"Statism" And Corporate Propaganda

Posted on Tuesday, October 04 at 10:06 by Robin Mathews
There can hardly be charges of “statism” in regard to our reserve of fossil fuels – very really belonging to all Canadians. Ralph Klein ships them out to the U.S. at fire-sale prices, and NAFTA guarantees that we will ship them to the U.S. even if Canadians are freezing in the dark. As to a Canadian price, fixed to encourage Canadian enterprise and to assure average Canadians energy security – perish the thought. Under NAFTA those things are controlled by the U.S.A. George Jonas and his friends are never heard complaining of that. And what they don’t say, finally, is that the corporate totalitarians in Canada don’t really object to “statism.” They want it to serve them, and them alone. They want “statism” if it will kill universal medicare, unemployment insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, and like programs. They know that any organized community in the world has to have a government; they simply want a government run by them. They want to be the State. Those private corporations and their supporters despise the fact that the people of Canada have social insurance and are cared for by a universal medicare system and protected by some other structures to assure them a measure of dignity and social decency. Like George Jonas, the people despising those things use the word “statism” incorrectly to refer to Canada, as if the term means a huge, Big Brother-like attempt to strangle all free movement, fresh initiative, exchange of ideas, and healthy enterprise in the country. Those private corporations and their supporters are engaged in a monstrous propaganda and lying campaign urged on by insatiable greed, bottomless pockets of the corporate class, and support by the major press and media owned now in dangerous concentrations of ownership of almost fascist dimensions. That last, strong statement will be supported by a Nobel prize-winning philosopher of the twentieth century described in the Encyclopedia Britannica as holding a similar place in the twentieth century world to the place held by Voltaire in the eighteenth century. But later…. What is “statism” defined as now? It is (Gage Canadian Dictionary) “a highly centralized governmental control of the economy, information media, etc. of a state or nation”? In plain terms, then, to use the word “statism” in reference to Canada has to be to lying knowingly about Canada. The malign intention of private corporations and their advertisers is to destroy the Canada most Canadians want – and have made clear they want. The malign intention is to lie about the nature and structure of Canadian government and to ridicule Canadians’ ideas of their community. In the face of escalating oil prices and clear chaos in the oil markets, for example, Canadians are calling for Canadian government to act in relation to Canadian oil resources. Both the Liberal government and its reactionary opposition in Ottawa are mouthing expressions of concern and posturing for the public – never saying that as long as the Free Trade Agreements are in place the U.S.A. will both control and suck off the larger mass of our oil production without the federal government able to make a “statist” move on behalf of Canadians. What is the response of corporate spokespeople? To Michael Campbell, brother of and CanWest media mouthpiece in the Vancouver Sun for B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, the idea of Canadian government engaging with the problems of Canadian energy resources is ridiculous. (Sun, Sept. 20 05 D3) Campbell is alarmed that Canadians have an opinion on the question. Half of Canadians who were polled favour nationalization of energy resources in Canada. With even less subtlety than George Jonas, Michael Campbell leaps to the claim that such a move would replicate Communist Russia in Canada. “Is the dismal failure of the Soviet model” Campbell asks, “so removed from our consciousness that millions of Canadians are ready to borrow from it?” The dismal failure of a Russian dictatorship moulded and ruled by a mad, murderous despot, Joseph Stalin, has nothing whatever to do with Canada’s history or way of life, nothing to do with the problems of energy sufficiency in a democratic country. One suspects that even Michael Campbell knows that and is spinning out U.S.-style alarmism and raging fear-mongering quite intentionally. But let us return to “statism,” the word and the idea. Notice that private corporations don’t recoil in dismay when David Dodge, governor of the Bank of Canada (National Post, Sept. 10 05 FP4) calls upon “policy makers” and “government policy” across the globe to avoid a deflationary crash. Plainly, Dodge is suggesting several kinds of government intervention, the active operation of what Michael Campbell would call “statism.” But David Dodge is a banker, working largely for big corporations in Canada. He wants to keep the capitalist economy afloat so that big corporations can remain rich and able to plunder Canadian wealth. Private corporations approve of Dodge’s kind of statism. Private corporate forces approved, moreover, of the free market gnomes – the almost European government - in Brussels trying to slip a private corporate 600-plus page, so-called “constitution” past the people of Europe before they could understand that its statism was to be constructed to make corporations in Europe more powerful than the elected representatives of the people. All over Europe, with one concerted voice, the representatives and spokespeople for corporate capitalism loudly bemoaned the defeat in popular referendum of the proposed constitution. Once the French rose up and told the rest of Europe what the “constitution” was really about, it had no hope of surviving democratic votes in national referendums. And there is the German electorate which, on September 19, fooled everyone and made a jigsaw puzzle of the German parliament because both large parties wanted to solve Germany’s economic problems on the backs of ordinary Germans. All we get in Canada, however, are comments about the backwardness of the German people. We hear or read comments from Canada’s reactionary press to the effect that Germans seem unwilling to make “the psychological leap” necessary to accept necessary structural reforms. The German people have said, correctly, there are other ways of saving the German economy and solving unemployment than by gouging ordinary Germans so that private corporations stay very wealthy and grow wealthier. No Canadian story that I have seen asks or tells about the wealth of Germany’s corporate class. The subject would be embarrassing because it is a class bloated with riches and long-term accumulation of profit – as well as heavy subsidy from German government. In short, private corporations and the people who shill for them want statism in their own hands – a government that releases them from all social responsibility. They have gained too much of