Friday, May 25, 2012

Salute democracy while suppressing it

In British online news magazine The Week, Alexander Cockburn gives his take on America. Had he turned eyes north, the American based writer would have noticed similar trends in Canada.
"...if there's any nation in the world that is well on the way to meriting the admittedly vague label of 'fascist', surely it's the United States...

"Attacks on collective bargaining are pervasive. Big money's grip on both parties ensures corporate control no matter who's nominally in charge. Fascist regimes show open contempt for democracy... We salute democracy while suppressing it.

"A fascist regime is the sworn foe of the right to assembly, 'unauthorised' marches and encampments...

"A fascist regime spies obsessively on its citizens. Study US laws on secret surveillance since the Patriot Act and you will find procedures that would have been the envy of the East Germans.

"Ultimately a fascist state claims the right to imprison its victims without term or hope of redress or legal representation. As the executive power, in the form of the president, it claims the right to kill its enemies, whether citizens (Awlaki) or others (Guantánamo), without judicial review. In other words, rule by decree - which is what Hitler's Enabling Act won him in March 1933.

"We live in a fascist country - 'proto-fascist' if you want to allay public disquiet, though there's scant sign that most Americans are disturbed by the trends..."
Further reading:
...bid to squash voter suppression lawsuits, Ottawa Citizen,
"...the Conservative Party of Canada has moved aggressively to try to shut down a series of lawsuits seeking to overturn the election of seven other Tory MPs.

"The party filed a 750-page legal brief on Tuesday night, complete with highly political denunciations of the Council of Canadians, the citizen advocacy group sponsoring the challenge of election results.

"The motion is based on an obscure and ancient legal prohibition against “champerty and maintenance” ...

"The motion {calls Council of Canadians] national chairperson, Maude Barlow, a “professional agitator” and “virulent critic” of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"The motion, from Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton, even assails his opposing counsel Steven Shrybman..."
Quebec students mark 100th protest day
Acts of minor treason



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13 comments:

  1. Bill T thinks it is an insult to his forebears that fought "real" fascists for us to use this term, I've tried to point out to him that the word applies to more than just Nazism - but unfortunately in Canada and the US most people are very careless with -ism words and to most people communism, fascism and socialism are all pretty much the same and all BAD! Perish the thought that socialists and Nazis (even though they had socialist in their real name) were greater enemies than the Canucks and the Hawks!

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    1. I don't know the context of Bill Tieleman's statement and I intend no disrespect to a person who serves our community so well. However, IMO, respect for 20th century victims of European fascists dictates that we argue vigorously against moves toward evil principles. Whether we are drifting, tilting or spiralling, I'm not certain but collectively Canadians have taken individual and political freedoms for granted during the past few decades.

      If we aim for our world to be democratic, we can not ignore the very things that are basic to democracy or keep silent when they are offended.

      A few years ago, I thought the American Patriot Act and all the associated efforts to remove the rights of individuals could not be repeated in Canada. The majority Harper government is proving that wrong.

      Some people may believe no alarms are necessary but trends only change through conscious effort and the trend we're on now, if not altered, leads to certain anger, unrest and oppression.

      Part of Cockburn's article that I didn't include in the original piece:
      "In Spain, one-in-four is out of work, and the right-wing prime minister insists on maintaining austerity. As Evans-Pritchard points out, "We forget now, but Germany was heavily indebted to foreigners in 1930, like Spain today. It was the refusal of the creditor powers (US and France) to reliquify the system and slow monetary contraction that pushed Germany over a cliff. The parallels are haunting."

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  2. "The motion {calls Council of Canadians] national chairperson, Maude Barlow, a “professional agitator”.

    Wonder what the definition of "professional" is in this case. I know the definition of "critic". Media journalists would be considered professional by definition (if not by adherence to a code of ethics). I guess that is why there are so few professional journalists that are critical....lest they be deemed in violation of the champerty and maintenance laws you speak of. I admit I do not fully understand the terms, but they sure don't have a good tone to them.

    Good thing "professional" doesn't apply to people like us.....though "virulent critic" may. Does it matter if one is a virulent critic of all policies or just a few? Is any amount of "virulence" deemed legal?

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  3. Having now looked up "champerty and maintenance" it is clear that Spiteful Steve, his thugs and his lawyers are desperate to make this go away. According to Lord Justice Steyn:"In modern idiom maintenance is the support of litigation by a stranger without just cause. Champerty is an aggravated form of maintenance."

