Posts from our progressive community

Watch Kory Teneycke Try to Explain Why the Cons Shouldn't Be Arrested

Montreal Simon - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 15:39

As you may know the Cons have just released a new attack ad, which uses ISIS' images and music to attack Justin Trudeau.

And should, according to the provisions of their own Bill C-51, cause the Cons to be arrested.

But now you must really watch the Harperite stooge Kory Teneycke try to defend the Con propaganda machine.

And fail miserably. 
Read more »

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 11:10
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Edward Keenan weighs in on the role a basic income could play in a job market marked by increasingly precarious work:
I am an enthusiastic supporter of better workplace protections and wages. I have a good, unionized, stable job. I like it. But regulation of work and workplaces isn’t likely adequate to solve the problem we face. No matter how high minimum wages are, they will not help people unable to get a job that pays them. And there are a lot of reasons to think that no matter how good workplace safeguards are, the number of people who can expect to hold a conventional job will continue to drop.
A post-jobs world seems unlikely to be a post-work world. Most people want to be productive, but are forced by economic circumstance to do things they hate doing. If we all had the equivalent of a trust fund, I think most of us would do as many trust fund kids do: we’d throw ourselves into creative and artistic projects, charitable enterprises, politics and community work, entrepreneurship — the fulfilling (and useful) labour that is difficult or risky to depend on financially, and so is now overwhelmingly the province of the privileged.

It is a long-promised science fiction premise: a world in which people are freed from the drudgery of mindless work they hate and able to pursue the things they love. The future’s looming crisis isn’t a lack of jobs; it’s a lack of the income those jobs have traditionally distributed. Solve the latter problem, and the post-job world looks like nothing to fear. - Meanwhile, Ian Gough points out how a focus on short-term returns and benchmarks prevents us from pursuing upstream policies which could do far more good in the long run.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the damage needless austerity is doing to the global economy. And John Cartwright argues that a push toward renewable energy could do wonders for our economy and our environment alike by freeing us from the twin traps of austerity and fossil fuel dependence.

- Finally, Ralph Surette is rightly livid that the Cons are spending their time and our money building monuments to Stephen Harper rather than a better Canada. But Lana Payne writes that the public is more than ready for change, rather than wanting any part of making the Harper legacy more permanent.

On fragile fixes

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 08:59
Some high-profile commentators seem to be accepting a highly dubious conclusion about the federal election date expected this fall. So let's take a quick look at what a "fixed" election date actually means for a government which has no qualms about breaking the rules - and why the fact that we're seemingly on track for an October election doesn't mean we can rule out an abrupt change in course if it suits the Harper Cons' purposes.

Here's what the Canada Elections Act now says about election dates:
56.1 (1) Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion.
(2) Subject to subsection (1), each general election must be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after this section comes into force being held on Monday, October 19, 2009.Of course, we know from his 2008 election call that Stephen Harper sees no problem treating the fixed date as flexible when it comes to calling an early election. But since it's probably too late for him to see any advantage in doing that this year, does he have any avenue to delay an election?

I don't see how the answer is anything but "yes". After all, the election date in section 56.1 is itself a product of a statute passed by Parliament. And so if Harper were determined to delay an election, it would seem a simple enough matter to recall Parliament to either change the wording of section 56.1(2) to fit some preferred future date, or eliminate any mandatory wording altogether.

Alternatively, the election writ itself arises out of the advice of the Prime Minister. So what would happen if Harper simply advised the Governor General not to issue the writ necessary to start an election campaign if he were once again ready to provoke a constitutional crisis for political gain? My guess would be a flurry of litigation - but probably not an election until that was resolved.

So Harper almost certainly has some options to avoid running the fall election on schedule. But we wouldn't expect him to exercise any of those options until absolutely necessary - which is why we haven't had much reason to talk about a possible delay until now.

One way or another, Harper's main decision still comes down to the question of whether his prospects are better in an election this fall, or in one at some other date.

Given that the October election date was set by the Cons' own legislation, we have to assume that the Cons' re-election plans involve reaching voters just in time for that date - with years of governmental messaging going into that effort. And those years of planning, not the fixed date, figure to be the main factor that would keep them on schedule if the polls suggest any hope that their strategy might actually work.

