To put it plainly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, voted into office with a minority government early last Spring, has done a remarkable job of undermining the Canadian Idea without most Canadians even noticing heâ€™s done it, let alone without them wondering what he will do if his party manages to gain control of parliament in the next election. It is a clear and present danger, one that ought to galvanize any democratic electorate into action, yet â€” particularly bearing in mind the media resources available to its enemies â€” one fears the efficacy of a complacent, parochial and gullible population in performing the crucial task awaiting it in the polling stations.
Because you are reading this on the Atlantic Free Press website, I will assume that you, the reader, are aware that your traditional sources of news and information have become hopelessly corrupted by the groups of vested interests owning them, to the point where they are no longer trustworthy, especially on certain issues. In Canada, this relentless egress of the media into purveyors of state and corporate propaganda has been easier to observe than it has been in America simply because there are fewer sources upon which to keep an eye.
The collusion of media in the election of Stephen Harper was a thing of wonder. Gone was the rich diversity of opinion, gone was any trace of objectivity, gone were conscience and the laws, written and unwritten, supposed to keep big media out of partisan politics, and in fact gone were all considerations except those making the world safe for global corporations to continue uninterrupted in their task of exploiting labor, fleecing citizens, destroying the environment, and enriching their shareholders.
Canadaâ€™s only real national newspaper, the Globe & Mail â€” which had been reporting polls as if they were news throughout the campaign â€” ran a front page on the Saturday before the election with a colossal headline announcing THE WEST COMES IN (a reference to the fact that Harper and his neoconservative alliance were based in the oil-rich western province of Alberta). Besides essentially calling the result three days before the election â€” a practice proven to influence voting patterns â€” the page was so dramatically different in appearance from the Globeâ€™s usual design, covered in Tory blue, that I thought it had been mixed up with the travel section. I have never seen a more shameless, transparent, and deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of a democratic election.
Politics is supposed to be about ideas. Neo-conservatism is about ideology. Having elected Harper, Canadian media returned to their usual pretence of diversity in opinion, and were occasional mildly critical of his performance as Prime Minister. The opposing Liberal Party â€” whose politics are essentially conservative â€” has been in disarray pending a leadership convention, whose result the media have already decided anyway, selecting Michael Ignatieff, a Harvard academic who has not lived in Canada for twenty years, and is of such pliable views that there is scarcely a position he hasnâ€™t reversed during the course of his leadership bid alone.
The situation is thus somewhat analogous to that in Britain before the election of Tony Blair: ruling party too long in power defeated, opposition divided, Left destroyed in the process. The state of leftist politics in Canada is best summarized by the fact that Bob Rae, once leader of the Ontario socialist party, the NDP, is currently among those vying for the Liberal Party leadership.
In order to transform Canada into Nazi Germany â€” as is his intention â€” Stephen Harper needs the kind of rubber-stamp parliament that George W. Bush enjoyed for most of his reign with the US Congress. To this end, therefore, Harper has been assiduously and sometimes brazenly pandering to sensibilities in the French-speaking province of Quebec, which he announced last week as â€œa nation within Canadaâ€, whatever that means, and otherwise catering to the specific preoccupations of areas in which he needs more voter support for the coming election (date yet to be set).
All the same, he has managed to implement changes to traditional Canadian government that will have far-reaching implications for the future of the country, most of them studiously in line with the policies hatched in neocon think-tanks of America.
Calgary, in Alberta, has long been the bastion of Canadian neo-conservatism. It is no coincidence that it is also the main city for a province so rich in oil from tar-sands that it is now the chief foreign supplier of US energy needs. Indeed, Canada was touted this year in the London Independent as a country â€œâ€¦ poised to become an oil super-powerâ€, since the soaring world oil price means that the expense of extracting oil from tar-sands is no longer prohibitive. The nexus of corporate interests clustered around oil has transformed Calgary from western cow town into brittle oasis of financial power, although the vast majority of these corporations cannot claim Canadian ownership, and most are in fact controlled from the US.
As one might expect, there is little for the average Calgarian in any of this. Property prices in the city have sky-rocketed, and it now has the largest population of homeless people in Canada. There are many glittering new skyscrapers, but there is nowhere to live, and what few rental units there were have been turned into the real estate scam known as â€œcondominiumsâ€, in which you buy an apartment but still pay rent, except its called â€œ a condominium feeâ€ â€” but, hey, you can say you own your own home.
This scam is almost as good as the â€œleaseholdâ€ con that has been safeguarding hereditary wealth in Britain for centuries: when you buy a â€œleaseholdâ€ property â€” which is usually the same price as a â€œfreeholdâ€ one â€” you own it until the lease expires, at which point ownership reverts to the trust from which you purchased it. Good one, no? It only works, though, in tandem with the sleight-of-cash trick called â€œinflationâ€, which creates the illusion of rising â€œvalueâ€ through rising prices, in the same way as it pacifies the labor force with rising wages, but ensures nothing changes by raising the cost of living accordingly.
