Sunday, September 27, 2015

Your Sunday Morning Read....The Last Straussian Standing.


Last Sunday we had a look at a slightly stale-dated piece by Doug Saunders wherein the good Mr. Saunders came to the thoroughly researched, fact-based conclusion that it is progressive, not conservative, governments that consistently do the right thing when it comes to fiscal management of all the people's money and, by extension, their futures as well.

This week I'd like to revisit a much older piece, from 2010, by Rick Salutin in the Globe that makes the case for why Mr. Stephen Harper governs the way he does:

...Leo Strauss was a German-Jewish thinker who escaped Hitler for the U.S. but despaired over the depravity that liberalism might lead to there as it had in Germany, after the liberal 1920s. He felt almost any means were valid to save Western civilization but, due to liberalism's strength, the strategy had to be cautious, secretive, even duplicitous, with the truth confined to an elite. This rarefied vision became highly influential when it was spread by his students (and theirs) in government, think tanks and media during the Reagan and Bush years. It's a prominent force at Mr. Harper's intellectual home, the University of Calgary...

Mr. Salutin then goes into the details of the five main pillars of Mr. Harper's governing style that he believes are guided by Straussian voices in the dark. These are populism, religion, nationalism, secretiveness and contempt.

Here's what Mr. Salutin had to say at the time (i.e. pre-majority), about that last one:

...There seem high levels of this (contempt), even for politics, among the Harperites (John Baird, Jason Kenney etc.). But Straussianism requires a strong sense of Us v. Them, to overcome the lassitude created through what it views as liberal notions such as tolerance and cultural relativism...

And here you may have thought that Mr. Harper is actually scared poopless about belly dancers wearing veils who are poised to overrun every polling station from Etobicoke to Esquimalt with or without the proper Pierre Pollivere-approved ID.

Then again, if you're reading this you probably didn't think that.

And (to swipe a line from that now long gone Pall Mall smoker) so it goes...


There is something else to consider here, which I believe is very important. It is also the reason that I truly fear a continuation of Mr. Harper's government for another four years.

And that is the fact that Straussianism has such a hold on the conservative political/corporate establishment in the United States that they really and truly believe (and have shown using the Rovian rules) that that the politics of division can be used to get to 50% + 1 at every level of the republic (eg. house, senate and executive branches). As a result, they are never working for the good of all of the people. And, in fact, as many have pointed out, including Thomas Frank, they are often doing their darndest to make sure the people vote against their own collective good.


Transport that thinking to Canada and the case can be made that this approach, which is clearly the one being taken by Mr. Harper et al., is even more divorced from any need to govern in the best interest of the majority of the people who live here.


Because in Canada Mr. Harper knows that he only has to get to 33% + 1 (give or take) and he has a darned good shot at another round of noble lies designed to transform Canada into something the other 67% has no interest in becoming.

Which, of course, brings me back to why I think strategic voting really and truly does matter this time around.


How did Straussianism get to the Calgary School and come to so heavily influence the thinking of Mr. Harper and his political friends and influential uncles?...Donald Gutstein laid out that story earlier this year in the Tyee...It provides insight into Mr. Harper's contempt for the Charter as well.



scotty on denman said...

I'm beginning to hear unsolicited questions about strategic voting, maybe couple-three every day for the past week---and it's not like the discussions of previous weeks which were all about SV, yes or no; this week it's been about who's the strategic choice. If this reflects any of what's going on outside my own limited sampling (here in the "downtown," my peeps in the Comox Valley, Van-Gran, and the capitol), it's a good sign. Although quantification is difficult, there's a certain encouraging quality to it: it's the next step from the initial "look-up" step, the "look-around" step, as 't were; it's going in the right direction. I suppose the next steps will be forming some kind of consensus about strategic choices in pertinent ridings, and, of course, getting to the polls and voting.

I think there's some corroborative evidence, too, in the form of reaction: I see and hear more partisan dismissal of SV in MSM this week, and there seems to be a parallel, step-by-step logic to it: first ignore it (only Ms May has spoken specifically to SV---but only because some Green candidates are champing to endorse strategic choices), then specifically dismiss it (the current step), and, finally, condemn it with dire warnings (the only step left ---aside from endorsing SV---as long as the supposed 3-way split is maintained).

SV doesn't need huge voter-participation, a few percent, representing a couple-three-thousand voters per riding, aught to do it.

Still, Van-Gran is worrying the strategic choice will be too difficult to discern there.

Right now I'm worried about manipulated polls designed to thwart SV. Just heard CBC's 180 guest comment on Leadnow-paid polling, and it was, according to him, sort of "meh," not very convincing, too difficult, and too unlikely.

Hey! Is it the third step already? Naw, that's when SV's made out to be undemocratic, unconstitutional, illegal, and punishable by eternal hellfire. Just wait.

Thanx for keeping this forefront, Ross, it's invaluable.

RossK said...


The CBC's 180, you say....

To my mind that's bubble-gum fairy Straussianism wrapped in a cacoon of 'both sides-do-it-ism'.

Or some such thing.

(btw...was very sad to hear SQuinn [being forced to?] fill-in on that particular 'show', which is produced out of....surprise!....Calgary if I remember correctly).

Regarding the Courtenay-Alberni riding...The recent Dogwood-commissioned poll by Insights-West has Dipper up on Con but within MOE....Neither the Lib nor Green can win....But even a thousand votes from the latter two groups strategically moved to the orange side could keep the Con out.

(just about time for me to do a new round-up, I reckon).


Anonymous said...

scotty on denman said...

Thanx Ross!