Until the first years of the last century, all peoples of all times named their epochs according to the names and deeds of the great among them. We moderns are the first people for whom this is impossible. We are not "Elizabethans", even though we are. Nor are Americans "Obamans" any more than they could ever have been "Bushians".
For our "great" are small--far too small to impose their natures upon their times. They are, rather, the mere toys of their times. They are but anxious dandruff and dust motes held languidly aloft, eternally suspended in our stale political air, by the gusting flatulence of polls, focus groups, and bar graphs. They are the denatured and desaturated ex nihilo epiphenomena of cynically deployed public-management mechanisms.
The charismatic among our leaders can, of course, lend their names to techniques; thus, we have seen the Nixonian, the Reaganite, and the Clintonesque, but each of those words defines a disposition, not an era. Like dogs panting at the heels of their masters, we will be trained by our heroes; we cannot be magnified by them. Ezra Pound's angry verses continue to sing to me:
We have the press for wafer;
Franchise for circumcision.
All men, in law, are equals.
Free of Pisistratus,
We choose a knave or an eunuch
To rule over us.
We moderns have had to allow our eras to name themselves, according to whatever nature or identity each era appears to have gleaned from the inchoate forces working in and through it--thus the "Baby Boom" and "Me" generations.
I am already wondering what name shall be attached to what would be called the "Harper Era" if the word "Harper" denoted something meaningful enough to borrow or significant enough to be meaningful. As always, we shall simply need to christen our times with a word or phrase descriptive of the basic nature of our lives. If named strictly according to our current political complexion, the Harper era will almost certainly be dubbed the "Fuck-All" era. Lend the most cursory glance to recent domestic political news, and dare to gainsay the inevitability of what I prophesy. To wit:
1) The birthplace of our first prime minister and founder of the party Stephen Harper is holding hostage is threatened with demolition. A vital artefact of Canada’s historical patrimony--presumably of especially profound value to someone who at least poses as a conservative--is at risk of total annihilation. Stephen Harper and his government do fuck-all.
2) A feisty, hard-working P.C. Party Senator fights to give Canadians accurate information about how our stimulus dollars are being spent. A conservative Albertan, friend to Ralph Klein and Don Getty, she is committed to giving Canadians the kind of transparency promised in Harper’s chimerical 2006 election platform. Stephen Harper and his party—paladins of all the virtues and knights errant of sweetness and light—assist the valiant Senator by doing sweet fuck-all.
3) Liberal Senators offer to fast-track crime legislation about which the CPC has been cock-of-the-walk caterwauling for months. Conservative Senators decide to play idiotic procedural games that delay the bill. Thanks, Mr. Harper, for once again ensuring that you and your party do absolutely fuck-all.
4) After inheriting a Liberal-produced surplus of $13 billion and shortly after running on an electoral platform of fiscal probity, Harper announces a projected 2009 deficit of $55.9 billion, Canada’s first operating deficit since 1996. Those GST cuts were great for affording some of us a few extra packs of smokes per month. Sadly, their net effects on our fiscal integrity appear to have been worse than fuck-all.
5) A House of Commons committee urges that the Privacy Act be modernised and made more relevant, in order to render government processes more transparent and government data more accessible to Canadians. Stephen Harper and his party, always eager to deepen and widen the shark-infested moat surrounding their executive castle, predictably do fuck-all.
6) Richard Colvin writes reports detailing Afghan detainee abuse that are widely distributed among DFAIT and DND staff and high-level officials in the Afghan theatre of operations. In response to the possibility that war crimes might be occurring in areas under Canadian operational jurisdiction, Stephen Harper and his party hear, see, speak and do fuck-all.
7) Under Stephen Harper’s watch, the Canadian murder rate rises for the first time in decades. Stephen Harper and his party have been the unrivalled and peerlessly self-righteous exemplars of tough-on-crime posturing. Sadly, their “reforms” look more like huge drooling, banjo-eyed bucketfuls of demagogic fuck-all.
8) Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, Stephen Harper’s own appointment, lets his boss know how much money he needs to do his job. Stephen Harper and his party refuse to give Page what he needs—chiefly because he needs more than fuck-all.
9) A Canadian citizen faces a risible kangaroo court after being kidnapped as a child and held in illegal detention in an American/Cuban dungeon. Stephen Harper and his party—fulfilling their campaign promise to get tough on kids indoctrinated by their extremist parents—go to court to fight for their right to do fuck-all.
10) Stephen Harper’s government could have given the contract for the construction of our 2010 Olympic pavilion to a Canadian company. Unwilling to trust a bunch of sloppily communitarian Northern European-style welfare brats, Stephen Harper and his party thought it better to give us fuck-all—as we no doubt deserve.
11) Don’t be surprised when you hear that Stephen Harper’s fiscal commitment to things like hospitals, research grants, arts funding, and regional development adds up to a grand total of fuck-all. Harper has other, more important, funding priorities. He needs to put our hard-earned cash into his gallant struggle to meet the huge domestic demand for photos, videos, paintings, statutes and operas depicting his glorious self. He needs to send a woefully uncredentialed amateur “expert” to an environmental summit he has so far totally ignored. He needs to subsidise the God-given right of his seal-like senators (especially those who proudly do fuck-all) to jet their fat asses around the world swaddled snugly in Business Class splendour. As you for, dear plebeians, get your precious MRI and CT scans someplace else.
12) A “Conservative” Member of Parliament calls a special meeting of the committee investigating Afghan detainee abuse. Afterwards, he remembers that his job, as a CPC M.P, is to do fuck-all. So, he and his fellow CPC colleagues decide not to go to a meeting their own party convened. Because they lack quorum, the committee is forced to close. The Opposition wants to do their jobs. The CPC prefers, as always, to do sweet fuck-all. On your dime.
We are nearing four years of Stephen Harper—four years inaugurated by the callow marketing tag, “Canada’s Back!”. Four years later, and Canada is a leader in nothing, is best in the world at nothing, has most in the world of nothing, is greatest in nothing, beats the world at nothing, aspires to nothing, wishes for nothing, strives for nothing, dreams of nothing, sacrifices for nothing, belongs to nothing, is grounded in nothing, builds towards nothing, learns nothing, and remembers nothing. That shall be Stephen Harper’s epitaph, even should he and his cloddish cabinet rule for two decades—an epitaph written in spit, upon Styrofoam.
Bonus Fuck-Allness--"Canada's Back!" Edition :
Kevin Rudd of Australia gets an invitation to meet with President Obama, newly arrived in Copenhagen—as does Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Nicholas Sarkozy. China’s Ha Yafei is asked to join the group. Even da Silva of Brazil is invited to this emergency meeting of key international players.
What invitation does our very own Stephen Harper of Canada get? Fuck all—which makes sense, really: the American president never invites himself to dinner. Why would he invite himself to a summit meeting?
Stephen Harper: Not A Leader…