whose politics?

Damn... if you haven't yet noticed, inkyheart is on a dang ol' roll down at unquote headquarters. He's got a dynamite meander on money, a killer report from his wordlympics in Ottawa... now this. A passionate little rant on the gov't's decision not to hold hearings on the proposed missile defense shield. My favorite part:
Conservative MP Kevin Sorenson said he has been inundated with hundreds of e-mails demanding public hearings – which he said smells of an orchestrated campaign.
"It seems like it's more a political agenda than really getting to the bottom of the questions we want answered," Sorenson said.

By favorite part, of course, I mean that it's the part that causes bile production to increase in my already sketchy stomach situation. What Sorenson is basically saying is that because there is an organized political campaign to stop Canada from participating in the missile defense shield, well, this means we can't listen to them. This means we have to raise the fucking drawbridge and fill the moat with special arctic crocodiles. He is prepared to dismiss any public consultation because there might be a 'political agenda.'

I'm going to eschew any debate over the missile defense shield. I mean, I doubt very much that Hairy Knuckle Realist Man is reading this lowly blog, so it's not necessary that I start from square one and waste everyone's time.... but just so ya know, it's a scam. The M.D.S. is a 'make work' project for pentagon shitheads that really should know better. Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles are expensive. Bin Laden doesn't need to waste his money. People can get hundreds of tonnes of coke and heroin through America's borders, okay? Smuggling's way cheaper than shooting off a missile. Iran and North Korea are pursuing nuclear weapons because the White House loves to throw its weight around, get the homeland peanut gallery all excited and flinging its feces. Shit, if George Bush knew where I lived, you're damn right I would be developing a nuclear weapons programme.
What's cheaper and more effective at thwarting American aggression? 250 Russian tanks, or a single nuclear bomb? You don't even need more than one; just blow one up in the desert somewhere, and let everyone know that you got tons more somewhere.
Iran just doesn't want to be fucked with. They know they're next on the list, if Bush gets his second term. No number of tanks, planes, or bombs is going to defeat the U.S. in a conventional war. If you've got no other choice, you can take the Iraqi route and throw your people into a meat grinder of a guerilla war. But in the meantime, why not get a nuke? Bush will flinch at a nuke. The North Koreans have already established that. The Iranians will not pre-emptively launch a nuclear attack. They know that if they did, a good part on the middle East would be annihilated within hours. The Iranian government is not suicidally nihilistic in the same way that Al-Qaeda are. Governments do what they need to do to maintain their own power.

