Goebbels required loyalty to two bodies—the party and the nation. When a political party capitulates to the call for “unity” no matter what the fissures are within it, and goes deaf to the flaws of a presumptive leader with the instincts of a demagogue, its destiny is given to that leader. When loyalty to country is draped in a call to self-declared patriotism that call all too easily becomes coercive. Normally well-informed and sentient people succumb, with results they long regret, like launching a disastrous war.
“It would always remain one of the best jokes of democracy that it provided its own moral enemies with the means by which it was destroyed, ” Goebbels said.1
In the wake of happenings south of the border, Jason Kenney, leading candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, has been inspired. Branding himself with the Alberta coat of arms like Trump did the American flag, and calling for a very Goebbels-style loyalty to our province above all, Kenney want to “unite the right,” and take back the “Alberta advantage.” Part of his awesome plan includes bussing loads of young people in for conferences, topping them with Trump-style baseball caps, and having them stand behind him as he addresses crowds of “mainly middle-aged and older white men.”2 He realizes that he needs the support of the young demographic to succeed in this race, but perhaps underestimates their abilities to recognize nationalist propaganda bullshit.
November eighth, the same day as the U.S. election results, two female—the only female—PC party candidates were bullied out of the Alberta race. Insults were scrawled on long-time Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen’s nomination forms, she was chased up and down the hall by volunteers from another campaign, attacked for “protecting women’s reproductive rights,” and jeered at for “supporting children’s rights to a safe school environment.”3 Thursday, November 17th, she left the PC party to join its opposition. “‘The dog-whistle politics that I heard at the PC policy conference were chilling to me: eroding public education, taking away women’s reproductive rights and trying to out gay kids in schools,’ she said. ‘It was frightening to see that element.’”4
Kenney responded to allegations of harassment saying, "I think it's particularly bad if women in politics are treated badly because we need more women in politics and that means more civility and less incivility."5 He also made mention that he too was harassed, but didn’t leave the race. I am disturbed here that a key leader, in the highest circles of decision-making in my own province, (so ineloquently) normalizes harassment and sexism. He publicly infers that women are currently excluded because politics aren’t ‘civil’ enough—women are too sensitive and mystical to handle the pressure.
Many of us cried after it was established that a man endorsed by the KKK and closely compared to Joseph Goebbels, was chosen to be the next, grab-her-by-the-pussy President of the United States.6 We cried for women, minorities, and immigrants, and over the stark, crystal-clear knowledge that we live in a world of viewers, the majority of which are willing and able to digress into illusion, fascism, corruption, sexism, and white supremacy under the simple influence of bright colours, charisma, and a veiled call for unity. Having been lost in this thought, and pre-Apocalyptic despair, for about a week after the election, I stumbled upon an article in humour magazine, Cracked, an article which said: “Stop being baffled. Understand why it happened. Do the opposite of panic. Work through the problem.”7 We have been applying old political and social leadership systems intended for the pre-internet world, to a new global politic, a new kind of global unrest. Our previous systems can’t fulfill our current socio-political landscape. We need to reassess our methods of governance, and update.
Women have only had the right to vote in Alberta for 100 years, status Indians for 51 years—that’s in my mother’s lifetime.8 As the Canadian Encyclopedia itself says: “...gaining the right to vote has not solved pressing socio-economic and socio-political issues, such as disputes over land titles and control over resources. Indigenous suffrage is part of a larger discussion about Canadian citizenship, Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous rights.”9 So, what are we voting for? What is the point, when voting doesn’t seem to change anything but put xenophobic fascists in leadership? As Alberta is set to have the second largest Indigenous population in Canada in 2017, what new approach to change-making can we take?10 There are abnormalcies that have been granted normalcy for a long time; these are the things we need to address—now.
Writers, artists, and filmmakers in Issue 006 think about unity and discreteness, initiating conversations—between film and installation, cinema and literature, analogue and digital, Indigenous and settler, Canada and Armenia. We observe the political and public worlds staggering back toward colonial, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist ideas of dominance, and we can’t accept that. At the very least—and immediately—in Alberta’s polarizing ideological landscape, a safe middle ground where conversations can take place, a space where women are empowered, must be uplifted.