Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Consent of the Governed

I’ve take some criticism for describing the harpercon majority government as “illegitimate.” This criticism tends to come from empty-headed morons whose opinions I have as much regard for as I would a huge, steaming piece of dog-shit on my front steps.

There seems to be some inexplicable confusion regarding the justification for my categorization of stephen harper’s government.

I arrived at my conclusions about harper from my positive reaction to Brigette DePape’s protest in the Senate Chamber during the Speech From the Throne. You see, while I endorse the use of extra-Parliamentary tactics and occasional law-breaking, I’m actually very much a Parliament-respectin’ kinda guy. As flawed and compromised as our democracy is, it’s all we have, and we should work to improve it rather than tear it down.

So, why then, do I have an unvarnished sympathy for Ms. DePape’s action? She renounced her oath of non-partisan professionalism, took advantage of her privileged place at the centre of our political system, and expressed her partisan views before a national audience. What sort of democracy would we have if our Parliament was to be opened to everyone who wanted to storm out onto the floor and protest or pontificate?

What sort of democracy would that be?

Well, what sort of democracy do we have now? Let’s leave aside the capitalist class’s domination of our democracy for a second. Let’s focus on the kind of democracy stephen harper would give us:

Government power requires maintaining the confidence of the House of Commons. However, if the majority of the people’s representatives have lost confidence in your government, what you do is you turn to the anachronism of the Crown and ask it to shut-down Parliament before the people’s representatives can vote you out. You can do this whenever necessary.

We are governed by the Rule of Law and inspired by our respect for human rights. However, if you find yourself in a war, and you’re too cheap to provide proper prisons for your detainees, and you hand them over to the US-Americans until they’re found to have tortured and killed too many of their prisoners, forcing you to turn them over to another band of torturers, you must do the following:

– Accept no responsibility for as many prisoners as is possible. If you take some prisoners, make sure there is a representative of the torturing home government standing nearby and IMMEDIATELY hand them over to that person. No paperwork = No legal responsibilities!!! (Hopefully.)

– When you’re not able to do that, hand the prisoners over to the torturing home government and then delay, delay, delay, telling the International Committee of the Red Cross about them, so that they’re unable to keep tabs on their treatment. No evidence = No legal responsibilities!!! (Hopefully.)

– If you have pesky oversight bodies like the Military Police Complaints Commission, frustrate them at every turn and refuse to renew the mandates of chairpersons determined to do their job.

– If the fucking legislature of the pain-in-the-ass representatives of the people try to investigate this issue, call up the Crown and tell Him or Her to shut-down Parliament again, and then give the country some bullshit excuse for killing a year’s worth of legislation.

The US-Americans fought their revolution to a great degree based on the idea that there should be no taxation without political representation under the British Constitution. Members of the British Parliament at the time said that they were correct in that assertion. But here in Canada, we have a prime minister who believes that we can have representation, but it should be powerless when it comes to controlling what the government does with the taxation! Parliament should be a rubber-stamp for the government’s spending initiatives. If you find yourself with a pesky Speaker of House, who believes that it is Parliament that is the source of power in our democracy, and not the Prime Minister and Cabinet, shrug your shoulders and hope for a more compliant Speaker in the future. Then you can have your “Supreme Soviet” or your “Reichstag.” Rely on your shit-head supporters and a large bulk of the rest of the population to regard these essential fundamentals of democratic accountability to be arcane and “boring” details that only political geeks need to care about.

True democracy requires honest and transparent government. (Especially since promising that sort of Accountability was a huge part of your initial rise to power!) However, if the mood strikes you, you should tamper with official government documents to make them say whatever you want them to say, in order to justify whatever it is you want to do. If a Cabinet Minister deliberately lies to Parliament about this, well, that’s okay too. This time it was Bev Oda pretending that her staff recommended that KAIROS not be funded. Tomorrow it could be Vic Toews saying that violent crime is shooting through the roof and that the experts recommend the death penalty as the only effective deterrent. Whatever is necessary, once the principle of forgery and lying has been established.

So, that’s stephen harper’s idea of democracy in Canada. And, thanks to the apathy of almost 40% of the electorate who didn’t vote at all, and 26% of the electorate who either thought that such assaults on democracy were either cool, or boring, or who had no idea that any of that stuff happened at all, but like their parents always voted Conservative and whatever, … stephen harper has won a majority government. (Obviously, with the power of a majority government, harper won’t have to resort to such blatant abuses to get his way. On the other hand, with the power of a majority government, we’ll simply never know about his lies and abuses. It will all be a fait accompli.)

