Archive for neoliberalism

Brexit Madness: Propaganda and Hyperbole

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2016 by jtoddring

 

The media is screaming that the world will end if Britain really does leave the EU. The absurdity of this now-standard narrative should be clear from the outset to anyone of sound mind. But in case it is not, let us say this.

The EU has been taken over by the European Central Bank and the Western banking elite. The EU has proven it is not only an undemocratic organization, but a positively, and rabidly, anti-democratic organization.

To repeat what should be obvious and known to all, but which has been glossed over and completely ignored, the actions of the EU against Greece, and especially Italy, have proved beyond any trace of doubt that the EU is rabidly anti-democratic.

The troika, as they are called, which is the de facto government of the EU — the European Council, the European Central Bank and the IMF — were not satisfied with a right wing billionaire as prime minister of Italy. He was not right wing enough, and not compliant enough with the banking elite who now rule over Europe and most of the world. So they overthrew the democratically elected government of Italy, and installed a government appointed by the troika, composed, not surprisingly, of unelected banking elites, loyal to the EC, the ECB and the IMF, and in complete contempt for both democracy and the people of Italy.

Given these undeniable facts, and given that the EU has proven itself to be fiercely anti-democratic, and the enemy of democracy, the EU must be opposed, and all other considerations are flatly irrelevant.

Putting the question of Brexit, or a British exit from the EU, into this context, and in light of these most central facts, we should be able to see that whatever the risks of leaving the EU, in terms of possible negative economic effects, for example — which, by the way, are all hyper-inflated, and vastly exaggerated, and largely a lot of hot air and hyperbole — the risks cannot outweigh the value of democracy: if, that is, we value democracy at all.

If you value democracy, you must oppose the EU. If you value democracy and support the EU, then I would say you are living in a dream world.

So the question is, what is the bigger danger: an exit from the EU, with potential, though far from certain, negative effects; or effective rule by the ECB and the banking elite, and the effective nullification and destruction of sovereignty, democracy and freedom? I think any sane person can answer that question instantly, and without hesitation.

Leaving the EU presents a far lesser risk than remaining subservient to and subjugated by the ECB and the banking elite. Leaving the EU will not immediately grant freedom or independence from the banking elite, but it is one step closer to it; while remaining in the EU guarantees that the troika will continue to rule, the ECB, the IMF and the banking elite will continue to rule, and sovereignty, democracy and freedom will all continue to be eviscerated and crushed.

As Public Enemy said, “Don’t believe the hype.”

As an aside, and as a secondary consideration, we can say this about the economic prospects for Britain, either in or out of the EU.

Membership in the EU has not proven to be the holy grail of economic miracles, as it was proclaimed to be. In fact, entrance into the EU has brought nothing but economic stagnation for many nations. Italy, for example, is about to follow the path of Greece, and is in serious trouble economically — Italy, a once-great economic power. For the past decade Italy’s economy has been almost completely stagnant — in fact, it now ranks in the bottom three nations for economic stagnation globally. All sing the praises of the EU now. The central, and fundamental questions of democracy, sovereignty and freedom aside, any perceived or imagined economic benefits that might be derived from membership in the EU are dubious at best — and purely fictional at worst, and in most cases.

Secondly, if any negative economic fallout does happen in a serious or major way as a result of Britain leaving the EU — beyond the market correction for the ill-advised speculation and wide-spread gambling on the part of investors that Britain would vote to remain in — it will most likely be the result of the Western elite punishing the people of Britain for their defiance of the troika and the ruling cabal, and seeking a path to greater independence.

Thirdly, and most important, in terms of economic considerations at least, Britain’s economic woes are exactly the same as those shared by virtually every other Western nation: namely, they are the result of neoliberal policies of corporate globalization. Remaining in or leaving the EU has absolutely nothing to do with it. It is neoliberalism and corporate globalization which are the roots of the problem, both in terms of democracy, and also in terms of simple economics.

Look at the numbers.

Since the economic crash of 2007–2008 — which I predicted, by the way, while virtually everyone was saying that things are just rosy, and would continue to be rosy — 95% of the new wealth created has gone to the richest 1%.

The trillions of dollars in “stimulus” programs and bail-outs, which in reality represent a mass theft, and one of the greatest transfers of wealth from the people to the elite in history, has done nothing but line the pockets of the already astronomically rich — mainly the banking elite and their cronies.

A recent systems analysis from Switzerland confirmed the obvious: a small group of large corporations, roughly 40, mainly banks, effectively control the global economy.

A recent study from Princeton also confirms the obvious: the US is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy, and the bottom 99% of the population have little to no influence on public policy — exactly as with Britain, the EU, and most nations of the world, where transnational corporate powers have effectively taken over the nation-states.

And a report released by Oxfam this year confirms that neoliberalism and corporate globalization has failed utterly in its stated aims of lifting all boats, benefiting all people, and reducing poverty: the poorest half of humanity lost nearly half its wealth in the past few years alone — to the richest 1%, who now control 99% of the wealth of the planet, while the richest 68 people on earth now have as much wealth as the poorest half.

