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For progressives, blue, red and orange risk blurring to a dull grey this election

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Blue, red and orange blend and fade to a dull grey. Welcome to electoral "politics" in an advanced "democracy."

Let us assume that Stephen Harper sets the current political benchmark, against which any proposed alternatives might be measured. He's for small government -- unless he wants to crush something or someone with the mailed fist of state power. He's a law-and-order type who enjoys the notion of punishment; his personal brand of sado-politics has inevitably attracted a circus audience. At the same time he has created a safe zone beyond and above the law for his select coterie of perps and trained seals.

The exemplary public torture of long ago has given way to a far more devastating immiseration. The poor are criminalized, the working class is erased by semantic legerdemain, the next generation finds itself materially worse off than the previous one, and the environment continues to wither and crack under sustained assault. More prisons are built. Harsher criminal penalties are trumpeted. New crimes are invented, for which citizens will inevitably be found guilty.

Now let us look at the "alternatives," and once again I must use shudder-quotes.

Justin Trudeau, of the Liberals, stands by a star Liberal candidate, one Bill Blair, who oversaw one of the most egregious attacks on civil liberties in Canadian history. "I won't second-guess him," says the Hair Apparent, of illegal mass arrests and forcible confinement of more than a thousand Canadian citizens, some of them bludgeonedtorturedsexually assaulted, threatened with rape, and sadistically humiliated by runaway police thugs feeling their oats.

Tom Mulcair, for his part, promises a quarter of a billion dollars to hire even more police. You can never have too many state enforcers, it seems.

Pipelines? Trudeau wants one. Tom wants another. When NDP candidate Linda McQuaig recently talked truth and common sense about the Alberta tar sands, sparking a blaze of faux-outrage from the oil shills, her own party obligingly threw her under the bus: her remarks, we were told, were not official policy.

Then there's "Israel." Do not mistake this for Israel. Israel is a country. "Israel" is a sign. Support of "Israel" is the support of an abstract good, a moral representation. "Israel" is a commodity that circulates within the political economy of signs.

For all three party leaders, "Israel" is inviolable. To Harper, critics of "Israel" are anti-Semites, and those who advocate boycotts should be prosecuted under our hate crime laws. Justin Trudeau wants the BDS movement banned from university campuses. Mulcair supports "Israel" unconditionally, leaving a trail of electoral corpses to prove it: "…[J]e suis un ardent supporter de toutes les instances et de toutes les circonstances d’Israël." All major party leaders are thereby pledged to a phantasm that exists apart from the daily suffering of Israel's innumerable victims.

Perhaps the single best indicator of the falsity of "alternatives" in Canadian electoral politics is what turns out to be an explicit common denominator: Margaret Thatcher, who orchestrated the smoking destruction of working-class solidarity and (limited) collective power in Britain. She was a monstrous figure, who crushed unions, plunged the British poor into further poverty and ever-increasing hopelessness, presided over the nuking of social programs, and revelled vicariously in the company of Augusto Pinochet, the sadistic butcher of Chile who hosted a regime of kidnappings, torture and murder.

We cannot doubt Stephen Harper's devotion to this patron saint of neo-liberalism. Justin Trudeau's economic advisor, Chrystia Freeland, infamously said, "Liberals need their own Margaret Thatcher, and they haven't found her yet." The NDP pounced on this, as one might naively have expected of a nominally social-democratic party, but as it turns out, its leader had already gushed praise for the Iron Lady, and when called on that earlier this week, he doubled down.

I'm not seeing a lot of alternativeness here. Around us lies a simulacrum of democracy, in which all distinctions are revealed as merely tactical, reassuring the masses and their bosses as they toss fitfully in their sleep. #Librocondpers celebrate, enthuse, attack, go door-to-door, issue press releases, pass out swag, put up lawn signs, wear buttons and T-shirts, all of them fully engaged in the hyperreal theatre of difference that is electoral politics in the twenty-first century.

Take the red pill, you say? But what then? Less effort, and certainly less risk, to pass the popcorn and enjoy the show.

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