Harpo’s asinine strawman argument

You can’t make this shit up.

Some South American countries are at a crossroads because they falsely believe their only choice is between socialism or the American style of capitalism, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Canada-Chile Chamber of Commerce in Santiago, Chile, Harper said Canada will play a bigger role in Latin America and the Caribbean, but one that is different from what the United States plays.

“Too often some in the hemisphere are led to believe that their only choices are — if I can be so bold to say — to return to the syndrome of economic nationalism, political authoritarianism and class warfare, or to become, quote, just like the United States,” Harper said, in what appeared to be a reference to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “This is, of course, utter nonsense.”


“Canada’s very existence demonstrates that the choice is a false one. Canada’s political structures differ substantially from those in the United States,” said Harper, who is on a six-day, four-country tour of South America and the Caribbean.

“Our cultural and social models have been shaped by unique forces, and we’ve made our own policy choices to meet our own needs.”

He said Canada and Chile are both models of free market economies that retain the independence of their social and political lives.

Bullshit, bullshit, and once again BULLSHIT!

Let’s tackle the ass end of his argument first. Canada is NOT a “free market economy”, it is a MIXED economy socialist state. And the so-called free markets are NOT free; anyone who’s seen how tiny the oligarchy at the top of the food chain is, knows how unfree they are. It’s not socialism that made them so, however; it’s predator capitalism, which is now trying for an unprecedented level of control over the world that bids fair to make all government irrelevant.

Secondly, the unmentioned elephant in the room is what Harpo secretly fears as much as Dubya does, namely that other mixed-economy socialist work-in-progress, the ALBA. When those countries are done reforming their respective systems, they might end up with something a lot like Canada–single-payer healthcare, universal public education, and a social safety net that actually catches people before they hit the ground and go splat. But as in Canada, their tiny, whiny oligarchies will remain happily untouched. All they’ll have to do is actually pay income taxes for a change, and be just as subject to the laws of the land as every common peon. Oh, the horror. The HORROR!

Thirdly, Harpo really should shut his pie-hole about the false dichotomy the Latin American countries face. It’s not between “economic nationalism, political authoritarianism and class warfare, or to become, quote, just like the United States”. Because when it comes to economic nationalism, political authoritarianism and class warfare, baby, the United States leads them all. They are nationalistic towards their own economy but “free-traders” when it comes to everyone else’s, and to prop up this system they’ve been more than happy to install and support dictators wherever there is some resource for one of their corporations to vacuum up. Just ask any banana republic. If those countries wanted to become “just like the United States”, the United States would declare war on them and squash them like so many cucarachas. That’s why so many of those countries, like Chile for example, are still cowering in fear of another CIA-backed coup today. It is no sign of freedom to have an open-veins economy; it is a sign of oppression. It takes solid steel cojones (fuck brass) to stand up for one’s country, and in solidarity with one’s neighbors, as Chavecito, Evo and Rafael Correa are doing.

But then again, I’m not surprised by this. Harpo is engaging in a classic right-wing sleight of hand: it’s patriotism for me, nationalism for thee. And of course, the former is always good, the latter always evil. It’s never nationalism when “we” do it!

As for Canada playing a bigger role in Latin America but one different from the United States–well, I would hope to shout! The last thing they need down there is imperialism from us in addition to them. And make no mistake–“free trade” is just imperialism by another name.

What I don’t hear a peep about from Harpo is the importance of setting a good example. Canada could so easily do that; our system is, after all, an early model of how a working socialist government could look. Tommy Douglas was the first elected socialist leader in North America. He is the father of everything from medicare to our unemployment-insurance system. He is also, by popular vote, our Greatest Canadian. What the ALBA leaders are all doing is essentially what Tommy Douglas did fifty years ago; to say they are following in his footsteps is both an accurate assessment and a major compliment. Yet Harpo snubs them and won’t even breathe their names or that of Tommy Douglas; what a coward. Whom does he praise as models of democracy? The very countries who are still lagging behind because their politicos are not clear on the concept.

It seems that Harpo is not terribly good with concepts either, or else he’d recognize what a strawman argument he has constructed. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s done so, either. He has quite a habit of building them in his ongoing attempts to tear down everything that’s good about Canada.

Grab your torches, folks, it’s time to burn the scarecrow.

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3 Responses to Harpo’s asinine strawman argument

  1. Slave Revolt says:

    Great observations Bina.
    The strawman and duplicitous nature of cowardly snub toward the Venezuelan government is obvious–and he was throwing red-meat to the same group of fascists that supported Pinochet.
    What an asshole! He is touring the empire’s territories and strengthening relations with the comprador toadies.
    Wonder if much of the Canadian media scrutinize his rhetoric and the nature of his politics on this trip.

