American and Canadian Politics – A brief comparison and lay of the land
Canada and the US have the largest trading relationship in the world between any two countries, as well as the longest undefended border in the world, and share a great deal in common as friends and neighbours. The public opinion polls have shown repeatedly and for decades that, like most of the world, the values of the great majority of the people in both countries are centre-left, and frankly, democratic socialist – although most people, especially in the United States, are unaware of this fact; mainly because they get their “news and analysis” from the corporate and state-run media, and have been brainwashed and indoctrinated to believe, at least in the US, that socialism is the equivalent of Stalinism – which of course could not be further from the truth.
(Since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, when Leninism was finally thoroughly discredited, most socialists around the world have been highly wary of state power, and highly opposed to authoritarianism or tyranny of any kind. And for the far larger number of people world-wide who hold socialist values – the values of compassion, cooperation, solidarity, freedom and equality – but would not call themselves socialist, the same is true: there is a healthy skepticism and wariness toward government and the state, and a strong aversion and opposition to any form of tyranny, authoritarianism or abuse of power of any kind. This is what I mean by socialism being fundamentally at odds with such tyranny as we saw in the former Soviet Union.
Yes, the Soviet rulers called themselves socialists, and they called their gulag empire socialist – and they did that because they wanted to enhance their credibility with the people. And the Western powers, being pro-corporate, liked to call the Soviet tyranny by the name of socialism, in order to discredit socialism by associating it with tyranny. Both the Kremlin and the Western corporatists were lying however. Soviet style totalitarianism has nothing to do with genuine socialism. It was simply another form of neo-feudal elite rule, and the tyranny of the few over the many. Socialism is about freedom and the emancipation and empowerment of the people, or it is about nothing at all, and does not deserve the name.
Prior to the collapse of the Soviet empire and the final discrediting of Leninism, there were two camps of socialism, from its inception, which came out of the Enlightenment. There were those who followed Marx and later Lenin, and who were definite statists with a strong authoritarian, if not totalitarian streak; and there were the libertarian socialists, following in the tradition of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, Bookchin and Chomsky, who were and are adamantly opposed to the statists and to authoritarianism or tyranny of any kind. After the fall of the Soviet Bloc and the final, thorough discrediting of Leninism, outside of a few small pockets, such as North Korea, only the latter kind of socialists remain, by and large, and the vast majority of socialists now are passionately opposed any form of excess or abuse of state power.
But let’s stick to specifics, and skip over the labels and isms, which tend only to cause schisms, and lead to further misunderstanding.)
The great majority of the people in both Canada and the United States, as with the majority of the people in most nations today, are in favour of strong social programs to help the poor and the working class; a fair and equitable distribution of both wealth and also power; authentic, participatory democracy; rule by constitutional law, with respect for freedom, civil liberties and minority rights; strong environmental programs and regulations; peace, and an end to war and militarism; universal public health care; jobs for all, and other centre-left policies.
But despite what the people want, the corporate powers have taken over, and they rule the two countries to their pleasing, compromising with the people only when they feel they have no other choice, and only for as long and to the extent that they feel they must.
Still, there are, of course, major differences between Canada and the US, as well as commonalities, and these do not end with the very differing views and culture with regards to guns.
Here is a rough translation of Canadian political culture for Americans and others who may be unfamiliar with the political landscape of the second largest country on earth, the holder of the largest oil and mineral resources on earth, the pantry to the American empire, one of the richest nations on the planet, and a member of the G7 group of nations.
Generally speaking, a conservative Canadian = a very “progressive” Democrat. A liberal Canadian today – after the major slide of all of the major North American political parties to the right over the past thirty years – is to the left of that, but still centrist and pro-corporate, wittingly, or more often, unwittingly. A New Democratic Party supporter in Canada is minimally left of centre, on average – when viewed by world standards of course, and not the extreme right wing politics that now dominate both parties of the US – though NDPers are typically wishy-washy and passive, and by and large are content to moan from the sidelines, and let the two major parties of corporate rule, rule.
Far right Republicans seem to most Canadians to be straight out of Dr. Strangelove – there really aren’t many people in this country that would even call them sane. We kind of look at them as something akin to Frankenstein’s monster – surreal, almost a comic book fiction, but frightening and disturbing nonetheless.
Not that anyone in Canada with half a wit of political savvy is any fan of Obama now, if they ever were, with his incessant and ever-expanding wars, his murderous drone campaign, his shredding of civil liberties and the Constitution, his support for a global surveillance state and also fracking, the Keystone pipeline and generally ecological holocaust-inducing policies, or his on-going massive bail-outs and protection for the Wall Street elite and big banks who funded his election and put him in power, but that is an aside.
We must note also, at least in passing, though it is beyond the scope of this short article, that with the signing of the SPP, the “Security and Prosperity Partnership”, Canada and Mexico agreed to a “deep integration” with the United States in a new “Fortress North America”, as the elite who thought up and pushed through the agreement called it: a deep integration in the realms of economics, law and regulations, military, security and intelligence services – meaning, an essential union of the three nations, without calling it a union – the fate of Canada is now tied to the sinking ship of the United States, and worse, to the corporate powers which rule over it: at least until and unless the people decide to assert and to actively reclaim their sovereignty, and say no to the dissolution of national democracies and their submergence into larger power blocks under corporate rule. I have written on this extremely important subject elsewhere, so I will say no more about it here for the moment. I would urge all Americans, Canadians and Mexicans to look into the subject for themselves, however.
All that being said, and with the acknowledgment that US politics are far to the right of Canadian politics, to say nothing of Europe, it must be understood that neoliberalism, or the ideology of the super-rich who dominate and rule the country – which means, corporate globalization and corporate rule, or more simply, freedom for the ruling corporate elite to do as they please, and subjugation, soup lines and sweat shops for the rest – this corporatist ideology has, for the moment at least, conquered Canada, just as it has conquered the United States and most of the world.
The people of Canada, as in the US and most nations today, do not believe in the ideology of corporate globalization, neoliberalism, corporatism or corporate rule – which are essentially different ways of saying the same thing. This ideology has lost the battle in the propaganda wars, the battle for the hearts and minds of the people. The ideology of the ruling elite has been thoroughly defeated. But, and this is the big “but” – the corporate elite have seized power, and have put their ideology and their agenda into practice, the people be damned, and they are advancing it further every day. And they continue to rule, which means their failed and failing ideology continues to rule, despite the deep and growing crisis of legitimacy which they face; simply because the people have not yet embraced their power, but instead, passively acquiesce and do not challenge the illegitimate and unjust, frankly suicidal and ecocidal rule of the global corporate and banking elite.
The corporate coup has taken over democracy here in Canada, and it is actively tearing it to shreds and devouring it, just as it has done and is actively doing in the US and most nations in the world today. The major difference between Canada and the US is that the drive towards full corporatization of the society is less brutal here than in the United States, primarily because Canada has a long tradition of tolerant, freedom-loving, constitutional social democracy, and the valuing of compassion and mutual aid; and the people would not stand for a gloves-off, rapid fire destruction of all social programs and safety nets, or a more rapid move towards stark neo-feudal corporate rule. But make no mistake: we are heading down the same road – and will continue to do so, until the Canadian people find their cajones, and stand up.
The same is true in America and Europe, and most nations world-wide.
Stand up people. It is time.
J. Todd Ring,
October 10, 2013