Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Disturbing Tendency In Canada

ntA few months ago on the TV news, I saw what was dubbed a “red day”. This consisted of a bunch of people dressing up in red jackets or shirts carrying Canadian flags in “support of the troops.” You were left with the feeling that anyone with the temerity to show up with a banner saying “Support the Troops – Bring Em Home” would not be popular, to put it mildly. These pro-war demonstrations were organized by the Conservative government and their allies in the military. I thought it strange that they would dress in the color of the Liberal Party to support a war that only the right-wing is enamored of. But that wasn't what troubled me. The sight of people wearing a kind of political uniform demonstrating in favor of war and militarism had a familiar and ominous feeling about it. “Ah, but I am just being paranoid,” I thought.

Then, a few weeks ago I went to a demonstration in support of a coalition to replace the minority Conservative government. The anti-coalition right wing showed up for their demonstration, and low and behold many of them were dressed in red and waving Canadian flags. The hatred most of them directed toward us was something I had not seen in a long time. As a friend of mine said. “These people would stick us in a concentration camp if they could.” and I had the feeling he was not far off base.

I am sure if you were to question the people in red, they would hold reactionary opinions on a whole set of issues such as women, trade unions, First Nations, Quebec, immigrants etc. A kind of quasi-fascism has been whipped up by the Conservative Party and we must not allow them to get away with this.

Some other thoughts on this. This “people in red” thing is really a US import. We Canadians traditionally view wrapping yourself in the flag as vulgar and American. Anglo-Canadian nationalism is low key and tends to emphasize opposition to the influence of the US government and corporations upon our way of life, rather than some sort of rabid “Canuckism.” A further irony is the Conservative Party is the US corporate state's Canadian arm or Fifth Column. This is the party that wanted to drag us into the Iraq war of aggression. This is the party that wants to hand us over, lock, stock and barrel to US corporations. This is the party that destroyed the old Tory party and has imported US-style right-wing politics into this country.

But I have seen this before in Chile. The Pinochetistas are rabid, flag wrapped, super-nationalists – who gave their country over to the Gringos on a silver platter. Who killed or drove into exile the very people who created their national culture. Like the “people in red”, their nationalism is little more than a lot of noise.

What we have then, is a kind of “comprador fascism” Under the mask of nationalism they persecute – or in the case of the Canadian variety – intend to persecute - the progressive forces. The far-right mass are made up of “little people”, fearful and bigoted lower middle class types, but behind them lies the corporate ruling class. There is no longer a “national bourgeoisie”. The ruling class of Canada and the US have the same essential interests, and for them there is but one country to whom they are loyal - “Cap


Blogger Renegade Eye said...

When I read your post, I had the same thoughts. Even in the US, a red shirt type movement like you're describing would be disturbing.

I wouldn't until I knew more, call them fascist. Nothing is pointing to Canada being fascist. There are several other terms, including idiots, that can be precise.

Groups like that need to be reminded, they a have minority viewpoint.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Red shirts is an appropriate name for these thugs.

My favourite part is that they pretend Harper is some defender of Canada, when he himself has advocated an insidious form of economic separation from Canada (and further integration with the US). Perhaps these people should be called "firewallers" after Harper's famous letter.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

My favourite part is that they pretend Harper is some defender of Canada, when he himself has advocated an insidious form of economic separation from Canada (and further integration with the US). Perhaps these people should be called "firewallers" after Harper's famous letter.

I think as the crisis escalates, you'll see Canadian conservatives saying such things. Just as Craig at my blog, attacking Bush for the bailout.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I didn't mean to imply the Red Shirts were fascists, Ren, its just the tendency is there. It is also true that old fashioned type conservatives in Canada are horrified by both Harper and Bush. It is like a big division has occurred between those who see humanity and the environment in purely instrumentalist terms and those whose approach is based on some ethic - even though their practice of these ethics is often contradictory.

8:09 PM  
Blogger troutsky said...

There is a cultural element to it. As US culture is globalized we see our own brand of rabid reaction picked up by others who are mesmerized by it.It's almost an offshoot of punk culture with neo-fascist elements.Very patriarchal.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Nicolas said...

Hum... We've seen something similar pop-up recently in Quebec (altough obviously people dont wear red and dont mobilise for the exact same reasons). A lot of people have analysed that and made some comparison with what's going in the Prairies since the birth of the reform. They have come up with another adjective that I think is more accurate then eigther fascism or nationalism to describe what is going on. What we see right now is the rise of a populist right. Populism is what best describe what's going on me think. So, it's not so much Chile that you should be looking too but... Argentina.

10:14 AM  

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