In the days when there were economists, as opposed to accountants, many of them voiced their dismay at this practice, which of course can only end in economic disaster â€” one day, but as long as itâ€™s not tomorrow, who cares? Calgary today is the very prototype of a city of the future, and the gleaming towers of concrete and glass, with their immense concentrations of wealth in a few hands, and the shifting sea of the homeless, poor and outcast ebbing and flowing around their feet, are not such a distant echo of the Medieval past, with its crenellated stone bastions of opulence and brute force amid the bleak and constant winter of feudal serfdomâ€™s cruel landscape.
The corporate towers are in a very real sense the city-state capitals of global empires whose interest is not the spread of civilization or the extension of trading zones, but merely the looting of foreign lands and enslavement of populations for the purpose of profit. Anything standing in the way of such a power is brutally dispensed with, one way or another.
The global corporation knows no loyalty to nation or citizen. Its function is solely to generate profits for its owners, and indeed it is incapable of discussing anything that does not have profit as its goal. These are the organizations that now own or control all the worldâ€™s media â€” which they do as a means of thought-control, literally intending to control our very thoughts â€” and these are the organizations intent on controlling the states in which they operate. These are also the organizations that have now seized control of Canada, and busily trying to ensure they never lose that control by changing the very structures of government to suit their own concerns. The neoconservative ideology is ideal for their purposes, as indeed is fascism in general, of which Benito Mussolini once said:
Fascism should more properly be called â€˜corporatismâ€™, since it is the perfect merger of state and corporate power.
In much less than a year, Stephen Harper has turned Canada from an
essentially socialistic, pacifist and non-aligned state with virtually
no military spending into a fascistic, militaristic, pro-Israel ally of
America with a 3000 percent increase in its military budget. It is no
mean achievement â€” and he only has a minority government.
The media expect us to believe all this was achieved through promising the electorate not to be corrupt and to reduce the Goods & Services tax by one percent. My novel, Homeland, contains the only complete presentation of neo-conservatismâ€™s philosophy and goals that I know of, and I certainly donâ€™t intend to reiterate it here, but it is sufficient to say that there has never been any kind of debate in Canadian media over the ideas of Leo Strauss, founder of the neocon movement and protÃ©gÃ© of Carl Schmidt, who crafted Hitlerâ€™s administration. Not once has anyone questioned Stephen Harper about his advocacy of Straussian ideology, nor about the views of his hardcore neocon advisers. Straussian long-term goals can be summarized thus: vastly increase the powers of central government, and dismantle the welfare state.
They are achieved through the promulgation of fear, creating a state of constant war â€” with someone, anyone â€” and dumbing down the education system so the population is not smart enough to notice any of the above. Those who are smart enough are kept too busy, probably engaged in useful war industries activities. A central tenet is that, because the masses are too stupid to know whatâ€™s good for them, it is permissible to tell them lies in order to get their support. An avowed atheist himself, Strauss was nonetheless staunchly in favor of promoting Christianity in America, since he believed religion provided the most straightforward method of brainwashing available, and viewed it essentially as a means of mass control via revealed law. His ideology is not like Nazism, it is Nazism. If there were any semblance of a free media, this would be well-known by now, and the underlying cynicism in neocon thought would have been exposed for what it is long ago.
This new attempt to change the legal system is the embodiment of classic Straussian doctrine: choose an issue so charged no one will go to bat for it, then use it as a Trojan horse to alter the legal system in the stateâ€™s favor. The suggested change is supposed to involve only people accused of gun crimes, which have been on the rise in Canadian cities, reports of them sounding like clarion cries across daily news shows. Of course, no one is going to come out in support of armed criminals â€” hence the change in law will pass. Perhaps it is a good thing that armed criminals cannot get bail? Well, in fact there is no evidence to suggest it will change the level of gun crime at all, so it remains an open question. What does not, however, is that a major principle of liberal democratic law has been violated, and this alters the very nature of the social contract to the detriment of the individual. Leo Strauss stated that the most frightened population will always have the strongest government, and this is what he meant by it â€” because only a frightened population will voluntarily hand over its liberty. But, as Benjamin Franklin pointed out:
â€œThose willing to exchange a little temporary security for liberty deserve neither liberty nor security.â€
In fact, they will have neither.
In a climate where there is no debate and where education has been dumbed down into pointless exercises in imaginary commerce or pre-career selection, of course, the larger issues of liberty and its protection never arise. And they never have yet here.
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This book could well be the final volume in Gore Vidal's "American Empire" series. It captures the last years of current affairs and moves forward to a believable and interesting 2050.
The writer offers us a critical explanation of American foreign policy and explains why it may have gone wrong, from being the beacon of freedom to the world's only superpower and bully.
Offered as part of the text are several position papers as well as the final speech of Eisenhower forecasting the military industrial complex. Woven into the text of the novel, all of these are though provoking given the present war in Iraq. The American unconditional support of Israel is fleetingly noted and the lingering look at last years of Bush II provides grist for the present midterm elections.