And the winner is…

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NOT MICHAEL IGNATIEFF!

Stephane Dion

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  • The Rev

    Ignatieff would have made a far better Prime Minister than Dion ever would.

  • http://www.guzzlingcakes.com Eve

    If by “better Prime Minister” you mean “huge unqualified disaster,” then yes, I agree.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    Regardless of his qualification / lack of qualifiation. All I care about is that the Liberals have a remotely electable leader, because how else are we going to get back to our gay-marryin’ pot-decriminalizin’ health-care-havin’ ways? Canadians wouldn’t have voted for Ignatieff because the majority of Canadians like to think that they’re down to earth types who don’t tolerate pie-in-the-sky intellectualism. It’s bullshit, but we all seem to believe it. At least Dion has a chance of being perceived well, mostly because nobody knows a single thing about him, or even if he actually exists.

  • The Rev

    Pandering to the cunts just means they’ll never stop being cunts.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    Pandering to the cunts got Harper elected. ‘Nuff said.

  • The Rev

    Not really. I mean, if you want to assert any sort of moral superiority over Stephen Harper, you can’t simply adopt the tactics of the Conservative Party and hope that the blood will wash off your hands more easily than theirs. That assumes the Liberal Party has any foundation for moral superiority over the Conservatives, of course, which I’m dubious about. They’re both gangs of technocrats with different colour schemes.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    I was simply disagreeing with your assessment cunts. I believe that Harper pandered to the cunts and that got him elected: but I’m skeptical about any efforts to educate them into knowing any better than to elect Harper again, regardless of who won the liberal leadership race. Why would they stop being cunts? People have, time and again, shown a sad ability to disregard their own best long-term interests in the face of threats to their self-perception. Also, it’s fun to say cunts. Cunts cunts cunts.

  • The Rev

    Eh, that’s just bullshit self-righteous avant-gardism. That shit went out with Leninism. People have habits, and one of the most common habits right now is an uncritical disengagement with politics. That habit can be broken, just as we all learnt to piss in toilets and not our pants. The way to break it is not to have a small elite select worthy candidates, then attempt to delude everyone else into adopting their agenda, since “this time it’s really in their own interest, if they’d only realise it.” That shit is part of the problem, not the solution. It’s hacking at the branches, not striking at the root.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    I disagree that it’s a “small elite” selecting the candidate; it’s not hard to join your local riding association and go to the convention and vote yourself. True that it’s harder if you’re not from central Canada, but most riding associations will spring for travel and hotel for poor delegates. Do you think some sort of online poll might be a better way of doing it?

    And I don’t actually see a lot of “deluding” going on, either (except perhaps by the Conservative press releases circulated around before voting started that they hated Rae the least). And yes, I miss Trudeau, too. But just because Ignatieff had his foot crammed in his mouth for most of his campaign, doesn’t mean that Dion is deluding the public. It just means that he’s not saying stuff that’s quite as moronic.

    Also, believing that most people people disregard their own self-interest is a not the same thing as advocating a parent-state to wipe their asses for them. We elected a Conservative government; it’s not “cynicism” if it’s actually the case.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    (By the way, the candidates themselves all have to pay a $50,000 fee to enter the Leadership race. Otherwise, you know, I’d have run myself. Aah, well, yet another reason I’m a card-carrying member of the CCFNDP.)

  • The Rev

    I think you fail to understand my critique properly. I don’t think shit like “online polls” and paying for members of the electoral gangs who’ve failed to reap the benefits of power to meet up with those who have is going to save us. This whole “Well, nyah to the Conservatives” is some petty, ridiculous shit I don’t care about either. The Liberal Party of Canada, and the Conservative Party, and yes, the NDP too, are packs of technocratic scumbags. People who vote for these parties condone and sustain a state of affairs where they are nothing more than functional units – tools – for power.

    Dion is just another technocratic scumbag. Ignatieff is as well, but he would have at least been a new type of technocratic scumbag for Canada. This is why Ignatieff is to be preferred to Dion. The country would have castrated his power during his eventual Prime Ministership, and we would have at least managed to slow down the increasing domination of technique and governance in life.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    You forgot the Green Party.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    (Also, I was being sarcastic about the online poll thing. And, by the way, I’ve read John Ralston Saul too.)

  • The Rev

    I haven’t read John Ralston Saul’s works. I did nearly kick him in the head accidentally once though, when he sat down in front of me at a lecture while I had my feet propped up on the chair. I was not impressed by his talk there, and his books seem to be shit from the bits I’ve glanced at.