We are being driven at break neck speed, by corporate globalization and neoliberalism, or class warfare enacted by the super-rich upon the rest, to put it more directly, into a global neo-feudal order and a new dark age. And of course, in that context, it is the merger of business and the state which is central — which, as Mussolini said, is corporatism, or what he called, the proper term for fascism. This is the central context, and anyone who does not see it yet must be living under a rock.

If Britain had someone like Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, or Tony Benn, then some serious economic stimulus and economic recovery could become a real possibility, and a reality, along with a recovery of sovereignty, democracy, and freedom from virtual serfdom under the neo-feudal banking cartel. But instead, Britain has had forty years of the tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum of neoconservatism and neoliberalism, which are two sides of the same coin of corporate rule, and that is why the economy, like the democratic process, is shattered, and in dust and ruin.

Britain, like the US and Canada, has for the past 40 years gone head-long into a corporate-style globalization, where manufacturing, production, and profits, are off-shored, and shipped to China and other low-wage nations, for the sake of higher corporate margins and yields, and greater wealth for the elite who control them. The results have been predictable: de-industrialization, massive unemployment, the destruction of the middle class, soaring poverty and inequality, and the general “third-worldization” of the formerly wealthy Western nations, as Noam Chomsky has called it.

In other words, it is the feeding frenzy of the elite and the policies enacted by their political prostitutes which have wreaked economic devastation on Britain and the rest of the world. Blaming Brexit for such structural and systemic problems is utterly foolish, or else utterly deceitful.

The greatest danger facing the world today is the Western power elite — namely, the banking elite, the other corporate elites, and the Western political elite in the US, the EU and Canada, among other nations, who loyally serve their corporate masters. They are at war with democracy, civil liberties, freedom, constitutional rule, international law, the overwhelming majority of the people, and the earth itself. Not only that, but the war on democracy, the people and the earth, which is escalating daily to ever greater levels, and which is global, not only threatens to destroy and eliminate all remnants of democracy, sovereignty, civil liberties and freedom, along with justice and equality, and not only is it racing towards a dark age of neo-feudalism, and to the total destruction of any decent future for humankind on earth, due to severe and growing ecological malfeasance and environmental pillaging; but furthermore, the same rabidly anti-democratic elite are pushing us ever closer to world war, and to nuclear holocaust.

In this context, to pander to paranoia on lesser issues, almost trivial issues by comparison, or at least, comparatively minor issues, such as whether or not Britain leaves or remains in the EU, is not only foolish in the extreme, but positively insane — that, or it is simple propaganda. On these facts we should be perfectly clear.

J. Todd Ring,
July 13, 2016

 

 

In or Out? Democracy, the EU, and the Fate of the Earth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2016 by jtoddring

The people of Britain have now voted to leave the EU. That vote has deeper and more far-ranging consequences than many people realize. Among other things, it means the beginning of the dissolution and death of the EU. And I would say that is a very good thing, for the reasons I’ve outlined here.

The following article was written, in the main, before the British vote on whether or not to remain in the EU. Now that the people have chosen, the issue becomes even more relevant, because the viability of the EU, and the desirability of any nation remaining in the EU, has come even more into question. This is only the beginning of the debate, and far from the end. And no, it is not about racism or xenophobia, at least for any sane person — it is about democracy and sovereignty, versus rule by the ECB and the banks, which is what the EU now represents.

Europe has nearly a billion people within it. And of course, Europe is also a major economic, military and cultural super-power. Europe and North America, to state the obvious, represent the major centres of the Western empire, just as Russia and China represent the major centres of what can be called the Eastern empire. What happens in any of these four world-dominant regions is therefore deeply significant, and has profound influence, and profound impacts, for the entire world. We should, therefore, be awake to what is going on in Europe and the other major centres of world power. Otherwise, we are simply sleep-walking into disaster.

*

The impulses towards independence, freedom, sovereignty, authentic democracy and self-determination are wise as well as entirely legitimate. Calling such impulses nativism, as is happening, simply clouds the issues. We must separate out the issues of racism and xenophobia, which are thoroughly disgusting and which have no place in any informed or intelligent discussion, from the issue of freedom and democracy, versus corporate rule, excessive centralization of powers, or oligarchy. If we cannot do that, then we cannot talk intelligently about what is happening in Europe, or anywhere for that matter.

Nativism is a term being thrown about because the term nationalism is too dangerous now. Nationalism might invoke thoughts of sovereignty, self-determination, democracy, freedom or independence, and these are rightly viewed by the majority of people world-wide as good things. So the term nationalism has been dropped, in favour of the more emotionally charged term of nativism, which invokes thoughts of racism, xenophobia, and a narrow and ignorant parochialism. But such talk and such jingoism simply skirts the issues of freedom, sovereignty and democracy, which remain the central issues, and it clouds the issues in very real, and severe ways.