But, again, here’s the rub: If the guy who presumes to write the rules for the rest of us doesn’t respect the rules himself, why should we meekly acquiesce to his nonsense? If he was elected by people who don’t give a shit about our rights in a minority parliament, why should we give a shit about their rights in a majority parliament? If he was elected by people who had no idea what they were doing, and the results of their choice are going to be a disaster for us (to say nothing of conveying a patina of legitimacy to these assaults on the basics of our democratic system), why should we be bound to respect their ignorant choice?

This is not about sour grapes people. I despised the Chretien and Martin Liberals, and, even when they’d help destroy democracy in Haiti, I did not call their power illegitimate. I despised stephen harper’s minority government but I even said on this blog that we have to respect the legitimacy of his minority. It is stephen harper who has made himself unfit to govern us. It was stephen harper who trammelled all over the core of our democratic system. And a vote for such a despot is either a vote for despotism which can then make no claim on our respect, or it is a vote out of ignorance, which, given the stakes, likewise has no claim on our respect.

Drifting Towards Oblivion

I really don’t know what’s going to happen. Humanity (coerced or duped by our elites) is determined to continue along the path to ecological Armageddon. One of the worst offenders was Canada’s stephen harper government. And now he’s got a majority government. Extra-parliamentary protest is a sad joke. Tiny bands of the already converted unite to shout something for an afternoon and if the numbers get anywhere serious, highly-paid pigs are available to smash their skulls in.

The political awareness in this country is a joke. Except for the fact that the NDP, under the radar, appears to be gaining strength. The desperate economic climate, the naked amount of class warfare in this country (instigated by those at the top) must be having some sort of impact on the attitudes of Canadians, far from the editorial boards of the mainstream media, where whole departments are dedicated to providing “Lifestyle” news to the most affluent 30% of the population, besides blathering yet again for Canadians to be “patient” as the “progress” continues in Afghanistan.

Of course, the NDP, being what it is, will probably reinvent itself into some version of the Liberal Party. (Indeed, some people are arguing that this “pragmatism” is just what the NDP needs, and that those fools who made it a “religion” are going to be disappointed as the party leadership “matures.” The possibility that we might have to thank those “fools” and their struggling to keep the NDP as true to their principles as it remains, for attracting voters away from the unprincipled Liberals doesn’t even occur to them.)

I’m simply at a loss. In the 3-d world, I have, over the past month or so, tried to reach out to other groups to come together and discuss possibilities for resistance, only to be met with silence. (Or derision, as “left-wing” political groups turn out to be anti-union, anti-protester, pro-business, middle class dweebs.) I haven’t bothered with my local NDP riding association since two e-mails asking for a group meeting or online discussion in order to send a message to the party leadership have been met with silence. I’m not surprised that I’m expected to be a source of funds for the party and not so much a source of ideas. I am surprised at the depths of irrelevance of party membership though.

The reason I spend time in politics is because our present path is the path to species suicide, with social-economic meltdown as the appetizer. I have no illusions that had I dedicated my life to earning money (within the limits of my patience) that I would have amassed enough to insulate me from the uncertainty of late capitalism. If things are going to be made stable and whole for ordinary people, it is going to have to come from politics, not the capitalist marketplace.

Right now though, politics seems as barren a field as the job market.

Justified Civil Disobedience and Illegitimate Governments

I’ve said before that the environment isn’t my main focus. I hate camping. I hate flies and mosquitoes. I like cities, books, bars, … that sort of thing. Then there’s the science. It’s all I’ve got to grasp political-economy, … were someone to come up with some scholarly paper about soil depletion, global warming, ocean stocks, or whatever, I wouldn’t really know how to respond.

At the same time, I realize that without the planet’s life-sustaining properties, the human race, with its cities, books, bars, art, etc., would soon dwindle into oblivion.

So, given the fact that 99.9% of the scientists who have the right to an opinion say that global warming is real and that it’s caused by human activity, and that if the human activity that causes global warming isn’t left unchecked, civilization itself is threatened, I take it seriously.

And given the fact that the deniers of human-caused global warming are generally oil-industry shills and complete shit-heads, I take the crisis more seriously and treat the doubters with the massive contempt that they deserve.

And, therefore, given the news about temperature change and carbon emissions just released, and the increased calls for civil disobedience to try to save humanity (regardless of whether a festering pustule like Ezra Levant thinks it’s all a crock) is more than called for.

