I came across this at Paragraphe the other day. The image on the cover caught my eye before I even realized what I was looking at, I knew I had seen this image somewhere else. But where?
It dawned on me as I glanced around – the economics and world affairs section of the bookstore is adjacent to the military history section, itself adjacent to general Canadian history. My mind connected the dots – I had seen this image in one of my father’s old war books.
A little bit of johnny-on-the-spot research confirmed my suspicions; the image is an interpretation of an old recruitment poster. Here’s the original:
So here’s the deal.
A book promoting the Ayn Rand school of free market capitalism uses a Canadian Second World War recruitment poster produced by the National Film Board, which, if I’m not mistaken, was created specifically to generate government propaganda and diverse public education media during WW2 (post-war it was redeveloped into the world class film studio we know and love today) as its cover image – a dramatic and intriguing aesthetic embellishment to what I can only assume is little more than a high school sophomore’s praise for the apparent ingenuity of a highly individualistic brand of economics and anti-societal social organization.
Rand’s is an argument in favour of extreme selfishness and greed disguised as an appeal for individual humans realizing their ‘inner ubermensch’ and the protection of the purity of an individual spirit. As you might expect, Rand’s devotees worship her like a god and their affiliated websites read like those of evangelizing missions or self-help gurus.
Put another way, I couldn’t find anything but positive reviews of this book when I googled it, and furthermore all the reviews I did read were written by people affiliated with various Rand inspired think tanks.
They’ve got the market cornered, shall we say, when it comes to ensuring positive reviews of their own work. Objectivism in its finest form; praise from slack-jawed sycophantic reductionists. The followers of Rand are merely LaRouche aficionados you can take out in public, possibly to a cocktail party. Definitely more rhetorically put-together and conversationally competent, but driven purely by the irresponsible joy that comes with unabashed self-interest.
As I said, junior league philosophy that doesn’t ultimately hold much weight – Rand herself applied for medicare and social security in her old age, by which time her unflinching individualism had soured just about every relationship she ever had.
She died alone, living off the fat of the land, just like countless millions of other less fortunate Americans, then as today.
But let’s get back on point – the image.
It’s obvious why it was chosen – it’s a stark, minimalist interpretation of the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France, used (along with an out-of-context line from John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields, itself discussing the responsibilities of the living towards the dead) as a propaganda tool during the war. I don’t know how well you can make it out, but the Christian Cross on the side of the real-life memorial is itself less apparent but subconsciously still there, doubtless a shameful ploy to sucker in more readers with a poor knowledge of Weber’s Protestant Ethic theory. It’s perverse (to me at least) that modern-day American and Canadian social conservatives permit themselves to fawn over Rand like a minor deity without ever trying to untie the logical knot posed by Rand’s infamous in-your-face atheism.
But more on the poster…
It was produced by a crown corporation, by itself an egregious example of ‘big government’ (that is, by Objectivist standards) and further still doubtless the collaborative work of many artists employed, collectively, to preach rationing, sharing and cooperation during what was perhaps the most highly socialized era in Canadian history.
But hey, by now the copyright has expired, and rather than pay good money for an original artwork to grace the book jacket cover, the authors (themselves affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute) instead demonstrated their utter, almost cynical disconnect some of the fundamentals of the philosophy they ostensibly espouse.
To put it another way, Ayn Rand probably designed a lot of her own book covers (and not just because she was self-published) and would be rolling around in her grave if she knew the authors had picked this particular cover.
Anyways, thought I’d share. I would still recommend giving an awkward sixteen-year-old a copy of The Fountainhead, but only because it’ll keep them off drugs until their out of high school.
By my count he’s number 43 in a list that stretches back to our city’s first mayor, Jacques Viger, in 1832, the year the city was incorporated.
To date Montreal’s mayors have been predominantly of the (at least publicly heterosexual) French Canadian male variety, though we once had a tradition of switching the lingua franca of our mayors with each election (i.e. from 1832 to 1908 mayors here alternated from Francophone to Anglophone).
The last ‘traditionally Anglophone’ mayor of Montreal, from 1906-1908, was Henry Archer Ekers, one of the founders of The National Brewery (also known as the Dow Brewery), which brewed Dawes, Dow, Ekers, Boswell and Fox Head ales, and whose siege sociale still stands at 990 Notre-Dame Ouest, a prime example of Northern Art Deco industrial architecture).
Monsieur Blanchard is third in our year of four mayors, replacing the disgraced Michael Applebaum for a four month period until the next regularly scheduled election. I really hope he manages to somehow last that long without fucking up by getting named at the Charbonneau Commission, in which case it would be as a result of stuff he did several years ago but either way, yet another black eye for our fair city and further proof that the political establishment here is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.
Point number one, unlike his predecessor, Mr. Blanchard should not propose to ‘clean up city hall’ or state, dramatically as had his predecessor, that a new leaf had been turned. Applebaum is up on 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy, accepting bribes etc. He’s retained former Tory MP Marcel Danis as legal counsel, and resigned the mayoralty ‘to focus on the case’.