The troika’s actions in Greece, and especially in Italy, where the ECB and the bankers essentially staged a coup, overthrew and removed a democratically elected government, and replaced it with an appointed government of banking elites, show that the EU is no longer democratic in any remote definition of the term, but has been taken over by the ECB and the banking elite, as Gerald Celente and others have said. That being considered, I would say that staying in the EU is absolute insanity. Unless you wish to be ruled by the European Central Bank and Goldman Sachs, you must oppose the EU, and seek to leave it, and now. And that has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia, and everything to do with democracy.

There is, clearly and undeniably, a slow-motion global corporate coup which is underway, a fact which of course is well-known to many people. And the global corporate coup is gaining momentum, and is accelerating. In short, the business elite want to own and rule the world. This is nothing new. We have seen this kind of infantile grandiosity, unfettered greed, egomania and power-lust many times before. But it is no less dangerous simply because it is not new.

The EU, the ECB and the IMF, or the troika, as they are called, have become, or have long been, instruments of the on-going corporate coup. This must be recognized, clearly, and unflinchingly. They are no more democratic than Goldman Sachs is democratic. These are institutions of pyramidal, elite control, and elite rule. They are institutions, not of freedom, equality, solidarity and democracy, but of oligarchy, plutocracy, and corporate neo-feudalism.

The same is true, of course, with regards to many other major organizations, agreements and centres of power in the world today: almost all of the biggest ones have become, or have long been, instruments of elite rule, and instruments of corporate power — and instruments of the unfolding corporate take-over of the world. These include the privately owned US Federal Reserve, the private central banks of most nations, the BIS, which is the central bankers’ central bank, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the SPP, and the so-called trade agreements, which are in truth corporate rights agreements, including the TTP, TTIP, CETA and NAFTA. And of course, the neoliberal ideology and agenda (or propaganda narrative, as it more accurately should be described) props them all up and underpins them all. All of these instruments of the rising neo-feudal, rabidly anti-democratic, and truly, crypto-fascist global corporate take-over, and de facto corporate rule, must be questioned, challenged, resisted, seen for what they are, and thoroughly rejected and defeated. And this includes the EU.

Over two hundred years ago, in 1812, Thomas Jefferson warned of the rising powers of the corporations, and what he called, “the new moneyed aristocracy” which controls them. He said, “I hope we shall crush the new moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it bids defiance to our laws, and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.” We failed to listen then, and we have failed to listen since, and we are reaping the dark rewards.

The moneyed aristocracy have taken over, the war on democracy and freedom is almost won — meaning, the people lose, and the oligarchy wins — and we are now entering a new feudal age, where the banking and other corporate elites control and rule the world. And yet, the obvious truth of this fact is still dismissed, marginalized, minimized or overlooked, while we focus on secondary and derivative issues. This is the central issue of our time: freedom and democracy are being systematically destroyed by a slow-motion global corporate coup. And yet, we are asleep at the wheel, while heading for disaster. Worse, we are not even at the wheel. We are allowing the corporate elite and their political prostitutes to drive us into a new dark age, and into extinction, while we yawn, or bicker over what are, by comparison, distractions.

As the leading Canadian environmental scientist, David Suzuki has said, “We’re racing toward a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour, and everyone is arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

What we need to be doing, above all, is to change course, and the most central and urgent course correction that must be made, if human beings are to survive, is for us to halt and reverse the global corporate coup which is undeniably taking place right now, as we speak. And to do that, we must strengthen, at least temporarily, the nation-state and national democracies, as Chomsky has also said, along with the democratic process at the level of the province or state, and at the level of local municipal governments. The EU, like the SPP, the IMF, the BIS, the WEF and the corporate rights agreements, run precisely counter to these most central and urgent tasks and goals, and so, must be opposed and rejected.

Above all, we need to restore power to the people, not remove it further from their hands. We need to halt the greatly excessive concentration and over-centralization of power, not aid and abet and further it.

(As an important aside, it should be noted, for libertarians and anarchists in particular — and I would, with some qualifications and reservations, count myself among the latter, along with Chomsky, Thoreau, Bertrand Russell, Bookchin, Kropotkin, Huxley, Orwell and many others: we must accept that it is now critical to support at least a temporary strengthening and defence of national democracies and the nation-state, as Chomsky has also said; because if we do not, the result will not be freedom, but simply tyranny and empire of a new kind, and a de facto global government, as the business press has called it, of the global corporate empire and its institutions. If these facts are not perfectly clear, then frankly, we are not dealing with the real world, and we should leave all discussion about politics or social issues to people who do not live in a cloud, but who have their feet firmly planted on the earth.)

The central pattern, or essential nature of the new global corporate empire, is five-fold. It represents a further hyper-concentration of wealth and power in the world, far beyond anything we have ever seen in recorded history. It represents the inevitable corollary of staggering and truly astronomical inequality. It represents a war on democracy, freedom and constitutional rule, and the replacement of democracy, freedom and constitutional law with oligarchy and neo-feudalism. It represents an increasingly violent militarism and a deeply Orwellian global surveillance state, since the overwhelming majority of the people world-wide are suffering immensely from the corporate empire, and oppose it, and so, must be forcibly restrained from overthrowing it. And it represents as rapacious looting and pillaging of humanity and the earth, which is driving us rapidly into a dark age and into extinction. And all of these central features of the new corporate empire, and all of these trends, are accelerating. This is the central thrust of human civilization, if you can call it that, at this time, and it must be firmly addressed, and now.

