Saturday, May 03, 2008

Thinking Harper and Hayek

This photo was taken around the time that Harper was insisting that Canada follow it's allies into Iraq.

The reason I chose it is, after my post yesterday I started thinking back and trying to remember if journalists ever really did look at Harper and his ideology, his hero's. I thought about Tom Flanagan and the Calgary School and how these guys were ardent students of Friedrich Hayek and Leo Strauss. Then in poking around I recalled an article in the Walrus that laid out much of this, in 2004. It's a long article but worth the read if you are interested in who Harper is and how Flanagan has played a role in who he has become.

I've been perplexed as to why some contemporary articles express surprise as to what Harper is doing to this country or seem not to get it at all and only focus on the fluff. Why aren't articles being written that would acknowledge Harper's action by referring to his history that would of course substantiate it?

In January 2006 the National Post produced a piece so bereft of fact it was laughable. Witness this attempt at turning fact on it's head:

In the weeks before the election, the Star's irredeemable Trudeaupian interventionist, David Crane, and the Globe and Mail's Lawrence Martin were among those who reprised Ms. McDonald's allegations. Mr. Martin regurgitated the "department of redneckology" quote and suggested that the school was identified with "ultra-conservative high priests such as Leo Strauss and Friedrich Hayek." (Mr. Martin was obviously unaware that one of Professor Hayek's most famous essays was titled "Why I am not a Conservative.")

If you don't get that significance, look up 'Why I am not a Conservative' and witness how ill equipped, or ill informed, or how stupid quite frankly this journalist is.

I don't expect to read an article explaining classic liberalism/neo conservatism etc. Sadly, I doubt it would be read, but nor do I accept that no one is actually speaking to Harper's ideology as a way of explaining what we are witnessing. I know it's difficult to explain but surely they are journalists out there that can make the link.

Is it perhaps because it was tried in 2004 and was only marginally successful? Is it just a fluke of timing that subsequent to Martin being elected and the following election, the issue of sponsorship was easier to sell and write about, so the more important issue of what each party really stood for was cast aside? I don't know.

It's obviously impossible to go back in time and know for sure, but we do have now and it can be put right. You know, I sometimes wonder how many in Harper's caucus really know who he is and what his plan is.

Garth Turner who freely lambastes Harper, seems to have thought that Harper was a social conservative but also a more of a PC type of fiscal conservative and he could live with that. I think John Baird was recently asked a question in QP about Barry Cooper, who is in the Harper, Flanagan inner circle and he said he had no idea who he was. How can I know who the guy is and Baird not know?

It's time that we had thinking journalists and thinking opposition, clearly, crisply articulating Harper's intent. I'll leave you with a couple of ideas from the man he admires. Hayek:

In the 1930's and 1940's, when Hayek first became famous, belief in the benevolence of the market was rapidly being replaced by a belief in the benevolence of state intervention. Hayek disagreed.
Hayek's two general themes are that the managed society does not work and that it is incompatible with freedom.
He argues that there are two types of order:

CONSTRUCTED ORDER (example: government planning)

SPONTANEOUS ORDER (prime example: the market)

Hayek, believes that whilst the role of the state's constructed order is important, it has to be limited. This is a position very like Adam Smith's and you will find it useful to compare Hayek and Smith.
Hayek says that constructed order generally goes wrong if it does any more than provide favourable conditions for spontaneous order. The most important favourable condition to spontaneous order is the rule of law.

The law according to Hayek must only maintain negative freedoms and not try to establish positive freedoms .
Negative freedom is the freedom to do anything not prohibited.

Positive freedom is giving people the power to do things

If, for example, a poor person is hungry he or she is still free to eat in the sense that there is no law prohibiting it. That is a negative freedom.
Positive freedom would be the power to eat that comes through having food.

Yes, I know. It's not light reading so I'm asking you how we put this guy in context. How do we encourage the media to re-explore what they seemed to be doing in 2004, that is telling us the true measure of the man?

It must be part of the next election, obviously with an emphasis placed on how the country would look with a Liberal government versus what Harper intends.


Johnathon said...

Are you telling me that Saddam Hussein was a good leader and worth keeping?

I'm just curous at to your opinion.

Karen said...

Wow, johnathon, talk about missing the point of the post!

Your question however is answered as it relates to me, vis a vis where Harper and his icons stand.

A Eliz. said...

I can see how Harper with his untruths, lied his way in, but what I cannot see is how a Progressive Conservative could tolerate him, especially now, that we are beginning to see what is going on.
His colours are beginning to show, Flanagan is coming out in him..Flanagan by the way, is delighted with him. The media fails to let the people know what they should know .This is a very DANGEROUS man.!

wilson said...

Austrian economist Friedrich A. Hayek was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in in Economics in 1974
and the Medal of Freedom in 1991

I like this one from Hayek:

“Now, in our new corrupted political language where the words ‘progress’ and ‘progressive’ mean ‘social progress,’ we are brought to understand that good progresses are the welfare policies
or the collectivist ideas that the leftists so dearly want,
pulling us in the very opposite direction than where our ancestors brought us.”

Sir Francis said...

Austrian economist Friedrich A. Hayek was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in in Economics...

