The Conservative Ideology

“ideology” \ˌī-dē-ˈä-lə-jē, -ˈa-, ˌi-\  a systematic body of concepts, especially those of a particular group or political party—Merriam-Webster  

The word “ideology” was coined by the French philosopher Destutt de Tracy.  Originally it meant the science of ideas; but shrewd politicians like Napoleon Bonaparte corrupted it to mean something more pejorative, even sinister.

This is unfortunate because politicians professing to be free from ideology are in fact admitting that they’re rudderless.

For them politics is simply a contest for power which will be won by capturing the issues of the day in catchy slogans and using them to bamboozle citizens to vote for them.

The trouble with slogans is that unlike ideologies they’re meaningless and/or misleading and provide no action plan for the future.

Speaking of meaningless…

Destructive conservatism

Jason Kenney is working tirelessly to merge the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party into the Free Enterprise coalition.


Jason Kenney leadership hopeful #1

His slogan (for now) is Restore the Alberta Advantage.  How?  By beating Rachel Notley’s NDP in the next election and destroying everything the NDP has done over the last four years.

Brian Jean is squarely on board with Jason Kenney’s destructive mission except he says he’ll replace the carbon tax, not eliminate it (smart man, why get rid of a tax after the public has gotten used to it, just repurpose the extra revenue to suit your own agenda).

The theme of destruction is important because it indicates that Alberta’s conservatives are moving along the same spectrum of conservatism that’s engulfed the United Kingdom and the USA.

George Monbiot, the British writer and political activist, says conservatism has three forms:

  • inclusive conservatism which seeks to protect things of value for everyone’s benefit (eg wildlife, works of art and significant institutions like universal healthcare);
  • exclusive conservatism which resists changes that would help the majority in order to protect the privileges enjoyed by the minority (this necessitates opposing things like progressive taxation and the social safety net); and
  • something that calls itself conservatism but is “nothing of the kind”. Destructive conservatism destroys everything that stands in the way of profit-taking (eg norms, values, institutions, and public protections).

Alberta conservatism has evolved from the Peter Lougheed’s conservatives, who fell somewhere between the first and second forms of conservatism, and is now closing in on the third form of conservatism, destructive conservatism.

“Destroy the NDP, destroy all they’ve created, erase socialism from every corner of the province”.


Brian Jean leadership hopeful #2

It’s a slogan mindlessly repeated by Kenney/Jean supporters with no thought about what it might mean.

Destructive conservatism leads to bizarre outcomes.

For example:

  • When BC’s Christy Clark announced she’d retaliate against Trump’s new tariffs on softwood by imposing a $70/tonne carbon tax on thermal coal—an act that would cost Alberta 2000 jobs and $300 million/year in lost revenue and violates the Canadian Free Trade Agreement—Kenney held his nose and said Clark’s government was preferable to the NDP.
  • When Saskatchewan’s premier Brad Wall promised incentives to Alberta energy companies to lure them to Saskatchewan—a move that would further damage Calgary’s economic viability—Kenney and Jean were fine with it.
  • When Scott Thon, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy (yes, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway) said Alberta found the right balance in transitioning away from fossil fuels and his company would continue to be a long-term investor and Cenovus, CNRL and Suncor announced oilsands investments in excess of $28 billion, Kenney and Jean said the NDP’s climate strategy was driving away investment.

There’s only one explanations for this kind of behavior.  Destructive conservatives don’t care who gets hurt as long as they win the next election.

Anyone who doesn’t understand the danger of voting for the Free Enterprise coalition whose sole raison d’etre is to destroy the government that went before it need only look south of the border to see why this is a spectacularly stupid idea.

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30 Responses to The Conservative Ideology

  1. RJ Pisko says:

    These Canadian conservative clowns are Trump wannabes – they don’t have a so-called “value” between them, save for Corporatism and a wider and wider socioeconomic rift. Trouble is, most Albertans are corporatist due to the influence of 45 years of Klein and his ilk . . .

