The F-Word

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.



16 responses to “The F-Word”

  1. donsalmon says :

    And the National Review just published an article stating that Bernie Sanders is a fascist.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Sounds much like the old con-man’s and illusionist’s trick of “direction by indirection” or misdirection. Did they give reasons for that judgement? Do you have a link to the article?

      • donsalmon says :

        If you have the stomach for it, here’s the link:

        There’s nothing I would call “reasons.” It’s been a trope of the lunatic fringe conservatives here in the US since Jonah Goldberg wrote his “Liberal Fascists”. It turns out that if the government uses your taxes to provide, say, free education, or, infinitely worse, food stamps for people who can barely feed themselves despite working two full time jobs, that’s fascism.

        If that doesn’t fit anything resembling anything you know about fascism, you’ll see why it’s not about ‘reasons.’

        Turns out it’s “statism’ – the state using violent means (taking your tax money) to force hard working, good patriotic people to support parasites who can’t support themselves well enough to buy food, or pay for their own education.

        it does feel at times like the US disappeared in the last 30 years and another country has been put in its place.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Yes, you’re correct. Little in the way of reason there, much more like ranting than reasoning. There is certainly a contrast between the reactionary conservatism of The National Review and the “intelligent conservatism” of The American Conservative Magazine. I’ll gladly listen to “intelligent” conservatism any day than phoney “principled” conservatism.

          • donsalmon says :

            I would only add, I think it’s a bit more diabolical (in quite the specific sense you’ve been using the word) than a mere unintelligent emotional rant. The author (and associated authors) has a very specific intent. The “conservatives” here in the US are, I think, quite scared of Bernie Sanders (as are the neo liberal folks). Sanders is the first person I’ve seen since Reagan won over the working class to the conservative side who speaks to the general population – including the “Reagan democrats” in a way that not only they can relate to, but makes them enthusiastic. This whole ‘fascist” thing is very intentionally designed to discredit him. I don’t think it’s going to work, but it’s going to have some negative effect.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Here’s a recent example (in fact, today) of what Bourrie means by “killing the messengers”.

    The Harper government’s controversial “anti-terrorism” legislation, bill C-51, has come under scrutiny by the UN Human Rights Commission for “running afoul of international human rights standards” to which Canada is signatory. You might think that this would give the government pause and cause it to revisit and reconsider its draconian legislation. But if past precedent is to be expected, the response will be to attack the UN and the human and civil rights groups that raised the alarm, rather than consider amendments to the legislation. That has been the pattern.

    Bill C-51 may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. At least, the pundits are crediting opposition to it for the rise in support for the social democrats. It would be ironic, indeed, if instead of making Canada a “more conservative country”, as Harper has pledged to do, he’s remembered for paving the way for the first federal social democratic government. Would put a different spin on his ominous boast that “you won’t recognise the country after I’m through with it”.

    Ironically, he may well be right, but not in the way he intended. It would be cause for some merriment and mirth, (if not a bit of Schadenfreude, I confess), if that’s how his threat is going to play out.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    here’s another troubling example of Mr. Harper’s perfidy.

    With only about 2 months to go before a general election, Mr. Harper has stacked arms of the government with patronage appointments — 98 over just two days last month. This after solemnly promising (for what Mr. Harper’s word is worth) to clean up the problem of ‘patronage appointments’ while he was in opposition.

    So, the wonder is, why now? Why make such patronage appointments when a federal election is so close? I can only suspect that they are there to sabotage any incoming government that is not Conservative — to act as sappers.

    For the Conservatives, politics is just war by other means. They even maintain an “enemies list”, and like Nixon, have even used the arms and organs of government to go after the Party’s opponents — church groups, environmental groups, journalists, etc.

    No doubt, any party that might succeed the CPC in government will face the problem of these potential saboteurs, and will necessarily have to conduct a purge of those appointments, in which case the CPC can then play the game of “victimage” and accuse the incumbents of conducting a “witch hunt” (which they themselves did in true Inquisitional Style when they came to power). Those are the kinds of tactics that were used by the Nazi Party to undermine the Weimar Republic.

