Archive for the national democracies 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 Politics of Illusion

Posted in alternatives, American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, Cheney, class, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, detention centers, elite, empire, empowerment, environment, fascism, Feudalism, free speech, freedom, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, imperialism, inspiration, labour, money, must-read, national democracies, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, peace, people's movements, police state, political economy, politics, propaganda, psychology, Republican, Republican Party, the world's other superpower, tipping point, trade, truth, U.S., Uncategorized, war, war on democracy, work on September 24, 2013 by jtoddring

Or,

Politics and the illusion of choice

“The politicians are there to give you the illusion of choice. You don’t have choice – you have owners. They own you. These rich cock-suckers own the entire country.” – George Carlin

(Apologies for the poor choice of wording, but he does nail it here. You can find this short, powerful statement on politics in the real world on youtube. See “The American Dream”.)

The problem is, the people are given a false choice: the Democratic Party works for and is owned by the same big business interests which run the Republican Party, as Chomsky and many others have rightly said, and as the majority of the people are fully aware. And both of them are taking us rapidly into a dark age of global technocratic neo-feudalism, which is frankly fascist in nature, and is run by and for the world’s banking and corporate elite.

Look at what Obama did – not just what he said he would do. “You shall know them by their fruits.” He spoke of ending war, and instead expanded it. He spoke of peace, but has consistently served the interests of the military-industrial complex.

He dressed up like Kermit the Frog, metaphorically speaking, and presented himself as a green and an environmentalist. Then he went on to support fracking, which is destroying ground water quality across the nation. He continues to support the Keystone Pipline (appropriately named, as it is a keystone to the US corporate empire and its ravenous thirst for energy) and the burning of the Canadian Tar Sands – which, if allowed to continue, will be a disaster of global proportions. And he has catered loyally to Monsanto and the genetic engineering lobby, with serious and grave dangers for human health and even greater dangers with regards to global food security and the viability of continued food production on earth for human beings.

He presented himself as a populist, but then went on to hand the banking elite trillions of dollars of the people’s money, and bailed out the banks instead of the people; and then told the people “help is coming” – help which has never materialized, of course, since the government is broke, thanks to the bail-outs to the bankers, the continued policy of off-shoring of production and capital, the continued de-industrialization of the nation, the continued disastrous wars abroad and the whore-like service to the military-industrial-security complex and the financial elite, which, together, now rule the nation.

Obama posed as a democrat, a populist, a progressive and a friend of the people, and then intensified the Bush/Cheney/neo-con war on democracy, civil liberties and the Constitution, and further accelerated the creation of a police state at home, while giving the corporate and financial elite pretty much whatever they want.

Change? What change? Obama is Dick Cheney on steroids, with a pretty PR job and slick speech writers. He is a whore to Wall Street. His actions have proven it beyond any reasonable doubt. This man should be in prison, not running the country.

(Actually, he knows very well he doesn’t run the country – he serves the business elite who run the country, which is how and why he got into power in the first place.)

And by the way, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party – the two parties of the US branch of global corporate rule – are both deeply committed to abolishing all of the gains made by the people over the past two hundred years. They are both committed to returning us to Dickensian times, to the glory days, the golden age of unfettered capital, when there was no minimum wage, no social security or economic security of any kind, no restrictions on child labour, environmental degradation or workplace safety, and no right to organize or form unions for collective bargaining or simple self-protection; the days when the vast majority of people were so destitute and desperate that they would work for anything, even starvation wages, and the business class could rape and pillage freely, without any constraints, to their hearts’ content, and to the last dying gasp of their worker drones, who live little better than slaves.

Both the Republicans and the Democrats are committed to the continued off-shoring of production and capital, the continued de-industrialization of the nation, which means the creation of a largely jobless society and the third-worldization of the country – and the remainder of the world – in the drive for ever more astronomical profits and riches for the fraction of a percent of the population who are the ruling elite. It’s just a matter of whether you want the floor pulled out from underneath you, on the installment plan, by way of painful little pieces being cut away daily, or whether you want to take it on the chin with the Republicans, and get the blood-letting over with all at once. Either way, it is the same agenda, and the results will be indistinguishable in the end – because they work for the same people!

