Friday, July 17, 2015

A brief note on cynicism and Canadian politics

The other day I received an email from Tom Mulcair, leader of the federal NDP.

Now, of course, it was not actually an email from him, but was, rather, one of those countless emails the NDP sends out weekly (and even daily) to those who are on its email contact list.

Many -- if not most -- of these are asking for money.

As this one, allegedly, was from the Great Leader himself it did not stoop to asking for money but, instead, asked if the recipient were going to join him for some rally or another in Brampton in Ontario.

In the email Mulcair (or, more accurately, whoever actually wrote it) said that "I believe that with your help, the Canada of our dreams is just one election away."

The Canada of "our dreams".

Dreams must be getting more limited these days.

As I often do, I made fun of this total hyperbole on Facebook. Later I received a friendly private message joking about this all but also asking why I was so "cynical" about what was, after all, only an attempt to create "enthusiasm"?

I am often, as are other critics of "mainstream" politics, called a "cynic" -- presumably for not being willing to consume crap at face value. Apparently folks like us are  never "satisfied" and are perpetually disgruntled.

I don't have any real issue with being seen as disgruntled, as I am not certain what there is to be very happy about politically these days, but having been labelled a cynic innumerable times, I do think it worthwhile to note that if cynicism is what you are looking for it is in the email from "Tom Mulcair" and those who echo its rhetoric that you will find it.

The fact is, as I pointed out to the person who emailed me, does anyone, anywhere -- Tom Mulcair included -- believe for one second that the "Canada of our dreams" might be "just one election away"?

We all know the answer -- and it is no. While many party hacks and employees (who have no choice) will parrot it, it is an obviously absurd thing to claim that no one other than a moron actually thinks is true.

And -- guess what -- that is cynical!

Profoundly, deeply cynical.

How else to describe a statement that everyone making or pretending to support knows to be facile and absurd?

All of the political parties, and the Liberals and Conservatives more than even today's NDP, are guilty of this. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, limited to the NDP alone.

But as many New Democrats purport to think that the NDP in "power" would actually "do something" significant, despite all of the contrary evidence, as a leftist I find this pretend bourgeois pseudo-euphoria and mindless cheerleading for the emptiness that is the NDP  and its rhetoric not really worse so much as more disappointing.

It's practitioners should really know better. If your dream for Canada is getting Tom Mulcair elected I would suggest that your imagination has been profoundly stunted -- perhaps terminally so.

While, no doubt, those who persist in pretending to believe the delusion will point to this-or-that minor policy, this makes it all the more cynical.

We are faced by desperate, real and demonstrable extremes of oppression and poverty due to the push for ever lower wages and worker's benefits, increased inequality that has now reached the levels of the "Gilded Age", a civilization on the brink of environmental catastrophe and the complete evaporation and capitulation of any political movements, parties or ideas within the "mainstream" that are opposed to or have transformative ideas to change the new reality in any meaningful way,

Take, as an example, the supposed $15 an hour minimum wage plan of Tom Mulcair's NDP.

It is, likely, good politics. But it is also, like the "Canada of our dreams" slogan, profoundly cynical.

This is for the obvious reason that his proposal applies to very, very few workers and would not even be implemented until 2019.

Yet it is presented as fighting for "a fair wage and a decent living" and with the absurd notion that the "plan takes concrete action to fight growing income inequality", which it does not in anyway.

It is, in actual "real world" fact, cynical to claim it does.

While peddling this total poverty wage nonsense, if Mulcair were PM, which he would need to be to implement it, he would be making $334,800 a year right from the start in 2015 -- while leaving this tiny number of workers to make a maximum of, full time, $31,200 a year in 2019.
This a difference of $303,600 a year even when the $15 an hour wage is implemented.

And he is opposed to ANY personal tax increases on the wealthy or, for example, those making a 1% income like that he would be making if elected Prime Minister. Something that, you know, might actually do something about income inequality!

This is what is the most grotesque part. It explains at least in part why it is so very easy for him to make such ludicrous -- and, again, cynical -- claims about such a sad and minor bit of policy.

The "average" NDP MP would make $167,400. This is a difference of $136,200 with the federal minimum wage workers.

Again, how sick and cynical is it to claim this truncated "living wage" policy shows their commitment in anyway to fighting "income inequality"?

It is understandable that so many wish to see a shift in our politics. The NDP getting elected would represent a victory of sorts against the most reactionary wing of capital and the most reactionary vision of government in Canada that is embodied by the Harper Conservatives.

It would, at least at first, be a positive development politically for Canada.

But when it comes to political cynicism, the NDP has cornered the market every-bit as much as everyone else.

Yet, never mind the NDP leadership and strategists -- who have a demonstrable financial and power interest in this nonsense -- to me there are no greater cynics than those who say they are on the left but pretend, and it is pretending, to accept the NDP's polices and rhetoric these days at face value or in the interests of "winning".

Who regurgitate every line as the Gospel, every absurdity as the truth and every glaring and obvious contradiction between rhetoric and reality without critical thought or comment.

There is little more cynical than doing that.

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