Thursday, July 31, 2014

Indiscriminate Slaughter of Innocent Men, Women and Children? Check.

Good lord, but the heights of our society's moral depravity and hypocrisy!

The Canadian weekly news magazine "Maclean's" cover for this week was a picture of Vladimer Putin and the bold headline: "Getting Away With Murder," in reference to the Malaysian airliner shot down over eastern Ukraine. In the first place, I'm leaning towards the notion that a Ukrainian fighter-jet shot that plane down. In the second place, the USA never even apologized when their own USS Vincennes acknowledged shooting down that Iranian airbus. They gave the captain a fucking medal! In the third place, ... at the very same time that Putin was "getting away with murder" the fucking IDF is indiscriminately slaughtering innocent Palestinian men, women and children.

And how do our own "leaders" respond to the IDF's "getting away with murder"?

By standing with the murderers and singing with them!
... fifty miles away at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Liberal MPs Carolyn Bennett and John McCallum, Con MPs David Sweet and Ted Opitz, Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, and former Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein were leading the Canada-Israel Solidarity Rally in singing O Canada and Hatikva.
Nauseating.

Condemning the First Nations to misery decade-after-decade. Conniving to allow Canadian mining firms to receive tax dollars even when they're guilty of human rights violations. Sending their own citizens to be tortured in Syria, Egypt and the Sudan. Complicit in torture in Afghanistan. (Among other war crimes.) Stealing elections. Contempt of Parliament.

And now, cheering on the indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stumbling Towards Catastrophe

Humans; the sort of humans who either listen to Glenn Beck, or who were saddened at the fall of Eric Cantor, and the sort of humans who support Barack Obama and nod sagely when the read the New York Times editorial page, are driving us to disaster.

The moral depravity of supporters of Israeli genocide against the Palestinians, whether in the comments section of the National Post or the CBC or the leaders of all of our political parties, is a sign of our inability to achieve peace. To live in peace. To not kill ourselves.

The crisis in the Ukraine, between the detestable US-American ruling class and the detestable Russian government of thuggish oligarchs under Putin, is going to heat-up thanks to the nonsensical drivel coming from media mouthpieces for US-American imperialism. Putin is a gangster. But even gangsters (or especially gangsters) recognize power realities. Russia could not afford a quarrel with the United States. Therefore Putin is acting reasonable in this context. Our braying jack-asses like stephen harper and John Baird might find themselves partially responsible for a nuclear missile attack on one of the world's cities if this confrontation goes too far.

We can't even stir ourselves as a people to rally around the limited democracy we have. Disgusting apologists for harper cheered his contempt of Parliament. Disgusting Liberal partisans excused McGuinty for his contempt of the Ontario legislature. NDP stooges contort themselves into defending every betrayal of the values of the grasssroots committed by one of their failed provincial governments. They'd surely be capable of doing the same if ever it came to that.

And, I was condemned for my pessimism in a series of content-free critiques. But the fact remains that we, the Left, have failed and are failing to do much to reverse these patterns. We're so weak and despised that our own political parties consider it a worthwhile achievement to betray us and mock us. It's a sign of "political courage" to dismiss our calls for economic justice and to instead, pursue self-destructive austerity policies that only benefit banksters. 

Well, fuck all that. I've decided to focus on a cause in the 3-d world. Public transit. Not because it's the most important thing in the world to me. But because maybe there I can achieve a victory. Maybe there, on that limited field, I can see if doing things differently, on a larger, more activist scale, I can achieve a victory and then point to how those tactics can apply to other things. 

Because it's pretty clear to me that we're stumbling towards multiple catastrophes, economic, political, ecological, if things don't change.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Ford-Fest Bigots

A lot of people have already talked about the eruption of homophobia at the "Ford-Fest" in Scarborough. I watched it a couple of days ago at Montreal Simon's and I just thought I'd discuss what I saw at that NOW Magazine video.

In the first segment, we hear someone shout "Fag!" But mostly it becomes an attempt by Ford's fans to drown out the organizers of "Queeruption" from speaking to the media by shouting "Rob Ford!" over and over, louder and louder. I also noticed the rainbow of diversity; the multicultural mosaic of both the "Queeruption" and Ford's fans. I noticed in that first segment, East Asians, South Asians, Blacks and Whites. (Is this a great country or what?)

Next we have the guy with the camera interrogating the protesters. "You're a Kathleen Wynne fan. I can see it in your eyes." It wouldn't matter if the protester was NDP, Green, a Marxist of some sort. They're all increasing degrees of crazy to a right-winger. And, more importantly, part of the vast left-wing conspiracy that's been afflicting Rob (the beautiful boy wonder) Ford since he started his career.

Then he starts in asking them "If somebody believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman, are they automatically a bigot?"

Now here, we have an important point. The person he's interrogating told him "No" twice, but he either couldn't hear because of cognitive dissonance or because of his compatriots' yelling and he continued to ask, adding "Yes or no?"

But this is how these stunted minds work. Put it another way: "Is someone who thinks same-sex marriages shouldn't be allowed automatically a bigot?" The answer is "Yes." Just like someone who says that males and females shouldn't be allowed to get married. Do you see how this works? It's called "individual equality." Two adults who want to get married, should be allowed to get married. So, while some unreflective person who never thought about it before might say: "Yeah, I guess I think marriage should be between a man and a woman." we aren't talking about people living under rocks. Same-sex couples exist. Deal with it.

Mister Traditional Marriage finds out that somebody he's filming is from the media and then launches into some whine about the biases of the media. Sure the media is biased. But these Ford-fans are biased too. No. Make that deluded. They were the ones who said that the stories of Ford's crack use were all vicious slanders. If they ever paused to think about it (and managed to think successfully!) they'd realize that, actually, everything said about their hero turned out to be true and everything Ford said, lies, and everything they believed, false.

I was going to write about all the segments, but I'm done for today ...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Liberal Fascism?

This is old, but still relevant. If anyone of the usual suspects gives you any trouble, just make 'em read this.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shooting Down Airplanes and Mainstream Morality

"A Tale of Three Aircraft Tragedies" by Brian Cloughley really strikes at the heart of the hypocrisy of the US-Americans' response to the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner that was shot-down over the Ukraine. When you see all the furrowed brows and stern gazes and read all he words of outrage over the (very good) possibility that pro-Russian separatists fired the missile that killed all those people, contrast it with the way the USS Vincennes was met with celebration, it's captain decorated for meritorious conduct, after shooting down an Iranian airliner. The president at the time, George H. W. Bush, infamously said "I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are."

This is just another example of why you should outright refuse to be outraged about things that the US government, its media (and their puppets among the Canadian political and media classes) tell you to be outraged about.

