During the last Federal election held in Canada I was in the Old City of Jerusalem. I considered trying to cast an overseas ballot for the riding here in Burnaby, just next door to Vancouver. I never did so, as my general feeling on election time is one of viscerally being opposed to making a principle of the whole ritual. Democratic practice has everything to do with every day, and the franchise given to the people in this settler state, far from embodying democracy, has been a shallow form of it at the very best. In an era where people constantly need version 2.0, an entirely new model, updated components and more it is odd that the best we can do for participating in the operation of society still has a system in place that was engineered centuries ago, with little movement in basic form.
The people desperately need not just an upgrade, but to see democracy as open source living every day, in a collective manner and not worry about copyright. Heading into this long Federal campaign, my thoughts were basically the same as had existed in years past– if it’s not much trouble, and I don’t miss out on something that is more important, I’ll drop a vote for the social democrat in this riding– as he’s a good MP, regardless of the federal NDP’s rightward shift.
And the irony that I spent last federal election in the Old City and have considered voting for this rightward NDP isn’t lost on me. In point of fact, the NDP and the Old City have much in common now– if I spent this election at federal NDP headquarters, well Palestinians and their supporters have now been expelled from both locations.
I also should note the personal dynamic at play in my life at the moment. I am a caregiver at home, and unable to participate in other forms of organizing as I have done so for many years prior. It’s actually taught me one major lesson about consciousness, in a twisted way. I never understood the questions I would get asked by friends and family alike about the effect that delving heavily into the news would have on me. No, it doesn’t make me upset, far from it. It makes me motivated and I feel upset when I am not paying attention– quite the opposite of what you suppose. That’s what I would say and basically believe, but I do understand more now how people who falsely have been convinced they have no power, that what they do wouldn’t matter… paying attention but feeling powerless is further dis-empowering. I hear you, I feel you.
So, that new understanding and basic framework I’m having my other feelings within are real. I’ll give you this view of my glasses– you can decide what colour the lenses are. I just know they help me see.
Aside from minor disappointment at the rightward shift of the New Democrats (I say minor because under Mulcair it was wholly expected and promised), I was glad that a little breathing room for organizing was likely to take place with an NDP win in the election. I feel that the subjects of state power (Bill c-51, war on Syria, the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade deal, etc) are the main ones of concern. Moreover, I could care less their programs, I believe that the pension system is safest under social democrats. Organizing is about offense, voting is about defense– that is my mantra on such things. Although the whole electoral process is quite offensive, come to think about it.
My feelings on that changed, not because of a damn thing that the NDP did, quite the opposite. Harper has fomented a tremendous fear in me based on these recent rantings and ravings. Ever since that Cracker of Oz took over his campaign, the forms of divide and conquer have been particularly frightening. Not just because our neighbours are listening to this turgid crap and revealing themselves. Smoking the hidden racists out of their holes is always a minor side benefit to these bouts of racist crap. But I want to lay it out a little bit.
Harper has been more contemptuous of democratic practice in Canada than the Republicans in the US have ever been. Canada ‘lost’ one soldier guy to a violent gun attack by another Canadian and we are given anti-terror legislation that is every bit as bad as the US PATRIOT Act, yet for far more spurious a ‘trigger.’ You know this? Right. But with the multiple Omnibus legislation moves, the attempt to cram as much of his agenda was already undertaken.
I won’t repeat the list of things that have been done, beyond a couple of them. With a solid but not dominant majority, the Conservative Party, nothing like the parties of the right in Canada prior, have made the environment a commodity. I won’t list all of the ways, just remember that no science is real if it is not good for a late capitalist economy. One could look through all the moves around border control, let us just say that it’s been quite clear what the government believes are the places of the various hues of the human family a long time.
There is no need to list off all the things that this government has done in the name of imperial war, either. Everything warmongering and every nation-state that is independent of the West has seen a very aggressive Canada taking a militaristic posture. Canadian imperialism has always existed far more than advertised but it has never been more proud of itself and concerned with bombing brown people publicly. Canada celebrates the death of elected leaders in “bad” countries like Venezuela while propping up militarily others like Saudi Arabia’s brutal dictatorship.