We need to oppose and reject the instruments of corporate power which are furthering the hyper-concentration of power in society and the on-going global corporate coup. And the major instruments of corporate power and global corporate rule now include (1) the EU, the SPP, the IMF, the World Bank, the BIS, the Fed and WEF — which are the major institutions of global corporate rule; (2) the military-industrial-security complex, which acts as the armed guard of the global corporate empire; (3) the great majority of the media, which is the empire’s primary propaganda division; (4) neoliberalism, which is the ideology, agenda, and propaganda narrative of global corporate rule; and (5) the corporate rights agreements such as the CETA, NAFTA, TTIP and the TTP, which provide the anti-democratic, unconstitutional, and illegal, legal framework for the global corporate empire, and which give corporations powers over and above democratic governments, and essentially render democratic government null and void, or eviscerated and destroyed. These are the simple facts of the matter, and we must be clear about them. We cannot afford to be distracted or muddy in our thinking, or we are lost.

*

The activist group, Avaaz, recently involved itself in the question of whether Britain should leave or remain in the EU. And I have never seen a worse muddying of the issues. Avaaz framed the issue as a question of xenophobia versus love — if you favour love, then you will vote to remain in the EU, but if you want to leave the EU, then you must of course be xenophobic. Not only is this a radical oversimplification of the issues, but it is thoroughly misleading, and has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. It is appalling behaviour for an organization that claims to be one of the world’s leading activist groups, or even, ridiculously, the leading activist group in the world.

There are good reasons, and very valid reasons, for wanting to leave the EU, and none of them have anything to do with racism or xenophobia. Moreover, just because some people who are xenophobic have argued for leaving the EU, does not mean that any person who wants an exit from the EU must therefore be xenophobic, or that if we are we not xenophobic, we must therefore wish to remain in the EU. An eight year old can understand such distinctions. And we should too.

We must separate out the issues of racism and xenophobia from the issues of democracy and freedom. The EU is now antithetical to democracy and freedom, and has proven that it is in fierce opposition to democracy and freedom, as its actions in Italy and Greece have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt. To remain in the EU, considering these undeniable facts, would, for this reason, be foolish in the extreme. And that has nothing to do with xenophobia.

Donald Trump apparently favours Britain leaving the EU, and therefore, much of the left feels compelled to take the opposite position of Trump, out of a knee-jerk reaction. But such reactionary tendencies are infantile, and foolish in the extreme. The left is general clueless, and only slightly less so than the right, so we should have no concern for what the left thinks about anything. Following the crowd is for pre-pubescent school children, not for thoughtful adults. And a narrow-minded thinking that presumes guilt by association is equally foolish. We must judge issues on a case by case basis, and not simply follow this camp or that, follow the herd, or form our opinions based on reactionary thinking.

Just because some orange-haired, racist and xenophobic buffoon takes on a certain position, does not mean that we must automatically take the opposite position. Sometimes even morons get it right, even if they get it right for the wrong reasons. Trump is right in calling for Britain to leave the EU — he is just wrong about the reasons why Britain should leave. Democracy, freedom, sovereignty and self-determination are the valid reasons to leave the EU. And even though Trump is a fool, he is right in calling for an exit. And to call for an exit from the EU does not mean, to belabour what should be an obvious point, that one is therefore, by necessity, either xenophobic, or a supporter of right wing crackpots like Trump.

I’m not sure how much more clearly it can be spelled out. The issue of the EU and whether to remain in or to leave it, seems to have become so clouded by dim-witted reactionary gibberish — from the left as well as the right — that it is difficult to clear away the fog. But we must try. And as I have said, this is merely the beginning of the debate on the nature, viability, and desirability of the EU, and not by any means the end.

*

When the European Union was first tabled publicly as an idea, as a proposal, I followed the debate about it to some extent, and reflected on it deeply. And I concluded then, that the European Union would be an over-centralization of power, and the result would be an undermining of both freedom and democracy. And that is exactly what the EU has proven to be. Now, with the ECB, the banking elite and the troika clearly in charge, the EU has proven beyond all doubt that it has no allegiance to either freedom or to democracy, but only to the interests of the ruling corporate elite, and in particular, to the banking elite. To be unaware of these facts, or to deny them, minimize or gloss over them, is the height of foolishness; and it is a very dangerous, as well as irresponsible and dismal state for one to be in, at that.

When power in society is highly concentrated and centralized, then freedom, democracy, and the self-determination of the people, the ability of people to shape their own lives and choose their own destiny, become hollow, meaningless, and lost, as oligarchy, empire and elite rule replace democracy, freedom, and a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Therefore, if we value freedom or democracy, we should oppose all forms of excessive centralization or concentration of power in society, because that is antithetical to both freedom and democracy. This should be politics 101. These things should not have to be said, but it seems they do.

