Sunday, October 18, 2015
Sorry about yesterday's blog. It looked right when I sent it.
At last, I think I understand the limpness of the Faith Page with its sermonettes and dreary list of church activities. It's not intended to make people think or to challenge them in any way. This is, simply, a page for those who go to church to feel respectable. They don't go there to think. They want to fit in. Others will go to a bar with sports on TV for the same reason. I guess the writers of the sermonettes must think that Jesus was respectable, and fit in. But on to the topic of the day – some final federal election thoughts. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I was a Liberal. The word sounded nice – generous, tolerant, yep that's the sort of attitude I liked and wanted to have. Conservative, well, it sounded, you know, old and grouchy and not the thing for any kid. But, by my early teens, I realized that both labels had no real meaning at all – and both parties were pretty much the same. Then, in grade nine, I met a guy who became a close friend. He was a communist. He got it from his father who made a modest living as a pimp. My friend grew up to be a wealthy man, l largely out of laundering money for the mobs. But it always seemed pretty vague to me. Later, I would meet many people who had been communists up to the death of Stalin, and the revelations about what he had done. Almost all the communists, who were concentrated in a Jewish, working class district of Montreal, quit the party that day. Those people, unlike the cartoon communists I saw in movies and read about in the paper, were remarkably gentle and kind people. Later, I would read Karl Marx – and I saw the problem. Marx was a kind, gentle, and caring man. His communism was heavily based on Christian thought. And it rested on the notion that western people were by nature Christian, kind, gentle and caring. But they aren't. That's why communism in every attempt at it became became a dictatorship and, usually, a harsh one. Centuries ago, systems much like communism did work among, say, some of the native tribes of Canada and the U.S. But we destroyed those. Russia and China called themselves communist. But they weren't. They never were. And today, they are both capitalist systems based on greed – just like ours. Praise the Lord! Then, I came across the CCF – Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. Its roots were in Christian and Judaic thought. That meant its starting point was not ideology. Its starting point was people – what people needed – then it moved to design an economic model that would make it possible for people to get what they needed – like education and health care. It wasn't a socialist party because it always left room for capitalism. However, it insisted that capitalism, like any other part of society, could not be allowed to serve only itself. It had to share with other agencies in meeting the needs of the whole society. That's why medical services were largely taken out of the hands of private business, and replaced with medicare – a decision that the very rich are determined to reverse. The same reasoning is what created unions. When capitalists had full control, working conditions were beyond horrible. Pay was low, below minimal living standards. Protection standards didn't exist. As a result, it was common for workers to die or to be maimed for life. Their was no compensation. And the maimed were simply fired on the spot. The working class lived in a poverty we can't imagine. The story of Scrooge was a common one well into the twentieth century. All that, thanks to free trade and Canadian and American stockholders, still exists in Latin America, much of Asia, and Africa. And it's reappearing in the U.S. in places like Detroit. Amazing how many stories never reach the Irving press. I'm not much of a believer in economic ideology of any sort. I believe in starting with people. Then you decide on the economic model they need. Harper is quite the opposite in his approach. He starts with a rigid, economic ideology, so rigid it can truly be called fanatic. (I have often thought he needs professional counselling – quite seriously.) Human societies, in his view, don't have needs. All that's required is to follow his narrow, economic rules which favour the very rich, and everything will be okay. He is also the most anti-democratic prime minister we have ever had. He rushes legislation through without time for any study. All of his cabinet have to be puppets. He has created the most ignorant and sleazy senate this country has ever seen. He has created a police state. He has far the most election money of any party – which gives us a hint of who he serves. His foreign policies have destroyed Canada's once praised position in the world. When the UN refused to re-elect Canada to the Security Council in 1910, there was a message in that. Even Obama shows no respect for him. He talks tough, as in Ukraine and Iraq, but does little. His warning to Putin to “get out of Ukraine” was nice for the cameras, and was simply to get the Ukrainian Canadian vote, but does not seem to have frightened Putin. Very much like Hitler, he creates fears and hatreds to be exploited. His Jews are the Muslims. And he appeals to t he ignorant and the bigoted. I'm quite sure that the reelection of Harper would mean very serious damage to Canada – and, quite likely, the end of a Canadian nation. He's not like Mulroney. Mulroney was pure sleaze. We survived that. Harper is a narrow ideologue, a fanatic, an egomaniac and, I suspect, very disturbed. He is a real danger to Canada. Trudeau? He's really not much of anything. He's very typical of the francophone upper class in Quebec. He was born into the ruling class of that province. His distinction was branded on him by attending the most expensive of the private schools (most of them excellent