JR'S Free Thought Pages
The Vile Theocratic Conservatism of Stephen Harper
by Johnny Reb
As I write on this day April 20th 2012, there has been encouraging political news from the results of a British Columbia by-election in my home riding of Chilliwack-Hope. In this highly religious community that has voted conservative since Noah and the Great Flood, we've had a convincing defeat of two extreme right wing neo-conservative parties by the social democratic NDP.
Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of more than a decade of free market racketeering, corruption, cronyism, vicious illegal and immoral attacks on working class people and the wanton pillage and privatization of public assets.
It provides optimism for what I hope may lead to the total extermination of this vile mutation of conservatism in the upcoming elections in 2013. Yes, I'm referring to the unprincipled neo-con political vultures who uphold draconian regressive economic policies that have led to the demolition of the global economy. And despite the comforting words of financial gurus and political conservatives, there's no end in sight to the economic pain and suffering of all but the top 1%.
And while on the subject of pain and suffering from the actions of callous conservative reptiles, I now turn my attention to our pious evangelical war mongering hypocrite and free market ideologue, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Diatribe on Stephen Harper
by Johnny Reb
It should be patently evident for anyone paying attention that Stephen Harper is an intellectually and ethically challenged hard ass Christian Fundamentalist.
Before I vent my spleen on Stephen Harper and Conservatism in general, allow me to clarify a few conceptions, like so many others, that during the past few decades have become badly maligned, distorted and even re-defined by pundits and ideologues on both the political right and left.
First, I admit to philosophical support of anarchism and you can visit my web site at www.skeptic.ca to understand the wide spectrum it covers. My preference is the brand of anarchism promulgated by Noam Chomsky.
Second, I am neither a Marxist nor a Capitalist but can appreciate both their merit and flaws and consider Adam Smith and Karl Marx to be brilliant philosophers. And it's important to realize that both Marxism and Capitalism have evolved to cover a broad spectrum of doctrinal deviations. On the Marxist-Leninist side for example, Communism urges a revolution of the working class (the proletariat) and a complete overthrow of the capitalist system whereas socialism has, particularly it's social democratic formulations and from the onset of the 20th Century, focused on reforming capitalism and providing it with a human face. This approach to social democracy has been the experience of the CCF/NDP in Canada and, until recently, the Labour Party in Britain (which is now just another British Conservative Party after the Bush-loving Catholic Tony Blair mutilated it). This approach has been the case throughout most of Western Europe, Canada and in the most celebrated case, Sweden, which, despite the devastating effects of neo-conservatism and globalism, still has the lowest inequality in the world according to the most commonly employed measure, the GINI Coefficient. Incidentally, the United States ranks near among the highest in inequality along with countries in the Third World. Equality after all, or at least the pursuit of it, is a vital characteristic of any country that aspires to a genuine democracy.
Third, when I refer to the "working class", many people either assume I'm a Marxist or refuse to accept the quite obvious continuing phenomenon of a class system. It's a observable fact that conservative pundits regularly deny. I hold to a broad definition of "working class", entailing anyone who runs a small business or who works for hourly wages or salary, both blue or white collar. I shouldn't have to mention that I do not include as "working class" those who sit on their posteriors siphoning off an inheritance or collecting dividends, interest and capital gains. And I don't mean parasites like Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, Bill Gates or corporate CEOs who take in thousands of times, in addition to obscene bonuses and stock options, what their employees working in the trenches earn.
Stephen Harper and the Theo-Cons
Even though I disagree vehemently with Harper's neo-conservatism and Christian fundamentalism (follow link), I had at an earlier time considered him a reasonably intelligent man, albeit in a cunning and manipulative sort of way. But since he has been Prime Minister for a few years now, and particularly since gaining a majority in parliament, it ought to now be patently evident to Canadians that Stephen Harper is not only the owner of a third rate intellect, but gravely lacking in ethical sensibilities. One of the most accurate litmus tests for a person's morality is what he does with power. In the case of Stephen Harper his true colours have emerged - and it's not pretty. It's become patently apparent that you, yes you in the 99%, are not on his list of folks he gives a rats ass about. But as I will maintain later, this is the quintessence of the reactionary mind of conservatism.
