Canada’s “free lunch” Neoliberals
“The major western democracies are moving towards corporatism. Democracy has become a business plan, with a bottom line for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope. The main parliamentary parties are now devoted to the same economic policies – socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor – and the same foreign policy of servility to endless war. This is not democracy. It is to politics what McDonalds is to food.” – John Pilger, British journalist and filmaker
So it has come to pass Canada now has a new political class. Born of an unofficial merger of the Liberals and the Conservatives, they now constitute the “free lunch” neoliberals. They are not here to serve Queen, country or the lowly Canadian electorate. They are here to serve the neoliberal corporate welfare state that Canada has become and advance their personal fortunes.
In the years after WWll Canada’s political and economic elites were quick to sell out the country. They saw it as no more than an appendage to the Empire. It was beyond their limited comprehension that Canada could co-exist on the threshold of the empire with some semblance of sovereignty and integrity if only they had the political will to insist on it.
Over the years Canadian sovereignty has been in steady erosion and this escalated with the rapid ascendance of neoliberalism in the eighties and nineties. Both Liberal and Conservative governments were more than accommodating to the neoliberal mantras of deregulation, privatization and denigration of government. These parties were already proto-neoliberal as they were selling-out the country to the needs of the empire with a massive retreat from governance.
As our prodigious elites saw fit to destroy the fabric of what was Canada; they have rendered themselves superfluous. We hardly need a 338 seat Parliament and 105 dozing Senators to govern when most of the key legislation is handed-down-on-high from Bay Street, The Business Council of Canada, the American Embassy, and the American Democratic and Republican parties. Parliament now exists as a flop-house for under-employed MPs whose main responsibilities are to not be caught snoozing on camera and to assume the standing position when the party whip demands their blind allegiance. It is, of course, too much to expect that ministers and members actually read and comprehend the legislation they pass into law.
Where the father was accused of concentrating too much executive power in the PMO, the son sits by the phone saying “yes” to every lobbyist that calls in. As a hapless, and all too often absentee, backbencher the son was on the road charging charities 20K a pop to hear his words of wisdom. Now as PM he spends a good part of his time influence pedaling (in the grand tradition of the totally disgraced Hillary Clinton) while staunchly protesting none of the monies received influence his judgement!
For anyone paying attention, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was obviously the final capitulation of Canadian sovereignty. The PM stood ready to jam it through Parliament with a whipped vote once it was ratified in the US. His absurd justification was that it must be passed out of loyalty to our trading partners. Neither him, nor his trade minister could bring themselves to address the truth of this rancid corporate coup d’état. It was left to the ascendance of one Donald Trump to save Canada from the larceny of these churlish stumblebums.
Among the unfortunate consequences of a country so willing to give away the last vestiges of its sovereignty and democracy are that we become a breeding ground for political opportunists and parasitic behaviors. Just as predatory corporations savage the country, so too do politicians step up to the “free lunch.” As government becomes totally emasculated there are lush indexed salaries to be made and gold-plated pensions waiting. Politics, in Canada, is no longer the high road to public service and dedicated civic duty; it is the low road to a political free lunch, a secure future with little to do, and potentially becoming a millionaire government pensioner.
One of the most important economic treatises’ of our time is Michael Hudson’s, Killing the Host. It is a meaty and very lucid documentation of how the corporatized free market economy is parasitic, preying on the public and the public purse to commodify everything under the sun that can turn a profit. As Hudson states:
“A parasite’s toolkit includes behavior-modifying enzymes to make the host protect and nurture it.”
Government is the “host”, and all too willingly provides the, “behavior-modifying enzymes” that “protect and nurture” this utterly corrupt form of capitalism. So too, does government become parasitic as it abdicates its power, serving no real purpose other than to follow the dictates of its neoliberal masters and indulge itself in the perks of holding office.
The CPC Leadership Burlesque
PE Trudeau once observed that the best time for aspiring leaders to seize the leadership of a political party is when its fortunes are down. His own son did just that when he ran for the Liberal leadership and won handily. He won, on not much more than his father’s good name.
His ascendance to being our present prime minister came all too easily, too little vetting, and too little critical scrutiny by gullible Liberal voters. Name recognition is a powerful factor in getting elected and the younger Trudeau had it by the truck load. As one commentator stated at the time; if his name was “Tremblay” he would never have gotten to first base.
Name recognition is a powerful instrument in the aspiring politician’s tool kit. It too easily becomes the haven of the indifferent, uninformed voter.
Now the Conservatives are gearing up for their May 27th leadership convention. Their website declares the winner will be the next prime minister of Canada. This is a notion I do not dispute. Just over a year into its mandate this government is burning its political credibility at a ferocious rate and providing the ground work for a Conservative victory in 2019.