Wilson fails to mention that Hayek's 1974 Nobel prize was shared with another economist--one whose philosophy was totally contrary to Hayek's. The prize was awarded for their combined work, not just Hayek's.

It is amazing, is it not, how our neo-con libertarians--usually so anti-intellectual and anti-European--are so eager to jump right onto ideological bandwagons dreamed up by European intellectuals, as long as such bandwagons lend a gloss of respectability to their anti-state, anti-community barbarism.

I doubt if Cooper or Flanagan has ever attentively read any Hayek or Strauss, just as most "conservatives" have never read Burke; they just quote the bits and pieces they've picked up during the course of their abortive, inadequate educations.

Economics is, at best, a pseudo-science, and any blind follower of an economic theory--be it that of Keynes, Marx, Hayek, or Friedman--is a menace.

RuralSandi said...

Not exactly on topic, but I think it relates to the weakness of MSM today:

Since this latest round of Obama/Wright mania on the part of the mainstream media was sparked by Rev. Wright’s appearance on Bill Moyers Journal (followed by his speech in front of the National Press Club), it is perhaps not surprising to hear Moyers add his perspective on the media circus.

Wright’s offensive opinions and inflammatory appearances are judged differently (than John Hagee, Pat Robertson and Billy Graham). He doesn’t fire a shot in anger, put a noose around anyone’s neck, call for insurrection, or plant a bomb in a church with children in Sunday school. What he does is to speak his mind in a language and style that unsettle some people, and says some things so outlandish and ill-advised that he finally leaves Obama no choice but to end their friendship. We are often exposed us to the corroding acid of the politics of personal destruction, but I’ve never seen anything like this–this wrenching break between pastor and parishioner–before our very eyes. Both men no doubt will carry the grief to their graves. All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the non-stop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race. It is the price we are paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt, who said “beware the terrible simplifiers”.

...well said...

RuralSandi said...

wilson......Austrian economist Friedrich A. Hayek was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in in Economics in 1974
and the Medal of Freedom in 1991

Hmmm....Al Gore won the Nobel Prize and yet your right wingers put him down, don't agree with him and attack him...."double-standard".

Anonymous said...

Lizt if you think that the PM lied his way into office that is your privilege to believe it. But answer me this simple question if you can please.

What did you say when Jean Chrétien in the early 90's promised to scrap the GST tax and did not do it?

Remember the liberals won a majority over this. It was their main campaign pledge.

Let us see how you lizt or anyone else who say that our PM lied into office can answer this. It should be something to see.;)

Karen said...

lizt, I suspect that there are quite a few PC's out there who have reconsidered their position.

The one's that are in his caucus are a bit of mystery but given how long they have been out of power, I imagine they are willing to put up with it for the time being. Not to mention that many of them likely have leadership aspirations keeping them in check.

Too bad, because they are Harper's beard so to speak.

Karen said...

sir francis, I have learned that neo-con's can rationalize anything, so long as it supports their dear leader at that moment in time.

It's remarkable really to be so lacking in conviction that you swallow your values to defend a dishonourable man.

I take your point re' economics, though everything I've read suggests that both Harper and Flanagan are Hayek devotees, though they may indeed simply cherry pick to fit their needs.

Karen said...

Good example Sandi and I too agree.

I've yet to notice anyone in the MSM here to show the same sort of rational courage, though we can live in hope.

Actually, I should modify that. Susan Dellacourt and Andrew Coyne do occasionally make such noises, and of course we always have Kady.

Karen said...

Right. Chretien broke a promise. Not a good thing and is was a silly issue to raise in the first place imo, but as we know, Harper did the same thing with Income Trusts.

That's not the point though. Harper lied and continues to lie about who he is and what he wants for this country.

That is not only dishonest, it's dishonourable and the tactic of tyrants.

Anonymous said...

Knb do I think that it was right to break the
Income Trusts promise?
"NO" I don't.

You think that the Mr.Dion isn't lieing when says that Canadians don't want an election right now?

When the truth is that he thinks he can't win.You don't think that Mr.Dion isn't lieing when he pretends to be a centrist when in fact he his a left wing?

Please give me a break.

RuralSandi said...

What did you say when Jean Chrétien in the early 90's promised to scrap the GST tax and did not do it?

....exactly what did you expect Chretien to do when he found out after the election that Canada was losing it's credit rating and the CPP was in crisis?

Dion lying about Canadians not wanting an election - well, duh - "all" the polls have indicated that.

Karen said...

right, Dion is left of you to be sure, but he is a centrist and to paint him otherwise is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

"right, Dion is left of you to be sure, but he is a centrist and to paint him otherwise is ridiculous."

True that he is left of me. But it is also a fact that he is a left wing whether you like to admit it or not.

Ryan said...

Dion is not a left-winger. He might be on the left side of the Liberal party, but that doesn't make him a left-winger.

I'm not sure if I buy the conservative definition of "left" when it means that the person believes in some form of state intervention in the economy.

If you want the truth about the Canadian economy etc, and not the mythology that's been fed to us by the CPC or the media, read this book:

I think that you'll find that Canada is far below most of the other OECD countries in social spending, making the Liberal party for better or for worst, "centrist."