19 Jul 2017

Corporations are beating us up;
can we develop a more just system?

Aggressive capitalism is kicking the crap out of us,  so we should see if we can start a public conversation about the need for an alternative political and social system.

It’s shocking that capitalist businesses have become so dominant. They literally rule the world In Canada, the low-profile Canadian Council of Chief Executives is all powerful when it comes to influencing government.

We see corporate greed all around us. Four out of 10 Canadians – many of them earning around $11 an hour – can’t pay their bills but Canadian corporations are sitting on at least $630-billion in cash they’re refusing to invest in the economy.

Unfortunately, even when many people know about the damage caused by capitalism, they feel a totally alternative political system is such a distant possibility, that they don’t bother discussing it.


Of course powerful people fearful of the threat of a social upheaval have demonized the words socialism and communism. This scares the hell out of many people.

Mainstream media are owned by corporations that seldom, if ever, report on alternative political systems. If ideas aren’t laid out before the public, they really don’t exist.

PEOPLE ARE FED UP

Despite the lies and badgering that comes from corporations and the wealthy, people in several countries are fed up with traditional politics. They’re fighting back against corporations and governments that are joined at the hip.

Those who supported the Brexit vote for Britain to leave the European Union and the millions who voted for Donald Trump are, among other things, anti-establishment. They feel they have been ignored and left behind.

It seems that many Canadians share the same views. Seventy-one per cent of people taking part in a large poll in June said they believed the same populism evident in the U.S. is on the rise in this country. Many of those interviewed were working class or poor.

Ekos pollster Frank Graves found that 70 per cent of those polled believe that almost all the economic growth over the past 20 years has ended up in the hands of the top one per cent.  Almost 25 per cent of Canadians believe there is a good chance they will lose their jobs in the next couple of years.

Our political system works mainly for the handful of people who control the parties. Only 11 per cent of Canadians have been members of a political party in recent years.  When it comes time to elect new leaders, the candidate who sells the most cheap memberships often wins.

POTENTIAL SOCIALIST VOTE

I believe there is such dissatisfaction with mainstream political parties that, if we adopted proportional representation and people felt their vote counted for something, thousands of Canadians would vote for a well-led socialist party.
I am not an authority on alternative political systems, but if a party wanted to give power back to Canadians it might:

  • get rid of neo-liberal policies
  • use government funds to pay for much of the costs of voting in elections, 
  • greatly reduce business lobbying, 
  • change the tax system to make it more equitable, 
  • change our economic goals to attack unemployment and low incomes instead of supporting corporate growth,
  • re-instate powers of the Bank of Canada so it could make no-interest loans to governments and reduce borrowing from corporate banks,
  • buy back and nationalize assets that are required to protect the public interest, and
  • introduce a proportional representation voting system.
So, is there a strong socialist party that is capable of advancing the cause?

Sadly, the answer is “No”.

I’ve compiled a list of the socialist and communist groups I’m aware of in English-speaking Canada. (I’m not discussing socialism in Quebec as it is a big topic on its own. The province has had a number of fairly successful socialist parties over the years.)

NDP IS NOT SOCIALIST!

First, just to clarify, the NDP is not a socialist party. The NDP says it’s a social democratic party, but it moved so far to the middle in the 2015 election that the Liberals were able to win the election with a few progressive promises.

There are three small groups trying to push the NDP to the left: The NDP Socialist Caucus  and Momentum, which says it is the NDP’s left alternative to austerity, and Courage: A coalition of the independent left that says it wants to “put democracy back into the NDP”.

Other groups include the Socialist Party of Canada, Socialist.ca (International Socialists), Socialist Alternative.ca, Newsocialistand the Communist Party of Canada.

Once a bastion of socialism and communism, there still are many strong socialist adherents in labour, and a few small but effective groups across the country, such as Solidarity Halifax.


LEAP MANIFESTO IMPORTANT

Also important is the Leap Manifesto. It’s not a party and it’s not socialist but the document presents a progressive way forward that should be of interest to socialists. It is endorsed by more than 46,000 people and organizations. 

It’s disappointing that not one of the few English-language groups has been successful in attracting more than a few dozen followers. They seem incapable of attracting new members.

It’s particularly upsetting groups are doing poorly when there are opportunities out there that haven’t existed for years.

Some critics say the groups are more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to representing socialism to the community.

I’d like to see a couple of groups prove the critics wrong. If they really care about what they’re doing, they should buy a new organizing manual and develop a new strategy.

Most important, they need to get out and speak to people in the language of everyday people not the jargon of socialism.

It would be great to see independent socialists now on the sidelines move into one or two of the groups and give them new life or – if necessary – take them over. Or, of course people can also start a new group.

Some folks could get together and create a place for discussion – perhaps a closed Facebook page – where ideas could be shared. The Bullet, an excellent Internet newsletter, is there to unite socialists.
While socialists don’t have a chance in hell of getting their ideas into mainstream media, they should make a stronger effort to get onto alternative media sites.

URGENT NEED TO FIGHT BACK

Folks are wrong if they think there is no urgency in developing an alternative political system. Aside from the daily drubbing we get from capitalism, there are two additional serious dangers to worry about:
  • The banksters who collapsed the world economy in 2008 are now a greater threat to cause an even larger collapse. Economist Robert Reich says U.S. President Donald Trump, by recommending the removal of banking protections, is greatly increasing the chances of a crash. The last time there was a crash, governments bailed out the banks, including banks in Canada. Since then, major countries, including Canada, have legislated a bail in system, which authorizes financial institutions to grab the money of depositors if they are in danger of going bankrupt. 

