You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Politics’ tag.

The psychological need for security is important.  The people who formulate our politic know that can can often use our natural tendencies to gain our acceptance of polices that make little sense, from a strictly rational point of view.  Border walls and the many issues that surround them occupy this idealized territory as the amount of actual security provided is quite limited, but the psychological return on investment is huge. Eric Schewe writing at The JSTOR daily site looks into this feature of the walls we build, ostensibly to protect ourselves:

 

In this column, I’ve explored the idea that security ideology creates a mirror version of the world around us. Beyond any specific technology or procedure, security “works” when it makes us believe that it solves an identified problem. This is not to deny the real risks of death or injury as a result of terrorism—but only to point out that satisfying beliefs is security’s highest priority. This is why we have spent billions of dollars and uncountable hours on security theater although terrorists have killed only sixty-five Americans per year since 2002. Terrorism receives a disproportionate amount of news coverage compared to say, car accidents, which kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.

The American political system is now seized by conflict over the symbolic threat of illegal immigration. President Trump has proposed an equally symbolic solution—building a bigger border wall. Interestingly, while vilifying illegal immigrants to his supporters as violent criminals, he has not penalized the industries that rely on their labor. After settling the budget standoff that shuttered the federal government for a month, he declared a national emergency to fund wall construction, although he immediately admitted there was no emergency—that he “didn’t need to do this.”

[..]

Every border wall has a particular historical context behind its creation. Yet they all announce the same message to the world: Our diplomatic and economic relationships with our neighbors have failed, and we are unwilling to repair them.

I’m in agreement with Eric’s conclusion.  Wall are indeed a testament to our failures.

 

    Sometimes, it seems, my fellow Albertans can be quite the confused lot.  Actually no, that is wrong; we are not confused, just bi-polar.  In Alberta have this curious duality the runs the course of our electoral politics.  We want to be rugged, independent, self-made individuals with no interference from any level of government – private industry and unchecked capitalism is how we roll.

In the boom times…

The other identity like we like to periodically break out (and inflict on the rest of Canada) is the simple, hardworking Albertan who just can’t make ends meet and if the Government only understood our hardship and not alienate us with its ivory tower elitist policies and just HELP us (‘help’ is usually bailing out Big Business at the bottom of the business cycle).   We also have to feel persecuted and neglected at this time as the response from the people we’ve just been telling to f*ck off and leave us alone (during the boom years) are not jumping up and saving us as quickly as we’d like.

“Here it’s a very partisan response to a specific government that western conservatives really, really don’t like.” Smith said.”

[…]

“Smith said the movement in Canada targets the federal Liberal party and its actions toward the oil industry.

“No matter what they do in that sector, the Liberals seem to be criticized for not doing enough,” he said.

“It’s a pretty big stretch to suggest that a government that just bought a pipeline and is now passing over a billion dollars in support for oil or the oil sector is somehow anti-oil, but that’s the rhetoric that comes out of the conservative protests in Canada.”

So, we have these rugged small government loving individualists protesting to get more government intervention into the economy, not on their own behalf, but on the behalf of the oil companies.  The very same oil comapanies that continue to make generous profits and pay substantial dividends to shareholders:

“Lead author Ian Hussey said Suncor, CNRL, Cenovus, Imperial and Husky have remained “incredibly profitable corporations,” banking and paying out to shareholders $13.5 billion last year.

“There’s no question that the price crash had a major impact on the industry in Alberta, most importantly on the almost 20,000 workers who lost their jobs in 2015, but the Big Five are doing just fine,” Hussey said.

“As highly integrated multinationals — all with significant assets in the U.S. — they’ve been able to shift their operations in response to market conditions to ensure they remain profitable despite the issues that have been dominating the headlines in recent months.”

So, as usual, false populism renews its roots in Western Canada.  As our ruggedly bold individualist trek eastward to demand more government intervention favourable to the business elite in our society.

Of course no false populist movement is complete without xenophobia and racism.

“People who attended the rally in Regina on Saturday said they were against Trudeau, the carbon tax and Canada’s plan to endorse the United Nations’ migration pact — which outlines objectives for treating global migrants humanely and efficiently.

Victor Teece, a self-identified nationalist against globalization, said the migration agreement is “destructive to Canada as a nation.” Teece said he believes Canada’s identity is centred around European, Judeo-Christian values.

Smith said there is a concerning, “very loud” and “very disturbing message around anti-immigration” emerging within the Canadian rallies.”

