A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada
I realize that Friedrich Von Hayek died in 1992, but he is one of the "scholars" who helped to draft neoconservative theory.
In Lawrence Martin's book Harperland, he states that he spoke with Harper insiders about Leo Strauss, deemed the primary neoconservative theorist, and they denied that Stephen Harper had ever read him. I'm not surprised. A bit too deep, though he does ascribe to his theory of "hidden messages". Calculated ambiguity, taught at neocon schools everywhere. Orwellian with a twist.
However, Harper's boys do suggest that their boss is an avid reader and follower of Friedrich Von Hayek, an Austrian economist, and author of The Road to Serfdom, which has become a Bible to neocon disciples.
I'm currently reading the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, with introduction by none other than Milton Friedman, a colleague of Hayek's at the Chicago School's Committee on Social Thought.
In the first chapter, The Abandoned Road, Hayek speaks of the roots of western civilisation. The roots which he claims come from the Greeks and Romans. He also laments that we are abandoning the sage advice of Adam Smith, John Milton, Erasmus, Cicero, etc., etc., etc.
However, Canadian civilization was not based on the ramblings of the historic scholars, or the ancient Romans or Greeks. Our unique culture was based on the relationship between early European settlers and our First Nations.
When conducting trade on our river highways, they were not thinking of Adam Smith and the sovereignty of the consumer. Nor were they reading Milton's Paradise Lost or the philosophies of Marcus Tullius Cicero.
They were too busy trying to survive.
Von Hayek would never understand that. He grew up in Vienna, where his father was of minor nobility and his mother a member of the upper-class bourgeoisie. He led a privileged life, influenced by the intelligentsia of Viennese society.
So invoking the scholars was as natural to him as breathing, but understanding the needs of the general population, completely alien.
In his introduction to the Road to the Serfdom, he says that it was originally only meant to be a pamphlet, written for a British audience. He was surprised by it's success and especially the interest shown by the University of Chicago.
He even thought that he may have written it differently for the Americans. However, when he began to lecture in Canada, especially at the Fraser Institute, he should have written it differently for Canadians, because our culture is vastly different from that of the United States.
We don't thump our chests and chant "Canada, Canada, Canada", which doesn't mean that we aren't proud Canadians. We're just not annoyingly so.
And this is something that Stephen Harper doesn't understand. He's always been embarrassed by us. Socialists, lazy, a welfare state, mamby pamby Peacekeepers.
We needed to be more muscular. Tough soldiers behind state of the art heavy machinery. War toys to flaunt and intimidate others with.
He just doesn't get it.
Norm Jewison was interviewed several years ago and asked why he felt that Canadians were so successful in the entertainment industry. From Comedians like Jim Carey and Martin Short to directors like himself and David Cronenberg.
Jewison answered that it was because we only had six crayons, explaining to a confused interviewer, that Canadians have learned to make do. We never had the money that the American entertainment industry did, so we had to push the limits. Make do with what we had and turn those six colours into a kaledescope.
Martin Short once spoke of the successful series SCTV, that became the inspiration for Saturday Night Live. They ran the show on a shoestring, first writing the scripts, and then visiting the local Salvation Army thrift store for costumes.
Stephen Harper likes to tout our military history, without really understanding our military history. At Vimy Ridge, we were successful where so many other better equipped armies were not. And it's because we learned to make do with less.
Instead we focused on training down to the finest detail.
Stephen Harper instead follows the beliefs of people like Donald Rumsfeld, who felt that the man or woman behind the gun was not important. Only the size of the gun.
I watched a documentary about Iraq, and they interviewed several young American soldiers who admitted that they really had no idea what they were doing, or even how to properly handle those big guns. One young man said that before joining up he was working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now he was a member of the Intelligence Corp, charged with information gathering, and carrying a huge weapon.
Lester Pearson once said that the Americans may be richer than us, but that we were better off. We always thrived to be a nation that took care of its people.
This of course is anathema to the neoconservative, who believe that people should take care of themselves. This has never been the Canadian way. We do rely on ourselves, but also on our neighbours and our government.
Three and a half centuries ago, France sent shiploads of young brides, to help settle Quebec. Filles du roi, or 'King's Daughters. Men were told to select robust wives, capable of hard work and they were paid so much for every child born. Government intervention to encourage population growth.
My great grandfather was granted 100 acres of land in New Brunswick, for $3.00 and a set number of hours working to build roads. He also had to commit to clearing so many acres of land a year. Government intervention to build infrastructure and aid in prosperity.
A favourite social event for early settlers was the work 'Bees'. Logging bees, stumping bees, quilting bees. Communities working together. Collectivism to accomplish tasks beyond the ability of a single family. (from my Victorian Canada website)
We don't share the individualist attitudes of American history. It's rather telling that we selected Tommy Douglas as the 'Greatest Canadian'. The man who gave us universal healthcare, something Harper told the U.S. conservatives would "horrify" them.
Stephen Harper doesn't get us, he just wants to change us. Remake Canadians in the American image. An American image created by people like Friedrich Von Hayek.
In a 1997 CBC interview, Harper was asked "Is there a Canadian culture?" He replied: "Yes, in a very loose sense. It consists of regional cultures within Canada, regional cultures that cross borders with the US. We're part of a worldwide Anglo-American culture..."
Nope. He just doesn't get us.