Last night I went to Toronto to visit my sister, Tanya and her boyfriend, Brian for the first time since my return to Canada. We crushed a good meal before I decided to accompany them that evening to the east-end of Toronto for the political event they were attending, as I had nothing better to do. I didn’t know it at the time but the event in question was the nomination/election gathering for late NDP leader, Jack Layton’s Toronto-Danforth riding, and there were three hopefuls looking to replace him. The reason Tanya and Brian were going there in the first place was because one of the hopefuls, Claire Prashaw
was Brian’s cousin and he and his family wanted to offer moral support. We arrived at the church and while standing in line it occurred to me that if my die-hard conservative father could see his two kids standing in line for an NDP function it would kill him. With that thought, I suggested to my sister that we try to get the attention of some of the cameramen to maximize our exposure.
As we waited in line there were left-wing types peddling their socialist newspapers and I was reminded of Arthur Koestler’s reminiscences of meetings of the German Communist Party during the 1930s in “The God That Failed;” it just gave the whole assembly a subversive feeling even though it was a sanctioned political event. As we entered the venue (a church) it began to seem a little more legitimate again, and we found seats in the upper pews to the right of the altar.
We spent about twenty minutes waiting for things to get going and in that time we looked down on the floor where reporters, photographers and cameramen were interviewing, photographing and filming the candidates and other notables. One notable of note was Trinity-Spadina MP, Olivia Chow,
who, as well as being a politician in her own right, is the widow of the former NDP leader. Brian remarked to me as he watched her working the room how much he hated politics and the fakeness of it and I was inclined to agree: watching these people pander to audiences even though I was not even able to hear what they were saying really bothered me. Politics to me seems like the most obvious manifestation of The Spectacle. If you are not familiar with this term you are perhaps more familiar with The Matrix? Essentially, the dream-world which has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth of what is really going on. It has nothing to do with robots and human beings being harvested for their energy (at least not in a literal sense): Politics, professional sports, reality TV, rap beef, terror attacks, etc… -These and others are all just things to distract us from the real problems that persist in our world and more importantly, the real solutions.
Real Solutions. This is important because anyone who thinks that a vote for X candidate or X party will bring about the change that they need (not want) is deluded. In fact, most people don’t even know what they, and ultimately “we” as a species, need.
We don’t know that we need free, unlimited, and democratic energy sources. Instead we want cheaper, cleaner energy.
We don’t know that we need free, dignified, and well-constructed living accommodations for everyone on the planet. Instead, we want more affordable housing.
We don’t know that we need a world without borders where people can live where they want but will never have to migrate because of war and persecution because these things would not exist. Instead we want more immigration policy reforms.
Finally we don’t that we need to be free from wage-slavery; to be able to develop our interests and talents without being beholden to a job which degrades us as human beings simply so we can make a dollar. Instead, we want “more jobs.”
The “Gentleman Pimp,” A.S. Jackson once said, “He who thinks in terms of catching mice will never catch lions.” While seemingly a non-sequitur at first glance, there is actually a lot of wisdom in that statement. We are so pre-occupied with choosing from the pre-approved list of options that we are given
that we don’t stop to think that they all suck and are all affronts to our dignity. And when we do realize this we just laugh it off and say some bullshit like “well, that’s life,” not daring to imagine that life could be better.
So anyhow, back to the nominations: They did a tribute to Jack Layton which consisted of pictures with some corny song playing in the background. As I listened to the words (Love-letter to a nation…) and the chorus (…hope is better than pessimism…) it occurred to me that they had just “songified” his final letter to the country which he wrote before succumbing to cancer. Everybody knows that if you are going to songify something you gots to use auto-tune.