peeking around the corner: prophet cafe politics

On December 10, 1926, at 9 P.M. at the Prophet cafe, the surrealists met to decide whether to form an alliance with the Communist party. Antonin Artaud, for whom all political parties were equally irrelevant, displayed a noticeable lack of enthusiasm that prompted one of the left-leaning surrealists to ask: Doesn’t Artaud give a damn about the revolution?” “I don’t give a damn about yours but I do give a damn about mine,” Artaud said, and walked out, never to return to the surrealist fold…How hard it is, when everything encourages us to sleep, though we may look about us with conscious, clinging eyes, to wake and yet look about us as in a dream, with eyes that no longer know their function and whose gaze is turned inward.( Artaud )

Salutin:But what about those, and I include myself, who feel they’re undeluded about how democratic the reality is; who realize elections are stacked due to corporate money behind the big parties, a biased media and a moronic first-past-the-post voting structure that makes real democratic outcomes wishful-thinking? Are they absolved from participating in these rigged elections? No. Because you never know for sure what might happen if you act politically. South Africans fought apartheid for years and it didn’t budge. Then it crumbled. The Soviet Union seemed impregnable. Then it crumbled. Now it’s so gone that if you describe it to anyone under 25 it sounds like medieval times. There’s Egypt, Tunisia. . . You just never really know. Read More:

Rick Salutin:In India, where I was recently, elections have the quality of a national festival that displays what Ramachandra Guha calls “Indians’ love of voting.” And it’s the poor, the vast majority of a vast electorate, who are more likely to vote than the rich and middle classes. At the least, this disproves the notion that democracy is a western invention ill at ease elsewhere. It’s more likely, as anthropologist Jack Goody argues, a universal human impulse. But add in this: Indian politics has been hopelessly corrupt for decades. People there seem to know and expect it, but keep voting joyously anyway.

Does this mean the illusion of democracy and freedom is as powerful as the real thing? To some extent, yes. If you think you’re free and choosing your fate, it probably gives you the same kick as the reality would, if it existed. Americans think they’re the freeest, most democratic country “in the history of the world,” as they like to say. Yet their range of political choice is very narrow compared to others. …Personally, I wouldn’t deride this kind of delusion. It’s like religion. Whatever gets you through the night, especially in hard times, personally or nationally.Read More:–salutin-the-romance-of-elections-seriously

---Yes, I voted! But more disturbing than that, is what occurred right before I cast my ballot. One machine. The voter card was inserted. An “eye” in the machine scanned the barcode on the back of my driver’s licence I was then handed the card that would record my vote. … Privacy. It no longer exists. ---Read More:

Fifty percent of the people in this country don’t vote. They simply don’t want to be implicated in organized society. With, in most cases, a kind of animal instinct, they know that they cannot really do anything about it, that the participation offered them is a hoax. & even if it weren’t, they know that if they don’t participate, they aren’t implicated, at least not voluntarily. It is for these people, the submerged fifty percent, that Miller speaks. — Kenneth Rexroth, “The Reality of Henry Miller,” Bird in the Bush….”They tell me I’m the most powerful man in the world. I don’t believe that. Over there in the White House someplace, there’s a fellow that puts a piece of paper on my desk every day that tells me what I’m going to be doing every 15 minutes. He’s the most powerful man in the world.” (Ronald Reagan)

---If a man tells you that it is your patriotic duty to choose between shooting your neighbor and shooting your neighbor’s dog, what would you do? Shooting your neighbor’s dog is the lesser of the two evils. But, if you are like me, you would shoot neither neighbor nor dog, and—keeping a wary eye on the man—reach for your phone to call 911 to have someone come out and pick up a likely escapee from the local loony bin. Yet we repeatedly hear politicians, journalists, and preachers telling us to do something very similar, and most of us seem to think it a very rational course of action. But, you say, voting is different. Shooting my neighbor or his dog is not really patriotic, but voting is. Is it? Is voting always the patriotic thing to do? When all we can vote for is a lesser evil (but still an evil), is voting still our patriotic duty?---Read More: image:

Whether the election is necessary or not is superfluous. It gives all the parties an excuse to clean house and engender new rounds of desperate maneuvering towards murky goals which hold little promise. The goal of power is the control over appointments and discretionary spending. There has been no government in Belgium for over three hundred days and the state is not collapsing. There has been almost no difference and little squabbling over new initiatives since there are none. Call it a consolidation phase. Of course, Belgium is a smaller and more limited ghetto than Canada is, but…. it does suggest an emotional tone deafness on the part of politicians. The gene of narcissism, an emotional deep freeze that creates individuals aspiring to power that are  oblivious to signals sent by others about how they perceive you, leading, one fears, to an eventually dumping by the electorate or party faithful. Being politically correct, this precludes bouts of egomania, which is plausible in politics since it requires the candidate to be cogniscant  at least  control or manipulate them. With narcissism, it passes imperceptibly that the candidate assumes the electorate will equally bask in your presence.