Both of the major US political parties are committed to increasing the already stratospheric wealth and power of the corporate and banking elite who have bought and purchased these parties, and whom they loyally serve – as their actions make abundantly clear. Anything that stands in the way of these core objectives must be demolished, and is actively being demolished – including the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Convention, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, all environmental, health and labour standards, media diversity, freedom of speech or the right to protest or even publically assemble peacefully for any purpose – other than sports games and other distractions, since the policy of “bread and circuses” is almost as core as the policies of “divide and conquer” and rape and pillage; the demolition of any meaningful sense of authentic democracy, actual freedom for the overwhelming majority of the people, and even the ability of the people to think for themselves, or to unite to discuss or pursue their common goals in solidarity and with the power of uniting the people. All these things stand in the way of ever increasing wealth and power for the few, so all of these things must be destroyed, and are now actively being destroyed. Those who are awake have seen this happening for some time now. It is high time the rest of the people woke up, before they get to the end of the cattle chute, and find out first hand, and most painfully, where all of this is leading.

In a word, what the business elite who control both major political parties in the US want, is a global labour camp – a global prison planet, where the vast majority of the people live in a sea of poverty, the great ocean of the ever-growing underclass, and the lucky few who have “jobs” are willing to work for the lowest possible pay, with zero security, so that they will be terrified of saying a word or making a peep about their abysmal lives and working conditions – and meanwhile, and of course, as the primary objective to all of this, the super-rich corporate elite can live like pharaohs on their private islands, in mansions and yachts, sipping champagne or quaffing Scotch and caviar, surrounded by private armies, heavily armed henchmen and security barriers, while the world slowly bleeds – or rather, is bled – to death.

They want a gulag. They want a return to feudalism. They are greedy little boys and girls, obsessed with their egos and their infantile sense of grandiosity, wanting ever more self-aggrandizement, and dreaming of being god-kings. It would be laughable, were it not also pathetic, and truly dangerous in the extreme.

We have seen such patterns in the past. Every empire has fallen, and every would-be Tzar or Caesar has failed in the end, and has tumbled and crumbled to dust. But that does not mean that these trends are not dangerous nonetheless. They are, and extremely so.

No, their is no real difference between the long-term trajectory, motives or agenda of either of the major US political parties. They are the parties of corporate rule, the parties which represent the aggressive drive to return us to the glorious reign of feudal kings and lords, sweatshops everywhere, and detention centres – labour camps – for those who are displeased with this arrangement of affairs. The only real difference between them is that the Democratic Party is far better at public relations, or what the industry itself calls “image management.” Either way, you get war, a police state, the destruction of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil liberties, a war on democracy and a steady drive towards a kind of global neo-feudalism under corporate rule. There is no real choice between them. They represent the same interests – those of the global business elite – and their long term objectives are virtually indistinguishable. These are the unpleasant facts of the matter.

So long as the Obamaphiles continue to prop up this failed regime – this regime which has pushed forward the Bush/Cheney/neo-con agenda further than that giddy little George Junior ever likely dared to dream; and pushed further ahead with the same policies of imperial warfare abroad, and the destruction of democracy, the Constitution and civil liberties at home, with the continued drive towards a police state – until this regime of Obama/Wall Street/neo-cons in neo-liberal Democratic guise and disguise is ended and brought down, there will be no real change. Let’s be perfectly clear on that.

The real choice is not between two parties of corporate rule, but whether we, the people, will continue to play along with this losing game, this deal with the devil; or whether the people will rise and reclaim their power.

When, not if the people rise to reclaim their power and their future, the game will be over, for the people always hold the greater power. Mark my words. Of this you can be sure. And the tipping point is fast approaching.

Look at the fall of the Soviet Empire. When the crisis of legitimacy reached a tipping point, the final threshold, the people threw off the old empire like water shaken off a dog’s back, and the USSR and five other Communist regimes collapsed, virtually overnight.

The same is coming to the West. This empire will not last forever – this empire of neo-feudal global corporatism. But, it will be deadly in its destructiveness and in the suffering and misery it causes, so long as it continues. Therefore, let it be brought down swiftly and decisively, and now, by peaceful means, by the people rising to reclaim their power.

It is time.

We, the people, the other 99.99%, can and must challenge the ruling order, which is rapidly devolving into a kind of neo-feudal, global corporate rule. The people always have the greater power, but in order to exercise our power, we must first recognize and embrace it. We can start by inspiring and empowering ourselves and one another. We must also unite the people. United, the people will be victorious. Divided, they will continue to be subjugated, and they will be doomed to great and increasing sufferings and tyranny.

