Monday, March 19, 2012

A Friend From Europe

I met up with a long-time friend of mine who has been living in Europe for the past decade or so. She's been living in Denmark, which, despite not being part of the peninsula, is apparently a Scandinavian democracy.

Of the Danes, she says they're very insular and cold. She says that coming home to Canada has been a relief in some ways. In Kensington Market some people on the sidewalk asked her and her friends sitting at a patio if they knew where a particular store was. Her group told them where it was and then they exchanged some pleasantries about the weather. My friend told me that had been such a treat: In Denmark nobody would ask complete strangers such a question for fear of looking like idiots, and if they were the ones being asked they would nervously provide the answer and nothing more, in case the people who had approached them were psychos or con-artists or something.

On the other hand, she said Canada was a tragedy. We have so much potential, but everything is being hoarded by the wealthiest, and everybody else is mired in debt. In Denmark she knows people who are unemployed but they receive a relatively generous stipend from the government and they maintain themselves as productive citizens (working on projects of measurable value that sometimes lead to new employment or income) while at the same conducting intensive job searches.

Here, young Canadians in their late-twenties and early-thirties appear to eke out marginal existences at dismally paying jobs or they subsist on meager unemployment or welfare. Canadian young adults spend a lot of time playing video games and smoking pot. Another difference she found is that Danes discuss political-economic issues using facts and agreed-upon understanding of how the world works. North Americans argue over fantasies and reason according to the internal logic of various conspiracy theories. Canada's televised news is a laughable monstrosity, almost (to her eyes) indistinguishable from the neo-liberal christo-fascist pap of the USA's.

But the one thing that really struck me about her observations is the way her and European friends responded to the news of the nation-wide electoral fraud of the harpercons. In the first place, to her and the Danes, these are not "dirty tricks." They're CRIMES. They're CRIMES because they're illegal and because they violate what should be the foundation of any genuine democracy; the unimpeded exercise of the individual franchise. Obviously I agree, but I was hearing about this uniform expression of utter repugnance from Europeans, rather than from my fellow Canadian citizens (the tiny blog-o-sphere withstanding). They were all shocked that Canada had "fallen so far" as a mature, respectable democracy.

Remember that term: "Mature Democracy"? That's how Jack Layton described the European systems where coalition governments weren't (often literally) regarded as being the work of the devil. (An observation that earned Layton the scorn of the pea-brained Charles Adler.)

stephen harper has done all he can to foster this state of miserable ignorance and misinformation. he has done all that he can to foster a culture of contempt for democracy. he does this because it serves his needs and it agrees with his agenda. The more stupid, deluded, apathetic and cynical Canadians are about their system, the more will WE leave him free to perpetrate his crimes in freedom. In the final analysis, if harper owed his power COMPLETELY to fraud, it wouldn't register with either him or his supporters, not even in the slightest. The important thing for these scum-bags and morons is their own victory. The only thing that would disturb them would be a defeat. And no matter how honest or total their defeat was, if you think the picture they have in their heads of us as "sore losers" is over-the-top, just wait for their comeuppance. You're going to hear moaning and whining and threats of violence like you never thought possible in Canada.

I welcome it. I welcome it when their leaders and their crimes are dragged into the light of day and exposed and harper, Baird, Clement, Flaherty, ad nauseum are themselves dragged off to prison. I'll enjoy it when the most shameless harpercon zombies stand on their front lawns pissing and moaning about liberal witch-hunts and AdScam and other inanities and I'll tell them (as I've taken to doing more and more the past few years) to shut the fuck up.


bcwaterboy said...

It's interesting to hear the perspective of a European on what goes on in North America. In so many ways, they're way ahead of us in comprehending what a true social democracy (or republic for that matter) really looks like. Here, all we get is smear after smear by a government that stole an election and does everything in its power to accumulate more power, and crush opposition. The worst part is, the citizens of this country are enabling this scam.

sassy said...

I'm with you bcwaterboy.

Thanks for sharing your friend's perspective thwap.

thwap said...

Thanks folks. I'd like to add that my friend is NOT a political junkie. She's big on spending on culture and having laws to protect the environment, but doesn't hunker down and follow either Danish or Canadian politics.

Not fucking with people's right to vote is just a given among her and her friends.

We Canadians seem to be able to take it or leave it.

Owen Gray said...

The government isn't tinkering around the edges of Canadian democracy, thwap. It's going for the jugular.

Your friend sees that -- clearly.