Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The civic virtues of reefer madness and May Day

May Day, the most political of all the calendar days. While you and I crank out yet another memo in the belly of the bureaucratic beast, there are genuine (and pretender) protesters, revolutionaries and street-fightin' men out there, somewhere in the streets of major capitals, sounding their displeasure at global capitalism. Yes, what have the Romans done for you, I mean lately? Besides the highways, the rule of law, safe streets, the Internet, pre-packaged foods, cut-rate airlines and holidays in Ibiza or Costa Rica? Besides the choice of clothing and relatively affordable all-year round import foods, not to mention LCBO's wine shelves? Yes, there is much to lament about capitalism, but it probably will stay with us just a bit longer, no matter how many well-meaning lifestyle protesters march under the red flag and no matter how many Che T-shirts have been cleared off the discount sections.

It is appropriate to recognize on such a day the unsung work done by Canada's many registered political parties. That's why Ottawa Beige has included links to all of them. And we mean, all of them. Not just the guys marching under the red flag, or the "I don't give a f#%*" flag of libertarianism, or the "we want our oil totally to ourselves" Western Canada party crowd.
Let's face it - it's hard enough being someone else in this town, or any town for that matter, than the parties with a legitimate shot of winning government. Other than the Conservatives or Liberals. If you are not in with the popular heavyweights, what you and your friends are bound to be looking at is a lot of time spent planning the democratic revolution which will just not arrive. You'll be sitting in endless and aimless meetings in someone's basement or in dingy community halls, eat crappy take-out (or veggie or vegan) food, lending your friends money - let me re-phrase this one, giving your friends money to run in elections, and if you're a younger female, some oily hippie or an ageing socialist firebrand or frustrated professor will almost certainly fall in love with you. You will be writing letters, bitching about the first-past the post, about the Constitution, about how you don't have any volunteers to put up signs, and how it's hard to balance your political habit with the rest of your steadily declinining life…yes, it is not a glamorous prospect. In the end, you'll have to get a job. But someone' got to fight the Romans, correct? Other than the People's Liberation front of Judea, that is, those bastards.

The most perplexing and oddly heroic of all these Canadians must the Marijuana party. Read their webpages. Better yet, smoke up a lot and then read the webpages. Then order KFC, smoke some more and then read on. This entity should be renamed the 'Rant Party'. I thought I was kind of verbose and in love with my own ideas, but then came the cannabis-loving crowd. Oh boy, can these guys rant. It's like Don Cherry being dropped in the middle of Sweden and being forced to watch the cleanest Swedish league games with no hitting and no fights. It's like David Suzuki being forced to drive a Hummer to the oil refinery. The Marijuana party just hate the government, hate it. "Society is being run by HUGE lies" is their frequent exclamation. Everything the government does is somehow corrupt, immoral and unethical, or at least insensitive. Government is bad for you, much worse than three joints a day, worse than smokin' a bowl and then attempting to fly an aircraft. The folks who came up with the notion of society being somehow governed obviously evolved on some horrible, cannabis-free planet, and then were set down specifically to terrorize the rest of us. Somehow along the process of ranting, the Marijuana party forgot to generate a platform or set of policies.

The continuing wonder of the Marijuana Party is that they tend to attract very articulate, at times almost poetic candidates like Ottawa's own John Akpata in 06'. I suspect it in part because it gives clever, funny and slightly rebellious people a totally safe platform upon which to practice their brand of performance art, all the while remaining 90% anonymous and politically harmless.

Don't just spent your time laughing at the Marijuana party, though. Check out the animal rights people, too. And the Marxists. And the not-quite Marxist Trotskyites.

And then you have Elizabeth " I love Stephane Dion more than I love global cooling" May. A politician who has decided that it was time to turn her party into an advocacy group.

May Day indeed. Happy flag-waving!

1 comment:

joncormier said...

I saw the meekest anarchy demostration at lunch today. I don't even really know why they were at the location they were at - could have been they just all picked up their large double-doubles and figured whoever was in the buidling next to the Tim Horton's on Bank was worth shouting at.

Okay, maybe not so much shouting as ambling with banners, but still. Black and Red.

It made the scenes in Les Miserables and South Park the Movie seem like threatening commandos in the protesting death squad by comparisson. I couldn't tell if they were anarchists or whether or not there was a scuba-diver under water near them. Perhaps they were Jamaican?

Okay, flag jokes = not my forte.