But if it's clear by the end of summer that the Cons don't stand a chance in a fall election, they're not without some means of hunkering down in office for a little while longer. And I've yet to see any reason to think that devotion to fixed election dates is the first principle Stephen Harper would place above his desire to cling to power.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

A Site Young Voters Should Visit

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 08:46
I have written several past posts on the fact that for the most part, youth do not vote, largely because they see nothing on offer from any of the major parties dealing with their issues. The problem, of course, is that as long as they remain a minor presence at the polls, their issues will continue to be ignored. We only have to see the current political rhetoric revolving around the middle class to know who our politicos fear.

Change can only come when the young show that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. I discovered a site yesterday that makes specific appeal to that demographic. Check it out, and if you know any young potential voters, send it along to them. Below is a sample of how Harpoon 2015 is approaching the problem.

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Abuse of power & the Re-Education of Police …..

Left Over - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 08:30
Michael Wood, ex-Baltimore officer, tweets about alleged police brutality Retired Baltimore officer Michael A. Wood tweets about disturbing things he allegedly witnessed on the force

By Lauren O’Neil, CBC News Posted: Jun 26, 2015 8:22 PM ET Last Updated: Jun 27, 2015 10:52 AM ET

This article might be  a bit too late in the  “sky is falling’ sector regarding the  abuse of persons of colour, or police corruption, which, like gun violence, just go on and on and on, the most interesting part of  Wood’s tweets, to me, was the fact that he  praised higher education as giving him the  tools to  look at his time as a police officer with a critical eye…

While some might doubt his agenda, have to say that getting an education does, permanently, change the way you think about have to do a lot of writing, and a lot of analysis, and critical thinking was the most important concept that I took away from my own Uni changes how you proceed in the world, how you think about events in the world, and how you perceive your fellow beings. A good thing, instead of merely parroting what your friends or family think or say, thinking for yourself is something that should be taught in regular school curricula, but that is precisely what the powers that be don’t want. There is a reason that fundamentalists and bigots don’t want education for women, or the poor in are probably smart enough to figure out those reasons yourself.

Perhaps  all police should be Criminology grads, with  some PoliSci thrown in, as well as Sociology..might make for  smarter cops, or then again, might make for  cleverer corrupt cops, I don’t really know…but this Western penchant for those in positions of power  abusing the  poor, persons of colour, and women in general, needs to stop, and education  is always the answer. At the very least, the  expectations of  police qualifications should be broadened, since too many  ill-equipped  people are being hired for this  job, people who  should never be in positions of power. The results of this lack of foresight are obvious to anyone.


A week of big wins for Progressive Americans (But a very bad week is coming for abortion rights)

Rusty Idols - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 08:17
This was an amazing week of wins for progressive Americans. 

Obamacare has defeated what was probably the last chance to strangle it in its cradle and there's not just no path to kill it now, there's no time left to kill it before it becomes a beloved and untouchable program the way Medicare did.  In a few years the Republicans will be denying they ever opposed it.  Much the same story as their once fierce opposition to Medicare which they will now scramble to promise to support at every opportunity.

A horrifying massacre proved to be the tipping point for one of the most divisive symbols of the culture war right wing media hustlers are trying as hard to stoke as the race war terrorist Dylan Roof was trying to inspire.  Instead he was the catalyst to turn white southerners away from a divisive symbol of the war he was trying to start.

And then the Supreme Court declared once and for all and everywhere in the United States that gay Americans are equal and their love is equal.  A ruling met with public joy and public mockery of those who didn't share that joy.  A massive social transformation in America has brought gay Americans unambiguously into the American family.

Next week the other shoe will drop.

Expect the Supreme Court to savagely restrict the medical choices of American women, possibly just by declining to hear a challenge to a Texas law poised to wipe out abortion access in the state, the trend the last few years of massive growing acceptance for gay Americans has been darkly mirrored by ever decreasing access to abortion for American women, particularly poor and minority women. 

A look at the cases the Supremes have left to rule on and their voting history on abortion restriction cases indicate the right to abortion is in severe and immediate danger.

A week of victories doesn't mean the battle to sustain and expand progressive policies in America is over.

It's never over.sdnxry5z7g

The Real Reason the Con Regime Killed the HarperPAC

Montreal Simon - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 05:04

Three days ago I wrote about how a group of well known young conservative activists had created a monstrous HarperPAC.

A political action committee that would collect money from Big Business, especially Big Oil, to attack the progressive parties and the unions.

But before the rapidly swelling beast was able to crawl out of its crib, it was brutally squished by Stephen Harper himself. 
Read more »

The Death Of The Liberal Party?