Chomsky has said that at this point in human history, with an environmental crisis growing rapidly and exponentially, literally ever day, and with the ruling corporate powers blocking all serious change, democracy becomes, not only a value to be preserved, but in all likelihood, a matter of survival. I could not agree more. And we had better realize the fact sooner than later, or we are finished. Whatever is blocking authentic, functioning, constitutional democracy, must be shattered, moved aside, abandoned, rejected, or otherwise overcome, or we are going to see a dark age ahead, followed closely by human extinction. Again, these are the simple facts of the matter, and we had best be perfectly lucid, unflinching, and clear about them.

Thomas Jefferson and Aldous Huxley, two of the most astute political writers I have ever encountered, both said that if we value freedom or democracy — as we should, if we are at all sane — then we must prevent any form of excessive concentration or centralization of power in society, for that surely is the road to tyranny, and the destruction of both freedom and democracy. Yet we have allowed exactly that to happen, slowly, over the past two hundred years since the birth of modern democracy, and in particular, over the past four decades since the birth of neoliberalism and corporate globalization.

And what are the forms of excessive concentration and centralization of power in the world today? Well, the obvious one is the global take-over by big business and the corporate elite. And closely related to that global corporate coup — which we can still reverse, and overturn, if we have the presence of mind and the will, the spine, to do so — are the organizations and agreements which serve to expand and consolidate corporate powers, over and above democracy and the power of the people.

The major forms of excessive concentration and centralization of power in the world today are the organizations and agreements which in general serve the ruling corporate oligarchy, and which in practice, though not in rhetoric, function to expand or to consolidate global corporate powers and global corporate rule, and of course, with the result being the effective death of liberty, democracy and constitutional law. These include the EU, the SPP, the Bank for International Settlements and the private central banks, including the Fed, along with the IMF, the World Economic Forum, and the corporate rights agreements which are being driven down the people’s throats. And all of them should be opposed — must be opposed — if we value either freedom or democracy, as we should.

*

Liberty, equality, solidarity, and democracy are values worth preserving. Without them, we will have only tyranny, and a hastened rush towards self-destruction and global ecological holocaust. It is not now, liberty or death, in the sense that liberty is precious enough to risk death — but more starkly, liberty or death have become our only alternatives. We need to reflect hard and deeply on this, and now, because we are losing all that we have struggled for, over the past 200-some years since the birth of modern democracy; and worse, we are losing everything we have gained over the past 800 years, since the signing of the Magna Carta. The stakes could not be higher, and ignorance and illusion must be shattered, before we destroy ourselves, as well as our liberty, completely.

While the people of the United States decide which demagogue, corporate puppet or psychopath they will elect as president, or whether, if they are sensible, they will elect a genuine populist, and friend and servant of the people, the people of Europe must contend with one central question above all, and that is, how they will respond to the troika, which represents the new Royal Court, at least for the region, of global neo-feudal corporate rule. The choices, in both cases, I would say are abundantly clear. And there is no time to delay in our response.

JTR,
June 17, 2016

Post-Script:

Neoliberalism is the ideology and agenda of the unfolding global corporate coup, and the de facto, global, neo-feudal corporate rule which is emerging from it. It has to die.

Constitutional democracy may be severely flawed, but oligarchy, or plutocracy, is most definitely far worse. And as Mussolini said himself, corporatism is the proper term for fascism, which is the merger of business and the state — and that is what neoliberalism, and the global corporate empire that it upholds, represents. We should have no illusions about it.

Neoliberalism, in essence, is the ideology of global corporate rule — and the corporate globalization which is driving us into a neo-feudal global corporate rule. It must be resisted, opposed, firmly rejected, and relegated to the trash bin of history. It is an ideology which is under attack, under heavy criticism, and which is dying. But it is still dangerous, and it still has the support of the ruling class, which is the billionaire class of the international business elite, and their prostitutes in political office, academia and the media. And it is an ideology which must be killed, before it kills the planet, and all life on it.

Yes, the power elite always want to protect themselves and their interests, and a major component of that is to deflect criticism. That’s why we have the “war on terrorism”, and a state of permanent war, as Orwell understood very well. And the loyal servants to the power elite, such as the corporate media, along with much of the academy, play that role routinely and habitually, slavishly, whether they are conscious of it or not.

We all have both power and responsibility, but clearly, some individuals have more power than others, and thus, a greater responsibility for the crimes and injustice we see in the world.

An example may help to clarify. I think the other role for such a web site as the one recently created by CNN, titled, Slavery Footprint, which is indicative of the problem, is to accustom people to the idea that there are slaves and there are the privileged – and that is perfectly acceptable, we are supposed to believe, or come to accept. It is an assault on compassion, empathy, human solidarity and community, and on all moral sentiments.

A central driving force of the propaganda system, as Chomsky has said, is not just to sow fear and division — following the central maxim of all empires, which is to divide and conquer — and to isolate the people from one another so that they will be disempowered and thus easily controlled; but also, to destroy their sense of compassion, empathy, human sympathy, love and mutual aid, so that no such unity of the people can arise to oppose the imperial powers.

