Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30: Values

Beware of politicians who talk of defending our "values" and our "culture". The words sound good. But nobody knows what they mean. The Parti Quebecois fought, according to its statements, to preserve Quebec culture and values (the two words are commonly used to mean the same thing) - but culture and values mean whatever the speaker thinks they mean.

Quebec now makes a beg deal out of banning religious symbols in public. This, we are told, is preserving Quebec culture. In fact, for half of my life, crucifixes hung in every Catholic classroom, courtroom and government office in the province. When the PQ came to power, it made a great show of defining Quebec culture. A typical line in the definition said that Quebeckers smoked too much, so the government would have to cut down on that.

 Huh?

If they smoked too much, that was surely a part of their culture. And a government that wanted to maintain the culture should have taken steps to encourage smoking.

Nobody has ever come up with a definition of either values or culture. For all their heavy, emotional overtones, nobody know what they mean. Nor will we ever know because cultures and values are constantly changing. When was the last time you saw a man and wife grocery shopping, he wearing a top hat and a vest, she wearing a dress that reached to the floor with a bustle on the rear?

But these words that mean nothing have a heavy emotional punch. So beware of politicians who use them.

I have been waiting for somebody in the Irving press to wake up and notice this - ever since Harper refused to allow a Muslim woman to take the oath of citizenship because she was wearing a veil called a nigab. He said it was against Canadian values.

What are Canadian values? Where are they written? Who voted for them? Does the definition include getting drunk while watching hockey on TV on a Saturday night? Is it a Canadian value that women should stay home and do what they're told? It certainly was - and often still is.

And how can we be a free people and, at the same time, have to conform to somebody's idea of what our values are?

And who the hell is Harper to decide what our values are?

This is not a trivial matter. We are well into the age of the police state which has, I guess, become a Canadian value. Such a state will judge us according to what it sees as our values. If  you value the environment, you're a potential threat of violence so far as CSIS is concerned. Tommy Douglas was spied on because he introduced medicare. Expect to be spied on in you're active in a union, if you protest shale gas, or are a Green Party or NDP supporter. Relax if you're super rich, though. That's a Canadian value and, anyway, CSIS and the RCMP spies both report to the very rich.

Didn't this dawn on anybody at Irving press? Perhaps it's just as well it didn't. Anybody at those papers who wrote about this would be out of a job, and on a spy list.

And there's another and much darker side to this because the push behind this business of values had nothing to do values.

Harper as said, in effect, that certain opinions are unCanadian. And this has an ugly history.

Just abut 60 years ago, a US senator named McCarthy waved a paper with, he said, the names of  some 60 communists in the US State Department. On the basis of that, he became a star figure on the House unAmerican Activities Committee. In a long series of loud and vicious hearings, it destroyed lives and careers - with a particular focus on film stars as it outlined a massive. communist plot to destroy America.

In fact, the only communists it ever uncovered were innocents who had joined the party in the years when Russia was an American ally. And we never did find out who the 60 communists in the State Department were.

But it didn't matter because finding communists was never the real purpose of the committee. It was the cover for the real purpose.

At the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s,  President Roosevelt had tried to alleviate the suffering of the unemployed by creating government work projects, controls on big business, and social programmes. (Camada had done the same. Because it worked so well, government control over business was actually increased in World War 2 when it was so effective, voters wanted more of the same after the war. Thus the years.of prosperity that followed the war. Thus medicare in Canada.

But big business was not happy. It wanted freedom to operate without controls. it wanted even more profits. (Thus the happy and prosperous world we now live in.) This is where McCarthy entered the picture.

The purpose of the House unAmerican Activities Committee really had nothing to do with communists. There was no serious communist threat in the US. But big business wanted Americans to believe there was. It wanted hysteria and fear. McCarthy delivered it.

That's why McCarthy targeted Democrats with his accusations. The idea was to identify anything that big business didn't like as communist. It worked like a charm. To this day, Americans (and many Canadians) associate    Russia with communism, communism with evil, and that evil traced back again to Russia, something Russians are born with. In other words, Americans today see Russians as genetically evil, just as Hitler saw Jews as genetically evil. Read our newspaper articles (and even the news, itself) on Russia and Ukraine. It's heavy on racism as the American government shows an eagerness to go to war with Russia.