Most of these things are not new, although there is a large element of “shock and awe” that came about in the first term of office for the Harper Regime. By being full-on reactionary, contemptuous of the population in general and indigenous women in particular, while attacking everything from the post office to civil liberties and more, a gauntlet was thrown down about using right wing tidal wave tactics. Statues to memorialize “victims of communism” but not a thing to help the ongoing victims of the Highway of Tears? Likely deliberate.
We know all of this, yes. But for the last week and a bit, the new tidal wave assault has been (as the horrible media accomplices remind us often) on anything and everything “cultural” to do with Muslim people. From snitch lines to non-issues around Muslim women wearing the veil at a swearing in ceremony to yapping about the “Jihadis” when declaring a love for the war on ISIS but a need to ignore the refugees– from ISIS– all of this and more have been quickly dropped into our laps.
The move has worked to getting the conversations around the election to spend all of their energy on this garbage. It’s frightening beyond belief that it may work. But I’m not just afraid of this horrible government getting back into power, I want to ask people to think about how this will go.
Anti-Islamic bigotry and racism, from wars through to social policies at home, have been a special part of the Harper Conservatives forever. It’s only differing a little in them suddenly being extremely open about it.
People who happen to wear a religious scarf (and apparently are pregnant as well) are being attacked in the streets. The blurring of bigotry into law making as a campaign promise is a selling strategy for the still white supremacist Canada.
Think of the following. The Harper Regime that already attacked our civil liberties, ran rough shod over every single environmental law and simultaneously corporatized the consultation process for energy projects, the regime that has taken every decent aspect of the refugee process in Canada and made it further humiliating and dangerous, that has signed a Free Trade agreement far more wide in scope than the NAFTA deal (Remember when the media actually reported on free trade as not just a major, but the major, issue of an entire Federal election campaign? Am I really getting that old?), that has done everything possible to make itself unaccountable and impervious to oversight– and now has many of those laws in place– how will THAT party operate with what must be seen as a mandate to humiliate and scapegoat refugees, Muslims in particular, and encourage neighbours to spy on one another?
All of these hateful things that this government has done have taken place with a belief that they had a low-taxes, good economic performance mandate. Almost every act against the rights of citizens and non-citizens alike has been brought forward quietly, and not in terms of “wink, nudge” to the Stormfront types across the territory. The white supremacists in this party have now been set loose, and domestic policy is now centralized around open expression of it.
This is where I feel desperately ill at the prospect of this government continuing on. If this scapegoating wins an election, the rights of the people already written off by this government lay the foundational framework for the next moves of this government operating on a neo-fascist mandate.
That’s what it would be: A mandate to escalate wars, at home and abroad, on civil liberty & free movement for people and vastly, gargantuan new freedoms for the free movement of capital.
With climate change and peak oil both staring at the immediate future internationally, it’s not the chance to “stop climate change” that needs to be seized. This can and will only happen from the people. None of the parties– not even the Greeens– have a realistic plan for the climate. Rather, it’s the economic disaster that climate and peak oil are going to rain down on all of the planet soon, in fits and starts, all over the place we need to pay attention to. Climate refugees are already starting to move in the thousands, soon it will be hundreds of millions. Do you want this neo-fascist making policy decisions for this nation-state about this? How about relief efforts for isolated communities being cut off by extreme weather events coming more often and faster? That’s coming now.
Great economic crises give way to radical solutions, right or left. This government in Ottawa has put all the pieces in place for a radical right wing, approach to the worst global disasters in history. Their next moves will only be more confident, much farther reaching and more dangerous reaction. We the population need to build the real radical alternative, and it will have nothing to do with the powers that be in this imperialist state at the time of reckoning. But in the mean time, some of us are taking the kids to work and caring for our loved ones. We need to stop the bleeding while building a planet worthy of human beings.
Mulcair will never lead to a better world. But Harper is trying to not only build a much worse one for the human beings and environment, the policies and just plain cynical evil that come from this government threaten to contribute a great deal to the collapse that only the end of capital itself as a hegemonic force can prevent. The Liberal Party is committed to protecting all of the worst policies already implemented by Ottawa. Think about that, and feel it. Feel like someone who knows that the people around them are subject to several uninterrupted years of “Confident, blatant Racism.” Harper without a human façade any longer.
The next few years are going to determine what kind of society emerges from the dust left behind the decaying global system. The plane is crashing, do we throw the weak off to lower the weight? Nah, let the captain do his duty of service. Jump, you slime bag. Or we’ll push you.