    And the Green Party are as much a pack of technocratic cunts as anyone else. They simply wish to cut out the expert managers and replace them with scientific authority outright.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    You should read JRS, it’s good stuff. I quote — for all our edutainment — his definition of technocrat:

    Technocrat: A word which means what it says, but perhaps not as we normally understand it. The roots appear to be describing someone who has power (crat) thanks to their specialized knowledge or skills (techne). Observation of the technocrat at work is enough to tell us that the roots have been inversed. This is someone whose skill is the exercise of power. It follows quite naturally that there is no suggestion of purpose, direction, responsibility or ethics. Just power. John Ruskin described this function as “intricate bestiality.” See: TECHNOLOGY.

    That’s from his Doubter’s Companion, similar in conception to Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. It’s probably the best back-of-the-toilet books ever.

  • The Rev

    That’s just a dumbed down version of James Burnham’s definition. Since James Burnham invented the word and wrote an entire book about the subject, I’ll take him over Saul’s shit-book anyday.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    Yes, but Saul is way funnier.

  • The Rev

    Are you just a walking box of the tritest opinions it’s possible to hold on any subject?

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    Me? You’ve actually advanced only one point: that people shouldn’t vote because participation in the system legitimizes it. The rest is just invective. I’m sure you shock your mother, but as soon as you’re alone in your room again you can safely dig out your copy of Atlas Shrugged and can masturbate to Dagny all you want. Your position condems yourself to be ruled by those more venal than you. If possible. Your vitriol is extremely, um, typical. But not particularly useful.

  • The Rev

    This is what I’m talking about:

    John Ralston Saul? Ayn Rand? You seem unfamiliar with the fact that there is a whole world of discourse about the issues of how to respond to and limit state power that cannot be found in the “Philosophy” section of Chapters.

    As for the “Your position condemns yourself [sic] to be ruled by those more venal than you,” I’d point out that you don’t have a fucking clue what my position is, or what the consequences of holding it are, as shown by the inappropriate “Objectivist” references.

    On the other hand, your position is openly that the Canadian people are too dumb to realise their own “self-interest”, that the political parties of Canada should pick candidates based on instrumental criteria (who is more “electable”) rather than applying moral criteria, and, simultaneously and contrarily, that overblown, crypto-fascist, egotists like Trudeau and nonentities like Dion are preferable to other alternatives. Those are some awful positions to hold.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    Ok, first off, my position is that it’s better to have somebody qualified than somebody not qualified — being an extremely conservative public intellectual does not qualify Ignatieff for shit. Dion is more qualified, and he also hasn’t spent the last few months being a moron. All other things being equal, that kind of electability is a good thing to have — if all other things are equal. And I don’t agree that Trudeau was a crypto-fascist, but it’s nice to see that you’ve been reading Gore Vidal. (Unless you picked the term up from Red Dwarf.)

    Second, it’s absolutely true that many of the Canadian people are too dumb to realize their own self-interest; that doesn’t mean I don’t think they can’t get smarter or don’t deserve the chance to try; you assumed that part on your own. I believe that their current choices indicate that they’re not so bright: just because — as you so elequently pointed out — the other choices weren’t the best, doesn’t mean there still isn’t an objectively superior outcome.

    And the objectivist reference is due to the fact that you seem to think that simply declaring yourself separate from the system actually makes this so. It does not.

    Third, just because I enjoy the work of an excellent synthesist — whose work you discount simply because it’s not “first,” a position that is sort of like decrying all modern transistors because they’re not seven feet tall and made out of tinfoil like the original — doesn’t mean I haven’t read Galbraith, too.

  • The Rev

    You seem to be trying to impress me by name dropping a bunch of popular literature – Vidal, Galbraith, Saul, Ayn Rand, etc. I simply don’t care about these people. I”ve read some of their work, but I really don’t care what their opinions are, because a close enough familiarity with them has taught me their opinions are crap. You, on the other hand, seem to move entirely within the perimeter of this crap, since it’s all you keep on bringing up.

    As for Ignatieff, if you think he’s an “extremely conservative public intellectual”, you’ve really got your head screwed on wrong. Ignatieff is a liberal hawk, and has been since the 90′s at least. You can see this clearly, should you ever care to put down your Vidal and Saul to read them, in books like “Blood and Belonging” where he warns against ethnic nationalism and advances a case for multiculturalism under the auspices of liberalism. The closest he comes to “conservatism” (whatever the hell that means) is in his work on the “lesser evils”, where he advances a liberal argument for torture etc. If you think that’s conservative, then you’re simply ignorant of what falls under the umbrella of conservatism. Go read the National Review or the Weekly Standard or the American Conservative or Policy Review. or Tech Central Station. I disagree with Ignatieff, but I don’t do so on the false grounds that he’s somehow a “conservative”.