    This notion amongst the Cons that politics is war by other means accounts for their “wedge politics” and divisiveness. It’s what Ignatieff was condemning when he described the fascist tendency in contemporary Canadian politics.

    All this being, of course, under the facade of being “principled conservatism”.

  4. LittleBigMan says :

    An enlightening essay in respect to understanding the nature of fascism and totalitarianism.

    It seems to me the “Why now?” question will have a different answer depending on the geographical location and the history of the people in question. Looking back at some of the previous essays, it seems to me that due to the global economic conditions, various very large business interests have converged on Canada. It would be far easier for these global business interests to maximize their exploitations while dealing with one entity – the State – rather than various populace powerful democratic party affiliations.

    But in an established democracy like Canada, the business interests can’t just say “Screw the grassroots party politics. We’re just going to deal with the main man in the government.” So, instead, the political party that is in cahoots with these various business interests is holding to the position that The State and The Party are the same, implying the party is on the side of the people, whereas in fact the party leadership has been gobbled up by the Big Money interests.

    On a side note, both Canada and the United States are the two most desirable countries for immigrants. As you know, this has its own pluses and minuses. In terms of politics, new immigrants can throw a real monkey wrench at the ballot box, since their vote as a group isn’t likely to be an informed vote. These people are not yet very sophisticated in the politics of their newly adopted country. So, any counteroffensive to the “1+1=1” formula for fascism and totalitarianism in Canada must include in its strategy a plan to educate the new immigrants in these matters of politics. Otherwise, the Canadian society will be deeply divided at its base and the informed votes won’t be enough to prevent the slide toward fascism.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I mentioned that about the only thing standing between us and Harper’s fascist and pathological vision of Canada is the independent judiciary and Elections Canada, both of which he and his party have been attempting to subvert.

      Then, from today’s Globe & Mail, this…

      • LittleBigMan says :

        Wow, that is a very good article, and very readable and well written, too.

        It’s remarkable how much of what the article says about appointing and promoting justices in Canada mirrors the appointment and promotion process in my organization. I cannot even begin to describe the many problems and battles that that approach has created in the organization I work for. But to implement the same process in appointing and promoting justices to the highest courts in the country is a very serious matter, indeed.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Sean Fine has a followup article on that. Even old time Tories are concerned about Harper’s appointment process being “ideological” rather than independent and based on merit.

          This is very troublesome.

          • LittleBigMan says :

            Harper’s tenure since 2006 has dragged on far too long. It’s time for him to step down.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Not going to happen unless his Party or the Canadian people, oust him (which, if they had any sense, they would do). There is uneasiness with Harper, even within the Conservative ranks. But instead of organising to oust Harper, his caucus is resigning themselves. Some 30 conservative MPs are declining to run for the Party this election. Evidently Harper’s hold on the Party is more like a stranglehold, and he has his own goons and “Stormtroopers” we might call them — called, in the House, “the boys in short pants” (or girls for that matter) — young kids who enforce Dear Leader’s will amongst the party ranks. That in itself is galling for some elected members who are often twice their age.

              Terrible situation, really. I can see why Ignatieff, Martin, and Bourrie liken it to fascism. Harper is cunning, but he is not intelligent. Unfortunately, most of the fools in the press don’t seem to appreciate the difference between “cunning” and “intelligence”.

  5. LittleBigMan says :

    That sounds terrible. I mean among the developed nations, no prime minister or president gets to serve that long.

    I’m very familiar with those who rule with a band of baboons and goons, and the only way to fight them back is for unity of purpose and action among the people. If the Canadian people don’t move to oust him, they will be checkmated – and I have lived among checkmated people; it’s not pretty.

    • Scott Preston says :

      If someone would get a snap of Mr. Harper eviscerating a cat, pithing a frog, pulling the wings off a fly, or killing a beloved lion with a crossbow — that oughta do the trick.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        LOL…….where are the paparazzi when you need them? On a second thought, his membership card with Ashley Madison should be enough, too 🙂

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