Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two Random Things


Almost a decade ago, I spoke to a group of socialist academics and activists. I said that if we were to move forward we needed to come up with something big but nevertheless doable with the political system as we know it.

I proposed utilizing small-l liberal values about democracy and human rights to begin campaigning for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing liberal rights of citizenship (including freedom of speech, assembly) of workers within their workplaces.

It's rather developed and I've discussed it elsewhere (to no effect!) so you're free to read about it here or at enmasse.ca or rabble-babble. I'm mentioning this today because, for one reason or another, I was reminded of that talk and how the audience just basically stared at me (apart from one Marxist-Leninist who took umbrage with my criticisms of the oppressiveness of the Soviet Union). They didn't guffaw and mock me for the sheer stupidity and insanity of my proposal. They didn't cheer and carry me around on their shoulders. They didn't ask questions or provide comments about the likely feasibility of the project. They just stared at me. About 16 people.

And, you know, given the fact that the left's grand narrative since then has been to "Organize! Educate! Resist!" around the shredding of civil rights, the weakening of the labour movement, the rising levels of inequality, species extinction, global warming, ... all of these defensive campaigns and all of them losing ones, ... it's not like there was something else in the works that they were privileging over my own proposal.

It seems to me that the left (or "progressives") are essentially catatonic.

My other random thought is that yesterday I was talking to ephemeral about imagining how life is actually lived in a wealthy Rosedale or Forest Hill neighbourhood. Specifically (and inspired by real-life examples strolling by as we sat in a park with the dog) I thought about how the wives in these households get plastic surgery done on their faces. How is that lived? Just like you'll see a really obese person in sweat-pants every once in a while in a poor neighbourhood, in my part of Toronto (where I'm definitely an aberration) you'll see women with obvious plastic surgery. Like maybe once a week.

Why do they decide to do it and their husbands don't? How do they talk about it? How do they pay for it? How do they time it? How do their kids talk about it? Basically I was trying to put myself in their lives and imagine how it's all carried out.

And I think that's what we need to do when confronted with this austerity agenda. It's pretty clear that almost the entire political class has bought into this bullshit. And it's not like it's a one-time decision they make based on their decision to screw the working class. Obviously there's some of that. But that whole anti-worker agenda itself, ... it's not the case that a moron like Jim Flaherty sits around cackling about how evil he is. No, the dunce lives his life 24-7. He's motivated by some sort of worldview as we all are. Same as Michael Ignatieff. Same as Barack Obama. Same as Christie Clark.

Quite clearly, it's an imbecilic, incoherent worldview. But they're immersed in it. They FEEL it. And, finally, they're elected at least in part by the lunkhead I was reading in the National Post comment section who was ranting about how terrorist immigrants have made it expensive for Canada Post to ship parcels. (Or something like that.)

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