Former Canadian Liberal opposition leader Michael Ignatieff, political columnist Lawrence Martin, and historian Mark Bourrie aren’t the kind of men to cry wolf. They are astute and keen observers of politics. All three have used the “F-Word” to describe a dangerous tendency in contemporary politics, and not just in Canada alone — “fascism”. It seems to be a common development and tendency amongst all the aging democracies of the Modern Era now at its “end of history”. And the big question for me is, how far can this tendency actually go?
The formula for fascism (indeed, all forms of totalitarianism) is simple: “The State and the Party are One”. 1 + 1 = 1. Therein lies something of the irrationality and illogic of totalitarianism, in that a part and the partisan (the party) presumes itself to be the whole. As I constantly insist, to confuse the meanings of “whole” and “total” as being synonymous terms has been a fatal error for our understanding of politics, too, and for the future of democracy. That is also true for our confusion of the meanings of “assimilation” and “integration”.
Some form of totalitarianism was already implied in Margaret Thatcher’s TINA Principle (“There is No Alternative”) as well as Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” proposal, for if indeed we are at “the end of history” where “there is no alternative”, then democracy has become quite useless and irrelevant. And despite all the cynical lip-service today paid to the virtues of democracy and liberty, there seems to be a general contempt for democracy itself. The “forked tongue” (or what we call “double-talk, double-think, double-standard, double-bind”), and the politics of the cynical and insincere, is indeed the symptom of our more general decadence and disintegration.
I find this to be particularly true of the contemporary political situation in Canada, and especially true of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) and of the country’s prime minister, Mr. Stephen Harper. Not only have he and his party been cited for “contempt of Parliament“, but Mr. Harper has even had to try to defend himself against the perception, especially rife amongst the French, that he is “the Devil incarnate”, and that there is something sinister, devious, and demonic about Mr. Harper and his Party. They are not far wrong, in that. By his own admission, as previously noted, Mr. Harper does not much value truth or integrity in politics.
Journalists make lousy politicians because they think they always need to tell the truth — Stephen Harper
It’s because Mr. Harper and his courtiers “speak with a forked-tongue” that many people are persuaded that he has a “hidden agenda”, buried behind euphemism, spin, secrecy, information suppression, and government by propaganda, all thoroughly documented and exposed in Mark Bourrie’s disturbing book Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know. It’s more or less hidden in euphemistic phrases like “executive democracy” (ie, authoritarianism) or plans to make the CPC “the natural governing party” of the country in perpetuity. To do that, however, the Conservatives must try to create the perception amongst the public that the State and the Party are the same, and that is the formula for fascism. And in that project he has willing dupes and “useful idiots” even amongst the liberal and conservative media, journalists and public broadcasters, many of whom have enlisted into the Party and been enticed into the government itself as Mr. Harper’s loyal minions and mouthpieces and “professional communicators”, have been co-opted and have gone over to “the Dark Side” — Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Peter Kent, Bev Oda, to name just a few (who also got themselves into trouble).
Right now, the only thing standing in the way of Harper’s project to transform Canada into an “executive democracy” and to fuse and seal the State with the Conservative Party as Canada’s “naturally governing party” in perpetuity is the Supreme Court and Elections Canada, and Harper and his courtiers have even attempted to undermine and subvert both these institutions, to reduce them to being mere extensions of his Party and servants of its ideology. As with Mike Lofgren’s notable article on “The Revolt of the Rich“, this is subversion “from above”. But even more disturbing is, that Mr. Harper seems to have quite a substantial base of support for this project amongst the electorate — his so-called “Base”.
Canadian’s understanding of parliamentary democracy is really quite deplorable, and its democratic institutions are quite weak and vulnerable to manipulation and subversion as a result. The perception that democracy is a “spoils system”, and that “first-past-the-post” means really “winner take all” contributes to this kind of perversity where a One Party State seems like a “natural” progression. Mr. Harper has done everything to try to fuse in the public’s mind that the Conservative Party and the State are identical. But that’s fascism, and that is, indeed, Mr. Harper’s not-so-hidden agenda.
The question I have to answer is “why now? Why this sudden flirtation with fascism amongst the democracies?” What accounts for the apparent loss of confidence in democracy amongst large segments of the population, so much so, in fact, that fascism, or totalitarianism, is seen as an appropriate solution and response to the present problems of democracy?
Certainly, the breakdown and disintegration of the mental-rational structure of consciousness is connected to this, for duplicity, lip-service and “the forked-tongue” are diseases of speech and language, and it is in speech and language that the symptoms of the decay (or rejuvenation) of a consciousness structure are first made manifest. “Speak, That I May See Thee” is even the title of a book.
The “forked-tongue” is, indeed, the diabolic tongue. The tongue of the serpent is forked (dualism, duplicity), while the tongue of Jesus is described rather as a “two-edged sword” — the symbolic tongue (polarity and the integral). Superficially, they might even be mistaken for being the same (and indeed have become mistaken for being the same) but again I invoke Khayyam’s Caution: “only a hair separates the false from the true”.
My aboriginal friends sometimes speak of the man or woman who “speaks from the centre of the voice”. In other words, from that place that is the very contrary to the “forked-tongue”. The “centre of the voice” is the centre of the Sacred Hoop, the Sincere Voice, and is the “vital centre”, the place of integrity. To “speak from the centre of the voice” has exactly the same meaning as the symbol of Christ’s tongue as a “two-edged sword”, for as they also say “the Sacred Hoop is in language” — as the articulating and integrating voice; the voice that heals and makes whole again, and makes peace amongst the elements, or what Rosenstock-Huessy equally called “synchronisation of antagonistic distemporaries”.
To “speak from the centre of the voice” has the same meaning as “integral consciousness”. For as “the Word” is the centre of the Crucifix — as Jesus on the Cross; so too is the man or woman who “speaks from the centre of the voice” at the centre of the Sacred Hoop. It is the same meaning.
Spiritually speaking, then, we are in a deplorable state at our “end of history”, when (as Pope Francis has correctly put it) “duplicity is the currency of the day” and the forked-tongue is having its way.