Saturday, November 03, 2007

Harpers Bonapartism

I did a tongue-in cheek post on the Progressive Conservative Leadership Race in Alberta last year comparing the candidates to the Bolshevik leadership. And in perusing that post I came across this definition of Bonapartism which does really describe the Harper Government well.

What Are The Characteristics Of Bonapartism?
The dictator may pay a hypocritical homage to the tradition of popular consent by means of occasional plebiscites in which the people are asked to endorse some proposal desired by the government. But this purely formal consultation is usually carried out in an atmosphere of intimidation wherein the propagandists of the ruling clique predict the direst consequences unless the proposition is confirmed.

Trotsky used the term affectionately when he referred to Stalin.

The contradictions within the bureaucracy itself have led to a system of handpicking the main commanding staff; the need for discipline within the select order has led to the rule of a single person and to the cult of the infallible leader. One and the same system prevails in factory, kolkhoz, university and the government: a leader stands at the head of his faithful troop; the rest follow the leader. Stalin never was and, by his nature, never could be a leader of masses; he is the leader of bureaucratic “leaders,” their consummation, their personification.

It seems appropriate given Harpers Law and Order government has embraced the military and the war in Afghanistan and has branded the Canadian state in the Conservative party image.

Bushism-Cheneyism has aspects of Bonapartism,
whereby the state rules in an authoritarian way and disregards the people, representing itself as the true representative of the business classes. In fact, it serves only a small spectrum of corporate cronies of the ruling elite, disadvantaging almost everyone else. It expands government, but not into provision of useful infrastructure (bridges, airports), but toward the provision of "security" (often just a label for make-work unnecessary jobs, such as extra al-Qaeda-fighting police in Wyoming) or of artificial "investment opportunities" such as an Iraq under US military occupation..

And we know Harper the student of history admires autocratic power and has studied Stalin, thus his re branding of the party in his own image, as the Party of Stephen Harper.

And it became even more relevant this week when the party purged candidates that they deemed out of touch with the party line.

Karl Marx was a student of Jacobinism and the French Revolution as well as a contemporary critic of the Second Republic and Second Empire. He used the term Bonapartism to refer to a situation in which counterrevolutionary military officers seize power from revolutionaries, and then use selective reformism to co-opt the radicalism of the popular classes.

Tory brass won't let them run in the next election

What do elected Conservative candidates Brent Barr, Bill Casey and Mark Warner have in common?

From Friday's Globe and Mail

The Conservative Party has named the members of the management committee that has taken over the duties of the riding association that renominated banished Tory MP Bill Casey in his Nova Scotia constituency.

But neither Mr. Casey, nor the president of the riding association in Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, know who those committee members are.

"It's a secret committee. They took over our riding association and all of our money and they won't even tell us who's on it," Mr. Casey said yesterday.

Mr. Casey had hoped to run again for the Conservatives despite being kicked out of the caucus after voting against the federal budget over changes to the Atlantic Accord. But when the members of Mr. Casey's riding association elected him as their candidate despite the expulsion, the national council vetoed the decision and said it was bringing in a new committee to nominate someone else.

It was "anti-democratic," Mr. Casey said.

But he isn't the only elected Conservative candidate to be internally disqualified.

Two others - one in Toronto and one in Guelph, Ont. - announced this week that they had been stripped by the party brass of the opportunity to run in the next election.

Mark Warner, an international-trade lawyer who was elected by the riding association in Toronto Centre, says the party took issue with his participation in a local forum on income and equality. He was eventually given the green light to participate, he said, but on the condition that he remain silent throughout.

Mr. Warner said he believes he should be able to discuss issues that are pertinent to an urban downtown riding. And he doesn't believe he should have been disqualified as a candidate for saying so.

"The riding association made a choice to elect me as a candidate; the riding association was happy for me to continue as a candidate," Mr. Warner said. "If the national party wants to officiate the judgments of a local riding association, I think there are some questions there that democrats will want to discuss."

As for Brent Barr in Guelph, the Conservative national council accused him of not generating enough support for the Conservatives through canvassing and of running a poor campaign in the last election - charges he vehemently denies.

"I wish that I would say that we did something wrong because then I would actually be able to stand up and say here's my resignation. I would be comfortable with my resignation. But that's not the case," Mr. Barr said.

But Conservative Party president Don Plett said there were problems with the candidacy of both Mr. Warner and Mr. Barr that had to be addressed. He disagrees that there is anything undemocratic in the process.

"Our Prime Minister [Stephen Harper], our leader, has made it absolutely clear that he does not appoint candidates, that we have a democratic process. Both Mr. Barr and Mr. Warner were elected by the democratic process," Mr. Plett said. "The fact of the matter is that there were certain issues. And, as there are in all parties when there are certain problems with candidates, candidates at times get removed."

As for the anonymity of the committee that has taken over the riding association in Mr. Casey's constituency, Mr. Plett said the names are not a secret.

But "the management committee, for the best part, has asked that their names not be put into media because, the fact of the matter is, I think everybody in the riding wants to try to find a peaceable resolution there," he said.

"They are all working toward finding a candidate to run in the next federal election and they don't want anything interfering with that."

EDITORIAL | comment | PM's way or highway
PM's way or highway
Nov 02, 2007 04:30 AM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised in the Conservative party's 2006 election platform that local party riding elections would be conducted in a "fair, transparent and democratic manner."

But that certainly isn't the case in Toronto Centre where Conservative candidate Mark Warner has been dismissed by the party's national leadership after he wanted to play up urban and social issues, such as poverty, affordable housing and reaching out to minorities.

None of these issues are high on Harper's list of priorities, as Warner learned when Don Plett, national party president, signed the formal letter informing him that he was no longer the party's official candidate in the riding. Warner, who immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago as a child and has a successful international trade law practice, was slated to run against Liberal candidate Bob Rae.

Warner said he had wanted to stress subjects that matter to residents in the downtown riding, which is home to a large immigrant population and big tracts of public housing.

The move is yet another sign that Harper, despite his claims to the contrary, has little interest in fair and transparent local riding elections. It also is a clear indication that Harper is out of touch with big cities and wants little to do with helping to address their major social and economic problems.

PM distancing himself from 2 rejected candidates

Updated Fri. Nov. 2 2007 4:20 PM ET

The Canadian Press

HALIFAX -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he had nothing to do with decisions by the Conservative party's national council to reject the nominations of two Tory candidates.

Harper says Mark Warner and Brent Barr, both from Ontario, were disqualified by the party's National Council -- and he had nothing to do with it.

The prime minister, in Halifax to address an aboriginal conference, says the democratically elected body is charged with the responsibility of making sure the nomination of candidates runs smoothly.

Warner, an international-trade lawyer, had hoped to run in Toronto-Centre, but he was forced to withdraw his candidacy because of what he called "friction'' with the council.

Guelph businessman Brent Barr says he was told his nomination was rejected because he had not done enough to promote party.

"Frankly, I'm not involved in those kind of decisions,'' Harper said. "The National Council is democratically elected and makes those decisions under the constitution of the party.''


Harpers Fascism

Leo Strauss and the Calgary School

Post Modern Conservatives.

Liberals The New PC's

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