Stephen Harper’s party is grotesquely mislabeled. If conservatism connotes a desire to conserve then his is no conservative party.
Rather it is a party whose mantra is romantic individualism. The party is fuelled by a gas bag of cranky resentfulness against the complex character of the contemporary world. These "conservatives" are not at home in multi-racial, multi-cultural settings. They resent political literacy, are suspicious of culture and can’t stand the thought of state support for the romantic comedy "Young People Fucking." They are unmanned by women who want to remake the world so that their needs and aspirations are legitimated.
These conservatives long for a simpler past that never was, a society in which individuals relate to each other in ways no one ever did.
The Conservatives, of course, can depend on business and the rich to support them for reasons of pure self interest. But we fail to understand this party if we think in material terms only. This is a party for the rich that is led by the cranky.
The odd feature of the denizens of the resentful right is that although their policies are fine-tuned to suit the wealthy and the powerful, they imagine themselves to be on the outside, bravely struggling against long established elites, perhaps the CBC or the Barenaked Ladies.
Big business has an interest in keeping these conservatives on a leash to prevent them from harming the return on investment. But business greed and neo-con stupidity have combined south of the border to imperil the system itself. That’s why last week the grown ups had to call in George W. Bush to explain the facts of life to him.
It’s the same here. Cranky conservatives can do a great deal of damage especially during a time of difficult economic transition. And it would be foolish for us to count on wise elders to come to the rescue. The better option is to keep the pseudo-Conservatives out of office.