Toronto’s se­ces­sion talk is just nuts

PressReader - Tke Channel - Toronto’s se­ces­sion talk is just nuts
“This is not a crazy idea.” That is what a Toronto may­oral can­di­date said last week of an idea that is cer­ti­fi­ably, in­sti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion-level crazy. Crazy is in fact the kind­est word one can use to de­scribe the idea, a word that is kind enough to be in­ac­cu­rate and in­ac­cu­rate enough to be kind. Crazy at least sounds like a bit of fun.What ur­ban-plan­ner-cum­se­ces­sion­ist-re­bel­lion-leader Jen­nifer Keesmaat pro­posed is not fun: Toronto should sep­a­rate from On­tario as a re­ac­tion to Premier Doug Ford’s lat­est petty re­volt against demo­cratic deco­rum. Her idea — not crazy, she stresses — would in­volve a change to the Con­sti­tu­tion, the for­mal break-up of Canada’s largest prov­ince, and the creation of one more po­lit­i­cal en­tity that of late ex­ists mainly for the pur­pose of boy­cotting wines and pipe­lines from other po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties. These are not fun things.So per­haps she is right: Se­ces­sion is not a crazy idea. It is an ir­re­spon­si­ble idea, an in­flam­ma­tory idea, an ig­no­rant idea.Any­way, I like it! I do not like many of Doug Ford’s ideas; if a pro­posal, any pro­posal, in­volves erect­ing a po­lit­i­cal wall be­tween hu­man be­ings and the al­leged for­mer drug dealer turned al­leged in­her­i­tance thief, it has the re­flex­ive sym­pa­thy of many of those who are wary of po­lit­i­cal shock jocks who sug­gest that kids with autism shouldn’t leave the house — the group house, that is. But to ac­tu­ally en­dorse the se­ces­sion fan­tasy that may be en­joy­able to silently sigh over, we must also en­joy the ac­tiv­ity of not think­ing.Not least of all be­cause of this: Aren’t peo­ple of con­science sup­posed to be anti-wall?Look­ing back at where we went wrong in the vast ex­panse of the lib­eral demo­cratic project, at what point did peo­ple start propos­ing to erect walls to keep out the sort of peo­ple who may pro­pose to put up walls? For rea­sons con­cern­ing both the Con­sti­tu­tion and com­mon sense, even flip­pant talk of se­ces­sion­ist non­sense is bad, bad, bad, and lu­nacy of the bad kind to boot. But it also height­ens the par­ti­san di­vides that, if we’re be­ing gen­er­ous, we might as­sume this stark rav­ing dumb idea in­tends to tar­get.“I have no in­ten­tion of pur­su­ing some­thing that might in any way be di­vi­sive” — that is what the can­di­date said of her pro­posal to di­vide the coun­try.Po­lit­i­cally di­vid­ing Bri­tain from Europe; phys­i­cally di­vid­ing the United States from Mex­ico. These are the di­vi­sions that have cleaved the Western world into com­pet­ing fac­tions of in­ter­net trolls, and so divi­sion has os­ten­si­bly be­come the po­lit­i­cal ter­rain of that which cur­rently mas­quer­ades as con­ser­vatism.These di­vi­sions are, af­ter all, the most im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous and harm­ful, supplied as they are cour­tesy of men with Tiki torches in the streets and dem­a­gogues with Im­pe­rial Rus­sia-fetishes in the sta­di­ums.But we might re­call that U.K. Labour Op­po­si­tion Leader Jeremy Cor­byn, a man to whom crazy is no stranger, seemed scarcely less hos­tile to the Eu­ro­pean Union than Nigel Farage. Demo­crat Bernie San­ders, like Don­ald Trump, has op­posed much of NAFTA. Lib­eral Cata­lans have typ­i­cally been as­so­ci­ated with at­tempts to se­cede from Spain.Divi­sion — for­mal, fi­nan­cial or phys­i­cal divi­sion — tempts us all in ways that co-op­er­a­tion can­not. Ne­go­ti­a­tion, com­pro­mise, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with those who seem to speak a dif­fer­ent lan­guage and co­ex­is­tence with those who seem to in­habit a dif­fer­ent world: These things are not fun. We do not like them.And so, when others be­come di­vi­sive it is only hu­man to want to cut them off fur­ther. How un­for­tu­nate that what is hu­man is so rarely wise.As ever, the so­lu­tion to this prob­lem does not lie in the re­pro­duc­tion of the prob­lem. I be­lieve there is a word for claim­ing oth­er­wise.

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