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Friday, November 24, 2006

Avoid history at all costs 

Dana at Galloping Beaver says It's Not News That Harper Supports Breakup of Federation:
Harper continues to work toward achieving what he has always said he wants to achieve, that being the elimination of the federal government's presence in the lives of citizens.
He's just starting with Quebecers.
My Blahg has more reactions to Harper's "nation within a nation" motion.
My opinion? Harper has grabbed a tiger by the tail. He has inadvertently achieved an "historical" moment in Canada -- he has made the kind of statement which may well be used in the future to justify or explain or excuse a great number of unforeseeable actions both within and outside Quebec -- maybe in five or ten or 15 years we will be saying "the separatists were revitalized when Harper said..." and "all this violence began when Harper said..." and even "the first step toward the dissolution of Canada happened when Harper said..."
And he did it thoughtlessly, not for any noble purpose or to achieve any long-term vision for the country, but just because he was trying to embarass the Liberals and flip off the Bloc at the same time.
The day before, the Harper government was were talking about military cargo planes and the next day, they were pandering to the law and order types by talking about bail reform.
I hope Canada doesn't rue this day. But I am reminded of what Gary Kamiya wrote in Salon in March, 2003, when he predicted that the invasion of Iraq showed every sign of being a profoundly disasterous decision:
. . . we have gone from being in a political moment to a historical one.
I use the words somewhat eccentrically, to distinguish between events that are simple enough to be fully explicable ("political") and those that are too complex to be defined ("historical").
The war against Afghanistan took place in what I am calling the political realm: It had a clear, limited and achievable goal, one understood by all -- and widely supported around the world. The impending war against Iraq, on the other hand, is a historical event. It cannot be explained or defined. When it comes, it will simply exist, with the opacity of history. Its outcome is not foreseeable.
The distinction also has a moral dimension. To exist in history is to have passed beyond the pieties and slogans of the political. History is tragic: politics is not. History is glorious. It is also fatal.
. . . The lesson every government should have learned from the bloody 20th century, one written in blood across the tortured soil of old, very old Europe, is very simple: Avoid history at all costs. History is too big, too abstract, too dangerous. Avoid men with Big Ideas -- especially stupid men with Big Ideas. Take care of politics: let history take care of itself. In a word, don't play God.

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