  2. Bina says:

    Well, the media are certainly reporting what he says and pointing out why his remarks are drawing ire. Let’s see what the ol’ googly-woogly turns up…
    http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=0df7b3ab-ae3b-40d2-96b0-792b6be9d30b
    Right-wing Canada.com gets only the bankers’ angle, from just one banker, yet–Scotiabank’s local flunky–who, of course, gives Harpo kudos. Blecch. This is reporting??? Smells like a transcribed Scotiabank PR release to me. (Glad I have no accounts at Scotiabank; mental note to self: avoid like plague.)
    http://www.embassymag.ca/html/index.php?display=story&full_path=/2007/july/18/editorial/
    A foreign policy news outlet which is more balanced, but neglects to mention that Chavecito, Evo, Rafael Correa, etc. are not your daddy’s generation of socialists. No mention, for example, of Chavecito’s sowing the oil in the form of endogenous development projects. Phooey. But they do deserve credit for also setting out the good-example opportunity I mentioned above.
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/07/18/chile-protests.html
    Good ol’ reliable CBC! They reported on the anti-Harpo protests in Chile! They note that Harpo visited the installations of Scotiabank and Barrick Gold. That latter is where the protest was. Yep, it’s a sure sign that Harpo only cares about LatAm insofar as he can tap into one of those open veins Galeano wrote about. Democracy? Only interested as long as they elect the “right” leaders, i.e. tame ones who won’t get in the way of Big Bidness. Glad CBC got the real story. I love them!
    http://ai-bhr.blogspot.com/2007/07/following-stephen-harper-in-latin.html
    Not exactly a media outlet per se, but this business and human rights blogger (affiliated with Vancouver’s chapter of Amnesty International) lists a number of interesting articles stressing the fact that Harpo is too fixated on business and too cavalier about human rights. Thumbs up from me.
    http://newsbloggers.aol.com/2007/05/31/w/
    Another blogger, but this one interestingly notes the Leo Strauss neo-con influence Dubya and Harpo share. YIKES! Why is the lamestream media NOT picking up on this (she asked, knowing the answer full well…)
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070711/wl_canada_nm/canada_southamerica_col
    And finally, SOMEONE in the lamestream mentions the elephant whose name starts with a V and ends with an “enezuela”. They also mention the other unmentionables: Nationalized oil and telecoms! Oh noes, it’s KOMMINIZM!!! (Of course, Harpo would never DREAM of doing the same to the tar sands of Alberta, and he’s quite content to let Canadians suffer the whims of the telecom industry and its lust for profit at the expense of service. After all, guess who financed his campaign? –And no, the article makes NO mention of that, alas but not surprisingly.)
    What it does mention almost made me spit white wine out my nose, though:

    “The announcement prompted one expert to say Ottawa was dreaming if it thought Canada could play a role in a part of the world it has until now largely overlooked.”

    Bwahahahahaha! That’s too true. The last time any of our PMs paid any attention to Latin America, Pierre Trudeau (died in 2000) was hanging out with his good friend, Fidel. That was 30 years ago. Since then, a deafening, pathetic, US-tame silence. Mulroney was too busy singing with Reagan about smiling Irish eyes. Ti-Jean couldn’t decipher Spanish accents any more than they could decipher his, and in any event was too busy positioning himself as a WTO prime minister. Paul Martin was too busy trying to get out from under Ti-Jean’s long shadow. And now, here’s Harpo, trying hard to pretend he’s not a Yanqui Lite, when in fact that is EXACTLY what he is being. Oh, man. About 2/3 of the article is full of Harpo’s (and his spokesgeeks’) denials and their cowardly, sidelong dissing of Venezuela. Methinks someone doth protest too much.
    http://usa.mediamonitors.net/headlines/why_stephen_harper_lost
    And finally, an older article by John Chuckman, on why Harpo lost the last previous election. That might just come back to haunt him if he keeps up as he’s now doing, so let’s file it for future reference. Chuckman notes that human rights were never Harpo’s strong suit, and that he has ALWAYS been the business lobby’s go-to guy. Even in Canada, he pisses on people’s rights.
    So I think we can safely come away with the impression that Harpo is a one-sided wonk who is hypocritical at best on democracy and human rights for LatAm. The only mode of government he really cares about is plutocracy: by the money, of the money, for the money.

  3. Bina says:

    BTW, I found the following letter to the Toronto Star:
    http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/236500

    Why is Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Colombia endorsing President Alvaro Uribe, whose government is not only mired in scandals but has been directly or indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of deaths by state agents or paramilitary forces supported by the state?
    Why is Harper, like U.S. President George W. Bush, supporting despotism and murder in Colombia? Why doesn’t he instead develop an independent foreign policy by visiting Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has championed the poor while standing up to Bush?
    Perhaps Chavez would send us some of his Cuban doctors. Now that would be a trade deal.
    Dr. James Winter, LaSalle, Ont.

    YES! There are some people who get it. Not surprisingly, this one’s a doctor. That’s education for you…

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