Archive for corporate rule

Obama’s Vision and Legacy: A retrospective look at the Obama presidency – before we lose all sight of recent history, as our culture is wont to do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by jtoddring

 

Here are three short articles which I wrote between 2011 and 2015 which sum up the Obama presidency, and the Obama vision and legacy. We should remember, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let us review now the torturous two terms of “Mister Hope and Change” – the man who escalated and consolidated the Bush-Cheney program of intensified imperial warfare abroad, and the building of a police state at home – and all with a smiling face, and lofty, pious speeches proclaiming noble, lofty things.

I must say, as an aside, that the following articles were written and posted as comments, via Discus, to certain “alternative media” sources; and they present a scathing, and justifiably, fact-based, and much-needed, scathing critique of the alternative media.

In short, the alternative media, so called, and with only a handful of exceptions, provided a gloss to Obama’s presidency, and lent cover to his high crimes and his war crimes, for the first seven years of his presidency. Only recently has a sliver of critical commentary about the Obama administration begun to flow out of these generally hollowly pretentious “news” sources.

And secondly, almost all of them failed completely with regards to honest and thoughtful reporting on the crisis in Ukraine, and instead of serious journalism, simply mouthed the standard narrative, and gave further life and credibility to the lies and propaganda that the mainstream media routinely present as “the news”.

So in short, the alternative media failed utterly and completely, with only rare exceptions on the part of a few writers and a few websites, in regards to two of the biggest geopolitical subjects of the past decade: the US presidency under Obama, and its global and domestic implications; and the growing US-Russian cold war.

Having said that, and having lost most of my trust and confidence in these media sources, The Real News Network has seriously upped its game, and I would say, from what I have seen, that it is now one of the best sources of news and analysis in the Western world.

So there is hope for the alternative media. They simply have to have the courage to admit when they were wrong, and to stand up, and speak the truth, regardless of how popular or unpopular the truth may be.

And it is also helpful here for us to remember – and not just the alternative media, but also the broader public, who were, by and large, also duped by Mister Hope and Change – the words of Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Let us be willing to admit when we were mistaken, and learn from our mistakes, and let us learn from our history, before we are doomed to repeat it yet again.

*

We should also note that Obama’s legacy includes, not only expanded imperial wars overseas, and an accelerated pace of the Bush-Cheney project of turning America into a police state, but also under Obama, we saw the crash of 2008, from which the US and the world in general have yet to recover. (See Paul Craig Roberts: There Was No Recovery, and There Will Be No Recovery.)

The warm and fuzzy propaganda and spin continues to stream out of the White House and the corporate media, telling us everything is rosy, but the figures speak for themselves, and tell a different story. The middle class is being driven under and is sinking, and shrinking, and as a result, consumer spending is crashing, which means that the global economy continues to sink. It’s not rocket science. A 10 year old could understand it. It just requires a willingness to deal with the facts, and that seems rare these days.

The middle class is being wiped out, while poverty and inequality soar, and only the rich are doing well – extremely well, in fact. This is another part of Obama’s legacy – he presided over the continued and accelerating process of the rich devouring the poor, the middle class and the world. And most critically, he acted as the lead PR man to cover over and hide what is really going on, and tell us that everything is fine, while the people and the planet continue to be eaten alive. I think he should sell snake oil. It would be a more honest job.

“In order to have a thriving middle class, we need good paying middle class jobs.  Unfortunately, our economy has been bleeding those kinds of jobs quite rapidly.  For example, Halliburton just announced that it is eliminating 5,000 more jobs after getting rid of 4,000 workers at the end of last year.

During the Obama years, good paying middle class jobs have been getting replaced by low paying service jobs.  At this point, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

And there is no way that you can support a middle class family with children on $30,000 a year.

We have an economy that is in the process of failing.  We can see it in the explosion of subprime auto loans that are going bad, we can see it in the hundreds of retail stores that are shutting down, and we can see it in the tens of thousands of good paying energy jobs that are being lost.

During the Obama years, interest rates have been pushed to the floor, the Federal Reserve has created trillions of dollars out of thin air, and the size of our national debt is getting close to doubling.  Despite all of those desperate measures, our economy continues to crumble.”

– Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores
By Michael Snyder, February 25, 2016

Hallelujah. Praise be to the profits.

And let them eat cake.

JTR,
February 25, 2016

 

Obama’s brilliantly successful, and disastrous vision

A recent article by Andrew Bacevitch
which was published by Moyers and Company laments that Obama has
failed to accomplish anything of substance since taking office. This
is not true. Obama has continue the Bush-Cheney war on democracy,
freedom, civil liberties, human rights, the Bill of Rights and
Constitution at home, while carrying on with the noble work begun by
the Bush administration of creating a police state in America; thus,
hopefully, securing the wealth and power of the elite at the expense
of the great suffering and diminished wealth, security, dignity,
rights and freedom of the other 99% of the population. So yes, Obama
has accomplished a great deal. He simply accomplished all the wrong
things. And he did so, because he was working for the wrong people.
He has been working for Wall Street since the beginning. The people
simply failed to see it.

The article is excellent, but for this
point, and one other important point. The author states that Obama
has no foreign policy vision, and never did. That is untrue.

Obama inherited and fully embraced the
foreign policy vision of the neocon Project for a New American
Century and the Bush-Cheney cabal: that is, intensified imperial
warfare abroad for the sake of maintaining global hegemony in a time
of an empire in rapid decline – and, of course, for the ever-present
ultimate objective, which is ever higher corporate profits and wealth
for the super-rich, ruling elite.

So Obama has a vision – it’s just not a
vision which accords with the great majority of Americans, or people
anywhere in the world. But it is a vision which is favoured, and
fiercely, rabidly, aggressively pursued, by the foreign and domestic
elite who rule over Washington and decide its policy choices and
agenda.

Has Obama’s vision succeeded? Well, the
rich are richer, aren’t they? Corporate profits are high. Trillions
of dollars have flowed from Main Street to Wall Street, via the US
government and the US Treasury. And the billionaire class now has an
even more formidable military-industrial-security complex, and police
state apparatus, with which to protect itself from the rabble. Obama
has succeeded brilliantly, at least for the moment – he simply had
the wrong vision: and for that, we should all lament deeply. The
people were duped.

J. Todd Ring,

February 7, 2015

Discussion on Chris Floyd – Empire Burlesque 26 comments

 

And here is my response to another article from the “alternative media” which also helped to give Obama a fresh gloss and a patina of legitimacy:

New Obama Campaign Commercial Is BRUTAL!

prajnaseek

prajnaseek 4 years ago (2012)

The amazing shelf-life of Obamamania:

Half rotted, to say the least; made as appealing as possible by a dedicated PR
machine;
and now highly distasteful to a growing majority –
yet still being hocked by “progressive” media outlets nation-wide.
What gives?!

I am increasingly amazed that otherwise thoughtful, well-informed and
intelligent individuals and media outlets such as AlterNet, who seem to have
both brains and integrity, continue to support Obama. Do we have to recount his
record of actions over and over again? He presented himself – with the aid of a
powerful, multi-million dollar PR machine – as a populist, a democrat, a man of
peace, and a man of the people. I warned people before he was elected in 2008 that he
was none of the above, but merely another shill for Wall Street. His actions since
his election have proven this is in fact the case, and proven it abundantly, beyond
any shadow of a doubt. Shall we at least glance at the record? Do the facts
matter, or are we utterly swayed and won over – deluded – by the mesmerizing
powers of rhetoric, spin and pretty speeches? Do the facts matter or not?

A populist? Obama was put into office through the major backing of Wall Street,
then of course, returned the favour – “donations” from the reigning
plutocratic elite do not come free, nor without strings attached, as David
Sirota said of Obama and his backers: returned the favour by stacking his
government with his Wall Street buddies, and then handed over hundreds of
billions of tax payer dollars to his Wall Street banker friends, as part of the
greatest mass transfer of wealth from the American people to the financial
elite in history. To cap it all off, he aggressively pushed for legislation
that would permanently make his Wall Street criminal friends immune from any
future prosecution or legal action. (See Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibi for an
honest accounting of Obama.) Populist? No, Obama is Wall Street’s man – or one
of them. He is no friend of the people.

Democrat? Obama voted twice for the Constitution-, Bill of Rights- and
civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act; the second time, voting to make 14 of
its provisions permanent. He has done nothing to overturn the quite literally –
by any legal definition – fascist legislation brought in by Bush, and has in
fact greatly extended and increased it. The Military Commissions Act has not
been overturned, and Obama has not even attempted to do so, and this act alone
defines the United States now, in strict legal terms, as a fascist nation. (See
Keith Olbermann on the Military Commissions Act, for an honest and unflinching
assessment – and remember, Obama has continued to support it since Bush left office.)
Under the NDAA, which Obama also signed, the President, or Chief Executive
Officer on hire to the ruling financial elite who own the country, can now
imprison anyone indefinitely, and has sweeping unchecked powers beyond that,
including execution or assassination without trial. (Obama even brags of his
ability to kill anyone with his fleet of killer drones.) These legal undoings
of constitutional democracy, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil
liberties, along with the extreme and unchecked powers now aggregated to the
executive, by any reasonable or legal definition constitute fascism, and Obama
has supported and furthered this slow strangulation of democracy, freedom and
civil liberties, every step of the way. He has defended the use of
“extraordinary rendition,” CIA black sites, torture and
disappearances, systemic wire-tapping and a global surveillance state. To call
this man a democrat would be the most insane, or else Orwellian statement
possible. He is a crypto-fascist in populist liberal democratic disguise – and
the disguise is so thin by now that only the wilfully blind cannot yet see
through it.

