I have now read a number of academic books on Stephen Harper and his followers, and Christian Nadeau's "Contre Harper" (I read the French version) has been perhaps the most important. This is not because it was the best book, far from it, but rather that it offered a broader perspective, which exposed the profound contradictions of the neo-conservatives.
Harper and his gang are libertarians who wish to dismantle the liberal state in Canada, which has emphasized social equality and justice for all Canadians, especially disadvantaged minority groups, such as native Canadians, women, gays, etc. For the neo-conservatives it is individual freedom and responsibility that count and not progressive policies that aim to better the society itself. Rather, the sacred god of the neo-cons is the market, and policies of tax cuts, deregulation, and government cut backs are all basic procedure. This we all know. "Live free or die!"
However, Nadeau points out that there is just one catch. While the state withdraws on the economic and social side, the neo-cons step in with bigger state intervention on issues of moral order. For these folks there is no relativity in moral values, and to enforce their perception of what those values should be; traditional family values, law and order, hyper patriotism, and communications control, they are ready to open the purse strings and expand government spending dramatically. This is the basic contradiction that I found so revealing. As per our republican friends to the south, they spend money like drunken sailors to support their ideas and values, while underfunding those that emphasize humanistic and progressive values. The results have been moral, economic, and social chaos in the United States, and now they are about to land here.
Paradoxically for these freedom loving neo-conservatives, democracy is a problem rather than a help. As they are convinced that they have the only answer to all the issues, pluralism and negotiation are out. Rather, they prefer a more streamlined system where power is centralized within the hands of one strong person, Stephen Harper. This is real and effective government for them. One voice and one vision. Theirs. So you really need to control the message so only that one voice is heard. To do this you break down the power of different institutions by underfunding them, or simply ignoring them, and you hire 1,500 new communications officers to ensure that transparency and real communication are completely blanketed. Anything like science, experts, census takers, or parliament that gets in their way, is discredited, bullied, or simply shut down. This is called authoritarianism. Some folks may say that Nadeau is exaggerating, but I don't agree. It is actually much worse than he describes, as this authoritarian mentality is the basis of who these people are. In fact, its going to get much worse as Harper's majority goes on. Harper may be an incrementalist, but he is also a revolutionary who has made very clear to everyone what his objectives are.
A neo-con lives in a very narrow ideological world which they have reduced down to either black or white. Either your good or your bad, you make money or you don't, God loves you or you are an enemy. These attitude are based on a negative and extreme view of human nature that does not allow for nuance, complexity or contradiction. It is a tactic often used by insecure and more poorly educated elements of a population which live in fear of social change, and the repressed parts of their personality. This is why the neo-cons seem so crazy and extreme. Rationality, morality, and democracy are simply not a priority for them. What is important is power, control, and money, and not to be contradicted, because then their whole system would be in danger of falling apart. That is why they are such aggressive bullies. They have no choice. They must look strong because underneath they sense that they are profoundly weak and inadequate. Its an old story and the more insecure you are, the more important money is for you. In fact money is their real religion, not spirituality.
So what comes out of this? A bigger state which allows more social control, a loss of freedom of expression and transparency, and an emphasis on security and policing of the state. Sound frightening? At the same time the corporate sector is allowed a free ride to make as much money as possible and the social programs, institutions, and services which have knitted the diverse regions of Canada together are allowed to rot. The result will be an enormous increase in inequality, and social and economic disfunctionalism for the country. The American experience has already underlined this for us. Its clear.
The neo-cons will tell you that economic reforms are necessary for Canada, with the post-peak oil situation and all the parameters of the increased competition of globalization, and that of course is true. This point of view however begs the real question which is how do you undertake these reforms while maintaining your social values and democratic principles. The neo-con way of doing this is to drop those values in favor of a privileged minority who share in their anti-democratic stance and values. Even Canadian unity is not really that important for these super patriots. It is rather their small little narrow world that counts. Remember Stephen Harper building a fire wall around Alberta. A "medieval mind?" You bet!
After reading Nadeau's book I came away with a real sense of horror of these people. They are dangerous and a true threat to Canada and its people. Every true citizen of the country should stand up against them before it is too late.