Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Twilight of the Yobs


Well, we can now confidently announce that the Liberal Party has hit the lowest point of its long and occasionally illustrious history. As most of the bloggers who have earned my respect are at least nominal supporters of that party, I thought it appropriate to offer my condolences and share a few thoughts, not in attenuation of the disaster (for there can be no attenuation of it), but in elucidation of it.

From the time of its Reform and True Grit beginnings, the Liberal Party has advanced its naïve post-Enlightenment utopianism and arid Utilitarianism by way of many extraordinary leaders--some of them renowned for their intellectual rigor (Robert Baldwin, Edward Blake), others for their gentle humanity and integrity (Laurier, Pearson, St. Laurent), and others for their cold, calculating ruthlessness (King, Trudeau).

Stephane Dion will no doubt be remembered primarily as a "nice guy", unless some other as-yet undiscovered virtue supersedes what has so far been his only claim to eminence. This is why Stephen Harper will win the next election--not because he is a better person, nor because he has better ideas (or any ideas), nor because he makes a better prime minister. Stephen Harper will win because he is an asshole.

Paul Martin was not an asshole. Joe Clark was not an asshole. Pierre Trudeau was an asshole. Mackenzie King was an asshole. Brian Mulroney was an asshole. Yes, being a good politician is very important for those who wish to win, but being an asshole is absolutely vital. Not only is Stephane Dion not an asshole, but he is up against one of the most pluperfect assholes this nation has ever produced (and will ever produce). Stephen Harper is an asshole's asshole.

St. Paul asserted that "Satan is the lord of this world". We watch sadly as the works of evil men prosper, while those of good men come to nought. Yeats offered his famous lament: "the best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity". The world, you see, is designed for assholes. Fortunately for Stephen Harper, he is a lord among assholes.

When he emerged red and bawling from the amniotic Eden of his mother's womb, Stephen Harper was an asshole. While he memorised the alphabet and the Periodic Table, he was an asshole. When he kissed his first girl (as a graduate student, no doubt), he was an asshole. When, his mundane strivings at an end, he at last leaps into the Great Infinite Darkness, he will do so as an utter, unalloyed, unmitigated asshole. Stephen Harper may have only a Masters in Economics, but he has a PhD in being an asshole.

As you and I sleep, Stephen Harper meditates ways to perfect being an asshole. When you and I are eating, he is husbanding his resources for the sake of magnifying his capacity to be an asshole. He is the Platonic Form of the asshole. He is not just an assshole; he is Asshole in its pure plenary Ideality. Harper is the Heideggerian coming-into-being of assholicity. He is the Foucauldian episteme which makes possible the very concept of "asshole". He is the arché-asshole; the proto-asshole. Before Moses, before Adam, before the Lord's breath swept over the dark and formless void, Stephen Harper had begun being an asshole.

He is the distilled spirit of asshole--its quintessence. Every syllable of Harper's every word is an aria sung in unison by a thousand mezzo soprano assholes. He's the tenor in his very own asshole operetta. T.S. Eliot once wrote that "the worlds revolve like ancient women gathering fuel in vacant lots". He was wrong. The worlds revolve like Stephen Harper gathering fuel in vacant lots. Why? Because Harper is an asshole.

Stephen Harper brings out the worst in me. He brings out the worst in everybody, because he's an asshole. He will beat Stephane Dion, badly. Because he is an asshole, and assholes are the lords of this world.

32 comments:

Ryan said...

Well said.

Many people simply dislike Harper, while being unaware of the threat Harper represents to democracy, Canada and its humanity.

I do take exception at one thing, however. The only person Harper was kissing in Grad school was Tom Flanagan!

Ti-Guy said...

I think Harper reflects the general assholism that the co-dependent relationship between the mindless consumer culture and popular media have created. It's not just Harper's assholism that irritates me; it's the undeniable assholism of the people who support him.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I sense a change coming, only because we are witnessing the economic, environmental and geopolitical disasters of widespread assholism, the causes of which predate Harper and are rooted in America's inability to transcend the disaster of assholism that was the Vietnam Era, the assholes and their victims of which are unfortunately, still alive and have too much power.

Aeneas the Younger said...
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Aeneas the Younger said...

