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Harper Supports the Incremental Approach
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Author:  tofocsend [ Wed Jan 18, 2006 10:40 am ]
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<strong>Written By:</strong> tofocsend
<strong>Date:</strong> 2006-01-18 09:40:00
<a href="/article/114036742-harper-supports-the-incremental-approach">Article Link</a>

We can discern an answer in the words of Harper's <a href="http://www.ccicinc.org/politicalaffairs/060103.html">speech to a group of conservatives</a> on April 25, 2003, reprinted on the Christian Coalition International (Canada) website. Of course, the Liberals have tried to hold this speech against them, but in their desperation to be shocking, they grasped one of Harper's few attempts at humour and neglected a deeper, and more significant, analysis of his arguments.</p> <p>His speech, which preceded the merging of the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance, concerned how to build a conservative coalition between economic and social conservatives. At the same time, his idea of a unifying program for conservatives with a goal to winning elections and achieving real power bears directly on his electoral ambitions today.</p> <p>Harper was talking to a friendly audience, so he did not have to cloak his thoughts in the careful, focus group-tested language of an election campaign. Therefore, we can reasonably conclude that Harper spoke his mind, and regard his speech as an honest insight into his philosophy and his plans.</p> <p>(<em>Originally posted as <a href="http://www3.sympatico.ca/taylormcgreal/incremental.html">One Step at a Time: Harper Supports the Incremental Approach</a>. Thanks to Adrian Duyzer for <a href="http://socialtech.ca/ade/index.php/2006/01/something-much-darker/">drawing attention</a> to Harper's speech.</em>)</p> [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 18, 2006]

Author:  Mike_VC [ Wed Jan 18, 2006 12:02 pm ]
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Thanks for the link.
I found Harper’s old speech quite interesting.

He criticizes what is referred to as moral relativism and uses that phrase several times in his speech. I’ve noticed that the new pope and the Catholic Church also have a fondness for this phrase. I guess it’s in vogue now.

This seems to imply moral absolutism, which is never defined by Harper or the people that tout the evils of moral relativism. I think enough blood has been shed over moral absolutes. Maybe a proper definition is in order so we have some idea of the position of people who dislike moral relativism.

Author:  mk [ Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:08 pm ]
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- the incremental approach means the plan can change along the way (not a bad thing)<br />
- the incremental approach requires at least some consensus building (i.e. moderating effect)<br />
- the incremental approach still risks future defeat<br />
<br />
What I can't understand is how this commentator takes issue with Harper's one thing that differentiates him (ideologically) from many others on the right: his opposition to corporatism. We're seeing the effects of rampant corporatism with our neighbour to the south, and enough of it here too with the corruption in the liberal party and increase in government outsourcing.<br />
<br />
My biggest issue with that particular speech of Harper's was not even approached: his belief in establishing a moral (presumably as opposed to, or preemptive of, legal) basis for foreign policy. "Moral" foreign policy is always corrupted by self-interest, and we have to be wary of leaders (any, not just on the right) who attempt to assert otherwise. <br />
<br />
Noam Chomsky likes to point this out everywhere he can these days:<br />
<br />
"The reason for that is that we are under a rigid doctrine in the West, a religious fanaticism, that says we must believe that the United States would have invaded Iraq even if its main product was lettuce and pickles, and the oil resources of the world were in Central Africa. Anyone who doesn't believe that is condemned as a conspiracy theorist, a Marxist, a madman, or something. Well, you know, if you have three gray cells functioning, you know that that's perfect nonsense."<br />
<br />
From <a href="http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=15&ItemID=9533">http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=15&ItemID=9533</a><br />

Author:  Innes [ Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:29 pm ]
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As far as I know this was an article published in the last issue of the Alberta Report in June 2003. My understanding of this speech is that he was speaking to social conservative when he spoke of "incrementalism" and turning back the clock on those issues: equal marriage, abortion, capital punishment, etc.

When it comes to his economic agenda his time frame is much less clear. I am not sure how committed Harper is to the social conservative issues. He is sending a contradictory message by saying he will allow a free vote but will not use the notwithstanding clause on reversing equal marriage.

The one clear statement he made on economic issues that I can find goes back to an address he made back in 1994 to a NCC event. In discussing financial issues he applauded Ralph Klein and said: "He is taking a look at a situation that is unsustainable financially and he is taking the step necessary through expenditure reduction to eliminate the financial uncertainty on a permanent basis within the life of a single Parliament. That is the only way it ever gets done. Any politician who says he is going to do it over two Parliaments is never going to do it. That's the golden rule."

