Archive for the nation state Category

NAFTA, “Free Trade” and the TPP: Fast-Track To Full Corporate Rule

Posted in activism, analysis, Canada, capitalism, Chomsky, civil liberties, class, collapse, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, deep integration, democracy, democratic deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, FTAA, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, imperialism, jobs, labour, Mexico, money, Mussolini, must-read, NAFTA, nation state, national democracies, NAU, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, politics, Security and Prosperity Partnership, sociology, sovereignty, SPP, sustainability, tipping point, trade, truth, U.S., war on democracy, WEF, World Economic Forum, WTO with tags , , , , on November 6, 2013 by jtoddring

The TPP In A Nutshell: Growing corporate power and the death of freedom

The FTA, NAFTA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, and now, the TPP – it is all a further drive for increasing global corporate power, and we should be very concerned. This should not need to be spelled out. The situation is becoming critical. Here is some background and context.

“Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law. At the time, advocates painted a rosy picture of booming U.S. exports creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and economic development in Mexico, which would bring the struggling country in line with its wealthier northern neighbors. Two decades later, those promises have failed to materialize. U.S. trade deficits with both Canada and Mexico have surged, crippling domestic industries, prompting massive job displacement and the replacement of living wage union jobs with jobs in sectors with low pay, minimal benefits and no job security.”

– Expose the TPP

 

What have been called “free trade” agreements are more accurately called corporate rights agreements, as Chomsky and others have said. And these agreements have helped to de-industrialize the US and Canada while shifting production to Mexico and other cheap labour offshore locations, such as India and China, wiping out the bulk of the middle class at home in the process, while leaving the great majority around the world in poverty as well, and generally benefiting only a small elite. Continuing in this course would clearly be disastrous for the vast majority of the people world-wide.

NAFTA, CAFTA, the FTAA, the WTO, the WEF, the SPP, the ECB and the Fed, and now, the TPP – all of these are treaties and organizational structures which represent the enthronement of the global corporate elite as the de facto rulers of the world, as the London Financial Times itself has said. They represent, in essence, a set of treaties between big business and governments, in which governments yield and cede their power to the trans-national corporate elite who already dominate the global economy, the major media and the political process and governments of most nations in the world today.

What this represents is the merger of business and the state, which as Mussolini himself said, is the very definition of fascism. What we are seeing is the destruction of both democracy and freedom, as well as human rights, constitutional law and civil liberties, under a global corporatist rule of increasingly stark neo-feudalism.

And if that were not already bad enough, we should also recognize that the people do not even benefit economically. Such moves benefit the few at the top, while the middle class is eliminated, the sea of poverty grows as the great majority of the people are driven into a growing underclass, inequality skyrockets, and a police state is constructed to keep the increasingly discontent masses silent and obedient, suppressed, subjugated, and neutralized – meaning effectively, neutered.

This is not even mentioning the utterly disastrous effects that our new global empire of corporate feudalism is having on the environment and the prospects for any kind of future for human life on earth.

Say no to the TPP and corporate rule, or say hello to a new and hellish form of Babylon, and an accelerating race towards a collective suicide.

J. Todd Ring,
November 6, 2013

The system is broken: strategic voting, coalitions, and the political regime under which we live

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, Chomsky, class, collapse, common ground, communism, conservative, Conservative Party, conservatives, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, Democrat, elite, empowerment, Feudalism, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, good news, inspiration, left, liberal, Media, money, nation state, national democracies, Noe-feudalism, people's movements, philosophy, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, propaganda, reading, Republican, Republican Party, resources, right, right wing, social theory, sovereignty, the right, tipping point, truth on May 28, 2011 by jtoddring

While I can of course see the rationale for strategic voting, there is much to be said for voting with one’s conscience. When we consistently choose the lesser of two evils, our choices are reduced to evil, and the results are evil. When everyone holds their nose and votes, essentially, for one of the parties or candidates of the status quo, believing no other option is feasible or can succeed, this collective act of despair becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: and low and behold, all other options are nullified – by our own act of choosing not to support them.

Put the blame where it belongs: the dominant parties are ensconced through the powers of the major media, which are controlled by the business and political elite who are in turn in bed with the party elite of the major parties: if we had a free press, and not a propaganda system, the people’s representatives would more closely resemble in action as well as words the views and values of the people, the great majority of whom by clear and consistent polls wish for more justice, equitability, sustainability, peace and compassion in the land and in the world.