Empower, inspire and unite the people. The rest will follow naturally from there. Remember, all empires fall, sooner or later. This too shall pass. It is up to us to hasten the transition to a better world, and now.

J. Todd Ring, September 24, 2013

The struggle is not between left and right – it’s between democracy and corporatism

Posted in activism, AFA, AFC, alternative, alternatives, American Freedom Agenda, American Freedom Campaign, American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, civil liberties, class, collapse, common ground, consciousness, conservative, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, economic collapse, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, fascist, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, imperialism, inspiration, left, liberal, money, national democracies, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, Patrot Act, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, social theory, sovereignty, sustainability, the right, Uncategorized, war, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2011 by jtoddring

We must unite the people now, or the people and democracy both will lose

Not only are partisan loyalties and divisions increasingly irrelevant and out-moded, but divisions along ideological lines of left and right are also outmoded and largely obsolete. The major parties function as rubber-stamp agencies, spin doctors and propagandists for the same ruling corporate elite, as the majority of people are now very aware. Romney and Obama, the Republicans and the Democrats represent two wings of the same corporate-run machine. Obama’s record is clear. I cannot possibly support him. Handing billions to banking elites, pushing for immunity for banking elites, expanding war overseas, refusing to challenge the Patriot Act, supporting torture, renditions, the continued destruction of civil liberties…How much evil is too much to be considered acceptable as the lesser of two evils? He is not remotely supportable in good conscience. Supporting a lesser of two evils is no longer tenable or conscionable, if it ever was. But to return to the central point, partisan zealotry and ideological fixations hinder us, and obstruct the way forward. Likewise, ideological factions and ideological partisanship and divisions will only impede us from the task at hand. The task is to unite the people so that they can reclaim their democracy and their future. If we fail to understand this most crucial point, then we have lost before we have begun, and nothing of significance will be accomplished, save for the familiar chanting of “We’re in the right! You’re wrong! (Or evil, or stupid, etc.)” – while the world and our future continues to burn. On this most central point we must be perfectly clear, or we will see no change for the better, but only a continued accelerating slide into a dark age of neo-feudal corporatism, the complete and final destruction of democracy and human rights, further environmentally suicidal behaviour, and a two-tiered society of corporate rulers and pillaged underclass.

The wealthiest 1% of the population now controls more than 30% of the wealth of America – more than the bottom 50% of the people. The biggest six banks on Wall Street now control 60% of the wealth of the country. The people are being pillaged and looted. They must defend themselves and reclaim their future and their country.

We must stand now to reclaim our democracy. And standing we are. The central question now is not whether we are left or right, Democrats or Republicans, liberals, conservatives or progressives, but whether we are populist democrats, standing up for rule of the people, by the people, for the people, or whether we prefer a corporatocracy in which the richest 1% rules over the rest, and democracy and justice, the prosperity and well-being of the other 99%, the environment, human rights, our civil liberties and our future are systematically destroyed.

The old battle lines of right and left are no longer as relevant today as they once were. The primary struggle is not between right and left, but between the vast majority of the people who support and favour constitutional democracy, be they liberal, conservative or progressive, and the ruling corporate elite and super-rich one percent who have usurped far too much power, and have come to dominate the economy, the media and the political process. What is needed is for the people to reclaim their power and their democracy. In order for that to be achieved, it is absolutely necessary that the people unite.

Everyone who favours constitutional democracy over rule by the corporate elite, or any kind of elite, must unite now, in order that democracy can be reclaimed by the people. Once the people have reclaimed their democracy, then we can discuss and debate everything under the sun, democratically, and go from there. Until we have reclaimed our democracy from the corporate elite who now dominate economy, the media and the political process, the point is moot, for we are stone-walled.

If we wish for justice, for peace, for environmental sanity, for human rights and constitutionally protected civil liberties, or for prosperity and well-being for all, then we must above all, and before anything else, reclaim our democracy: and in order to do that, the people will have to unite.

What has been said before is entirely and extremely relevant now: “We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately. United we stand, divided we fall.” (Benjamin Franklin) If the people do not unite, they will be unable to reclaim their democracy from the corporate elite who have usurped it; and if the people do not reclaim their democracy, then there will be an even darker time ahead for the people and for the world. These are the simple facts which we now face.

It`s time for us to reclaim our democracy. Unite the people now.

