Monday, May 26, 2014

Contempt Of The Electorate - Part 2

As I continue to ponder the question my friend Tom posed about why discredited economic theories are not vigorously opposed and exposed as such by political parties and media, two articles perhaps offer some helpful contextual information.

The first is by John Barber in today's Star, entitled Hudak’s discredited doctrine a lucky break for Wynne. In it, he remarks on the good fortune that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is enjoying by having an ideologue, Tim Hudak, helming the party of her chief opposition, The Progressive Conservatives of Ontario:

Hudak has presented her a chance once again to make righteous war on Mike Harris’s amply discredited Common Sense Revolution.

Barber speculates that embracing such an extreme austerity program that will see the elimination of 100,000 public service jobs in order to balance the books a year or two earlier than Wynne intends suggests one of two motives: either it is a strategy to gain a majority government by mobilizing true believers more likely to turn out in an election than others, or Hudak and his brain trust are mad, an explanation Barber favours, given that it reflects a worldwide trend of neoconservatives:

The boldness of the policy is the product of assumptions so ingrained the zealots see no need to explain them. Fixated by their own mechanistic ideology, they blandly expect voters to understand intuitively — or religiously, as they seem to do — that destroying jobs will create jobs and that cutting taxes will increase revenue. It’s all so clear to them. Don’t you see, Ontario?

Barber then provides a link to a recent column by Paul Krugman, entitled Points of No Return. In it, the economist writes about how facts, reason and informed cerebration seem to be losing out to crazed ideology and contempt for science and others sources of empirical data, bringing us to the point where the process of intellectual devolution seems to have reached a point of no return.

It, too, is a piece well-worth reading, as Krugman examines the Republican Party and its wholesale embrace of an ideology that reveres patently false economic ideas (austerity would be one such example), and offers reflexive rejection of inconvenient scientific truth (the notion of human-caused climate would be an example). The more obvious the falsity of the outlook, the more adherents become

more, not less, extreme in their dogma, which will make it even harder for them ever to admit that they, and the political movement they serve, have been wrong all along.

Strikingly like a certain domestic federal regime I could also name, no?

Admittedly, this does not offer a direct answer to Tom's question. But is it possible that those politicians who oppose such flawed doctrines are afraid of enraging those voters who do, a reaction that might strengthen their already motivated resolve to be a present en masse at the ballot box?

I would more than welcome input on this perplexing issue.


  1. Honestly, I worry the Conservatives have the right sort of mindset for politics. They believe, and because they're true believers, they identify with each other. They share values they believe we, their opponents, don't share.
    Which is bunk, of course, but for a myriad of reasons, we don't appeal to them. Nothing we say can convince them to change their opinions of us unless they suffer a crisis of faith.
    What the left needs is year round propaganda. Repetition is a key manner of convincing people of our arguments. So too would a year round assault on the arguments of the right. Discredit their arguments. As well as bullying their arguments into submission. A year round show of force from the left.

    1. An interesting proposal, Troy, but of course, if progressives were to try such an approach, they would invariably be accused of 'bullying,' 'stifling debate,' trying to incite 'class warfare,' etc. the vary tactics the American right uses whenever someone doesn't pledge obeisance to their twisted perspectives. That being said, I think we should go for it!

  2. Witch burning in Salem was based upon the same kind of flawed doctrine, Lorne.

    1. And in the 300 + years since that dark era, Owen, society seems to have learned remarkably little.

  3. There are many reasons the neoliberal zombie lies will not die. The obvious ones are: oligarch control; corporate media indentured to the 1%; 30 years of liberals stamping their approval on these theories by tacking right - Clinton, Blair, Horvath), but for me you must consider human nature as the number one reason it will take years to kill this beast. Neo-liberalism has been the ingrained "truth" since the late 70's and it's human nature for columnists and economists (and others, of course) to run like hell from the horrific psychological consequence of admitting they'd been dead wrong on their central question for 30 plus years.

    1. Thanks for your input on this issue, Anon. You've given us more pieces with which to solve this puzzle.

  4. .. best to carefully examine & identify the agendas, unofficial caucus movements & treachery that have taken root in our Parliament.. Yes, the PMO zealot panzer corps included.

    Extreme Corporatism is one obvious agenda.. not mandated by electorate or an election promise, rather by corporate capture.. the late Flaherty's annual weekend getaway with corporate controllers a shameless example

    The evangalism & pro life 'not so secret' caucus is another.. Big Oil is a major one.. again, unmandated via electorate or as election promise. Military adventurism & personal choice pro Israel foreign policy via Harper/Baird another. Farmed salmon is a truly odd one.. so odd nobody has called Harper/Gail Shea or Keith Ashfield out to resign over it. Virulent anti-environmental attacks by government is huge.. no mandate, never mentioned.. just hammered out via boat anchor Omnibus Bill.

    It does seem the Harper Party Government is going to extremes and as quickly as possible.. and failing. Despite attempts to deceive.. one could select essentially any Harper MP and find they are plain and simply... quite ignorant. Some have never held a job, others are obvious political animals, others are dull sheep... many though, are astoundingly glib, or at least able to repeat the endless mantra, dogma & desired evasive talking points.. especially re Environment, Procurement, Fair Elections, Treasury, Israel, Election Fraud, Nigel Wright..

    I believe a majority of Harper Ministers are avoiding scrutiny re their religious or evangilical positions. Strange we don't know more specifics on the matter.

    Intensive groupwork with a focus on every Harper MP, candidate and unelected PMO would be quite informative. Look what Emily Dee accomplished by herself.. or Amy MacPherson re the pro life caucus operating with an office in the parliament buildings.. or Alexandra Morton re farmed salmon.. Imagine what a determined cadre of 1,000 could achieve

    1. You remind all of us of what a determined core of people can accomplish, Salamander. Far too many of us have bought into the neocon notion that that individual is helpless before the juggernaut of state and economic forces. Clearly, resistance is not futile.