself filled by political and administrative staff selected at the prime minister's discretion and unaccountable to parliament. At the end of the 20th century and into the 21st, analysts—such as Jeffrey Simpson,[19] Donald Savoie, Andrew Coyne,[20] and John Gomery—argued that both parliament and the Cabinet had become eclipsed by prime ministerial power;[n 3][21] Savoie wrote: "The Canadian prime minister has little in the way of institutional check, at least inside government, to inhibit his ability to have his way."[22] Indeed, the position has been described as undergoing a "presidentialisation",[18][23] to the point that its incumbents publicly outshine the actual head of state (and prime minister's spouses are sometimes called the "First Lady of Canada"[24][25]).[26][27] Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson alluded to what she saw as "an unspoken rivalry" that had developed between the prime minister and the Crown.[28] It has been theorized that such is the case in Canada as its parliament is less influential on the executive than in other countries with Westminster parliamentary systems; particularly, Canada has fewer MPs, a higher turnover rate of MPs after each election, and an Americanized system for selecting political party leaders, leaving them accountable to the party membership rather than caucus, as is the case in the United Kingdom