Archive for globalization

Neoliberalism & The Death Of The Middle Class

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 25, 2020 by jtoddring

The death of the middle class is due to a very conscious, four decade class war, known as neoliberalism. (See Chomsky, Profits Over People, and, Requiem For The American Dream. See also, The Crisis of Democracy, the very first publication of the Trilateral Commission.) Offshoring of production, or corporate globalization, which is the centre-piece of neoliberalism, was intended to wipe out the middle class, dis-empower the people, and thus roll back the “excess of democracy”; and in turn, consolidate the power of the ruling business elite. It has worked spectacularly, at least in the short term, in doing exactly that.

Anyone who has not yet understood this has no idea what just happened over the past half century, or what is happening now.

JTR,
April 24, 2020

Step Number One

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2020 by jtoddring

Stephen Toulmin’s proposal of a return to a modest Renaissance humanism sounds wonderful (as a fresh start, so to speak, and only a start) compared to dogmatic ideology-fetishizing modernism on the one hand, or the arguably even  worse alternative of polysyllabic post-modernist nihilism on the other. But when the people can’t even see the reality before their eyes – of a global corporate oligarchy consolidating its powers in a move to fascism – how on earth can we hope to begin talking about philosophy?! First we have to open our eyes. That is step number one.

JTR

March 29, 2020

Globalization: Killed By Coronavirus?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 10, 2020 by jtoddring

Globalization was already a dying ideology and socio-economic-political order, program, or pattern, by 1999, twenty years ago. The defeat of the MAI and the Seattle World Trade Talks made that clear. As economic analyst Max Keiser has said, de-dollarization and de-globalization are two of the major on-going patterns or trends  world-wide. This was well underway before the latest virus hysteria, but the fear-mongering and draconian responses, especially in China, and now also Italy (both authoritarian regimes) has certainly accelerated the trend toward the end of globalization.

JTR,

March 10, 2020

Lest We Forget: Reflections On Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, and the Current Corporate Assault on Freedom and Democracy Around the World

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2015 by jtoddring

The 21st century was the most violent and murderous period in human history to date. And with our current direction, the 21st century may well surpass it in violence and war. Have we forgotten the lessons of the past, or have we yet to learn them? Worse yet, not only has war not ended, but also, the threats to freedom have not ended, but only changed form, and grown stronger. Yet, the great majority of the people remain asleep, and live inside a bubble of illusion, or a dream.

I honour and respect those who fought to defend freedom against fascists and others who threatened it. But the irony is this. Not only have we continued the horrible tendency toward war, but we have also allowed fascism to arise again.

Although a great many still do not yet realize it, the corporate take-over of the economy, the financial system, the media, the political process and most governments of the world, and democracy itself, is nothing short of a fascist coup. It is the merger of business and the state: and that is corporatism, which as Mussolini himself said, is the proper term for fascism.

We are now faced with the duty to defend freedom once again. If we refuse this duty, this moral obligation, then our cowardliness and denial will result in the death of freedom, and the death of democracy, and a new and terrible era will begin.

The stakes could not be higher, nor the hour more late. What we do now, or what we refuse to do, will be decisive for the future of humanity.

What is needed, is a grassroots popular movement to reclaim democracy and freedom, and our human rights and civil liberties, all of which are being lost, and which are now under attack by a power-hungry business elite, and a political class which loyally serves them.

To be more direct, what we need is a second wave of democratic revolutions to sweep the planet, and to remove the power-mongers, the new tzars or pharaohs – the newly ensconced and presently ruling oligarchy of the global corporate elite – from power, and to restore power to the people.

The reality of our present situation is this. Either we will have a revolution, in which the people reclaim their power and reclaim their democracy and their freedom, and remove the presently reigning corporate elite from power; or we will see a new and more terrible dark age than the world has ever seen – and with it, not only a new form of fascism, and a new form of feudalism, with freedom and democracy destroyed and the great majority of the people reduced to serfs, or slaves, but also, a further acceleration of the rape and pillage mentality of this corporate-culture, with the result being a descent into the edge of extinction, and beyond, into self-annihilation. Surely these this latter trajectory, which we are now embarked upon, we cannot allow to come to pass in full fruition. Surely, the writing is on the wall, and we must stand now.

Lest we forget? The culture has already forgotten. Lest we remember, is more to the point. Unless we remember the dangers of any group of individuals becoming drunk with power or lost in an infantile grandiosity in which they seek to be rulers of the earth – as the presently ruling corporate elite have clearly become – then we shall be no more.

Amidst the parades and the honorariums, let us not forget our duty, not only to remember the past, but to respond to the present.

It is time to make a stand. Let the elders guide the young, or the young guide the elders, as the case may be, and whichever is needed, but let us stand now. We either stand now, and live in freedom, or we die slowly, and on our knees.

Stand.

J. Todd Ring,
November 11, 2015

No more war. Here is a musical playlist that I made for youtube on the subject.

For those who still have doubt as to the nature and urgency of the present situation, here is a short list of must-read works that will remove all doubt:

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

When Corporations Rule the World – David C. Korten

The Corporation – Joel Bakan

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

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

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

When Technology Fails – Mathew Stein

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – J. Todd Ring

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

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

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