He went on to criticize Mulroney by saying "The first thing you learn from any politician who says his plan will take more than one election will not start."

Does this mean that Harper will go slowly on reversing the clock on such human rights issues while making more rapid radical changes on the economic side?

He has been very careful to avoid discussing the very important details of his program and the platform and background material on teh website are not particularly illuminating.

Author:  tofocsend [ Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:50 am ]
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<p>MK writes, "What I can't understand is how this commentator takes issue with Harper's one thing that differentiates him (ideologically) from many others on the right: his opposition to corporatism. We're seeing the effects of rampant corporatism with our neighbour to the south, and enough of it here too with the corruption in the liberal party and increase in government outsourcing."</p> <p>I agree completely. However, when Harper talks about "corporatism", he's using the term as shorthand for progressive government, government that is in the business of helping people. He considers public investments in public health care, education, and renewable energy, for example, to be forms of "corporatism".</p> <p>I regard corporatism in the traditional sense: government colluding with business to serve corporate interests. This includes such tactics as no-bid contracts, process- rather than goal-oriented regulations, subsidies, tax incentives, privatization, P3s, crony contracts, and so on.</p> <p>Corporatism represents the incremental fusion of government and business interests to their mutual benefit. Taken to its logical conclusion, corporatism leads to fascism (a glance across the border will demonstrate this tendency in motion).</p> <p>So this is where it gets interesting. Harper is a neoliberal economist who has marshalled a coalition between neoliberals, neoconservatives, and the religious right. He claims to believe that government should not help or hurt business, so he claims to oppose both subsidies and regulations.</p> <p>However, he's being financed by big business, which believes fervently in ensuring that government helps business wherever possible - i.e. corporatism. An actual "free market" wouldn't last five minutes in the real world, because markets on their own are not smoothly self-correcting and do not provide the foundations (rule of law, physical transportation infrastructure, security and reliability of energy supplies, education, public health, civil society, a culture of honesty and trust, and so on) they require to function.</p> <p>Harper knows this, and he knows further that the corporations who support him expect a government that is very friendly to their interests. It will be interesting to see how long it takes him to weasel out of his opposition to using government to help businesses.</p> <p>America also claims to oppose corporatism, and it's also nonsense. The US government has long used "defense" and "security" as a back door for its industrial policy, funnelling hundreds of billions of dollars a year into economic development by giving contracts to private corporations that also sell commercial products.</p> <p>The American economy is also based significantly on its dual public/private health care system, which makes up over 15 percent of the US economy (see <a href="http://www3.sympatico.ca/taylormcgreal/cake.html">this link</a> for more on that). </p> <p>American corporations also benefit from its massive prison system, which is based significantly on private prisons financed with public money, the owners of which then use some of their profits to lobby for stiffer sentencing and more prisoners. It's no coincidence that America the free has the highest rate of incarcertion on the planet - higher than Russia, higher than China.</p> <p>Further, the Federal Reserve's policy of extreme liquidity, coupled with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, mortgage tax deductibility, and the global use of the US dollar as a reserve currency and the only currency OPEC will trade for oil, has produced a massive American housing bubble, which is responsible for nearly all of America's net economic growth and job creation over the past decade, even as America's real manufacturing base has fleed to third world sweatshops. It's clear this boom would not exist if not for American government policy.</p> <p>So maybe Harper really believes in the ethos of the free market, but somehow I doubt he'll be able to withstand the demands of the companies who put him into power. Instead, I expect we'll see Harper implement his own preferred form of corporatism, even as he claims to be cutting the waste and cronyism out of government.</p>

Author:  mk [ Fri Jan 20, 2006 7:18 am ]
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Perhaps you're right. As one who has found the platform of the CPC (verbatim) appealing this time around, I've been following up a bit by going over the earlier rhetoric, including Harper's fawning support of the U.S. conservative movement and their strategic successes. This led me back to the 1994 Republican takeover of the house, and the "contract with america" platform--all about accountability, reform of corruption, getting special interests out of government--with guys like Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff at the helm (nuff said).

The similarities of the rhetoric in the CPC platform to the Contract with America are spooky. I know Harper has given gag orders to some of his "liability" candidates who in the last campaign tended to state what they actually thought. Have we got any crossover in campaign management/PR here? And is this all pure BS, with a whole new level of corruption on our doorstep?

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