Northern Reflections - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 02:33

Jeffrey Simpson asks a question which needs asking. Peter C. Newman tried to answer it after the last election. But, like Mark Twain's first obituary, his answer proved to be premature.  What is happening these days, however, raises the question yet again -- because, at the moment, the traditional Liberal coalition simply isn't there. Simpson writes:

Quebec, the federal Liberals’ bastion from 1896 to 1980, has not voted a majority of seats for that party in 35 years. Quebeckers spent many years and six elections refusing to think about participating in governing Canada, or even being much interested in federal affairs by voting for the Bloc Québécois. When they ditched the Bloc, francophone Quebeckers did not return to the Liberals, but voted en masse for the New Democratic Party, which remains their preferred federalist option.
The Prairie West had departed the Liberals more than half a century ago. Voters that comprise two other elements of the Canadian political mosaic split more recently from what had been the grand Liberal coalition.
French-speaking minorities outside Quebec in New Brunswick, northern and eastern Ontario and Saint Boniface in Manitoba used to be the most faithful of Liberals. Most of the ridings with these minorities have not voted Liberal in many elections.
Similarly, Liberals used to dominate Ontario’s industrial cities (or parts thereof): Windsor, St. Catharines, Hamilton, (the east part of) London, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Cornwall. They don’t hold these seats any more, in part because private-sector union presence has dwindled. Liberals, not New Democrats, used to win a majority of these voters.
In 1990, when Jean Chretien won the  Liberal leadership, he was called "yesterday's man:"
He had been in and around politics for most of his adult life before becoming leader. It was said that he had lost touch with his native province, Quebec; that he was a terrific handler of files that someone smarter than himself had crafted; that he was corny, folksy and likeable but lacked the gravitas to be prime minister.
Not enough people understood that, as one of his female cabinet ministers once said (privately of course), he had “balls of steel.” Cross him and you paid a price. He had been underestimated politically throughout his career, and had not been accorded the respect of intellectuals and senior strategists in the Liberal Party. It was asserted that he did not know enough about the world; that he did not read his briefing notes; that complexity was his enemy; and that in due course all these alleged weaknesses, and others, would do him in.
But all of those years in the cabinet had made him a very smart politician. It remains to be seen if Trudeau knows what Chretien knew.
I'll be away tomorrow. But I should be back on Monday.

The Day Equality and Love Defeated Bigotry and Hate

Montreal Simon - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 00:42

The timing couldn't have been better, coming as it did two days before the 46th anniversary of the so-called Stonewall Riots in New York City...

The revolt that is principally credited as the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the United States. And is celebrated every year with pride marches all over the world.

But millions and millions of LGBT Americans still had to struggle for almost half a century against the most insane and brutish bigotry, to be granted this measure of human equality. 
Read more »

On rewriting

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 17:57
There's plenty of justified outrage over Stephen Harper's unelected Senate lapdogs choosing to tear up the Parliamentary rule book to force through an attack on unions in the form of Bill C-377. But I'm wondering whether the procedural move used to end debate might itself affect the validity of the bill.

On that front, is there any precedent for a bill becoming law after being passed as a private member's bill in one chamber, but as a government bill in the other given that both chambers have specific rules governing the review and approval of each type of bill?

And if not, isn't there an argument to be made that even if C-377 passes on the Cons' artificial terms in the Senate, it then won't have been approved at all in the House as a government bill?

(Meanwhile, I'd also be curious as to what other procedural options are available if the Senate opposition wants to push back against the holding of a vote. But hopefully those are under close examination already.)

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 17:29
Motionchild & Will Holland feat. Tiff Lacey - Arctic Kiss (Andy Duguid Remix)

"The Greens Could Return Harper to Power" - That's Pretty Rich Coming from a Dipper

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:23
I've kept the NDP at arm's length all my life, a convenient place from which to observe their astonishingly convenient memories and full-bore, unrepentant hypocrisy.  Hell you would think they were Reformatories in liberal clothing.

I nearly flipped my biscuits today when I read this agitprop bullshit warning Greens that they could be Harper's salvation, drawing just enough of the vote to let Beelzebub squeak back into power.

This coming from the party of Layton and Mulcair that has done more than any other to first help Harper ascend to power and then to deliver him his majority. This from  the party that has completely abandoned the Left to become Latter Day Liberals for raw political opportunism, thus greatly assisting Harper achieve his fundamental goal to move Canada's political centre well and permanently to the Right.  Hell, if they'd played their cards better I'll bet Harper would have found a way to put the lot of them on the Conservative Party payroll.

