There’s a pretty big discrepancy between Canada’s “brand” and the actual boots on the ground reality, not least when it comes to Canadian-based extractive industries in their operations around the globe.
That dissonance between the “brand” image and the reality, the good words and base deeds, was brought home by two articles that appeared in today’s Guardian that seem, ironically, very connected. The first is “Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally“, and the second, “The Canadian company mining hills of silver — and the people dying to stop it“, which is about Tahoe Resources’ mining operations in Guatemala. And this is not the first and only case of gross malfeasance by Canadian mining corporations in Latin America.
“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” — Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins” — translated from an indigenous proverb
Today, I’ld like to spend a little time speaking to cultural philosopher Jean Gebser’s approach to knowledge, which will facilitate understanding and appreciating his major work, The Ever-Present Origin and what he means by the “aperspectival” or “integral” consciousness which he himself practiced. Gebser’s hermeneutics, or “method”, has nothing essentially “mystical” about it. That’s a judgement from the confines, or perspectivism, of mere rationalism. Aperspectival or integral consciousness is an eminently pragmatic and practical matter, manifestly so in Gebser’s own case. I would prefer to describe Gebser’s approach as “empathetic epistemics” rather than “hermeneutics” for various reasons. I hope to demonstrate here why I believe Gebser is an archetype or prototype of the aperspectival or integral consciousness structure that he believed was already in the process of “irrupting” more generally.
Or, The Real Problem with “Post-Historic Man”.
Canada’s “Sunny Ways” Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, received something of a “rockstar welcome” from G20 protesters in Hamburg this weekend. I’m completely bemused by this hero worship and the return of Trudeaumania 2.0 because, for one thing, it’s quite unearned and undeserved. Trudeau’s apparent celebrity and popularity seems based in nothing more that the fact that he’s The Not-Stephen-Harper, Canada’s former Conservative Prime Minister whose authoritarian inclinations and brooding darkness about our “Sea of Troubles” sharply contrasted with Trudeau’s “Sunny Ways” approach and demeanor.
But, for the most part, Justin Trudeau’s government has done very little apart from symbolic gestures to actual earn the “celebrity status” Trudeau has been accorded, and symbolic gestures to “progressivism” without corresponding substantive policy is just perception management. So, I would really like to caution you about mistaking such symbolic gestures for substantive policy and “real change”, as the Liberal slogan promises. Trudeau is not the white knight come to slay the neo-liberal dragon, to dispel the murk and gloom of the austerity policy and rectify the massively unequal distribution of the commonwealth, nor to rebuild and restore the resilience of the democracy after its inherent vulnerabilities to authoritarianism were revealed in the Harper years.
But when even Donald Trump says that “Justin is doing a spectacular job!”, and the head of the World Bank gushes about Trudeau, too, you have to wonder what that “job” really is except something quite akin to what Algis Mikunas called “technocratic shamanism”. But just being the “Not-Stephen-Harper” politician isn’t good enough to live up to the commitment for “real change”.
I received word this morning from the West Coast that my elderly father is in his last stages of life and is preparing to pass over. He apparently isn’t taking this very well. The prospect of his impending mortality has him “crying like a baby” according to my mother. And I thought of the contrast between that and Jean Gebser’s belief that we should pass on from existence “with a smile” (as he did himself, reputedly).
I may have to leave on a moment’s notice, although I wish I could be there right now to talk to my father about how he need not fear death and dying. We have never been very close, my father and I. In fact, our relationship was the very epitome of the “Generation Gap” of the sixties and seventies. His impending mortality brought me round to musing about that Gap and why it was largely unbridgeable, and about the processes of birth, dying, and death.
Donald Trump’s speech about “saving our civilization” delivered in Warsaw the other day just about sent me over the deep end, since Trump himself is a vector for its immanent self-annihilation and suicide. Trump’s rhetoric belongs to the phenomenon of “symbolic belief”. Whatever Trump merely thinks he’s doing, and despite whatever he merely tells himself and others all that he thinks he’s doing, his already muddled and incoherent rhetoric is contradicted by what he actually does in reality. Trump is the perfect avatar of “post-historic man” and of the “post-truth era”, the distillation and precipitate of this civilisation’s malaise and nihilism as the real meaning of its “end of history”. The Toronto Star even keeps a running scoreboard of how many lies Trump has uttered since becoming the Troll-in-Chief and King of the Trolls (last count, 358). Cynical rhetoric about “saving our civilization” is probably about the biggest lie of them all.