Monday, October 19, 2015

Lysenko's snake oil: in which the author bitches about government. . .

I've got to get these thoughts down before they become obsolete.

I voted today. They couldn't stop me (though they may punish me later for having the audacity to register in another riding). It will probably surprise no one that I voted against the incumbent. While it is supposed to be a secret ballot, and there are good reasons for keeping it so, I have no problem announcing to the world that mine was cast against the granite golem occupying Ottawa now.

In the beginning I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I was willing to set aside (for a time) my ideological prejudices in the name of non-partisan pragmatism, provided he were willing to do the same. To whit: if he could forget about being a right-wing demagogue, I could forget about being an old Trot. I probably wouldn't like most, if not all, of his policies, but I'd learn to live with them if life went on. I couldn't bring myself to care when he beat out that other Stephen in 2008; and when the fashionistas attacked, I even defended his travel vest! Just keep the wheels turning. . .

But he's been a long time - almost ten years now - and he's steering the country places I don't want to go, and now I want to get off. No, scratch that: I want him to get off. He's not kept his side of the bargain - he's gone full steam into demagogue territory, slowly but surely turning the entire country into a playground for the privileged, and the longer he's in, the farther he'll get and the harder it will be to reverse the damage.

Naturally I have nothing but contempt for his almost mystical faith in tax cuts to solve everything (which is a different issue from the Kafkaesque labyrinth of Revenue Canada's punitive paper trails). My biggest problem with tax-cuts is they largely benefit people who never had a problem to begin with - those robber barons and oil-sheikhs who inhabit the ginormous castles of my home-town will continue to live in the lap of luxury no matter who wins tonight. But folks in the lower income-brackets, in social housing, or on disability? Could mean a matter of life and death. So no, that whole idea cuts no ice with me. But everybody from all over the spectrum is proposing that, so I get past it.

There never was a war Harper didn't like, or a conflict he didn't want to stick his nose into. He belongs firmly to that school of wannabe-warrior's whose solution to every problem is to blow it up. He's practically tripping over himself trying to send the fighter jets somewhere, anywhere, regardless of whether or not it's likely to do any good. (Try telling him that though and he's likely to question your patriotism; in these circles, love of country is measured only in terms of bloodlust).

Harper loves war, and wants one he can call his own. Since his lot came in, remembrance Day ceremonies have taken on an altogether different tone - gone are the peaceful, regretful, mournful tributes I grew up with - now you'd think the First World War was indistinguishable from the Second, and all wars alike. Glorious Fights for Freedom.  All Flander's Fields, not a word of Wilfred Owen. I wonder if anybody in the Harper caucus has even heard of, let alone read, Wilfred Owen.  . You can almost hear them singing "When the Bantam Roosters Crow". 

I have think that Harper learned all his history from Rudyard Kippling (the pre-war Kippling, not the one who lost his son to the trenches). It would explain his last-century Anglo-philia which saw the adjective "Royal" pointlessly and expensively added to Canadian military stationary, and all those portraits of the Queen suddenly hanging everywhere. 

War, one would think, is a great and necessary and perpetual thing. A thing that needs a constant flow of new, young recruits. Fresh blood. Cannon fodder. The Harper bunch love the troops - until they come home and need benefits. And World War II veterans are best of all, provided they sit quietly in the background at commemoration ceremonies and don't actually need anything which requires a Veteran's Affairs office, which have been closed all over the country. We probably would have joined Bush Jr's Iraqi adventure if Harper had been in charge at the time, and who knows what else. He hasn't even tried to be even-handed when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict*.

His environmental record is appalling: he's torn up every treaty in the book, every reduction target, weakened every law, and defunded all sorts of programs and organizations designed to protect the planet. His party's fetish for oil knows no-bounds. Climate-change denial is the order of the day (I don't even want to know what they think about Young-Earth Creationism).

Which leads me to science. Of all the fields of human endeavour, one would think - one would hope - that Science could rise above our petty concerns. But Harper's Torries have no time for science. Science for them is but a tool of commerce and subservient to policy, like all else.  Any Canadian scientist in the country is strictly prohibited from speaking their mind or sharing their findings. Like press-agents, they too must tow- the Torry Party Line. Presumably because their finding just might contradict official Climate Change (Denial) policy, and just might make their Oil Sands policies look misguided, and just might give comfort and solace to their enemies (not opponents) in Parliament. So objective truth about the natural world is kept under wraps for partisan purposes.

This I think bothers me more than anything. It pains me to no end to think that research and knowledge and information we need to make informed decisions is being suppressed to protect government interests. Democracies don't do this. Dictatorships do this.Under Stalin, all scientist had to subscribe to Trofim Lysenko's Lemarkism, a discredited pseudo science, long ditched by biologists. The results were catastrophic - if it didn't cause the Ukrainian famine, it sure as hell didn't help. But who was going to tell that to Uncle Joe? Science, and thus reality, was a party matter. It was what Dear Leader wanted it to be. That's what happens when science is suppressed  - when truth is kept hidden.

 We're not there yet. But you see why I'm concerned? The Government's censorship of science is a very, VERY bad thing. It will hurt us. It needs to stop TONIGHT.

So I went out and voted. We'll see how it goes. 

*(To be fair, many folk on the other side of the debate are hardly even handed either, but they're not running the country, are they?)