It's a giggle to see how the NDP and the Libs are getting all touchy-feeley greenish in the runup to the election.  Sorry, buttwads, but you're a little late to the game to salvage any credibility on that front.  You're still solidly behind the extraction and export of the filthiest, highest carbon petroleum on the planet.  Oh yes, you'll raise the carbon levy.  So what?  Is that it, is that all you've got? And what happens when you change your mind as you have on one issue after another. That's a little better than the incoherent garbage coming out of the Libs but that only means you're just a little better than incoherent.

So spare me this agitprop bullshit and feeble guilt trip.  It's good to see you haven't lost any of your real skills.  As for this strategic voting business, have you ever heard the phrase "pound salt"?

A moral leader???? Canada???

Trashy's World - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 13:55
That’s rich! Harper and the CPC has taken our country from moral high ground to the sewers in 9 short (albeit looonnnggg) years. Canadians will see through these lies in the fall. From one of their increasingly desperate emails:    (0) Trashy, Ottawa, Ontario

SCOTUS drags the US into the 21st Century

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 13:53
Now the United States will experience "gay marriage", just like dozens of other countries already have.


With this, plus yesterday's Obamacare decision, the United States has been pulled kicking and screaming into the modern world.
I can only hope that people in the United States will have the same epiphany that Paul Martin did -- he said that following the Canadian supreme court decision in 2005, he realized marriage equality was not a religious issue but a civil rights issue.

Speaking Of Conservative Crime

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 11:21
It seems that our Prime Minister may have violated his own anti-terror law against terrorist imagery and propaganda.

As reported by CTV,
A new Conservative attack ad takes aim at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s position on the mission against the Islamic State, but it uses the terrorist group’s own horrifying propaganda images.

In the online ad, posted on the Conservative Party’s Facebook page, Trudeau is shown in a CBC interview saying he would end the CF-18 bombing campaign against the terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

The ad uses Islamic State propaganda, including gruesome images of prisoners facing death by drowning and beheading -- and those images may actually violate the government’s own anti-terror law.Given its pattern of skirting and breaking laws, this may be of no great concern to the Harper regime. But perhaps this will give the apparatchik pause:
Advertising executive Tony Chapman wondered how the uses of ISIS imagery would help the Conservatives score political points.

“Not only are they providing free advertising for ISIS, they’re completely offside and driving Canadian politics to a new low,” said Tony Chapman.While the exploitation of fear is nothing new to the Conservatives, perhaps this latest example will provoke the backlash it so roundly deserves:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

On the same day that ISIS releases yet another barbaric video, Justin Trudeau promises to stop bombing ISIS. He’s clearly just not ready for the serious job of Prime Minister.

Posted by Conservative Party of Canada - Parti conservateur du Canada on Thursday, June 25, 2015Recommend this Post

A Word of Caution.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 10:44

How can the most powerful court in the most powerful country in the world be so intellectually corrupt?

Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and especially Scalia - shameless political stooges the lot of them.

While many Americans and wellwishers in other lands celebrate today's US Supreme Court decision effectively extending same sex marriage to every state without exception, it was nonetheless a 5-4, split decision.  A 5-4 split on an issue as plain as this.  That's worrisome.  A little more stacking of that bench with another Scalia or Thomas could theoretically reverse today's decision, perhaps on the pretence of states' rights - you know, the same guise used to launch the Civil War.

It's nice to think "there's no going back now" but that may be just whistling past the graveyard.  This is 21st century America, something the 'founding fathers' would probably find unrecognizable.  Jesus Christ on a Crutch, this is the country that has abandoned habeas corpus.  It is the Land of Liberty where today even its very own citizens can be swept up and imprisoned indefinitely with neither charge nor trial. It's the nation where the president has assumed the power to execute US citizens by drone strikes.  It is the land of Total Information Awareness where everyone is spied upon by both government and the commercial sector.  This is the land where democracy and the political process has been subordinated to the forces of market fundamentalism, neoliberalism and corporatism.

This is not a place where same sex equality before the law is secure on the strength of a 5-4 split decision.  Sorry.  Maybe with time and a major demographic shift, political, civil and human rights may be restored.  Maybe not.

Tornadoes in U.S.

LeDaro - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 09:11
Weather around the world and U.S. is a clear indication of climate change that we humans need to pay attention to before it is too late.

