Andrew Coyne on “the Nasty Party”

Amongst conservative commentators in Canada, the Postmedia columnist Andrew Coyne has been (usually) quite outstanding and exemplary. Here is his “Last Judgment” on the Conservative government of Stephen Harper and its Nastyism. I concur with every word of it…

“…. If, today, both Harper and the party he leads are actively disliked by more than seven voters in 10, it may be because they have gone out of their way to alienate them in every conceivable way — not by their policies, or even their record, but simply by their style of governing, as over-bearing as it is under-handed, and that on a good day.

When they are not refusing to disclose what they are doing, they are giving out false information; when they allow dissenting opinions to be voiced, they smear them as unpatriotic or worse; when they open their own mouths to speak, it is to read the same moronic talking points over and over, however these may conflict with the facts, common courtesy, or their own most solemn promises.

Secretive, controlling, manipulative, crude, autocratic, vicious, unprincipled, untrustworthy, paranoid … Even by the standards of Canadian politics, it’s quite the performance. We’ve had some thuggish or dishonest governments in the past, even some corrupt ones, but never one quite so determined to arouse the public’s hostility, to so little apparent purpose. Their policy legacy may prove short-lived, but it will be hard to erase the stamp of the Nasty Party.

Perhaps, in their self-delusion, the Tories imagine this is all the fault of the Ottawa media, or the unavoidable cost of governing as Conservatives in a Liberal country. I can assure them it is not. The odium in which they are now held is well-earned, and entirely self-inflicted.”

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8 responses to “Andrew Coyne on “the Nasty Party””

  1. LittleBigMan says :

    It seems to me, there are very few governments (perhaps only the Scandinavian governments) that have been able to handle “power” that has been vested in their command without little corruption or abuse. After bringing much dismay, betrayal, and corruption to their people, the vast majority of governments that abuse their power will exceed their shelf life and fall — but not before they bring considerable restriction and unhappiness to the people they govern.

    But the good news for Canada is that the political apparatus will bend to allow for a peaceful transition of power when political will of the multitudes has reached a critical mass; methinks.

    • LittleBigMan says :

      Sorry…I meant to say “with little corruption” 🙂

    • Scott Preston says :

      Possibly. But for me the keyword in Coyne’s article was “under-handed” — whether everything that Coyne laments in the present Harper government is, in fact, finally perceived for what it is. It should have been perceived long before Mr. Harper was granted a majority government. And, as Mr. Coyne notes, the government shouldn’t even be registering positively in double digits in the opinion polls. If everything Mr. Coyne says about the state of our democracy is true (which I’ve had occasion in the past to say also) the Harperites should be running in single digit approval ratings.

      So, I don’t know if this is an aberrant moment in Canadian history or something more nefarious.

      Even more troublesome (if we don’t have enough trouble here as it is with politics) is that the government struck a committee to “review Canadian history” and whether it is being taught “properly” in schools. Shades of George Orwell! Politicians should leave history to the historians.

      What is so intriguing about Coyne’s article, for me in any case, is that Mr. Coyne is a noted conservative columnist. So, for him to come out and write that about the present government was certainly surprising…. certainly moreso than had it come from a liberal or socialist columnist.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    “the government struck a committee to “review Canadian history” and whether it is being taught “properly” in schools.”

    Wow, that’s certainly worth a question by a savvy reporter up there in Canada. It would be interesting to see what excuse the decision makers would have to give. Here, in the U.S., “The Sequester” was the reason why a colleague of mine could not participate in an education related summer program in China this year.

    Here’s an excerpt from Seth’s “The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events” which, I think, would be pertinent here:

    “There simply must be, for example, a freedom to express ideas, an individual tendency, a worldwide social and political context in which each individual can develop his or her abilities and contribute to the species as a whole. Such a climate depends, however, upon many ideas not universally accepted — and yet the species is so formed that the biological importance of ideas cannot be stressed too strongly.