They have less than zero moral credibility.

Use your own brain and respond in your own way. Their criticisms of you will be meaningless.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Safety of Prostitutes

It was decided a long time ago not to criminalize prostitutes. For thousands of years (it is "the world's oldest profession" after all), prostitutes were treated like thieves, or at least like public nuisances. Gradually, our legal system discovered that many prostitutes were victims of circumstances (or of patriarchy, or of gangsters) and couldn't bring itself to punish them for their own bad luck,

But we still didn't want it as a society. We didn't want women on street corners propositioning men in front of families. We didn't want men driving cars slowly down streets where prostitutes were known to work and propositioning daughters and wives of decent folk. Hence the laws against communicating for the purposes of prostitution.

We didn't want houses of ill-repute, brothels, operating openly, with all the imagined shouting, fighting, fornicating, and accompanying criminal activity and overall bad influences on the community they were presumed to bring. Hence the laws against keeping a common bawdy house.

We wanted to go after the exploitative pimps who we all knew were keeping poor women trapped in prostitution and taking the bulk of their earnings for themselves to finance their repulsive lifestyles. Hence the laws against living off the avails of prostitution.

But the Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled against all those laws saying they denied the freedom and safety of the person Charter rights of prostitutes. For reasons you can look up if you're so inclined.

Proponents for the freedom of sex-workers to be sex workers were delighted, whereas social conservatives and feminists for the abolition of prostitution were appalled. The fraudulently-installed harper regime, under the leadership of our moronic, corrupt "Justice Minister" Peter MacKay returned with a law (which will surely be tossed-out upon a challenge), based partially on what is known as the "Nordic Model" of prostitution regulation; in that it targets the clients, the buyers of sex, rather than the prostitutes themselves, the sellers of sex. (It also criminalizes prostitutes though, outlawing communication for the purposes of prostitution, and providing criminal penalties for conducting the business anywhere near where a child might come into contact with it. This bit of overreach is what will doubtlessly have the law thrown out.)

When all is said and done, I think the reality of prostitution for most people who have ever been in the trade has been a bad thing. And therefore, I'm prepared to say that if the "Nordic Model" works, and it really reduces prostitution without producing all the dangers for those who remain in the trade (especially if it doesn't reduce their numbers by all that much, producing an absolute increase in human misery) then it should be tried.

As a result there is a heated debate between sex-workers and their advocates and abolitionists. The sex-workers accuse the abolitionists of making their lives more difficult and dangerous and the abolitionists accuse the sex-worker freedom advocates of being dupes to patriarchy and, furthermore, that they are putting their imagined "freedoms" before the actual sufferings of other women (especially minorities, especially - in Canada - indigenous women, who are disproportionately forced into the trade). As Sooey Says says, it is unfair to blame abolitionist feminists for the male violence that they claim will result from this continued criminalization.

I'd like to offer some of my own speculation. All of the things that sex-worker freedom advocates talk about: Operating from a safe space, having a phone number to screen calls, having a security system, ... don't apply to some poor woman, perhaps a drug-addict, working the street. But much more work is going to be necessary in our society be able to stop poor women from going out to the streets in desperation to  try to sell their bodies. Aboriginal rights activists and feminists,, especially those who had been former sex workers themselves, ... that's not going to have much impact on the desperately poor aboriginal women who are going to inevitably find themselves in the trade.

What is needed is genuine alternatives to prostitution. (Which is why I wonder about the persistence of prostitution in the Nordic countries with their advanced welfare states.)

What is needed is an assault on the mental prejudices, such as misogyny, that poison society in all sorts of areas, including the sex trade. But racism is another one. Less misogyny and racism will mean greater equality and social justice for racialized minority women in our society and less likelihood that if a man finds himself with a prostitute who is a racialized minority female, that he will feel ENTITLED to treat her like garbage.

My position is that there is nothing inherently wrong with prostitution per se., but there is a lot wrong with our society. There is so much wrong with our society, that if the Nordic Model works, then it should be implemented. But if the Nordic Model doesn't reduce prostitution by as much as its advocates claim and it makes things more dangerous for those who remain, then it should be abandoned.

There is nothing inherently wrong with coffee really. But it is often harvested by exploited peasants who are murdered if they organize against their exploitation. There is nothing inherently wrong with lap-tops, but they contain the mineral coltran, which is often mined by child slaves, and they are often manufactured in Chinese sweat-shops by workers whose working conditions sometimes drive them to suicide. We continue to  drink coffee and work on our lap-tops while issuing blanket condemnations of prostitution and calling for its utter abolition. And, no, I'm not trying to back-handedly condemn abolitionists of glaring hypocrisy. I'm saying only what my words say: That I believe there is nothing inherently wrong with prostitution but I recognize that the conditions for most prostitutes are appalling. It is the factors (anti-sex psychoses/misogyny/racism/economic injustice) that make it horrible that should be attacked. But that's true with or without the Nordic Model.

Here ends my series on prostitution.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Arguments For and Against Prostitution

Now, I've said that I wouldn't partake of the services of prostitutes. At the moment I can't see myself doing that. It's entirely possible that I might one day be a 65-year old lecher calling up some escort service for a 20-year old vixen, but I don't see it.

That having been said, I don't see prostitution as inherently evil and degrading. Certainly as it manifests itself, I think that in practice it is often evil and degrading. This is due to our love-hate relationship with sex and to the general level of misogyny in our society.

From what some sex-workers have to say though, it isn't always the case. In interviews with sex columnists, I've read that individual prostitutes have reported that anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of their clients express sincere gratitude for their services. The actual number of abusive clients being quite small in comparison.

If it's possible to separate sex from love (and it most certainly is), prostitution can serve as a useful way for inexperienced people to become comfortable with the act, instead of fumbling and embarrassing themselves with a hopeful romantic partner.

It's possible that individuals might have difficulty finding a romantic partner for extended periods of time. Rather than suffer in undesired sexlessness, or entering into a doomed relationship with an incompatible partner, people could relieve the tension by paying for a prostitute.

It seems to be the case that neither men nor women are hard-wired for lifetime monogamy. Unfortunately for us, we arrange our lives in the hopes of having lifetime partners, especially when we have children together.  Rather than have "affairs" and all the messiness that entails, men and women could obtain sexual variety from prostitutes.

Finally (for now) people interested in exploring sexual "kinks" could investigate these desires with specialist prostitutes who can moderate the level of intensity as these newcomers require.

What could go wrong?

Virgins can find their initial sexual experiences to be cold and mechanical. (As opposed to fumbling and embarrassing.)

Difficult people can swear-off ever trying to be emotionally mature enough for a romantic relationship and instead be self-centered assholes to prostitutes.