With the present House standings the Conservatives are ideally positioned to knockoff yet another under-performing Liberal government. The Liberals, it appears still have not read and taken to heart Peter C. Newman’s 2012 book, When the God’s Changed; the death of Liberal Canada. Not only do Liberals not realize liberalism is dead in Canada, and elsewhere, they have mutated into being neoliberals. They, like the Conservatives, have become, “behavior-modifying enzymes” in service to a ruinous neoliberalism.
The Conservatives smell blood in the water as there are no fewer than 13 lined up to be Chief Behavior Modifying Enzyme (CBME), soon to be joined by the esteemed, Kevin O’leary.
O’Leary, like Trudeau, is blessed with a truck load of name recognition and he is no doubt counting on this propelling him to the PMO. Early on he noted it didn’t matter which party he joined as they are both the same-very perceptive of you Kevin! Though he does not have a famous father, his narcissistic egomania has been generously nurtured by the CBC. Like George Bush Jr, during his 2001 presidential campaign, O’Leary suffers chronic hoof-in-mouth-disease. This affliction did not stop Bush from becoming a two-term-war-criminal-president and will not likely stop O’Leary given the gullible knee-jerk disposition of Canadian voters.
Where we stand-Truancy or Treason?
A snappy definition for neoliberalism is when a government abandons its population to the free market economy. Social priorities are sacrificed in favor of commercial expediencies, wealth travels upward to the 1%, populations are atomized, and government becomes no more than a supportive enzyme.
When does abandonment become treason? Countries can be conquered militarily and economically. Economic warfare has become wholesale in the 21st Century. The weapons of this warfare are trade agreements, whether they are the NAFTA, CETA, or the TPP. Trade agreements are the tools of neoliberalism directed at erasing and subjugating nation states. Governments the world over have been all too willing to abandon their populations to the global neoliberal free market economy.
Where we fail to express any sense of treason or abandonment, our passivity indicates we only see our country as existing nominally, a chimera, existing as an amorphous appendage to the empire next door, a commodity to be squandered and abandoned to whatever forces and tyrannies come our way. It all becomes defeatism, as we drown in our persistent complacency.
Canadians are being held hostage by “free lunch” Neoliberals who are contemptuous of democratic values and devoid of any loyalty to the vestiges of what remains of Canada as a country.
Reclaiming our democracy
How do we reclaim our democracy? One step at a time! The first step is to establish proportional representation so that parliament truly reflects the political will of Canadians.
It is utterly shameful that since the time of Confederation we have not saw fit to replace the first past the post(FPTP) voting system which allows the dominant parties to cruise to cozy majorities with only 35 and 40% of the popular vote (Brian Mulroney arrived in office with the largest parliamentary majority in our history with a mere 43% of the popular vote!) This has contributed to the present situation where the two major parties(the “free lunch”neoliberals) nonchalantly become one party, collude to block real democracy and paralyze real change, so long overdue.
Though this shit-ass government has seen fit to kill electoral reform we must now be more determined than ever to insist on it. We must put an end to the “free lunch.”
Justin Trudeau’s “free lunch” neoliberals
I am forced to amend this blog as I have just learned our fair-haired prime minister has killed electoral reform after no more than a cursory and designed to fail effort. He clearly does not have the intellectual or moral fortitude of his father who repatriated our constitution after much difficulty, was the architect of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and came out of retirement to help defeat the Meech Lake Accord (later known as the Charlottetown Accord, defeated in a national referendum in 1992).
The excuse that consensus was not apparent on electoral reform is the lamest of lame-ass excuses to kill it. If governments waited for consensus on issues we would still be living in the Stone Age. Governments are elected to take the initiative on pressing issues and this is one such issue. Where this government claims to be “progressive” it gets failing marks as it backs away from important legislation with lightning speed.
This government had no intention of pursuing electoral reform. It was just one more election promise to be broken; just another bait and switch to manipulate voters.
Killing electoral reform is just one more powerful confirmation the Conservatives and Liberals are “free lunch” neoliberals. As Robert McChesney points out:
“That is neoliberal democracy in a nutshell: trivial debate over minor issues by parties that basically pursue the same pro-business policies regardless of formal differences and campaign debate.” (1)
The real reason electoral reform has been killed is that this government is just following the dictates of neoliberalism; government and democracy are to be rendered irrelevant. As John Pilger puts it so aptly, “socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.”
This government claims to be a friend of the middle class when in fact it is destroying the middle class. In a wakeful moment my fellow citizens might come to realize how thoroughly we are being screwed six ways till Sunday by duplicitous “free lunch” neoliberals. And even then there may be no relief.
(1) This quote is from his introduction to Noam Chomsky’s to Profit over People. It is an excellent analysis of what is neoliberalism and its impact on societies.