Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an ideologue. That means he believes that there is just one way to organize a nation's political and economic life. There is only one way. And it is perfect. It is the truth and the only truth. Does that make ideology sound like religion?
That's because it is very much like religion.
Ideologies begin from the search for the best way to organize society. Out of the searches come theories. The great theory of the middle ages in Europe was that the best way to organize a society was under the authority of a king. A king, above the fray of common life, would be the best way to rule in the interests of everyone.
It was like a religion, so much so that the king was commonly spoken of as "king by the grace of God". Some kings, like Henry VIII of England ( and, very nearly, King Louis XIV of France), actually broke away from the king of the church (the Pope) and led their own religions.
But kings didn't work out very well. People being people, and kings being people, used kingship for personal glorification without much regard for the wishes or needs of the people they ruled. They simply picked the parts of the ideology of kingship that they liked (absolute power to create personal wealth), and ignored what they didn't like (the welfare of the people).
And that's like religion, too. Isn't it? In Christianity, each sect chooses which parts of The Bible suit its wants - and ignores the rest. Crandall University, for example, will not hire gays because there are passages in The Bible that condemn gays.Okay. Have they announced a ban on hiring people who are covetous, who don't honour their parents, who are greedy, who don't stone disobedient children to death? All such people are in violation of Biblical instruction. Ah, but we're people. We pick and we choose.
In the process picking and choosing, we destroy our own religions and ideologies. But we still pretend we believe in them - and we really believe that we still believe in them. There's even a Nazi Christian church still in existence in North America. It's called the Aryan Church. And yes, it's racist.
The ideology of kingship began fading as early as some 900 years ago, largely as a result of the general incompetence of kings. Sounded good. Just didn't work. The next ideology, rule by aristocracy (that's what Magna Carta was all about), met a similar fate. If failed for the same reason kingship failed. It was self-serving and incompetent.
In the eighteeth century, a new ideology arose, a new religion for the good ordering of society. It was called liberalism. (And no, it was not like the Liberal party).
The basic principal was that all people should be equal and free. (Some freedom had to be given up to maintain the state; but people were to be as free as possible.) And that freedom included the right to own property and to use it as one wished. With that, there developed capitalism in which the entrepreneur was free to develop his property as he wished - the free and independent person - without relianace on or favours from the general society. And that would spread prosperity to all.
But people, well, they pick and choose what they want to believe - and forget the rest.
In fact, capitalism has not spread wealth. In fact, it is probably the worst distributor of wealth ever devised. That gap between rich and poor even within capitalist countries is appalling and getting worse. Then when you add the centuries of pillaging Africa and Asia, you find a capitalism that has produced the greatest poverty and suffering and misery in history. Indeed, what you find is not capitalism at all. What you find is, like the Aryan church, a mixture of picking and choosing whatever it is convenient ot pick and choose while ignoring the rest.
It grew out of the concept of individual rights and freedoms. But it flourishes with massive state support and favours. Banks fail? The government will bail them out, and taxpayers will pay for it.
Capitalists want forests or loans or tax cuts? The government will provide. And taxpayers will pay for it. Heck, our taxes even pay for spying on environmentalists so that the government can tell big business what environmentalists are planning.
(We pay for that. Big business doesn't. When it comes to taking, big capitalism tosses its principles of individualism away to such a degree that capitalists like Irving become the biggest welfare recipients in New Brunswick. But at tax time, they remember their Liberal roots which it comes time to pay taxes. Taxes are for the common people.)
The big entrepreneurs also intrude on the personal freedom of the rest of us. Irving acted as a finance advisor to Harper. What the hell does Irving know about operating a financial system for a whole nation? What training does he have? He knows how to make money for himself, of course. But that does not translate in understanding the needs of a national economy.
And where is the integrity of Harper or Irving in accepting such a partnership. Irving is a man with a direct stake in the federal budget - for himself. What was Harper thinking of? Here was a man with no special training in questions of national econmy, no experience of it, a personal stake in it - and he gets invited to the planning?
Irving was not elected to the federal government. He was intruding on our indivicual right to choose who we want to govern us. I'm sure the TandT would have raised hell if Harper had invited labour leaders or welfare recipients to be his advisors. (But they would know far more about national needs that Mr. Irving does.)
Then there was the arrogance of Mr. Irving in publicly declaring himself a member of the provincial government. He was never elected. The fundamental principle of rights and capitalism is that WE choose the government. Nobody can just walk in and say he's running things. But he did. And Wimpy Alward didn't say a word. Indeed, he welcomed the private business reps who were planted on the Finance Minister, Higgs, to be him advice.
We don't have capitalism. It died a long time ago, killed by the big capitalists. It does not distribute wealth. It constantly relies not on itself but on goverment (us) to support it.
It has also taken away the wonderful gift of our indivicual freedom. In the US, elections have been made so expensive (and deliberately so) that only two parties can run with any hope of winning. Both rely on big business for funding. The result is two parties that are essentially the same - and which run the country on the orders of big business.
And the leaders of big business are utterly incompetent to lead us in national or international affairs. For international affairs, look at Afghanistan, the trillion dollar war that has inflicted massive suffering - for no gain whatever. Look at which was conquered only by massive destruction and heavy loss of life which has led to a nation so unstable, it may well collapse this year. Look at the intevention in Libya which has created a Libya still in chaos - and the source of weapons and fighters for wars across North Africa as, for example, in Syria and Mali.
Western capitalism has so far collapsed that it is committed to generations of war so it can continue looting Africa - and to finance the cold war with China which has already begun. Oh, and watch for the wars in Latin America made necessary by those silly Latin Americans who want to run their own countries.
Making a lot of money does not, all by itself, qualify a person to run a country - or even a small province like New Brunswick. Big business is our equivalent of kings and aristocrats; and it's going into the same incompetence and decay they did.
A capitalism which is not capitalism at all is destroying us by its greed and incompetence. The big boys looked at capitalism - and it was good - but, like most converts, they picked and chose what they would believe. And the end product is not capitalism at all. But they still call it that, just as some people call their churches Christian when they have long ago lost the spirit of Christianity.
So we're now at the Mussolini stage, the beginnings of fascism with big business and government becoming one and the same. This will be (already is) marked by severe abuse and attack on individual rights. The US now has the biggest domestic spy system in history, complete with presidential power to impirson without charge or trial, and even to assassinate.
The US, with torture, illegal and constant wars, domestic spying with virtually no protection for the rights of a free people, has long ago crossed the line to become a police state.
And Canada, I suspect, is not far behind. I mean, we're already spending millions investigating environmentalists so we can report them to the big capitalists. And it's a safe bet environmentalists are the not the only targets.
And prepare for big government. The clergy of big business preach small government. But they do it the way some Christian preachers talk about the sin of murder. They say its wrong. But they've been known to bless the bombs and to call on God to help us kill the helpless targets of our greed.
The reality is that nobody relies on big government as much as big business does. It needs big government to pay for its wars, to spy on its critics, to make sure that the poor and the middle class pay most of the taxes. But it attacks big government so that we will focus on government rather than on what big business is doing.
Capitalism no longer has any of the principles of individual rights and freedoms it began with. It is, in fact, no longer capitalism at all. It is also incompetent (and irresponsible) in wielding the powers it has taken.
Say hello to Big Brother Harper.