George Orwell ( Spanish Civil War):For some time past a reign of terror--forcible suppression of political parties, a stifling censorship of the press, ceaseless espionage and mass imprisonment without trial--has been in progress. When I left Barcelona in late June the jails were bulging; indeed, the regular jails had long since overflowed and the prisoners were being huddled into empty shops and any other temporary dump that could be found for them. But the point to notice is that the people who are in prison now are not Fascists but revolutionaries; they are there not because their opinions are too much to the Right, but because they are too much to the Left. And the people responsible for putting them there are those dreadful revolutionaries at whose very name Garvin quakes in his galoshes--the Communists. Meanwhile the war against Franco continues, but, except for the poor devils in the front-line trenches, nobody in Government Spain thinks of it as the real war. The real struggle is between revolution and counter-revolution; between the workers who are vainly trying to hold on to a little of what they won in 1936, and the Liberal-Communist bloc who are so successfully taking it away from them....Read More: image:

Quebec form the 1930′s to 1960 had, almost uninterruptedly, Maurice Duplessis as premier. Dubbed the “nigger king” who would keep the population as peasan

nd manual workers rather than “masters in their own house”. Although this “humiliation” as been bandied and exhausted, one has to question if ultimately, all Canadian wannabe leaders are “nigger kings” serving higher interests and in competition with one another as to who has the whitest backside.


"Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff are increasingly merging. Ignatieff has even allowed Harper to defeat his own party's initiatives, from Bob Rae's maternal health motion in the lead up to the G20 protest, to John McKay's Bill C-300 that would hold mining companies accountable for human rights and environmental abuses. In fact, Ignatieff is so similar to Harper that he doesn't feel the need to even show up to Parliament: Ignatieff has the worst attendance record of any Member of Parliament, having missed 182 votes between 2008 and 2010. But the Liberal-Tory coalition is not based on the personalities of its leaders, but the composition of its base. While the NDP is based in the trade unions and social movements, the Liberals and the Conservatives represent the twin parties of corporate Canada (like the twin parties of corporate America, the Democrats and Republicans). They depend on, and enact policies to benefit Canadian corporations and elites. It's for this reason that the Liberals and Conservatives have formed such a stable coalition for so many years, to the detriment of Canadians. " Read More:


---Official government foreign policy has had the same degree of unity between Conservatives and Liberals--like the foreign policy continuity between Republicans and Democrats. While the Conservatives (with the support of the Liberals) joined the 1991 Gulf War and 1993 "humanitarian intervention" in Somalia--where soldiers tortured a teenager to death--the Liberals (with the support of the Conservatives) joined the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia and the 2001 war in Afghanistan. A mass anti-war movement stopped the Liberals from taking part in the 2003 Iraq War (but didn't stop Ignatieff from supporting it in the press), but in 2004 Liberals Prime Minister Paul Martin praised Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi while overthrowing Haiti's democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand-Aristide. Then it was back to the Conservatives (with the support of the Liberals) to support Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon and its 2009 war on Gaza, the militarization of aid to Haiti following its 2010 earthquake, and the current war in Libya. While the majority of Canadians want the troops home from Afghanistan--as position the NDP has officially had since 2006--the Liberals have joined the Tories in extending Canada's presence in Afghanistan three times. In an attempt to appeal to the anti-war majority and hide their own complicity, the Liberals are claiming they oppose Harper's $30 billion fighter jet deal. But it is not the jets themselves to which the Liberals are opposed, but the way in which they're procured.---Read More: image:


“A prince therefore who desires to maintain himself must learn not always to be good.” “Politics have no relations to morals.” “The promise given was a necessity of the past; the word broken is a necessity of the present.” “Before all else, be armed.” “Men ought never give way to despair; since they do not know their end and it comes through indirect and unknown ways, they always have reason to hope.” Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) “The Prince”

---Finally, don’t believe the fear-mongering lies about a coalition being “illegitimate” (a coalition was perfectly legitimate when he wanted to topple Paul Martin’s minority government in 2004). Coalition governments are in fact exceedingly democratic because every party gets a say, which is precisely what Harper doesn’t want. Working with the other parties means compromising, something his ideology forbids. Again, ask yourself why coalitions are good enough for, among others, Trinidad & Tobago, Holland, Britain and Israel (Harper’s favourite country on earth) but not for us. ---Read More: image:

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Rick Salutin:A Liberal-NDP merger. This has often been a subject of speculation. It has now moved into serious discussions. However, an anonymous Liberal organizer told the Toronto Star it won’t happen, because “They’re socialists, we’re not.” Would that it were so, as they say in the Talmud. It would be nice to have someone at least make the case. But most NDP-like parties in the West long ago abandoned socialism to embrace free-market orthodoxy. Some, like New Zealand’s Labour government in the 1980s, were more zealous than the official right-wingers. In the U.K., Labour leader Tony Blair admired Margaret Thatcher; he modelled New Labour in imitation. In Canada, Bob Rae’s Ontario NDP government killed its own 1990 election promise of public auto insurance. I once asked Jack Layton what distinguished the federal NDP’s views from Stéphane Dion’s Liberals. He replied, it’s that people can believe those things when we say them. That may be arrogant and implausible, but it’s not socialist. Let the merging begin. Read More:

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