  • There are signs that there are some cracks in capitalism. Ever since the crisis of 2008, governments and banks have tried just about everything to try to make capitalism grow again, but they have had little success. German economist Wolfgang Streeck says that capitalism is going to fail because it is using its power too aggressively and it’s too powerful to be kept in check by governments.  
In closing, I hope that my criticisms and interest from other people reading this will put a fire under the butts of the socialist groups and encourage those hanging back to get involved. It would be great if folks would develop a discussion site where everyone can present their views.

If there’s much feedback to this article, I’ll write another piece.

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Thanks Nick

12 comments:

  1. I am seriously fighting back. No one will help me. I insist the first necessary step to taking power away from the rich and giving power to the people is to democratize the media. Just like Tommy Douglas did with health care we need to pass legislation to create a single payer public library of advertising-free streamed media content. This would actually change the game for ever. No one ever gets behind the idea of media-care. Everyone plays devils advocate. Meanwhile we all suffer under a social communication system that rewards deception. http://no-ads.ca/the-canada-ad-free-streaming-media-act

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    1. I think working with Fair Vote Canada, who have been pushing to bring in Proportional Representation for decades, is a for sure group to be associated with.

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  2. I retired 20 years ago from teaching history and other subjects in Canadian schools. I appreciate your website and several US private websites such as The Real News network, and several other progressive site which aare unhappy with US AND ALLIED WARS IN THE Far East, Near East, and now in Yemen and across theRed Sea into Africa. It's especially distressing to see Canadaian forces supporting the US aggression (Is Canada now perhaps "carefully" withdrawing such support? except for allowing our military equipment industry to continue supplying even the Saudis with arms?) Nick, we must recover the post-WW2 peace campaigns, the United Nations role even to stop the "great power" aggressions. There must be certain MPs among the NDP and Liberal and even the Conservatives who can be rallied the campaign for peace making, for industrial change to sae a sustainable climate, and especially to work for peace making. ---JakeR

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  3. Thanks for the article Nick. I welcome encouragement of alternatives to capitalism as it is practiced today. I suspect that a lot of people who are disenchanted with our current political/economic system are also quite nervous about the term "communism" (more because of the baggage the term carries than the actual theory of communism) and I think even the term 'socialism' scares off a goodly number of middle-of-the-roaders. One possible way to get more people engaged is to avoid these loaded labels and just talk about what a more people vs. corporate centred political/economic system might look like, as concretely as possible so curious but currently non-engaged people could see how it might affect their day to day lives. Such discussion could also calmly address concerns such as the worry that movement to a people-centred system in one country like Canada might scare away business and leave us intellectually smug but economically impoverished. As for drawing more people out to those meetings, bemoaning their lack of interest is a waste of time. We need to take on the challenge of reaching out to people who are either not too unhappy with our current system of government because relatively speaking they are doing okay or who feel there is nothing they can do to change it, and we need to figure out what the triggers might be to spur their interest; otherwise it will the same old, same old, preaching to the converted. Again, thanks for stirring this pot. I personally would try to find time to engage in some way.

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  4. I think the CCCE is now calling itself the Business Council of Canada.

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    1. a good example of 'usurping the vocabulary' I think we should just refer to them by their 'true title- CCCE' and parenthetically as the soi-disant 'Business Council of Canada.'

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  5. Thanks for the analysis, Nick. I can cite many unpleasant personal experiences since coming to Canada from the U.K. 35 years ago to work for The SNC Group (SNC-Lavalin Inc. since 1995) and having my life ruined by them and others who exploited my predicament to make matters worse for the purpose of political point-scoring. All of those things that happened were practical manifestations of the problems that you describe. I'm going to use this piece of yours to support my own case for exposing SNC-Lavalin Inc. and forcing them to a settlement out of court, partly because they have contrived to cover everything up as far as the mainstream media are concerned. My whole approach to dealing with this - as has always been the case - largely involves citing and quoting expert analysis from others. That way, nobody is in a position to contradict me which is likely one of the reasons why everybody is trying to ignore me. There are too many people in Canada in positions of power and influence who are only interested in showing off within their little office cliques and their little social cliques how "tough", "strong", "righteous", "important" and "knowledgeable" they think they are, at the expense of the documented facts that I draw their attention to. It's all a sham based on office politics and a Joseph Goebbels type of approach involving repeatedly telling the same old big lies often enough to make the lies appear to represent the truth, all backed by money paid to corrupt business leaders, stupid bureaucrats, poor-quality lawyers all aided and abetted by ill informed social prejudices on the part of dictatorial mainstream media owners who secretly impose double standards where they report freely on some types of corruption in business (example: SNC-Lavalin Inc. and Libya) while selectively and arbitrarily ignoring others without ever giving any reason. Utter incompetence and muddle - for the stupidest possible reasons.

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  6. Thank you Nick. Many feel the same. Please check out our website www.myfreedom2017.com for a viable solution.

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  7. greentechcooperative.ca/proposed-memorandum-for-new-co-op-concept.php

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  8. Your piece, Nick, is absolutely correct. GOOD work and I love what you say and do.

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  9. Yes, good work. Your words resonate with many of us.

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  10. Thanks fellow socialist. I note that several of the first commentators are my friends or acquaintances. We're all looking for better.

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