Married partners can blow the kids' college fund on prostitutes.

Prostitutes can be unwillingly forced to perform unnatural acts for perverted, sadistic employers and clients.

At the back of it all is coercion. Let's not kid ourselves.  If "red-light districts" or brothels and rub-and-tugs didn't exist, there wouldn't be so many human traffickers tricking or coercing so many women (especially from poor countries) into sexual slavery. (Gorgeous women from Eastern Europe don't have an innate desire to fuck all sorts of Western men for money which the end of the Cold War has now made it possible for them to do. Those hot Asian babes in the classified ads don't all consider themselves to be "living the dream.")

On the other hand, there definitely are women for whom (who?) prostitution is freely chosen. NOT because it's the dream job they saw themselves doing ever since they were little girls, but because it's the steadiest work they can find and it pays the best wages they see themselves as being able to command. I don't think this is the same thing as economic and sexual exploitation. Please follow: Sex is not inherently degrading. Prostitution is not inherently degrading. Prostitution is an occupation. The vast majority of their clients are either noticeably grateful and/or repeat customers. It pays the bills far better than any other occupation that they see themselves as able to obtain.

It's these women who have decided that in this world, in this life, at this place and time, that this is what they're going to do. And they saw the laws that prevented them from working from a safe space, able to freely communicate with and screen their clients, and able to employ drivers/bodyguards, have boyfriends, support their children, as violating their rights to freedom of expression and security of the person.

Does legalized prostitution mean that human trafficking is now legal? Did the Supreme Court strike down laws against fraudulently telling Chinese women that they could provide them with modelling jobs in Canada, force them into prostitution, keep their passports from them and threaten them with violence if they try to leave?

It did not.

Did the Supreme Court say that juveniles are free to sell their bodies and to turn the money over to their pimps?

It did not.

Again though: Where is the line separating a respectful, grateful client of an independent individual who has (for all intents and purposes) voluntarily entered into the sex-trade, and the entitled, selfish creep who doesn't care that the young woman he's using is the victim of kidnapping and coercion? Or the men who are having sex with children? I don't know where that line is. I honestly don't.

One constant is the vast over-representation of men as the clients. Why is this?

A lot is said about "male entitlement" and a lot of that is valid. Supposedly men feel entitled to women's bodies and will become resentful and violent when their desires are frustrated. This is true. But in the same way that people cannot see their "privilege" because it seems so natural, some men can't see their sense of "entitlement." To them, it's just "desire." They haven't constructed the world so that women's economic choices are such that so many of them see prostitution as the best of a bad situation. (Albeit sometimes a lucrative best of a bad situation.)

And I want to advance a possibility that I honestly have no idea whether it's valid or not: But might it not be the case that the general lack of a sense of "entitlement" among women is at least partially the result of society denying women's sexual desire? In a culture where little girls are discouraged from burping and farting and otherwise being human, and where sexual women are shamed as "sluts" and "whores," the paucity of female demand for male prostitutes a result of sexual repression? (Or is it also the case that if a woman wants to get laid, she only has to make this information public to be satisfied, which is not always the case for men?)

When I first opened this line of discussion, I mentioned that there are social-cultural-economic reasons why men don't become prostitutes in as great numbers as women. There's a lack of demand, but also a lack of necessity or free choice to do so.

So, the end result of today's post is that I don't know the answers. I'll conclude with a final post about the issue of safety.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is Prositution Inherently Degrading?

What kind of a question is that?

Is sex inherently degrading? No. But it sure can feel that way sometimes. (Louis CK has a routine where, early in his career, he sleeps with a drunken patron and she wakes up and looks at him and then holds her face in her hands in disgust. He says it's always interesting to find out you're part of somebody's hitting rock-bottom in their life.)

So, yeah. Sex can be messy and sordid and nothing you'd want your parents or your pastor to see you doing. But other times it can be pretty darned nice. Darned tootin'!

So I think it is with prostitution.  Most of the time I'm sure "sex work" is disgusting. For the vast bulk of the people performing it. Other times, it must seem pretty rote and repetitive. (Just like it probably is for a lot of married people.) For a lucky few, it might be extremely well-paying and occasionally enjoyable and fun. No doubt, for almost everyone in the trade, there are a lot of insights on the human condition to be had (if they're sensitive enough to pick them up).

I think I'm going to skip ahead a bit here. I 'll just come out and say that I think a lot of the reason why prostitution is outright loathed though, is because there is, in our society, as in most societies, the feeling that sex is inherently degrading. That sex is bad.

I also think that in our society, as in most societies, women are degraded. Women are inherently bad and inferior.

And, therefore, women who engage in the sex trade get the appellation "WHORE" which is up there with among the worst things that you can call someone. And I think it's the combination of these two toxic mindsets that produce most of the evils of prostitution.

I could probably come up with something more profound and insightful, but that's all for today.

 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Prostitution Again

There seems to be a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the abolition/de-criminalization/legalization debate. Very often this rhetoric backs up some valuable insights.

Personally, I can't see that I'd ever use the services of a prostitute. There's too much of coercion and desperation in that line of work. I can't even see myself getting a high-price "escort" (assuming I could afford it) because of the continuities between the exploited victims of human traffickers and the drug addicts and the confident, highly remunerated "lady of the evening."

(Pornography; now THAT's a different matter. For the most part they get to choose who they work with, that is, who they fuck. That's different from going on pay-dates with strangers. Obviously, some women in porn aren't where they want to be, and there a continuities between them and the porn-stars, but my aversion to high-priced prostitution isn't based on rationality. Also, I don't watch pornography that has men slapping faces, pulling hair, choking women. Seeing that makes me queasy. Truth be told, I prefer that men not be there at all. They either look like lumpy things, or scrawny shapeless things. And I always get uncomfortable that they're going to start with the slapping and the choking.)

But a lot of the people using the rhetoric are supposedly not arguing about the morality of it at all, but about the issue of safety for sex-workers, or women's rights (with abolitionists and legalizers taking up that mantle). Even if Dr. Dawg accused the abolitionists of being Miss Grundy's and the abolitionists say that prostitution is inherently about misogyny and male privilege.

Okay: Safety.

"Sooey" of  "Sooey Says" takes umbrage at blaming abolitionist feminists for the male violence that women sex-workers will be subjected to if sex-work is driven further underground by the harpercons' abolitionist new prostitution law. (Prostitution politics makes for strange bedfellows.)

Does the "Nordic Model" work? It's proponents say that it does. It's detractors disagree. (Again I ask; Why is there prostitution in the Nordic countries??? With more developed welfare states than we have?) If it works, then it works. And good. (I guess.)

