Security, Freedom & Fundamental Justice
Imagine a Canada with security, freedom, and fundamental justice.
This Is Where We Stand Now…
An analysis of where we stand now is provided by Ed Finn of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Here is an excerpt of his article written in the CCPA ‘s The Monitor (March, 2012).
It’s not just climate change that’s damaged by capitalism
by Ed Finn
Capitalism was in danger in the 1930s after its avarice and financial knavery triggered the Great Depression. It was saved (against its will) by the imposition of policies that restrained its most harmful activities. Based on the caring and sharing concepts devised by economist John Maynard Keynes, and implemented by the U.S. President Frranklin Roosevelt and later by other national governments, these reforms made capitalism less inequitable and even comparatively benign. Economic gains were more fairly apportioned. Workers were helped to form unions and negotiate better wages and working conditions. A progressive tax system provided revenues to improve social programs.
But corporate executives, bankers, investors, and stock market traders were never content with such a constrained and (to them) unnatural version of capitalism. They had to tolerate it for the first few post-war decades, but as soon as free trade, deregulation, privatization, and new world-spanning technologies enabled them to break the Keynesian shackles, they quickly re-established capitalism as the truly ruthless and rapacious system it was designed to be.
The convenient collapse of Soviet communism then discredited its main economic challenger and gave the resurgence of laissez-faire capitalism an extra boost.
The planet has since been dominated by the overlords of which is arguably the most inequitable, iniquitous, destructive, wasteful, and barbaric economic system that could ever be imagined. That it has been perpetuate for so long — thanks to the overpowering political influence its leaders and lobbyists have acquired — is because its irresponsible reliance on infinite economic growth on a finite planet has yet to be stopped.
But one very harmful effect has at last become alarmingly evident. It’s called global warming. The excessive CO2 emissions spewing from the capitalist system’s industrial overproduction have steadily increased the planet’s atmospheric temperature. Already this has lean to more destructive storms, floods, and droughts. Eventually, left uncurbed, the emissions will unleash nnature’s wrath in all its fury, to an extent that could wreck cities, kill billions,and effectively destroy what we now call civilization.
Faced with a threat of such scope and magnitude, the world’s governments should be joining together, pooling their resources, and making the campaign against global warming their top priority. That’s not happening, of course, because any such effort, to be effective, woould also require scrapping the main cause of global warming: capitalism.
This hard reality is brilliantly elucidated by Naomi Klein in the three-paret series — Capitalism vs. the Climate — that is now running in The Monitor.
As she points out, “real climate solutions are ones that devolve power and control to the community level, [which] is going to require the shredding of the free-market ideology that has dominated the global economy for more than three decades.”
It’s not just Earth’s atmosphere that capitalism has contaminated. “We are doing the same to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil, and to biodiversity,” Naomi reminds us. “Global warming is a symptom of a much larger crisis, one born of the central fiction on which our economic model is based: that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out it can be seemlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly exploit.”
That fatally flawed assumption, fiercely promulgated by capitalism’s leading adherents, is what provides the flimsy justification for maintaining such a pernicious system. It also serves to rationalize all of capitalism’s other devastating effects.
At a time when international cooperation was never more desperately needed, capitalism promotes competition as the predominent form of human relations.
Competition at international, national, regional, community and personal levels leads to monumental waste and consumption; to the obscene accumulation of wealth by a ruthless minority; to the impoverishment of half the world’s people; to the deprevation of the poor from adequate food, shelter, education, and health care, and to the most deadly form of competition: wars and other conflicts that are fomented and waged as much for the weapon-maker’s profit as for twisted “national security” reasons.
Is this too harsh an indictment of capitalism? I don’t think so. If it was ever even minimally tolerable as a means of developing and distributing the world’s resources — during the post-war “golden decades” — it most definitely is the worst possible economic system we could have today.
What is urgently needed now is a system based instead on working together in harmony to mend the planet’s badly tattered ecosphere. That fundamental project, in turn, also entails curbing economic growth; hifting our main energy surce from fossil fuels to renewables; stopping and reversing privatization and deregulation; stripping corporations of political power and the freedom to pillage natural resources; cancelling most free trade agreements; localizing production and farming; and putting an end to wasteful and needless consumption.
A formidable agenda, isn’t it? Especially so given the immense power now held and wielded by most of the world’s corporate and political leaders. They will not willingly relinquish this power and the perks and privileges it bestows on them. We see the first signs of this obduracy in their refusal to take climate change seriously — and even, for some of them, including our own prime minister and his cabal, to deny that global warming is actually happening. They dismiss the scientific evidence and even hint darkly that the whole thing is another conspiracy by “the enemies of free enterprise.”
An Open Letter from Ontario Information Commissioner Cavoukian to Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Rob Nicholson. The Commissioner summarizes her Office’s concerns related to proposed “lawful access” legislation into five categories, supplying an in-depth discussion of each.