    “More and more, the quality of your lives is formed through the subjective realities of your feelings and mental constructions. Again, beliefs that foster despair are biologically destructive. They cause the physical system to shut down. If mass action against appalling social or political conditions is not effecive, then other means are taken, and these are often in the guise of epidemics or natural disasters. The blight is wiped out in one way or another.” (p. 42)

    • Scott Preston says :

      I received an email from Prime Minister Harper this morning… wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day (?). So much for the “personal touch”.

      Great quotes, again, from Seth. Two things stand out here for me. First, as I’ve stated earlier, the most important article of democracy is the free development of the personality. Violating the integrity of the individual consciousness or personality is a great transgression. Seth is here endorsing that article as valid, and it is something I should probably take up in more detail in a posting, because it is everywhere being violated and denied today.

      This was, by the way, a central teaching of all valid and universal religious faiths too. No man or woman may be compelled into belief. Human beings must come to God by their own free will, and not by compulsion. It is a great evil to compel or coerce others to “convert”. It is a violation of the psyche’s integrity. In fact, I would say that the principle of “the free development of the personality” had its origins in the universal religions to begin with. The same is true of all propaganda or like technologies of social manipulation and control. They are violations, on a mass scale, of the integrity of the personality and the inviolability of consciousness.

      The second part of your quote is just as rich in meaning, for the point of that is the meaning of Rumi’s great poem “Green Ears”, which I’ve had occasion to refer to earlier. “The blight is wiped out in one way or another” is pretty much the theme of Rumi’s poem, and it is about Nihilism and Genesis (or re-genesis/re-generation). If the “blight” is not wiped out by people and institutions changing in time, and in a timely manner, it will be wiped out by social revolution. And if it’s not wiped out by social revolution, it will be wiped out by other means — disasters of other kinds. And this is exactly what is happening today. We have delayed, too long, the urgency of change, and the karmic law of action and reaction will be fulfilled despite our hybris in thinking vainly that we have mastered all hybris.

      Green Ears, by the way, is posted here:

      Very pertinent to Seth’s comments.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        ” received an email from Prime Minister Harper this morning… wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day (?).”

        Whoa! It looks like that you’ve gotten his attention, eh? 🙂

        “the most important article of democracy is the free development of the personality.”

        That answers a long standing question I have had, which is ‘Is (or when is) immigration ever an endeavor worth undertaking?’ In tangible terms, “immigration” may have rewarding or, on the other hand, very dire consequences. So, in tangible terms, immigration can be the same as gambling. But when I look at it from the point of view of “development of personality”, the answer is an unequivocal and resounding ‘YES’ for anyone living under conditions where the development of their creative nature has been hampered.

        • LittleBigMan says :

          Sorry again…the complete quote above should’ve said:

          “I received an email from Prime Minister Harper this morning… wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day (?). So much for the “personal touch”.”


    • Scott Preston says :

      While on the subject of Seth, I caught this article this morning in The Guardian, apparently the 8th part of a series on the Frankfurt School that I haven’t been following. The author, Peter Thompson, quites Theodor Adorno about fascism,

      “The prospective fascist may long for the destruction of himself no less than for that of the adversaries, destruction being a substitute for his deepest and most inhibited desires … He realises that his solution is no solution, that in the long run it is doomed. Any keen observer could notice this feeling in Nazi Germany before the war broke out. Hopelessness seeks a desperate way out. Annihilation is the psychological substitute for the millennium – a day when the difference between the ego and the others, between poor and rich, between powerful and impotent, will be submerged in one great inarticulate unity. If no hope of true solidarity is held out to the masses, they may desperately stick to this negative substitute.”

      That comment is interesting in relation to what Seth had to say about Hitler in The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, that Hitler’s nihilism included a fateful drive to self-destruction and self-annihilation. Adorno sees this as characteristic of fascism generally, even if only in the form of the extinguishing of individuality within “one great inarticulate unity” — the notion of “universal fascism”.

      The full text of the article is here

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