I have seen the assholes, and they are everywhere. Harper is not alone.

The electronic age has not been kind to Canada; first the behemoth that is Television invades the Country, taking the Baby-Boom hostage and "forcing them" to ape all things American. This process is now in its fifth decade, and still Canadians lap-up Americanisms as if they are even remotely relevant to this Country.

The cultural confusion is a large by-product of this self-inflicted amnesia. We simply have forgotten who we are.

During this time, the Canadian government abandons the Canadian publishing industry, leaving us victim to the cultural pollution of the US Mass Media Empires. Again, we lap it up.

Then we get the Internet - which could have been somewhat of a salvation for us, but the Canadian mind has been so corrupted by American media pollution that now "liberals" call themselves "conservatives," while others call for wholesale surrender to Americanism via Elected Senates and disavowal of the Monarchy.

Some of us rise-up to point-out that the Emperor is naked and that the Citizens are stark-raving mad - only to be told that we are the crazy ones.

Standing on a cliff watching the destruction of all that was good and honourable down below is a hard and cruel task. Especially when no one cares ...

So ... I look back into time. I see the "Men who Marched Away" and I remember why I continue on. Perhaps like them, I am doomed to a terrible and bloody mauling on my way to Eternal Rest; but if I am to perish, then let it be in the same manner as they went (metaphorically-speaking): shoulder-to-shoulder with a few good Comrades, knowing that as this world can never understand, that there is a nobility far greater and beyond that of just "being.

Catelli said...

Exquisitely put. So much so I want to print it out and frame it.

Ti-Guy said...

then let it be in the same manner as they went (metaphorically-speaking)

It may not end up being as metaphorical as you think and since you're still young, you (and I) may end up having a chance to put our own bodies on the line to defend what we all believe in.

When I lived in Germany in the early 80's, I paid attention to the stories of the older people who had survived the era...overwhelmingly, what I came away with was that they survived because their lives were too precious to imperil; whether that was out of concern for others that depended on them (justifiable) or whether simply out a fear of death (not justifiable) was less clear.

I finished my examination of trying to understand how Germany had ended up with the Third Reich when I realised that there are no answers; that the it will eventually come down the degree of sacrifice we're willing to make to defend what we believe in.

I've put myself in harm's way to protect other people before, and I know I'll do it again. If it comes to the ultimate sacrifice, I only hope the end is quick.

Now, how do we make sure it doesn't come to that?

Sir Francis said...

I wrote this post while wallowing in a "dark night of the soul" that had descended upon me after reading that the Opposition had run ignobly away from yet another opportunity (nay, an obligation) to bring down the government. I'm just stepping out for a coffee with a good friend, so I expect my mood will lift and the darkness will be dispelled...for a time.

I'm beginning to think, though, that Parliament has effectively ceased to function. A governing party facing an Opposition that is deathly afraid of an election and that barely considers itself a government-in-waiting is virtually invulnerable, even in a minority; governments are not supposed to feel invulnerable--not according to our parliamentary tradition.

That Harper has not dealt with Dion even more belligerently is simply indicative of the man's fundamentally cautious and unimaginative nature, but Harper must know that his only real power is that which Dion agrees to give him. It's a sad irony: the weaker Dion looks, the less committed his core support will be; thus the longer he waits for "winning conditions", the more remote those conditions will become.

liberal supporter said...

So the CPC should drop "Stepane Dion - Not a Leader, Not worth the Risk" ads and change to:

"Stephane Dion - Not an Asshole, Not Worth the Risk"

===========
"Do you enjoy being a complainer? Do you like to be an armchair pundit? Do you like to feel superior to your political leaders? Then you want an asshole. Not this man..."
(cut to picture of Dion).
"...he's not an asshole.
How can you look down your nose at this man? He's nicer than many, he's smarter than most, and can out-argue just about anybody, maybe even you. You wouldn't want that, would you? You won't be able to whine or use emotional and ad hominem attacks to influence public policy.

You would be letting yourself in for the unpleasantness of having to think and reason. Think about that!

Stephane Dion - Not An Asshole. Not Worth The Risk.

Vote Harper.

The preceding is a paid political announcement from the Stephen Harper Party."

liberal supporter said...