JTR,
October 6, 2011

Reclaiming democracy for the common good – and for the survival and future of our children: the political economy of environmental sanity and democratic renewal

Posted in activism, AFA, AFC, alternative, alternatives, American Freedom Agenda, American Freedom Campaign, analysis, books, capitalism, Chomsky, class, climate change, common ground, consciousness, conservation, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, democratic deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, Eric Fromm, fascism, Feudalism, fossil fuel, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, imperialism, inspiration, money, must-read, national democracies, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, oil, peak oil, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, reading, renewable, resources, social theory, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by jtoddring

September 27, 2011, the Global Footprint Network declared as Earth Overshoot Day: the day that humans have used up all renewable resources available for the year. Not good. This obviously cannot continue. Limitless growth in material consumption and “production” clearly cannot be sustained on a finite planet. (We can have limitless growth in culture, the arts, science, the mind, spirituality and quality of life, but not in material production and consumption.) We are depleting our collective inheritance: which should rightfully be shared equitably, through democratic popular control of the commons to which we all share usafructory rights – despite our present unjust and unwise socio-economic, legal and cultural norms – as well as used wisely and compassionately, and not squandered. We are rapidly draining nature’s capital, to put it in crass economic terms, which are the only terms most politicians and pundits and corporate elites seem to understand. We are racing towards ecological bankruptcy at an ever-accelerating rate, and will see our children live as beggars in an ocean of toxic waste if we don’t change our course, and fast. Of course, most people – aside from the business and political elite – understand this by now. But awareness is not enough. It is high time for much more serious action.

“Climate change — human-made global warming — is happening.  It is already having noticeable impacts…. If we stay on with business as usual, the southern U.S. will become almost uninhabitable…. It is time for all of us to get Tea-Party-angry about what our political system has become and about the intergenerational injustice being perpetrated on young people.”
– NASA’s leading climatologist

Addressing the present and rapidly escalating environmental crisis which humanity undeniably faces will require more of us than a simple act of recycling or “buying green.” It will require, above all, a restoration and a renewal of democracy – a reclaiming of democracy from the ruling and highly pathological corporate elite. We must reclaim our democracy, or the earth will not be a habitable place for any human beings to live, in just a few short decades or less. If you want a future for humanity on this planet, reclaim your democracy now, or there will be none. This is the reality of our time. Let us do what needs to be done.

Why don’t we have a massive infusion of investment of public funds in clean, renewable energy? Because the big oil, gas and coal companies don’t want it: they are profiting from the status quo, they have a vested interest in the status quo, so the answer is an emphatic, “No.” If we shifted the subsidies that are presently given out to the oil, gas and coal giants, and put it into clean, renewable solar, wind, co-generation and geothermal energy instead, we would be making rapid progress, by leaps and bounds every year, not only in greening our energy and transportation systems and becoming a truly sustainable society, but also in terms of energy self-reliance, economic strength and job creation. But Exxon and company have our politicians by the, um, purse strings: and so they pull the strings, and we the people, as well as the earth, lose out.

Why are we the people being treated as guinea pigs while the earth is being treated as a laboratory, when hundreds of responsible scientists have warned that genetically engineered foods and crops pose serious and largely unforseeable dangers to human health and the environment, and that such practices are unethical, irresponsible, highly imprudent, highly reckless and highly dangerous? The majority of people are rightly wary about genetically modified food and crops, and are generally opposed to these: but the biotech giants have the clout in our political arenas; they pull the purse strings of our politicians, and so, what big money wants, big money gets –  democracy and the people be damned.

Why don’t we shift our tax system from taxing employment through payroll taxes, which works directly against job creation, and also shift the tax burden off of small and medium businesses, the poor and the middle class, and instead tax pollution, thus easing the burden on the majority of families and businesses while creating incentives to pollution reduction? We don’t have sane and effective, just and fair and environmentally sensible tax laws, because while this would benefit the great majority of the people, create jobs and economic vitality, help clean up the environment and steer us in the direction of true sustainability – while improving the quality of our air, soil, food and water and also strengthening small business – it is not what the corporate giants want: so again, it is a no go.

Why do we not have a smog tax for vehicles that get less than 30mpg, and a government rebate for vehicles that get better than 40mpg or have ultra-low or zero emmissions? Because this would require the auto industry and the car manufacturing giants to improve their standards, and worse, it would mean that the oil companies wouldn’t make their usual obscenely stratospheric profits. Big oil and big auto says no, so again, this is a no-go, and the politicians defer as usual to their masters.