    • RJ I agree with you. My hope is that the Trump wannabes and the Albertans who support them see the turmoil Trump has created in the US and back off before it’s too late…Americans are beginning to realize what living under destructive conservatism really means: it’s not OK to violate norms (Trump firing Comey), it’s not OK to destroy public protections (amending Obamacare by introducing exclusions which make it impossible to access), the list goes on and on.

  2. jane walker says:

    Great reality check, Susan!! Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. Pearlman Katie says:

    Exactly! Great analysis!

    • Thanks Katie…hopefully Albertans will think before they vote in 2019. I’m sure many Americans wish they’d given more thought to WHY they voted for Trump because “anyone but Hilary” is a pretty stupid reason.

  4. J.E. Molnar says:

    Both Jean’s and Kenney’s demagogic dystopian view of Alberta signals bad news for Albertans. Their policies of “on-your-own” economics and “back-to-the-future” conservatism will ring hollow with voters in 2019. Political gravitas means everything these days (see Donald Trump approval ratings), and neither Jean nor Kenney possess large amounts in the eyes of severely normal Albertans (see Mainstreet Research polls), in my humble opinion.

    • RJ Pisko says:

      oops – Exactly. Well-stated

      • RJ your first accidental comment “e” reminded me of Trump’s accidental tweet “We”…the Twittersphere ad a heyday. They said it was the first sensible thing he’d said in a long time. 🙂

    • J.E. you’re right about Jean and Kenney’s bleak vision of Alberta, which makes me wonder why anyone believes their pitch that all it will take to turn Alberta around is dump the NDP. Why? What are they going to do differently other than reduces personal and corporate taxes which results in even less revenue which leads to service cuts which leads to a poorer quality of life. Jean and Kenney have no vision, no plan, no ideology, nothing.

      • Intrepid says:

        Susan, your cogent comments become even more telling when the undynamic duo refuse to release alternative budgets or rely on flimsy excuses like the grass roots membership will decide policy options. We know from past underperforming conservative governments how life has improved in Canada, right? LOL

      • Intrepid: you make an excellent point. Given that Jean/Kenney and McIver argue they’re fiscally conservative while the NDP are spendthrifts, the public has the right to know how they’re going to deliver on their fiscally conservative agenda without gutting social services a la Klein. If the one man Alberta Party can produce a line by line shadow budget, you’d think the much larger WR and PC teams would be able to deliver one.
        PS I loved the “undynamic duo” characterization.

  5. Kelly says:

    Thank you Susan, for this. This article perfectly articulates concerns I have going into the next provincial election cycle. I’ve had a moratorium on sharing politically fueled articles via social media since last October, but this is the perfect piece to break through it.

    • Kelly, I fully understand why you stopped sharing politically fueled articles on social media…it’s not worth the vitriolic blow back. Recently I attended a nonprofit fundraiser where Don Braid and Sydney Sharpe were the keynote speakers. Braid said he uses Twitter to promote his columns but he doesn’t read it anymore because the tenor of the conversation is so negative it’s not worth it. He specifically called out people who justify their vicious attacks on politicians (usually females) by saying if they’re in the political arena they need to “toughen up” or get out. He said he’s followed the rough and tumble world of politics for decades and has never seen the kind of the abuse that’s being heaped on Rachel Notley and her team.

  6. GoinFawr says:

    THere is one type of ‘conservative’ animal wholly missed in your article: the currently elusive fiscal conservative.

    Once common to the Great White North, this highly prized breed of pol has been one rare animal indeed since the Basel Committee formed in 1974 and made its immediately followed ‘recommendations’ that states borrow from private lenders rather than continue the overwhelming success of borrowing from the public one. Bloviating rhetoric aside, they are all but extinct these days. Some existing species, like the T.Mulcair, unsuccessfully still try to sing the same prudent song from time to time, but it seems that such sweet music now falls on deaf ears and mouse-like voters have lost the knack for caring whether or not their great great grandchildren will be performing forced labour to pay off the interest to private international banquing interests, preferring instead to elect handsome, well-groomed, neoliberal cats who continue to sell them and theirs down the river for generations to come.