Harper is playing the same game. He is making Muslims into a race. He's also making us into a race  ( though one superior to Muslims). He's creating a hysteria so we won't think; we'll just react. And, as he well knows, freedom is not possible in a nation consumed by hysteria.

This is damned dangerous. This is the sort of thing that is destroying the United States,and destroying it in such a way that it is a real danger to us, too. Didn't that occur to anybody at Irving press?

Was communism evil? It certainly was as applied by Stalin and Mao. But that wasn't actually communism - in fact, it was nothing like communism. For anyone who takes the trouble to do some serious reading, socialism and communism are both heavily based on Christian principles. Capitalism is not. And not even the Irving chapel can change that. In fact, its only principles are profoundly anti-Christian.

That's why uncontrolled, capitalism can be damned evil. Ask anybody in Latin American, Africa, the Middle East, Vietnam, The Phillipines.....Count its millions of dead, crippled, orphaned, starving.... In fact, the reason some people turned to communism in the first place was because of the brutalities of capitalism. But, in fairness, we are no more capitalist than Russia and China were Communist.

That's why I don't think communism would work. It requires a Christian society. And we don't have one.

There are very serious consequences to what Harper and other world politicians are doing. They are creating hatreds that can last for a century and more. And there is no possibility that a world of such hatreds will survive. Mind you,  if you prefer to hate, google a site called Jesus-is-savior.com

Incidentally, you may have heard of Helen Keller, a woman born deaf and blind who still became an outstanding figure in the US and, indeed, the world, until her death about 1960. All American high school history textbooks heap praise on Helen Keller as the great heroine of American history, one who spread equality,eased suffering, freed women throughout her magnificent life.

Odd, though. Not one high school history text mentions she was a lifelong communist. In Jesus-is-savior.com, Helen Keller is exposed as evil.
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A correction to the place and time of registration for the course  I'm teaching  (Lies My Teacher Told Me).
April 15 - noon to 1:15 - at Rose Hall in People's Park Tower, 960 St. George St., Moncton.

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I've realized for a long time that the editorials and Norbert's columns were somehow familiar to me. Then a bell rang. I once spent some weeks going over editorials and comments in Canadian newspapers in the depression of the 1930s. Over and over again, I saw the theme that government was spending too much, that government spending had caused the depression, and the only solution to the depression was to cut government services. We had to let big business lose to make profits which it would then invest to create jobs.  In fact, it read a lot like Don Savoie, and Over the Cliff.

Now, in fact, government spending had nothing to do with the depression or the recession. Both were caused by foolish spending, sometimes criminal, by big business. Interestingly, both were characterized by most people suffering, but also by the very rich making bigger profits than ever. (You can find an excellent study on this by the Conservative government of R,B.Bennett, the New Brunswick boy who became wealthy, and prime minister of Canada.)  And the depression was not ended by cutting spending and services; it was ended by increasing both.

In fact, capitalism is a system that frequently breaks down - and it breaks down more frequently if business is uncontrolled. In such breakdowns, typically the rich get richer, and everyone else gets poorer. And I don't know, offhand, of any depression or recession that has been cured by cutting government spending. So why do we hear people calling for cuts? It's because they're writing for a newspaper whose owner is one of the very , very rich who isn't suffering at all because of the recession. The rich have no objection to people suffering hardship as long as it isn't them.. After all, they make even bigger bucks out of it. And the very rich are not in the business of creating jobs. They're in the business of hiring as few people as possible, and paying them as little as possible.
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Oh, incidentally, Stephen Harper is not a conservative, not by any definition of that word I have ever seen. He's a paranoid dictator. He's a servant of big money. He's a rabble-rouser. He's a fear monger. But none of those is what a conservative is. He actually comes a little closer (not much, but a little) to what the word 'liberal' means.

If  you want some sense of real conservatism, read LGrayson, Michael Bliss, The Wretched of Canada: Letters to R.B,Bennett.. Though he was often thought of as cold, arrogant and ruthless (which he sometimes was), Bennett never forgot his origins in rural New Bruswick (not far from where I'm writing this), and he never forgot compassion. This book is a compelling read. He was also,  in many ways, the founder of our modern, welfare system that Norbert Cunningham so despises.

This was a man for New Brunswick to be proud of.
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I changed the format for today because my paper, guaranteed to arrive by 7 a.m. didn't make it until afternoon.




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