    Put another more lay person friendly way "Champerty and maintenance are doctrines in common law jurisdictions, that aim to preclude frivolous litigation. "Maintenance" is the intermeddling of a disinterested party to encourage a lawsuit.[1] It is "A taking in hand, a bearing up or upholding of quarrels or sides, to the disturbance of the common right"

    By this definition there are no citizens of Canada who are "disinterested parties" as the fraudelent election of a national government affects all citizens and not just those in the ridings currently under litigation. Indeed it is more accurate to describe the alleged activities of the Conservative Party of Canada as a "disturbance of the common right"

    They must be especially desperate if Stevie's lawyers are not only practically calling Maude Barlow a terrorist but eschewing the normal "good old boy" manners and attacking the opposing lawyers!

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  4. A fascist is anyone who is a control freak. They allow no criticism, no opposition and they treat their people, as dirt under their feet. They do their dirty deeds, sneaking behind closed doors. Every fascists number one to control, is the media. Hitler even made a law...no other party was permitted in Germany. If you think Harper wouldn't do the same? Think again, he would in a heartbeat, if he could get away with it.

    Harper is appointing, two new Conservative judges. Will one of those judges preside over, Harper's appeal, regarding the Etioboke Center being declared null and void by the court? Harper is trying to stop, the robo-call investigation. What does that tell the people? Harper has more than a few lawsuits against him.

    P.S. My mother-in-law was a fascist.

    The Sixth Estate, is opening an investigation into...HRSDC's funding is being diverted to Conservative ridings. This is a part of the Sixth Estate's pork barrel projects.

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  5. I, also, became enmeshed in an argument with Bill T. over the word "fascist", an event I consider unfortunate since I profoundly respect his work on both BC Rail and the HST fight.

    My difficulty in understanding his position is its apparent attempt to copyright suffering. Bearing witness to fascist behaviour in Canadian government and its institutions in no way negates or diminishes the suffering of those murdered during the Holocaust.

    I don't know how anyone can look at the laws that have been enacted in Quebec against student protests, making even peaceful events illegal, and not see the rise of fascism in Canada. (It should be noted as well that these were unnecessary laws since the last time I looked violent behaviour was still addressed in the criminal code.)

    I also find it willfully cruel on the part of some right wing bloggers and their readers who hear witness testimony of those who have been abused at the hands of the police in Canada and declare that because they haven't experienced it, it couldn't have occurred and Canada is not fascist in its behaviour.

    My late father had a business partner who used to tell us of his experiences at the hands of the RCMP. He would be rousted out of bed in Edmonton at 1 a.m. in winter, not allowed to dress or even grab a coat, driven to Calgary and dumped on the street in his pyjamas without charge and without even a penny to his name. This occurred several times. He was told that he had gotten up some cop's nose over a business deal that went sour and this was payback.

    This is one of the milder accounts of police abuse I could tell you. My family has experienced decades of the RCMP's bully-boy behaviour, including their knowingly positioning a pedophile cop into my family home "undercover" when I was 12 years old.

    In any event, if that isn't fascist behaviour, I don't know what is.

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  6. If one reads the words of Benito Mussolini, who everyone will agree was a Fascist, if a somewhat ridiculous example of one compared to his ally Adolf, one will note that an important aspect of it is the seamless joining at the hip of the corporate and the government. Very similar indeed to the Stalinist variety of Communism, which most Americans can't differentiate from democratic socialism as practiced in some northern European countries.

    Control, or totalitarian and dictatorial qualities are also part of a fascist arrangement, but all totalitarian dictators aren't fascists, just the right wing variety, the left wing variety is Soviet style Communism. The article by Britt that you introduced me to and refer to occasionally should perhaps be required reading (with a test to prove comprehension) for anyone electing to use the term "fascism."

    BTW, I admire and respect Bill as well, but sometimes it seems he assumes he knows more than others because he is a professional communicator and knows all the important folks, perhaps. I respect you as well Norm, but neither means I have to agree with either of you at all times. There are people who are virtually impossible to agree with EVER!

    Like your statement that the LIEberals came into office with "good intentions" may be true regarding some members of caucus, but Gordo, MacLean, Dobell and Kinsella and their sort had an agenda that dated back to before they stole the Liberal brand from the other Gordon, at least in my opinion. Gordo served his apprenticeship in stripping assets from railroads with Marathon Realty before he even entered municipal politics and even ran on privatizing BC Rail in 96........the rest of their cronyism and privatization is just typical neo-liberal cronyism with lies about trickle down common to their colleagues from Thatcher to Reagan to Cameron and others. We are doomed to repeat the end of the roaring twenties (1929 = 2008) and the dirty thirties (early 1930's = now) with no FDR in sight, but likely to experience WWIII which will cull the herd and hopefully smarten up the survivors - or the insects or some other species can have their shot at dominance. They couldn't do worse by the planet by the looks of where we're headed today! We wouldn't be missed anymore than the dinosaurs that walked with Stockwell Day's grandfather are today.