    Perhaps one day, with lots of science and a few DNA laden hairs of Tommy Douglas’, we will be able to reintroduce this species of ‘conservative’ pol and make the Great White North fiscally responsible once again.

    Though I wouldn’t hold my breath or anything.

    • GoinFawr: you could be a political satirist! I hear echos of Hinterland’s Who’s Who and Tommy Douglas’s Mouseland speech Douglas made that speech in the 1940s and it’s still relevant today, particularly his comment about the little mouse with an idea, they called him a bolsevik and threw him in jail. Sounds a lot like the WR and PC supporters who are convinced the NDP are socialists and communists. They say Bill 6 (farm safety) is the first step in the NDP’s grand scheme to get control of the farmers’ lands and the Gay-Straight Alliance bill (which allows kids to set up GSAs in schools) is proof the NDP want to indoctrinate the kids. Gawd!

      • GoinFawr says:

        I gave a run at the bases on that one Susan, thank you for the links.
        And yes, I did imagine the Hinterland Who’s Who tune off the bat….
        WAIT a moment, here; you linked the loon?!

        “..proof the NDP want to indoctrinate the kids”

        Somebody ought to tell the WR/’Conservative’ folk that Educate (Whatsoever is true) is actually the NDP’s mandate. Doing it without any immediate pay increases for the educators too! For now anyway, for what that is worth. Good for them. Thank you teachers!

        It seems the ideologically challenged WR and Cons are cooperatively challenged too (go figure), and are now not becoming the audacious, the outrageous, the amaaaazing..?
        Conservatively Wild Rosebuds?
        The Wildly Conservative Roses?

        I am just goofing around, of course; I’m expecting an ‘exceedingly happy’ alliance straightforth

      • GoinFawr: wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in the WR/PC unite-the-right negotiations? I’ll bet they’re worse than any of the deals I was involved in over my tenure as in-house counsel–and I worked on complex deals with global corporations and Chinese state-owned companies.
        The key difference of course is that my deals were all about money where as the WR/PC deal is all about power and Kenney’s ongoing political credibility. I can’t wait to see what they come out with.
        PS: I vote for the “Conservatively Wild Rosebuds” 🙂

  7. don cockerton says:

    hi Susan; Tx for another pithy and well written post! BTW have you heard anything yet re a follow up group to Alberta Electrical system consumer group? I have not. dc

  8. Carlos Beca says:

    Yes Susan you are absolutely right, Kenney and Jean care about the so called ‘Free Enterprise System’ which of course for them is a religion except that the God is the Corporation which is supposed to be beyond criticism. If only they took the time to see the devastation some of them cause around the world instead of just talking about how many people have been moved out of poverty.
    I doubt that either Jean or Kenney have any ideology. The objective is power and turn Alberta into a free enterprise farm because they know that the main corps do not want to move to Alberta, that is below their class level. We know we have a problem when the Trumps think the White House is a dump.

    • Excellent points Carlos. The fact Kenney calls his Unite Alberta party the “free enterprise coalition” should ring warning bells all across Alberta but too many people still think government should be run like a business. They should look at the chaos Trump has created to see how “well” that works in practice. I’m stunned by the number of high level Republicans who subscribe to this “government is business” analogy. US Ambassador Nikki Haley was asked to comment on Trump firing Comey. She said “The president is the CEO of the country. He can hire and fire anyone he wants, that’s his right.” How wonderfully ironic that just a few days later the Justice Department appointed ex-FBI director Robert Meuller as special counsel to investigate the Russia connection and the White House couldn’t get over the fact they weren’t consulted. So much for the president’s CEO-like powers.
      The other thing people who parrot this line forget is that CEOs, unlike dictators, are not appointed for life…they get fired all the time.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Well I am sorry I am speechless
        I could not agree more but you have to remember that they are special.
        They are the new Inquisition of the Free Enterprise System