So the ruling power elite, as the great sociologist C. Wright Mills phrased it, who are the global corporate elite, along with their puppets and propagandists in government and the media, promote narcissism, nihilism, materialism, consumerism, vanity, egocentrism and callousness, as well as fear and division, illusion and distraction, demoralization and mass disempowerment of the people.

It is simply an evolution, or devolution, of the ancient imperial strategy: divide and conquer. Dehumanize, demoralize, disempower, distract, delude, and divide the people, and they will be easily manipulated, and the power elite can rule as god-kings. That is the basic game plan, and that is the truly sociopathic thrust of the brave new world of global neo-feudal corporatism under which we now live.

*

Avaaz does good work. It is also in the wrong at times. This is one case. The EU has been taken over by the ECB and the banking elite, as the banker’s coup in Italy proved, where the banking elite overthrew a democratically elected government and installed a government run by and for bankers, as Gerald Celente has said. To remain in the EU is not an act of love — it is an act of foolishly misreading the situation, and dangerously so.

The banking elite run Britain too, along with the EU and most of the world, but to allow a further continuation of hyper-concentration and over-centralization of power in society is disastrous, and the road to tyranny. The best chance we have to halting the slow-motion global corporate coup is by restoring the powers of constitutional democracy within nation states, and to stop the dissolution of nation-states and national democracies into globalist power blocks, such as NAFTA, the SPP and the EU.

Allowing power to be ever further removed from the hands of the people, through an ever-greater centralization and concentration of power in society, will only aid the infantile, yet extremely dangerous dreams of global empire, which the new corporate elite, like their predecessors, hold dear.

We need to bolster the power of elected constitutional democracies on the level of the nation-state, the provincial or state level, and the level of municipalities and local governments. What we do not need is a further centralization of power. Power is already overly centralized, and already concentrated in too few hands to be either safe or democratic. And a further concentration and centralization of power, as is happening in the EU as well as with the so-called trade deals, is only helping the banking and other corporate elites to further their agenda of global domination and anti-democratic, neo-feudal elite rule.

For these reasons, the EU, as it stands now, which is as an instrument for elite corporate powers — along with the IMF, WEF, BIS, and the corporate rights deals such as CETA, NAFTA, TTIP and the TPP — must be rejected, and abolished.

Solidarity, yes. Cooperation and trade, yes. Openness and friendly relations with all, yes. But, grossly excessive, unaccountable, and undemocratic centralization of powers in the hands of a tiny global elite? No. Absolutely not. Therefore, the EU must go, and the people must reject it.

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

Neoliberalism, the Shock Doctrine and Disaster Capitalism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2015 by jtoddring

Normally I post only essays that I have written on my blog, but this deserves to be an exception to the rule. This is a true Must-Watch. But before watching the video below, please take a few minutes to read my own analysis of neoliberalism, and what it means for humanity and the earth.

Naomi Klein clarifies the history of neoliberalism and the current state of the world in a few short minutes.

100,000 protests a year in China now, protests across Europe and North America, rising popular discontent with growing inequality and poverty, increasing cuts to social programs, and neoliberal austerity measures…. What is happening, and why? Watch the video below. But first, read this.

*

In a nutshell, neoliberalism is the reigning global ideological orthodoxy which puts corporate profits, and corporate powers, above people, the environment, and also democracy. It is a disaster for everyone but the super-rich global investor class. It needs to be rejected, firmly and categorically, as many nations have begun to do. But first, it needs to be understood. Most people do not yet understand it, and they need to, because they are being devoured by it, and their countries and world are being devoured by it.

The advocates of the new global ideological hegemony of neoliberalism claim that it lowers debts and deficits, creates strong economies, and all boats rise on the rising tide – the traditional trickle down theory. But the reality is precisely the opposite.

Neoliberalism has created economic chaos and instability, bubbles and crashes, wild speculation, the virtual gutting of main street, bloated debts, full-scale corporate welfare, and bankrupting “bailouts” and “stimulus” packages, which are giant acts of theft from the public purse, and gigantic gifts to the robber baron class of the corporate raiders, while the people struggle and are forced to face “austerity measures”.

Neoliberalism means gigantic tax breaks and public subsidies for large corporations and the rich, with austerity programs for the other 99% of the people, as health care, education, and other programs which help the people, are slashed and burned to the ground, ripping the safety net out from underneath them, and as a result, creating more desperate, and hence, more pliable and obedient workers, and the privatization of virtually everything, meaning, the corporate take-over of everything, while destroying the economy, plundering the treasuries and the nations of the world, creating soaring unemployment, poverty and inequality, an explosion of slums, the return of walled communities, just as in the medieval era, and creating ecological disaster as well as rising social instability; and all the while, deregulating big business, and giving the corporations and the super-rich the freedom to do whatever they like, and to be above the law – but, with increasingly draconian and often literally fascist means of repression for the people, in order to keep the people under control during the increasingly precarious, poor and insecure conditions under which they are forced to live.