Peace-lover? Obama made rosy speeches about vague sentiments and even more
vague goals, such as “hope” and “change,” but as the New
York Times said before his election, it was hardly likely he would change
anything in terms of foreign policy, and his foreign policy is, as the Times
predicted, virtually indistinguishable from that of Bush. In fact, his foreign
policy record has been worse than Bush’s, as Chomsky and others have pointed
out. He positioned himself as a man of peace, and then went on to expand the
wars in the Middle East, and to launch new wars in Northern Africa. He is now
sabre-rattling with relation to Iran, and gearing up the propaganda and
rhetoric for an attack on Iran, which would be utterly insane, as well as a war
crime under international law, since Iran is in a military and economic
alliance with China and Russia, two nuclear super-powers, and hence, attacking
Iran literally risks the start of WWIII. Anyone who would attack Iran under
such circumstances must therefore be certifiably insane, as well as criminally
negligent in the highest magnitude describable. But even aside from the
question of Iran, Obama is already, and again, quite literally, guilty of war
crimes, by strict definition of international law, and crimes against humanity,
as well as guilty of simply expanding and perpetuating the obscene and
bankrupting wars of empire, and continuing the multi-decade policy of
subservience and service towards the military-industrial complex. This is no
man of peace. This man is owned almost as much by the industrial-military
complex and the war-profiteers as by Wall Street.

So why are there still articles on AlterNet and other seemingly, and often
genuinely intelligent media outlets, coddling and massaging Obama’s image and
PR face, if not outright supporting him? If someone at AlterNet cares to
answer, I would love to hear the response.

It is 1931 Germany in the USA, as I have been saying for
some time, as a growing minority and possibly by now a majority of Americans
are aware, and as your better writers and commentators have also noted. Why
then does anyone still pretend that Obama is anything but a crypto-fascist
puppet on hire to the ruling corporate and financial elite? Why?!

Enough! End this nonsense now, and let’s get on with real
change, and the healing of this world.

Hope and change will come from the people. The leaders –
so-called – of both major parties have betrayed the people. Let’s face the
facts, and get on with it. Lead yourself, people. It’s time for a revolution.

J. Todd Ring
(prajnaseek on Twitter)

P.S.: AlterNet editors: If you wish to retain any
credibility as a progressive, or even an independent media outlet, then strip
out the references to AlterNet here – I don’t wish to single out AlterNet,
which is excellent in other regards, since the problem is widespread in the “progressive”
media – and publish this article. You
can contact me via Twitter to let me know your response. If it is silence, then
I will know where you stand: and if that is the case, as I hope it will not be,
then I must conclude that either you are blinkered partisan zealots, or else
are owned by the same plutocratic and oligarchic forces who own Obama. I am
sorry to put the matter so bluntly, but democracy in America is being drowned,
and Obama has been, and continues to this day, to be an active and willing
accomplice in that most heinous and grotesque of crimes. The time has long
passed for the mincing of words. I await your response. Please exercise courage
and thoughtfulness. It would be a shame to see your legitimacy and your aid die
along with all former hopes for Mister Hope and Change.

 

And one last response to yet another “alternative media” gloss of Obama:

The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power | News & Politics

prajnaseek

prajnaseek mmckinl 5 years ago (2011)

Well put – straight to the point. Here is my response to Parry’s “critique.”

Obama:pseudo-populist, crypto-fascist, corporatist, globalist

A rebuttal to Robert Parry’s glowingly pro-Democrat, slavishly partisan diatribe

Nice story line – for a fantasy novel… Excellent analysis, and totally one-sided: can anyone think critically about both wings of the party of the corporate elite – the Democrats and the Republicans? Some few can, but it seems rare.

Robert Parry’s article, “The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power” is a fair enough analysis of the Republican party machine, but it breathes not a peep of criticism of the Democratic party apparatchiks or the Obama administration, and expresses not even a whisper of critical thought with regard to the latter. We are forced to conclude that either he is a completely blinkered partisan, or else a willing tool of the ruling elite, playing the same old game of divide and conquer in order to maintain the hegemony of the ruling class. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume for the moment that his highly counter-productive “critique,” which further divides the people, thus thwarting any possibility of real change, is a product of his being simply out to lunch.

“Pseudo-populist?” What do you think Obama is? He’s also pseudo-democratic, pseudo-progressive, pseudo-anti-war , pseudo-pro-civil liberties and pseudo-constitutional, in case anybody still hadn’t noticed. He’s expanded war in the Middle East, stood up for CIA “extraordinary renditions” and torture, failed utterly to even attempt to repeal the literally fascist and
completely unconstitutional Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, and instead
continued to support them, to name but a few points showing him to be anything
but a democrat – and he backed the biggest transfer of wealth in history from
ordinary people to the super-rich with the Wall St. banker “bail-out.”

Spell it out: this is by definition a crypto-fascist corporatist. (As Mussolini himself defined fascism, it is the merger of the powers of big business with the powers of the state: it is corporatism.) Just
how thick does anyone have to be to still think that Obama is a democrat, a populist, a man of the people, an anti-war activist, or anything other than a whore to the military-industrial complex, the Wall St. Banking elite, and the global corporate empire? Please! This is getting rather tiring.

Nearly 60% of Americans now believe Obama should not be re-elected. Also fortunately, the majority of Americans have also lost faith in the Republican establishment as well. Fortunately, the Republican establishment destroyed its credibility with most Americans under the Bush
administration, and the Democratic (sic) establishment has destroyed its credibility with the majority of the people since taking power in Congress and the White House.

Fortunately, such wilful ignorance – of believing that either the Republicans or the Democrats are the saviours of the nation, or even the friends or allies of the people – is waning in the land. There are a few Democrats and Republicans with integrity, such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, but the two big party machines are, by all indications of an overwhelming body of evidence, bought and owned, and run by and for, the corporate elite. Of course there are rival factions among the ruling elite, but the fact is that they share a highly similar corporate agenda – “the vile maxim of the masters,” as Adam Smith called it: “all for us, none for anybody else.”

The hard reality in the United States today is that it is a one-party state: a corporatocracy run by the super-rich and the corporate and banking elite, with the nearly complete complicity and eager
servitude of both wings of the party of the corporate police state. The polls have been showing for some time that there is a deep and growing popular awareness of this fact. The crisis of legitimacy is now nearing critical mass, and will quite likely explode into revolution within a short period of time, as the CIA has also predicted.

Unfortunately, if it is a violent uprising, the ruling elite will use this as a justification for repression, and to dispense with every last remnant of democracy, freedom, human rights and civil liberties. If this happens, the Corporate Police State will have arrived in full, hideous flowering.

People are beginning to realize more and more that the corporatocracy rules both major political parties in the U.S. Real change will happen when more people drop the stunned state of denial, and face the undeniable and overwhelming evidence of this fact. When will this happen? Sooner
than one might think.

Let us hope that awareness grows quickly, the people unite in defence of their country and future against a very Machiavellian corporatist order, and the response of the people is along the lines of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, and not unthinking violent reaction.

The future is in our hands. Clarity of mind is the first step to securing a better future however. We must first know where we stand. The battle line is not between Republicans and Democrats, it is between those who value constitutional democracy, justice and freedom – true (small d, small r) democrats and republicans – and an entrenched and power hungry elite who wish for unchecked and unfettered power and hegemony over all. In short, the people must unite, or we are lost. Build bridges now, or kiss your country and your freedom goodbye.

J. Todd Ring,
June 10, 2011

Prospects for America: Sanders vs Civil War

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2016 by jtoddring

(And that is not a threat, of course, but a prediction)

An analysis of the present state and future prospects of the nation

~

An open letter in response to Daily Kos,

and to anyone concerned with either justice, or peace

The article I recently wrote and published on Daily Kos, Prognosis for America: Sanders or Civil War, (January 26, 2016) seemed to cause quite a stir, and quite a backlash. I will repeat again, to clarify, that I merely made a prediction, based on sound evidence, and what are, to me, obvious and undeniable facts.

What I said was that the US now has such extreme and growing levels of inequality and internal divisions, that tensions are high and mounting, and that if real positive social change is not soon forthcoming, the country is at serious risk of descending into a nightmare of civil war.

This may be shocking to some, but anyone who is paying attention to what is going on should not be shocked in the least. These things should be obvious. Even members of the corporate elite are warning of it. They too are afraid that the country could explode into civil war.

And they should be afraid. Civil war is a horror which any sane person should wish to avoid. But it is heading for the US, I believe, if real change continues to be blocked, and long-standing and legitimate grievances among the people are not addressed.

I clearly did not, and do not advocate civil war, but urged that it be recognized as a serious risk, and that it be averted. I clearly did not say that either Bernie Sanders or his supporters are going to launch a civil war – something that should not need be said.

What I said was that the popular movement that is now coalescing around Bernie Sanders’ Presidential candidacy represents the only serious hope for real social change on the present horizon, and if that route to change is blocked, or does not bear fruit, then the country could be in real danger, due to its own unaddressed and growing internal tensions.

To repeat, I believe the tensions within the United States have reached such a high degree, that only three options present themselves.

One is revolution – and I am speaking here of the kind of revolution that Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. would launch or advocate: bold, passionate, determined, but strictly non-violent. That is the most intelligent option for the American people at present, I would say, given the circumstances, and given the fact that the corporate elite and the billionaire class of de facto oligarchs have taken over the political process, the government, the economy, most of the media, and the nation in general.

That is the response which I have been passionately urging for a long time now. But, unfortunately, I do not see evidence to believe that the American people are ready for it yet. So that option, at the present moment, appears to be closed. Things could change quickly, but for the time being, I do not think that revolution, at least in the near term, is something we should count on.

The second option is reform. And by reform, I do not mean pretty speeches that lead to no real change. Nor do I mean merely changing the window dressings. I mean real social change that comes about by political, economic and social reforms, such as bringing about serious election financing laws, invoking serious anti-trust legislation to break up the big banks and other corporate cartels and oligopolies, removing big money from politics, and returning power to the people, and thereby, at the same time, restoring some greater degree of equality and justice in the land.

