The hack of the infidelity website Ashley Madison has revealed some rather startling information. A whopping 20% of the residents of Canada’s political capitol and seat of government, Ottawa, have accounts with Ashley Madison, making Ottawa not just the infidelity capital of Canada, but apparently of the globe.
Also, apparently, it is not just incidental to Ottawa either. As this article notes, “international capitals like Washington, D.C., Athens, Greece, Berlin, Germany, and Oslo, Norway also top their country’s respective per capita lists”. But apparently, Ottawa, Canada, is tops.
Even more oddly, perhaps, no one I’ve read to date has made a link between the epidemic of marital infidelity (or “cheating”) in the nation’s political centre, and perfidy in its politics. I don’t think it’s accidental that political perfidy and duplicity happens to coincide with Ottawa’s being the global home of marital infidelity. Perfidy in politics and infidelity in marriage would seem to make for a happy union, each reflecting the other.
Add that to Canada’s “brand”, along with the tar sands, and Canada begins to look less like the tourist ads portray — a serene and pristine land, the “Peaceable Kingdom” — and more like Tolkein’s “Mordor” (or Babylon), with Canada’s Prime Minister, Mr. Stephen Harper, playing the role of Sauron, pursuing “the ring of power” by every licit or illicit, fair or foul means available to him and his Party. At least, that’s the message of the aforementioned historian Mark Bourrie’s exposé Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know“.
This is only another aspect of the Pope’s remark about “duplicity being the currency of the day”. “Babylon” was always the image and symbol of that duplicity, “Zion” being it’s ostensible contrary (and not “Zionism”, which is an unfortunate perversion and corruption of the symbol). And what’s even more striking is how so many of the world’s political capitols figure so prominently as having epidemics of infidelity and cheating, too.
I am tempted to conclude that it also reflects the infidelity and the breach of trust of government and the political class in relation to civil society and the public — the divorce of State and Nation, government and the electorate. In those terms, then, infidelity in marriage and perfidy in politics are only symptoms, having a deeper common root and undercurrent, something cultural, connected to a general undertow of dissolution and disintegration. They are coincident, but not accident, being another aspect of our “end of history” and the decay of the Modern Era.
I’m tempted, in that sense also, to say that it reflects the pathology of Lasch’s “culture of narcissism”, of egoistic individualism now overreaching itself, reflected equally in our apparent inability to forge a successful sense of “we”, especially the marital “we”, let alone the problem of a social “we” or a global “we”.
And is not infidelity, not just in marriage, also the meaning of Colbert’s “truthiness”?