It is true that neoliberalism has created a large middle class in China, India and Latin America, but it has done so at tremendous cost. Firstly, there is tremendous devastation to the environment from this economic model, and the way in which wealth is being created – all questions of the distribution of wealth aside.

Secondly, it has spread the social disease of materialism and consumerism to enlist more people around the world into its ranks. The culture and lifestyle of materialism and consumerism is not sustainable for North America and Europe, and it is not sustainable anywhere else in the world. We have to be absolutely clear about that.

Secondly, while corporate-driven neoliberalism is sowing environmental cataclysm, it is also sowing wild, historically unprecedented, and rapidly growing inequality. Yes, there is now a large middle class in China, India, Latin America, parts of Africa, and much of Asia and Eastern Europe, but most of the wealth being generated under the neolibeal model is going to the top 1% – exactly as it was intended to do – while the bottom 80-90% of the people live in increasing insecurity, or are actively being pushed down, further into poverty.

So the entire economic and political model is a social, environmental, and economic disaster, with only the super-rich, and to some small extent, in some places, a small percentage of the people who are the affluent middle class, who benefit.

Meanwhile, the very policies of neoliberalism have created a flight of production and profits out of the richest nations in North America and Europe, as manufacturing is sent to low-wage, low-regulation regions. This has led to soaring unemployment, poverty and inequality in North America and Europe, and a virtual elimination, or evisceration, of the middle class on two continents. And the people in these countries are understandably very angry about this, and social unrest is rising rapidly, and coming to a boiling point.

Worst of all, neoliberalism is accelerating the corporate take-over of democracy, and the destruction of democracy, as large corporations grant themselves, through their political proxies and lapdogs, powers that supersede, transcend, and effectively over-rule and nullify, the powers of parliaments and democratically elected governments.

Neoliberalism is, in short, the creation, not just of extreme inequality, along with social and economic chaos and instability, and extreme environmental devastation, but also, the creation of a new empire, and a new oligarchy. The pharaohs would be envious of the stratospheric wealth and powers of the new oligarchs: the de facto world government of the billionaire class. But we should be very concerned, because democracy and freedom are being destroyed. If for no other reason, this is sufficient reason to reject neoliberalism entirely.

Neoliberalism is essentially a rape and pillage economic model that leads us into neo-feudal corporate rule, or corporatism, which, as Mussolini said, is the proper name for fascism. Something has to give. This program, agenda, orthodoxy or ideology – this game plan that has been foisted upon the people of the earth by the corporate elite, and which benefits only the corporate elite, has to be jettisoned, and now.

*

Money and wealth are being sucked up and siphoned off by a global rentier class, the billionaire elite; and the 99% of humanity who are not among the wealthy elite are suffering under this current corporatist, neoliberal agenda – which, as Chomsky has said, essentially means “profits over people”. Meanwhile, the economy is getting more and more unstable, while debts are reaching crisis levels, and the whole order is set to implode and collapse, like a house of cards – for reasons of growing social, economic, and also ecological instability.

The neoliberal model is now in crisis because of its disastrous effects on the majority of the people, as well as the environment, democracy, and also the economy. The model was forced on Chile, under the dictator Pinochet, and even Pinochet had to abandon it, because it destroyed the economy, as Greg Palast makes clear.

In Argentina, the model was applied, as it was forced on the world, and the model also failed, as it has failed everywhere it has been imposed. In the ’90’s Argentina was following the rules, obeying the IMF, and adhering to the “Washington Consensus” of Friedmanite, Chicago School of Economics, neoliberal doctrine, and Argentina was held up as the poster child of success under that model. But 60% of the people fell into poverty, capital flight was enormous, and finally, the economy collapsed – precisely due to the neoliberal orthodoxy. So the people toppled five presidents in three weeks, and threw the neoliberals from power. Now Argentina has begun to recover economically, because it has rejected neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism is the ideology of corporate globalization, to put it succinctly. For most people today, that is enough to reject it, because, as polls have shown, the people are overwhelmingly opposed to it. A recent poll in Canada revealed that 70% of Canadians believe that corporate globalization has been bad for the country and the people. The corporate elite know that their program is wildly unpopular. that is why the “trade deals” – which in truth are corporate rights agreements – are discussed and signed in private, and in secret.

The crisis of legitimacy for the reigning business and political elite grows daily, and is rapidly nearing a tipping point, when the system will simply collapse, because the people have rejected it – just as they rejected the command and control economy and the entire social structure of the Soviet Union. But the fight is not over yet, and we should be anything but complacent.

The key reason why neoliberalism, or corporate globalization, must be rejected, among many other reasons, is that it is a direct assault on democracy by the corporate powers. As the great British Parliamentarian, Tony Benn said, “The big question today is, “Will globalization allow democracy to survive?”” We cannot afford to be complacent about that question, or to take a “wait and see” attitude.

Democracy is under full frontal attack by what Thomas Jefferson called, “The new moneyed aristocracy”. Complacency is not a luxury that we can afford.

Watch this short video by Canadian journalist and author, Naomi Klein, then see my youtube channel for more insightful videos. Look for the playlists: Must-watch, and, Economics In The Real World.