To watch a video on weather in U.S. please click Tornadoes in U.S. .

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 09:07
Assorted content to end your week.

- Jim Stanford discusses the need to inoculate citizens against shock doctrine politics, as well as the contribution he's hoping to make as the second edition of Economics for Everyone is released:
I suppose it is fitting (if tragic) that this new edition is being released into an economic environment that is still marked by fear, fragility and hardship. And this highlights a key theme of Economics for Everyone – and one of my key personal motivations as an economist whose career has been rooted in trade union and social justice settings (rather than in academia or business). Things will not get better for working people, if only the economy could recover, deficits be eliminated, and stability attained. Because this pattern of repeating crisis and growing polarisation is hard-wired into the DNA of modern capitalism: an economic system organised around the self-serving decisions of a surprisingly small and privileged segment of society. This crisis, no different from the last or the next, was not an unpredictable, unpreventable, one-off occurrence: a “black swan” event. Rather, it was the predictable, preventable result of an economy that puts the interests of financial wealth above the interests of the vast majority in working and supporting themselves. And it will happen again, unless and until we change the fundamental rules of the game.
(U)nemployment, stagnation, precarity, and austerity are not inevitable. They are the consequence of conscious choices by economic elites more concerned with protecting their privilege than with “growing the pie.” We possess the collective capacity to work and produce, and hence “pay for,” the consumption and services that we need for a decent life. The biggest hurdle may be political, not economic. How can we inspire, prepare, and mobilise large numbers of people into a common cause that puts people and the planet first on the economic pecking order, and fights for a world of sustainable full employment?

I believe that a central ingredient in our strategy must involve a deliberate strategy to build popular economic literacy among our communities and movements. For starters, we must have our own analysis of the current crisis: what happened, why it happened, what can be done to insulate working and poor people from its effects, and how to prevent it from happening again. We must have enough knowledge, and enough confidence, to reject false claims about why we are suffering, and what we can and can’t do about it.

And then we must go further. We need an inclusive, accessible and activist system for training our leaders and activists in the broader fundamentals of critical economics and political economy. And we need to do it systematically and energetically. Every social movement (unions, anti-poverty groups, equality campaigns, environmentalists, and others) needs to build this kind of education work into their overall movement-building strategy. This will strengthen our collective understanding of how the specific challenges we face stem from a common source: the structures and dynamics of financialised, globalised, aggressive capitalism. That understanding, in turn, will strengthen our collective ability to resist the regressive demands of employers and governments, and to fight for progressive change – both incremental and transformative.- Meanwhile, Harsha Walia writes that Canada's immigration is doing exactly what the Cons want it to in handing a ready supply of disposable labour while limiting the opportunity for immigrants to find a place in Canadian society. But Ava Tomasula Y Garcia offers an example as to how our governments can create incentives for better corporate behaviour by pointing to Connecticut's new legislation requiring employers to pay back double any wages wrongly withheld from employees.

- Katie Hyslop, Chris Wood and David Ball are examining the challenges facing Canadians who are fighting a losing battle to find affordable and acceptable housing.

- Jim Bronskill reports that the Cons' intrusion into personal privacy through their new terror bill goes far beyond anything CSIS ever saw as necessary for public safety purposes. And Aaron Wherry looks at what comes next now that C-51 has been passed with Con and Lib support - though it's worth asking questions not only about how new secret police powers and information sharing might be treated after this fall's federal election, but also how they might be used to intrude on the election itself.

- Finally, Paul Jay interviews Kevin Zeese about the the TPP as the latest means of concentrating power in corporate rather than public hands, while Amy Kapcynzki writes (PDF) about its effect on health policy. And Brent Patterson discusses how the CETA be an obstacle to any meaningful action to combat climate change.

What Constitutes Reasonable Return?

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 07:16
Orphan diseases are perhaps the most cruel of illnesses. Frequently life threatening, they afflict only a very small percentage of the world's populations, thereby discouraging research and making any drugs that are developed prohibitively expensive. Are pharmaceutical companies that do develop treatments merely getting fair return on their investment, or are they in fact extorting governments through manipulative emotional pressures as they assist families in publicizing their plight in bids to get government approval?

These questions and others are raised in a documentary shown on The National the other night. The drug in question, Solaris, costs over $600 thousand per year to save the life of one person.

As you will see, parents and other loved ones are put into untenable positions, making them easy pawns for what some would say are unfair pharmaceutical practices. That being said, I would do exactly what they are doing to save someone close to me.

