Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flogging a dead culture war

Don Martin loves gobbling up horse-shit and, man, he's fed himself to the teeth today:
For mainstream voters eyeing Stephen Harper amid the faltering fortunes of the federal Liberals, The Armageddon Factor, a look at rising Christian nationalism in Canada by political observer Marci McDonald, is likely the one book this Prime Minister doesn’t want you to read.


McDonald argues the important wall between religion and federal politics has become so porous it’s crumbling.

If this budding culture war flattens the Liberals in the next election, perhaps her book is a glimpse at the operating manual of a majority Conservative government.


"This budding culture war"? As described by a woman who pretends to stand above the American cultural model but who--like a D-list Hollywood hack--takes every single one of her cues from it?

My God this is depressing.

Welcome to the age in which culture wars are said to be raging in the conspicuous absence of either culture or actual conflict. Welcome to the age in which a patently American-aspirational attitude manages to pawn itself off as the expression of traditional Canadian values. Welcome to the age in which journalists confuse the marketing of a political fashion with a story.

It blows my mind that anybody could read Marci McDonald's embarrassing little excerpt--from what promises to be an embarrassing little book--and not come away from it perplexed and a little sad that the solution she comes up with to her middle-class, middle-aged malaise is the polarisation of liberal democratic politics along the lines of the last American election. Our politics are too fiddling, too much preoccupied with differences of degree rather than kind. What we need is a Bible Belt and a Barack Obama--and the imminent threat of turning into the USA if we don't have them!

Now that's a story. Bored Canadian idiots and the ways in which they justify their trifling existences.

Culture war? What fucking culture war? Christian nationalists, you say? Christian nationalists?

These are the guys who take their scooters down to Brighton on the weekends and have big beach fights with the Secular Anarchists, yeah? I don't know ... but they kinda sound like the ultra-fringe to me.

The abortion debate was it then? We've never had one, and we're still not having it. What we are having is a bunch of hysterics saying that even entertaining the prospect of one already constitutes a war. (Which is insane, by the way.) The very few commentators willing merely to point out that an unbelievably large number of Canadians' views on abortion don't actually conform with the current (non-existent) law risk professional pariahdom if they do.

Or the same-sex marriage debate? What, you mean the one where the people who had no trouble with the concept of civil union, but who thought calling it marriage was legally too tricky, are now referred to with the greatest of ease as homophobes, knuckle-draggers, bigots?

No. Whatever "culture war" there might have been, it exists now only in the last gasps of attrition, and in the lumpen bourgeois' fantasies about his anachronistic activism. (Recall, please, Frank Graves' crayon-stroke illustration of the divide: "Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy." Yes, Frank, and Galileo versus the Inquisition, Allies versus Axis, Skywalker versus Vader.)

Culture war my ass. This is a story about the sort of people who would pretend that such a conflict does (or could) exist where it doesn't (and couldn't) for reasons either of cynical political advantage or existential boredom.