Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30: Sunday thoughts......

The above is a superb web site for anyone interested in the world of big business, and its impact on our world.  Mr. Roberts has been a major figure in business journalism, in the academic world, and in the US government, especially in economic matters.

It was sent to me by a reader to whom I extend my thanks.

Let's talk conservative and liberal. I'd like to get that our of the way.

Both words have long since lost any real meaning as people  have developed purely emotional meanings for them, and to those emotional feelings they have added meanings that only they understand.

Conservtives do NOT believe in balanced budgets or in careful spending or in small government.. You'ld think that just watching them in power would prove that. But, no. Every week, at least, you'll hear somebody saying he's a conervative because blah, blah, blah.

Liberal does not mean a progressive thinker, or a compassionate politician or a believer in public services. (Who could look at the Liberal Party in this province - and even think that?)

Liberal and conservative are words that drive dictionary makers crazy because a dictionay can't just give the correct meaning of a word. Often, it has to give up and just give whatever sloppy thinkers say it means. So let's take it down to basics.

Conservative and liberal refer to two, opposite ways of looking at human society.

Liberals see us all as individuals, quite separate from each other, owing nothing to each other, all of us operating in perfect freedom. In a perfectly liberal society, there would be no laws, no restructions. Of course, no such society exists. Nor would most of us want it to.

Conservatives would see us all as a unit, all of us joined together by obligations to each other. In opposition to liberal, conservative means we are bound by obligations to each other. Such people, far from advocating freedom, would stress the importance of authority, of a power structure. of strict obedience.

Only damn fools are pure liberals or pure conservatives. Animals in the jungle come closest to being liberals in our world - though even they commonly live in family groups or packs with some understood rules.

As for conservatism, the clearest examples we have had have been Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's Chine, the medieval kings - and the US domistic spy service.

In a gentler tone, the Roman Catholic church has conservative tendencies in the authority of the pope, the pyramid structure of clergy and the emphasis on obedience. Protestant churches usually have a touch of liberalism with more freedom given to individuals to read The Bible for themselves, and come to their own conclusions

However, I know no church that is pure liberal or, with the exception of some fanatical sects, purre conservative.  In practical terms, most of us are a mixture of liberal and conservative. We want freedom. But we also want some degree of law and order. We want private property (liberal); but we also want public space (conservative). We want government ( conservative) but we want to choose it (liberal.) The concept of capitalism and private ownership is liberal. The concept of regulation and social programmes is conservative.
Even a moment's thought should convince us that the Liberal party is not really liberal, the Conservative party not really conservative - and the two of them not really different from each other at all. Free trade originated as a liberal idea - in every sense. It was liberal in that it removed rules and regulations. And it was strenuously defended by the Liberal party before confederation, and for almost a half century after.

Free trade is not at all a Conservative principle. The Conservative party bitterly opposed it for over a century, then suddenly switched under Mulroney. Why? Because for the greater part of our history, Canadian business depended on having a protected market. But by Mulroney''s time, it wanted access to bigger markets - and it wanted access to cheap labour in countries it could bully. So it told Mulroney to get on his horse. The Liberals, also dependent on the support of big business, has long since come back to it's "principle" of free trade.

Principles have nothing to do with what is done by the Liberals or the Conservatives.
All of us - or almost all of us, are part liberal and part conservative in our views. We want conservative order and we want a conservative society in which we live in cooperation with each other; We want frreedom,  too, though. And we want equality. I know of only two Canadian parties that have been built on those priciples, and that have stuck to them.

The NDP, originating in a church movement called the Social Gospel, has consistently favoured cooperation in the form of social programmes. But it also comes out of the western liberal tradition of equality and individual freedom.

The Green Party's emphasis on the environment is very much in the conservative tradition. But, like the NDP, it also has strrong elements of liberalism in its belief in democracy and individual rights.

Socialism? We really don't have a socialist party. (No. The NDP is not socialist. The only socialist parties we have are the Liberals and the Conservatives because they are essentially welfare donors for big business.). If we had a socialist party, it would be a mixture of liberal and conservative values.

Communism? In theory, it was supposed to be a mixture of conservative and liberal - but done in a voluntary way by "the people."  But the voluntary part never happened. And the communism in the Soviet Union and China was as purely conservative as one can get - and the ugliest side of conservatism.

In fact, to this day in Russia, people who still call themselves communists are referred to as conservatives.

In the same way, the current US use of tens of thousands of spies to trample on human rights with monitoring of phone calls, credit cards, computer use, etc. is the old, ugly side of conservative, the side that wants to control us.

So, let's all grow up and get over this "I"m a conservative", "I'm a liberal' nonsense. We are, most of us, a combination of liberal and conservative. Anybody who isn't is just another bought and paid for politician.



  1. Who are you and what did you do with Mr. Decarie?? ;)

  2. Ah, you don't agree with me...well, that sometimes happens. It's supposed to.

  3. Agreed. But in my humble estimation,(not having the life experience that most of the fine bloggers I read, have) I truly believe that the LPOC has more compassion in their baby finger, than the whole bloody lot of cold-hearted Cons--and their blind supporters too. And at the end of this road, that's what matters MOST to me. (As Gerry Caplan said to Stck Day on P&P--"IT'S IN THE HEART", and that IS the difference.) As for the Dippers--well, thanks for jack, Jack. With all due respect, he was a good man with many good people on his 'team'. I just think of them as the Nader Party North.

    1. Then you estimation is very humble, indeed.
      The Liberals have no history of compassion of any sort. Any piece of social legislation it ever introduced came as a result of public pressure. It did not pioneer in any of them. I can readily illustrate that with pensions, health care, EI. All came as a result of pressure from the CCF/NDP, and from conservatives Bennett and Diefenbaker.

      I have known prominent Liberals who were compassionate people. The one I admired most was Warren Allmand who I came to know as solicitor general.

      I came to know Pierre Trudeau - and to like him. But compassion is not a word I would associate with him. Similarly, Lester Pearson, though a fine man, a thoroughly honest and intelligent one, did little to advance compassion in this country. Meackenzie King was a ruthless and self-centred bastard. Justin Trudeau has so far shown nothing.

      And compassion is scarcely a word I would associate with Liberals in New Brunswick.

      If the NDP is the Nader Party of the North, then the Liberals are the Democrat Party of the North and - as Obama has shown - the Democrats are the same torturers, killers, and servants of big business that the Republicans are.

      Ii shall never foget a long conversation I had with Romeo Leblanc back in the says when he was a senator. He regaled me with wonderful stories about how good the Irvings were to the people of New Brunswick.

      You have medicare not because of the Liberals but because of the "Nader Party of the North".

      But I see now what your real grievance is. You're one of those who think that liberals are different from conservatives, but have not the faintest idea of what either word means.

  4. Sir, "their" should be "IT'S little finger, and it should read "not having HAD the life experience, yet...". Correct? Did I miss any other errors? Thank you for your time.

  5. Oh, please don't call me Sir. It sounds so formal and arrogant.

    Call me Doctor.

    And when you are refuting an argument, you have to show where it is wrong. Simply expressing your unsupported opinion isn't enough.

  6. What motivated Pierre Trudeau when it came to fighting against the asbestos industry then, if not compassion, Doctor? And the Charter?

  7. The charter had nothing to do with compassion. And, as one who ws deeply involved in the fight against Quebec nationalism, I can tell you that the Liberals in both Ottawa and Quebec did nothing to help us. Indeed, they have consistently cooperated with the nationalists in depriving anglos of charter rights. In the end, they have done us more damage than the PQ did.
    (Oh, I know. You think all anglos in quebec were rich. In fact, the anglo working class and the poor have historically been numerous. I grew up in poverty. I have limited patience with people who tell me how rich I was.)
    The "compassionate" Liberals abandoned us. whenever i had to face a parilamentary committee on the language issue, I knew that it was the Liberals who would give me a hard time.

    - and I am astonished at the general ignorance in New Brunswick of what has happened and is happening in Quebec. You probably haven't heard of the fluently bilingual anglo woman who was fired for speaking English during her break.

    Perhaps you can give me a quotation from either Pierre or Justin even mentioning the anglos of Quebec.

    The asbestos industry fight had more to do with Duplessis than with compassion. Like most of the wealthy French, Trudeau wanted Quebec to modernize. Duplessis was holding that back.

    As a young man, Trudeau had been, like most of his social class, a Jew hater. For fun, he visited a Jewish vacation area in the Laurentians. (Jews in Quebec were not permitted to buy country property or even to rent it in most of Quebec.) For his visit, he cutely wore a full nazi SS uniform.
    (He was also incredibly cheap. Anyone who ever had lunch with him learned that when the waiter brought the bill.)

  8. Graeme (may I?); what do you think of a 'Eugene Forsey Liberal'?

  9. I met Forsey only once - a long time ago and by accident - in Ottawa. But we spent nost of a whole afternoon talking most about - of all things - the prohibition movement. (I was in Ottawa to do some research on the subject - and it turned out that the young Eugene had been and ardent prohibitionist.)
    He was never a Liberal. He told me that. As it happened, my thesis advisor for the work I was doing on prohibition happened to have been Mackenzie King's secretary - and the ultimate authority on king. He confirmed that Forsey was never a Liberal, and that he despised King and all the rest.

    Forsey was a social democrat. He supported the CCF and then the NDP. He joined the Liberal party only when he saw the seriousness of Quebec crisis - and he realized that as the party in power, the Liberals were the only party with enough support to deal with the crisis. That's why he accepted his senate appoinment and joined the Liberal party.

    He supported the Liberal Party and Trudeau ONLY because of the Quebec crisis. He realized that only a federal leader from Quebec could counter the PQ appeal in that province.

    Within two years,he was returning to his traditional support of the NDP.

    I know he had never liked the Liberal party - and that he simply thought Trudeau had to be supported in this crisis. that was one of the things we talked about. In general, he despised the Liberals. I am told, by pretty reliable sources that he became disillusioned with Trudeau, too, within a year or two of our talk.

    In fact, Trudeau was not crazy about the Liberals, either. He was generally known as a supporter of the CCF/NDP. In fact, he considered going for the NDP leadership. But he realized that if he wanted to be in government, the only possible party for him was the Liberal Party. (As well, his attachment to the social concerns of the NDP was a very weak one.) The only person in Trudeau's circle with compassion concerns was Warren Allmand.

    The story of Eugene Forsey as a liberal was pure myth.
    But, wow, he was talkative.

  10. Thank you for your memories and information--you help to open my mind.

  11. don't do that. flattery weakens my natural (and charming) humility, and makes me (almost) arrogant.