I'll pick this up later. Maybe make a series of it. Because so many divergent facets are popping into my head as I type.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why I'm So Intolerant

NOTE: It has been pointed out to me by the estimable Alison at Creekside, that the target of my ire in this post; retired parliamentary law clerk Rob Walsh, is a stand-up guy. She provides evidence of this in her comments. I still find his statement:  "It's just self-serving politics." to be inexplicable. I also find his claim that Wright's hush-money to Duffy was more like "settling a lawsuit" to be completely wrong. I don't deny the evidence that Alison presented and I don't rule-out that Walsh has sounded intelligent on other matters, in other places, or that I might be misinterpreting him here. But I still vehemently disagree with his analysis in this context.

And let the above stand as proof that I can dispute with or disagree with a person without believing that they're an idiot!

THE ACTUAL, ORIGINAL POST

There's something about me that rubs some people the wrong way. I do NOT believe that anyone who disagrees with me is stupid. I think it's more the case that when I write about people I disagree with, I make damn sure that I'm confident that I'm right on the subject of our disagreement and that what my adversary thinks is clearly wrong. On top of that, there ARE a lot of stupid people in the world and you can't blame me for disagreeing with some of them.

One example of this is my disagreement with the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in their asinine (and possibly treasonous) ruling allowing Ted Opitz to keep his stolen federal seat in Etobicoke-Centre. Who am I to disagree with the learned Supreme Court Justices? A citizen of Canada with his own brain. That's who. Any ruling that says that glaring clerical errors shouldn't nullify an election won by a plurality of .001% of the vote and who cares if we don't know who really won, is a piece-of-shit ruling. Plus, the minority opinion demonstrates the lunacy of the majority decision.

Here's another example. The CBC is tying itself in knots trying to figure our how the RCMP can be investigating Mike Duffy for a pay-off that was found to have been totally innocent when Nigel Wright's neck was on the line:
On the face of it, it seems at odds with basic logic.

How did a payment seemingly deemed perfectly legal while in the hands of the giver — in this case, the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, who lost his job over the controversy — turn into an alleged bribe the instant it found its way to the recipient, Senator Mike Duffy?
Apparently, retired parliamentary law clerk Rob Walsh took a whack at explaining this to the CBC in Fall 2013:
"What benefit did Duffy give to Wright in exchange for the $90,000?  That Duffy make no further media comments? This is not a benefit to Wright," he pointed out via email.

"The funds were given to Duffy to bring the Duffy expenses controversy to an end, like settling a lawsuit. This is not fraud, nor is it breach of trust."

"I don't see any of this supporting criminal charges," Walsh concluded. 

"It's just self-serving politics."
Rob, you miserable, ignorant slut. stephen harper made Mike Duffy the Senator for Prince Edward Island (even though Duffy wasn't a citizen of that province, possessing, as he did, and Ontario health card, and was therefore not constitutionally allowed to represent hem) so that he could fund-raise for the Conservative Party of Canada on the taxpayers' dime. When it turned out that Duffy's claims for his Ottawa residence were rejected and his travel expenses were audited and found to be unrelated to his Senate duties (since he was fund-raising for the Conservatives), Duffy was told to pay them back. Not being a wealthy man, Duffy balked at the idea of being out of pocket because of harper's fuck-up and he kicked up a fuss, threatening to expose the whole scam. (Alison at Creekside does a better job than I'm capable of in describing this fiasco.) Suffice to say, it eventually came to super-rich harpercon cheif-of-staff Nigel Wright to pay Duffy's debt, in return for his silence. In a farrago of lying, first it was Duffy paid the money back himself with a loan from the Royal Bank. Then it was "good friend" (they weren't) Nigel Wright paying it to save the taxpayers' money (who would never have seen that $90,000 otherwise or some such stupid thing.

Again, go read the posts by Alison at Creekside to get a firm grasp on this cover-up. It was political power, class privilege and RCMP corruption that saved Nigel Wright from the consequences of his actions. Duffy is already on the hot-seat and threatening to squeal, so harper is trying to destroy him now.

So, to revisit Rob Walsh's stupid question:
"What benefit did Duffy give to Wright in exchange for the $90,000?  That Duffy make no further media comments? This is not a benefit to Wright," he pointed out via email.

"The funds were given to Duffy to bring the Duffy expenses controversy to an end, like settling a lawsuit. This is not fraud, nor is it breach of trust."
The "benefit" in question is Duffy's silence, which would "benefit" the Conservative Party of Canada, which is the political party that Wright nominally worked for and the party which (more importantly) works for Nigel Wright's political class.  Any honest person looking at this fiasco could see that.

Interestingly enough, the CBC story quotes Section 119 (1) of the Criminal Code in a discussion about whether Wright's $90,000 to Duffy was a "gift":
A gift, after all, is freely given, with no strings — or, to use the parlance of Section 119(1) of the Criminal Code, no requirement that something that has or is to be "done or omitted by that person in their official capacity."
Wright's hush money was definitely NOT a "gift." A more relevant piece of legislation to have looked at would be the Parliament of Canada Act; more specifically:
Parliament of Canada Act
Part II - Senate


16. (1) No member of the Senate shall receive or agree to receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, for services rendered or to be rendered to any person, either by the member or another person,

(a) in relation to any bill, proceeding, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation, arrest or other matter before the Senate or the House of Commons or a committee of either House; or

(b) for the purpose of influencing or attempting to influence any member of either House.

Offence and punishment

(2) Every member of the Senate who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of not less than one thousand dollars and not more than four thousand dollars.

Offering prohibited compensation

(3) Every person who gives, offers or promises to any member of the Senate any compensation for services described in subsection (1), rendered or to be rendered, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year and to a fine of not less than five hundred dollars and not more than two thousand dollars. 
Now, I'd say that abusing taxpayers' dollars for the specific benefit of the government party is a pretty grievous crime. I'd say that paying a Senator's legal bills for him to get him out of an audit and to buy his silence about who thought up the plan to steal taxpayers' money to benefit the Conservative Party of Canada is clearly in violation of the Parliament of Canada Act.

Let's not kid ourselves here. This farce is a mockery of the rule of law in Canada, despite what fools such as Mr. Walsh or the corrupt RCMP say or do. 

And it's shit like this that makes me so intolerant of the stupidity that passes for politics in this country.

