Monday, May 09, 2005

Eastocracy versus Westocracy

The Canadian political landscape these days can best be decribed as a fight between Canada's older, more established Eastocracy and its newer, wealthier Westocracy. The Eastocracy has made Prime Ministers of rich, Quebec-affiliated Lawyers such as Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and now Martin, whereas the Westocracy has been trying to install folks like Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and now Stephen Harper.

The Westocracy seems to have the most wealth - Oilberta a case in point - but this is not enough to consolidate power. The Westocracy has not infiltrated the commanding heights of the Media, Banking and Bureaucracy industries, nor does it have the balance of population needed to be voted in on the basis of geography and demography.

Out East, largely because the Eastocracy is in charge of the Toronto-based media, the Westocracy is viewed as a bunch of gap-toothed, slack-jawed yokels of sub-par intellect who want to oust the Charter of Rights and implement a full-fledged American-style Christocratic state, ban gays, privatize the entire state apparatus and make abortions a black-market product.

The Eastocracy, though it has control of the commanding heights of the Media and Banking industries, especially achieved hegemony within the bureaucratic industries during the Trudeau era, when bilingualism was enshrined as a public service requirement, thereby weeding out a large portion of Canadians from working in the Bureaucracy. But control over these three industrial sectors (yes, the bureaucracy is an industry as the rent-seeking between advertising and government agencies will attest) is simply not enough. The Eastocracy needs real, tangible wealth to consolidate power.

Out West, the Eastocracy is characterized as urban city-slicker types who want to brainwash Canadian children with a pro-gay, anti-gun, pro-liberal ethos whose politics are rooted not in democracy, but victimoligical rhetoric that rewards those who can show how often and to what extent any given minority group can show it has been oppressed/exploited/pillaged by any majority, be they male/white/wealthy/healthy/educated or whatever.

The Eastocracy has hegemony over Federal Bureaucracies, whereas the Westocracy has hegemony over oil. So the balance of power may depend on the Banking and Media sectors. Should Bay Street want to consolidate its capital through bank mergers in a significant way, it might throw its weight behind the Westocracy. Should the Media, led by the CBC, launch an all-out assault to perpetuate the East's views of the Westocracy as a bunch of inbreds, then the folks out East might be expected to engage in "anti-voting" or voting Liberal, not because they particularly like the Liberals, but because they despise (or are conditioned to despise) the Conservatives. It's sort of funny that Ontario would despise the so-called "Right-wing" policies of the Tories, when their own Provincial government privatizes everything except for "core services" like Health and Education. How Ontarians can be choked up about Private Health Care in Alberta, yet insist on voting in governments that make them drive on poorly designed toll roads, I'll never understand.

From the Toronto Star:

"Caplan later said the government would be prepared to “at least entertain” private ownership of all projects outside of the “core services” of hospitals, schools and water."

The Eastocracy wants to maintain the current status quo of federalism, irrespective of trade patterns, whereas the Westocracy seeks to re-tool this political and economic mechanism to follow trade patterns. Way back when Canada was formed, trade patterns were largely East to West. The Eastocracy did not mind sending money to poor farmers out west, because this ensured that the farmers could have enough disposable income to purchase the products finished in Ontario, originally from the west. Canada 's trade patterns followed the railway, which ran like a steel ribbon across the nation, and unified Canada (somewhat) in terms of geographical trade.

But NAFTA changed all that. NAFTA gave birth to the concept of "Sister-cities". Vancouver suddenly has more in common with Seattle, Portland and San Fancisco, and Calgary has more in common with Houston and Dallas. Toronto looks more and more like Canada's New York, and Edmonton mirrors Austin, Texas.

NAFTA has changed the role of fiscal federalism significantly. Money that once had an east-west orientation seems to flow irrespective of political ties, which seem to have followed the North-South orientation of post-NAFTA trade. Some have argued that NAFTA has done more than anything to break up Canada.

If the Eastocracy maintains its power, it will further the break-up of Canada, but it is unclear who will be at fault, exactly. Reactionary politics in Alberta will probably rise up and birth a more Provincialist Provincial government under Ted Morton or Jim Dinning. The Westocracy, having lost the battleground of the media, may decide that it has to protect its "wealth" from yet-to-be-devised confiscation schemes invented out East.

It seems as though the power industries are the Media and Banking sectors. If the Banking sector figures it has a better chance of seeing mergers under a Conservative regime, it might go to bat for them. If the Media, led by the CBC, go on an all-out assault on the Conservatives and fire up the anti-West propaganda mill, I would expect "Good Ontarians" to engage in "Anti voting" - not voting FOR the Liberal Party because they like their policies or track record, but AGAINST something else - because they are afraid of the Conservatives. On some subliminal level, however, every "Good Ontarian" must recognize that the power base will shift out West if they vote in a Conservative Government.

Eastocracy versus Westocracy, eh? Too simplistic? Perhaps - but no more simplistic than what passes for current political debate in this country. So, as a born-and-raised Westerner, I'm all for switching "Ocracies". If we don't like them, then they'll get voted out; at least in theory.