How does a new party or a minor party build itself to a major force in politics? Certainly not by people choosing between the lesser of two evils and voting “strategically.” I’d almost be inclined to say that voting strategically is voting idiotically, for it is a vote of despair, a fatalistic action that presumes no major change is possible. While this is not entirely true, there is a great deal of truth to that picture painted. Maybe we should trust our conscience and common sense more often, and leave the horse racing to the track. This is not a game: it is our future.

Would it be better to vote for the devil if we thought he had a better chance of winning? Have we lost our reason and our faculties, our moral compass altogether? Politics is not about winning: it is about doing something virtuous in the world, for the benefit of all – or else it is truly a devil’s bargain, and we are both the prisoners and the captors ourselves. A vote is never wasted if it is the expression of our voice and true belief. Moreover, if it is an expression of our common sense and humanity, it would be a waste to thwart that and conceal it behind a shroud of “realpolitique” or imagined “realism.” When everyone defers to the present norm and the dominant powers, the present norm, no matter how profoundly abnormal or even pathological, becomes further entrenched, and real change, intelligent change, humane and sane and good-hearted change, becomes pushed ever farther off.

At the very least, we should make our views and values known, otherwise, democracy cannot function, and is reduced to a reification and endorsement of the existing structures of power and the dominant players. That scenario is dismal, to say the least. Let’s break it open. It is time to broaden the debate, broaden the discourse, and look to our options in a much wider field. The future is only as narrowed as our minds.

As to the dominant political parties in North America, they are all – Republican and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal – beholden to the corporate elite who rule this continent. Whoever wins of this pack of four cronies and lapdogs, we get corporate rule; and whichever of them wins, we get either the fast-track or the sugar-coated program for bringing us a global neo-Dickensian corporate feudalism in which the elite rule, the privileged servile few prosper, and the rest suffer in misery and disenfranchisement. If we are serious about social change, then we need to break out of this stranglehold. A coalition is one way to break the hegemony of the forces of corporate power and their political lackeys, and that is something I would like to see emerge sooner rather than later.

What I believe could work, is now truly viable, and perhaps is our only hope within the arena of formal party politics, is a coalition that spans left, right and centre: it would be a coalition of everyone who prefers authentic democracy and rule by the people, to corporate rule and the rapidly emerging neo-feudal order. I will leave that to the organizers and political strategists to ponder, and hope that the call does not go unheeded. Our future is waiting.

For myself, while I admire the best and brightest of party activists, representatives and candidates – few and far between as they are – I have very little faith in the existing electoral and political system, for reasons of money and media corruption, and so, choose to focus my energies elsewhere. The system is broken. Everyone by now knows it, and the polls world-wide show a dramatic and profound crisis of legitimacy and loss of confidence in the political and economic structures and powers that rule us. To change this, the media monopoly must be broken, and serious, major and fundamental electoral reform brought in. However, the existing media powers and electoral financing system benefits the dominant political players and parties, so they are not willing to do what needs to be done, hence, the broken system perpetuates itself, via a self-serving political and business elite who dominate the political, economic and media spheres which are by now fully intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Choice under this political-economic system is largely an illusion: a small elite rule, and have for a very long time. As George Carlin so aptly put it, “You don’t have any choice – you have owners.” Or as John Lennon said, “You’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.” Democracy is a dream yet to be fulfilled. (See C. Wright Mills, David C. Korten or Noam Chomsky if this is not immediately self-evident.)

A break must come somewhere, and the growing and deepening global crisis of legitimacy of the ruling powers and systems guarantees that it will come. Remember the collapse of the Soviet Union and the entire Communist bloc just a few short decades ago: when a crisis of legitimacy reaches its culmination, a breaking point occurs, and the game is over: the entire edifice collapses, and something new – depending upon what the people do, arises to replace the old order. “Let them eat cake” did not stave off the demise of the old regime. In fact, such smug and cold arrogance hastened the coming change, and every repressive action in defence of the old and dying system, fuelled the fires of the imagination, of indignation, and of revolution. Stay tuned, stay alert, and keep your good heart. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over `till it’s over.” Remember Ozymandias. This is not the end of history, and democracy is yet being born.

J. Todd Ring,

May 27, 2011

The Greatest Canadians Ever, Eh!

