Convivium

Canadian, eh?

A sample:

It didn’t take Michael Ignatieff long to land on his feet after leading the Liberal Party to its worst showing ever. He cleaned out his desk and acquired a new one at Massey College in Toronto within days of his catastrophic defeat. For the 10th anniversary of 9/11, he offered one of those essays he spent a lifetime abroad writing: the great thinker explaining “What It All Means.” For this declaration, he could have been back at Harvard, writing about America in the post-9/11 decade, though this time he did not use the first person. The piece casts 9/11 as the first in a series of “sovereign failures,” wherein the state failed spectacularly—9/11, Katrina, the financial crisis, and now the sovereign debt insolvencies. All these state failures have meant that “people have lost faith in government.” The lesson should be the opposite, Professor Ignatieff argues. The repeated failures of the State ought to remind us how important the State is and how rebuilding its “legitimacy” is our most urgent political task. It’s counter-intuitive to be sure, but that’s why the professor was too clever for elected politics. In defence of state power, he writes: “A sovereign is a state with a monopoly on the means of force. It is the object of ultimate allegiance and the source of law. It is there to protect, to defend and to secure.” A hand goes up at the back of the class: Is the State really the object of ultimate allegiance? Is it really the only source of law? Canadians chose wisely in keeping such ideas far from political power.

One thought on “Convivium

  1. Iggy used dialectical reasoning in attempts to legitimize certain things that Canadians will not accept. Torture was one of them. He’d say something like, “Torture is not a good thing, but if it’s the only way to get hold of sensitive information that might save lives, perhaps it should be considered acceptable.” The experiment didn’t work, I guess. Oh well, Harper will get us there – at that level of politics, they’re all marching to the same drummer.

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