Dr. Dawg

The crushing of the progressive state

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Perhaps I’m the last person in the ‘sphere to learn that former Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb has a blog.

I’ve had the opportunity now to read some of his articles. Onto my blogroll he goes, forthwith.

Here is his latest post, a trenchant analysis of the recent Harper budget, which came to me as a welcome surprise. It’s a depressing read, though, for us little froggies in the pot:

[A] government’s agenda, even if it represents profound change, is more often achieved in increments, small steps which gradually reshape what we perceive as acceptable and normal. Often it is only in retrospect that we get a sense of how far we have moved, how much what is in Overton’s Window has changed, how far “the centre” has shifted. The danger, absent debate, is that we will sleepwalk into the future, that a very different Canada will have crept up on us, a Canada we would not have chosen.

Danger, indeed. And he dilates upon that notion in a lengthy essay phrased in the precise language of the mandarin. But here there is no obfuscation. In his measured words he elegantly dissects, almost cell by cell, the Harperian version of Canada, its “bargain-basement citizenship” and its impoverished democracy.

But he does not leave matters there. His solutions, too, are as clearly phrased:

So what is the alternative to the relentless decline of the progressive state? It is, at least in part, the demand for a more robust democracy, more transparency, not less, more public education and information, not misinformation and deception, more citizen engagement, not voter suppression, more diversity of views, not the chilling of dissent. It is the recognition that essential services have to be organized around the citizens they serve rather than be “marketized”, converted to commodities sold to consumers who can afford them. Above all it means a renewal of our sense of the common good and our capacity for collective management of the future rather than retreating to our private interests and fears and surrendering our future to the vagaries of the market.

Himelfarb goes on to mention the Occupy movement, which he is not yet ready to embrace, at least explicitly, but he concludes thus:

We ought not to wait for crisis to take our democracy back. Canadians deserve an alternative. The growing political polarization recent polls are picking up suggests that Canadians want clear choices and many want something new. Perhaps the increasing number of young Canadians taking power into their own hands and rebuilding civil society will renew our sense of the common good, focus us on the future, and force the kind of reinvention that we need.

This is simply fine stuff, and once again consider the source. Pour a mugful of the beverage of your choice, and go check it out.

[H/t Susan Delacourt]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on April 17, 2012 3:26 PM.

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