I think you are right about waiting for winning conditions.

I suspect things will get worse before those conditions exist.

How bad must it get, or what would you need to see from Dion, that you would consider holding your nose and voting for the Dion Liberals?

I would especially like to hear an answer for this from ATY who has been parking his vote with Greens (no offense intended, ATY, if you don't consider it "parking")

Ti-Guy said...

I wrote this post while wallowing in a "dark night of the soul" that had descended upon me after reading that the Opposition had run ignobly away...

You can't lose hope. Bad things never last forever.

You should take heart in the fact that the Conservatives will never be able to overcome their glaring mediocrity and their internal incoherence just can't hold.

I'd have had more support for these people long ago if I thought they could run anything more complicated than a lemonade stand. They can't.

Sir Francis said...

How bad must it get, or what would you need to see from Dion, that you would consider holding your nose and voting for the Dion Liberals?

In my yellow-dog Liberal riding of Ottawa-Vanier, I have no choice but to vote Liberal.

If I thought a CPC victory was even a remote possibility here, I would have to consider whether a "principled" or strategic vote were best. Strategically speaking, I could see myself voting Liberal (no matter how unpalatable the notion) if I had to. Frankly, I would feel better voting Green (and I might still do that), but, in a world of assholes, one must behave realistically.

By the way, I expect Dion would perform much better as prime minister than he has as Leader of the Opposition--much like Pearson did.

Sir Francis said...

Bad things never last forever.

I don't know about that. Look how long Saturday Night Live has been airing.

Red Tory said...

It's a sad irony: the weaker Dion looks, the less committed his core support will be; thus the longer he waits for "winning conditions", the more remote those conditions will become.

I don’t know. I think even the “doves” in the party (which includes me, I guess) have limits to their abiding patience. The “winning conditions” had better materialize by next fall, or Dion runs the risk of having a whole lot of disaffected, if not downright angry supporters calling for him to be tossed in favour of someone more capable of taking the fight to Harper’s “Conservatives”.

Ti-Guy said...

I don't know about that. Look how long Saturday Night Live has been airing.

That's still on?

On the brighter side, we have podcasts. I don't know what I'd do without them.

Aeneas the Younger said...

ls:

As long as I draw breath, I shall never cast a vote for the Liberal Party of Canada.

They were the author of our current state of affairs, and my feelings to them will never change.

I choose to live with my conscience intact. I do not judge anyone who votes for them, other than to say "you get what you pay for."

I say I "park" my vote with the Greens, because I still hold-out hope that somehow, somehere I will find a party that is not fundamentally disloyal to the idea of Canada.

Sorry if this gives offence, but the Liberal Party is THE party of Free Trade, Continentalism, Provnicial-Rights, and the kind of dishonest, creeeping republicanism that has largely corrupted this Nation. The merely planted the seeds of the kind of plant that the CPC is looking to prune down to the root.

When I to to Ypres or Vimy to look a dead relative in the face, I cannot do so knowing full-well that I have dishonoured their memory.

Red Tory said...

ATY — And there I was going to praise you for your eloquent words earlier on in the thread. ;)

Quite aside from the shameless Lib-bashing, I will anyway.

Let me say that it was remarkably well put; full of the heartfelt passion, unsanctimonious righteousness and undiluted Canadian patriotism that makes you both exceptional and endearing in these days when cheap sentiments and moral compromise are the prevailing order of things.

Speaking of which… Oh, never mind. We can argue about the Liberals some other time.

Ti-Guy said...

Ewps...after that fulsome praise from Red, I feel a bit mean posting this...

Sorry if this gives offence, but the Liberal Party is THE party of Free Trade, Continentalism, Provnicial-Rights, and the kind of dishonest, creeeping republicanism that has largely corrupted this Nation.

This is chauvinism.

From a historical perspective, perhaps, but certainly not since the 60's...and free trade is an economic dogma, not a political one.

The Liberal party certainly represents a different political tradition than British Toryism; it's un-Canadian (Spitting on the graves of Baldwin and Lafontaine!..etc. etc.) to make other Canadians feel they have to apologise for that.

Aeneas the Younger said...
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Aeneas the Younger said...
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Aeneas the Younger said...
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Aeneas the Younger said...

