(originally posted on FB, July 2103)
The sense of ‘fundamentalism’ implied when a political party starts using terms like “enemy” gives me a profound sense of the willies. One of the things I’ve always been proud of – as a Canadian – is that while we (the sort of collective “we”) – may not agree on the finer details of issues, for the most part there has been, historically, a sort of over-arching small-l-liberal open-mindedness in our dealings with each other and with other nations. By no means has Canada been perfect or flawlessly socially just, but we have in many ways been willing to negotiate with with each other, to listen to each other, and to make at least a modicum of effort to shuffle along together -with harumphings and grumpings – in a direction which, generally speaking, was aimed at a greater social good. Most days.
For our elected government to feel, even for a few moments, that it was at all acceptable to publish and distribute to it’s members a document that uses words like “enemies” to describe Canadians who happen to disagree with them, indicates – to me at least -a profound level of disregard for what I think of as the baseline social agreement that makes Canada what it is.
Further – and many will disagree with me here – this is not, I think, “just” a matter of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, or of Stephen Harper. I think itgoes back to the old axiom “Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”. While there is virtually nothing that I have seen or heard of Stephen Harper as an individual or as a political player that gives me reason to respect or trust him, the level of perfidy has increased exponentially since the PCs gained a majority government. Therein, I feel, lies the danger. I get that minority governments are slow, ponderous beasts. It takes what seems like forever to get things done, and as ever, there are political maneuverings that range from unfortunate-but-needful to downright despicable, but that’s a truism in politics. Right now, however, there is never a need on the part of the PCs to concede a point, to enter in to real dialogue, and there are virtually no mechanisms in place halt what appears to be an increasingly desperate set of machinations designed to do little more than to staunch the bleed out of support Harper is losing even within his own party.
What worries me most is what else will it cost the country as a whole, as he focuses on trying to save himself – even at the cost of the PC as a collective, with over 2 years left? I cannot help but hope that in the next Federal election we see the re-emergence of a minority government, one which will once again force leaders to dialogue, to be accountable to each other, when question period won’t come down to sound and fury signifying even less than usual, and votes in the house being an absolute waste of time, because not a single vote doesn’t go Stephen’s way. This is aman who used a measure designed for emergency situations (proroguing Parliament) when his MINORITY government was threatened, and did it TWICE. How is it that his own party members didn’t foresee the lengths to which he’d be prepared to go in order to maintain control’? How is it that the country did not?
At what point do the actions of a majority government potentially cross the line, and begin exerting a level of control that borders on or even jumps smack dab into fascism? How is it that in our country, where we have had the right to dissent for so long, that now a group that questions – just questions, not even necessarily accuses – the government’s point of view can be and is openly labeled an “enemy”?
Does anyone else find this chilling? I mean blood-curdling, spine-shivery, there’s-still-more-than-two-years-of-this-to-go-my-gut-is-roiling chilling. Take a good look at this man’s smile. This isn’t snide, honestly. Really look at it, then consider the following: a sense of humour is, in terms of brain function, the ability to identify the dissonance between the way something is and what is appropriate, what is acceptable and what is normative. Look at Stephen Harper’s smile. It is often / usually very forced. If you watch him live, he is often the last to laugh at a joke – he takes his cue to respond from others around him, rather than responding spontaneously. I believe this – I really do – that he is so focused on what he wants, and how to get it, that his sense of what is acceptable and appropriate in the governance of human beings (vs. the running of a business that was entirely without impact on human beings) is almost completely lacking. While he may connect to specific human beings in his immediate sphere, those outside of it are not truly ‘real’ to him. When he makes nice speeches and says nice things, he does it in part because he’s learned the social fake and because he has speech writers and media control staff (as do all political leaders – that’s fine) to prompt him.
While I’m in no way suggesting that Stephen Harper is a sociopath – nor am I in any way authorized to make any such diagnosis – when I recently encountered some writing by M.E. Thomas, a self-proclaimed and outted sociopath (who went on to have herself diagnosed by a psychiatrist mostly to give herself credibility) there were ways in which her tone and behaviour reminded me of politicians we see today. If you’re in any way interested in reading her work, her entire book is available as a PDF at http://pdfuploader.com/uppdfs/817/Confessions_of_a_Sociopath_ME_Thomas_2.pdf and her blog site is http://www.sociopathworld.com Again, not being an expert, I cannot attest to the accuracy of her blog entries, nor that of her readers’, but it seems to me that the attitudes demonstrated by Thomas and some of her adherents/readers/fellow bloggers reflect a similar attitude to some of those who see being a politician as being less a matter of being a leader in service to the public and more a matter of achieving and holding power and authority over others, at almost any cost. In the case of our civic leaders, is this a matter of having chosen leaders with an actual disorder, of the brain and body, or do we have a disorder of society? Note: sociopathology is a disorder of the brain and body, no question. But is our willingness to accept, or at least tolerate the behaivour that is becoming normative among politcos simply a matter of our wonky expectations making a good home for those with very particular states of mind, or is it closer to psychologist Phil Zimbardo’s notion of the Lucifer Effect – most people are generally good apples but put in a “bad barrel” – a flawed and corrupt system, with a few corrupt apples, the essentially good apples will, in turn, become corrupted? (For more info on Zimbardo’s Lucifer Effect watch http://www.ted.com/talks/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil.html).
Where are we going wrong?