And, in this context of necessary civil disobedience, we, as Canadians, have an obligation given the fact that our country (besides being complicit in torture in Afghanistan, besides being a terrorist state that tortures its own citizens, besides being a racist, colonialist country that forces its unconquered First Nations to live in squalor and criminalizes them when they enter our cities, besides being a cruel, oppressive, squalid country that destroyed democracy in Haiti and forced the Haitians to live in grinding misery and starvation) is one of the worst offenders in creating this disaster.

Thankfully, the task of civil disobedience in this country is even more justified because the government that is going whole-hog to help destroy civilization is completely illegitimate. Our prime minister is a despot and he won his position as a result of an archaic electoral system, but, more importantly, he was elected by people who were either ignorant of the reality that they were voting for the party of despotism or they simply didn’t give a shit.

It’s those voters who didn’t give a shit that I’m interested in. These people viewed harper’s serial assaults on Canadian democracy and Canadian democratic institutions, because, in their warped minds, all of this helped their party maintain power while leaving the opposition to plead impotently by the sidelines yet again. It’s the mentality of the bully. When adults get together to work on some project, or, what the hell, play a board game together at a table at the cottage, if one party cheats their way to victory, the other participants will probably complain, but it’s not likely that they’ll take the offender and smash his head through the window. In a more serious context (like, say, a business arrangement), cheaters are taken to court. If the courts rule in the plaintiff’s favour and the cheater ignores it, with impunity, sometimes the plaintiff will complain about the courts and the injustice of it all. But here, we’re talking about the people who make the laws, and appoint the judges, and who write the rules.

The whole system is debased because of our toleration of this monster. The longer we endure his revolting, disgusting presence, the more will our political culture slide into total irrelevance and sick comedy, as in the United States of America.

We must unite, and we must plan, and we must organize, environmentalists, unions, intellectuals, teachers, students, voters, citizens, philanthropists, parents, children, workers, the unemployed, judges, lawyers, we must hit them hard, we must hit them everywhere, we must force this government to resign.

And the swine who voted for this piece of shit government, the bullies who were so happily contemptuous of democracy when it is their party which benefits by ripping up the rule book and all standards of decency? They have no right to be listened to. They have renounced their claims to fairness, to due process, to everything.

And, if they, a minority of the population, really want to get physical to try to protect their despotic government, they are more than welcome to try. Because that is what it has come to. That’s the significance of harper’s tearing-up the rule book. That book of rules existed so that power could be exchanged peacefully and that said power would act within certain constitutional-democratic limits.

It has come to this: We have an illegitimate government which the very existence of continues to debase our claims to be a constitutional democracy. The harpercons have beaten Canadian democracy to the ground (or did we all help them?) and now they’re pissing on its unconscious form.

The Liberals and the Centre

I think it was in the Martin or the Dion years, when, on Canadian Cynic, I told Ti-Guy that I wanted the Liberal Party of Canada to die, because they deceived progressive-minded Canadians and made them believe that they could have their cake and eat it too.

Ti-Guy replied something to the effect that by giving the centrist majority of Canadians a compromise between the extremist Conservatives and the loopy NDP. Without the Liberals, the majority of Liberal supporters would stupidly migrate over to the Conservatives (with whom they feel more comfortable).

At the time, I wasn’t sure that the thesis was worth the explosion in homelessness, in poverty, in the massive decline in our manufacturing sector, the occupation of Afghanistan and the subsequent war crimes, the increase in inequality, the creeping privatization of health care, the dallying with missile defence, and on and on and everything that Liberal governance represented.

And what if it’s the case that “centre cannot hold”? I realize that for a long time I predicted economic collapse, sincerely believing that the debt-crisis, or the dot-com bubble’s bursting, or something else meant that our economic system had run out of steam, only to be proved wrong. But this latest crisis, I’ve waited, and hedged my bets, but there’s enough weakness, enough elite stupidity, enough hopelessness, that it looks like a collapse is inevitable. About a month ago, some dude was on a business news program, saying with all the confidence in the world “Demand will come back.” I could only wonder where it was supposed to come back from. Seriously, check out those links and ask yourself where demand is supposed to come from? And then, remember that “demand” as he’s talking about it, means “effective demand” to consume more and more useless junk, the production of which will plunder the world’s resources and destroy the environment. Their system fails on its own terms and in the bigger picture it’s going to kill us all.

If that’s the case, what do we need with some mewling bunch of neo-liberal, arrogant, elite dumb-fucks who helped bring us to this sorry pass?

There is going to be a reckoning. We have the worst possible political party in Canada in power to meet it with a majority government. Let’s make the choice for Canadians as stark as possible: the intellectual bankruptcy of capitalism versus the humanity of social democracy. The last thing we want is a political party lying to Canadians that they can “rise up” to the challenge with rhetoric and lies.