Friday, July 18, 2014

OMG

When is Dr. Dawg ever going to fucking learn??? He writes a great post about Israel's slaughtering of Palestinians, and then, he allows those two scum-bags, K-Z and Marky Mark to pollute it.  I stopped reading so who knows? Maybe that Old Peter (or whatever the fuck his name is) contributes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Another Take On the Do-Nothing (English-Canadian) Left

A somewhat different take on the pathetic lack of ability of progressive Canadians by rabble.ca's Mike Laxer:

"Limiting the Possible: English Canada's invisible left"

Laxer starts off by telling us that good things are happening elsewhere:
In virtually every single developed, nominally democratic capitalist country in the world, interesting anti-capitalist or left social democratic movements are being formed, winning seats and threatening the established do-nothing centrist "left" that has become a collaborator with the austerity agenda.
In Quebec, Quebec Solidaire, which is the victim of an almost complete media blackout in English Canada, has shown that a real left party is, indeed, possible in Canada even without proportional representation (the lack of which so many fall back upon as an excuse for doing nothing) and that it can elect people.
But that all English Canada's left can offer are excuses:
Typically and predictably leftists in English Canada, when seeking to explain their total unwillingness and inability to build movements like QS, try to claim that Quebec has such a fundamentally different political culture that what is possible there is not possible "here."

The line is that "realism" dictates that we have to tack to a very narrow set of ideas, all of which accept, in every way, that capitalism is an absolute fact and that neoliberalism is an inescapable framework that requires us to truncate our aspirations so as to leave out anything that might actually help workers or those living in poverty.
Is it just an excuse about the difference between, say, Ontario and Quebec? Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure is the case that we have to press for more. I myself push for "Workers as Citizens." (Well, I used to, before I'd either get a room full of silence or some bullshit about how groovy co-ops were and the subject is changed and co-ops haven't spread like dandelions in the almost twenty years since I used to bother.) 
But, if this is true, English Canada has one of the truly great reactionary, empty-headed and seemingly unalterable political cultures in the world. This is convenient as a narrative for those who wish to do nothing!

It is as if the near universal defeatism within what passes for an English Canadian left feels that there is an English Canadian exceptionalism of some kind and that English Canada is simply incapable of what every other part of the advanced capitalist world is capable of... a political alternative to capitalism.

Much of the labour movement and many social activists aid and abet this by advocating for ideas "in theory" that they do little to achieve in practice.

In theory the left and labour movement in Ontario, for example, is in favour of living wages and a $14-an-hour minimum wage now. They share memes online about how great it is that Americans are really mobilizing en masse about this and getting results, they turn out for rallies, but when push comes to shove they do nothing to counter the fact that absolutely no politicians in the province are willing to campaign on this.
Strong stuff!
They endorse and tell people to campaign for candidates, be they Liberal, NDP or municipal, who do not actually advocate for what they claim to want to achieve, and are then eternally sidelined by the fact that they will not only be taken for granted but that no one will take their demands seriously.
Why should they? If Liberals and New Democrats know that they will ultimately be backed one way or another, they have no reason to care.
The inconvenient truth is that you cannot and will not achieve what you claim to want to achieve by backing politicians and parties that are not advocating for what you claim to want! Calling for living wages or real workers rights and then backing liberal or pseudo-social democratic politicians in elections means that the demands are not legitimate and the politicians know this.
You cannot "demand" something and then advocate voting for people who do not support it. This negates the very idea of a "demand."
This is true. But it's not so cut-and-dried is it? What's a better use of my time? Volunteer for a Liberal candidate from the "Not Totally Contemptuous of Parliament Party" to try to stop harper, or get doors slammed in my face for the Socialist Party of Ontario? Should we form a left party (or join Laxer's?) and put our hearts and souls into it and maybe, in fifty years, achieve the stunning heights of power of the Green Party of Canada (which has a lot more potential)?

The fact of the matter is that there are no easy answers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bottom Line: We Didn't Stop harper

It's possible that by shitting on veterans, stopping home mail delivery, screwing over both workers with the Temporary Workers Program, and then the low-paying employers who they first enabled, and stumbling from scandal to scandal, the stupid, corrupt harpercons might have alienated so many voters that even healthy doses of election fraud won't gain them another majority.

It's possible, but it is by no means a certain thing. Thanks to a majority on the Supreme Court of Canada, ballot stuffing is now legal. If there are more ballots than names on the voters' list, challengers will have to prove malice after the fact. Otherwise (so their stupid, asinine ruling goes) we are to assume that those extra votes were made in good faith by innocent Canadians and careless (but not malevolent) poll clerks.

As well, investigations into election law violations remain a secret from Canadians (nice and quiet) and Elections Canada (already a neutered institution and an accomplice in harpercon cover-ups of their crimes) has even less powers than it did before to investigate fraud.

We are going to see fraud like you won't believe in the next election. So it's entirely possible that harper will steal another majority government.

But the time to take harper down shouldn't be in some scheduled 2015 electoral contest. harper has no respect for Parliament; none whatsoever, and we all know that he cheated his way to victory in 2011. The rule-of-law and respect for the democratic wishes of shit-heads should have had nothing to do with it. (NOTE: NOT because they're shit-heads, but because their votes didn't add up to a genuine majority and, furthermore, they voted either out of colossal, inexcusable ignorance for a clearly anti-democratic CRIMINAL, or they knew and they didn't care, ... in which case, to hell with 'em.)

But if harper is defeated in 2015, it will have nothing to do with us or anything that we did.

he is here today, braying about his love for seeing Palestinian children blasted to fragments as our representative, because we failed to stop him.

his very defiling presence is an indictment of our impotence and failure.

Before I hear another tiresome condemnation of my negativity, I would ask you to outline the campaign to actually "STOP HARPER" and to tell me what you personally did to try to do so yourselves.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Insolvable Problems Really Aren't

The Israel-Palestine tragedy isn't insolvable. It simply isn't the case that the peace-loving people of Israel will be forever doomed to their tragic "self-defence" against the insane death-cultist Palestinian Arabs.

It seems like an insolvable problem to some observers because they think that the weak, barely armed Palestinians are irrationally hurling themselves against the benevolent and wise and heavily armed and powerful Israelis out of vile anti-Semitism and nationalist delusions and infernal Muslim blood-lust. The reality, of course, is that bigoted Israeli expansionists are trying to steal the Palestinians' remaining lands and since taking land by conquest is clearly illegal, they're nibbling away at Palestine piece-by-piece via "settlements" (which are still illegal, but there's enough of a "process" involved that self-interested people can self-delude themselves that they aren't illegal) and, also, through the occupation, Israel can make life in Gaza and the West Bank intolerable for the Palestinians in the hopes that they'll all leave.

Anger at this injustice and at the conditions of their existence drives some Palestinians to engage in their Quixotic rocket-attacks at Israel and to occasionally hurl rocks at their soldiers.

This process continues decade after decade because it's in Israel's benefit that it continue. The USA supports Israel because Israel is a loyal attack dog for them in a geo-politically/economically important part of the world. (OIL) US puppets like Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt collude in the oppression of their fellow Arabs because their governments are run by corrupt scum who don't give a shit about their own people so why should they care about the Palestinians?