  9. Carlos Beca says:

    Well Susan ‘In the land of the blind, the one eyed person is King’
    I truly believe that we are going through a Dark Age – many of us are politically blind because our Universities are graduating experts for jobs, the media is trying to control our minds and the politicians are eager to please whoever offers them the ‘good life’. Progressive well founded thought is apparently a waste of time. Why learning and researching if it does not matter. After all look at Trump – he has everything he wants including the power to cheat the law and get away with it and he is the President of the United States. The party backing him is 90% of the same kind. Nikki Haley is just one of them.
    So who is right?
    What do you tell your kids what they need to do to become good citizens?
    I do not have any doubts but many people do, hence the crisis we have in our hands.
    The outcome of all of this is a mystery, that is why I do not like to watch movies like ‘The Blade Runner’

  10. lindamcfarlane says:

    Thanks Susan.  Excellent explanation.

  11. Carlos Beca says:

    Letter to Susan from a friend

    Susan you have always been the very positive hopeful person I always aspired to be. I confess you were right 🙂

    Our Status Quo politicians finally did it. The United Cult of Free Enterprisers is just around the corner. You have no idea how I feel – after 43 years of a minor version of the same party that left us with a 10 billion dollar deficit and 2 horrifying years of that socialism that came from Russia in the last century, catastrophic of course, we have free enterprise. I cannot believe this is finally happening.

    Things like ‘The Members will always be in the driver’s seat’ – wow can you imagine the change this will bring to all of us.
    Another ‘It’s about recreating a broad, tolerant, free-enterprise coalition’ – wow this one, after 40 years of such oppressive system blew my mind.
    The one that impressed me the most ‘to gain control of our province now and for future generations”. I kept wondering wow maybe they will cut even the elections and we will have freedom forever. What a concept. Truly revolutionary.

    Both founders, very accomplished men in our province, agree that it is simple – they are going to scrap the carbon tax and reduce taxes. Considering that their minor version left us with a 10 billion shortfall I had to do some very basic math and figure out this absolute amazing math. Even after taking Calculus in University I just had to be more focused. I think that they will have to eliminate public Education or Health. What do you think? I would love to know how excited you must be



  12. RJ Pisko says:

    Most Albertans will get sucked into this – because those who enjoyed “the good jobs” and “the big bucks” and all the shiny (muddy) toys and big houses that oil patch “careers” provided got a swift kick in the ass by Iran – NOT the NDP.

    And since that kick in the ass, the real world has finally decided that expanding tar pits (destroying the environment, depleting wildlife habitat, poisoning drinking water, killing off fish and wildlife) – is all worth it for the twin $11,000 quads, the $560,000 house, the $120,000 truck/toy hauler and the $200,000 toy) is to be swiftly and economically viably replaced by so-called “alternative” – actually the original and most sensible energy sources – wind and sun. It’s going to be (and has been ) tough on the Calgary-based petrochemical and carbon-based energy extractors head offices and executives as well as the patch guys and girls.

    And many will turn to the Corporatist worship formula – fuck common sense, the environment, heath care, education, equality, – let’s get back to the 1970’s and “Reganomics” – the “trickle-down” crap, the lies, deceits, falsehoods and usury of credit corporations, luring Albertan conservatives back into the “good times” and its burdens of indentured servitude credit card and loan debt and the bullshit that it will last forever, this time – just like with King Ralph, remember?

    Wise up, Alberta – conservatism will do nothing but continue to expand socioeconomic gaps, lull you into a “good times” mythical fantasy land and destroy your children’s future. So that “they” can be in control. Anybody here support Donald Trump? Well, elect these psychos and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

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