Posted in Canada, Canadian, Canadian politics, civil liberties, common ground, consciousness, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, deep integration, democracy, democratic deficit, empowerment, freedom, geopolitics, globalization, human rights, humor, humour, nation state, national democracies, nationalism, NAU, North American Union, political economy, political philosophy, political satire, political theory, politics, Security and Prosperity Partnership, social theory, SPP, Uncategorized, war on democracy on July 1, 2009 by jtoddring

Reflections on Canadian Nationalism

While I am not a fan of nationalism in the narrow sense of “us versus them” thinking, there is definitely something constructive and life-affirming about having a certain pride or basic dignity when it comes to one’s cultural heritage. If we can take pride in our own cultural heritage, while respecting the cultural heritage of others, then this seems to be something very positive, very helpful, and very empowering – mutually empowering in fact. Our errors and present challenges should be honestly acknowledged, and so too our strengths, talents, and true shining moments. Dignity, confidence and mutual respect are helpful attitudes to be cultivated and cherished. There are also other, equally important considerations on this day, Canada Day, and democracy is one of them.

Freedom requires self-determination, and self-determination requires some form of authentic participatory democracy, at the very least. If we value freedom or self-determination, as we should, then we should value democracy, and seek to preserve it at the least, if not to preserve it in order to evolve it further. Celebration, dignity, confidence and mutual respect are in order: so too is vigilance and awareness. We should dance, and we should also increase our awareness daily, and not only on this day.

More important perhaps than cultural pride within a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, is this consideration: despite its faults, the nation-state is the primary vehicle of democracy at this time, and therefore, we would be very unwise to attack, undermine or dismantle it, at least until we have something with which to replace it: and that something had better be at least as democratic, if not more so, than the nation-state, or we will be selling ourselves into slavery. What has been happening for some four decades is that the nation-state has been under attack, and it has been under attack for one primary reason, which is to destroy national democracies. We should have no illusions about this. The trend is real, and the trend is not accidental. It is highly conscious, and it is highly deliberate.

Who would wish for such a thing? Who has the greatest vested interest in destroying national democracies? The answer should be clear: the trans-national corporate elite wish to destroy democracy, which means they must destroy the nation-state, which is still the principle forum and bastion of democracy, so that they can do as they wish without having to worry about anyone getting in their way, without that nuisance of the democratic process, and so that they can effectively rule the earth, as the business press has itself said, as the “de facto world government.”

The trend toward the dissolution of the nation-state and national democracies began in earnest in the early 1970’s, with the unilateral cancellation of the Gold Standard by the US, the beginnings of the digital revolution in information and communications technologies, and the unparalleled global hegemony of the by then trans-national corporate elite. The trend can be called by many names: globalization, neoliberalism, neoconservatism, corporatism, globalism, corporatocracy, oligarchy, plutocracy, corporate neo-feudalism, corporate fascism, or most plainly, global corporate rule. Whatever we wish to call it, it is happening, has been happening for some four decades, is deliberate and highly conscious, and it amounts to the destruction of both freedom and democracy.

It would be wise for us to realize what is going on, that democracy is under attack, and that whatever more idealistic dreams we may hold, the nation-state still remains the principle vehicle or vessel of democracy at this time. Before we allow the nation-state to be dissolved, therefore, we should at least have something better in its place, or waiting in the wings, and this is not a world government of megalomanical elites and financial barons.

Democracy is, of course, power of the people, power to the people, and rule by the people. Democracy therefore becomes meaningless when the government is too far removed from the people; for when the government is far above and removed from the people, what we get is elite rule, or oligarchy, which in essence is a return to feudalism and the caste systems of the past, and not democracy in any meaningful sense of the word.

If democracy and therefore self-determination and freedom are to be presevered, then the minimum that must be done is to prevent the further concentration of powers at the trans-national or global level. This means that while we may further democratize the nation-state, we must not let this minimum of democracy as represented by national democracies be destroyed by allowing it to be castrated or effectively folded into unaccountable continental or global powers.

Democracy requires that power be closely connected to the people, as well as representative of the people. This means that power cannot be too centralized without democracy being destroyed. If we dissolve the nation state, or allow it to be dissolved, and do so without having or creating another forum of government that is closer to the people and the grassroots, then what we shall have is the evisceration of democracy, and the rule by an international elite.

What we will have is a kind of global corporate neo-feudalism unless we stand up to the assault on democracy; and we must begin by re-establishing the value and the functioning integrity of national democracies. Missing this point is living in a dream world.