"This is chauvinism."

No ...... it's principle.

You say tomAtoe, I say tomahto.

From a historical perspective, perhaps, but certainly not since the 60's...

Really?

Let's review:

Free-Trade: The Liberals did not abrogate NAFTA under Chretien, and in fact, went-out and signed even more of the damned things.

John Turner (in '88) and Walter Gordon were anomalies.

Continental ism: See NAFTA

Provincial Rights: From Sir Oliver Mowat to Stephane Dion, I cannot detect much Centralist thinking.

Pierre Trudeau was an anomaly.

Creeping republicanism: Reciprocity instead of Imperial Preference. Removing "Dominion" from Federal Letterhead. The Flag Crisis. Canada Post. Armed Forces Unification. Constitutional Proposal, 1971. The Constitution Act, 1982. Fiddling with the Citizenship Oath. There was NO public pressure for any of these innovations. They were all Liberal government-led initiatives, and generally unpopular and divisive for their time - no matter how you seek to demagnify them through the reverse lens of time. There are many more of these - and all happened under the Liberal watch.

Take issue with my toryism if you wish, but do not for one moment think that it was not widespread, and in fact, the norm in much of this country.

The Liberals did not do these things out of rank hatred for the British; rather, they did these things because they were enamoured of all things American at the time. I do not see that anything has changed very much.

Buying the electorate off with "shiny baubles" does not good policy make.

Red Tory said...

I’m not altogether comfortable with the notion of free trade, but there are certain realities that must be accepted and dealt with. There were many good things about the CUSFTA and the NAFTA that made sense at the time in terms of harmonization and streamlining the trade process, but we’ve seen repeatedly that the Americans aren’t willing to play by the rules, that they will arbitrarily apply protectionist measures as it suits their political convenience and that it cedes too much sovereignty to the U.S. for little in return given that open market access is increasingly being limited for various reasons. The realities of the global market have changed considerably since the time when this deal was negotiated, its promises haven’t materialized and we’re in a better position to bargain for a better deal that delivers more positive benefits with fewer concessions.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Red: I am not anti-trade by any means. I have been in business ever since I finished Grad School.

I am against liberalised trade that was structured in the manner of "here I am, my legs are spread, do as you please."

FTA was flawed, which meant that NAFTA was flawed. Further, Mulroney, Reisman, et al ... were so naive about the US, American psychology, and US domestic politics that they went ahead and signed a bad deal in the hope that even a bad deal would be the required panacea for all of Canada's economic woes.

Chretien did no better; in fact he did a little worse.

I still find it incredible that the promises of the "Little Red Book of 1993" were disregarded so blatantly and at so little short-term political cost.

There was a long-term cost however; Chretien's broken promises finished-off what little trust Canadians had in the political process.

The problems with FTA were legion; however critical areas of failure were:

* Dispute-Settlement Mechanism
* Provisions regarding Water Exports
* Cultural Exposure
* Ignorance of TNC Transfer-Cost Regimes
* Direct Foreign Investment Guidelines
* Extra-Legal application of US Law via TNCs

Ryan said...

I'm not sure if it's chauvinistic to wish that your heritage and culture be preserved. I think Canada's, which has always been tenuous, was dealt a serious blow thanks to NAFTA.

Though you may separate an economic doctrine from a political doctrine, they both converge. One of the things that binds Canadians together is our common, shared institutions such as Medicare, and even simple things like Canada Post. Just for the fact that universal health care has been challenged from a free trade perspective is a threat to Canadian culture and identity. When Canadians are asked what it means to be a Canadian in polls, a lot of them say Medicare.

Oh yeah, and are we really better off now than we were then, before the agreement? It's a question I always ask people. The answer I usually get is "not really."

Ti-Guy said...

I'm not sure if it's chauvinistic to wish that your heritage and culture be preserved.

The issue is that cultures are preserved because they are promoted and remain appealing and relevant to people in very measurable ways. You can't wish that people would maintain a lifestyle and a culture by demanding that they do. It's something French-Canadian nationalists have had a hard time learning and it's something everyone has to learn as well. The best move for outsiders is to stay out of the way of people's efforts at self-determination and cultural affirmation. If, that is, you don't support in assimilation.

