Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Internal Contradictions of Neo-Conservative Ideology

         QuĂ©becois author, Christian Nadeau, is a prof of philosophy who studies conservatism in the N. American context. Here is a google search result, en français, of his work:


          Nadeau uncovers what we consider to be the fundamental flaw of neo-conservative ideology: it claims to prioritize "individual liberties" (thus continuing the Revolutionary movements of the Enlightenment: French and American Revolutions) but, in practice, destroys the means to attain or defend those very liberties.

         This fundamental contradiction is seen in the Harper government's attempt to emasculate the national census by rendering the long form voluntary. This is done in the name of "individual liberties" but has for its practical effect the reduction of the information flows the federal government requires for targeting and monitoring programs which "level the playing field" for disadvantaged Canadians. These citizens thus find themselves with de facto reduced opportunies (and the freedom of action which derives from opportunity).

         Such behavior, Nadeau believes is explainable on the grounds of an obsessional - ideological - commitment to an American-style "the less government, the better" vision of society and the world. The pernicious outcomes of such behavior are simply ignored..

         Reactionaries love "tradition" (a loaded word if ever there was one!) and oppose all forms of "moral relativism". This language often is a cover for ethnocentrism and racism, of course, and too often masks an excessive love of "authority" and "strong man" figures: one thinks of the machisme of a Mussolini or a Hitler.. This excessive, fear-driven, need for "authority" leads to abberations such as the perversion of religious symbols, myths and terminology to prop up, rationalize or justify reactionary policies. American "conservative christians" argue that ecological and climatological crises are signs of the "end times" prophesized by the Book of Revelations. Ecologists and those struggling for social and ecological justice are portrayed as "defying God's Will" and "serving God's Enemy, Satan" - no less! 

            The reactionary perversion of thought extends even into places one would not expect: science. We see this trend in the puzzling rise of such pseudo-scientific curiosities as "intelligent design" which, we imagine, functions to reinforce "religious" authority (bible, charismatic interpreters..) and to generally suppress the cultivation of critical thinking especially among the young.

Monday, December 13, 2010

strip searches: authoritarian shift in police culture?

       According to an article on this morning's "The Current" (CBC radio), police in this country might be resorting to psychologically intimidating / denigrating strip searchs on one third to one half of all arrests, at least in large urban centers.


        Such practices continue despite Supreme Court rulings that strip searches be conducted only out of necessity, that they are "inherently degrading" and that they require the permission of a supervisor:


        Why are such practices tolerated in a society which considers itself "democratic" and "liberal". Such practices are more in line with the philosophy and psychology of totalitarian societies were police brutality is used as a means of suppressing public dissent..