The flood of refugees from Mexico and the rest of Latin America isn't going to end any time soon. But it's not an inevitability. For as long as racist, right-wing shit-heads believe that this flood of human misery is actually part of a bizarre "re-Conquista" of the South-Western United States (stolen from Mexico by the USA in the mid-1800s) as well as being simply a manifestation of unadulterated laziness and greed of people hoping to sneak into the country and have their "anchor babies" so that they can sponge off of the USA's super-indulgent welfare state, or (and please ignore the contradiction) it's a scheme of super-industrious Latinos to steal Americans' jobs just because they like to steal, .... for so long as those asinine ideas hold sway, it will be a problem.

Or, more accurately, for so long as those crackpot theories dominate, they will obscure the truth which, if faced directly, could bring an end to the problem. This truth is that Latin America is dominated by the United States and the United States is dominated by insanely corrupt and greedy fucks who are driving their own population down with their mercenary economic policies and they force these economic policies on countries that are far too poor to be able to mask their deleterious effects. These immiserating policies force millions of people to flee to the USA to find some sort of work to keep themselves and their families from literally starving to death. (Cuba produces economic refugees as well. How much of this is due to the blockade, how much is the fault of the government there, and how much is the inevitable product of the limited opportunities in a poor country is beyond my knowledge.)

As well, US elites think nothing of applying brutal warfare against any movement within Latin America  that tries to change things, and this produces either states of civil war or, after those wars are over, states of lawlessness and violence.

Canada's First Nations are not doomed to poverty forever. It simply isn't the case that our governments have lavished money and programs on them since forever, in the blinkered hopes that allowing them to wallow in dependency on reserves run by inevitably corrupt leadership (tolerated because the people within these reserves are too lazy to do anything about them, are on the take themselves and because corruption is an integral part of the First Nations' social make-up) will somehow magically transform into vital, independent, self-governing communities within the Canadian family of peoples.

It's actually the case that our governments used to brazenly abuse the First Nations, decade after decade, and that, while they're still suffering the traumatic after-effects of much of this, our governments are more content just to under-fund their communities, decade after decade, in the hopes that they'll all just leave their reserves and wander into the towns and cities of the settler society (where, supposedly they have always been welcomed as brothers and sisters and fellow Canadians and are never denied jobs by racist employers or beaten by racist cops or raped and murdered by racist scum) and renounce all their claims to special status and resource rights. They're kind of like our Palestinians that way. If there is corruption among their leadership (and there is) most of it is directly the product of our own corrupt governments who foster sell-outs among the First Nations to manage this sick state of affairs in return for some short-term personal benefit.

If we were to fund First Nations' social programs on the same per-capita basis that the rest of Canadians' programs are funded, and were to give them control over their own natural resources, and were to realize that the "gifts" they were promised in our treaties with them were not one-time lump-sum payments for land, but were an ongoing obligation since their cooperation made Canada viable in the first place, we would go a long way to solving this seemingly insolvable problem.

Just remember, the corrupt and destructive US elite has produced a country that believes deeply entrenched poverty and inequality is unavoidable. Monthly mass-shootings are an inevitability. Their health-care crisis is an inevitability. Their massive prison population is an inevitability. People in other industrialized nations know that such is not the case. As do informed US Americans. Unfortunately, the contagion of religious stupidity and corporate maximum-propanda "information" systems have oozed across our borders and plenty of Canadians are so fucking stupid that, well, Jesus fucking Christ, ... a disgusting imbecile like Rob Ford looks good to them.

However, since the left is incapable of attacking the root causes of these problems, perhaps they are unsolvable.

Friday, July 11, 2014

What Do We Want and How Do We Intend to Get There?

One of my pet peeves with the Left is the lack of vision about the world they want to see. Sure, "social justice" and "environmental sanity" are excellent values, but what are the mechanics for achieving this?

Some on the left favour remaining powerless children, petitioning their masters to somehow make these things happen.

Others prefer mindlessly voting for sell-out political parties to legislate these things within a capitalist political economy..

More "radical" types advocate "tearing everything down" (whatever that means) and rebuilding a new world from scratch (with no indication of how this vast task is to be achieved). [What gives me some relief about this is that these dangerous ideas are generally espoused by a tiny group of powerless nobodies with no idea about how laughable/contemptible they appear.]

Rather than grandiose delusions about catastrophic transformations of everything or a mewling "working within the system" I have advocated looking at our existing system and discovering the maximum of what can be achieved with it. In response to stephen harper's criminality, I have called for a "constitutional insurgency" to restore our rights and to restore the limits on his powers. I believe the same thing holds true for the USA. The letter of the law and the letter of the Constitution would end many of the abuses and outrages of the Repugs and Degemorats and their corporate paymasters.

Is it possible that ordinary shlubs like us, both on the left and on the right to work together?  If the right-wing is worried about Liberal corruption and leftists "Stalinism" could we not humour them their delusions in return for getting their assistance in stopping harpercon abuses and exploitation?

Probably not. First of all: politically active US Americans have disgraced themselves by acquiescing to either bush II's or Obama's serial violations of the US Constitution while shrieking hypocritically about the other's crimes. Furthermore, too many people on the left have no idea about the potential of our political system. Again; they either want to remain supplicants and let their masters stay in control or they delude themselves that they know better than the entire history of humanity about how to build successful democratic societies and that our entire system can be cavalierly tossed into the trash heap.

It makes me slightly nauseous just to think of the extent of this incapacity.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reply to LALI

At first I thought that I'd ignore it. (Which seemed to be LALI's request anyway.) I thought I'd write about something else. But it all seemed so pointless to have a blog with a comments section and to not .... oh well.

In the comments section of the last post there's some back and forth between me and the commentator I call "LALI." You can read the rest if you want, but suffice to say that after a detailed comment from LALI I wrote:

There's too much for me to go at in that comment. I'll limit myself to two points:

1. Yes, Afghanistan is over for us. But for the ELEVEN YEARS we were involved, the goddamned left had zero impact for all of our "rallying" and "actions."

2. harper might be through, but it will be because of widespread disillusionment with his own corruption, incompetence and the unpopularity of his policies.

Which means, we were pretty much useless in bringing about his expected political demise.

Which has been my point this whole time

Thursday, July 3, 2014

If We're Not Losers, Why Do Our Own Parties Ignore or Defy Us

Why am I not "training my guns" on the real enemies? Because, say I were to write some brilliant condemnation of the capitalist-imperialists, what would happen? The left would go "You tell 'em thwap!" and that'd be it. There's no movement to galvanize. There's no organization. There's no hope of tactics. There's nothing.

