Monday, October 04, 2004

Conservative, Yes - Libertarian, No

Some time ago I was invited to check out the Libertarian party of Canada. Apparently, my blog article entitled “Our Tax System – Obese and Out of Control” as published in the National Post caught the parties attention.

So, I checked out their website. Did you know that the Libertarian party of Canada’s platform is based on the philosophy that government should play only three roles in society – mediating disputes; protecting citizens and protecting our nation. That’s it.

Health care, education, orphanages, roads, sewers, water, firefighters, resources, environment, immigration, and everything else, would apparently be taken care of by private interests. And no Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, Old Age Security or welfare of any kind. This is pretty radical stuff.

Now I’m a conservative thinker. I make no apologies for that. My political and social philosophy is driven by an inherent distrust and fear of government. From an early age I developed a respect for Ayn Rand and her concepts surrounding Objectivism. I believe that all successful social structures must be based on individualty, family and local communities that look inward for their support and nurturing. I also believe that we have come to rely too heavily on distant bureaucrats and politicians in Ottawa who often make decisions affecting our lives based on their own interests rather than the interests of Canadians. In this way I have something in common with the Libertarian party. However, that’s where it ends. As a Conservative, I believe that there is a need for government to provide more than courts, police and soldiers. And anyway, even if I supported Libertarianism in its entirety, as a pragmatist, I cannot fathom how it could possibly be implemented here in Canada.

It is one thing to take a burgeoning society and build it on a foundation of individual rights and complete freedom from state intrusion. It is another thing entirely to take a quasi-socialist society that has embraced state dependence as thoroughly as Canada has and change it into a libertarian one.

One must remember that Canada is a democracy and there are an awful lot of people beholding to the almighty state. And these are the people whose votes are needed by the Libertarians in order to be elected to government.

In Newfoundland, for example, there are 36,000 public servants (local, provincial and federal) in a province with a population of only 500,000. That’s one government employee for every 14 citizens. How does one take a people, who have known nothing but government paternalism for generations, and convince them that they don't need government? More importantly, how does one get elected on a platform of personal responsibility in a nation where personal responsibility is eagerly surrendered by the populace in trade for the comfort of nanny governments embrace? (Perhaps “leash” would be a more appropriate term, rather than “embrace”.)

In today's Canada, Libertarianism is simply undoable. We have slid too far to the left of the political spectrum. What else would explain the fact that the Conservative Party of Canada – a moderate, slightly right-of-centre party by any international standard – is considered to be an extreme, neo-con, right-wing party by many Canadians?

At election time, we sit huddled in front of our TVs anxiously waiting to hear the promises from our beloved politicians as to how they will spend our money to make our lives easier. Never do we demand that government do less and leave us alone. And, of course, our government is more than happy to indulge our dependence (in return for votes, of course.)

Decades of liberal indoctrination in the media and classrooms; billions of dollars given in grants and funding to thousands of socialistic and pro-big government interest groups; and forty years of near total Liberal control of our courts, bureaucracies and infrastructure have effectively neutered us all. We all love our government. We would be lost without it.

It’s all very sad really. But sad or not – it is a reality.

As for me, I am hoping for a future where there are lower taxes, no government corruption and waste, and less government intervention in our lives. However, a future where there is no government intervention is beyond my capacity to imagine. Nor do, I think, I want to imagine it.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

My God Cries When Children Die - Does Yours?

Terrorists. There are so many of them making the news but so few media outlets willing to call them what they really are. The CBC calls them ‘militants’. The Globe and Mail calls them ‘rebels’. Other media sources have been quoted using other words to describe them. Words like assailants, attackers, bombers, captors, commandos, criminals, extremists, fighters, freedom fighters, guerrillas, gunmen, hostage-takers, insurgents, kidnappers, perpetrators, radicals, separatists, activists....

To anyone paying attention, it is plain that western media sources are taking great pains to avoid using the term "terrorist". Many right-wing scholars and pundits have provided commentary analysing the motives behind the abandonment of the word "terrorist" in our television, radio and newspaper coverage. So I won't bore you with that here.

As for me, I have no problem calling people ‘terrorists’ when it's appropriate to do so. Especially that batch of child-killing Chechnyan monsters who descended to the darkest depths of depravity and evil with their hostage taking at a Beslan school in Russia. Hundreds of innocent children, brutalized, starved, shot and killed. And for what? Chechnyan Independence? Religious Freedom? The right to build another state based on a twisted interpretation of Islamic law? Seems to me there are too many of those already.

I used to be a supporter of Chechnyan independence. I saw them as the underdog and Russia as the oppressor. I still believe that the Russians have no right to be demanding sovereignty over them. And I suspect that what the Chechnyans have done at that Russian school is no worse than what some Russian troops have done and continue to do in Chechnya to the Chechnyan people. But we have always known how brutal, oppressive, merciless and cold the Russian state can be, haven’t we? Just ask any Ukrainian. What this latest episode has made clear is that the Chechnyan separatists are every bit as bad. If things keep going the way they’re going, maybe those who seek to liberate Chechnyia will turn out to be its enslaver.

Oppressive, post-communist, Russian nationalism; or a twisted Chechnyan perversion of Islam. I can’t decide which is worse. Surely the peaceful followers of Islam and the entire world deserve better.

At any rate, I no longer feel as much empathy for the Chechnyans as I did before. Much of the sympathy I felt for them has been replaced by fear. Fear of a new group of souless radical terrorists creating another souless radical state. It hardly seems possible that a nation, governed by people who believe that their god condones the torture and wholesale slaughter of children, will add anything of beauty to the world.