Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is He An Automaton?


Tommy Douglas' grandson -- Kiefer Sutherland -- has his own television show, 24. Stephen Harper also has his own show, 24/7. Jeffrey Simpson writes:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper stars in every episode, although other cabinet ministers occasionally make cameo appearances, as do Canadians with something positive, even glowing, to say about the performance of Mr. Harper and his government.

A team of half a dozen people put together this weekly thriller, at a cost we do not know in detail. They film all week, following the Prime Minister where he wants to be followed and ostensibly giving Canadians insight into how their government operates. Of course, that isn’t what 24 Seven really does. Instead, it offers a weekly propagandistic view of a few things the government wants you to see, paid for with your tax dollars.

The show is the ultimate exercise in navel gazing, produced by people who believe that the Canadian media establishment has lined up against them:

Since the Conservatives consider most of the country’s news media outlets (Sun TV and right-wing hot-line hosts excepted) irredeemably hostile (despite much evidence to the contrary), the government’s aim is to bypass and frustrate them as much as possible.

The prime directive in the Harper government is that image trumps substance. It is a 21st century version of Goebbels' Big Lie. The people will believe whatever they see -- provided they see it often enough. So, Stephen Harper has become obsessed with own image -- and control of all images:

All the world’s a stage, Shakespeare once wrote, and for the Harper government, this remains a focus principle of daily activity, hence 24 Seven. They create the stage, cut the images, write the script, package bits of staged reality and present it to whomever can be enticed to watch.

What is slightly unique about this government’s staging is the elimination of the possibility of spontaneity. Nothing is unscripted, which is as things are in a theatrical presentation but slightly odd for public events, where something unexpected might occur. Government presentations are designed less as events where the public might participate – as in asking unscripted questions – but as theatrical events with set and script fixed in advance and executed with an impressive dedication.

It makes one wonder if Mr. Harper himself is a automaton.


Kirby Evans said...

It seems to me, Owen, that the fundamental problem with attempting to script one's entire public life is that it becomes increasingly difficult to respond to unanticipated events. To do well in the face of genuine crisis one needs to be able to respond creatively and with innovation. Scripted life, on the other hand, eschews such talents. And we have seen this in the past couple of years as events in the world don't reflect Conservative's narrative they look increasingly incompetent. Even worse for them, they have been entirely unable to respond to Trudeau's increasing popularity with anything but the same old script of negativity - and when that doesn't work they have nothing else in their armoury.

Speaking of Shakespeare, one can't help thinking that the Conservative, short-pants brigade are simply waiting for a Deus ex machina to suddenly and miraculously create a happy ending for them.

Owen Gray said...

That seems to fit with the fundamentalist theology which drives these folks, Kirby.

Only the elect will be saved.

toby said...

Owen said, "It makes one wonder if Mr. Harper himself is a automaton."

. . . or on drugs.

Owen Gray said...

What ever the reason, Toby -- as Kirby suggests -- Harper seems unable to respond to new circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Harper doesn't have to be,any more than a robot. Aren't the Koch brothers, the largest lease holders in the tar sands?

Harper is buying up, a lot of the ethnic peoples votes in Canada.

If Harper knew he was going to lose the next election? He would find an excuse to resign. At the last election, Harper was begging and pleading for a majority.

When Harper so called won, the last election, he uttered his most famous quotes? I AM the law. I MAKE the riles. AND, by the time I get through with this country? You won't recognize it. How true. Canada has never had a fascist dictatorship government before.

thwap said...

Unscripted events are hard to manage when your main goal is to fuck over as many people as you can.

harper and his gang of stooges are corrupt servants of truly vile pay-masters.

Hence the cowardice and deception.

Too bad there's so many Canadians either ignorant or stupid enough to fall for this shit.

Scotian said...

As Kirby Evans rightly points out, the more you try to live life in a preprogrammed manner (which is another way of describing such a scripted and controlled life), the more you end up losing your ability to respond flexibly. This in turn not only means you lack the ability to respond to things outside your programming, you also end up creating massive blind spots too. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is the problem with such programming that deprogrammers use when taking people out of cults, that is once you find ways to confront the subject beyond that programming they tend to go to pieces fairly quickly and break down instead of being able to hold onto that programming. It can be difficult to get the person there to start with, but once you reach that precipice, the following crash tends to be profoundly powerful. I'm hoping Canada/Canadians are finally there, but we will see.

I think this may be in part why Harper and his minions fail to recognize just how capable and dangerous Justin Trudeau is to them. They are already so convinced that their superior attack machine can do yet again what it has done to Martin, Dion, and Ignatief (especially as in their minds the rich fodder Trudeau gives them by not being a perfectly scripted leader/politician), and even now just think it will be a matter of time as the water that is their attacks erodes the Trudeau brand in the public mind even if it is taking longer than they first thought. Me, I'm not so sure that is what is happening this time out, I think that if this is their thinking they have fallen victim to that blind spot problem I mentioned already.

I also think that this TV show of Harper's while trying to take maximum advantage of the internet realities for such also makes him look outside his base more than a little self obsessed, especially given his flat refusal to face the more traditional public venues of the media scrum and little things like First Ministers Conferences. I really do think by this point that Harper and those around him are so deep into the bubble that they have lost touch with reality as it is, in part because they were able to shape their reality to suit them for so long, and the few who he once kept around him who understood the limits of that are either dead or gone for various reasons, the last of which I'd say was Nigel Wright.

I mean they had a deus ex machina happen in the election against Dion, it was called Mike Duffy. So it is not so weird that they may expect another to show up for Trudeau, especially when he is as weak as they believe him to be. Again, I disagree with that assessment, but I can see why they might think that.

I think in the end we are seeing in the Harper operation these days the reason why trying to have a society that runs on tight control/programming is a disaster waiting to happen, because we live in a world where the improbable happens with disturbing regularity and you simply cannot program for that, and when it does your oh so perfect world comes crashing down around you in the end. That is clearly NOT the way to run a society/government in any sane sense of the word.

He may not be an automaton, but it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference, isn't it.

Owen Gray said...

Until it hits close to home, thwap. Lots of veterans, for instance, aren't buying the sales pitch anymore.

Owen Gray said...

Like those in the second Bush administration, Scotian, the Harperites have assumed that they make their own reality.

The Bushies invaded Iraq on that assumption. The catastrophe they set in motion unfolds every day.

I have a hunch that the same thing will happen in Harperland.

Owen Gray said...

The problem with being a dictator, Anon, is that there comes a time when people refuse to obey.

We may be reaching that point in this country.