Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Tory Bagman Tom Flanagan on "Confining" the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Calgary School's privileged access to the Globe and Mail op-ed pages continue, as does "professor" Tom Flanagan's descent into partisan madness, with his piece this morning advocating for the abolition of the Human Rights Commissions. Flanagan is joining the growing choir (should I instead say cacophony?) of right-wing voices demanding an end to the country's Human Rights Commissions, though his argument has a novel twist which at least separates it from the usual repetitive droning and bleating: according to Flanagan, governments are the institutions chiefly responsible for discrimination in our society; therefore, we cannot expect governments (or government-funded institutions, presumably) to solve problems of discrimination; therefore, we should let the free market sort out such problems.

As someone who defines himself as an anarchist at least two or three days out of each week (the rest of the time I'm uncommitted or maybe even socialist, depending on how the wind blows, which is a disturbing inconsistency on my part), my first instinct is to agree wholeheartedly with the first and possibly the second of Flanagan's points. After all, where terrorists have killed maybe a few tens of thousands of people, governments kill hundreds of millions. And I do adhere to one fundamentally anarchistic tenet, which is that you cannot build a system not based on violence and oppression using tactics rooted in violence and oppression. Audre Lord was probably wrong when she said that you can't tear down the master's house with the master's tools - you can tear it down all right, but any new house you build with them will end up looking pretty much the same as the old one.

Beyond that, though, Flanagan's argument starts seeming kind of silly. The root of his argument is basically a capitalist one: free-market competition is inherently anti-discriminatory because discrimination raises costs. Eventually, therefore, businesses - and by extension societies - will eliminate that discrimination so that they can be more efficient and more profitable. Discrimination is inefficient, so discriminators turn to government to subsidize them. Eliminate the subsidies, and we'll eliminate the discrimination. A capitalist prescription for social policy.

No comments:

Post a Comment