Yeah.  If you didn’t know it, Canada has a huge immigration problem.  According to these people, not enough of the ‘right’ types of people are moving to Canada.  Quite disgusted with the whole rhetorical judeo-christian bullshit narrative.  The cultural mosaic that is Canada thrives on the diversity that people bring with them from across the world.

We are a multicultural nation.  The embarrassment that is this ‘Convoy Movement’ is a gift that inspires the nativist-nationalist right to creep out from the woodwork.  Given the example of the untrammelled false populism down south, this is a direction Canada should definitely avoid.

 

 

It’s a near cyclical event.  Disaffected folks in the West periodically need to grumble about how shitty it is living in a safe secure nation state.  Nothing more than flashes in the pan when Westerners are feeling like they need someone to blame instead of themselves – because the ethic of bootstrapping yourself up into prosperity only applies to people who happen to be more poor that you…

 

In the coffee shops and meeting rooms throughout Saskatchewan these days, there’s more and more talk about the breakup of Canada. But it’s not Quebec at issue, it’s western separatism.

After years of falling incomes and an apparent lack of action from Ottawa, many Prairie people are now debating the pros and cons of splitting the West from the rest of Canada.”

 

A Okanagan political group is spearheading a campaign to have B.C. and Alberta separate from the rest of Canada.

The group, calling itself 110 West, plans to organize public consultations in the two provinces. It’s running advertisements in local newspapers, and has set up a Web page.”

 

On a sunny Sunday in Calgary, Alberta’s separatists are on the move, pounding the pavement at the city’s popular Lilac Festival on the hunt for signatures.

Larry Smith is working the crowd, looking for support for his fledgling political movement, the Western Independence Party of Alberta (WIPA).

Truth is, WIPA isn’t quite a political party just yet. Before that can happen in Alberta, it needs signatures — and lots of them.

To be registered as a political party in the province, you need 7,868 electors — or about one-third of one per cent of eligible voters — to sign on the dotted line.”

So really, when the latest “Western Alienation” story happens to crop up – remind yourself it has the all the significance of this:

Facts do not necessarily win political arguments. The sooner the progressive left realizes this, the better. As a progressive lefty I’m consistently amazed by the voting patterns of the common people i.e. the people the political left is supposed to represent. Recently in Canada our most populace province decided to elect an business sense challenged, no political platform, boorish individual who spoke not in terms of political policy, but in catchy, folksy, accessible language:

His populist message resonated with voters who were unhappy with the provincial Liberals. Ford promised “buck a beer,” ten cents off a litre of gas and major tax cuts. He also promised to cut government spending by $6 billion but didn’t say how.”

Like, jesus christ in a fuckbasket, what kind of platform is that?  Anyone with more than two neurons to rub together can see the bread and circuses messaging and the usual conservative trojan-horsery going on here.  I’m not sure people get it, so let me state it here.  Conservative party policy focuses on maintaining the good times for people who most likely are not YOU.  The business elite, the wealthy, the current power structure are all beneficiaries of conservative rule – the hoi polloi – is not.

Not ever.

But hey, my fellow Canadians, enjoy your cheap beer while the newly minted government savages and merrily defenestrates the social safety net and related infrastructure that makes your life bearable.  Your vote indicates that you are good with that.

Why I shake my head (more) is that these paradoxical voting patters are nothing new.  Sharun Mukand and Dani Ridrik expound on how world view memes (in the Dawkins sense) can influence people to vote against their self interests.

 “Importantly, identity and worldview memes do not prevail equally across all subgroups of the population. Political entrepreneurs target these memes toward the electorally critical subgroup. Our model predicts that identity polarisation and support for policy memes will both see their greatest rise within the lower- and middle-income group of the majority-identity group. These are the potential switchers to whom the memes will be targeted. We should not expect those memes to operate as strongly among the wealthy who belong to the majority group or the minority-identity group of all incomes.

Increased inequality raises the reward to the rich from successful ideational politics. The returns from discovering a policy meme that persuades the median voter, for example, that lower taxes are in the interests of not only the rich, but also the low-income median voter are much higher when inequality is high. Similarly, an effective identity meme that catalyses identity around issues such as gay marriage, women’s rights and immigration can also serve as a ‘wedge’ giving low-income voters a reason to vote for the high-income party. As one team of economists concluded in 2015: ‘Despite the large increases in economic inequality since 1970, American survey respondents exhibit no increase in support for redistribution … demand for income redistribution in the US has remained flat by some measures and decreased for others.’ This is remarkable. And it happened, as our research framework suggests, thanks to the role of ideas as a catalyst for policy change. The elite, along with an allied ‘political-ideational complex’ (including academics, think tanks and talk-radio), successfully disseminated the worldview that rising inequality was an inevitable byproduct of structural changes in the global economy, which in turn necessitated the adoption of financial deregulation, low capital-income taxes and the embrace of globalisation.

