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2007 05 24
The French Connection

They say politics makes strange bedfellows. So they say. Never realizing the half of it.

Politics. Got pretty exciting when Bob Rae became Premier of Ontario. Due to my originally hailing from beneath the iron curtain. Got excited like most everyone else in my shoes. Imagine that. Coming halfway round the world to this free and democratic society. To this very city of tolerance. Only for that vast abomination to come curtaining and dragging after. As if some colossal iron tar baby had spontaneously generated from all those factories of corruption. Scuttling beneath the ocean, creeping up the St. Lawrence and emerging just offshore in Lake Ontario. Waving tourist flags and propaganda pamphlets. Leaning on the CN Tower. “Greetings, comrade. Step back please. Make room for me.”

How bad could it get, though? This wasn’t some prairie province. Or some derelict collective farm. This was Ontario – the economic engine of Canada. Back then it was, anyway. Still. Very likely Ontario remained free and democratic. Whatever got voted for could as easily get voted against. So maybe it was a good thing.

It was all good, I eventually figured. All my Canadian friends – none of whom credited the irony of totalitarian curtains – would get a little learning experience. Have a tiny little taste. Sweet.

So, when they started trawling for public reaction at CFRB, I called in. And since the announcer seemed quite celebratory about it, I played along.

“Hi Peter. How do you feel about the unprecedented NDP victory?”
“I’m delighted, Jim.” Or was it Bob? Whatever. “I’m probably even happier about it than you are.”
“Really? Why is that? You must be a long-time NDP supporter.”
“NDP supporter? God, no.”
“Well.. why are you happy, then?”
“Because I’m from Romania.”
“Alright. Care to elaborate?”
“Sure. Nobody believes me when I tell them what kind of horror-show life behind the iron curtain was. So now, maybe they’ll start believing.”
“Let me get this straight. You think the NDP victory is a disaster – and you’re happy about it?”
“Sure it’s a disaster. But not unmitigated. Takes a while for the sky to cave in. And by when it starts seriously caving it’ll probably be in good time for the next election.”
“Oh, come on, Peter. How bad can it get?”
“That’s the whole point, Jim. That’s why I’m happy. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. But give it a couple years and you’ll start getting clues. Finally.”
“Let’s be serious for a moment..”
“Nah. That’s all I wanted to share. Got’ta go celebrate. Bye.”

Anyhow. It didn’t play out like I’d expected. Indeed, Ontario had a little taste of Marxist governance. Nowhere near enough. Not nearly enough for my so-called friends to start believing me. And then the NDP got turfed like bad window treatment – way before any real harm got done. Way too early. If anything, even that tiny taste of Marxist governance overtaxed Ontarians. Next thing there was a conservative majority. And then another. Mike Harris’ common sense revolution. Yeah, right. Revolution. As if Ontarians had endured tribulations. Trials by fire. Some tremendous rite of passage. As if. There hadn’t been time enough for proper harming even to begin. What common sense revolution? More like common sense premature reaction. Premature convulsion.

Nothing whatsoever against Mike Harris. Turned out precisely as authoritarian as pledged. Exercised precisely the authority we voted and expected him to. He’d promised what we asked for – and then walked his talk. Ironic, though. How Ontarians loved despising him. How, to this day, many revile him as fascist. Yet we kept voting him to save us. Whereas Bob Rae, whom we heaved in reflexive premature reactionary discharge – well, he’s our posterity boy for cuteness and cuddling. There’s some irony for curtains.

Nothing against Mike Harris. To me, he was just what Bob Rae dragged in. Nothing to talk radio about. All my friends, though – they were talking nothing but Harris. What a fascist he was. Yet recall – but dimly – how it went one night busking on Queen Street. Trying to busk, anyway. Went something remotely like this.

“Come on – sign the petition,” he kept saying. Nudging my saxophone with his clipboard.
“Step back, man. I mean it.” I meant from the saxophone. Musical instruments grow dear regardless how cheaply bought. “What for?”
“Against Harris fascism.”
“Seriously?” Like, in event of fascism, circulate petitions?
“Damned right. Bastard cut my funding.”
Funding? This guy funded by the government? Unbelievable.
“You think he’s personally acquainted with your work?” By which I meant that I was regrettably acquainted with the guy’s trash in progress. And that no society ought conceivably have funded it. No sane society, anyhow.
“It’s his policies. He’s a fascist.”
“Everyone knows he’s a fascist.”
“I can’t tell. Never lived in a fascist country. Just a communist one. Maybe he is. You do realize, though, that Mike Harris is Ontario’s answer to Bob Rae?”
“Whatever. Will you sign the petition?”
“Sure.” By which I meant good luck defeating fascism by petition. Also, that I fancied the notion of Mike Harris as fascist. Would have meant that, however indirectly, Bob Rae’s damaging might yet prove somewhat lasting. Not entirely trivial or easily repaired. Just harmless fancy – the remote idea of Bob Rae triggering fascism. Satisfying regardless how obviously false. This was the umpteenth anti-Harris petition I wound up signing. Some in broad daylight. Right out in the open public. Never got arrested once. Even my funding was secure. Not because my trash was in better progress than the petitioner’s. Just because my funding was from the floundering after-hours crowd on Queen Street instead of Queen’s Park.

