The Writ is Dropped. The Theatre of the Absurd Begins.
Prime Minister Harper has called the federal election in Canada today for October 19. Campaigning by the four main parties begins today. And so, the “Theatre of the Absurd” begins, and the pundits and wonks will have a jolly good time.
Only, they will miss the whole point and meaning of it, as usual.
Canada is one of the jurisdictions of the “post-modern” world that now has four mainstream parties — the Conservatives, the Liberals, the Social Democrats, and the Greens. This is not accidental or arbitrary. If you understand the “cross of reality” discussed in the last few posts, it is logical and even necessary.
Unfortunately, our political systems are not designed for a four-party system, but are legacies of a two-party state– Liberal (or Whig) and Conservative (or Tory). To a certain extent this is still true of the United States with Democrats and Republicans. Attempts by Socialist Parties (Eugene Debs) or Green Parties (Ralph Nader) to break into the mainstream have been frustrated or actively suppressed.
This election is being described as “historic”, but for all the wrong reasons. It is indeed fateful, and a very fateful choice is going to have to be made by the Canadian electorate that will determine Canada’s immediate future for some time to come. Unfortunately, the media, the wonks, and the pundits are not making that choice clear, explicit and transparent to the Canadian voter. It is not a contest of “personalities” but of models of democracy, and which model is to prevail in the future.
1) So-called “executive democracy” (Stephen Harper, Conservative Party)
2) Social democracy (Thomas Mulcair, New Democratic Party of Canada)
3) Liberal democracy (Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party of Canada)
4) Ecological democracy (Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada)
The political unit and principle most central to each, respectively, is 1) the family, 2) the public or class, 3) the individual, and 4) the body or health (biology). Canadians in this election are being asked to decide which political unit or principle or central value is the more important, and therefore which should prevail over the others. But this is not being made explicit.
That’s what makes for what some are calling “Bullshit Theatre”. I prefer to call it “Theatre of the Absurd”, because no one wants to be clear or up-front with the electorate about their real choices, and it’s not essentially about personalities, or money or the economy. It’s about which model of democracy (and “exeutive democracy” barely qualifies as “democratic” at all) is to become the model for Canada in the future. And in this game, there will be a lot of duplicity, deception, deviousness, cunning, myopia, and self-deception.
Elections are kind of disgusting and indecent things for that reason. They don’t have to be.