Which brings us back to the honorable(sic) public servant(sic) Mr. Sorenson.
It is clear that he would dismiss any of my preceding arguments at the sadly-hypothetical public consultation because I am probably an 'activist', as opposed to a 'civilian.' I may be political in a way that he deems illegitimate. Illegitimate in the same way that Bush can so glibly dismiss half a million pairs of feet on the street during an anti-war protest: because we are a "focus group." Because we are activists, because we are gathering political influence in a currency that the government does not like.
I know that my analogy is a little strained. I'm going to explain what I mean.
Understand that we do not live in a Democratic state. We live in a representative democracy. We (the people) do not get to vote on policy. We usually do not get anywhere near policy. Our job is to vote every four years for somebody we think represents us. In this "democracy", there is one degree of separation between policy and people, and it is the middleman, the politician.
The consumer analogy, I think, is apt. Think of your vote as a share in a company. Everybody has one dollar, one share, one piece of currency that represents their influence in politics. Every four years you get inundated with commercials, you get a chance to walk your dollar around and peruse the product on display. You are a spectator, a consumer of democracy. As usual, your salesman grins a lot, kicks the tire, slams his fist on the hood and declares himself sold, yeah, this is a vehicle that is going to get you places. The long wait is over, hoo-boy. This is one Christmas where the kids won't be disappointed.
It's often said that this is a consumer society. A consumer is the same as a spectator: she passively accepts commodities as a measure of free will. What is possible is what is offered on the market. So it goes beyond "just voting." The voter is trapped by the selection available, is made to identify with the political party of her choice. On election night you watch the votes tabulated, and you place your destiny with that of your desired politician. In film theory, they talk about 'suture' to describe your identification with the character on the screen. People watch and see themselves in Bush's swagger, in John Tory, in David Miller, in the Boston Red Sox and John Kerry. "They" become "we." "They" become the gatekeepers of our desires and hopes and dreams. And yet voting is lightweight, it is done far too easily, there is no sweat or blood involved. It has long been recognized that polling can be influenced by whose name is on the top of the ballot, by tiny changes in language, by the weather. Polls are completely weightless. They are passive. It takes no effort to declare to a pollster that homosexuals should be burned at the stake, that we should reintroduce flogging, that we should redistribute all property to the poor, that we should make businessmen wear clownsuits on Sundays; and then it takes no effort to change your mind tomorrow. This is "passive democracy." People take it very seriously; as seriously as they take the Toronto maple leafs. They go to great lengths to identify with their team but don't really have any physical stake in the game at all.
This brings me to your standard political activism. Activism means organizing petitions, it means protests and placards and media exposure. The basic goal is to influence policy directly, the same way that business lobbyists do every day. Except while their currency is money and gifts, ours is humiliation and shame. A succesful activist campaign coerces the politicians to change policy by pointing out how the present policy is inhumane, hypocritical, generally unreasonable. How the interests of politicians differ from the values held by the public. It is meant to break the suture, to lay bare the schism between The People United (will never be defeated, ugh, I can finish the chant by reflex) and The Power. It needs to manufacture outrage, as in: "This is an outrage!!!!"
This is hard, thankless work. It is "active democracy"; it involves a large amount of sweat and tears and often blood. Through active effort and shrewd planning, the activist's voice becomes louder. Printed up on the front page of the newspaper, her opinion becomes bigger than the typical voter's response to a pollster's question. To a politician, this form of activism is anti-democratic, because it is bending the rules. The activist is buying her influence in the political process with a different form of currency.
Make no mistake. Activism has won, I think, most of the crucial policy changes in our history. Think civil rights, the minimum wage, voting rights for women. But it has its limits, and the activist is as dependent on the politician as the voter. In a way, it is anti-democratic. It amplifies the political influence of some while leaving the rest silent.
Which brings me back to our currency-based economy. Currencies are the unwritten rules of our society. Check behind a grocery store; behold the giant trash compactor they use to destroy perfectly edible food rather than give it away for free. Why? Because it can't be free; that just makes no sense. It must be against the law to eat free food. But it isn't, not really.
I think of some of the most exhilarating moments in my life as a political animal. They were the moments when politicians were neither representatives to be cherished, nor ogres to be dealt with. They simply became irrelevant.
These are the moments when people become the authors of their own policy. Some of OCAP's better actions were like this. Like, if you didn't dig the housing policy, well, you took a house that had no owner and you tried to make it livable. If you were hungry then you took the food that was thrown out. You created your own solutions from the opportunities nobody offered you, but existed nonetheless. This is when politicians felt the most threatened. Like, how can you be trespassing in a building that nobody owns?! As I speak, the city has spent more protecting the building formerly known as the Pope Squat than it would have cost us, the people, to renovate it and make it livable. In another four years they will have spent enough for us to install a sunroom, or a fucking hot tub. By next election nothing will have changed. They don't care. They act like their very careers, their very lives are dependent on maintaining our need. Our need for them, our need for government-sanctioned currency. Government holds a monopoly on policy, and they enforce it with whatever means necessary.
Imagine Bush is re-elected. Imagine abortion is to become illegal. Imagine the massive protests that happen, fuck, millions of people marching for choice. I would imagine that it would probably accomplish nothing. Now, imagine that from that point on, billions of pamphlets appear detailing how a woman can, if she needs to, induce a miscarriage using easily-accesible herbs. Maybe you could turn the recipe into a nursery rhyme, and children would have memorized the words before they ever needed to understand them.
Imagine gay marriage is banned forever, and gay people get married anyway, because 'marriage' is only a word and a license given to you by the government. Well, I can scrawl my own license, goddammit! yeah!
If you can live without their currencies, you become living breathing proof of their obsolescence. Imagine a politician who gets no question to answer. Stands by the podium waiting-- starts to get nervous. Chuckes and sweats under the lights. "I know you're out there... I can hear you breathing!" heh heh. Imagine the audience starts talking amongst themselves-- moderator calls for order, order, all in vain. Nobody cares about the mysterious bulge under Bush's jacket. Nobody cares if John Kerry is "too patrician." We've all heard the fucking words over and over again-- they don't change much-- we don't need them reiterated.

OK-- enough for now, I guess. I have notes for a 3 to 5 part treatise on capitalism at some point. I'm tapped out tonight though.
Booksale tomorrow-- yippee!


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