It is important that we realize the value of national democracies now, and realize that where we are heading is not toward some kind of rosey world order, but toward a kind of Orwellian neo-feudal corporatism, in which democracy is no more, and freedom, human rights and dignity are destroyed, all under the guise of inevitability or the common good, to be sure. We must re-establish the integrity and independence of national democracies now. This is critical, and it is urgent. And of course, we should start at home.

So long as we avoid the “us versus them” thinking that often plagues nationalism, and realize that we are in fact interdependent, a certain pride or dignity is a very good thing. So too, are democracy and freedom worth preserving. For these reasons, we should generate confidence and a spirit of independence. In that spirit, let us celebrate the diverse cultural heritage that makes up this land we call Canada, and celebrtate the land as well, which is our home.

*

Before celebrating the rich heritage, and the present lands and cultures which make up this place we call Canada, a note on the ideology of greatness may be in order as well. Greatness has nothing to do with fame, power or wealth. Hitler was famous, powerful and commanded great economic resources, but he was not a great man – he was, of course, a madman. Wealth, power and fame cannot measure greatness, nor even virtue or talent. Many of the greatest of Canadians or individuals from any country have been and will remain unknown to all but a few friends, family and community members. This does not reduce their status. We tend to worship those who have fame, as if being known meant something in itself. Paris Hilton is famous, but is she any greater than anyone you would meet on the street? It is unlikely. King Midas was wealthy in the extreme, but that did not give him character, virtue, wisdom or even happiness, let alone greatness. Stalin had great power, but he was a paranoid egomaniac, and a mass murderer. Let us cease to worship fame, wealth and power, and instead, respect that which is worthy of respect, which is talent, character, and above all, the qualities of the heart. And from a deeper persepctive, we can say this: if you want greatness, look in the mirror: realize your true nature. This is the secret of all the world, the perennial wisdom that all the sages have discovered.

If we can find our own dignity and empowerment by recognizing the good qualities and the true successes or victories of others, then let us do that; but let us always remember that the greatness we see in others merely reflects that which we have yet to uncover in ourselves. Just as the errors or stumbling of others reflects our own potential to err and to stumble, the true successes, virtues and victories of others reflect the potential within us to realize our own greatness. Dignity, mutual respect, and mutual empowerment are worth pursuing, and are also worthy of celebration. This Canada Day, let us celebrate with a new awareness, and sow the seeds for a beautiful future for all. In fact, let this be our celebration daily, and everywhere, no matter where we live or where what country we call home.

*

On a lighter note, as the title indicates, I would nominate Bob and Doug MacKenzie as the greatest Canadians ever. Bring on the beer and back-bacon eh! A sense of humour is one of our finest assets here in the great white North. Bring it on. I recommend the film Strange Brew for all new and old, young and young-at-heart Canadians. A mixture of Hamlet, Star Wars, 1984, and hockey – with beer, naturally – it is a very funny movie, and very perceptive to boot: the Canadian version of Doctor Strangelove. Along with this low-brow/high-brow humour, the film Canadian Bacon, with Canadian funny man par excellence John Candy, would be a perfect combination.

What else do we have to be proud of here in this land called Canada today? The list is as long. Recently Canadians voted Tommy Douglas as the greatest Canadian in our – relatively short and still unfolding – history. I for one, would not disagree. Look him up, if you are not familiar with this truly great man. One other brave heart from this land I would like to mention only: Louis Joseph Papineau – a democrat before his time. There are of course many, many others worthy of great honour, both past and present, and there will be more in the future. As to a further list of names and accomplishments in the on-going history of this country, I will leave that to others.

The lands and the peoples of Canada deserve to be celebrated. And the famous are not the only ones we should remember, take note of, or respect. Mutual respect will help us all. After all, it is only enlightened self-interest, as well as a matter of virtue and basic kindness. Let us celebrate the good in all peoples, everywhere. Today, the focus happens to be on Canada, and that is not a bad thing at all, and very well deserved.

There is no country. Any country is a name only. A country is a mental concept, lines drawn on a map. What is real is the people and the land. Real also is our democracy – or so it is if we preserve it. Let us celebrate the land, the peoples, and the freedom and democracy of Canada. Imperfect as these may be, they are precious, and worthy of both respect and preservation.

JTR,
Canada Day,
2009