Monday, 11 September 2017

Ideologies are for other people

Jason Kenney and Brian Jean like to say the policies of the NDP are "ideologically driven".

They say the word "ideology" like it's a dirty word. Something only bad people have.

As if their socially and fiscally conservative ideas are not part of an ideology.

What they really mean is that they prefer that conservative set of beliefs over those that are more progressive.

Ideologies are not in and of themselves, evil. Everyone has an ideology. Everyone has a set of beliefs about the nature of humanity that informs their views about how society should operate. Unless your intellectual functioning is so low that you are unable to construct abstract thoughts, you have an ideology.  Brian Jean has an ideology. Jason Kenney has an ideology. They are lying if they say only the NDP operates based on ideological principles.

An ideology is defined as "a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy." How on earth could the United Conservative Party NOT have an ideology? 

In today's Social Studies programme of studies in Alberta (created when Ralph Klein was premier) students learn that ideologies are based on interpretations of history, beliefs about human nature, beliefs about the structure of society and visions for the future.  We may not all have thought deeply about these issues, but we all have core beliefs that inform our ideas. And based on those ideas, we formulate what we think is the best way forward for ourselves and our society. And then we vote.

What is your interpretation of history? If you are an aboriginal person in Canada, your interpretation of Canada's history will not be the same as mine. Your view of colonialism will be one of oppression and injustice and betrayal. For people like me, the perspective will be more about the opportunities that led to a good life for generations of my family. Mr. Kenney's interpretation of our history seems to be that it began when the first white man set foot on our shores. It's about venerating a past based on land appropriation and unfulfilled promises. Kenney believes colonialism is a "politically correct theme" and that the glorification of our military is of greater importance than other, more painful aspects of our past. 

What are your thoughts about human nature? Are people intrinsically selfish and greedy and therefore need to be controlled? Or is there a human desire to do the right thing so that we can all live well together? Are most people lazy? Are all cultures and genders equal? Or are some more deserving than others?  Those ideas impact the platform and policy of every political party and government, including our former PC government, the NDP, the Alberta Liberal Party, the Alberta Party and the United Conservative Party. 
How should society be structured?  Should there be social classes? Should the rich help pay for services to the poor? Should there be few rules and limited taxation and correspondingly few government services? User-pay own healthcare and education? Or a larger role for government where everyone pays in and everyone benefits? The UCP has clear ideas about the structure of society-ideas that are the very foundation of their party.

Question from a recent survey from Brian Jean.

And what about visions for the future? What should it look like? A multicultural land where there are equal opportunities for all, or a land for "old stock" Canadians? Should a government try to go backwards in time to "Make Alberta Great" again? Or should it move boldly forward to a new future that includes everyone, including our aboriginal people? Will it be a place where the price of oil magically increases, providing employment and government revenue? Or a place where we have created alternative employment opportunities for a prosperous future? 

Having an ideology doesn't make you a bad person. Admitting you have one just makes you honest.

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