new eyes to see the neocons

[[[ Aaah. ]]]

The Great Canadian NeoCon Hat-Trick
New eyes, new eyes to see Canada. (I ride the Metro here in Montréal, and I look at all these people, and sometimes I think to myself "and these too are my people," very unsure as to what this all means.) Got the glasses, new Alain Miklis, to better see that wolf. In sheep's clothing. That wolf, Prime Minister Harper, in the sheep's clothing of the archetypal sheep, as a "neoconservative" Christian fundamentalist, which usually spells two economic-political strategies: a) the cutting of social programs (but not only "social" or "programs") and b) a rise in expenditure for the military (but not only the military). Should I feign surprise at 66 budget cuts by PM Harper's government? (66. What an... interesting number.) In any case, 66 cuts in a year of surpluses, low unemployment and overall great national health. Right at the turning point, when Canada could have redefined the "social welfare state" in the 21C. Why, you may ask? But surely there is economic justification? Well, Warren Jestin, Bank of Novia Scotia economist, laid it out in this article: to make good on Conservative promises of tax cuts -- mainly to corporations and lowering the GST to 6% -- "other programs inevitably will have to be cut back substantially." The neocons have brought it on themselves, which is to say, on us all -- or that "all" that makes up the bulk of the population not in the top wealthy 10%. It's kind of like a hat-trick on your own goalie-- when he's down.


Warning, my international readers, WARNING.The current Canadian Government -- oh, heavens, where is my mind, as the administration insists, "the New Government of Canada" (a BC scientist was fired for questioning this phrase) -- is going the way of a conservative Australia. The New Government of Canada holds some rather Old prejudices: they are on the record as holding some rather narrow views of homosexuality, abortion and immigration. By "narrow," I mean that they object to homosexuality, abortion and immigration on predominantly religious grounds & on predominantly "moral" or even "political" grounds that are, upon further inspection, grounded in a theosophy which constructs for itself the heritage of a theocratic power "natural" to the colonial structure of this country. It is not necessarily the values of Christ expressed in the Conservatives that are at issue (let us keep a distinction of faith from religion), but rather the power structure of theocratic rule which always calls for the purity and sanctity of borders & boundaries -- whether they be territorial or of the body. And each time, this purity and sanctity in the history of the West privileges phallogocentric bodies and systems. All kinds of discourses of security, the homeland, national defence, individualism (without collectivity), business (without community), self-responsibility (without the other), the market, economy, militarism, growth, "common sense," the "family" etc. are interwoven in this attempt at theocracy. At the same time, and not surprisingly given their theosophy, the Canadian Conservatives are (and not without some controversy) attempting to establish the ideology of a "strong Canada" through our now highly funded military (for those who don't know, Canada is engaged in full-fledged warfare in Afghanistan).

Well, I blogged about the theocratic & unsavoury tendencies of Harper awhile back. But this country & its media are caught in some kind of collective amnesia concerning who and what Harper is. Two elections past, in which Harper showed his true colours, he lost. This past election, he just did a good job keeping his silence on what the media and politicians classically call the "true agenda."

I sympathize with Werner Patels who writes that "Pretty soon this country will have been altered to a dangerous extent." And who can blame the faith-based neocons for making the most of the opportunity? Cutting Canada into an autocratic theocracy is pretty easy when most of its citizens appear in a coma, and those who are the most engaged -- and here I speak to Québec -- are still caught up in the aging question of petty nationalism, a question that has served as a convenient distraction from what is happening to the Confederation as a whole. At this point, who wouldn't blame Quebec for getting the hell out, though it baffles me how the highest opposition to Harper is in Quebec and yet, at the same time, la belle province offers the greatest opportunity for Conservative expansion.

There is nothing funny about Harper, just bitter ironies. His wife, Laureen Harper, promotes literacy while her husband cuts funding to literacy programs (we all know that an illiterate populace -- primarily non-English speaking immigrants who wish to learn the language -- is more easily demonized if they aren't able to read & write the dominant language). And the real digs on the rise in military expenditure? Well, certainly not for veterans, wherein serviceperson's pensions are no longer inheritable by late-marrying spouses.

What else is cut?
Ah... cut. Axed.

There are no reasons for these budget cuts that were not generated by Conservative policy. What I mean by this is that the Conservatives generated their own necessity of spending cuts because of their own tax cuts. These tax cuts? Lowering the Canadian Goods and Services Tax (GST) by 1% (the most ridiculous move -- has this really helped anyone save for the wealthy in purchasing big ticket items?) and other primarily corporate and high-income tax cuts.

