The Earth is evolving.
Physically, magnetically, geologically, chemically, biologically. The only certainty in each is change over time. These are the indisputable, measurable results of the forces in play since the Big Bang (or, for those who prefer abstract myths, since "creation").
Humanity is likewise in flux. But in a quite different way. As a self-conscious, social, widely interbreeding, globally-distributed creature, human evolution no longer involves physical divergence; instead, cultural, economic and technological change propels it.
Driving this ever-accelerating "advancement" equation, is the profligate use of finite resources that deliver self-limiting challenges to the status quo that mirror lessons from past acme life-forms toppled by similarly rapid environmental change: extinction events. For example, after 100 million years of phantasmagorical evolution, but hobbled by an inability to adapt, the global dinosaur party was snuffed out like a candle by a meteorite the size of Whistler village.
It's no meteorite hitting humanity right now, but the synergy of commerce, politics and technology is metaphorically close. And the challenges of coping are real. The only way to survive the shape-shifting conditions we've created, processes which obey, more than any other construct, the march toward entropy described by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, is to develop a capacity of rapid adaptation, forward thinking, and ahead-of-the-curve planning with built-in flexibility. Get on a train that follows the natural order or be run over by it.
Into this world where such critical considerations draw sharp lines around today's problems and billow a fog of uncertainty for the future, step Conservatives. A dinosaurian collective defined by its desire not to recognize or rapidly adapt to change. (I take pleasure in pointing out that its most parochial branch is known as paleoconservatism. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)
In 1819, following the French Revolution, François-René de Chateaubriand was the first to use "conservatism" in a political context. As a political and social philosophy, it promoted the maintenance of traditional institutions. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity; others oppose all modernism and seek to return to the way things were. Given the current convergence of global forces, this puts conservatism at odds with, well, reality.
Canadian conservatives once broke free from the trappings of the divine-right British old-school Tories by prefixing themselves with the word "Progressive." The current throwbacks, however, are anything but. First Reform and several more inherently xenophobic, homophobic, Christian Right parties amalgamated under the Canadian Alliance, a coalition so distasteful to traditional PCs that an ambitious young Peter MacKay actually won the leadership of the latter after promising challenger David Orchard he would never, under any circumstances, merge with the Alliance. But MacKay famously did just that, at a convention where the new coalition 's banner first flew under the hilarious acronym of COC (Canadian Organization of Conservatives) until someone realized how that sounded - a delay that suggests how unsharp these people are.
Thus, Canada's current ruling party staked itself on unbridled ambition, disloyalty and hypocrisy -- hallmarks of backroom political jackals that beg for their meat in the night. They've built nicely on these humble beginnings with numerous racist/sexist faux pas, repeated contempt of parliament citations, investigations into electoral fraud, erosion of Canada's global image, and progroguing the democratic institution of parliament solely to forestall their own fall. Bits played as trivial by Conservative spin-doctors but together emblematic of unprecedented hypocrisy and contempt for its citizenry by a supposedly democratic government.
In 2004, Harper became party leader on a platform of fiscal restraint (no frivolous spending on education or national health/social programs), increases in military spending (mostly for optics and business), economic growth (unsustainable, and at the expense of the environment), tax cuts (of course), and Senate reform (what?). Like other Neocon collectives that are alien in a pluralistic world, Harper's "transparent" government is closed-door, its communication strategy characterized by divisive politics, fear-mongering, withheld information, manipulation of the truth, and out-and-out prevarication -- a BORG-like automaton whose ministers' humanity (such as it is) is cloaked in party-line sound bytes.
As proof, Harper hasn't missed an opportunity to loudly blame the current election on the other parties (both untrue and undemocratic) and falsely paint them as a "coalition," playing on anti-Quebec sentiment to align the NDP and Liberals with the "evil" Bloc, another clear case of disinformation. It has me pining for the days of ethical PC parliamentarians like Joe Clark, a man of respect whose humanitarian and political sensibilities seem unidentifiably distant from the current Canadian conservative landscape.
Evolution is Earth's engine of change and our political systems should follow suit, adapting to stay on the fast-running train of changing natural order. Basic conservatism is avowedly incapable of doing so. But the new, insidious form is also well-practiced in dishonestly diverting attention from its own limitations.