There are many people, many movements, and many organizations working to accomplish such goals, but again, at present, the only serious hope for accomplishing such mild, moderate, but extremely important and urgently needed reforms in the short term, in any way that is at all commensurate with the scale of changes needed, is with the movement surrounding Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton is not going to do these things. That is perfectly clear, or at least it should be. Hillary is owned by Wall Street, to put it frankly and most bluntly. And nor do I see any other person or any other movement that at present has enough popular backing and popular power to have any hope, at least in the near term, of accomplishing these goals, other than the movement surrounding Bernie Sanders.

I do think the Green Party and also the Occupy movement, along with the co-op movement, the re-localization movement, and other popular movements for social change, show great promise; but they still do not have the necessary support of a wide enough or impassioned enough popular backing to create the necessary changes of the necessary magnitude – not yet. Maybe they will soon, and I hope they do, but at present, Bernie Sanders and the movement that is building around his leadership, is our best, and probably only hope, for real, substantial change in the short term.

The third option for the United States is to continue on its present course, without revolution, and without any serious reform, or any real change. That option will, I guarantee you, lead to disaster.

So yes, I stand by my premise and my prediction, which is, that if serious change does not occur very soon in the US, either by revolution or by reform – and Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the popular movement surrounding it, being the only real hope for serious reform at present – then the US faces a very real and growing risk of descending, or even exploding, into civil war.

*

Sometimes uncomfortable truths must be spoken. Sometimes controversial statements must be made. In 2001, it was controversial to say that invading, bombing or otherwise attacking Afghanistan or Iraq, would be morally unconscionable, a violation of international law, a war crime, and furthermore, a disaster. But these were the facts of the matter, and they had to be said, whether or not the speaking of the truth made a great many people uncomfortable. And of course, it turned out that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were all of these things, and they were a disaster in moral, fiscal and human terms.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote his landmark essay, On Civil Disobedience, in the 1830’s, it was controversial to say that slavery was an abomination, and one which must be abolished. But these controversial statements, of course, had to be made, whether they were viewed by some as controversial or not.

And and ever since that short, great essay of truly monumental import and significance, and still to this day, it has been and continues to be controversial to say that there are times when the law must be broken and civil disobedience becomes a moral obligation, because both the law as well as the norm, are in not only in the wrong, but further, it is unconscionable to obey them. And yet, it is vitally necessary that we speak such controversial thoughts, and demand that laws and norms which are unethical in the extreme be disobeyed, and civil disobedience be undertaken as a matter of moral principle.

During the Suffragette Movement, it was controversial to say that women deserved the right to vote. But it had to be said, and today most people would agree that it had to be said, and said with passion, until the message was heard and acted upon.

During the Civil Rights Movement, especially at the early stages of it, it was controversial to say that racial segregation was morally repugnant, as well as socially divisive and destabilizing, and therefore had to be overturned and abolished. But these things had to be said in any case – even if they were controversial, and even if there was a violent backlash against such statements of simple truth.

From the birth of the environmental movement, in the 1950’s and ’60’s, until the present, and especially in the early stages of the movement, it was controversial, and to many people it remains controversial, to say that human beings are affecting the earth, and all life on it, in disastrous as well as highly unethical ways. And yet, these truths needed to be spoken, and still need to be spoken today, be they controversial or not.

The movement to end racial discrimination and racially-based police violence – a movement which has long and deep roots, but which is now coming to a greater prominence – has extremely important things to say, but much of what it has to say is viewed as controversial by many people. And yet, these things must simply be said, whether or not they make some people uncomfortable.

And in the present moment, the same is true with regards to my warning that the US is in serious danger of descending into civil war. It makes people uncomfortable to say such things. It is controversial, perhaps, to some minds at least, to say such things. But it is an uncomfortable truth which must be spoken nevertheless.

Believe me, a warning is much less discomforting than a full-scale disaster – and that is what we are facing, hurtling towards us at 100 miles an hour, if we do not make major changes, and now.

“… an open society may also be threatened. … from excessive individualism.

Too much competition and too little cooperation can cause intolerable inequities and instability. …

The present situation is comparable to that at the turn of the past century. …Yet the free-market regime that prevailed a hundred years ago was destroyed by the First World War. …

How much more likely the present regime is to break down unless we learn from experience!”

– Toward a Global Open Society, by George Soros

Atlantic Monthly, January 1998

As the Dalai Lama said, “If the poor become too envious and too frustrated, the frustration turns into anger, and that anger turns into violence.” Again, this should be obvious to all. We are headed for disaster if we do not address the rising levels of poverty and inequality in our society, and in the world more broadly, and very, very soon. These are the simple facts of the matter, whether we like it or not.

*

I like what my favourite monk had to say about writing, and it is relevant here.

“If you’re afraid of writing something that might offend someone,

why write anything at all?”

– Thomas Merton

And by the way, simply because someone says something that is controversial, does not mean they are “trolling” for a fight. They may be simply saying something that is controversial, but which needs to be said.

I despise bickering, quarrelling, rancour, and especially, thoughtless divisiveness – which the popular internet expression, “troll” represents: a term that is often justly used, but at other times, frequently thrown about in a thoughtless or reactionary manner, in which case it has the effect, either intended or unintended, of deterring and thwarting any serious discussion, or expression controversial statements or views diverge from the standard media-driven narrative.

It was not “trolling” for a fight to simply speak my mind, but merely a moral obligation, to me, in the face of such extreme injustice, human suffering, and great dangers facing the people. Smarmy and smug, sardonic comments are not helpful to our discussion, nor to the people of the United States or the world. Hurling accusations of “troll”, at least in this case, simply shows that the attacker has no intelligent argument to bring to bear, but must instead resort to hurling insults. Let us try to rise above that.

If we want to look at controversial statements that could be labelled as “trolling” – and mislabelled as trolling, since they were simply sincere statements, representing an attempt to spark thoughtful reflection and discussion, here are a few by some truly great Americans which we would do well to consider. Compared to these statements, the statements I made in the above essay were very mild indeed.

“The First Law of Journalism: to confirm existing prejudice, rather than contradict it.”

– Alexander Cockburn

“I sometimes despair of getting anything accomplished by the help of my fellow men. Their minds would first have to be placed in a kind of powerful vice, to squeeze their old ideas out of them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, every US president since WWII would be hanged.”

– Noam Chomsky

“Today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that

takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government

owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

– Teddy Roosevelt

“I hope we shall crush the new moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for it already bids defiance to our laws, and bids a contest of strength with our democratic government.”

– Thomas Jefferson, 1812 (Note that he said this in 1812!)

Let us try to keep things in perspective. Not everything can be sugar coated, dumbed down, skirted or perennially avoided. Sometimes we have to speak the frank and honest truth, even if it is painful to hear, or to say.

Nor do I find my predictions for, or analysis of, the United States, to be hyperbole of any sort. I think it is quite shocking – or it would be shocking, if I did not know that many people are deeply steeped in denial – that the statements I made would shock anyone. Have a great number of people been living under a rock for the past three decades? Apparently so. The United States is not what it used to be, and it is in great danger – from its own internal divisions, above all, as well as from the corporate elite who are rapidly devouring it, along with the world, the middle class and the poor.

If stating obvious truths, or simply making controversial statements, makes some people uncomfortable, and perhaps very upset, I am willing to live with that. That goes with the territory.

But if stating obvious truths, or even simply making controversial statements, gets me banned from Daily Kos, then this journal, this forum, has some serious problems with freedom of speech and openness to diverse and thoughtful discussion – and that is quite dismal.

I suspect that the problem here, with regard to Daily Kos banning me on my first day as a member – maybe a new record – was simple partisan politics: Daily Kos is by an large a dyed in the wool and staunch supporter of the Democratic Party establishment, from what I can see, although there is some dissent within the broader forum. Hillary is the anointed candidate of the Democratic Party establishment. Any serious challenge to the Democratic Party’s chosen candidate by more genuinely democratic political movements or voices, are frowned upon, at the least, and possibly even banished from Daily Kos, as has apparently happened before. But that is beside the point. The editorial actions of Daily Kos remain a gross violation of the principles of free speech and free and open debate, and as such, are repugnant, no matter what the motivation or rationalization may have been.

In fact, if the editors at Daily Kos are going to ban me from this forum, which they did, and they have yet to rescind or reverse their decision, then not only do they have serious failings with regards to free and open discussion, and basic freedom of speech, but they do not qualify for the term “progressive”, much less the high and vaulted self-annointment of presenting themselves as the leading voice of progressive America.

But we are facing much bigger and far more important issues than the editorial policies or current state of Daily Kos, of course.

*

During the Great Depression, FDR, who I believe was a man of conscience, came to realize that there was not only a moral crisis facing the United States, but also a social and political crisis. It was realized then by the ruling elite, that tensions were high, and if serious changes were not made to address the people’s legitimate concerns, then there was a serious risk of revolution.

The political elite, and at least a portion of the business elite, knew that concessions had to be made. Smedley Butler had blown the lid off of The Business Plot, so the corporate-led fascist coup which was planned, and which Congress documented after General Butler’s testimony, seemed to no longer be an option, at least for the moment; and so, concessions were viewed as necessary and unavoidable.

(See my essay, Smedley Butler and the Business Plot, on WordPress.)

That was the beginning of The New Deal, and the beginning of major programs and initiatives to address poverty and inequality in America. And today, once again – after four decades of rising corporate powers, not only effectively having taken over the political process, government, finance and the economy, but also, rolling back many of the gains that had been made by the people over the past several decades and more – poverty is high and growing, inequality is higher than at any time in history, tensions are high, and if serious political, economic and social change is not made soon, the results are very likely to be a conflagration of one kind or another.

Again, I think these things should, by now, to obvious to just about everyone. The Occupy Wall Street movement was just the beginning. Real change is coming, and as John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

And that is not a threat. It is a prediction, and it is a virtual certainty – if we fail to make the needed changes in time. Neither JFK nor myself were making a threat: it was simply an observation of the obvious facts, and a very sound and reasonable prediction based on the facts.