Why do we have massive farm subsidies benefitting mainly the agribusiness,  petrochemical, biotech and junk food giants, and an escalating war on organic farming? As Richard Heinberg has said, petro-chemical industrial agriculture has been nothing short of an ecological catastrophy – it is utterly unsustainable. We need to shift to clean, healthy and sustainable organic agriculture en mass, and as rapidly as possible, just as we need to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and switch to clean, renewable energy. But do we see a shift in the multi-billion dollar subsidies anywhere on the horizon? No, we do not, and the reason we do not is that the current government policies benefit the petrochemical, biotech, agribusiness and processed food giants. Monsanto, MacDonalds, Nestle and Kraft are making a killing on the existing system, quite literally as well as figuratively, and if they say no, our political elites say, “Ok boss – whatever you say.” Poison the people and the planet, just don’t cut off my re-election financing.

Why was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gutted over the past decade? Because that is what big business wanted, and what big business wants, big business gets – at least unless and until we the people reclaim our democracy, and push back the vested interests of the corporate elite so that democracy can function, and not simply be a hollow shell run by and for the ruling business elite, with little more than a rubber stamp action on the part of the bought and paid for political elite.

It is not widely known, but it is a fact: when the tar sands are counted, and the exaggerated claims of the Saudi reserves are corrected for accuracy, Canada has the largest remaining oil reserves in the world. And while Canada is rapidly expanding its environmentally devastating oil extraction from the tar sands and plans for a new pipeline are being laid to suck the black gold from out under the people’s feet, and the oil companies are raking in many billions of dollars a year in profits, why is it that it is unspeakable and unthinkable to charge a fair and just price for the extraction by these companies in the form of royalty payments made to the Canadian people? When certain Scandinavian countries charge $8 a barrel in extraction fees, paid as royalties to the people of the land, and Canada charges less than a dollar a barrel – while massively subsidizing the already profitable oil giants – something is clearly awry. Why is it that a fair price for extraction of a public resource, a resource of the commons, a resource that belongs to the people, paid to the people in return for the very lucrative opportunity to carry off this national treasure to whomever will pay the highest price abroad, is an utterly inexpressible, unutterable thought, and nary a word is whispered of this most obvious and patently just and sensible notion by the political elite or the mass media? The answer is as clear as the profits are exorbitant: big oil dominates the capital and the political process, and none dare speak the truth that stares us daily in the face, let alone challenge the situation and right the wrong. Raising the extraction rates by seven dollars a barrel would still leave the oil companies with large, fat profits, although admitedly, the tar sands might be less lucrative, and possibly not feasible economically for some few years, until the price of oil rises further on the world stage, as it will. Such a modest and completely justified increase in extraction rates, as decided upon and enacted by a democratic government of the people, by the people, for the people, would flood the public coffers with funds, making ample money available for the development and creation of a clean and green, renewable energy and transportation system for the nation, as well as for social programs such as health care, education, day care and affordable housing. But while this should be an obvious and immediate step that is taken at once to bolster funding for a transition to a green and just society as well as the funding of much loved and overwhelmingly popular social programs, it is not even possible to mention the idea without immediately being excommunicated from the mainstream political discourse, raising the fevered ire of the corporate elite, and possibly risking a burning at the stake. Oil companies rule this fair and gentle land, and once again, the people and the earth be damned.

Why do we not have a massive and much-needed investment by governments in infrastructure, creating not just the groundwork and foundation for an ecological society, but truly enormous job creation and economic stimulus in the process, launching continent-wide energy-efficient light rail, mass transit networks and a clean, renewable solar-hydrogen infrastructure? California put in place the first leg of a hydrogen highway, at a cost of $100 million. For under $20 billion we could have a zero-emmission, clean, renewable solar-hydrogen fuel and transportation network that spans all of North America – this may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but it is just 10% of the annual cost of maintaining the imperial wars in the Middle East and North Africa. The money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone have now cost over $2.5 trillion. That is approximately 100 times the amount needed to build a zero-emmission, clean, renewable, energy self-reliant solar-hydrogen infrastructure for the entire continent of North America. The U.S. federal government has admitted that over $1.2 trillion goes missing every year into black ops – Congress is unable to trace it, but it is acknowledged. Get rid of the military-industrial complex and the CIA and there will be over $1.5 trillion a year for green infrastructure, environmental protection and remediation, and also funds to help the rapidly sinking great majority of the American people and create jobs through such green infrastructure projects. Why don’t we have an enormous and urgently needed green infrastructure program right now? Because vested interests oppose it – because the Wall St. kleptocrats and their political allies have pillaged the nation to the extent that the country is now on the brink of bankruptcy, and more importantly, because the corporate elite insist upon ongoing, astronomically expensive and murderous wars for oil and other natural resources, thus entailing an absolute paucity of funds for anything that matters in terms of ecological sanity or human well-being. Bringing the troops home and ending wars for oil and other natural resources would save more than enough to build a continent-wide clean and renewable, green transportation infrastructure, massively stimulating the economy and creating millions of jobs in the process – and it would still leave many hundreds of billions a year left over for funding schools, health care and other human needs. But we don’t have a green transportation infrastructure on the table, because this is not what the big oil, gas, coal, automotive and military-industrial giants want. Again, the people and the earth lose, because money rules over our politics, and not common sense, human decency, or environmental sensibility or even basic sanity.

