Why I won't vote for Ignatieff

Today, I came across this portrait of Michael Ignatieff by someone who worked with him at the Canadian Globe and Mail. I searched for this information when I read that he is among the three front runners for the Canadian liberal party leadership. Although, what lies ahead in the leadership contest will be probably the most difficult for him, he stands a reasonable chance of becoming the next liberal party leader and may be the next prime minister of Canada.

The portrait is excellent, reserved, uncompromising, investigative and detailed.

Before reading the protrait I didn't know what to think of Ignatieff. I have not read much of his writings, my readings in philosophy and litterature are focused on other writers, but I knew about him enough to admire his intellect. I was of course most unhappy with his stance on the Iraq war but I thought that so many well intentioned and intelligent people have misjudged when they supported this war and later recognized that the after war was mishandled. This is a half apology for someone like me who was against the war altogether and who knew that this war was going to bring misery to the Iraqi people and an additional destabilizing element in a region which is always on the brink of war. I was however ready to accept that people, even intelligent and well informed people can misjudge sometimes and to forgive Ignatieff. I didn't give too much thought in my previous judgement of Ignatieff to all what was written against him, I thought that successful people make ennemies easily. There was however this article he wrote on torture in which he didn't come clear about condemning torture. This continued to bother me and I thought that it was an intellectual absurdity. I didn't want to believe that an intelligent and articulate person like him supports the use of torture, so I suspended my belief and my judgement about him.

Reading his Portrait today made it obvious for me who is the real Ignatieff. As he lived most of his life outside Canada, he is unknown to ordinary Canadians, however much was said about him in the UK. While most of what was said point to someone who easily betrays his friends, family and changes political allegiances, it appeared to me that there was a continuity in all his endeavours and all his stances whatever the allegiances.

Michael Ignatieff seems to be following only his own deep inclinations and his mind in a very independant way, so independant that it is sometimes detached from reality having only as reference himself and what he thinks is right and wrong with a quasi intuitive certainty, the kind of intellectual certainty Descartes made as the ultimate foundation of Knowledge. However, Descartes was careful to interpret this certainty as coming from the outside, from God. In this sense, Ignatieff is not a cartesian thinker. I would say that he is a Fichtean thinker. Fichte was a contemporary of kant and is considered as a post-kantian philosopher. He is the first to have established subjectivity, the 'pure I', as the foundation of knowledge. He cleared the foundations of knowledge from all external elements, Descarte's God and Kant's sensations and perceptions of the external world as necessary elements to his categories of Reason and Understanding. He gave a name to the 'pure I'; the intellectual intuition. He has writings in political philosophy and his ideas in this area are thought to be extremely dangerous if they were to be applied and would lead to an enlightened totatlitarianism.

I am an independant person and I appreciate independant minds. However, reading Ignatieff's portrait, I was chilled. I think the man is better where he used to stand before, in the universe of abstract ideas. I am convinced of one thing: Ignatieff will be his own man, indifferent to the aspirations of Canadian citizens and to their plight because his extreme certainty is what makes him who he is and he will never be able to change.

Extreme certainty can be dangerous in Politics. Didn't the people who defend the Iraq war show that extreme certainty in Politics can be dangerous and murderous ? Didn't Ignatieff flirt with the idea that torture was good for democratic states fighting evil ?

More than intellectual certainty, Ignatieff seems to be a man incapable of empathic emotions. Politics require some empathy, the capacity to project oneself, as a leader, into the psyche of the people who expect you to bring them a good life and a good future.
Among other things, the portrait shows also that Ignatieff is not a man to serve the people, as we usually expect from our Politicians, he rather sees Politics the other way, a field where he can put at will his abstract ideas into practice where the people become the ones who will be serving the man...

I wish Ignatieff can be convinced that he could fare better where he belongs, in the sphere of abstract ideas. This is not to say that the two front runners are better than Ignatieff. I think the liberal party is in trouble and our little Bush franchise, Stephen Harper, might stay at the helm of the country for a couple more years...

Que Dieu nous aide !

UPDATE: The author of Ignatieff's portrait, Michael Valpy, discusses Ignatieff and the related article with the Globe readers.


Devon said...

Wow that is quite the articulation, indeed the very resentments I have of Ignatieff.

If anyone disagrees with you they do so from political allegiances not on structure.

Gavin Neil said...

Oh, but surely we of a baser sort should be pleased to have such a philosopher-king take time from his lecturing to lead us?

L.M. said...

After an absence of thirty years he has condescended to return and rule our sweet little Dominion of Canada? I worry that we'll just bore him to distraction with our tedious insistence that pre-emptive war and torture are unequivocally wrong. (His narcissism does bring out the sarcastic Bolshevik in me, and it's not even in my family tree.)

Obviously, he doesn't have my vote either, but you have taken a much more respectful route to this destination.

Sophia said...

I guess the equivalent to the sarcastic bolshevik in you is the dormant and tormented tsar in Ignatieff. Ivan Le terrible can be a fair camparison.

Sophia said...

I visited yoyr blog and I am glad that more and more peole like you are blogging. We have many things in common and I am hopeful that the Liberal party will give us our country back in the next elections.

Sophia said...

Thanks for leaving a comment and making a link to this post.
I left you a comment on your blog.

Anonymous said...

The Liberals are bankrupt and divided and will most certainly elect Iggy to lead them to ruin.

The guy may be an intellectual but he is not a politician. He will have less influence in Quebec than does Stephen Bush. Ontario will end up as a struggle between the Right and the Left, with the liberals being squeezed out. They cannot win without carrying both Quebec and Ontario.

The NDP is moving closer to the center everyday and will challenge this elitist for the center-left vote. If Canadians have to choose between two candidates from the Right , they will pick the real McCoy.

Ignatieff, the darling of the right, in the Liberal party cannot win an election so expect another leadership convention .I expect , that the liberal Party will lose more seats to the Conservatives and the NDP in the next election.

Ignatieff is an "intellectual" version of Paul Martin and is doomed to failure.

It is not surprising that he has been conspicuously silent on Maher Arar.

You have to give Chretein credit as a politician of the highest order. During the leadership campaign in 1991 , I remember him courting the Arab and Muslim vote just days after receiving a rumoured donation of $250,000 from the Jewish Furriers Association in Montreal.

Canadian Muslims and Arabs can no longer be ignored by politicians, especialy Liberal ones.


Toob said...


Since March 29th 2006