politics

10
Aug

The Last Separatist

The following bit of prose goes way back to the early 1990s. It's interesting to be able to look back on these things and reflect; partly to see how you've grown and where your opinions have changed. In the piece, there are many references to various political events here and around the world as they happened or were happening as the time (happy hunting). By and large, I still feel much as I did back then. The only change I would add has to do with the concept of countries. If you manage to read to the end of my piece, I'll tell you what that change is.

My original comments follow.

For this one, it helps to be a Canadian, I suppose. I don't know how exciting the whole Québec referendum thing is anywhere else in the world, however, the market watchers would have us believe that the world is VERY interested. This piece is unusal for me since I rarely write anything that resembles poetry, but right around the Charlottetown accord, (or was it the provincial election in which Parizeau rose to power?) I was so sick of the separatist talk that I sat down and composed The Last Separatist. You see, I am proud of my heritage and my country, but I honestly believe that the time for countries is past. The world I envision is a complex organism with numerous and diverse entities all working toward a common future. That we should still be seeking to create ever smaller states baffles me. But, that's just me.


The Last Separatist

Around the world, elated voices cried,

"Freedom!" as the spectre of red doom was
Exorcised in the birth of disparate states.

Untainted by the heralding gloom,
Of economic collapse and civil war,
Committees of individuals defined their uniqueness
And thereby several new nations sired.

The walls came tumbling down.
The two are one again.
But some are more equal and some are bad.
It's time to clean up.

"Here's to ethnic purging, and the birth of a nation!"

Dictators were devoured in the arena.
In dying colour. In your living room.

After much talk and fear of cultural death,
A united Europe was rejected as a bad idea.
"We are Europe's distinct society," the Major said.

These stories and more; news at eleven.

But that's all far away, so don't worry.
All we want is self government. Oh...
And our own country. No. This province will do nicely.
Thank you.
Oh, and veto over anything we don't like.
And use of your currency, armed forces and postage.
Oh, and...

Then the west cried "What about us?"
We want all those things too.

The states having already fallen, fell further.
"Too much individuality is bad," they said.
"Let's outlaw this and outlaw that. Can't have
these sick and depraved among us."

Those left behind created their own societies
since they could not share those who declared them
criminals.

Then came the cities who declared their individuality.
And the suburbs who felt their distinct flavour being
swallowed in low income housing.

Fences rose higher.
Borders grew more defined.
Better make it electric.
Can't trust anybody.
Look out for number one.

Each by each the distinct societies grew.
First Joe on Park Ave, then Horace on Main.
Ellen, Maria, Jacob, Pedro, and Ted grew walls,
But Gloria's were nicer. She used real brick.

Until there was only me.
I did not want to separate.
I believed in unity and freedom for all.
Yet I gazed at the fences that surrounded me
and by process of elimination, the last
separatist became himself distinct.

And alone.

At least I will be able to preserve my individuality.


And now we return to 2012 and where my views differ from my 1992 self. I still believe that no state should be allowed to act as though it can do whatever it damn well pleases. Much as I am sometimes unhappy with what goes on (or doesn't) at the United Nations, I believe that something like the United Nations does need to exist. But central control on a global scale is, I now feel, a naive concept at best. But just as no man is an island, no country stands alone and each nation must understand that what it does has consequences, not just for themselves, but for the world. And since what each nation does affects the rest of the world, the rest of the world does have a right to respond. It's messy, but as a species we're still young and we still have a lot to figure out. Growing up, however, will mean casting off some of the things of youth and those things that divide us. What that all means is going to take a lot more space to explore than my quick single-paragraph update. So stay tuned . . . 

-- Marcel Gagné (August 2012)

Well, some of us celebrate . . . Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government chose to mark the 30th anniversary of the Patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the signing of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with a press release. Meanwhile, folks on Twitter are hosting their own celebration of sorts. CBC's "The Current", with Anna Maria Tremonti, is spending an hour discussing it (I'll post a link to the podcast when it becomes available). Stories dissecting every angle can be found in the major newspapers, radio news programs, television, and so on. So why not our elected national government?

Harper's explanation for not wanting to bring attention to the Charter are interesting in that he calls it. "an interesting and important step, but I would point out that the charter remains inextricably linked to the patriation of the Constitution and the divisions around that matter, which as you know are still very real in some parts of the country," In other words, it's because it might upset Quebec that his government won't mark the anniversary.

The truth may have more to do with his government than with Quebec however. Witness this 2004 quote former Conservative MP Randy White; "If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is going to be used as the crutch to carry forward all of the issues that social libertarians want, then there's got to be for us conservatives out there a way to put checks and balances in there." In other words, the Charter is a thorn in the Conservative government's side and an impediment to them getting everything they want.

So why is the Charter important? The following video with current Liberal leader Bob Rae provides an explanation.

To wrap up, take a few minutes to watch the following fascinating discussion with former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien as he reflects on the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the patriation of the Canadian Constitution, Harper's press release, and the need to unite the left in Canada. He also talks about the Night of the Long Knives and calls it a myth.

Happy Charter Day, Canada!

19
Jan

Sanitized For Your Protection

Over the next few days, visitors will be treated to some changes. The first, and fairly obvious change, is that I've changed the look. In point of fact, I have completely reloaded the old "Marcel Gagné, Writer and Free Thinker at Large" site so that it's modern, up to date, and basically doesn't give me errors because I'm still paying for some experimental site work I did years ago that didn't quite work out. So the look will hopefully be something you enjoy as well. Then, there's content.

The first problem with content is that migrating comments was somewhat more difficult than migrating my blog and various articles from the site. Meaning that a lot of older comments may be gone forever (for this, I apologize but if you really need to check on what you said, I've kept a copy of the old site, locked in its last incarnation, at old.marcelgagne.com. Now, given that this is my personal Website, I feel that I can talk about whatever my little heart desires. And I do. A lot of the content has to do with Linux, Free and Open Source Software, a subject on which I am rather passionate, having written six books and several hundred articles for several different magazines.

But I also write about other things . . . 

These 'other things' include, but are not limited to, current events, science, politics, publishing, religion, atheism, and whatever else catches my attention including videos of little children facing off against Darth Vader. On some of these topics, most notably religion and politics, I may offend some of you. I consider this a good thing. Not because I like to offend people, but because it means I wrote about a subject that stirred something in you that you may not have wanted stirred, something that might be of value if you choose to explore the reasons why it offended you. This is all open to interpretation, much of it by you, the reader.  

All that said, I accept that you may not be coming to read my stuff because you want to hear me talk politics but because you want to learn or read about Linux and Free and Open Source software. To that end, I will from this moment on, post all Linux and FOSS stories to my Cooking With Linux site as well as here. If you just want the Linux/FOSS stuff without the extraneous attitude on other topics, stick with Cooking With Linux. Be warned, however, that I do occasionally include wine reviews on that site.

Hey, I'm only going to sanitize so much here.

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