    As for all this “I think the Canadian people are dumb, but not really,” it’s all mealy-mouthed bullshit. You think they’re dumb because they disagree with you, that’s all. After all, your idea for “making them smarter” is just aligning their political preferences to your own. That’s some narcissistic bullshit, and ridiculous to boot considering how trite most of your opinions are. The idea of “voting against your self-interests” is redundant as shit, and it would still be redundant, even if they did vote for whichever gang it is you favour, whether NDP or Liberal or Crips.

    This “objectively superior outcome” bullshit is just that as well. You’ve got no reason to believe that the Liberals, as a party, will be any different or better than the Conservatives. Nor that Dion will be better than Harper. History shows just the opposite in fact – the two parties are interchangeable, and with a few exceptions (Ignatieff being one because everyone hates him) the members of those parties are interchangeable. You are deluding yourself if you think that somehow having a gang of cunts with red ties instead of blue will really change anything. If you want me to stop being so mean, stop being so trite.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    Lol. “I don’t care about ‘popular literature’ because I read Ignatieff!” It’s strange that you take pride in your cultural illiteracy. Vidal and Galbraith are public intellectuals — a now extinct species — while Ignatieff is at best an academic.

    And by the way, there’s an enormous difference between contemporary neoconservatism and classical conservatism. The Liberal party carries on most of those small-c conservative values; Ignatieff is no exception, and his hawkishness warrants serious pause. (Besides, Ignatieff, as I recall, comes out against torture in Lesser Evils). History has not shown that the two parties are interchangable; the neoconservaties have been in power twice, and there have indeed been many changes during those times.

    PS: You’re not mean, you’re simply trying to outargue opposition with bombast rather than logic. You’re only calling me trite because I’m not taking you as seriously as you take yourself.

  • The Rev

    I’m calling you trite because you read trite things, hold trite positions, and phrase your arguments in a trite way. I’d once again point to the fact that your acquaintance with the word “technocrat” comes from a book you describe as a “back-of-the-toilet book” written by a cretin. When I pointed out that there is in fact an entire discourse on technocracy going back to 1943, you found the most relevant fact to be that Saul was “funnier”. That’s a trite position, even if you were joking.

    As for John Ralston Saul, the man once compared himself to Plato and Aristotle casually, and found them wanting in comparison. If that, and Vidal’s mediocre fiction, qualify one as a “public intellectual” you are welcome to continue reading your “public intellectuals”, and I will stick with the “academics”. Throughout this entire argument, you’ve shown that no moral nor intellectual principle is as valuable to you as a sodden sort of pragmatism. What’s important is not that Dion holds the positions you believe are true and correct, but that he is electable, that he will beat the gang you don’t like. When confronted about this, your only response was a tu quoque, that because the Conservatives were bad people, anything was justified in beating them (your words were “All I care about is that the Liberals have a remotely electable leader” and later “Pandering to cunts got Harper elected. ‘Nuff said.”). That structure is a logical fallacy, and it’s especially ridiculous when you want to claim some sort of moral superiority over the people who employ those tactics, as you seem to want to.

    Finally, you have one of the worst understandings of neo-conservatism I’ve ever run across. The liberals in Canada aren’t neoconservatives, as either neoconservatives (see the National Review) or socialist critics of neoconservatism (Stanley Goff or Daniel Hammqvist, for example) understand that term. Neoconservatism isn’t simply the state of being right-wing in the 21st century, or being right-wing and shooting brown people, or of balancing the budget and periodically turning down funding for social programs.

    Neo-conservatism is a particular kind of technocratic discourse, just as the Liberal party’s internal ideology is. But they are very different outside of that single point of contact. The world-views and the justifications that arise from those worldviews are distinct, and easily contrasted. Similarly with Ignatieff. If you can’t see the difference between Ignatieff and the justifications the guys the at the National Review offer, you are wilfully blind to the differences. Now, that’s entirely possible, based on some of the shit you’ve been talking, but it’s disgraceful if that’s the only reason. Heck, contrast Ignatieff with Lee Harris, an actual neoconservative intellectual, and the difference is immediately apparent.

