Monday, May 09, 2011

Election 2011 - The Failure of Canadian Politics

None of the major parties talked about the real issues facing us. Yes, the NDP and the Greens said good things about climate change and the need for sustainability, but neither were willing to stand up and shout the whole truth.

The truth is, Peak Oil is happening. We only have a few years left before the era of Happy Motoring is a thing of the past. Right now we should be planning for a future with a lot less automobiles, planes, imported food, cheap junk from China, etc. Couple this with Climate Change. The level of planning, organization and mobilization to deal with these twin crises ought to be about the same level as that of fighting the Second World War.

The second truth has to do with the global economy. No one really knows what might happen with it. Peak oil makes any sustained recovery very unlikely. Patting yourself on the back, that Canada is somehow disconnected from this crisis, is insanity. Not talking turkey about the crisis is foolish in the extreme. We should be preparing people for economic stagnation (or worse) and proposing ways of dealing with it that cause the least suffering for the populace.

The third truth has to do with our neighbour, the USA. Their empire is in rapid decline and they are descending into a possible collapse situation like that of the former USSR. To chain ourselves politically and economically to this Titanic of a country is suicidal. Furthermore, if collapse does come about there may well be civil unrest in the US and Americans will come pouring across our borders.

The fourth truth has to do with the Canadian military. The fact is, we have no enemies, nor are there even any potential enemies looming on the horizon. Armies are also useless for fighting terrorists. No one is willing to ask “Why do we need it ?” – or at least “why do we need it in its present form?” We do need search and rescue, we do need a force to help out in disasters and we need our coasts patrolled. In terms of fire power, a genuine truly defensive force would be a Swiss-style citizen guerrilla army. All of these functions combined would be vastly less expensive than our present military and would have the advantage that it would be impossible for our armed forces to be embroiled in US imperial adventures such as in Afghanistan. But there was not so much as a whisper about this in the campaign.

The failure to talk about the real issues, and the bleak outlook that any politician in the future is willing to discuss these problems, leaves me with one conclusion. - the system is so set up that cannot respond to in a rational way to disasters looming on the horizon. If a system can no longer respond rationally to the problems it creates it has become decadent.

8 Comments:

Blogger Owen Gray said...

I agree that there were a lot of important issues which never made it to our national radar screen.

The question is, "Is that the fault of our political parties?" Or is it a case of, as Pogo used to say, "We have met the enemy and it is us?"

11:44 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Thank you for your comment, Owen.

I don't think it a party problem so much as a systemic one. The move to the right over the past 30 years, which has been engineered by those at the top, has meant that all parties play for votes rather than stick to a program of social change. Appearing “moderate” or “centrist” is now the game rather than promoting needed reforms. The mass media encourage this by demonizing any party that dares to be a bit radical. The move to the right has also changed the objective of politics. 40 years ago all parties were in favour of reforms, the dispute was how quickly those reforms were enacted, not whether to reform or not. All parties saw their mandate as improving the lot of the average person, not just the wealthy minority. (The post WW2 social democratic consensus) Today, the “conservative” and “neoliberal” factions see their mandate as destroying the reforms of the past and lowering the living standards of the masses. (John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson and WAC Bennett must be spinning in their graves!) All major parties also seem to have drunk the cyanide Kool Aid of “free markets” and so-called free trade. With the breakup of the social democratic consensus, the FPTP electoral system does its damage, allowing a right-wing minority to bully the majority.

But there is also a sense in which “the enemy is us” and that has to do with the social-psychological motivation of the ordinary working person who votes for someone like Harper, something I wish to deal with in future postings.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Politics! It would be nice if the words Freedom or Liberty were ever even given lip service during an election in this country.

9:44 PM  
Blogger mollymew said...

As you know I disagree with your sense of urgency Larry, but I have to say that you have definitely hit several nails on the head by your description of the political parties as "systematically unable to respond" either to looming problems but generally to the concerns of the electorate. Image has become all, and issues hardly count.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Nobody thought the NDP would win. Some candidates weren't vetted, or even professional politicians. Wait and see.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Ross Wolfe said...

Larry,

I'm quite interested in your take on the Spatiotemporal Dialectic of Capital. You seem to be able to provide insight on these matters.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the American population may surprise us. They are fed up with the banksters and corrupt politicians-For example North Dakota has a state bank that runs in the public interest. It was one of the few banks that didnt' collapse in 2007-8. 17 other states are about to get their own state banks up and running instead of using th einterest charging private state federal banks. A high proportion of people in the US are from South America and Spanish descent. They know first hand how American corporation act south of the border and they still have familial conntection with much more progressive and militant family members who can help lead us in time of turmoil ahead. the tea part was an astro turf media coup. We know the corps own the media corps like GE owns CBS etc-so we can not expect education from thiese corporation that are in our interests. The balance of forces can change in a week, look at the NDP victory for example. Speaking of the NDP it was socialism in your constitution that got you elected---you should go home with the girl you brought to the dance-unless you want to become the new liberals-haven't you already moved to far to centre already? What kind of alternative to this predatory system of capitalism can you offer if not socialism. Don't be lazy socialist and social democratic socieityies have been more productive than capitalist countries all around he world and the more egalitarian the more healthy-do the research and state the facts start a real dialogue of alternative. We get enogh pablem from the corporate media already-we dont' need it from our political party. Unless you want to greens to fill the vacume you will create or perhaps the party will finally spilt between left liberals and socialists-long over due.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

That's good about the state banks. Up till 1974 the Bank of Canada used to function that way, indeed it helped finance Canada's costs of WW2 and the boom of the 1950-60's. After the govt started borrowing from the money markets we began to have vast govt debts.

For sure, Latinos will have a positive effect on US politics as they have a more developed political consciousness than your whitebread USian.

Sadly, the NDP is moving further to the right and dumping its on-paper commitment to democratic. They will end up as pureneoliberals like the French, Greek SPs or be radicalized from below.

8:58 AM  

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