Always Coming So Never Shows Up, Research Time, 21/10/2015

These disconnected posts about Canada's federal election on Monday ended up having a pretty clear common theme. Catch up on what I hate essentially about Harper, and my biggest disappointment in #elxn42.
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Coming out of the Canadian election that saw Stephen Harper kicked out of the Prime Minister’s Office* is an appropriate time to write a book about the utopian in politics. The way I saw people celebrating the end of Harper – if only through online communities – it was as though we emerged from a long, national nightmare.

* I only hope that all the juiciest evidence of misconduct avoided the shredder on the way out. M. Trudeau II, I expect a full inventory of Harper regime archaeology of how our now-ex-PM ran his government. 

This man is now Canada's Prime Minister.
In a way, we did. In a way, that nightmare is inescapable. Even though the biggest and most obvious symbol of the world’s iniquities in my country is gone, it’s not like everything is roses and daisies. We all have a lot more work to do.

The global economy is still frighteningly fragile, wealth is still concentrated in the hands of the super-elite, we still face serious climate changes and ecological destruction, and Syria has undeniably grown into the Third World War.

I don’t think this statement is all that radical. I’m not saying anything that Bernie Sanders isn’t. Then again, some even suggest that Bernie Sanders is no radical. That he uses inspiring words to round people up so they’ll vote for the same old corrupt leaders.

We all want someone who can save us. We love heroes. My favourite show is Doctor Who. I love stories about an awesome hero who inspires people to transform their world for the better. So many of us are waiting for that hero to lead us to a world that, compared to what we have now, is utopia.

But I know it’s a story. Stories aren’t about telling us explicitly what the world is really like. The value of Doctor Who is as a model for each of us to be ourselves. Each of us – privately and publicly – we work and figure out individually and together how to live better lives.

Don’t wait for someone to lead you to utopia. Figure out how to make one yourself. All of us. 

That’s how I think when I look at TrudeauMania 2015, unfolding in all those shirtless pics of Canada’s new PM. Yes, Harper is gone and Justin Trudeau has a level of sexiness that has approached the apex of Ghost-Swayze.

One election doesn’t make a perfectly just world. Let’s not kid ourselves. 

Other sexiness vectors include Vampire-
Pitt, Jurassic-Pratt, Hamm-hock, and 
That’s the problem with real politics. You can set concrete goals – enact this policy, redistribute this oligarchical wealth, pass this law, elect this leader – but there’s always more to do after each act. There remains injustice that we have to work against. No matter how much we succeed, the world isn’t quite perfect.

We want the struggle to end, but in the end, there’s always the next struggle. Our visions of a utopia inspire us to act, but even success leaves the need for more action.

This is the messianic experience of time. It’s an idea that I’d never really understood until I read it in a bus stop. I know his books from the 1970s are absolutely ape-shit, but by 1992, Jacques Derrida wrote pretty clearly. Even if he still had sentences that were half a page long. They actually had rhythm.

The messianic is when we experience our lives as though we were marching toward some radical transformation. Some of us think we’ll be led there no matter what we do individually. Some thing we’ll only achieve it if we actively work together. That’s the difference between a follower and a social movement.

Earlier this week, I said that politics at its purest is people organizing themselves to change their world. Even in the everyday moments of kindness we show to each other. These small acts still have some small role in making humanity better. We all contribute to each other’s lives every moment of every day.

If these times are teaching me – and all of us – anything about the perfect worlds we dream of, it’s that they won’t be achieved with a big event that everyone sees. It’s achieved in the small moments of life, one act of kindness at a time. So it can eventually scale up to the level of nations.

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