Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot all too accurately describes the current state of politics around much of the developed world:
Humankind's greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that man-made climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.

Neoliberalism, also known as market fundamentalism or laissez-faire economics, purports to liberate the market from political interference. The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call "the market" looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich. Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy.
Neoliberalism is not the root of the problem: it is the ideology used, often retrospectively, to justify a global grab of power, public assets and natural resources by an unrestrained elite. But the problem cannot be addressed until the doctrine is challenged by effective political alternatives.

In other words, the struggle against climate change – and all the crises that now beset both human beings and the natural world – cannot be won without a wider political fight: a democratic mobilisation against plutocracy. This should start with an effort to reform campaign finance – the means by which corporations and the very rich buy policies and politicians. Some of us will be launching a petition in the UK in the next few weeks, and I hope you will sign it.

But this is scarcely a beginning. We must start to articulate a new politics, one that sees intervention as legitimate, that contains a higher purpose than corporate emancipation disguised as market freedom, that puts the survival of people and the living world above the survival of a few favoured industries. In other words, a politics that belongs to us, not just the super-rich.
- And in case there was any doubt, Frank Graves writes that the relentless shift toward corporatist policy-making under the Libs and Cons has nothing to do with the values of Canadians:
As affluence and power have shifted westward, so has national attachment and confidence in national direction.

Overall, however, the new national outlook is heavily affected by a growing fear that progress is no longer an inevitable byproduct of effort and skill. As Canadians look forward they are fearful of relative decline in a new global economic order. They also are increasingly resentful about a new class order which seems to allocate the lion’s share of the meager growth the economy is generating to an extremely narrow cadre of privileged Canadians.
When looking at values overall we are struck by their level of stability. This is to be expected and welcomed; values constitute the moral charter for societies and it would be a very bewildering and unstable world where values were shifting rapidly. But within this placid world of normative stability there are some conspicuous exceptions. All of the values which are demonstrating downward trends are conservative values.

Respect for authority and traditional family values, still very important in older and conservative Canada, hold no resonance in younger and university-educated Canada. The overall trajectory in all portions of society is downward for these and related conservative values such as minimal government and security. Not only are these trendlines significantly downward but this decline in subscription to conservative values is even more pronounced in younger Canada, metropolitan Canada, university-educated Canada and among women.
- But then, the Cons themselves are rather flexible in their interest in what any reasonable person would consider to be "family values". And indeed, about all that's lacking from Murray Mandryk's comment on the failure of the Cons' moral compass is that the issue is far from new - with any interest in family unification and sustainable social development long since replaced by a view of immigrants and Canadians alike as bare dollar values.

- Mind you, at least "hateful, xenophobic nutbars" will be glad to know their values are seen as entirely acceptable to Jason Kenney and the Cons.

- Finally, Pat Garofalo points out the growing gap between higher corporate profits and lower wages in the U.S. - which only figures to get worse as both parties seem willing to prioritize lower corporate tax rates over improved social policy.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Greg - I liked it so much that I tweeted it and face booked it - thanks