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    1. Oddly, I've been in communication with a handful of Liberals recently. There are some people who would rather achieve good things for the province than maintain a continuation of the current kleptocracy. Too bad that many government insiders are not strong enough to compel change. They are even too weak in spirit to risk a fight.

      Unfortunately, there is a strong financial incentive to sit in the back bench, pound your desk on cue and vote as told. The ruling party has access to millions from rich supporters but they also have power to offer back channel rewards in many other ways.

      Most significant changes that could improve practice of politics in BC is meaningful campaign finance reform and revisions that make disclosure rules and access to information far, far better. Those would not be difficult changes to put in place. However, do any of the opposition parties have the will?

      Delete
  7. I was born in East Germany five years after the war ended. My great fortune was that my parents' focus was to escape, which they did in 1955. Arriving in Vancouver as a six year old, I recall my Father saying that a good life was soon possible if we worked hard and saved every penny. Overcoming the obvious obstacles of language and menial work, my Father went to night school to become a draughtsman, after his shift at Sweeney Cooperage finished. Within 12 years my parents bought a home in Port Moody; further hard work had the mortgage paid off.

    My Father passed away seven years ago; Mother is comfortable in retirement, having worked as a seamstress for many years.

    So what's all this got to do with democracy? My entire childhood I recall my Father telling me what was good about Canada, and Germany's socialist counterexample. As I grew older, my Father's lessons had more depth, and his comparisons continued until I was an adult.

    The four photos that illustrate this feature made the hair on my neck stand up, as did TV scenes of the G20 protest, among numerous others. So much has changed in Canada, especially in British Columbia. Today, my community has a "sign bylaw" to prevent a homeowner from displaying, say, a political message on their own property (outside of election periods). Today, my community has bylaws that prevent certain...(are you sitting down?) "movement, noise (with NO decibel parameters), assembly of persons on public OR PRIVATE property", etc. The community last year enacted a small plane aerial reconnaissance of private property (to ensure people weren't filling swimming pools during severe water restriction levels). I could go on and on.

    The steady creep of socialism, especially in B.C.--where your neighbours' NIMBYism can determine through public hearings if you will or will not succeed at a small business--would today have made my Father cry.

    Because he would have recognized it. It started with Control. Control of individuals, control of the masses, control of what they can write and say. The only thing missing today is Fear. Fear of loss of rights, privileges. Fear of the police. Fear of what we know to be lies. Fear of what propaganda creates.

    I'm glad my Father didn't live to see where we're heading.

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  8. "The steady creep of socialism, especially in B.C.--where your neighbours' NIMBYism can determine through public hearings if you will or will not succeed at a small business--would today have made my Father cry."

    A perfect example of careless use of -ism words. What they had in East Germany before the wall came down wasn't socialism, it was a totalitarian form of communism. Today much is socialistic in Germany, all of it, and likewise in Norway, Sweden and Denmark yet this "socialism" is arrived at through democratic process. Socialism has to do with economic contract regarding the commons and what services are provided/organized and allocated by the state, though they are paid for by the people who also vote for candidates based on policies - like recently in France, Greece, England and Germany (the last two local elections where voters rejected the right wing austerity hawks).

    Democracy as practiced in the US today, with the inequality of wealth and the Patriot Act, the NDAA and the control over the economy by the oligarchy is definitely not socialism, and closer to fascism. It is hardly even democracy since both parties are puppets to the same small group of oligarchs and corporations that can afford to buy the government that serves their greed. I would rather be governed by someone I elect than someone bought by those whose interests are actually harmful to me and my family.

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    1. Thanks Koot, I wholeheartedly agree with you and your eloquent explanation of these various terms. I wish people would take the time to learn them and stop misusing them all the time, it is frustrating.

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    2. You are so right Koot. So right I want to cry. If the students of Quebec are reeling, perhaps they should take a look at B.C. who gets no press for what's going down here. Take this woman in BC who is being held without any kind of charges, totally against the law, for no reason other than it seems her family "got up the nose" of the care facility major domos. Someone sent me a link to this site, otherwise I haven't heard a thing about this story in the MSM.
      http://www.seniorsatrisk.org/2012/05/ombudsperson-replies-to-letters-from-public-are-you-personally-aggrieved/
      Holy hell. This story is incredible! Why isn't it getting any coverage? It's official. We have become Nazi Germany here in B.C., right now, today.

      Delete

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