Ideas and interests both matter for political change, and the two feed into one another. On the one hand, economic interests drive the kind of ideas that politicians put forward. As Kenneth Shepsle, professor of government at Harvard University, put it in 1985, ideas can be regarded as ‘hooks on which politicians hang their objectives and further their interests’. However, ideas also shape interests. This happens because they alter voter preferences and/or shift their worldviews ex-post, in both cases shifting rankings over policy.”

Fuck.  I wish the notion of concise writing would make a comeback in academia.  There are the makings of a great article in this piece, but it is severely hampered by clunky, inaccessible writing.

The gist is that you make people focus on an bullshit issue(s) that has little relation to the actual levers of power in society.  Once elected, on said mountain of bullshit, its like “Oh, by the way, along with your buck-a-beers, we’ll be needing to privatize healthcare (and other policies that screw the Average Joe and Jane sideways).

This isn’t magic, folks.   Honest.

“For those who view politics in terms of a narrow and static notion of interests, the electoral support for Trump, Brexit and other populist movements seems to pose a puzzle. It seems as if many poor people are voting against their self-interest. But the puzzle is more apparent than real. It is rooted in a habit of thinking of interests only in economic terms, and also as fixed. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon understood well that interests are malleable. With the right message and framing, Bannon noted in 2013, you could change the political calculus by shaping popular perception of self-interest: ‘Trade is No 100 on the [Republican] Party’s list. You can make it No 1. Immigration is No 10. We can make it No 2.’

What appears to be culture might be economics – the consequence of identity or worldview memes marketed by economic elites for their own self-interest. For example, Reagan used the imagery of a ‘welfare queen’ to attack unemployment benefits and the welfare state. So identity politics was being deployed by him to ensure that voters supported the Republican low-tax economic agenda. Similarly, what might look like economics might be shaped by cultural predispositions that provide voters with their interpretive frameworks – such as Merkel’s celebration of the ‘Swabian housewife’ when making the case for austerity.

Defeating autocratic and nativist political movements will likely require strategies based on both ideas and interests. As we have seen in recent elections, proposing policies that are better suited to the economic needs of middle- and lower-income voters will likely not be enough. Successful challengers will also need to come up with narratives that help to reshape peoples’ worldviews and identities”

What a long way of saying is that left needs to up its bullshit game, so we can baffle the brains of the populace and then introduce policy that will actually benefit them.

Interesting conclusion though, is that the right consistently wins through the bait and switch that treats people as if they were feckless, greedy, morons.   Yet, the left politic seems hesitant to do so, as if somehow the patronizing authoritarian method is somehow disdainful and wrong.  I’m at the point of ‘fuck it’ and do what works already, because I’m tired of the Right being the sole benefactors of this proven, winning political strategy.

(The best part is that the Right always accuses us lefty types of elitist authoritarian tendencies, all the while exemplifying the best practices of the former.   Like, okay, then let’s do this then, and beat them at their own shitty game.)

If we have to live within a capitalist framework, the very least we can do is make sure everyone has a chance.

We have a long way to go to fix the democratic systems in the US and Canada.  Paul Street, writing for Counterpunch gives a little insight into the ‘electoral process’.

“Yes, we get to vote.  Super. Big deal. Mammon reigns nonetheless in the United States, where, as the leading liberal political scientists Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens find, “government policy…reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office.”  Trump is a bit of an anomaly – a sign of an elections and party system in crisis and an empire in decline. He wasn’t pre-approved or vetted by the usual U.S. “deep state” corporate, financial, and imperial gatekeepers. The ruling-class had been trying to figure out what the Hell to do with him ever since he shocked even himself (though not Steve Bannon) by pre-empting the coronation of the “Queen of Chaos.” He is a homegrown capitalist oligarch nonetheless, a real estate mogul of vast and parasitic wealth who is no more likely to fulfill his populist-sounding campaign pledges than any previous POTUS of the neoliberal era.  His lethally racist, sexist, nativist, nuclear-weapons-brandishing, and (last but not at all least) eco-cidal rise to the nominal CEO position atop the U.S.-imperial oligarchy is no less a reflection of the dominant role of big U.S. capitalist money and homegrown plutocracy in U.S. politics than a more classically establishment Hillary ascendancy would have been.  It’s got little to do with Russia, Russia, Russia – the great diversion that fills U.S. political airwaves and newsprint as the world careens ever closer to oligarchy-imposed geocide and to a thermonuclear conflagration that the RussiaGate gambit is recklessly encouraging.”