I have written about these things before, and extensively, and my writing and analysis is based upon thirty years of intensive research, study and reflection. (And I will freely mention my other writing here, and quite legitimately, because it is relevant to the subject at hand, above all; and because it has merit, because it should be widely read, and because I do not have a PR or marketing firm working on my behalf, or even an agent, and so, must, by necessity, promote my work myself, if it is to have the kind of positive impact I hope for it, or any impact at all.) My recent essay, Pre-Revolutionary France and America:1785 and Now; and my recent book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium, cover the subject in greater depth.

Remember also, that I predicted the economic crash of 2008, at a time when virtually everyone was saying that things are just rosy, and would remain so for the foreseeable future. There is good reason, therefore, to take these present predictions as to the current dangers facing the United States, quite seriously, and with all due thoughtfulness.

We should note also, that people as diverse as billionaire financier George Soros, who single-handedly brought the British Pound to its knees, before finishing his breakfast one fine morning; along with South African tycoon Johann Rupert, the fifth richest man in Africa; and multi-billionaire Nick Hanauer, who recently penned an open letter addressed, “To My Fellow Zillionaires”, warning, The Pitchforks ARE Coming…For Us Plutocrats; to David Sirota, the progressive democrat, veteran journalist and activist, and author of the book, The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington; to Jacques Attali, leading intellectual in residence to the French elite, and author of the book, Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order, among many others, have all warned essentially of the same thing: a great confrontation and great turmoil is brewing in America, if not also the world, and it is plain to see for anyone who cares to look. To me it has been so plainly obvious for so long, that, again, it is almost shocking that some still cannot see it. The writing is clearly on the wall.

Peaceful change through political, economic and social reforms is urgently needed, and world-wide, or we will face a crisis of truly terrible proportions – and the US is in the lead in terms of rushing headlong into disaster, if these changes are not made quickly, and now. This should be so plain as to go without saying. It is a testimony to the fact that large segments of the population remain asleep, or stubbornly and foolishly in denial, that such things need to be stated at all.

Let’s hope serious positive change comes to the United States, or rather, is actively brought about in the United States, and soon, is all I can say. People can take these warnings, and heed them, or brush them aside. But if they choose to ignore them, I assure you, it will be at their peril.

*

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, at another time of rising crisis, “We must face the fierce urgency of now…..There is such a thing as being too late.”

Two hundred years ago, the business elite backed the democratic revolutions of France and America, because they rightly saw it as a means to break the back of the ruling monarchy and aristocracy. But ever since, they have been, at best, ambivalent about democracy, and have sought an undeclared oligarchy, with themselves as the new ruling god-kings, pharaohs or tsars. (Chomsky documents this very well, in what is perhaps his most important book, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – a book should be considered essential reading for every informed person.)

And today, after two hundred years of exponentially rising powers, the business elite is not only the principle obstacle to real and authentic democracy, and rule of the people, by the people, for the people; but they are, in fact, engaged in an aggressive and determined war against democracy, as with the people and the earth.

The business elite, who are now firmly in control, both in the United States and in most nations around the world, foolishly believe that they can have a grand global showdown against the people, and win. I would remind them that any such foolish notions and foolish responses to a very real and growing social crisis, will not end in peace, and nor will they end quickly. Such an attitude will result only in a long and protracted state of civil war, in which the toll on all sides is truly horrific, and devastating.

The stubborn, and quite foolishly smug refusal among the business and political elite to embrace change, must be overcome. And even more importantly, the excessive docility and obedience of the majority of the people, and their continued insistence on voting for the candidates of the business elite, such as Hillary Clinton, must be overcome.

I realize that there are some very thoughtful critics of Bernie Sanders’ policy platform, and I also realize that his proposed policy changes are not thorough enough or radical enough for some people. But I will say again, that Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, and more essentially, the popular movement for social change that is coalescing around it, is the best hope we have for real, substantive change at this time. And at least at this time, I think it is probably true: we have a choice between a Sanders’ presidency, or civil war for America.

Let the voters decide. But let us realize, the hour is very late, and change is needed urgently, and now.

In hope and in peace,

J. Todd Ring

February 10, 2016

 

Further reading:

“The pitchforks ARE coming” – A billionaire warns his fellow Oligarchs what is coming down the pipe

By MinistryOfTruth – Daily Kos, Friday Jun 27, 2014

“The pitchforks are coming . . . for us Plutocrats” – Nick Hanauer, Politico Magazine, 6/26/2014

Luxury Goods CEO Billionaire Warns Of Imminent Violent Uprising Of The Poor

By Joe Clark, July 15, 2015, Liberal America

http://www.liberalamerica.org/2015/07/15/billionaire-ceo-warns-of-imminent-violent-uprising-of-the-poor/

Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World – August 20, 1991
by Jacques Attali

http://www.amazon.com/Millennium-Winners-Losers-Coming-World/dp/0812919130/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455111111&sr=1-2&keywords=Jacques+Attali+millennium

 

The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington,

by David Sirota, 2008

http://www.amazon.com/The-Uprising-Unauthorized-Populist-Washington/dp/B006Z39Q4W

 

Six Responses To Bernie Sanders Sceptics – An excellent, short, three minute video by Robert Reich

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/02/08/6-responses-to-bernie-sanders-skeptics/

 

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think,

Scientific American,

By Nicholas Fitz, March 31, 2015

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/

 

Davos’ Blind Eye: How the Rich Eat the Poor and the World

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/the-davos-blind-eye-how-the-rich-eat-the-poor-and-the-world

 

 

 

CBS South Carolina Poll: 100% of 18-29 year-olds think Bernie is honest and trustworthy,

Daily Kos, February 14, 2016

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/2/14/1485191/-CBS-South-Carolina-poll-100-of-18-29-year-olds-think-Bernie-is-honest-and-trustworthy-Nice

 

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium: Volume One: Introductory Essays in Political-Economy, Social Analysis & The State of the World

By J. Todd Ring

http://www.amazon.com/Enlightened-Democracy-Millennium-Introductory-Political-Economy/dp/1481074776/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455111715&sr=1-1&keywords=ring+enlightened+democracy

New Leadership Urgently Needed For The US, Canada and Britain

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2015 by jtoddring

Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr., Tommy Douglas and Tony Benn were President of the US, and Prime Ministers of Canada and Britain, respectively. The world would certainly be a far better, more just, freer, more peaceful, and safer place. But we do not.

In all three of these “leading” nations we have neoliberal corporate oligarchy. Some may not realize it yet, but this is the case. A change in leadership is urgently needed. And that is up to the people, ironically, for only they can bring that about.

I would be happy to see Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth May and Jeremy Corbyn as President of the US, and Prime Ministers of Canada and Britain. Bernie Sanders has a real chance of doing just that in the United States. In Canada and Britain, we have a long way to go.

The US leads the Western nations in the race to the bottom, frankly, and quite clearly, in terms of the destruction of democracy, civil liberties and freedom, constitutional rule and human rights, the “third-worldization” of the nation, as Chomsky put it, soaring poverty and inequality, the destruction of the middle class, and in the creation of a neo-feudal, crypto-fascist rule by Wall Street and a democracy-loathing corporate oligarchy. The UK is a close second, while Canada seems intent on closing the gap, and catching up in that dire and dreadful race to oblivion – or return to the feudal age.

But while the US has gone the furthest of any “developed” nation down that dark path, it has also gone the furthest, at least among super-powers, in terms of a popular movement arising to resist and overturn the corporate oligarchy, and to restore democracy, constitutional law, civil liberties, and the rule of the people, by the people, for the people.

Canada and the UK, once again, have a long way to go to catch up in this positive regard as well. The popular movements are there, but they lack focus, boldness, vision, and broad popular support.

In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn has to get his party, the Labour Party, to move away from its relatively recent adoption of neoliberalism and corporate globalization, and its betrayal of the people in favour of submission to the banking elite and the corporate powers. He needs, in short, to get the party behind him, or with him, or else leave it, and create a new and bolder party – one with some basic integrity to it, and some greater courage than Labour has shown for a very long time, ever since Tony “the poodle” Blair took it in a disastrous and quite diabolical direction.

In Canada, we have the triumphalism of a Liberal Party win, with the media portraying Justin Trudeau as the new messiah. But the Liberal Party has been a party of neoliberal corporate patronage for more than thirty years now, ever since Trudeau Jr.’s father left the office of Prime Minister: so the jubilation is misplaced, to put it mildly.

Saviour, Trudeau Jr. is not. He is not even a leader. He is a cheerleader for the corporate powers. Mulcair is no different. The support for the agenda of big oil, pipelines, tar sands, free trade and CETA, prove this case beyond any doubt, with regards to both the Liberal and New Democratic Parties, as well as the Conservative Party – at least in their current incarnation.

Harper may have been an eager, even zealous servant of big oil and corporate powers, but Trudeau Jr. and Mulcair offer nothing of any great difference, nor do they offer any genuine alternative.

Harper set the bar very low. Ousting him was a good thing, but it does not mean that we have anything approaching an ideal government, or even a sane or responsible government. We have a government in service to trans-national corporations, and nothing more, all fanfare and hyperbole aside.

What would it take for Elizabeth May and the Green Party to come to power? Probably a popular uprising, and nothing less. We certainly cannot wait another four or five years, or longer, considering the pace of environmental destruction, and in view of the Liberal support for the tar sands and the Keystone pipeline.

But once again, in all three countries, what will determine the outcome, is not the presence or absence of leadership, but the presence or absence of strong popular movements which will force a change in government.

As always, it is up to the people. And once again, we must acknowledge, time is running out.

J. Todd Ring,
October 22, 2015

For further reading, and concrete ideas for social change, please see my recent book:

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – available on Amazon now.

Election 2015 and Strategic Voting: Madness, or Practical Necessity?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2015 by jtoddring

An economic and political analysis of Canada, neoliberalism, and the world

Get a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of wine, and settle in – this is not sound-bite commentary. We are going to dig deep.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

It pains me to say it, but I was wrong. Strategic voting, at least in this election, is simply necessary – loath the practice as I may, and I do, that is the fact that I have been forced to come to.