Innocent people don’t typically tend to have a case to focus on. They’re innocent, after all. If the allegations against him are as spurious as he claims, why hire a top-shelf lawyer?
Put it this way – he might believe he’s innocent and that there’s a vast conspiracy against him. Word from the grapevine is that Applebaum was a jumpy character back when he was the borough mayor for Cote-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grace, several times indicating he thought various concerned citizens trying to jump-start the Empress Theatre as a community cultural centre were his ‘political enemies’.
I must have forgotten about all the political intrigue and conspiracy coursing through the halls of power in Cote-des-Neiges.
Point two would be to resist the awesome temptation of being bribed or otherwise caught up in shady real estate transactions, something I think is genetically programmed into nearly all politicians – criminals in sheep’s clothing for the most part, and this city, province and rather obviously the federal government have provided so many fantastic examples of late its difficult to imagine any other reason to get into politics in the first place.
It’s good to know all these ‘pillars’ of various communities are so concerned about the message they send to the ‘most precious resource’ they all seem to work into their photo-ops. Children? they could give a damn – kids don’t vote after all.
So there’s point three – no photo ops with old people, minorities, children or the handicapped. In fact, try not to have any photo ops at all – we want you to sit at your desk and do your job, and we don’t need a photograph to prove this point. A small video camera with a live feed is what I want, so all citizens could tune in and watch the mayor working.
Because we’ll no doubt need to keep our eyes on him.
Personally, he’s old guard, but I won’t judge him too harshly. If he makes it through four months and I enjoy living here while he’s in power, I guess I’ll have little to complain about.
Mr. Applebaum and his predecessor’s story are already well-known. Applebaum has been implicated by the SQ and CEIC in shady real-estate deals while he was borough mayor of Cote-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grace. You’ll be delighted to know he’s allowed to vacation abroad despite the 14 charges hanging over his head.
Our last elected mayor is Gerald Tremblay (who received a whopping 159,000 votes in 2009, with less than 40% of citizens participating), who as you may remember stepped aside in November of last year after the heat from so much damning testimony from the Charbonneau Commission became unbearable. Keep in mind that Tremblay hasn’t been charged, just named. Perhaps he was truly not implicated, but just turned a blind eye. Maybe he had been threatened, or really naive. Who knows. The Commish has recessed for summer break.
I love the dedication and their ability to flat out do the opposite of what they earlier said they wouldn’t do, without any attempt to justify their switch. They don’t think they owe us an explanation. They never do.
Personally I don’t get it – an escort is just someone you pay to have sex with, hardly scandalous especially given it was the mayor’s money, and not that of the taxpayers of Laval.
He further promised not to get mixed up in the costly mega-projects characteristic of the Drapeau Era, instead preferring to cut waste at City Hall while developing grassroots initiatives to improve city living. He ended his two terms in office caught up in a failed real-estate mega-project (the Overdale Debacle) and was deemed an unfit leader because of an apparently lax attitude to running a tight ship. It didn’t help that he had a $300,000 window installed in his office, nor that he razed a low-rent but viable neighbourhood for condo projects that were never built and had a police force running wild beating up gays and viciously murdering minorities while turning a blind eye to the biker gangs.
But for all the good he did it is weighed down by his own corrupt practices. Mafia involvement in the construction of Olympic facilities and corruption within the unions were primary factors contributing to the massive cost overruns associated with the games. There are a number of apartment towers throughout this city built with concrete originally intended and ‘delivered’ to the Olympic park construction site, yet re-directed by those in the know. Drapeau was responsible for the nearly-criminal act of destroying Corrid’Art and his slash and burn style of urban redevelopment was not only inelegant but often antagonistic to the people’s interest.
Drapeau may have even ‘cooked the books’ during an election in which his opposition was eliminated after being infiltrated and broken up by the Montreal Police, rendering votes for his opponents ineligible and giving Drapeau a victory with over 90% popular support. Those were the days…
As a city, we need to decide what we want in a mayor, so that we don’t get sucked up into a pointless popularity contest that delivers nothing but more of the same. We need to establish our own metrics for judging a mayoral candidate’s chances of winning, and not fall prey to sophisticated marketing techniques that sell us yet another hands-off mayor. Perhaps most importantly, we need a mayor who fundamentally understands this city, its people, and what makes it great. We need to decide what kind of mayor our city needs, now and for the next ten years. Do we want a builder? Do we want a reformer? Do we want an architect? Do we want someone who’s politically well-connected? Do we want a renovator, a renewer or a redeveloper?
I think we all should spend a moment a think about what we want in a mayor – not just the qualities of the person but most importantly their plan for this city, whether it be growth or renewal – before we head to the polls in November. Otherwise the best we can hope for is another Drapeau, and his breed are rare these days.
But if we ask ourselves first what we want in a mayoral candidate, and define the context of the election before the candidates or media has a chance, the people ultimately manage to wrestle a bit of control over the rhetoric and could maybe make this election about something, rather than simply being the inconvenient selection of our next underwhelming mayor.