Harper's intrinsic conservative inability to demonstrate compassion for the concerns of the working class and the underprivileged is likely a function of his elitism, Old Testament ethos and libertarian neo-conservatism. He's an arrogant controlling man who rarely shows any signs of warmth or affection for his fellow human travellers. He's clearly uncomfortable in small groups, reticent and rarely smiles, reminding me somewhat of the personalities of former BC Premier Bill Bennett and US President Richard Nixon. He's also lacking in any understanding of the meaning of democracy or fair play and is the owner of a controlling authoritarian personality.
Harper's vile vision for Canada is to replicate the brazen nationalism, militarism and imperialism of the United States, a country whose government has no conscience for the rest of the world - or even its own citizens. The US government, whether Republican or Democrat, operates out of an ethical vacuum, is controlled by corporate lobbyists (there were 170 during the Nixon era and 35,000 today) and is rapidly turning the country into a fascist police state and corporatist banana republic.
Stevie v Tommy
As a basis of contrast to Stephen Harper I'd like to consider another Christian Canadian political figure whose personality and brand of Christianity stands in stark contrast to Harper's aloofness and austere Christian fascism. That man is Canada's most revered Canadian according to a CBC poll, Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), a social democratic politician and champion of the social gospel movement. I believe a case can be made that Tommy has done more for Canada than any other political figure despite never having held political power federally. His warmth, empathy, sense of humour, ever-engaging smile, incisive intellect and uplifting vision for Canada stand in total opposition to that of the robotic heartless Harper.
Harper gleans his ideas from a fanatical fundamentalist Christian sect that believes in the imminent return of Jesus Christ and the Rapture. This, despite countless predictions and the fact that JC has been AWOL for over two millennia. Harper's limited mind is further warped, not just by his narrow Christian fundamentalist world view and preference for closed systems of thought, but by the dogmatic embrace of extreme right wing proto-fascist political and economic doctrines, primarily via the neo-conservative teachings of Leo Strauss.
Harper cares not a whit about your concerns
Following the phony Old Age Pension fear mongering, "robo-call" election scam, $10 billion waste of taxpayer money on more prisons (traditional solution to systemic social problems for conservatives) and $25 billion F-35 fighter jet scandal (war mongering and militarism - another conservative orgasm), Harper's sanctimonious jack boots are now turning to using taxpayer money to propagandize the bewildered Canadian herd on the ecological disaster of the Alberta Tar Sands, referring to the project as "God's work". Surely for any sincere Christian, the Tar Sands would more like "Satan's work". George W Bush claimed to be following God's orders when he invaded Iraq, turning the country into a trash heap while murdering over a million of its inhabitants, including the US's former pal during the 1980s, Saddam Hussein. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein also referred to the criminal activities of his vulture capitalist firm as doing "God's work. These fanatical ghouls obviously belong to the same Christian fellowship. It would be no surprise I suspect that Harper, like his village idiot American chum, accepts policy direction from the Big Man in the Sky. This might help ease his conscience (if he has one) and justify his support for the big oil mafia in his former stomping grounds of Calgary, the CAPP and their insidious campaign ads that run non-stop on BNN, disseminating endless misinformation and blatant lies about the violations of First Nations Cree treaty rights and widespread environmental damage in the Athabasca Valley ecosystem near Jasper National Park. But to Harper the toxic gunk that's extracted from the Tar Sands is manna from heaven. The environment and the First Nations people can go to hell because the Rapture is in the pipeline (no pun intended). And if the return of JC is delayed again, the cost for "externalities" like environmental degradation will, like the bank bailouts, be covered by the taxpayers.
