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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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5/21/2005

Provocatively Non-Partisan

Over at Bree's Blog a friend of hers, Mel, who blogs admirably at Chandrasutra takes the notion of non-partisanship to task. I replied in the comments and a cleaned up version appears here.

"And as much as I disagree with your friend Jay I feel more "trust" where his voice is concerned because he is so openly, brazenly conservative - that's why I think it's so shocking/hilarious to see him connected to anything "non-partisan"."

Mel, I fear will be disappointed simply because I am not at all conservative. A radical, classical liberal - maybe. A libertarian - on weekdays beginning with the letter "T".

One of the reasons why I classify myself as non-partisan - and why James Bow with whom I often disagree accepted my membership - is that I tend to be civil in my postings. This is because I have not the slightest interest in actual political power.

Partisans are people who devoutly believe that their party, for the good of the nation (and possibly because of God's own commands), absolutely must hold power. I believe that anyone who believes this is dangerous. Because, instead of doing what they believe to be right, they will do what it takes to be elected. The two are very different ordering principles.

Having begun my interest in politics at a Young Socialists meeting back when Stocky though dinosaurs stalked the earth, my political evolution has been, if anything, towards a realistic appraisal of just how distorting the quest for power can become.

When you have political parties driven by polling rather than issues, politicians incapable of taking a stand without a focus group, you have a political system ripe for collapse and radical revision.

Which is where I believe Canada is at the moment.

My own contribution - other than having a little fun at various parties' expense - is to try and consider "What next". What do we do after Canada as we have known it is done down by its own contradictions and their corrupting effect on our political class.

Economically I believe in free markets; but that does not say a thing about my views on distributive justice. Socially I am against the state having much to do with the regulation of people's conduct unless and until that conduct actually leads to violence. Internationally, I strongly believe that the West must defend itself, that the Middle East must be reformed so that the odious regimes which currently repress their peoples are removed, and that the pre-9/11 status quo was delusional and immoral. Christopher Hitchens has been making many of those points rather more eloquently than I can.

Perhaps the best way of explaining my habit of mind is to take a specific example: Kyoto. I do not believe in Kyoto because a) I think the science behind human causes of global warming is sketchy, b) if it turns out that there is a significant human component then Kyoto is a truly dreadful agreement because it will be totally ineffective in actually reducing the output of carbon dioxide, c) virtually no state, including Canada, is actually going to adhere to their commitment, d) the effect of Kyoto will be to divert resources from actions which would save the lives of people who are alive and on the edge right now, e) the increasing price and scarcity of fossil fuels will mean the main sources of carbon release will be surplanted by market driven conservation and technological solutions. From where I sit the political elites in Canada and much of the rest of the world have simply gone along with Kyoto as a symbol of their commitment to the enviornment. Sadly, the electorates of many nations have bought into the symbol without realizing that Kyoto's entire thrust is not enviornmental but rather symbolic. After all, no one seriously concerned with the issue of emission would have exempted India and China whose economies are the fastest growing large economies in the world and who use energy about 1/7th as efficiently as the West.

The point of the non-partisan is to remain free to point out the humbug offered up by all of the political parties while praising, where possible, people like Ed Broadbent, willing to sacrifice short term political gain for basic human decency.