Not the most rosy picture being painted.  Reforming our democratic systems to actually reflect the views of the electorate has to be made a priority.  The gilded age we exist in now is just a small taste of what is to come.

 

Daniel Taylor writing in Red Flag, addresses some of the systemic problems with the economic system we currently have.

 

“When the system is under strain, the “democratic deficit” of capitalism becomes obvious. No matter how many elections take place, the things we want don’t happen; the things we don’t want, do happen; and the people we despise are in charge.

But the roots of the problem are deeper than the political process: the lack of democracy is built into the fundamental structures of a capitalist economy.

Democracy means “the rule of the people”. Capitalism means the rule of the market. Between those two concepts lies a gulf that can’t be bridged by any number of patriotic songs and firework displays.

A capitalist economy, based on private property, divides society into those who own and those who don’t: those who decide and those who obey. The first, most fundamental decisions that can be made in society – what to do with the tremendous wealth and technology that exists in the world – are made with no democratic oversight at all.

Will factories be used to assemble medical equipment or machine guns? Will cranes be set to work building schools and hospitals or luxury apartments for the rich? Will the printing presses make textbooks or newspapers full of racist fear-mongering?

These key decisions, which determine the shape of the society we live in, are made every day in secret, with no democratic oversight, by the tiny minority of the population that owns society’s productive wealth. They are not made in parliaments, but boardrooms. And they are made in the interests of the capitalist class, to increase its profits and strengthen its rule over society.

In capitalist “democracy”, “the people” have no say whatsoever over the most important decisions in the world: the economy is the private concern of the bosses, and we have to live with their decisions. And the state – supposedly the democratic influence on society, in which all citizens, rich and poor alike, have an equal say – merely reflects and reinforces this tyranny.”

I think it is time we give democratic socialism a fair shake.

 

This Blog best viewed with Ad-Block and Firefox!

What is ad block? It is an application that, at your discretion blocks out advertising so you can browse the internet for content as opposed to ads. If you do not have it, get it here so you can enjoy my blog without the insidious advertising.

Like Privacy?

Change your Browser to Duck Duck Go.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 409 other followers

Progressive Bloggers

Categories

March 2019
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Archives

Blogs I Follow

The DWR Community

Volunteer petunia

Observations and analysis on survival, love and struggle

femlab

the feminist exhibition space at the university of alberta

Raising Orlando

About gender, identity, parenting and containing multitudes

REAL for women

Reflecting Equality in Australian Legislation for women

The Feminist Kitanu

Spreading the dangerous disease of radical feminism

Double Plus Good

The Evolution Will Not BeTelevised

la scapigliata

writer, doctor, wearer of many hats

Mars Caulton

Teaching Artist/ Progressive Educator

liberated558

Still she persisted

Old Wives' Tales

feminism, motherhood, writing

Female Personhood

Identifying as female since the dawn of time.

Radfem Resources | Radical Feminist Literature

A virtual library for those interested in radical feminist literature and resources.

Not The News in Briefs

A blog by Helen Saxby

SOLIDARITY WITH HELEN STEEL

A blog in support of Helen Steel

thenationalsentinel.wordpress.com/

Where media credibility made a comeback.

BigBooButch

Memoirs of a Butch Lesbian

RadFemSpiraling

Radical Feminism Discourse

a sledge and crowbar

deconstructing identity and culture

The Radical Pen

Fighting For Female Liberation from Patriarchy

Emma

Politics, things that make you think, and recreational breaks

Nordic Model Now!

Movement for the Abolition of Prostitution

The WordPress C(h)ronicle

These are the best links shared by people working with WordPress

HANDS ACROSS THE AISLE

Gender is the Problem, Not the Solution

fmnst

Peak Trans and other feminist topics

There Are So Many Things Wrong With This

if you don't like the news, make some of your own

Gentle Curiosity

Musing over important things. More questions than answers.

violetwisp

short commentaries, pretty pictures and strong opinions

Revive the Second Wave

gender-critical sex-negative intersectional radical feminism

Trans Animal Farm

The Trans Trend is Orwellian

Princess Henry of Wales

Priestess Belisama

miss guts.

just a girl on a journey

writing by renee

Trigger warning: feminism, women's rights

RANCOM!

Happily Retired

freer lives

A socialist critique of gender ideology

Centering Women

A radical feminist page made for women only

radicalkitten

radical Elemental feminism

yumicpcake

A fine WordPress.com site

%d bloggers like this: