I often thought that the right wing canard directed against the left that we were interested in "social engineering" was one of the more banal and pathetic insults that they tossed around. It presumed a "natural" state of human nature, any deviation from which would be detrimental to progress. Of course, human nature is conveniently defined in terms that suit the right and usually owe more than a little to Hobbesian notions of humans as inherently competitive, greedy, and so forth.
Really, of course, they were always just talking about themselves in two senses. The rich, who are the source of right wing ideology and the ones who actually benefit from it, do relish greed - though evidence from history suggests that to satisfy their greed, the rich do everything possible to eliminate any existing or potential competition, either by destroying or buying rivals or conspiring with them to jig markets to their benefit.
And in actual fact it is always the right who try to regulate human behaviour and human thought to exclude anything that challenges their domination or their ideas of what constitutes human nature. It is the right who try to suppress alternative forms of love and family - they oppose gay marriage. They constantly seek to undermine trade union rights - when trade unions were the spontaneous (more or less) act of working people to defend their standard of living. The right opposes abortion. The right inevitably supports overthrowing government that don't do what we like. The right supports the cops.
So, it should be no surprise that Stephen Harper's Tories should follow this pathetically predictable path of suppressing free thinking. And it is no secret that Harper and his ilk want to transform liberal-minded Canada into a bastion of social and economic conservatism. The trouble is, the population are not as right wing as Stephen Harper and his ilk. What's more, since they are subject to some form of democratic accountability, Harper has been forced to downplay the public discussion of their real agenda, to deny it even, so that people don't get spooked by their agenda of making us all into right wing drones. But, behind the scenes, the Tories use the many levers, particularly financial ones, to penalize and crush anyone who challenges their agenda.
There is something to be said for the Globe headline that calls a play about one person's real relationship with a man who was convicted as part of the Toronto 18 "terrorist" conspiracy a "terrorist play". That's one of those set-up labels that is designed to illicit a bias response, like "accused wife abuser" or "Jamaican immigrant". Nonetheless, the story is interesting because it fits with a pattern of social engineering through stealth - like with the Tories' elimination of funding for KAIROS (a religious charity) because of their support for the Palestinians. Then there were the attempted changes to tax laws that would deny tax credits to film productions whose content it deemed offensive. In this instance, Heritage Canada has slashed almost $50K from Summerworks, a popular theatre festival in Toronto. Everybody knows that the reason they did it is because of the play about the Toronto 18 - or rather the failure of that play to portray the issues in the form of a good vs evil comic book. But the Tories simply lie and - like with KAIROS - state that the decision is merely an administrative one about funding.
What is clear is that the Tories can't bear the thought of a free-thinking population or of culture that fails to pass their parochial standards of morality and decency. That they have to be sneaky about it is heartening in one sense because it demonstrates that they are out of sync with the majority of Canadians. Hopefully their lies and subterfuge will catch up with them and they will, like Mulroney, be punished by Canadian workers - both at the ballot box and in the streets. Meanwhile, let there be no doubt - the Tories want to control what you think. They just don't have the guts to say it to your face.
Ottawa cancels funding for Toronto theatre festival that presented terrorist play - The Globe and Mail