Better, methinks, that I shame the smug, self-satisfied denizens of the left out of their brain-dead allegiance to failure. Or not. It's what I want to talk about anyhow, so tuff shit to you all.

It's pretty simple really. We're so useless and powerless that even our own parties think nothing of ignoring us to "move to the center" to get votes of people more numerous and important than we are. They even smile gratefully when they receive praise from the corporate media for ignoring us or even for abandoning policies designed to appeal to us.

They do this because they know there's nothing we can or would do about it. (Rather than take our supposedly inconsequential amount of votes away.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Alienating People

I have been accused of being cynical. My condemnations of the left's incompetence is based on cynicism. Personally, I have always thought that a cynic is someone who sees ulterior motives behind other people's actions, or who acts dishonestly, not believing in the task that he or she is undertaking, believing that it will fail.

Here's the dictionary definition of "cynicism":
1. distrusting or disparaging the motives of others; like or characteristic of a cynic.
2. showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one's actions, especially by actions that exploit the scruples of others.
3. bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.
So, taking one part of this definition ("bitterly pessimistic") and, perhaps ("bitterly contemptuous") I suppose the term applies to me. But it also doesn't apply to me, if we consider how much faith I put in our institutions and the ability of the Canadian people to live up to them and utilize them. In that, I was idealistic. I actually believed that Canada, having inherited the traditions of British parliamentary democracy, and being on such familiar terms with the American culture, could have been an important example for the world on how to tame corporate criminality and elite lawlessness in general.

Alas. My ideals and hopes were totally unfounded. In my earlier post I asked three questions of my progressive critics who believe that I'm a useless downer who is discouraging the troops (who, presumably, would be leaping from victory to victory but for my negativism). I present them again in case anyone would care to point out the hidden triumphs that the left has, in fact, achieved on these issues:

1. How successful was the peace movement at preventing or monitoring or ending the Canadian occupation of Afghanistan?

2. What exactly have Canadian progressives done to "Stop Harper" and how successful has it been?

3. How effective have Canadian environmentalists and progressives been at blocking the devastation of the Tar Sands project?

For my money, the peace movement was unable to prevent our joining the occupation. We had no impact on the troop levels or the behaviour of our forces during the occupation. We might have given vital moral support to the opposition parties that tried to shine some daylight on our atrocious handling of detainees, but when the harpercons invented their brazen cover-up (to which the Liberals and the Bloc signed-off on) our influence fell to zero once more. To the extent that the harpercons finally ended this costly debacle and pulled out our exhausted troops, it was as much do to growing discontent among the population as a whole, as to our influence. That and the spiralling costs, and the schedules of our US masters who were drawing down their efforts with their special forces terrorists and what-not.

What have we achieved in the way of stopping harper as he defecates on responsible government and the rule of law? Aside from the Council of Canadians' important lawsuits, I can't think of any effective actions we've taken. At present, we are hoping that harper's own corruption and incompetence will alienate enough of the electorate and discourage enough of his own base of ignorant or vile people, that some party (probably the pro-Tar Sands, pro-"War on Terror" Liberal Party) will overcome vote-splitting and harpercon election fraud, to defeat him in the next election. Please note that in this scenario, we progressives are merely spectators, having little influence over either opposition party behaviour or voter behaviour.

With regards to the Tar Sands and the hateful Keystone pipeline project environmentalists have at least been able to impact the national conversation about these ecological monstrosities. So far as practically limiting the expansion and therefore, continued toxic devastation from the Tar Sands or blocking the pipeline, our impact has been negligible. (It remains to be seen whether the furious opposition to the pipeline in British Columbia itself will amount to anything. I suspect it might. The First Nations and B.C. environmentalists have been willing to put their bodies on the line to fight deforestation and pollution in the past. If they do so here, it will be evidence that direct action works.)

Actually, "direct action" is what is sorely lacking from most of the left's strategy and tactics on all these files. Unless one considers afternoon protest rallies as "direct action," which I don't. "Direct Action" is what I, the defeatist cynic had tried to organize with no resources and no influence. I could not overcome the tendency of the online "activists" to bitch pointlessly and to prophesize stunning victories out of nowhere.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

thwap vs. George Monbiot & His Optimism

Commenter "greg" (or someone anonymous) sought to challenge my pessimism and defeatism by hepping me to this George Monbiot editorial, entitled "An Ounce of Hope is Worth a Ton of Despair." and it's subtitled "We cannot reach people by terrifying them; there has to be a positive agenda."

I've like George Monbiot for a long time. It's kind of odd actually, that my pessimism and defeatism is being countered with something from Monbiot because he's one of the leftists I respect for actually proposing concrete plans for the world's problems. He doesn't just take a whole book to explain why everything is wrong, but spends about the same amount of time (or more) proposing what we should do about it.

