Will the Liberal Finally Die or Regenerate? Research Time, 29/11/2016

Life has gotten a bit busy, so my Class review will be late by a day or two. Judging by Phil Sandifer’s review of the episode, I’m not missing on much artistically, but it will probably be a fascinating shit show of crazy ideas flying all over the place.

Such things have their place in science-fiction, and in the world of Doctor Who as well.

But today, I want to follow on from yesterday’s post about the CBC controversy brewing. Right now, Canada is experiencing a white nationalist movement, just as in Trump’s triumph in America and the growing movements in Europe.

You might not think so because of Justin Trudeau’s leadership. How can there be a resurgence of political racism in Canada when we re-elected the party with contemporary multiculturalism at its core, led by a fresh-faced social progressive?

Canadian Liberal Party rhetoric challenges the destructive, conservative
tendencies of our society, while falling in line with those tendencies in
their governance and actions. With every generation, the party has to
work hard to find a new way to pull the same old slight of hand. Justin
is the regeneration that continues the traditional theme.
My answer reveals a lot about the decadence and the promise of liberalism as an ethic and a political philosophy. It’ll just take a few paragraphs to work through.

Justin Trudeau himself is a frightfully normal Liberal Party politician. He campaigned as a standard-bearer for social progressivism and institutional change to the Canadian state after the paranoid doldrums of the Harper decade. He’s ended up a new mix on traditional Liberal Party hypocrisy, walking back all his promises that would actually change Canadian institutions and economic relationships.

Trudeau will dominate Canadian state politics for the next three years at least, probably longer. But the white nationalist movement has its own voice in federal politics in Kellie Leitch.

Canadian white nationalism is specific to the Canadian situation. But a white nationalist reactionary movement tends to emerge in response to a wave of activism for formerly excluded people to be included as full members of a society.

America’s largely revolves around the growing social clout of black and Hispanic minorities, and activists from those communities who seek material equality as people and as cultures.

The different European white nationalist movements respond to the demands of immigrant groups for inclusion. They first emerged when the groups were from the former colonies, but picked up popular speed when the mass influx of Muslim refugees from the three/four wars* of the Middle East began.

* The Libyan Civil War, the Saudi-Iran proxy war for control of Yemen, and depending on how you divide the conflict, the uprising against Bashar al-Assad, and the Syrian-Iraqi war on ISIS.

But we don't live in an era when traditional ways of thinking and acting
can maintain and defend our democracy and our freedoms. Modern
nationalism isn't the hoary old terror of Stormfront and greasy Hitler
hair. White nationalism's voices today are young, dynamic politicians
whose charisma could challenge Trudeau's own. Like Germany's
Franke Petry, leader of the Alternative for Deutschland Party, on
track to unseat the tired centrist-liberal Christian Democrat Party of
Angela Merkel.
All these white nationalist movements emerged and strengthened in reaction to social movements that challenged old and ancient racializing hierarchies in their societies.

In America, it was a renewed desire of the former slave class for social inclusion – the demand that black lives matter. In Europe, it was the demand of Muslim people to become Europeans, when Europe has been defined since the early second millennium in opposition to Islamic civilization.

Canada? I still have some work to do tracing the ideas, but my initial hypothesis is that Canada’s conservative culture started to embrace white nationalism in response to the Indigenous cultural renaissance. The Canadian state was founded – in part, but in essential part – as institutions to remove Indigenous people from political life.

Lock them away in reserves, in rural areas where no one goes. The first major crime of the Canadian state was the suppression of francophone Indigenous people in the first mass settling of the territories of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. State-sponsored genocide continued through the residential schools.

The last five years have seen the recognition of these crimes, and the growing visibility of continuing racism. When an elected official in Saskatchewan reacts to the murder of a young Indigenous man by declaring that the shooter should have killed all Colten Boushie's friends so there’d be no witnesses? He got in trouble, but he was speaking for his constituents.

Chantal Mouffe writes in praise of liberalism because of one important aspect of its philosophy – the possibility that everyone can be included in a society, no matter how different they are. That community can arise from difference, not from conformity to some common moral, religious, or ethnic being.

I may sound alarmist when I say this, but now is a time when alarmism
is entirely reasonable. As Canadians, we have to accept that a not
insignificant number of our fellow Canadians think it's not only
morally acceptable to kill Indigenous people, but that it's a national
imperative to suppress, marginalize, and drive Indigenous people to
their cultural and literal death.
In the wake of Trump’s election, there’s been a lot of chatter among self-identified liberals that maybe it’s time to move on from “identity politics.” To move away from provoking the white people who are threatened by the racially marginalized seeking inclusion.

Because mainstream liberalism sees racism as a matter of individual’s or group’s shared beliefs about people, it’s often blind to more structural material oppression. Yet liberalism’s drive to include difference requires confronting and changing those systematic institutional structures that perpetuate racializing inequities.

If liberalism and liberals accept and reconcile their politics with nationalism, liberal politics will die. If liberal thinkers and leaders find ways to fight nationalism – to welcome the different and find strength in that diversity and bravery in confronting fundamental structures in society? It will regenerate into a more powerful philosophy and a more peaceful world.

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