I have (or had) two blogs. This one has been strictly on New Brunswick. It draws a large readership from all over the world. The other was intended for a world audience. Curiously, the one aimed at the world attracts few readers - mostly in the US and Russia (I have no explanation for that - though it is possible that New Brunswick is a microcosm, a bite size, of what is happening in the world.)
I have decided, therefore, to continue with the blog that works, this one. And to start fresh with a general statement of principles that guide what I write.
I am not a liberal or a conservative, not a capitalist or socialist or communist, not a left winger or a right winger. I think anyone who calls himself any of those is a damn fool. Any ideology will work for a time (if it is in the right situation.) Any ideology will fail if the situation changes, and it doesn't. Any ideology will become destructive, even of itself, if those who dominate it became too powerful. American capitalism is destroying itself just as Soviet state capitalism (no, it wasn't communism) destroyed the USSR.
Political democracy works in some situations, not in others. Some day, it may be workable in Afghanistan. But that day is long off. If no longer works in a US (or Canada) because it is controlled by money, and because information essential to the voter is concealed by highly biased news meda. Indeed, one might argue whether that has always been the case. George Bush was the choice of only 27% of the eligible electorate. Stephen Harper is in the same category. (In both countries, voter participation has been dropping for years as popular confidence in democracy withers.)
Any ideology in its pure and unchanging form is poison. We need always to seek a balance of ideas from the various ideologies, changing and regulating the balance as circumstances change.
There are other dangers to being an ideologue. Few people, even the true believers know what the terms liberal, conservative, capitalist, socialist, communist, left winger or right winger mean. All of them have become words that spark reaction rather than meaning. They might as well all call each other simply dirty rats.
The other danger is that the person who looks at the world as an ideologue sees only what his ideology allows him to see. That, combined with the prejudice involed in using emotionally-loaded and misunderstood terms like liberal and conservative, takes up back in a child's comic book world of good guys and bad guys -even evil spririts. Why is there stress in the Middle East? Evil people. The ones that are the evil ones depend on whether you're a left winger or right winger.
That won't work. You have to look and see what is there, all that is there. And you have to realize you are not dealing with good and evil spirits, but with people, people who are more like us than most of us care to admit.
That's why my starting poing is a moral one. I don't mean moral simply in the religious sense (though I am religious, if unconventionally so.) I mean morality as a practical guide to what works and what doesn't work in conducting a human society. There's reason for the remarkably similar views of morality in most major religions. One can credit that insight either to the guidance of a god or to common sense (or you can say that both a god and common sense are the same thing.) The point is that morality works. It is practical. It also reminds us that we are watching real people, not good and evil cartoon figures. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians nor Americans nor Russians are inherently good or evil. They are humans much like each other, differing only in how life and history have shaped them.
With all that in mind, I shall try to write about the seven seas in a fishpond, the world as reflected in the life, politics, and journalism of New Brunswick.