    On the other hand, saying that neo-conservatism represents a break somehow with ordinary Western behaviour is just fucking laughable. “Many changes during those times” indeed. Clinton invaded and bombed more countries than Bush did, with less fanfare, and for equally bad reasons. He also cracked down on civil liberties just as harshly – see the 1999 amendment to the Posse Comitatus Act and the 1999 Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Bill. One of the few things that Chomsky is right about is that there is a continuity between administrations based on institutional inertia that puts the lie to the idea of a new “party platform” changing everything.

  • http://www.westcoastgirl.com WCG

    Hmm. You make basic mistakes in history, logic, and in reading my posts. I did not say that the Liberals were neoconservatives; I have the worst understanding of neoconservatism you’ve ever come across because, er, you misread my post.

    I said that the Liberals carry on the small-c conservative principles that have been present in Canadian politics for the past hundred years (you know, like, creating the CBC and the welfare state), and that the rise of Canadian neoconservatism started with Lyin’ Brian (I did say the past two governments, but I should really have said “one and a half”) … so, then, scrolling through three paragraphs of your misreading my position and “correcting me”… yadda yadda…yadda… Oh, by the way, the “technocratic discourse” goes back at least 400 years, not sixty, to Cardinal Richelieu.

    In my original posts I was being flip and sarcastic, things that are not meant to give you a comprehensive representation of my viewpoint, but rather to be funny. The statement that “At least the Liberals have a remotely electable leader” presupposes that whatever leader they pick is not a baby-raping social-programming-cutting child-abusing tax-cut-handing-out moron. Or is that too trite an assumption? Then again, I thought you said that they’re all the same, so hey… (Oh, except Ignatieff, of course, who is so much better because he’ll be that much more ineffective. Right.)

    And on the US front, Clinton didn’t legalise torture or break the law or constitution on a daily basis, nor did he hold that nobody in the world has the authority even to question the President’s actions. (Well, he did keep Arafat waiting while getting a blowjob…) I’m not a huge fan of Clinton myself, by the way.

    Also, if you you decry the rise of technics and governance in modern life, then you should seriously rethink your position on public intellectuals. The rise of the insular world of modern academia — more interested in obsfucation and “discourse” and postmodernist bullshit than in informing the public — is what has led in large part to the decline in popular participation in democracy, something that you pointed out was a problem in one of your very first posts.

    PS: Vidal’s non-fiction work at least equals his fiction. The reason I brought him up at all was because YOU used the term “crytpo-fascist,” (incorrectly, I might add) and I mistakenly assumed that you knew where the term came from. It’s Vidal’s trademark; he invented the term, he used to to describe William F. Buckly (correctly), founder of the National Review, incidentally. Heck, Vidal used the term first!

  • The Rev

    You shouldn’t lecture people on meaning and use when you make mistakes like distinguishing “neoconservatism” from “small-c conservatism”.

    Both “neoconservatism” and “classical conservatism” are types of “small-c conservatism”. Small-c conservatism means that one identifies as a conservative, but not as a member of a particular conservative party. There is no “Neoconservative” or “Classical Conservative” party in either Canada or the US.

    “Oh, by the way, the “technocratic discourse” goes back at least 400 years, not sixty, to Cardinal Richelieu.”

    That’s sounds like some crap you found by googling, since it’s a really fucking arbitrary point (Why not the rise of the Catholic hierarchy in general? Why not Roman complaints about freed slaves in the imperial bureaucracy?). Not every relationship between expertise and power at any point in history is technocratic. The discourse about technocracy, like all discourses, has its antecedents, but it’s in the early 40′s that the term “technocracy” and “managerial revolution” are developed, and the critique of the conflation of political power and management theory extended beyond capitalism to fascism and Stalinism. Prior to that, discourses on management and power dealt primarily with capitalism (Adorno and Marx) and considered technocracy as a distinct feature of capitalism rather than a feature of industrial systems per se.

    “Or is that too trite an assumption?”

    Of course it is. Christ. For one thing, your criteria of “electability” are simply false in the face of the current Conservative government. Cutting social programs and taxes clearly aren’t barriers to being elected. You’re confusing your personal policy preferences with universal ones – as shown by the ridiculous language comparing raping babies with cutting taxes.

    As for the candidates, you’re right, I don’t see a difference between a fellow who wants to trim 3% off the budget and one who wants to trim 5%, and merely quibbles with the former about what that extra 2% should be.

    “And on the US front, Clinton didn’t legalise torture or break the law or constitution on a daily basis nor did he hold that nobody in the world has the authority even to question the President’s actions”

    Clinton broke, rewrote and condoned the rewriting of the United States constitution whenever convenient to his political aims. Clinton also held to a very strong theory of executive power – he was quite willing to deploy US military assets, even against US citizens, with no more than minimal consultation of Congress. Once again, the difference is that Clinton was good at getting people to agree with him, while Bush is terrible at doing so. Personal charisma says nothing about a person’s beliefs or actions.