Why do we still have millions of people dying and being killed in wars for oil and other minerals, bankrupting the country and draining off critically needed funds that could and should be used to create a green economy and infrastructure, employing millions of people in the process, and pulling the people out of a financial and economic tail-spin? Because the oil and military-industrial complex corporate giants want it this way, and the people and the earth can go to hell, as far as they are concerned – and because Wall St. dictates the policies of Washington, Ottawa, Paris and London. If we want a green economy, a full employment economy, a just economy, an end to poverty, an end to imperial wars, or a future for our children, we will have to wrest control over our democracy from the corporate elite that now dominate it and severely limit and constrain our policy choices.

Our financially dependent political elite are in the pockets of the oil, gas, coal, biotech, agribusiness, petrochemical and other corporate giants, so policies and programs that are good for the environment and for the people are just not on the table – regardless of whether they would be good for human well-being, regardless of whether they would stimulate the economy and create jobs, regardless if they are arguably necessary for human life to continue beyond the next couple of decades on this planet, and regardless of whether the majority of the people want them – which they do. The great majority of people now want stronger environmental policies, programs and legislation – as well as peace, social justice and meaningful democracy, human rights and civil liberties. The corporate giants do not, so the people get the shaft. This is not about being anti-business; it is about democratic control of our environmental policies and programs, our economy and the commons, for the benefit of all. Corporate influence is in the way. They are the barricade in the hall. They must be moved aside – and firmly if necessary.

You don’t have to be anti-business to be opposed to corporate rule, by the way: to be opposed to rule by corporate elites is simply to favour democracy; and frankly, to call it as it is: to oppose fascism. Corporatism, as Mussolini himself defined, is the merger of business with the state. Anyone who values freedom or democracy must therefore oppose corporatism: which is the unchecked power of business elites, and an empire of corporate dominance over all aspects of society, including the economy, politics, culture and the media. To be anti-corporatist is not to be anti-business: it is simply to understand that any form of unchecked power invariably leads to tyranny and the destruction of freedom; and therefore, to be opposed to such unchecked powers by any kind of elite.

You don’t have to be anti-business to oppose the take-over of democratic government by business elites – you simply have to be sane. You can be pro-business and anti-corporatist: and anyone who truly values democracy must, of logical and practical necessity, be anti-corporatist, regardless of their views on business. I am belabouring the point because the corporate-owned and dominated media repeatedly portray any kind of critique of unchecked corporate powers as leftist lunacy. Here is breaking news for anyone who still buys into this red-scare propaganda that lingers from the McCarthy era, like a can of rotting tuna stinking up the entire house and driving the people to nausea and revulsion: people on the right and the left and in the centre politically are, by an overwhelming majority, in favour of constitutional democracy, and opposed to any kind of dominance over the democratic political process by any kind of elite, including the now globally dominant business elite.

“America’s political classes would do well to listen to the grievances of those involved with Occupy Wall Street, for they undoubtedly represent a set of anxieties shared by a great deal of the population. The corporate take-over of the American political process has not gone unnoticed, neither has the disparity between continued Wall Street profits and the cuts to the welfare state. As unemployment continues at high numbers, resentment surely stirs among those whose lives are slowly being drained at the expense of the corporate state. Recently, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that there would be riots in the streets if Washington does not create more jobs, warning of an American Arab Spring.”
– Emily Manuel, In These Times

“There has been a corporate takeover of politics. You have something called ALEC—the American Legislative Exchange Council—where corporations literally will pay huge sums of money to get together with politicians, draft model legislation that is, then put across the US through state legislation, which is easier to pass than federal legislation.”
– Global Comment writer Anna Lekas Miller

Where once we had to wrest power from the church and the aristocracy who were overstepping their bounds, in order to secure democracy, human rights and freedom, we now must wrest power from an unwieldy and overbearing, frankly tyrannical and self-serving business elite – and everybody who is in the least way sane and rational, who is not neck-deep in denial and who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past fifty years, knows it.