Actually it doesn’t pain me at all to say that I was wrong – that was simply a figure of speech. Anyone who is pained to admit that they were wrong is engaged in foolish egotism. Everyone is mistaken some of the time. The intelligent thing to do is to admit it, correct the error as best we can, and as soon as we can, if not completely and immediately, if and whenever possible, and move on. The ego is a trivial and trifling illusion. We should not let it bother us, cloud our mind, or hamper us in any way – especially when it comes to the pursuit of truth, the speaking of truth, or the guidance of compassion, justice and love.

But let’s skip the philosophical asides, or end them for now, for the moment at least, and get to the point. Is strategic voting a legitimate, or even, a necessary option, in this particular election? I said, “No,” before, but have since changed my view.

After thinking more about Stephen Harper and his Conservative government, in light of the fast-approaching 2015 Canadian federal election, I have to say that Harper poses too great a threat to democracy in this nation to be permitted to remain in power any longer – and even if we must vote into power a party or a coalition that is far from our ideal, we must do so, because Harper simply has to go.

I am generally averse to strategic voting, although I certainly believe there are times and places, moments, when strategic voting makes perfect sense. My general feeling that is in most cases, strategic voting means voting for the lesser of evils, and that is still voting for evil, and hence, unconscionable, as well as foolishly self-defeating. But the Harper government pushes the boundaries of the normal, even beyond the normal insanity of contemporary politics, and exceptional measures are called for, because this is an exceptional case and time.

Reading further and more deeply about the Harper legacy to date, and the actions of the Harper government over the past nine years, it becomes clearer than ever that the Harper government is not only pro big-oil, pro pipelines, pro free-trade, pro corporate interests, and even, pro corporate rule, as well as neck-deep in an orthodoxy of neoliberal/neoconservative fundamentalism, which is, and has been, disastrous to the country, the economy, the Canadian people and the environment, just as it has been disastrous everywhere it has been adopted (as Naomi Klein vividly pointed out, in her excellent and extremely lucid book, Shock Doctrine). No, there is more than that.

If these were the only problems with the Harper government, they would be appalling, and he should be removed from power immediately. But, and here was my “but” – if these were the only problems with the Harper government, I would have to say, that the other major parties, the Liberals and NDP, seem to me only marginally stronger on all these counts, and have no real strength or vision when it comes to the environment, the economy, or democracy for that matter.

If these grave problems with the Harper regime were the only problems, then I would say, yes, this is an appalling government, and it should be removed from power – but the major opposition parties, the Liberals and NDP, are so weak, so feeble, and offer such little in the way of alternatives, that I would find myself unwilling and unable to support them or vote for them, even if it was only in order to remove Harper from power.

My argument was, and is, that the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the (tragically flacid and embarrassingly spineless) NDP, are all parties that have surrendered to the agenda of the big corporations. The Harper Conservatives are simply the most blatant and gleeful about it.

The Harper Conservatives, as with the Conservative Party ever since Mulroney, have completely abandoned the Conservative tradition in Canada, and have become a neoconservative party – a party defined above all, by a ruthless and blinkered defence toward, and service to, the agenda set by the largest domestic and foreign corporations.

Austerity, loss of rights and freedoms and political franchise and power for the people, with subsidies and tax breaks, an above-the-law status and full enthronement for the large corporations and the international business elite who control them: that is the core of neoconservatism. The racism, sexism, xenophobia and militarism are outgrowths of this central policy of putting corporate interests above the people, or retrograde ideological appendages to this central objective.

Neoconservatives pose as conscientious populists and fiscal conservatives, who’s central goals are to limit the powers of government, curtail excessive spending, balance the budget, eliminate deficits and debt, and restore and maintain accountability and sound government. But their real agenda is to enhance state powers in the service of the corporate elite, to transfer ever further powers to a supra-national elite who are above the government and above the law, and to further the entrenchment and expansion of a welfare state for the corporations and the rich, with austerity for everyone else. It is stark class warfare, in the name of corporate powers and corporate profits. The rest is window dressing, spin, or crass manipulation of the people by way of exploiting their fears and their baser impulses.

This explains why Harper campaigned on sound economic management, but has had a worse economic record than any other government or Prime Minister since WWII. The “sound economic management” sound-bite is a ruse. Only 25% of Canadians voted him into power, so the indication is that the majority of people do not buy into the hollow, and frankly Orwellian PR. But in a nation with an archaic first-past-the-post electoral system, such charlatans and posers can and do get elected, as we have seen, and may see again.

What is neoconservatism? Margaret Thatcher was the first to introduce it in the Western world, followed by Ronald Reagan. Brian Mulroney, Canada’s most loathed Prime Minister, first introduced it to Canada. And the Bush I and Bush II regimes, along with the infamous and most heinous Cheny, Rumsfeld, Woflowitz/PNAC cabal, cemented it in US politics.

(Bernie Sanders represents a firm rejection of both neoconservatism and neoliberalism – which is, in short, the agenda of the billionaire class, the corporate elite; and he may well win the US election, and begin to turn the country around, and rebuild an economy and a nation in tatters which now faces economic as well as social implosion. Let us hope so. Hilary Clinton represents Wall Street, as she herself admitted in the Democratic debate, on October 13 – she is committed to the neoliberal agenda, as her actions have repeatedly shown.)

Scholar, journalist, author, and former Wall Street Journal editor and US Treasury Assistant Secretary, Paul Craig Roberts argues, quite convincingly, and with abundant, undeniable evidence, that Obama embraced the neoconservative agenda of the Bush/Cheney/PNAC regime, and accelerated its two-fold key policy objectives, which were, and are, expanded wars of empire abroad, and a war on democracy at home – both serving to increase and expand, and to safeguard and consolidate the powers, the wealth, and the dominance and hegemony of the corporate elite who effectively rule the United States, along with most of the world.

This is Harper’s heritage, his ideology and his agenda. Harper is not a traditional Conservative. He is a neoconservative. It is a war on the people, in the name of corporate profits and corporate power. It is crass, and stark, class warfare, as Chomsky has described the general patterns of neoconservatism and neoliberalism (which are two sides of the same coin) globally. The business elite want it all, and Harper is eager to assist and serve them.

Neoconservatism, like its mirror image of neoliberalism, means “free trade” aggreements, such as the FTA, NAFTA, CETA, FIPA and the TPP, which are in truth corporate rights agreements, which grant powers to corporations that supersede and over-ride the powers of parliament.

It means other things, like tax cuts for the rich and the large corporations, privatization, attacks on unions and labour, austerity measures for the 99% who are not among the economic elite, cuts to social programs such as health care, pensions and education, and the evisceration and dismantling of such programs, deregulation, the gutting of environmental, labour and health regulations, and on the list goes. But the core objective is to open the economy to the free flow of corporate capital, making it easier for corporations to enter a country and extract wealth, and to move the profits to offshore accounts, or to move jobs and manufacturing to low wage, low regulation regions, and to generally do as they please in all regards; and it means granting the large corporations the right to sue democratically elected governments for any legislation which negatively affects their profits, thereby gutting and over-riding democracy, and creating a de facto corporate rule. This is neoconservatism. This is Harper’s ideology and agenda. It is, “Power to the corporations – and the people and the environment be damned.”

The Liberals and NDP, by contrast, have become the leading parties in the nation for the advancement of an orthodoxy of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is the mirror image of neoconservatism, its political-economic and ideological twin. Neoliberalism is simply neoconservativism, with a kinder, prettier, gentler face.

The neoliberal agenda may lack the social conservatism, the racism, sexism, xenophobia and religious fundamentalism which tend to accompany neoconservatism, but it shares every other element – and every major, or central element.

Neoliberalism means, in effect, corporate rule, and a corporate agenda, but with a liberal face. As neoconservatism is the path to full neo-feudal corporate rule by way of the iron fist, neoliberalism is the path to the very same neo-feudal, anti-democratic, corporate agenda and corporate rule, with a velvet glove, and a generally better, and more slick, PR machine.

The Liberals and NDP, from all indications, are now the Canadian parties of neoliberalism: which means, in short, that the corporations make the rules – and the neoliberal parties put a pretty face on it, and make the poison more palatable, by covering it with sugar.

It does not matter whether the Liberals pretend to be centre-left or the NDP pretends to be social democrat – neoliberalism means catering to a corporate agenda, and the rest is either rhetoric, or PR gestures, designed to pacify the people. Of course, most people in these parties and most people who support these parties do not want corporate rule, or a corporate agenda, but the party leadership has caved into these dark trends, whether the party members and party supporters like it or not, or even realize it, as most clearly do not.

The majority of Canadians seem to act like this is 1975, and the three big parties still have their traditional roots, and some degree of remaining integrity – but it’s not 1975, and they don’t.

That was my analysis of the three major political parties in Canada, the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, and I stand by it. What I do believe I was wrong about, however, was my response to this situation, in regards to this particular election.

I now believe this election forces us to vote for the lesser evil – something that I have never been willing to do before. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. But, and this is a very important qualification, we must be very clear as to what we are doing, and realize, that even if we do defeat Harper, this is only the beginning of the fight.

The acid test for any government, whether a coalition or a single party government, and the acid test for the Liberals, NDP, and also the Greens, is where they stand, or fall, on the corporate rights agreements now being pushed through, as well as those already implemented – the TPP, CETA and FIPA, along with NAFTA, all of which must be firmly rejected. Trade is good. Promoting trade is good. But we must be intelligent about what kind of trade, and what terms of trade, it is.

If we want trade – and trade is, or can be, a very good thing – we should, naturally, have something to trade, and not just trade away and sell off our natural resources. That means we need to make things, we need a manufacturing base, so that we have something to trade and to export. Selling off our resources, through an economic policy that is focused on resource extraction – such as the current Harper focus on the tar sands and oil exports – is economically foolish and short-sighted. Selling off our natural resources, rather than using them conservatively to foster the development of industry and manufacturing, is like selling off the family jewels.