Let's see what's cut, one big paragraph of frustration in no particular order: funding for Fisheries & Oceans, Statistics Canada, workplace skills in Human Resources (i.e. job hunting -- which seems to have worked given our low unemployment rate -- ah well, we need more unemployed slave labour), Foreign Affairs (less funds for public diplomacy-- sound familiar to our Southern neighbours? : more bombs less talk!), the youth internship program in Foreign Affairs, funds to cut down on native smoking, Health Canada policy research cuts (hmm--related I wonder?), eliminating the court challenges program (which means our courts will now only be the providence of the wealthy!), eliminating the entire Law Commission of Canada, cuts to Public Safety including our gun registry (the RCMP, for all their faults, is against this ridiculous cut to appease a rural constituency), eliminating medical marijuana research, cutting the Parks Canada incentive fund for commercial park partnerships (parks? what parks? aren't those oilfields already?), reducing advisory groups to our agricultural safety and health (hello mad cow disease & beaver fever spinach!), 40% cut of climate change program funding (yes: Canada, it appears, has backed out of Kyoto...), the GST Visitor Rebate Program (furriners! no more GST back for you! HAH! we don't need your money! now piss off!), half a billion dollars from post-secondary education (the educated don't vote conservative -- we already know that from Stats Canada, but Stats Canada will be cut soon too, so we won't need to worry about that figure anymore), cuts to topographical maps (that's right: if you are a mountaineer, living in the bush, drilling for oil, whatever -- you can no longer get a proper, topographical map of the area -- this is CANADA folks... we need maps.. PDF versions don't work too well up on Baffin Island...) ...

I'd like to repeat that last one -- cuts to topographical maps -- for even when taking into consideration the necessity of the gun registry and its planned scrapping, cuts to climate change and environmental spending, disastrous economic cuts to beneficial foreign investment stimulators like visitor GST rebates, even cuts to the nation's research pool and knowledge base by cutting into post-secondary education, though on par with cuts to literacy spending, cutting the simple resource of topographical maps demonstrates everything that is so petty and yet so frightening about the Harper Government: for such cuts contribute to rendering us unaware of our surroundings and unable to inquire about them.

No maps, no reading, no education; no ability to improve; no compassion, no collective help, no equity, no hospitality. No knowledge. Or at least, nothing save for those who can fork it out. Sell an organ or two to get an education -- that kind of thing.

Well, here's my predictions if the Conservatives remain unchecked:

Why not.

By the time Harper leaves, we will see:
• a nation in debt or on the verge of debt;
• a higher split between the wealthy and the poor with more resources and wealth consolidated in the upper 5%;
• more multinational ownership of previously national resources;
• no real action on the environment or climate change;
• involvement in an increasingly intractable and prolonged war, in Afghanistan and/or elsewhere;
• challenges to medical marijuana, safe injection sites and gay marriage;
• the scrapping of the gun registry with an increase in power of secret police measures;
• a decrease in tourist revenue due to "increased" security (from both sides of the border) and no GST rebate;
• more congested cities, more pollution, more water problems (Native or otherwise);
• a still unfinished or contested mining and oil agreement for the (Native) Territories (when one was completed and ready to sign under the previous Liberals);
• more advertising for joining the Armed Forces;
• an appeasement to Quebec that distracts the nation from a pending environmental crisis with an attempt to turn la belle province Conservative;
• the potential of a major terrorist act on Canadian soil due to our military presence in the Middle East and Harper's lack of diplomacy and sympathy with the Arab World;
• the potential -- like the UK, Australia and the US -- of race riots and public discrimination against women, people of colour (hell, immigrants in general, lefties, anybody who asks a question, journalists, academics, etc.) and "deviant" sexuality as the Harper Government's positions, like those of John Howard, become more openly expressed;
• no pay equity between the sexes (women on the bottom, men on top, of course);
• a weakened post-secondary education system including higher tuition, loss of fellowship funding and targeted increases only to support industrial, corporate and/or military research;
• and the inability to get a decent topographical map that doesn't drip in the rain or cost less than $60.


Take this as it is: a bit of gonzo, a bit of thought (this has been rewritten 4 times), but never -- never -- a hint of fear. Unlike Conrad Black and his 2006 October speech at the Empire Club in Toronto I don't see it as inevitable that Canada will collapse to a two-party system, nor is it inevitable that Canada will come to dismiss the NDP as "irrelevant" or that the Bloc Québecois will collapse as a kind of political-performative contradiction (sitting in the Parliament of a country they wish to separate from). I don't see Canada necessarily turning to what Black calls "the right." These are all possibilities, but by placing such possibilities in the discourse of the inevitable, Black merely reveals what he must have done (and probably still does) with the media empire he owned for years: attempted to manufacture consent and the control of the future.

Is it, perhaps, something of a law that all systems with authoritarian tendencies think in terms of the inevitable, the grand telos?

[amended Friday the 13th, 2006
& again the 18th September
& once again the 26th October]



posted. Sat - October 14, 2006 @ 01:44 PM           |