Support for constitutional democracy and checks on corporate power, and the resultant or concomitant opposition to corporate rule, now cuts across the political spectrum. The people are no longer fooled by the red-scare tactics, nor by the broader corporate spin which seeks to mask the obvious: the emperor has no clothes, and everybody knows it – corporations have usurped democratic political powers, and are far over-stepping their proper bounds. Conservatives, liberals and progressives alike now understand this, and know this quite viscerally – and are rightly concerned and rapidly running out of patience in the face of an intolerable situation of corporate oligarchy that seeks limitless powers for itself, while undermining every human value and endangering our very survival on this earth.

We now have grassroots populist conservatives such as Ron Paul and Alex Jones, along with Texas Republicans and the Mainstreet Alliance of Small Business Owners saying the same thing as progressives and people on the left: corporations are out of control, pillaging the nation and the planet, threatening democracy and running rampant – and they need to be reigned in; the people must reclaim their democracy. It is clear now that what I had called for four years ago, which is a coalition of the grassroots, a new union of the people to restore democracy, is not only feasible – it is being born. And that is precisely what we need now.

The reality, which virtually everyone knows, is that the democratic governments of the world are now in hoc, in debt, in dependency and in servitude to a globally dominant international business elite; and virtually all of the major political parties are now the servile lackeys to the ruling corporate empire. Meanwhile, the people increasingly see through this whole pathetic charade, and are becoming quite fed up with it.

You don’t have to lean toward the left politically to be opposed to corporate rule: and at the level of the grassroots, people from the right and the left, conservatives, liberals and progressives, are now beyond wary of unchecked corporate powers – and wish to see democracy reclaimed by the people. What is needed now is a coalition of all those who favour democracy over corporate empire and corporate rule. This is beginning to emerge, and none too soon.

The suicidal kleptocracy of our presently reigning global order of neo-feudal corporatism must end – and now, before we extinguish ourselves from this small and beautiful, fragile, little blue planet. Democracy must be restored: and with power returned to the people, where it rightfully belongs, the commons can once again be protected and shared, wisely and judiciously, for the benefit of all.

If we wish for survival, for a future worth living, or for any future for our children and the children of the earth, then it is absolutely necessary that democracy be reclaimed by the people. This is the most urgent necessity of the time. If Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Voltaire were alive today, they most assuredly would be urging it. We should heed their call, the call of their distant but ever-near voices of reason and common sense, and reclaim our power. Restore democracy now. Bring the power back to the people, and let us begin again.

Let it begin. The great turning is here. A new renaissance is being born. Let us work together to bring about a better future and a better world for all. The power is in our hands. We must simply own it, and acknowledge that it is ours.

We have run out of time for idle chit-chat, partisan zealotry and pleasant euphemisms, for polite evasiveness and meek avoidance of the realities that we face. Let us now renew and reclaim our democracy: and we shall in the process, and by this means only, renew and reclaim the commons, for the common good of all. It is this, or it is a dark age ahead – make no mistake. Make your choice wisely. Our future, and our children’s future, depend upon the choices we make now.

Be bold I say, and let us reclaim our future, and the future of humanity – if not for ourselves, then most certainly and assuredly, for the sake of the children of this earth. Their lives and their future cannot be written off, even if we are willing to write off our own. Act now.

“The other superpower” is beginning to stir: humanity is beginning to awake. And nothing, no reactionary force, can stop the rising tide of an awakened humanity. The future is in our hands. I urge all of us now to embrace that power, and to act together to reclaim our future and our world, by first reclaiming our democracy and our power.

Unite now, and let us restore democracy to its proper place – in the hands of the people. Our future and our children’s future hangs in the balance. Let us not hesitate now – we cannot afford to do so. Let us begin, or begin again with renewed energy and a deepened commitment: for we shall succeed, and humanity shall have a new day.