A resource-extraction model for the economy is essentially a drawing down and a depletion of our capital assets. This is foolish, as I say. We need to use our capital and our assets more wisely – more conservatively, in fact – and invest them in the country so that we can, essentially, live off the interest, and not the capital. Business people and economists should understand this immediately. But we are pursuing the opposite agenda: we are liquidating our capital, and depleting it rapidly. And we will only make ourselves the poorer for it.

All Third World nations, as they were formerly called, or “under-developed” nations, when they have succeeded in building up their economies and raising living standards, have invested heavily in value-added industry, and shifted consciously and deliberately, and with great passion and determination, away from a resource-extraction economy.

South Korea did exactly this, and raised the average income from $82 a year in 1962, to $30,000 a year by the 1980’s, by precisely these methods, along with tariff protections for developing industries, and subsidies and investments in domestic industries – as every economically successful nation has done since the time of the Roman empire and the ancient Greeks, as Chomsky has pointed out, as as every honest or sane economist knows, or should know, ideology aside.

The “Washington Consensus” of neoconservative/neoliberal, “free market”, Friedmanite, Chicago School of Economics hogwash, is an economic theory, orthodoxy or ideology which works only for the corporate giants and the rich – but is disaster for the economy, as well as the vast majority of the people. Naomi Klein, Greg Palast, Noam Chomsky and many others have pointed this out, and made it clear. If we still refuse to listen, it is at our peril, and it is deeply unwise.

Canada is now doing exactly the opposite of what it takes to develop a nation economically, or even maintain its current wealth and standard of living. We are de-industrializing, and returning to the status of hewers of wood and haulers of water (except that now the emphasis is on oil), with a resource-extraction economy that is setting us back 100 years or more. The economic foolishness of this cannot be overstated. We are following a Third World model of economics, and the result is that we will become a Third World nation if we keep this up.

The IMF, WTO, World Bank, ECB, EU, Washington, WEF and the big corporations love this model, and are forcing it on the world, including Canada, the US, UK and Europe, because it benefits the global corporate elite. But if we have any remaining sense at all, we will reject this neoliberal/neoconservative economic model entirely, and now.

We need a manufacturing base if we want intelligent trade, and the promotion of exports in an intelligent way, and not deplete our assets, our working capital, by focusing on resource extraction. But NAFTA destroyed our manufacturing base, as it did for the US, and the majority of our manufacturing was sent to low-wage, low-regulation countries, such as Mexico and China. If we want trade, and we are intelligent about it, we will, therefore, need to rebuild our manufacturing base, through serious private and public investment.

What we surely do not want to do is to sign trade deals that are modelled after NAFTA, and which will further demolish what little remains of our manufacturing base and our export capacities. CETA, the TPP and FIPA are exactly the kind of “trade deals” that we don’t want. They benefit the rich and the large corporations, while further eviscerating the economy and wiping out jobs. They represent a foolish and utterly failed economic model, the model of neoconservatism, or neoliberalism. Or more accurately, they represent shrewdly designed agreements which benefit the large corporations and the financial elite, and are intelligently designed for that purpose, while severely harming everyone else.

More over, and more critically, signing “trade deals” which undermine public health, labour and environmental standards, which threaten and undermine health care, education, pensions and other social programs, and above all, which effectively over-ride and undermine democracy, and which give corporations powers over and above parliament, can in no way be supported, or tolerated. This is the line in the sand. This will be the central battle line.

The political parties which have surrendered to the utterly failed, yet still reigning orthodoxy, or better said, the ideological hegemony, of neoliberalism, such as the Liberals and NDP in Canada, are the slow boat to full corporate rule and the destruction of democracy – albeit, a boat bedecked with a big brass band and festooned with ribbons and bows. Harper wants to take us in exactly the same direction, and to the same destination (which, possibly, the Liberal and NDP party leadership fails to see is precisely where they are heading). He simply wants to take us there at light speed.

So no, from all we have witnessed, the Liberals and NDP present no genuine alternative to Harper. They are neoliberals, whether they realize it or want to admit it, or not. The destination is the same in the end. If they succeed in toppling Harper, that is good, but we will still have to fight them, in order to get them on a saner track, or they will erode and slowly dissolve the nation, but simply at a slower speed, and with a hollow pretence of righteousness.

But to return to the element which divides the Harper Conservatives from the other major political parties in Canada…

The other element that the Harper regime has brought in, along with a corporate-driven neoconservative agenda, is something that can only be called crypto-fascism. I know, that is a very strong term, but when you look at Harper’s sustained and viscous attack on democracy in Canada, there truly is no milder term for it that is appropriate.

I won’t speak of other nations here, but there are clear parallels in other nations and regions. The thing that divides Harper from the Liberals and NDP is the level of Harper’s attack on democracy.

The Liberals and NDP plead the case that they are the parties of the middle class, the parties of the centre-left, or what have you. But they are the parties of neoliberalism, and neoliberalism represents disastrous policies, in terms of the economy, the environment, in terms of social programs across the board, labour standards, wages and benefits, pensions, health care, education….and the list, again, goes on. Neoliberalism, like neoconservatism, puts corporations, not the people, in the driver’s seat, and shapes the nation’s agenda around corporate, not public interests. As I say, disastrous is the only word for it.

The Liberals, and even more so, the NDP, will adamantly assert that they are not parties of neoliberalism – or rather, the few people in those parties who know what the word means, will assert it – but their defence rings hollow.

Every Liberal government that has come after the government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau – who was the last of the traditional Liberals – was a neoliberal government, just as every Conservative government beginning with Brian Mulroney, has been a neoconservative government. Plead your case until the people are deaf, and sick of it, but your actions have spoken more loudly than your words ever can.

The last traditional Liberal government in Canada was that of Pierre Trudeau, and the last traditional Conservative government, with Joe Clark. Since then, for the past thirty years, we have had a succession of neoconservative and neoliberal governments, as corporate power laid siege to the major political parties and the political process, and the corporate take-over of Canada began in earnest.

Harper is simply the last in line in a succession of neoconservative and neoliberal governments that have placed their loyalties to corporate powers above the people. Harper represents the highest ascent to date of corporate powers, and the lowest ebb of Canadian democracy. But the other two major parties have followed close behind, in the race to the bottom, and in the service to trans-national corporate rule.

The NDP has slid so far to the right, along with the Liberals and the Conservatives, and the entire political establishment in the nation, since 1980, that they have essentially positioned themselves as the New Labour party of Canada. The new NDP wreaks of New Labour. And I am sad to say it, and I most definitely hope I am wrong, but Mulcair strikes me as the new Tony Blair – the corporate lapdog and the poodle of Washington.

I have near zero faith left in the NDP. They have sold their souls to corporate powers, from all that I can see, and pay only lip service to working people, social democracy, or anything that might serve the people of Canada in more than meagre piece-meal ways, while the country is dismantled by the very corporate powers to whom they have bowed down. Tommy Douglas would be appalled, and ashamed, I must say. The NDP has come a long way – down.

But as abysmal as neoliberalism is, and as abysmal as our options may be, and as abysmal as the Liberal and New Democratic Parties have become, a starkly anti-democratic and authoritarian crypto-fascist, such as Harper, who has shown nothing but contempt for the public, for public input or political engagement, for transparency, parliamentary process, science, public disclosure, free and open discussion and debate, and for democracy, is decidedly worse. The neoliberals are better.

So, as much as it sickens me to say it, I believe that, at least in swing ridings, where the Conservatives may or may not win, we should vote Liberal or NDP, or Green – depending on which party and which candidate has the best chance of defeating the Harper minion in that riding.

In ridings where the race is not remotely close, and where either a defeat or a win for the Harper Conservatives is virtually assured, then of course, vote your conscience. But in swing ridings, I do believe it is important to tip the balance, and, hopefully, remove Harper from power, or at least limit him to a minority government.

As I say, my analysis of the major parties in Canada, I stand by as generally correct – though I would love to see the Liberals and NDP find their spine, and become loyal defenders of the people and the land, instead of loyal pawns to Bay Street and corporate powers. But my refusal to vote strategically, which I still feel is generally best, in this case, should be set aside. Neoliberals are better than fascists. Harper has to go.

We will deal with the neoliberals next – and either force the Liberals or NDP, or both, to reject the neoliberal agenda of ceding vastly excessive powers and privileges to large, and typically foreign, corporations; or, if we fail to shift the alliances of one or both of these two major Canadian political parties, then we must abandon them, and seek other means of positive social change.

But first, let’s remove Harper from power. This man is more than a bad Prime Minister. This man is a menace, and a very serious threat to democracy in Canada.

My basic view is this. There has been a corporate coup in this country, and around the world, in the US, in Europe, and in most nations world-wide, and that corporate take-over of the political process and the governments of the world is on-going, and it is escalating. There is a full-scale corporate assault on democracy which is world-wide. Harper is gleefully in support of the rising corporate powers and the corporate oligarchy, and is eager, by all indications, to accelerate the demolition of democracy. The Liberals and NDP have shown no indication that they will seriously oppose or halt the corporate assault on democracy, or the corporate take-over of the nation – they lack either the integrity, the presence of mind, or the courage, at least to date. There is no reason to have any confidence in them whatsoever. The only reason to vote for them, is to remove Harper from power. And the best that we can hope to come from that, is that the Liberals or NDP, or a coalition of the two, would take a slightly slower path to full corporate rule. And that may be critical. That buys us time to build a pro-democracy movement in Canada to reclaim our democracy.

That we need such a movement, and urgently so, is not in question. And that added time that we gain by defeating Harper and removing him from power, may make a very big difference. This is why I now think, in this election, strategic voting is a practical necessity.

We have to slow the destruction of democracy, and slow down the corporate take-over of the nation, so that we have time to build a movement to stop it completely, and to restore democracy in more fundamental ways.

Vote Harper out. Then, we must prepare for the fight of our lives – for the fight will have just begun.

