The left side of the political spectrum is fairly well known for three things: its revolutions, its utopian temptations, and its occasional manifesto. Recently, the federal New Democratic Party in Canada gave us a hearty helping of the latter two, all while managing to oust their leader in the process. So, I suppose you could say they went three-for-three.
The Leap Manifesto did absolutely nothing to help assuage my right-wing biases; nevertheless, I would like to thank its authors for helping me experience a rather broad cross-section of emotional phenomena. Reading it almost induced a momentary sense of catatonic stupor just prior to a massive eruption of laughter as a swift precursor to mere disdain. Pity, I’m afraid, will likely take longer to summon.
So, this is where environmental progress is taking us? Interesting.
Is this what happens when one regularly jet-sets out of Pearson and can no longer see the lumber through the boreal forest? To put it in terms an urban socialist might understand, how does zeal for organic vegetables lead to an inorganic economy with little to no free-market function? My sinister friends, this is still Canada — an export-driven, natural resource and energy-laden, bread-basket. Do we suppose that those blessed with the second largest land mass of all nations on earth have no mandate to corporately utilize what the land provides?
I have no argument against economic progress or structural economic transition. I’m quite grateful that Canada no longer has to rely on the rather rarefied beaver-pelt futures market. I’m not anti-green but rather pro-clever. I’m not suggesting that Canada cannot be more than its natural resources; I just refuse to be shamed into believing that we ought to be less.
I also refuse to be silly.
A pedantic economist might stroll into Saharan Africa and suggest that the abundance of sand might necessitate a nation becoming a leader in fibre-optic manufacture. Advising Albertans to abandon coal and inherit the wind, however, isn’t much different than mandating that landlocked Mali develop a fishing economy. It’s neocolonialist. And, at what point in our progressive economic cheek do we catch ourselves attempting to put in what God left out?
Are first-world statists so out of touch with natural limitations that they feel they can pre-package any economy by sheer force of policy? Is it truly that easy? At least back in the good ol’ days of sensible economics, we could analyze reality and know whether a nation had an absolute advantage in codfish, or a comparative advantage in softwood lumber.
But, today, we have leftist ideologues telling us that we can simply transition out of what God-given resources our land has amply provided — oil sands, coal, or natural gas — in favour of some sun that, for half the year, is barely above the horizon!
Commentator Rex Murphy called the Leap Manifesto anti-industrial. He’s right. Are we actually going to be defined, soon, by wind-towers built with Chinese steel and labour— shipped here for our otherwise nicely idyllic Canadian artisans to coo over in their environmental self-righteousness? The way the left is going, we won’t even get to sell British Columbia metallurgical coal to the Chinese market to produce that steel tower. Forget the inherent dignity of trade, let’s just become the pretentious aristocratic class that, in its sooty snooty-fit, relies on another nation’s “chimney-sweeps” for all its carbon-intensive work.
Should this Manifesto win the day, the NDP will have officially left its working class roots to become the party of the nouvelle elite. With little to no grease on its hands or economic policies, the party will have morphed into a gathering of bourgeois puritanical fops, as green-horned as it is green-minded.
My concerns, however, are not because I have some inherent bias against Naomi Klein, one of the Manifesto’s authors. I rather liked reading her “Shock Doctrine.” Whether advocated by the political right as she suggests, or by left-wing Democrats like Rahm Emanuel [“You never let a serious crisis go to waste”], the “Shock Doctrine” contains a certain Machiavellian realism that made the book both creepy and pertinent. With the Leap Manifesto, however, Klein retains all of the hair-raising agenda, but the pertinence is just impertinent. The manifesto not only lacks relevance, it symbolizes a rather un-Canadian, “puke-on-your-pioneering-progenitors,” idealism.
Before he, too, became a pastor, my father was a successful exploration geologist. He first came to Canada looking for valuable things underground. He also discovered an invaluable wife above ground. He was idealistic enough to believe that natural resources were Divine gifts. He was sensible enough to know that it took resources, hard work, and energy to strengthen a nation’s economy. Yet, where has such Canadian realism gone? It is utterly absent from the Leap Manifesto.
Can the public have confidence in a document that directly connects refugees to climate change? Is it true that more Nunavut ice equals less Syrian ISIS? Furthermore, if these connections are so politically obvious — so sublime and unassailable — then why did an American Attorney General need to subpoena a corporate nay-sayer in the name of climate change ideology? Are Attorneys General routinely called upon to publicly defend evolution?
Yet, there are even more basic questions. Do Canadians have the freedom, as economic stakeholders, to be productive “naturally” in accordance with individual gifts, initiative, and opportunities? Or are we, instead, servants of a command-and-control economy? Realistically, this document is all about the latter, but ironically, realism couldn’t be more alien to this utopian Manifesto. Had this document the mass of the ghost of Robert Owen, it might have had more gravitas. But it is no more weighty than the agrarian communitarianism that failed him utterly.
This fundamental illusion, though, should not be a surprise. How can it be — coming from the same generation of progressivists who sincerely believe that men can think themselves into being women, or that a fetus is only a “baby” if the mother believes it is!? The truth about the NDP’s Leap Manifesto is that it merely adds “psychotic economics” to other, already more established and equally psychotic social policies. One denial of reality merely follows another.
And when the political personalities behind such shared psychoses happen to be those who feel the most gripped by quixotic forms of statism, the public has tangible cause for concern. Command-and-control economies, after all, happen to occur through the influences of command-and-control personalities. And some of these personalities, I would argue, actually need to lose their dreams— even and especially their economic ones.
Since the political left has occasionally admired Nazi-resister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, let me close with a religious quote of his that might just be applicable in a broader social sense. If you “wish,” substitute the word “Canadian” for the word “Christian.”
“Every human wish or dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
A final question, then: are some “honest and earnest” political dreams at a point where they must be unilaterally “injected” into the economy for the “good” of the community? With the best of intentions, are these progressive dreams now an existential threat to genuine Canadian community?
With the Leap Manifesto, we might be only one election away from having to say, “yes.”