The neocon politics of cynicism and despair

Posted on August 5, 2015 in Governance Debates – Opinion / Readers’ Letters – Re: Harper moves directly into attack mode on GTA stop, Aug. 4
Aug 05, 2015

As Stephen Harper and the ruling Conservative Party have amply proven over the past decade, in the Alice in Wonderland fantasy world of neoconservative ideology, nothing is what it seems to be and anything is justifiable to achieve your aims.

Lying to cover your mistakes is effective crisis management and denying responsibility for them is the prime directive. Corruption is acceptable – just don’t get caught. Cronyism, patronage and double standards are legitimate political practices unless exposed, while saying one thing and doing another is ethically acceptable.

Welcome to the modernist neocon politics of cynicism and despair. In the face of undeniable and self-apparent realities of a sinking Titanic we are reassuringly told not to panic – everything’s just fine by our captain — the economy and our democracy are strong. This while the Conservatives continue to siphon off increasing economic wealth to enrich the 1 per cent and we teeter on the brink of a yet another cyclic recession in the boom and bust globalized capitalist economy amidst ongoing and persistent social decline.

To expose the truth, we must look behind Stephen Harper’s perpetual fixed smile and examine the verity of his claims and those of his movement. Amongst the most persistent and egregious oft-repeated myths perpetrated by neocons is the one that they are the best stewards of the economy and that cutting taxes is the way to improve the financial health of Canada. The lion’s share of these tax cuts always go to the private sector and the wealthy while the messaging is tax cuts for the middle class.

Over the past decade Canada has had one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world and little has changed so clearly this strategy has not worked. There is also little credible economic research that indicates any beneficial effects to the widely employed practice the neocons mindlessly chant. Similarly, cutting interest rates and depressing the Canadian dollar has had marginal positive effects on the economy while significantly raising costs for everyone in Canada in order to benefit a few industries that export goods.

A second mantra of neocons is cutting the wasteful cost of government. This is how tax cuts are paid for and is code for their dedicated bias towards the dismantling of government, social programs and social opposition to Conservative policies. It serves the double function of actually deconstructing the core structure of democracy that these organizations represent such as the changes to the Elections Act, the cuts to Statistics Canada and the muzzling of Government of Canada scientists.

These steps are more sinister than the changes to the economy but both are deeply concerning. Stephen Harper’s government has cut funding to a host of activist and other credible research groups while using the CRA to harass legitimate non-profit organizations that support causes disliked by the right such as the environment or who directly challenge the government on social policy. All this happens while the government covertly allocates billions of taxpayer’s money to corporate welfare, tax cuts for the wealthy and frivolous expenditures like the memorial to the victims of Russian aggression. Our democracy is looking more like an oligarchy every day that Stephen Harper is in office.

Contemporary neoconservative dogma as practiced by the extreme right of Stephen Harper’s Alliance/Conservative Party is a direct threat to real democracy, freedom and human rights that all Canadians should be concerned about that comes in the form of thousands of small and large negative changes to our social and governmental systems intended to weaken the structure of government itself and its democratic protections for citizens while strengthening the powers of the corporate sector and powerful right-wing elites.

When we vote on Oct. 19 we need to understand that the enemy of democracy is not the external threat of ISIS as Stephen Harper would claim but Harper himself and the ideology he stands for. Before we invite the Trojan horse into our Canadian village we need to think carefully about what we are actually getting.

Robert Bahlieda, Newmarket

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