J. Todd Ring,
October 18, 2015

Conservatives swing further to the far right – other major parties are little better

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2015 by jtoddring

The Conservative party of Canada is clearly playing into fear, xenophobia and racism as a way to win votes, as its “War on Terror” narrative, its racial baiting and its new snitch line show. This is sickening.

Mind you, the Liberals and NDP have eerily similar agendas to the Conservatives on key issues of the environment, the economy, trade and democracy. They may smell better, and look better on the surface, but scratch the surface on either of them, and you find a clear submission to anti-democratic, neoliberal, and neo-feudal, corporate rule.

On the environment, as David Suzuki has said, only the Green party has any seriousness about it. And for that reason alone, given that the crisis is so urgent and action on it so critical, the three major parties can in no way be supported. All three major parties are committed to pipelines, tar sands, big oil, a resource extraction-based economy, throwing us back a hundred years or more, to our former status of hewers of wood and drawers of water, and a surrender to the interests of an international corporate elite – with the results being, among other terrible consequences, that any one of the three major parties would spell ecological disaster for Canada and the world.

In terms of the economy and trade, all three major parties are now firmly neoliberal, pro-corporate and pro “free trade.” The Liberals openly support CETA, the corporate rights deal that is being pushed through with Europe; and the NDP has been decisively evasive, ambiguous and wishy-washy on the issue. Only the Green party has taken a stance against this disastrous, NAFTA-style free trade agreement, which would give corporations the right to sue the Canadian parliament, thereby over-riding, and effectively nullifying and destroying Canadian democracy.

Neoliberal policies of free trade have been economically disastrous, (see Naomi Klein’s, Shock Doctrine) benefiting only the rich few and the big corporations, while harming the other 99% of the people; and worse, they have been disastrous for the environment, for social programs, and most importantly, for sovereignty and democracy. NAFTA, CETA, FIPA and the TPP are all neoliberal corporate rights agreements, which put the interests of the large corporations over the people, the planet, and even above democracy. These corporate rights deals must be opposed, and defeated. This is absolutely critical.

Because all three major parties are either in open support of CETA, or in the case of the NDP, are decisively sitting on the fence, none of them can in any way be supported, since CETA would effectively mean economic, ecological and social disaster for Canada, as well as the destruction of Canadian democracy.

So yes, the Conservatives are acting more and more like Republican extremists, and can in no way be supported – but neither can the Liberals or the New Democrats.

Voting for the lesser of evils means voting for evil. We cannot continue to do that any longer.

The Liberals may have marginally better policies than the Conservatives, and the NDP marginally better policies than the Liberals, but all three are in lock-step agreement in terms of the core and key policies: in support of big oil, neoliberalism, austerity and free trade. The rest is simply window dressing – PR to hide the ugly facts.

The NDP may be slightly preferable to the Liberals in terms of policies, but only slightly; and in another way, they are worse, in that they pretend to be social democrats with a real alternative. They are not, and they have none. The NDP is now a neoliberal party of the right, in drag as left of centre democratic socialists.

The Liberals, meanwhile, may be slightly less offensive than the Conservatives, in terms of promised policies at least, but they too have slid far to the right, and are now right wing conservatives, in reality, in drag as centrist Liberals.

The Conservatives have gone the furthest to the right, and are now veering into the realm of US Republicans – all the while, presenting themselves as moderate centrists, if not liberals.

The whole charade is a sordid mess of empty posturing, PR and spin, and a thin veneer masks the underlying reality: that all three parties are now in complete submission to the corporate powers.

Once again, from every indicator, we now have to conclude that we have three neoliberal, pro-corporate, pro big oil, pro free-trade parties in Canada. And that is a tremendous tragedy, and a disgrace. What has happened to our critical intelligence that Canadians are clearly willing to settle for so little? More to the point, what has happened to our courage?

“Oh, Canada, our blah and weenie land…. True servility, until the promised land…..”

The major parties have lost their courage, or their integrity, or both. But that is not the central problem in Canada. The central problem is that the Canadian people do not demand more, and better.

All three major parties in Canada, the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, are now parading themselves as the party for the middle class. Well here’s a news flash – the middle class are being wiped out by the very same policies the big three parties are committed to. The middle class in Canada, as in the US, Europe and around the world, are being wiped out by an ideological program of corporate globalization, or what is known as neoliberalism, with the offshoring of production and profits, de-industrialization, deregulation, privatization, austerity policies for the many, and tax breaks and subsidies for the corporations and the richest few, and above all, by “free trade” deals – which are in reality corporate rightsagreements – deals such as NAFTA, CETA, FIPA and the TPP. And all three major Canadian parties support these disastrous, pro-corporate, neoliberal policies and “trade” deals. The entire charade, as I say, is completely disingenuous, and utterly deceitful. And Canadians are falling for it – hook, line and sinker.

The free trade deals in particular, which are supported by all three parties, will guarantee that the middle class continues to be eviscerated and driven into the growing underclass. We would be extremely foolish and naive to think otherwise.

The working class and poor, of course, will fare even worse. Generally speaking, and with few exceptions, the only ones who will benefit – other than by being thrown a few token crumbs from the table of corporate feasting and engorgement – are the richest 1%. This is who the big three serve now. The rest is hollow pretense, and an extremely dishonest and empty posturing, for the sake of getting elected.

All three major parties in Canada, at different times in the past, had integrity. Not any longer. They have surrendered to the powers of big money and big corporations, and are actively ceding the powers of parliament, and democracy, as well as selling out the country, to what the leading business journal of the Western world, the Financial Times, calls, the “de facto world government” of neo-feudal, global corporate rule.

Other countries have begun to reject the neoliberal, “free trade” policies which haves become the staple of the global corporate agenda, and which are being pushed forward by Wall Street, the IMF, the big banks, the ECB, WEF and WTO, along with Bay Street, the big oil companies, and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives – the CEOs of the biggest 200 corporations in Canada, and the group which runs this country.

But Canada is foolishly continuing to follow the lead of Washington and London, the US and UK: two of the countries which are facing economic implosion and fiscal insolvency – as well as the death of the middle class, with soaring poverty and inequality, the rise of insecure, underpaid “McJobs”, and a dismantling of the manufacturing base, as all production is shifted to China and other low-wage nations, in the short-sighted rush for higher short-term corporate profits – as a direct result of precisely these Friedmanite, corporate-led policies of “The Washington Consensus,” which have laid waste to the economies as well as the people of the United States and Britain, along with much of the world.

In the US, we now see a rapidly growing groundswell of popular support for the one presidential candidate who has rejected the neoliberal agenda which has been shaped by the large corporations and the billionaire class: and that is Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders actually has a bold and intelligent vision for rebuilding a nation in economic tatters, reclaiming democracy, and setting a course for peace and prosperity for all.

Meanwhile, in Canada, we have the politics of The Great Yawn, and politics as usual, as the country and the people are eaten alive by a rapacious and insatiable global investor class.

Before we see any hopes for a better future for the people of Canada, Canadians will have to become considerably bolder, as well as more imaginative, and above all, we must face the fact that there has been a corporate take-over in Canada, as in the US, Europe and around the world, and rise to the challenge to defend and reclaim our democracy.

Rolling over and playing dead is simply not an intelligent, nor a moral option. Nor is voting for any of the big three political parties, which is effectively the same thing, and an act of self-neutering, or self-castration.

J. Todd Ring,

October 5, 2015

J. Todd Ring is the author of Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium

See also:

Free Trade, CETA, TPP, and the US and Canadian Federal Elections – J. Todd Ring

https://jtoddring.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/free-trade-ceta-tpp-and-the-us-and-canadian-federal-elections-some-critical-perspective/

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

Neoliberalism: Profits Without People – Noam Chomsky

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

Global Showdown – Maude Barlow

The Great Turning – David C. Korten

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

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed – Jared Diamond

Here is an excellent, and devastating critique of the NDP – from the left. (Although, the article, while excellent on analysis, is short on strategies, vision or answers.)

The NDP and the Election – Canadian Dimension

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/the-ndp-and-the-election

Picking apart one of the greatest lies in American politics: “Free Trade” – Thom Hartmann, Alternet

http://www.alternet.org/economy/picking-apart-one-biggest-lies-american-politics-free-trade

Here is an excellent analysis of the three major political parties in Canada, by Toronto Star journalist Thomas Walkom, PhD in Economics from University of Toronto. (In a nutshell, they are all shills.)

Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau Offer Little On Economy

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/08/04/stephen-harper-tom-mulcair-and-justin-trudeau-offer-little-on-economy-walkom.html

And one more brilliantly clear-headed analysis of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals:

With Justin Trudeau, Canada Now Has Two Conservative Parties, by Will Dubitsky

http://commonsensecanadian.ca/with-justin-trudeau-canada-now-has-two-conservative-parties/

And another excellent article by Walkom, on the gleeful embrace of the failed policies of neoliberalism and “free trade” by the three major Canadian political parties:

Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair buy into free-trade theory that doesn’t work: Walkom

Other countries ditch free-trade orthodoxy to protect jobs. But not Canada.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/04/19/justin_trudeau_stephen_harper_thomas_mulcair_buy_into_freetrade_theory_that_doesnt_work_walkom.html

What do you get the corporation that has everything? CETA. – Council of Canadians

http://canadians.org/ceta

Liberal Party Statement by Justin Trudeau on CETA

http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEVrhbx8lVmXgAR9MPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1439315932/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fwww.liberal.ca%2fstatement-liberal-party-canada-leader-justin-trudeau-ceta-2%2f/RK=0/RS=quEeYwXf8HagopNPlS7zn2QTnqs-

Fact Sheet: No More NAFTAs! No to CETA-TPP-FIPA-FTA… – Council of Canadians

http://canadians.org/publications/factsheet-no-more-naftas-no-ceta-tpp-fipa-fta%E2%80%A6

One Million To Stop The Corporate Death Star – Avaaz

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_corporate_death_star/

Free Trade, CETA, TPP, and the US and Canadian Federal Elections: Some Critical Perspective

Posted in activism, Canada, economics, politics, trade, US with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2015 by jtoddring

The following is critical to understand – for the people of Canada, the US, Europe and the world: “free trade” deals such those already signed (NAFTA), and those being pushed through with great secrecy now (CETA, TTIP and TPP), are agreements which grant supra-national powers to transnational corporations, powers over and above democratically elected governments, and therefore, they are agreements which are disastrous to everyone but the few – the global corporate elite.