The reasons for loss of culture are largely economic and on the effects of NAFTA, I overhwelmingly agree. But it's nothing new, and it's nothing specific to Canada, except that it's exacerbated by being right beside the world's "wealthiest" (ie. insolvent) and "most powerful" (ie imperial and militaristic) country on Earth.

One of the things that binds Canadians together is our common, shared institutions such as Medicare, and even simple things like Canada Post.

On that note, I heard recently on the CBC (don't forget that unifier, although the righties sure have), that nothing brings a family together better than bad neighbours. Let's hope something good comes out of America's impending ruin...if we manage to escape being pulled down with it, that is.

One thing that bothers me lately is that a very unifying factor for Canadians have been our shared morality and ethics, and that's been seriously undermined lately by the elite's accusations of "moral superiority."

Ryan said...

"The issue is that cultures are preserved because they are promoted and remain appealing and relevant to people in very measurable ways. You can't wish that people would maintain a lifestyle and a culture by demanding that they do."

Agreed. The problem is, however, that Canadians don't seem to have any choice in that matter. The moral values and ethics you have alluded to are cultural values as well. American imperial values (not the base values of the American public) are controlled by and geared toward promoting the general welfare of corporations and the wealthy.

Do those values mesh with the core morals and ethics that you have alluded to? Shouldn't we try to do something to preserve the "sharing and caring" attitude of Canadians that is threatened by corporate-imperial values?

Sir Francis said...

Ryan:

Do those values mesh with the core morals and ethics that you have alluded to?

As George Grant argued, the U.S. is the homogenous state par excellence. The problem is that U.S. "corporate-imperial" actors are expert at making their values seem transcendent and universal. This is what allows them to be effortlessly assimilated by other cultures, who then become deracinated and self-alienated.

The net result is that one walks into a Blockbuster in Toronto and finds Canadian movies in the "Foreign" section.

Ryan said...

On another note, everyone should watch out for Mel Hurtig's latest book at the end of this month for a statistical perspective on just how much this country has changed since Mulroney & free trade.

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

You said:

"...That Harper has not dealt with Dion even more belligerently is simply indicative of the man's fundamentally cautious and unimaginative nature, but Harper must know that his only real power is that which Dion agrees to give him. It's a sad irony: the weaker Dion looks, the less committed his core support will be; thus the longer he waits for "winning conditions", the more remote those conditions will become."

Too true.

Harper is only as strong as the LPC allows him to be. The LPC's braintrust, such as David Smith and whatever is left of the Chretien gang has been out flanked by the minority government at every turn. From the Senate getting its teeth pulled, to the Committee's being monkey wrenched to the passing of bills that the CPC are just ignoring (Pablo, Peace Tower flag, Nuclear Chair Decision, RCMP censure) the LPC thought it had a bag full of tools. But they didn't because Harper refused to back down even a single inch.

He may very well dismantle much of the rest of the Liberal socialist legacy before the next election. He could take a run at the Wheat Board, Senate Reform, Provincial Exchanges, Inter-provincial trade barriers, The Indian Act, and the HRCs. He even gets to appoint a new Supreme. I can't wait to hear the next throne speech.

Tomm

Sir Francis said...

He may very well dismantle much of the rest of the Liberal socialist legacy before the next election.

That is technically feasible. There are challenges, however. The most significant features of the "Liberal socialist legacy" are socialised health care and provincial equalization (the latter being a constitutionally-enshrined process).

How much of a Canada-wide appetite do you detect for the "dismantling" of those two things?

Tomm said...

Sir Fancis,

You have hit on a nerve.

Health Care is untouchable. The only thing I expect Harper to do is continue to distance himself from operations and perhaps even declaw his Federal department to a greater extent to lessen influence on provincial controls.

The equalization payments are a fascinating topic area. I would hope that he continues to standardize the entire package, perhaps re-create the whole process. I don't think he will look at that with much vigor unless he has a majortiy mandate. At that point he may try to make significant changes. I do not know his background sufficiently, but his being a reform economist would leave me with the impression that he has strong views.

It may be worth some digging.

Tomm

EM said...

Not only is Harper an asshole, he is surrounded by other assholes - like Flaherty and Baird