Well, regardless, let's go through the essay and see what he has to say.
If we had set out to alienate and antagonise the people we’ve been trying to reach, we could scarcely have done it better. This is how I feel, looking back on the past few decades of environmental campaigning, including my own. 
I'm not entirely sure what he means. But I admit that I'm not your typical North American, so I don't know how alienated I should be by environmentalists. I suspect it has something to do with stereotypes about how we're going to have to wear burlap sacks and eat wheat-grass if the planet isn't to be destroyed. (All the tofu and wheat-grass is going to have to be distributed by government-owned, goat-drawn wagons, because hardly anybody will have jobs.)
This thought is prompted by responses to the column I wrote last week. It examined the psychological illiteracy that’s driving left-wing politics into oblivion(1). It argued that the failure by Labour and Democratic strategists to listen to psychologists and cognitive linguists has resulted in a terrible mistake: the belief that they can best secure their survival by narrowing the distance between themselves and their conservative opponents.
 Psychologists don't exactly have great track records as predictive scientists. And I've never before heard that cognitive linguists have been vainly trying to get the attention of center-left parties before. But I, personally, have been bemoaning this "move to the center" (which is far to the right of where it used to be) in contemporary politics. I do so because the policies of the right-wing are both inhuman and they debase those who practice them, and, what makes that debasement all the more tragic, they don't fucking work.
Twenty years of research, comprehensively ignored by these parties, reveals that shifts such as privatisation and cutting essential public services strongly promote people’s extrinsic values (an attraction to power, prestige, image and status) while suppressing intrinsic values (intimacy, kindness, self-acceptance, independent thought and action). As extrinsic values are powerfully linked to conservative politics, pursuing policies that reinforce them is blatantly self-destructive.
 That's interesting and I did not know that.
One of the drivers of extrinsic values is a sense of threat. Experimental work suggests that when fears are whipped up, they trigger an instinctive survival response(2). You suppress your concern for other people and focus on your own interests. Conservative strategists seem to know this, which is why they emphasise crime, terrorism, deficits and immigration.
Well, that's true I suppose. And while I've never thought about it that way before, I think I've been in agreement with it for a long time. I think we should dust-off the old liberal idea that people are improvable. That "the people" can be reasoned with and that they are decent. My own "Workers as Citizens" was based on faith in the collective wisdom of people will improve the economy and the environment and the political culture. I have always believed in empowering democracy and reducing autocracy. I believe that the vast majority of people would prefer dignity and stability over avarice and instability.
“Isn’t this what you’ve spent your life doing?”, several people asked. “Emphasising threats?” It took me a while. If threats promote extrinsic values and if (as the research strongly suggests) extrinsic values are linked to a lack of interest in the state of the living planet(3), I’ve been engaged in contradiction and futility. For about 30 years.
Well, then it's hard to fault political parties for having ignored the same advice you were. And, anyway, I don't think it was a bad thing to alert people to a devastating crisis by pointing out the disastrous consequences of inaction. I actually believe people are more intelligent than they're being presented here. The whole "burlap sacks and poverty" concept, coupled with the (now that I think of it) some environmentalists to indulge in self-loathing contempt for homo sapiens as a blight on the planet, coupled by the seeming indifference of many environmentalists to advocate practical steps of any kind, coupled with the domination of the media and the culture by short-sighted, greedy freaks, is probably more important than this extrinsic/intrinsic dichotomy.
The threats, of course, are of a different nature: climate breakdown, mass extinction, pollution and the rest. And they are real. But there’s no obvious reason why the results should be different. Terrify the living daylights out of people and they will protect themselves at the expense of others and of the living world.
Sounds reasonable.
It’s an issue taken up in a report by several green groups called Common Cause for Nature(4). “Provoking feelings of threat, fear or loss may successfully raise the profile of an issue,” but “these feelings may leave people feeling helpless and increasingly demotivated, or even inclined to actively avoid the issue.” People respond to feelings of insecurity “by attempting to exert control elsewhere, or retreating into materialistic comforts”.
Well, that sounds reasonable too.
Where we have not used threat and terror, we have tried money: an even graver mistake. Nothing could better reinforce extrinsic values than putting a price on nature, or making similar appeals to financial self-interest(5). And it doesn’t work, even on its own terms. A study published in Nature Climate Change, for example, tested two notices placed in a filling station(6). One asked, “Want to protect the environment? Check your car’s tyre pressure”. The other tried, “Want to save money? Check your car’s tyre pressure”. The first was quite effective, the second entirely useless.
That sounds strange. More studies needed. People always try to save money.
We’ve tended to assume that people are more selfish than they really are. Surveys across 60 countries show that most people consistently hold concern for others, tolerance, kindness and thinking for themselves to be more important than wealth, image and power(7). But those whose voices are loudest belong to a small minority with the opposite set of values. And often, idiotically, we have sought to appease them.
That's true. An article in Harper's had a writer talking to people from different income groups, from a Haitian refugee working as a bus-boy in an American restaurant, doubling incomes all the way up to a billionaire. Of all of them, it was only the billionaire who felt really aggrieved and put upon by the world. (The Haitian bus-boy just wanted to be treated with respect.)
This is a form of lying – to ourselves and other people. I don’t know anyone who became an environmentalist because she or he was worried about ecological impacts on their bank balance. 
 No. But I do know people who would reject environmentalism if it negatively impacted their employment and standard of living.
Almost everyone I know in this field is motivated by something completely different: the love and wonder and enchantment that nature inspires. Yet, perhaps because we fear we will not be taken seriously, we scarcely mention them. We hide our passions behind columns of figures, and if sometimes we come across as insincere there’s a reason for it. Sure, we need the numbers and the rigour and the science, but we should stop pretending that these came first.
Ugh. Now he's starting to sound like some New Age air-head. "Love and wonder and enchantment give me a thrill. But Love and wonder and enchantment can't pay my bills! Just give me ..."
Without being fully conscious of the failure and frustration that’s been driving it, I’ve been trying, like others, to promote a positive environmentalism, based on promise, not threat. This is what rewilding, the mass restoration of ecosystems, is all about, and why I wrote my book Feral, which is a manifesto for rewilding – and for wonder and enchantment and love of the natural world(8). But I’m beginning to see that this is not just another method: expounding a positive vision should be at the centre of attempts to protect the things we love(9). An ounce of hope is worth a ton of despair.

Part of this means changing the language. The language we use to describe our relations with nature could scarcely be more alienating. “Reserve” is alienation itself, or at least detachment: think of what it means when you apply that word to people. “Site of special scientific interest”, “no take zone”, “ecosystem services”: these terms are a communications disaster. Even “environment” is a cold and distancing word, which creates no pictures. These days I tend to use natural world or living planet, which invoke vivid images. One of the many tasks for the rewilding campaign some of us will be launching in the next few months is to set up a working group to change the language. There’s a parallel here with the Landreader project by the photographer Dominick Tyler, which seeks to rescue beautiful words describing nature from obscurity(10).

None of this is to suggest that we should not discuss the threats or pretend that the crises faced by this magnificent planet are not happening. Or that we should cease to employ rigorous research and statistics. What it means is that we should embed both the awareness of these threats and their scientific description in a different framework; one that emphasises the joy and awe to be found in the marvels at risk; one that proposes a better world, rather than (if we work really hard for it), just a slightly-less-shitty-one-than-there-would-otherwise-have-been.

Above all, this means not abandoning ourselves to attempts to appease a minority who couldn’t give a cuss about the living world, but think only of their wealth and power. Be true to yourself, true to those around you, and you will find the necessary means of reaching others.
Well, that was interesting and all. But it really has nothing to do with the sources of my pessimism and defeatism. Monbiot's talking about doom-and-gloom environmentalists and I'm talking about how progressives are incapable of establishing a goal and working efficiently towards it.

I've been called cynical. I think if you read this blog you'll see that I was anything but. If anything, I placed more hope and faith in my fellow Canadians and our institutions than most people and I'm heartbroken that my faith was misplaced. I've been told that my pessimism is discouraging the left-wing troops. I must ask: Discourage them from what exactly? Marching out to pointless rallies or voting Liberal? (Or NDP?)

I mean, let's just consider the answers to the following questions:

1. How successful was the peace movement at preventing or monitoring or ending the Canadian occupation of Afghanistan?

2. What exactly have Canadian progressives done to "Stop Harper" and how successful has it been?

3. How effective have Canadian environmentalists and progressives been at blocking the devastation of the Tar Sands project?