You decide the ethics here:

Recommend this Post

Del Mastro and the Milgram Experiment. . .

kirbycairo - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 05:30
Former Liberal MP Glen Pearson had an article on the Huffington Post yesterday entitled "Del Mastro isn't the Problem, Politics Is," in which he argues that Del Mastro is essentially a good man who has been led astray by a toxic political system. Pearson doesn't actually know Mr. Del Masto and his only real evidence for his contention is that the now disgraced politician is really a nice, compassionate guy is that Del Mastro once 'teared up' when he heard that Pearson's adoption of Sudanese orphans had just been completed. How could a guy who was 'fighting back tears' in such a 'touchingly human' way be a shrill, nasty, partisan hack? The answer for Pearson is that those good parts of Del Mastro's spirit were "transcended by an overriding desire to serve the Prime Minster and his Party."

I call this the "Milgram Experiement" approach to politics. The Milgram Experiment was undertaken at Yale University as a reaction to the Eichmann Trial. Psychologist Stanley Milgram wanted to understand how apparently normal people cold be compelled to do bad things and he later expanded the results of his experiment into the book Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. In the experiment people were instructed to give a series of increasingly painful electric shocks to another subject (who was shielded from view) for giving incorrect answers to essentially impossible problems. A shocking (no pun intended) number of people were willing to give what they thought were dangerously painful shocks to someone simply because they were instructed (and if reluctant, prodded) to do so. The prevailing assumption of those that buy into the Milgram experiment is that most people, regardless of their ethical foundation, can be easily compelled to do bad things by a figure of authority.

Over the years many people have raised serious objections to Milgram's methodology and results. Obviously I can't go here into these clinical debates, but let me suffice to say that I don't really buy the prevailing wisdom of the Milgram experiment. For one thing, the reason the experiment worked was because it was done in an educational context. The situation of school or university is, arguably, the most compelling context of obedience that our society has outside of raw physical force. This basic issue irretrievably skews the experiment. The importance of this problem was highlighted by recreations of the experiment that were performed in less binding contexts. But my most important objection to the Milgram Experiment is that is utilizes people who are a priori likely to tend toward obedience. My instinct about the Milgram Experiment was confirmed for me when a more recent version, the results of which were published in the Journal of Personality suggested that the more left-wing someone is, the less likely they are to be obedient in the context of the experiment. And the group least likely to be willing to inflict harm were "women who had previously participated in rebellious political activity such as strikes or occupying a factory." I didn't really need an experiment to know this would be true because, and I will just say this straight up, leftwing ideology is, at heart, about compassion, while rightwing ideology is about fear, obedience, and greed. There is increasing clinical evidence that rightwing people don't process fear adequately (they have a heightened sense of fear and distrust of others). Couple this with an inordinate number of people who are self-serving, greedy, a-type personalities and you get some pretty dangerous political ideology.

However, I am digressing. The problem with assigning any sort of Milgram assumptions to a guy like Del Mastro should be obvious. For one thing, he is not some lowly undergraduate student engaged in an experiment conducted by his primary authority figures - he is a sovereign adult being paid a very large salary who was himself in a position of authority. I have no doubt that Harper can be Nazi-like in his threatening drive for obedience, and the weak-willed will be more likely to follow his dictates than others. I also have no doubt that the party political system recreates some problematic structures of power. However, that doesn't in anyway suggest to me that any truly good person would willingly do the bidding of a power-crazed, anti-democratic, monster like Harper. These MPs are not disadvantaged, uneducated, vulnerable folks whose difficult lives makes them prone to poor ethical choices. Harper's minions have, for the most part, been prosperous, white, (mostly male), individuals with all the advantages our society has to offer. If they are propping up an evil oligarch who is hell bent on victimizing everyone he can get his hands on and destroying our democracy while he's at it, let's not feel bad for them.

There is no doubt that spin-offs of the Milgram Experiment will continue to be conducted and, hopefully, offer more subtle and compelling results. There is also little doubt in my mind that the evidence will continue to grow that rightwing people are driven by an inordinate degree of distrust and fear. And I am all for giving the people the benefit of the doubt concerning their poor ethical choices when they are made in a context of genuine disadvantage or when they are vulnerable and at the whim of genuinely threatening power. In other words, I am not going to blame and condemn every line soldier for "obeying orders." But int the same context I am not going to be so willing to overlook or forgive the educated, officers who were part of the very hierarchy that was giving those orders.


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