their goal already. Just for instance, corporate crime is all but winked at in Canada because corporations have huge influence on law-makers. Many kinds of crime by corporate actors should be in the Criminal Code, clearly set out, so that malefactors are dealt with fairly but expeditiously and then clapped in jail for long terms. Instead, those crimes are kept out of the Criminal Code so the criminals engaged in them can be protected from the law. The corporate totalitarians, however, are shoving too hard against the people. Corporations are begging for (and are too stupid to see coming) a citizen backlash in Canada, such as happened over the so-called European constitution and over the platform of the two major parties in the German election. Indeed, private corporations such as Telus in B.C. and Alberta, and the corporate-controlled B.C. government of Gordon Campbell, which has named public education an essential service, are begging for a citizen back-lash which will surprise everyone when, finally, it comes. How did this increasingly ugly situation come about? In Canada it began with the savage human losses in the First World War. After it, private corporations cared nothing and did nothing for the “heroes” who had fought for “our (capitalist) system.” The between-the-wars time was very often hellish for ordinary Canadians. A number of veterans of that War were advisors to government through the Great Depression of the 1930s into the Second World War years from 1939 to 1945, and after. They were determined that an industrializing and enriching democratic nation was not going to repeat the mistakes of post-1918. They were not alone. Theories of Socialism were given huge currency because of the success of the Russian Revolution in its early years. Even without those alternative ideas, Canadians knew the private corporations failed after 1918, failed to end or relieve the pain of the Depression, and made money out of the Second World War. The British people put in a Labour government as soon as the War was over. France and Italy and Greece looked seriously at communist government. (So seriously, in fact, that the U.S. interfered violently in the political life of Greece.) Clearly if Capitalism – as the private corporations saw it – was to be preserved, they would have to cooperate with people demanding reform. Slowly, during the Second World War and after it, reforms were made. One of them in Canada, to start, was a totally different approach to the returning veterans – given real opportunity to re-shape their lives. Slowly, pension, unemployment insurance, health care, education, and union rights were begun or strengthened. Private corporations went along in order to save their own skins. But they never gave up their unending war against ordinary Canadians, pretending it was a war against “Communism” and the Left. And when in the late 1980s the Communist Empire collapsed (partly as a result of the Cold War that had been conducted since 1917), private corporations set out to take back everything – and more – won for ordinary people in the twentieth century. One of the observers of that history, born in 1872 and living well into his 90s, was the aristocrat, philosopher, public intellectual, and Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell. In 1958 he published The Will To Doubt. In an essay entitled “Free Thought and Official Propaganda,” he observes the effect of what we call “corporate concentration,” and what I call in these columns “corporate totalitarianism.” “The growth of monopolies” [the end point of corporate concentration], Russell wrote, “is introducing in America [the U.S.A.] many of the evils of State Socialism as it has existed in Russia.” Strange? Not at all. For what we see now established in the U.S.A. and growing increasingly in Canada, is a state or government apparatus indistinguishable from the structures of huge private corporations. This increasingly privatized government structure, in fact, has “control of the economy, information media, etc. of the state or nation.” We are increasingly – as Russell already saw emerging in 1958 – in a condition of “State Socialism as it …existed in Russia.” But private corporations and their advertisers propagandize continuously that the State gives all to the population, favours the indigent, has developed, as Michael Campbell claims, “a culture of dependence,” asking government to “take care of us.” His statements are simply utterance of the private corporate attack mode on the way to stripping Canadians of all reasonable social insurance structures. In another essay, “The Ancestry of Fascism”, Russell makes clear – unlike the propaganda for corporate totalitarianism – that he sees clearly the difference between Russian State Socialism and socialism itself. In that essay he writes (as he could be writing at this very hour): “The two things the world needs most are Socialism and peace, but both are contrary to the interests of the most powerful men of our time. It is not difficult to make the steps leading to them appear contrary to the interests of large sections of the population, and the easiest way of doing this is to generate mass hysteria. The greater the danger of Socialism and peace, the more Governments will debauch the mental life of their subjects….” We witness the process. The more corporate concentration increases, and the more private corporations have control over governments and BECOME governments, the more they complain of a “statism” that they claim gives all to the people. For twenty years they have been successful in their propaganda. Slowly, now, resistance is growing. It shows in the rejection of the Free Market constitution for Europe, in the decimation of majority government in Germany, in the growth of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution to return some of that country’s wealth to the people and to help all South Americans learn the Bolivarian message. The resistance – in a tragic sense – is also being fought out in Iraq, bloody, internecine, apparently unfocused, but draining U.S. coffers and putting its system of corporate totalitarianism seriously at risk. Even the happy détente in North Korea is as much a sign that U.S. corporate totalitarianism is on the defensive as it is a sign of China’s negotiating skills in big power politics. From one point of view the Canadian government is doing everything it can to destroy the characteristics that make the country humane, decent, and caring - in the degree it is those things. From another point of view the Stockwell Day, Peter MacKay, Stephen Harper, Gordon Campbell, Ralph Klein – and even covertly Paul Martin – view of Canada may be at its peak, nearing a breaking point that will see Canadians say ”Enough!” and release a backlash that our paid pundits, prophets, pollsters, and other pollution propagandists cannot even envision. [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 5, 2005]

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