In both Canada and the US, the major parties all support “free trade,” aka, neoliberalism, and the wrongly labelled “trade deals” which are in fact corporate rights agreements.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives in Canada are in open support of such democracy-destroying, sovereignty annihilating, economically, socially and environmentally devastating “trade agreements,” making them the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of political prostitution to corporate rule.

In the US, the Republicans and Democrats are both staunch supporters of neoliberal policies of “free trade” – not surprisingly, since Wall Street pays for their elections, and Wall Street gains from such policies, while the middle class is wiped out, poverty and inequality soar, and the nation is eviscerated, and eaten live.

The one exception in the US seems to be Senator Bernie Sanders: a rare, sane and honest voice in US federal politics. I wish there was such a one, and such a one with such fast-rising prominence and popular support, in the Canadian federal election – but that does not appear to be the case so far.

In Canada, the Greens show promise, but require two things now to be relevant: much greater boldness and focus – for example, in terms of a strong stand on core, critical issues such as the quite monumentally significant and potentially disastrous trade deals, including CETA; and much stronger and broader popular support. So far, both seem to be sadly lacking. I beg to be proven wrong, however, and would be thrilled to see it.

Nevertheless, the Greens have shown more courage and integrity on the critical subject of trade than any of the three major Canadian political parties, and that alone places them head and shoulders above the old-guard parties of the past which still, sadly, dominate the Canadian political landscape – or have to date.

Greens in Canada and Europe have made a clear stand on CETA – a trade deal which would allow corporations to overrule the sovereignty and democracy of member nations by allowing corporations to sue governments for passing legislation which impinge upon their profits.

The Council of Canadians, a leading citizens’ action group in Canada, sums up CETA in a few stark and lucid words:

“CETA is a “next generation” free trade and investment pact that Canada and the EU have been negotiating since May 2009. But it is better understood as a corporate power grab. The Harper government clearly sees CETA as a way to further deregulate and privatize the Canadian economy while increasing corporate power and undermining Canadian and European efforts to address the climate crisis.”

And the Liberals under Justin Trudeau have also declared their support for CETA.

The Greens have said no to CETA. The Liberals and Conservatives are pro “free trade” and openly support CETA. And the NDP policy under Muclair on CETA and other similar “trade deals” – which have to date universally been corporate rights agreements? That’s anyone’s guess, since Mulcair’s NDP have been notoriously vague, ambivalent, and decidedly wish-washy, at best: or worryingly soft, to be more honest and blunt.

The Greens appear to be the only party in Canada which at present to have any resolve, conviction, clarity or vision on the matter of such disastrous “trade” deals which are in truth corporate rights agreements. The position which the big three parties have taken, it seems clear, is effectively, to roll over for corporate interests – at the expense of the Canadian people, the economy, the environment and democracy.

We must understand this:

More “free trade” = more corporate rights agreements = corporate rule and the death of democracy.

This is not the way to conduct trade – by handing over supra-national, anti-democratic powers to large corporations, over and above democratic governments. The major parties don’t agree – because they have either lost their courage, or their integrity, or both, and have become wholly subservient to the ruling oligarchy of global neo-feudal corporate rule and the billionaire class. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff: on this key issue, and others like it of similar gravity.

The policies of political parties and political candidates on such “trade” agreements – which, again, must be understood to be corporate rights agreements – such as CETA, the TTIP and the TPP, FIPA, the SPP and the FTA, are the litmus test for whether these parties and candidates are in service to the ruling corporate powers, or whether they stand with the other 99% of the people. And, unsurprisingly, most parties and most candidates fail that test.

In Canada, I would say, vote Green, since they are the only party now worthy of support.

In the US there is similarly only one choice, and one candidate who in any way, or by any stretch, merits support – and that is Bernie Sanders.

There are a great many well-meaning people out there – both Democrats and Republicans, and also, Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrat supporters – who frequently fall for pretty words and hollow promises. And there are many more people yet, who can and do fall for parties and candidates with some genuinely good policies on this or that issue, while the voters miss the bigger picture entirely, and do themselves severe injustice as a result. If we do not understand what is going on with these giant, nation-dissolving, sovereignty-eviscerating, and democracy-destroying “trade agreements”, then we do not understand what is happening at all.

This is critical to understand. This is central. This is, as I say, the litmus test of a party’s or a candidate’s legitimacy in this hour. If we fail to understand this, then we understand nothing of what is happening in the world at this time.

We need to be clear, and we need to vote with clear minds. Our choices have narrowed: we can vote for the parties and the candidates of the super-rich and the ruling corporate powers, or we can vote for the rare ones who still stand with the people. The time to decide is here. Let us use it wisely.

Political parties and political candidates can have the prettiest, loftiest speeches and policy platforms on earth, but if they are not firmly and unequivocally opposed to the corporate rights agreements which are being pushed through now, then they are either deeply confused and misinformed – in which case, their words and promises will come to nothing – or they are effectively owned by the corporate elite, and are in service to them. These are the simple facts. We should vote accordingly.

J. Todd Ring,

September 29, 2015

Please see:

Picking apart one of the greatest lies in American politics: “Free Trade” – Thom Hartmann, Alternet

http://www.alternet.org/economy/picking-apart-one-biggest-lies-american-politics-free-trade

Here is an excellent analysis of the three major political parties in Canada, by Toronto Star journalist Thomas Walkom, PhD in Economics from University of Toronto. (In a nutshell, they are all shills.)

Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau Offer Little On Economy

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/08/04/stephen-harper-tom-mulcair-and-justin-trudeau-offer-little-on-economy-walkom.html

And one more brilliantly clear-headed analysis of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals:

With Justin Trudeau, Canada Now Has Two Conservative Parties, by Will Dubitsky

http://commonsensecanadian.ca/with-justin-trudeau-canada-now-has-two-conservative-parties/

And another excellent article by Walkom, on the gleeful embrace of the failed policies of neoliberalism and “free trade” by the three major Canadian political parties:

Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair buy into free-trade theory that doesn’t work: Walkom

Other countries ditch free-trade orthodoxy to protect jobs. But not Canada.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/04/19/justin_trudeau_stephen_harper_thomas_mulcair_buy_into_freetrade_theory_that_doesnt_work_walkom.html

What do you get the corporation that has everything? CETA. – Council of Canadians

http://canadians.org/ceta

Liberal Party Statement by Justin Trudeau on CETA

http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEVrhbx8lVmXgAR9MPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1439315932/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fwww.liberal.ca%2fstatement-liberal-party-canada-leader-justin-trudeau-ceta-2%2f/RK=0/RS=quEeYwXf8HagopNPlS7zn2QTnqs-

Fact Sheet: No More NAFTAs! No to CETA-TPP-FIPA-FTA… – Council of Canadians

http://canadians.org/publications/factsheet-no-more-naftas-no-ceta-tpp-fipa-fta%E2%80%A6

One Million To Stop The Corporate Death Star – Avaaz

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_corporate_death_star/

BUSTED! What corporations are hiding about TPP

Referendum On Scottish Independence: Why it matters to us all – no matter who we are or where we live

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by jtoddring

An excellent overview of the Scottish referendum on independence, which is happening today, was just pointed out to me by a friend – and, we should note that the referendum has great significance all around the world, and not only for the Scots. The article is well worth two minutes of your time to read, I would say. But I’ll briefly summarize what I think are the key points, and why I feel this is so important for both Scotland and the world.

Thank you Ann for the link to this excellent article from the Expat Diary, and thank you Kristi for the excellent article from the Guardian. (Not a paper I am generally impressed with, other than the articles by George Monbiot and a few others, but that article was right on the money.)

And yes, I agree Al Kennedy in her Guardian article: the vote for independence is not just about self-determination and democracy, which is paramount, and important enough in itself, but also a vote to part ways with Westminster and the City of London so that more progressive policies can be chosen and implemented – policies which actually benefit the people and the earth, and not just the corporate and financial elite who rule the UK and most of the world.

The article that Ann shared from the Expat Diary was equally lucid.

“97% of the population has registered to vote. Imagine that, my American friends. 97%! They’ve been estimating at least an 80% turnout but earlier this week I heard someone float 90%. That’s astonishing.

This, I think, is what brought the politicians up from Westminster in droves. They had a bit of a holy crap moment, realising that what they thought was going to be a fairly simple and straightforward win for the No position has spiraled out of control. A political scientist from York University in Canada characterised this as the first referendum on neoliberalism. What has emerged is a solid rejection of the orthodox finance-driven economic vision of the City of London (US equivalent: Wall Street).”

So….today is the day. I am hopeful. Come on Scots! Vote yes, and let us see some much-needed, bold and inspiring change!

As Ann said (and I hope you don’t mind me quoting you, since you summed it up so well), “it would be quite lovely if Scotland could start us on our way to awareness and shake the “first” world populations of the globe out of their, for lack of a better phrase, “false consciousness.” Go Scotland! ”

Amen, sister. People of Scotland, you are in my prayers.

Whatever happens, it would seem that the referendum debate has produced a broad consensus among the people of Scotland: that people and the earth must come first, and neoliberal corporate-driven policies must be thrown overboard for that reason. Whether the vote is yes or no, real change has been catalyzed, and that is a tremendous victory already. Now, the people of Scotland and all around the world must continue the drive to create a better world for all.

As Arundhati Roy said, “A better world is not only possible. She is already being born.”

http://expatdiary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/09/referendum.html

JTR,
September 18, 2014