For the last several years, I have been seeking to understand the rationale(s) (?) behind the “Harper” regime. What has seemed like insanity to many (certainly to me) , must not only have a rationale but to have been convincing enough for it to have garnered the assent of a coterie of believers. Yet, focussing on the “Leader”, it has been tempting to ask, “has he been bought by the Koch Brothers?” Certainly their billions are at play: they are major players in the Tarsands development and have been for a long time, but is that it, is that all? Recently a spate of articles has helped me put together a picture of what is going on – and it is – in plain words – terrifying. This enigma is composed, it would seem of five distinct elements – and the mix is both formidable and lethal to democracy – and possibly even to survival. Here they are:
1, The Essence of Conservatism: An article recently came out exploring the philosophic foundations of Harper’s politics – apparently he is a disciple of what became known as the Calgary School – much enamoured of Burkian Conservatism on the one hand, and, on the other, because it had not yet fully developed when Burke was writing, a disciple of extreme “free market” Capitalist economics, more on this later. The “conservative” ideas articulated by Burke were: respect for tradition, respect for and compliance to authority, the sanctity of normative family configurations – the key thing here is the idea of a ruling class to which a subaltern class ought to owe unquestioned obedience – or else. You can see the Burkian influence in the valorization of British heritage and in the valorization of the War of 1812. In addition “small government” except for “military” and “law and order”, Burkian ideals, have been belied by the bloated PR and propaganda arms that reach into every home from the modern world which Burke could not have imagined, nor probably endorsed.
2. Extreme “free market Capitalism” – the Calgary School not only loved Burke, it was the Canadian outpost of the Chicago School of Economics, which became a think tank on how to destroy any “collectivist” economic structures in the US and by extension, Canada. Overturning the Keynesian economics of a previous era, one that brought a measure of prosperity and created a middle class, it sought to create an aristocracy of merit: the only value was economic victory, hence the valorization of extreme competition, the deliberate undermining of the notion of cooperative economics.
3. Fundamentalist, Evangelical Christianity – embodied in the church congregation which Harper has attended for several decades, the Evangelical Alliance preaches the literalness of the Bible, the certainty of End Times. Tied up with this are several areas that taint policy: that environmentalism goes against “God’s” plan and power; that Israel must exist in order for End Times to proceed. But it is far more reaching than that. Just as the military in the United States appears to have been infiltrated – that’s the only word which describes the situation – by Crusader Christianity, it also appears that work has quietly gone on for years to get people who have the “right” ideas into our military, our bureaucracy and our infrastructure. We now know that agencies such as the Canadian Revenue Agency has been targeting organizations which the regime considers inimical to its agenda. We now know that militarism and a peculiarly skewed patriotism have transformed our soldiers from “peacekeepers” to a “muscular presence in the world” – these things were long in planning and execution and they stem from both the Burkian and the Evangelical World views. What ties the “free market” into all this is the notion that the market expresses “God’s will” – so to tamper with it, is the same as environmental regulation, an affront to the “majesty of God”, Kind of an oracle of Divine intention. See..
4. Secrecy – rather than “in-your-face”, as we are accustomed to seeing Evangelicals be, the stratagem Harper has used so effectively is deceit – he is not forthcoming about his religious affiliation, hiding behind the claim of “religious freedom” even while his religious ideas, outed, finally offer some coherency to an observer: no criticism of Israel allowed, no environmental protection allowed. It would be hard to understand the relationship between these two policy items were it not for the fact that they both derive from End Times convictions, something he could hardly creditably own up to in Canada as he found it. Not so now, Indeed, deriving from Burkian authoritarianism, not only has becoming PM ostensibly bestowed upon him the right to remain silent and discreet about both actual policy and the precepts that drive policy, it has also ostensibly conferred upon him the legitimate right to deceive, to lie to the voting public, so as to garner votes, support and positive regard against the reality of his intentions and against the reality of the effects of his policies upon the lives of the subaltern class (ie anyone not in the ruling class). This is the feature that makes him so terribly dangerous to democracy. It may have been present in previous “leaders” but was always tempered by convention and the fear of disclosure. Harper has no fear of either. His silence, his deceit, give him power.
5. Five Eyes Alliance – Anglo neo colonial cooperation in the construction of subaltern civil order. This operates on so many levels – we are only just beginning to understand the implications, the range and scope of this “cooperation”. It certainly has formal standing between “intelligence agencies” in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK – but, it seems to have parallel structures through ‘think tanks”, academic department that have (quite literally) been bought, through ALEC ( the American Legislative Exchange Council), the National Policy Council (aka the Council on National Policy – at which Harper spoke in 1997, describing the role of Canadian PM as potentially dictator-like – one can see the joy this would bring to Burkian apostles). This behind-the-scenes information sharing, technique sharing, technicalities sharing, data base sharing – means that “the Conservatives are light years ahead of the other parties” in controlling the electoral process. This alliance means to retain power and it means to make sure that all the allies are governed by acceptable rulers.
So here they are: Burkian Conservatism, Chicago School Economicism, End Times Evangelicalism, the “legitimate” Strategy of Secrecy and Deceit and the Five Eyes Alliance. We are at the receiving end of the consequences of our own naivety. To put these evil genies back into their jars, will be the devil’s own job.
Note: several articles from which these insight derived are not credited here – for which apologies – I have filed them away but could not retrieve. If authors recognize their work, please speak up and add your voice, your criticisms or your further information to this post.