The fact that he was once the head of the National Citizens Coalition, a right wing libertarian "think tank" set up to eradicate all social services and Medicare, shows where he stands. Sociopathic propensities are written all over Harper's thoughts and actions. Would traditional conservatives such as John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield or even a Dwight D Eisenhower, recognize this reptile who calls himself a "conservative"? I think not. In fact many Christians friends I know would not, according to their conception, consider Harper a bona fide Christian. For political philistines and crass materialists like Harper, hiding behind his Christian piety, there's always billions in tax breaks for big business, billions for military expenditures and imperialistic wars - but the piggy bank is mysteriously empty for health care, education, the arts or helping people living on the streets. But conservatives have always loved war.
Hail to Herr Harper!
Conservatism is an abominable relic from the Dark Ages
Ever since I was able to understand and differentiate among the various political philosophies, I've regarded conservatism to be a most gloomy and ethically vacuous political stance. It has few redeeming or inspiring values and I consider it a bankrupt and draconian political philosophy that can be summed up in two sentences:
(1) What's in it for me?* and (2) Follow the money!**
*(1) In other words, self-interest and greed are now deemed virtues and God wants you to be rich according to the 21st Century concoction of Joel Osteen Christianity and Ayn Rand libertarianism.
**(2) Wealth can only be measured in terms of money and if someone, somewhere is not turning a profit from something it's of no use to humanity. Cost and value are now conflated and socialism and democracy inverted to mean government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Profits are privatized and losses socialized, all with the blessings of the conservative corporate welfare state.
Conservatism has always been elitist, exclusive, reactionary and regressive - and in all its various formulations, remains so today. At every step of the way in our efforts to advance enlightenment and scientific principles, social justice or any political or social progressive movement from below, it has mobilized its power, often with violence, to oppose them. Police forces, the military, hired thugs and other state and corporate sponsored goons have been pressed into service by conservative governments to "serve and protect" the interests of wealthy elites and big business against strikes and other protests for social justice by the working classes. Throughout its history conservatism has translated into opposition to the French Revolution and every subsequent revolution that the French Revolution inspired. Edmund Burke (1729-1797), deemed by conservatives to be the founding father of its movement, wrote an important book called Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) and ought to be read by anyone who seriously considers himself a conservative or others who want to know about the ideological foundations of conservatism. I'll never forget one contemptible quote from Burke's book in which he refers to the working classes as "the swinish multitude". It speaks volumes about the conservative mindset.
The ideology of anti-freedom anti-egalitarianism
In Britain, the United States and elsewhere in the western world, the extension of the franchise was a long and difficult struggle and conservatives fought it every step of the way. The US Constitution, contrary to popular perception, was a conservative and, in many aspects, an undemocratic document that granted the vote to only wealthy male landowners. Conservatives fervently opposed the abolition of slavery, the rise of labour unions and all the working class movements from Bolshevik revolutionary socialism to the mildest form of social democracy. It terrified them that the revolutionary workers movements might spread to the working classes in the West and threaten their historical privileges and entitlements. Conservatives challenged the civil rights movement, opposed feminism, rights of indigenous peoples and regularly supported extreme right wing fascist dictatorships and theocratic and monarchical feudalisms in order to sabotage the advancements toward freedom, liberalism, social democracy and the Enlightenment. They sided with regressive and oppressive fascist regimes against the liberalizing popular front in the Spanish Civil War and elsewhere. They supported the Romanoff monarchy as against the Bolsheviks in Russia after 1917, inciting a civil war and provided financial and military support for the tyrannical monarchy that lasted for years.
I've mentioned just a few of the kinds of historical touchstones that one must examine in order to understand so many of the arguments that conservatives mobilize.
Conservatives in the US are perennial fans of their country's long history of imperialistic wars and support of tyrannical dictatorships in Latin America, South east Asia and the Middle East. But it's been a continuing foreign policy agenda for conservatives throughout the Western World for centuries in order to enslave and exploit third world countries for their valuable natural resources. For the uninformed I recommend for starters they read John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2005) and The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals and the truth about Global Corruption (2007) for the uniquely violent and revolting American experience.
Combine Harper's neo-conservative political ideology with a his brand of fundamentalist Christianity, the program undertaken by the Republican Party in the United States for the past three or four decades, and you end up with a vile poisonous brew that is antithetical to freedom and real democracy.