Thursday, July 05, 2012

Thursday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your day.

- For those wondering what might become of Nathan Cullen's leadership campaign plan to work with progressives of all party stripes, we now have part of the answer: in advance of the Calgary Centre by-election, Cullen will be reaching out to discuss how to challenge the Cons.

- Jim Stanford highlights rankings of corporate size showing just how dependent Canada already is on the finance and resource sectors - a problem which the Cons are of course determined to exacerbate.

- Meanwhile, Sarah Jaffe points out what I'm sure is only a purely coincidental combination of record high profits and all-time low wages as a share of the U.S.' economy.

- Finally, Alex Himelfarb has some ideas on how to take back our democracy:
We are living in a state of what the late American sociologist Robert Merton called anomie, when a society’s goals and means no longer serve most people.  Our model seems to be busted. Today’s problems seem more complex, unfamiliar, and our institutions seem unable to cope.

We are past the point of tinkering.  The goals that gave us shared purpose seem now out of reach, less relevant, and we have lost or are losing trust in government as a means for collective progress.
(M)any have opted out of conventional politics, including voting, but they are also finding new ways to engage in public life, in their communities or internationally, and some have taken to the streets, standing outside all our conventional institutions and conventional wisdom to find something new. They are the digital generation that can make those of us stuck in the industrial age so uncomfortable. How the semi-leaderless Occupy Movement or the students in the streets of Montreal drove so many of us crazy.  Their leadership was emergent, fragile, shifting, in a word, democratic. Networks and communities replaced hierarchies.  And the generational divide is exposed.  This is not the hyper-individualism or entitlement thinking that detractors claimed.  It is about rebuilding civil society from the ground up, about a new kind of solidarity and a different kind of leadership.

Finding new ways to engage and contribute, rejecting government as parent or nanny, refusing to see the state as the answer to everything – that is all part of a better future.  But to the extent that the young ignore conventional political institutions, including voting, to the extent that they do not engage with the state and try to make it better, we risk an ever-wider gap between civil society and state and a continuing erosion of our democracy.

Holding on to stale notions of leadership is dangerous but so too is disengagement.  We risk a state that becomes more and more remote and authoritarian, less and less willing or able to pursue a better future, to constrain the powerful, to listen to or help those who need government most, to solve problems that cut across our communities and the generations.

We need Canadians across the estates and across the generations to get indignant, to get engaged, to enter the fray, to re-imagine Canada, and to take back our democracy,

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