Sunday, December 30, 2007

On Conservatism, Culture Wars, and Ideologues in Layman's Clothing

Ideology always trumps reality in the mind of an ideologue

In the search for new leads on the recent CBC/Liberal collusion accusations, one inevitably comes across those who, usually for largely partisan reasons, thinks the allegations are no trouble at all.

One, in particular, couldn't escape notice. Posted by an individual by the name of Elasticsoul. This particular tirade followed a brief quote from CBC publisher John Cruickshank's letter to Conservative party campaign chair Doug Finley. It reads as follows:

"The Conservative Party of Canada is much like the Republican Party of the United States: it is now largely controlled by neoconservative 'market fundamentalists.' They WANT to damage faith in the political process. They WANT to start a nasty culture war to divide the electorate and put the other parties on the defensive. The Conservatives are following the model used successfully by the Republicans to gain power, if necessary at the expense of national unity, national pride, and certainly morality.

The Conservatives try to play the 'struggling honest outsider' role, but are at least as dirty as the other major parties. The Conservatives have FAR more cash in the bank than their opponents and are the governing party, yet constantly claim to be fighting powerful forces. The Conservatives ARE the powerful, well-funded, regressive force that the rest of us are trying to contain.
Predictably, Elasticsoul's little lecture hits on all the typical anti-conservative talking points. It also presents us with a choice opportunity to examine the thought processes of an ideologue of his nature, and determine precisley where a good deal of the hostility that is infecting the Canadian political process is coming from, and what implications it holds for the future.

First off, this particular individual certainly isn't very interested in discussing whether or not there is a serious issue at hand (and there is; the allegations alone are serious enough). For some reason, ideology seems much more important to Elasticsoul than whether or not the CBC has been behaving in a politically partisan manner.

First off, it seems that Conservatives are allegedly the only ones interested in damaging faith in the political process. It seems that Conservatives are allegedly the only ones interested in cultural warfare, despite the fact that so many self-proclaimed opponents of conservatism seem so eager to wage such a conflict.

The Conservatives are also accused of sowing disunity and resorting to immoral means in order to attain power (although he doesn't elaborate on what those may be).

Yet the complaints of immorality clearly appeal most to those who so desperately wish to spread the idea that, should anyone disagree with them, anything that could concievably be wrong with such a person simply must be wrong with them. In the minds of ideologues such as Elasticsoul, morality and politics have become entirely inseparable. He and those who agree with him are surmised to hold a monopoly on morality. Anyone who disagrees is degenerative, regressive, and utterly immoral.

Under such pervasive ideological conditions, it's unsurprising that some of those who are most impressionable can be coaxed into changing their minds.

Of course one has to consider the particular context of Elasticsoul's comments. At certain points, they seem to almost border on panic. Conservatism is treated almost as if it's some sort of infection that must be contained.

Yet, no legitimate government comes to power without support. When last anyone bothered to check, 30% of Canadians still support the Conservative party. That's an awfully large "infection", and in any human patient, would certainly border on terminal.

Yet, despite the tenure of a government that allegedly preys on national unity in order to achieve power, national unity remains at its highest point in decades, and Quebec separatism remains on the verge of becoming a spent force (although ruling out any resurgence would be extremely foolhardy).

In other words, Canada remains healthy despite its Conservative government. That should give people such as Elasticsoul cause to reconsider their rhetoric, but sadly, ideology brooks no such reconsideration. It is, by its very nature, rigid, unforgiving, and ignorant of facts. Ideology always seems to trump real issues in the mind of an ideologue. It's unsurprising -- they wouldn't be ideologues otherwise.

People such as Elasticsoul accuse Conservatives of being corrosive to national unity, yet it's they themselves who brand the 30% -- nearly a third -- of Canadians who plan to vote Conservative as somehow dangerous, even teetering on the brink of catastrophic.

The so-called "culture war" that Elasticsoul bemoans seems only to be fought amongst those -- on either side of the political divide -- most interested in waging such a battle.

It's also impressive how often morality can be tossed right out the window. In fact, it seems immorality may be the cultural warrior's mutual stock in trade.

Fortunately, most Canadians aren't bothering to take up arms in such a conflict, no matter how badly individuals such as Elasticsoul would actually encourage them to.

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