Sunday, January 29, 2012

Occupy your Brain

Phil Burpee
Phil Burpee, Columnist, Pincher Creek Voice

     Wake-up time - half past twelve on the dark night of our moronic national slide into hydrocarbon whoredom and Mad Hatter delusions of grandeur. Prime Minister Stephen Harper no longer even bothers with the pretence of an equitable regard for a balanced rhetoric in matters of steering the wallowing ship of state, which has become our once-bright country, as it ploughs through the turbid waters of the early twenty-first century. Raising himself up to his full, pink-and-pudgy, helmet-hair stature at the microphone before the haplessly gathered representatives of the Club of Rich Nations at Davos, Switzerland, our Prime Minster has taken it upon himself to deliver a walloping good spanking to his feckless peers. Yes, he has seen to it that the trousers have been dropped, the skirts raised, and the boxers and panties duly lowered, so that he might heartily smack the flabby butt-cheeks of his indolent colleagues. For nothing so riles the anger of a former Alberta Firewaller as the vision of foreign buffoons refusing to accept the Historical Inevitability of Corporate Supremacy in the otherwise orderly affairs of nations.

"Wastrels!" he has cried. "Sluggards! Dolts! Squandering valuable resources on trying to see that your populations are educated and fed - hello? - reality check! Don't you know that the poor deserve their poverty just as the rich deserve their wealth? It is ordained. Winnowing out those who do not aspire to ostentatious wealth is the natural order of things. Believe in the amassment of capital at the top. There is no other law, and no other such holy writ. Sela."

Inspirational stuff. Especially from a tiny-minded purveyor of a non-renewable commodity economy for which the idea of a sustainable commonwealth within society is tantamount to heresy and apostasy, punishable by dearth. For truly - God helps those who help themselves - especially to the belongings and entitlements of others. Because in a global economy based upon a finite and irreducible physical collateral - viz. the Earth - the only way for a relatively small number of persons to benefit disproportionately is to do so at the expense of a great many others. The corporatist model of capitalism, which is now increasingly manifesting itself in the form of State Capitalism, is predicated on the understanding that great wealth will accrue to a central coterie that controls the buttons and levers of power. And make no mistake - these are thieves who fall well outside the original capitalist vision of the great English thinker and economist Adam Smith, who's 'Wealth of Nations' has served as a foundation-stone for the liberal and imaginative movement of capital. For in this hell-vision of modern, monetarist economics, capital becomes fixed at the top, a congealed fat-scum, and the filthy lucre so attained becomes, as Smith so cryptically put it - "....the income of men who love to reap where they never sowed."

Mr. Harper goes on to admonish his fellow politicians and administrators to behave like Canada is now doing - abandon the simple-minded niceties of socialization and cleave to the heaving bosom of sweet Mammon. Social services, access to education, adequate housing, environmental quibbling, due process, an informed and invigorated electorate, market access for all, producers' rights, workers' rights, farmers' rights, childrens' rights, grizzlies' rights, polar bears' rights, access to health care, access to governmental services, access to informed media, access to legislative process - all these things and more are seen to be anathema to 'growth' and 'wealth creation'. And along with this, and especially perhaps, we must embrace an idea which has been minted right here in Alberta - a streamlined regulatory process designed to enhance significant energy development projects so that they might proceed apace without all the bothersome impediments associated with concerns for the wellbeing of either people or any associated ecology. If trans-global oil interests want to sell Athabasca heavy-crude to the Chinese so that they can continue to carpet their country with skyscrapers and factories making crap for our Wal-marts, leaving us a despoiled landscape and a piffling of royalties along the way, then who are we as mere citizens to say nay? - or as the great Harry Truman once quipped (and I paraphrase slightly) - "If you can't take the heat then get the hell out of Nagasaki!"

Occupy your brain. Think. Listen to what's being said by our politicians. We have now entered the Anthropocene, a geological epoch wherein the activities of our species are now seen to be altering the very dynamic processes of the planet itself. And, with that, let us not forget the classical definition of fascism - the focused conflation of the essential interests of the State, Capital and Labour, often with the connivance of the Church. There is a monumental juggernaut of ruination, both political and ecological, rampaging around our world. At a time when we most require men and women of substance and nuanced perceptions to be articulating the narrow and delicate path towards a viable tomorrow, we are beset with automatons and self-absorbed charlatans pandering to the most base of our tumultuous instincts. And, at least here in Alberta, we are witnessing an oddly perverse inversion of one of the Prime Minister's favourite old tenets of once wanting to build that firewall around the province - the firewall is indeed being slowly built up - from the outside! Yes, forces of reason and thoughtful consideration have reacted, and are reacting, with surprising force against two pipelines which would deliver bitumen sludge to American and Chinese markets respectively, not to mention those same indolent Europeans who propose to levy a steep carbon tax on our filthy goop. We are increasingly being regarded as some frothing, deranged and ravening beast which must be caged accordingly, lest it run rampant across our neighbours' lands, loosing its bowels of their dreadful slurry, even as it consumes the hopes of unborn generations.

Herbert Spencer, a philosopher, and editor at The Economist from 1848 to 1853, had this to say about propagating the nonsensical: - "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools."

And the poet Thomas Gray leaves us with this pithy analysis of survival in the power structures of today: -

"Where ignorance is bliss
'tis folly to be wise."

Phil Burpee
January 28, 2012

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