Seasons came and went. Years kept going by. Fascism got no second thoughts from me. Until shortly prior Sarkozy’s election in France. When everyone was alerting against it. Saying if Sarkozy got elected it would give rise to fascism. That’s when I gave it a second thought. Like, so what if funding ceased for entire loads of trash? Might prove socially useful. Economical, even. Thus went my second thinking – about Sarkozy fascism. But then the famous Quebec sovereigntist Segolene Royal was headlined threatening riots if Sarkozy got elected. Threatening violence and brutality would be unleashed if he won. And when he did, there was. Violence, brutality, riots in French streets.

Had to think yet again. Violence, brutality, riots – somewhat at odds from when Mike Harris got elected. Could it be petitioners in Paris got carried away? That Paris petitions got carried out more expressively, more passionately than in Toronto? Or was there actually something to riot over? Something more significant to fascism than I’d realized?

Perhaps. Certainly when relatively free and democratic societies sustain sufficient trauma – be the harm military, criminal, economic or too spectacularly corrupt – authority figures gain popularity. Authoritarian figures get crusading and far more likely elected. By pledging turning military tables, hunting criminals to justice, redistributing economic property or getting large brooms sweeping corruption under the social fabric.

In relatively free and democratic societies we’ve managed making some of our own decisions. Managed having some say in our lives. Only some, though. For when progressively traumatized we start yearning heroes – increasingly parental authoritarian figures pledging sweeping our troubles away. Not quite so with societies remaining totalitarian since forever – where there’s been no turning away from figures of absolute authority in the first place. Nor is it necessarily childish nightmare or fool’s parade. Might be some authoritarians cut sweepingly dashing figures. Promising everything we secretly desire. Or just what we ask for. And then go walking their talk into glorious sunsets. Could happen.

However. Roads to glorious sunsets are fraught. Twisting and too likely turning entirely to darkness. Some civil liberties curtailed, perhaps. Some unwarranted surveillance, maybe. Possibly requiring a few internal passports. All temporary, of course. Like for homeland security. What decent citizen could ever refuse? Only temporary. But how much temporizing does it take between curtailing civil liberties and totally curtaining democracy, at any rate?

Each step down glorious sunset roads twists and trends to darkness. No preventing falling into totalitarian darkness should we step too far. Invariably, those leading us down such roads maintain they must break some eggs to make an omelette. What comedians. Like we didn’t know that already. Who raises the chickens? Who carries the eggs to and from market? Who cooks with utmost care not to needlessly break eggs? Some of us are literate. Not as easily confused as we used to be. Glorious sunsets no longer blind us to those indiscriminately breaking and confiscating eggs – or baskets or farms or whatever we plant in our gardens. We know precisely how many eggs it takes to make an omelette. How endless many it takes to feed corruption. How infinitely many it takes to sustain armies of egg and head-breaking thugs. Breaking our eggs to make an omelette. Yeah. It isn’t an omelette those indiscriminately breaking our eggs are making.

But there recur unfortunate times. Times at which we become shocked and confused by dreadful headline news. Traumatized. And at such times we seek for authorities telling us where to go. Down what roads.

No helping some unfortunate times. But most unfortunate times? Those we bring on ourselves. Like unfortunate times we forget the meaning of responsibility. Or dignity. Or when we forget the meaning of productivity.

Imagine that. Forgetting the meaning of productivity. Seen it happen, though. Most spectacularly. Due to my hailing from beneath the iron curtain and all. Even seen it start happening – not spectacularly or long enough – right here in Ontario. As when Bob Rae got elected. Nevermind in France. Might no longer matter who gets elected in France. Since Marxism has excavated France as its private trench.

When we start seriously social crediting Marxism, that’s the sign we’re forgetting the meaning of productivity. And whenever we elect Marxist governance, signals flare that we’d rather just forget about it. Rather just forget the meaning of productivity.

Because Marxism is – not just economically – inexorably corruptive. Crippling corrosive. Marxism is definitive concerning means of production as the bone of absolute contention – and that diverse human classes necessarily struggle at the bone mindlessly as rabid dogs in the streets. Mindlessly because, far as Marxism concerned, it is never understanding or ideology which determine who we are, what we stand for and what we aim to do. Mere opiates. Rather, we are entirely and only determined by material causes. And this – economic, historical, dialectic – materialism is axiomatic to Marxists. They say it is scientific. But nevermind how wrong they are. Nevermind that cultural – and ideological – principles define who we collectively are, preceding even the possibility of society – or economics – as sunlight precedes vegetation. Nevermind that they are wrong in fact. Marxists are incoherent in meaning. For what is Marxism but an ideology? Nothing but. An utterly dogmatic, absolutely not scientific, self-refuting ideology which dismisses itself as mere opiate.