schools) which produce the future leaders of Quebec's upper class. So did his father. And there the similarity ends. The father was a man of intellectual curiosity. So, after completing undergraduate school, he went on to graduate studies. That intellectual curiosity led him on to travel widely, and to learn from what he saw. He also had the intellectual courage to speak highly of Fidel Castro when that was not a safe thing to do. And he changed a great deal in the process. As a spoiled rich kid, he had thought it amusing to stroll through a Jewish vacation area while wearing the uniform of one of Hitler's gestapo. But he learned, and he matured. I see very little of the father in the son. Then there is the Liberal party itself. It has been unravelling for some forty years. It has lost any sense of purpose – and that has been reflected in its choice of leaders at least since Jean Chretien. And that has meant a drop in the quality of both leaders and party candidates. This has happened before. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Mackenzie King had to re-create the Liberal party. And his new creation lasted, perhaps, up to Chretien. The party again needs a leader who can do that. Justin Trudeau is not the man for that job. It's not a matter of him “not being ready yet”. He never will be ready. The only reason to vote for Trudeau is that Harper is much, much more dangerous and destructive. I have much sympathy for the Greens. It starts, not with any economic ideology, but with what is needed for human life. But a vote for the Greens, in this election, is a vote which can put Harper or Trudeau closer to a minority government – one of them profoundly dangerous, and the other profoundly nothing much of anything. The CCF I knew as a child has become the NDP. And, increasingly, it's a different animal. Among the membership, human needs are still a priority. But that aspect has much weakened among the leadership. There are two reasons for that. The CCF became the NDP because it had no money to fight campaigns with. The Liberals and Conservatives had piles of it because the Irvings of this world give money only to Conservatives and Liberals – which is why the two are usually so much alike. So the CCF courted the unions for support. And the unions had a price. They didn't want none of them there socialist ideas. (In fact, the unions were very similar to the company bosses.) So the CCF diluted its policies, and became the New Democratic Party. Over the years, it has diluted them somewhat more because Canadian attitudes are so profoundly shaped by news media chains and 'think tanks' owned by billionaires that something like feeding the hungry or offering free, public schooling is made to sound like Stalin and Mao on a rampage. It is now so close to the Liberal Party that its leader has spent most of his political life as a prominent Liberal in Quebec. But he has, to my knowledge, far more integrity and more brains than Harper and Trudeau do. As well, party members are more likely than those of other parties to care about human needs. All parties talk about the economy because that's what the private media encourages. They encourage it because their owners don't like paying taxes. (And because they like to think that running a nation is exactly like running a company.) That's why, when there's a recession (or a scandalous bailout of crooked banks as happened not long ago), our governments cut taxes for the rich and made the rest of us pay either in money or in lost services. That's why the very rich continue to get even richer in hard times. To paraphrase an old, political saying, “It's NOT about the economy, stupid.” If banks go flat in New York, jobs get lost in Canada. If the American economy collapses, so does ours. It's happened often enough. This is not the issue. It's just part of a much bigger issue that no party has said much, if anything, about. A condition we have suffered for centuries has much worsened in the last 30 years or so – the growing political power of big money, and the accompanying decline of democratic government. In the U.S., it no longer matters who gets elected. Some are crazier than others. But all are simply mouthpieces for big business. (Yes, Bernie Sanders is different. But I don't see where his support in the house is going to come from.) A shattering blow in this will be the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If that passes, we shall have almost no democratic control of our own country. The deal has been mentioned – but not the implications of it. We are watching a revolution, an attempt to move to one world, all of it ruled by an economic aristocracy as brutal as any in history. What the Trans-Pacific deal does is to unite the existing aristocracies in this revolution. We are standing at the edge of a pit. Nor will this end the current wars. It is far more likely the greedy will, like aristocracies of old, enhance their greed with wars on each other (to be fought by us). So, on balance I have voted NDP, though in my heart I mourn the passing of the CCF. Certainly, my political thinking starts with the needs of our society, not with any ideology. It starts with people. Then, having defined those needs, we design the policies and the economy we need to meet those needs. By the way, read the editorials and Norbert's column in the paper. They're almost always about the economy, and with no mention of human needs. The same is usually true of political speeches. And have you ever seen a column about the human needs to be met by our “events centre”? (Yes. I know you need money to meet human needs. I realize that, for example, if I am attacked by a person with a sword, I shall need a bigger sword. But I don't rush out to buy a Scottish two-handed sword that can cut a person in half. We have to know what our needs will be first , and then spend accordingly.)