Thursday, January 03, 2013

Canadian Class Warfare


Michael Valpy -- whose new address seems to be the Toronto Star -- writes that Canadians are becoming markedly intolerant of one another -- and Stephen Harper is reaping the political benefits:

What we have are profound, systemic demographic divisions of age and education that aren’t going to go away for years, if ever — divisions which Harper, like Shakespeare’s Brutus, has recognized as a tide in the affairs of men that, taken at the flood, can lead to victory.

He’s deftly caught the baby-boom on the boomerang — the young and rebellious of the 1960s and ’70s who grew into the old and cantankerously conservative of today.

He’s made hay out of the discontent of the non-university-educated who have been persuaded that the country’s so-called elites have made a hash of things. 

As in the United States, Canadians have stopped listening to those with whom they disagree. The consequence of that deafness has led a large number of Canadians to conclude that the ballot box offers no solutions:

What has happened, first, is that the overwhelming majority of Canadians under age 45 have stopped voting — not out of apathy as far as anyone can tell, but because they simply don’t see their political agendas mirrored in the agendas of Parliament and the provincial and territorial legislatures. How democratic is a country where most citizens below the median age don’t vote? Canada has become a country governed by a gerontocratic minority.

And, like their Republican brethren, the Harperites have fueled the resentment of Canadians who did not attend university:

Second, in a society where the well-educated are seen as possessing an unequal hold on power and an unequal share of the country’s socio-economic fruits, Harper and his Conservatives have been successful at presenting themselves as the voice of Canadians who incongruously have the short end of the inequality stick that government policies have allowed to grow.

 It all adds up to a formula for class warfare -- a war which Stephen Harper plans to win.


thwap said...

Corporate elites have always pursued policies of divide and conquer.

One of their greatest triumphs has been to disparage programs that bring collective benefits as wasteful entitlements. Then, when, through their idiotic tax cuts, they destroy their revenue base, they get their stooges like Flaherty and harper to tell younger people that they're unaffordable and that the previous generation profited from them at their expense.

Owen Gray said...

It's a tried and true tactic, thwap.

Unfortunately, there is a critical mass of people who don't understand they're being played for stooges.

John B. said...

Such a conservative as I am would never support Harper. I take exception to the writer’s dismissal of my conservative values as having been possibly derived from a lack of university education.

If anything, this attitude seems to support the popular perception of the “better” educated masses as being susceptible to “elitism”. I’ve had many lessons influencing my conclusions and engendering doubts that have obviously been misunderstood, ignored or simply not experienced by most of my associates who have a higher level of education.

In fact, by my observations, Harper’s market libertarianism seems to be quite appealing to many well-educated people. I wonder at times whether this might be due to their lack of experience in proximity to the sites in the workplace where the damaging and de-humanizing effects of its application are most profound.

Owen Gray said...

I'm happy to hear from you, John. As a number of commentators -- beginning with Dalton Camp -- have pointed out, Harper is no conservative. He is a neo-liberal. But in his Orwellian world, Ignorance is Strength and Freedom is Slavery.

As is the case with everything they have touched, the Harperites have bastardized Canadian Conservatism.