I would like to end this conversation, which I hope will be only the beginning of an ongoing conversation, and more importantly, the basis of strong, bold and dedicated collective action, with one of my favourite quotations, which seems ever-fitting – and especially so now:

“There is more day yet to dawn.
The sun is but a morning star.”
– Henry David Thoreau

And a second, which is equally powerful, equally apt, and equally appropriate to our time:

“It is within our power now to begin the world anew.”
– Thomas Paine

And one last quote: one that is oft-used, and yet profoundly underappreciated – and also extremely relevant to our time and to the task at hand:

“We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately….
United we stand, divided we fall.”
– Benjamin Franklin

As Arundhati Roy so eloquently and beautifully put it, another world is not only possible: she is already being born. Go now – reflect, read, ponder and discuss: then let us act together to bring in a new day and a new dawn for humanity and this earth. I urge you, act now. It is not too late, and what we do or fail to do now, will decide our future, and the future of humanity.

Above all, unite the people to reclaim their democracy. This is the most pivotal and most urgent of tasks at hand. Unite now, and let democracy reign!

The people will reclaim their power. It has already begun. The writing is on the wall. The corporate empire – the last of a series of empires that have risen and fallen through the past five thousand years of history, the clay feet that David spoke of – is teetering and about to fall. It is a wounded and dying, and still yet a dangerous beast, to be sure, but this latest of empires is now crumbling – even while it flails madly in its death throes to preserve its life and maintain its power, and flaunts its power with brazen disregard and sheer contempt for humanity, democracy and life on earth. Its legitimacy is destroyed, by its own acts of malfeasance and abuse of power; and it is only a matter of time before its final demise. The people should see and clearly recognize the opportunity, and reclaim their power and their democracy now.

Rise now and unite. It is time for the full flowering of democracy, and the healing of this fair earth and all our communities. Unite! And let us take back our democracy, for the benefit of all, and for the future of all life on earth, including our own children, and our children’s children. Act now. The time has come for a new dawn.

JTR,
September 28, 2011

 

See Daly and Cobb, For the Common Good, as a prime example of economics that are not insane.

See also:

The Corporation – Joel Bakan (Canadian constitutional lawyer)

Power To the People (In Suits) – Paul Bigioni on Z Net

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

Power Down – Richard Heinberg

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

The Poverty of Affluence – Paul Watchel

Small Is Beautiful- E. F. Schumacher

Year 501 – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions – Noam Chomsky

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

Global Showdown – Maude Barlow

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude – Etienne De La Boittee

The Great Turning – David C. Korten

Links: videos, films, books and articles

Leading trend analyst Gerald Celente on economic crisis, plunder, corporate fascism and the emerging renaissance – YouTube

NASA’s Hansen: “If We Stay on With Business as Usual, the Southern U.S. Will Become Almost Uninhabitable.” | ThinkProgress

Power to the People (In Suits) How a whole new kind of business lobby is a threat to democracy by Paul Bigioni

Fears of a corporate police state – David Sirota – Salon.com

Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics

Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal

Main Street Alliance Open Letter To Obama On Jobs

It’s Time to Unstack the Money in Politics Deck

Three Things That Must Happen for Us to Rise Up and Defeat the Corporatocracy | Truthout

Occupy Wall Street: Creating Political Change? — In These Times

Big Ideas That Changed The World : DemocracyTony Benn

Talk – David Korten – The Great Turning – YouTube

Joanna Macy on The Great Turning – YouTube

The Corporation (complete, chapters 1 to 23) – YouTube

Life and Debt [HQ Full Movie] – YouTube

The Yes Men – Trailer – YouTube

The Secret Government: The Constitution In Crisis (1 of 9) – YouTube

The Shock Doctrine (2009) — Naomi Klein – YouTube – full length film

“The End of America” Full Length HQ Film – YouTube

Jared DiamondCollapse! part 1 – YouTube

Amazon.com: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (9780743247443): Joel Bakan: Books

The Corporation Film: About the Book

Orwell Rolls in his Grave (Full 3HR Documentary) – YouTube
Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Mass Media – 1/17 – YouTube
Confronting the Empire, by Noam Chomsky (Talk delivered at the III World Social Forum)
The Take – Trailer – YouTube
The Take (La Toma) English subtitles (1/9) – YouTube
The Project Gutenberg eBook – On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

#Science Earth’s Annual Resources Used Up Today, Group Says bit.ly/n8flsq

Amazon.com: For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (9780807047057): Herman E. Daly, John B. Cobb Jr.: Books

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