Nevermind that either. What’s telling is that since Marxists can’t stop obsessing the means of production – as root cause and bone of material contention – they can’t even conceive the meaning of productivity. Standard voluntary employment relationships, for instance, are not voluntary. Not to any genuine Marxist. Not conceivably voluntary or collaborative – since employers profit from employees’ labour. There can be no meaningful mutuality of profit or profitable mutuality. No constructive co-labourating. None. By their very definition of exploitation – profiting from another’s labour – employees and employers are enemies. Class enemies. Struggling mindlessly rabid at the bone. The Marxist means of production bone. Eradicating all meaning of productivity.

Profitable mutuality, which we think best for all, Marxists consider the worst. By their ill-laboured definition, profit means exploitation. Mutuality, if admitted, only makes it worse – since multiple wrongs make nothing right. Profit means exploitation, exploitation fundamentally expresses class enmity – and Marxism is the fundamentalist dedication to finally, however violently resolving class enmity. Thus, where Marxist dedication grows culturally entrenched, gutted societies remain to rot.

The poor must fight the rich until all become sufficiently impoverished. Impoverished to death. It must be so. There’s no voluntary agreeing – as in private employment – permitted. Not permitted since, according to Marxist dogmatic materialism, such would constitute endorsing exploitation. Therefore labour must be made collective; and collective labouring must get re-enforced by authority – even if at gunpoint. Collective gunpoint forced labouring in order to ensure exploitation – i.e., voluntary working as in private employment – is extirpated. But what gets extirpated, of course, is everything voluntary. Including voluntary working. Eventually, no work remains voluntary. All work is at gunpoint. If not at gunpoint – well, they pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.

Thus do the axiomatic Marxist means of production deny the meaning of productivity. Economies crushed beneath curtains of iron were not mismanaged. They were managed precisely as if productivity had lost all meaning.

Trauma may get inflicted on us. When our principal residences or trade centres get blown up, for instance. Mostly, though, we traumatize ourselves. When we become sufficiently corrupt to forget the meaning of responsibility. Or when we forget all meaning of dignity and start fighting amongst ourselves. Or when we forget the meaning of productivity. Hard even to imagine such absurdity. But it keeps happening round the world regular enough to set the times by.

Marxism traumatizes as it grows increasingly entrenched. We may well respond to that trauma by turning to authoritarian leadership for rescue. Worse case scenario, Marxism becomes fully entrenched as state communism in which case governance becomes fully totalitarian. And that’s no different from fascism. Totalitarian by any name. Marxism either may lead to fascism, or – if actualized as state communism – becomes indistinguishable from it. That’s the incestuous intimacy between Marxism and fascism. The bed they’re in together. The depravity they seek to consummate. The darkness they seek to raise. Together. Regardless how they carry on against each other in public.

Marxism has destroyed generations. And it has lost all credit and credibility among those surviving state communism. But among those who have not experienced the consequences of unrestrained Marxism, who have not been crushed beneath curtains of iron, it proliferates.

We aren’t ready to let it go. We can’t just laugh it off. Not yet. We fear that, absent Marxism and its endless derivatives – i.e., we’re determined not by economics but by gender; or race; or historical accident; or geographic coincident; or etc. – we shall be crushed under weight of our own selfish self-involvement. Marxism provides us the sole credible-seeming, materialist-sounding alternative: a duty of utter altruism.

God is dead and we’ve conceived nothing reliable and less absurd than Marxism to save us from the common tragedy of our selfishness. Fair enough. It’ll take some – long – while reconsidering the nature of truth. Won’t be overnight that we realize how un-self-involved an expression of identity selfishness may become; nor how identity emerges from forms of idealism rather than materialism. Forms of idealism, principles, theories, stories – even ideologies like Marxism, ironically enough.

We’re stuck with it for now. For as long as we dismiss understanding itself as an opiate. For as long as we remain fallen in materialism – most all of us, not only Marxists. Doesn’t mean we have to go overboard, though. Doesn’t mean we must drown in it or get crushed by it.

Perhaps it is too late for France. To salvage without severely curtailing liberties. But in Canada – or Ontario? No problem. Too much common sense for spinning revolutions over here. Particularly in Ontario. Still. Should large quantities of Marxist opiates find their way into our drinking water, should the NDP get a few turns actually running the country – I shall be celebrating. As if there would be no tomorrow. Which there might not be. Just because sometimes only seeing and personal experiencing is believing. And justified true believing is the best opiate of all.

[2007 French election posters image by Hughes Leglise-Bataille and used via Creative Commons license.]
[email this story] Posted by Peter Fruchter on 05/24 at 12:12 PM

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