    “Also, if you you decry the rise of technics and governance in modern life, then you should seriously rethink your position on public intellectuals.”

    I haven’t presented a position on public intellectuals. I’ve merely condemned the individuals you’ve put forth as such, and mentioned that if you wish to have a spurious distinction between public intellectuals and academics, with John Ralston Saul as an example of the former, I’ll happily take the later. Your exclusionary distinction between them is ridiculous.

    “The rise of the insular world of modern academia — more interested in obsfucation and “discourse” and postmodernist bullshit than in informing the public”

    There’s no such thing as “postmodernism” except amongst architects, pundits and idiots. Blaming it specifically amongst academic work is actually fairly ridiculous, since the problem is older than Writing and Difference.

    “Vidal’s non-fiction work at least equals his fiction. The reason I brought him up at all was because YOU used the term “crytpo-fascist,” (incorrectly, I might add) and I mistakenly assumed that you knew where the term came from. It’s Vidal’s trademark; he invented the term, he used to to describe William F. Buckly (correctly), founder of the National Review, incidentally. Heck, Vidal used the term first!”

    I think Vidal is full of shit in describing Buckley as a crypto-fascist, and I think that my usage was correct. Vidal’s invention of the word doesn’t give him iron-clad rights over its meaning. Since I know you’re trying to set up some sort of lazy contradiction, nor does Burnham’s invention give him a special right over the word “technocracy” – his superior understanding of the situation of technocracy (as compared to say, John Ralston Saul) does provide a better justification for sticking with his definition and understanding of the term “technocracy” though. On the other hand, Vidal’s “expertise” about “crypto-fascism” doesn’t seem to have a basis other than the fact that he used it first. It’s certainly a ridiculous description of William F. Buckley (who _is_ a small-c conservative of the classical American bent, not even someone who unintentionally supports positions that are identical with fascism).

    Once again, by the way, this is an example of your trite as shit thought. You seem to have glommed onto the chronological aspect of what I said about James Burnham and ignored the part where I mentioned he wrote an entire book describing how technocracy works.

  • The Rev

    You know what? Forget all that shit. This discussion long ago degraded into a cycle of degradation and abuse, and closed off any possibility of a mutually sympathetic understanding. I hate it when that shit happens, I’m as responsible for it as anyone can be, so I’d just like to apologise. You tweaked a particular pet peeve with the JRS thing, and I let it get out of hand. My apologies.

  • http://www.guzzlingcakes.com/ Eve

    Rev: I saw a doc about the war on meth in the late 90s, and I don’t remember any huge rights infringements as a result of the bill. A cursory glance at Google tells me there were intial difficulties with freedom of speech (placing a ban on publishing of instructions for growing illegal substances or precursors) but they were reviewed and removed. Is that what you were referring to?

    You’re right that Ignatieff would shake things up, but politics is a bit more sensitive to radical political commentary than academia is. (Fancy that.) Maybe within the next decade countries will be more open to that kind of frank honesty, but that is quite a few baby steps away. It’s nice to see he’s got an opinion on Isreal, but maybe calling them war criminals doesn’t display the sort of tact required to run a campaign, let alone a country.

    Right now the Liberals are scared out of their pants, and they want a guy who seems trustworthy. I agree that it’s bullshit to choose a guy just because he’s electable, but considering that they’re trying to min the max of the sort of thing that would get you a no-confidence motion or send you down in the polls, they’re at a loss of anything better to do. I wanted a minority conservative government in the last election, but I want the Liberals back next time. At least the Liberals didn’t let themselves be swayed by religious lobby-groups. They pandered to the middle income bracket instead, which serves me just dandy. Their gun control plans were inane and shallow, but all other platforms being equal, I’ll take the social liberals to the social conservatives.

    That being said, I think Dion would make a better PM than Ignatieff would, Ignatieff would make a better official opposition leader, and in the end, Harper would make a better PM than Dion. I don’t know about their relative intelligences and I don’t agree with everything Harper does, but he’s a much more charismatic fellow who seems like he’ll stick to his guns and actually make something of his campaign promises instead of naming his dog after things. I just wish he didn’t hate gay marriage so much.

  • http://www.guzzlingcakes.com/ Eve

    And there I’m late on the conversation. I should really refresh before I post.