As an interesting thought study let’s compare and contrast three world leaders; Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe and Stephen Harper. Okay, one is merely head of government while the other two are heads of state and of government, but let’s not give Stephen Harper any ideas. Taking a step back and looking at these three leaders proves there are eerie similarities that should concern people.
Robert Mugabe hasn’t been international headline news for a few years but when he was it was for his policy of evicting white farmers and their employees from the productive land. The results were a loss of confidence in the local currency, exodus of people from Zimbabwe and food shortages, all to benefit Mugabe supporters who had no clue on how to farm. The situation in Ukraine and Crimea is little different, instead of land it is a Black Sea port, natural resources and reclaiming the glory of past Tzars such as Stalin. Harper to is looking to exploit someone else’s resources to benefit his friends, First Nations are losing out on their Treaty Rights to a fair share of resource revenue this hasn’t lead to violence or force but the potential is there.
Mugabe has his “Veteran’s”, Putin has his fighter plane and Harper has his photo op backgrounds of service personnel. All three scoundrels wrap themselves in patriotism (and religion to an extent) and wave the flag to help cover their varying degrees of kleptocracy. Harper isn’t benefiting now but watch what he does when leaving office, corporate boards, think tanks and lobbying firms are waiting to reward him for his current efforts. These leaders and their tame journalists want us to believe everything they do is for the good of the country, the economy and only they can succeed. Putin says it is wrong to interfere in another country’s affairs, unless he needs to do it, in this Harper and Mugabe are little different even if not annexing bits of the neighbours.
When it comes to dissent all three leaders are more or less equally hostile to opponents. Canada may have escaped show trials and assassinations so far but Harper still brands opponents as enemies, terrorists or traitors. Canada’s domestic secret service, CSIS, like the Federal Security Bureau in Russia is targeting anyone who questions, dissents, or opposes the Harper Government’s agenda. The independence of courts, arms lengths government bodies, oversight and accountability officers and journalists are constantly put under threat. Everything is an absolute, either get in line or you’re working against the country. Conspiracy theories are pushed by the tame media and by puppet politicians, there are plots to ruin everything by the West, Europe, Liberals, Elitists, Communists, Fascists and others. Everything is framed as a survival war against keeping the hard working regular people from being oppressed.
Everything to protect people, keep order, maintain the appearance of justice is justified. Denial of Human Rights, ignoring International Law, betrayal of allies, sacrifice of principles, throwing people under the bus and violence are all acceptable means to the greater end. People who serve no use are quickly dismissed, examples being Canada’s missing Aboriginal women or Russia’s trafficked women. Once groups of people become expendable or declared enemies it is more democratic to accuse them of election fraud and disenfranchise them. Questionable elections in Russia and Zimbabwe will soon look familiar to Canadians as Harper’s “Fair Elections Act” receives a rubber stamp from Parliament without real scrutiny. The Canadian Senate is no help, as it has gone from an independent body tasked to review legislation to a royal court to serve the man who appointed them.
Some groups see the situation in these three nations and advocate revolution, protests or disengagement. All three nations have history of meeting revolutionaries with a disproportionate levels of violence. When you add the potential of someone equally bad or worse using the chaos and anarchy to grip power revolution becomes an equal threat to democracy as corruption of the current systems are. Demonstrations and protests might make a few people more aware and may make world headlines for a bit but ultimately they are either put down as rebellions, outlawed, splinter or exhaust themselves. Disengagement is exactly why these three countries are stuck with tzars, because uneducated, uninformed, unaware people can never be democratic.
The only solution to having a tzar is to get more people informed, engaged and aware. Voting is not engagement any more than protesting is, it just makes the system look broken and leads to new schemes to “fix” it in someone else’s favour. Those of us who are informed and engaged can not let others remain ignorant and disengaged. If they complain about lacking interest then frame things in their interests, if lacking time free up some time for them, if unaware of the issues or system then help them discover both. Break down the barriers, silos, and all other distinctions for they’re merely walls in the prison, divides so we may be ruled.
In all three nations tyranny has exacted high prices in blood and treasure. Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, Soviet Union to Russian Federation, British North America to Canada were all hard roads to travel, it would be a shame to give up on the resultant democracies. Remember that Robert Mugabe, Vladimir Putin and Stephen Harper are not yet tzars, they still answer to the people. Let’s remind them of that by ignoring them engaging with each other over Crimea and other matters, don’t forget to make them aware of our decisions afterward and fire them if they don’t do as they’re told. With the tensions in the world it would be foolish to trust world leaders to get things right, populations must also enter into dialogues with each other.