J. Todd Ring,
October 17, 2015

Thoughts on the NDP

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2015 by jtoddring

I’d like to have confidence in the NDP, but they have become a neoliberal party, in full submission to the corporate powers and the neoliberal corporate agenda, despite the fanfare and the piece-meal token gestures.

Mulcair certainly is no Tommy Douglas, nor is he a Tony Benn. I hope I am wrong, and I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong, but he strikes me as the new Tony Blair – the lapdog of the corporate powers, and Washington’s poodle, as one British newspaper called him, and appropriately so. Show us some spine, NDP, and we will show you support. You have to merit support, not just receive it because of a posture of righteousness which is largely hollow.

The NDP continues on its stubborn, and foolish, stategically and morally disastrous path of trying to battle the Liberals for the centre. Here is news, boys and girls – the NDP will never win that battle. The Liberals are too entrenched as the party of the centre for the NDP to win by imitating the Liberals.

What the NDP needs to do, as I’ve said for years, is present a bold alternative to the other major parties. This, the NDP has refused to do, and this is why the NDP, therefore, has made itself irrelevant.

Worse than pursuing a failed strategy: trying to compete with the Liberals for the centre has to be seen within the context of a constantly shifting centre, as all of the major parties have slid far to the right over the past thirty years. So competing with the Liberals for the centre now means behaving like a right-wing party of neoliberal corporate globalization – which is an ethical disaster.

So let’s stop pretending, and change the name and the official platform of the NDP to something more honest: The New Corporatist Party: “A party dedicated to corporate profits and corporate power” – with just enough bells and whistles and banners and token gestures to conceal its true nature as a band of political prostitutes in drag as the heroes of the people.

I have to say that the Harper Conservative government presents such a grave and imminent threat to democracy in Canada, that he simply has to be defeated – even if it means for voting for the lesser of evils. For that reason alone, I think the NDP are worth supporting in ridings where they might win, just as the Liberals are worth supporting in ridings where they might win.

I have been fiercely opposed to strategic voting in the past, and in general, and even in the recent past, but I have come to feel that Harper simply must be removed from power, even if we have to hold our nose and vote for a party we have little faith in, in order to do it.

That doesn’t leave the Liberals and NDP off the hook: it simply means that they must be pressed harder, even if, or when, the people vote one or both of them into power.

JTR,
October 17, 2015

A sinking world, and sane responses to it

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by jtoddring

My country is sinking like a rock (for reasons of corporate oligarchy, neoliberalism, corporate rights agreements, and an addiction to oil revenues and the politics of a resource extraction-based economy, and the thorough corporate domination of the political process), though the great majority of my fellow citizens do not realize it, lost in a stupor of denial as they are (I can think of twelve countries in the Western hemisphere which are either moving in a positive direction, or at least showing some fight – and Canada is not one of them); and so too is the greater part of the world descending, and rapidly so, into a morass of injustice and ecological suicide, to say nothing of concerns for freedom, human rights and democracy, (as well as a pervasive malady, and an epidemic, of economic fundamentalism, neoliberalism and neoconservatism being the primary, and reigning, quasi-religious orthodoxies, along with other forms of ideological and even “scientific” fundamentalism, which are widespread, and far more influential today than their mirror image, which is religious fundamentalism, and an even worse epidemic of illusions of powerlessness, as well as an epidemic of apathy, denial, conformity, and undue and excessive, and frequently mad obedience to power) with only a handful of countries as the exception. How am I not to be distressed, if not anguished, and even furious, or all of the above?

All of the greatest minds and greatest spirits have echoed the same thoughts about the modern world. As David Suzuki has recently said (paraphrasing from memory), “There has never been a better time for being scared and angry….. We should get mad as hell, and then fight like hell.”

Where is the fight in us? And why should we be ashamed of being distraught with a world that is on a collision course with both tyranny and collective ecological suicide, as well as being steeped in war, violence, rampant injustice, inequality, poverty and a culture of voyeurism, vicarious living, materialism, consumerism, and a pathological aversion to the real?

As the great sociologist Erich Fromm said (again, paraphrasing from memory), “Normal only exists in relation to a profoundly abnormal norm.” “The fact that there is neurosis [or psychological strain and distress] is a good sign. It is a sign of a healthy individual, an individual that is still struggling to be fully alive, and by necessity, is struggling against a society that wishes to turn him or her into an atomaton.”

As the saying goes, “If you can keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs – you’re not paying attention.”

Calm is good. Heart-break for the state of the world is natural. And action is vitally needed – and urgently so.

Let’s see more action, and the heart-break will fade into a memory of times past, and lessons learned.

JTR,
October 7, 2015

Essential reading:

(A few among many other great books that could be included in such a list)

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

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

When Technology Fails – Matt Stein

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

The Chalice and the Blade – Rianne Eisler

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Ancient Futures – Helena Norberg-Hodge

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Roads To Freedom – Bertrand Russell

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin Was No Crackpot – Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, June, 1997

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell