The EU is a powerful vehicle for neoliberalism. When democracy in Greece pushes back, we see the length the EU will go to punish and control Greece.
Neoliberalism is inherently anti-democratic. Greece deserves our support. And we need to continue to oppose neoliberalism and the soft fascism in Canada [like C-51] that the Conservative and Liberal coalition have been pushing for decades.
Viewed from either side of the political spectrum, the EU looks like a disaster right now:
The conservatives are proven correct about the way the EU takes away national sovereignty: The Greeks voted in a referendum to reject the bailout … but were forced to accept it anyway.
And the leftists are proven correct about the way the banks control everything, and everyone else gets screwed: The Greek economy has been brought to its knees by debt, provided first by private investment banks like Goldman Sachs and then by Europe’s ruling German-French elite in the IMF and the EU. The entire bailout is structured to benefit the lending banks the most, not the people of Greece.
Suddenly, the tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists look like they were right all along!
This is the environment into which British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling for a national in/out referendum on the EU in the UK next year.
Imperial Metals [fanciful producers of the Mount Polley Mine disaster]?
Other companies that treat workers badly like IKEA or Rocky Mountain Railtours?
Capitalism is all about worshiping Frankencorporations that are immortal, legally a human being, limit the liability of owners if the company screws up, taxed much lower than real humans, and are designed to maximize shareholder wealth while minimizing risk to capitalists and maximizing consequences for others. Raping and pillaging is just an added bonus.
But what if a company, in its cancerous zeal for wealth, has a tailing pond disaster, or a pipeline leak, or an oil tanker sinking, or abuses workers or is generally a blight on humanity and the planet?
It turns out, that in BC the provincial government cabinet can simply decree that a corporation ceases to exist:
423 The Lieutenant Governor in Council may cancel the incorporation of a company and declare it to be dissolved.
I have never heard of a provincial government cabinet dissolve a corporation for bad behaviour or justice issues or in pursuit of societal equity. I have also never heard of some person going to court to have it dissolve a company.
Sure, I can sue a company if it violates my rights somehow. Or violates a contract, or some law. But as long as companies operate within the law [I know, I’m rolling my eyes about this too] they somehow deserve to exist.
But what if corporations, in their cancerous zeal to maximize shareholder wealth, end up being ultimately destructive to society or our symbiotic relationship with our world?
What would it take to present an argument in court that would win, or to the government?
Just what does a company have to do that is so heinous that a court or government would simply euthanize it?
And why aren’t we having this debate?
Read about the North River Sugar Refining Corporation and Unocal:
“The people mistakenly assume that we have to try to control these giant corporate repeat offenders one toxic spill at a time, one layoff at a time, one human rights violation at a time. But the law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing and sell its assets to others who will operate in the public interest.”
So it’s time to think creatively. Think about whether as a society, we should be adding criteria to ensure that corporations deserve to exist. We should make sure that criteria is sound and well-understood and widely proclaimed. So that when we go after the first corporate charters, the low hanging fruit, then we can ensure corporations actually contribute to the public good.
And if that last phrase makes your chuckle, THAT’s how far we’ve let the corporate plutocracy rule us.
It’s our society. WE are the humans. Let’s take it back!
The “precariat” are precarious proletariats. We have too many of them; but fewer in Denmark!
Let’s follow their lead!
What Danish fast food workers have that their American counterparts do not is a powerful union, and fast food franchise owners who are willing to make a little less of a profit, though they still do make a profit. Denmark is also a much smaller country, with a higher cost of living and a huge social safety net. And yes, a fast food burger is a little more expensive in Denmark than here in America.
Martin Drescher, the general manager of HMSHost Denmark, the airport restaurants operator, told the Times: “We have to acknowledge it’s more expensive to operate. But we can still make money out of it — and McDonald’s does, too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in Denmark.”
He also said: “The company doesn’t get as much profit, but the profit is shared a little differently. We don’t want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor. We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”
The 1% are claiming we have it out for them; that if we don’t tone down the rhetoric and stop calling them names like “the contemptuous rich,” we might end up starting a class war. But they already know there’s a class war, and it’s been going on for generations. Today, the rich are winning because they have more solidarity than we do. The year 2014 is a battleground and the currency is solidarity. If we don’t start organizing together, quickly, and far more effectively, the contemptuous rich will continue to come out on top.
For centuries, the 1% were the nobility, the aristocrats, the old money, the patriarchy. Then Adam Smith pitched capitalism in his 1776 book Wealth of Nations, and liberated the entrepreneurs to join the blue bloods. Today, every January, corporate and government leaders from around the world – the people who literally rule the world – meet in the winter-wonderland of Davos, Switzerland, to launch the annual World Economic Forum. There, they plan the global agenda. This year’s sexy new idea was advancing “social entrepreneurialism.” That sounds so kumbaya, just like public-private partnerships, but it’s just spin for privatizing social services.
The World Economic Forum is just one of the most recent venues where the global elite show their solidarity with each other, and plan how to maximize shareholder wealth and minimize global social, economic and political equality. Beyond Davos, our rulers have also created a roadmap for undermining the democracy of nations through secret trade agreements like NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and CETA (the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement). These agreements are designed to give right-wing governments the excuse to deregulate industries, privatize public services, and elevate shareholders’ and investors’ “right” to profit above the needs of society.
How does this translate in Harper’s vision of Canada? April Fool’s Day this year marked the end of the 10-year Canada Health Accord and the beginning of a 12-year fiscal plan to cut $36 billion from federal Medicare funding. This manufactured disaster is textbook Shock Doctrine, designed to impair the public health care system in order to drive more demand for private alternatives.
THE RISE OF THE 99%
The Occupy Movement helped us understand the 1% and the 99%. One of the movement’s critical failures, however, was its inability to frame its core message in the face of a hostile corporate media, and a well-coordinated network of police and intelligence service agencies working together to discredit, mock, beat, arrest, and terrorize the Occupiers. The Occupy Movement’s message was, and is, merely equality: a demand for political, social and economic equality, plus, a healthy environment. This simple message manifested itself in dozens of demands, but whose message won? The 1%. After all, they own the guns and the corporate media. But, there is hope for the 99%.
On March 19, for instance, 650 people gathered in the Maritime Labour Centre to formally kickstart the Metro Vancouver Alliance, a solidarity catalyst if there ever was one. Its birth was inspired by the Industrial Areas Foundation community organizing model, active in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia and the UK. The MVA is a coalition of labour, community and faith-based organizations who share common progressive goals.
On April 4, the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, the Occupy Movement rebooted itself in a worldwide “Wave of Action.” Its goal is a three-month rolling wave of activism at former Occupy sites, designed to reinvigorate the solidarity started in 2011. And there are other solidarity catalysts in Canada, including the Greater Edmonton Alliance.
These coalitions are fantastic, but they risk irrelevance if they can’t evolve to the next level of solidarity. These alliances need to grow more intense, both inwardly and outwardly.
The member groups of progressive coalitions need to find ways of connecting their individual members to better support each other. And the coalitions themselves need to support each other. I believe such an effort at deepening and broadening solidarity has, so far, been lacking. Meanwhile, the 1% are deeply well-connected, from community chambers of commerce right up to the World Trade Organization. They’re all spouting the same spin and rhetoric on their members’ behalf, while we, the 99%, can often not get past “letterhead coalitions,” a term introduced to me by Amanda Tattersall, one of the founders of the Sydney Alliance in Australia. What good is it to have a coalition when the extent of union, or faith, or community organization activity is merely a letter of support?
We need to seed more alliances in Canada. And we need to help union members themselves understand why unions matter. Labour campaigns like these can only help: the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) campaign, Together FAIRNESS WORKS; the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) campaign, Unite for Fairness; and the National Union of Public And General Employees (NUPGE) campaign, All Together Now.
We need to then connect union members with social change coalitions, like Occupy Version 2 and the upcoming Peoples’ Social Forum in Ottawa (August 21 to 24). Our window is opening again. It’s time to leap through and convene the big gatherings.
This piece originally appeared in Our Times magazine.
A little bit of civil terrorism keeps the population docile, afraid of irrational and unjust behaviour from law enforcement [sic] but hey, it helps us all live more peacefully because if you’re not a terrorist, you have nothing to fear from police terrorism via unconstitutional and racially discriminatory persecution. Right?
“We’re going to go out there and violate some rights.” Hear the secret police recordings that will take your breath away. In a bad way.
When I write about soft fascism, I sometimes feel too Canadian. I don’t want to be impolite and talk about hard or old school or 20th century fascism because frankly, when people read that word, they think, “hey, is he talking about Hitler kinda stuff? Ok, then, so it’s not fascism.”
It is though. You don’t have to start a genocide for someone to consider your actions fascist.
It’s a kind, gentler, Canadian-style fascism with a hit of Tom Horton’s and a bonspiel on TV in the background.
Attempts to suppress democracy, though, ARE fascism. From the Conservative government’s voter suppression actions, and contempt of legislature and the courts, they seek totalitarian power.
This is why I Occupy.
And while we figure out what Occupy Vancouver is going to look like going forward, it is this kind of work to decriminalize journalism that we need to be mindful of. See below.
Now, more than ever, because there’s a federal election brewing and we know that the federal government will cheat again to keep its power because it thinks it’s right and they know best for all of us. Like the BC government’s election gag laws and the city of Vancouver’s pre-Olympics and Occupy era democracy suppression measures.
We can be vigilant or we can be sheep. If you want to be a sheep, fine. Stay away from me. If you want to be vigilant, sign up for email updates over there on the right. We’re all about vigilance around here. And I believe Stephen Harper is mentally ill, WITHOUT even having seen the Flanagan interview from Friday night.
And we’re about making Occupy potent, and unlike the governments, transparent and accountable and democratic.
Access to information law means any Canadian can apply for access to any government document for a fee of five dollars. “It’s something that’s absolutely critical for the functioning of Canadian democracy because it helps to keep Canadians informed. It’s crucial for investigative journalism,” says Tom Henheffer, executive director of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
“The fact is the government is intentionally dismantling it. They’re defunding access department so when someone files a requests there’s no response. Eighty per cent of documents that do come back are censored, many of the heavily censored,” says Henherrer, noting that there has been a 51 per cent increase in complaints about missing records in the past year.
‘A growing culture of secrecy’
“Even worse than that is the fact that there is this growing culture of secrecy in government, both federally and provincially and in some municipalities,” says Henheffer. He says politicians and civil servants are deliberating not keeping records, avoiding e-mail and sending messages from BlackBerry to BlackBerry that are erased every 30 days.
“In the past Canadians have had a robust access to essentially the decision-making process that goes into forming policy in Canada and that access is being taken away.”
Whistleblower protecting ‘ineffective’
Surveillance of citizens is another major concern listed in the review as well as a lack of any effective protection for whistleblowers. Henheffer says civil servants who flag problems in government lose their jobs. “That’s why we have such a culture of secrecy, part of the reason why, because we don’t have this protection so people aren’t coming like say Edward Snowden (American intelligence contractor who leaked documents revealing widespread surveillance of citizens by U.S. spy agency). We don’t have anyone like that in Canada because the sacrifice that they would make is too great and as a result we don’t know what we don’t know.”
How many times do you think you deserve to be kneed in the back while you’re already subdued by police on the sidewalk, face-down?
Does it make any difference if you’re a minor? Or if you were documenting police actions at a May Day march?
Well, while many of us were on The Drive Thursday night doing some May Day things and rebooting Occupy Vancouver, others were downtown. And one person was being gratuitously beaten by a VPD member.
Various video links exist here, which also happens to be the planning page for a protest against VPD violence tomorrow night at 7pm at the police station, with a march up the hill to city hall.
Stunningly, corporate media has run something about this. Mind you, they did frame the video footage by saying that video rarely tells the whole story. If you examine the various clips linked above, you’ll see far more than the several seconds that Global corporate media chose to show, before suggesting that there is more context. Idiocy. But we know that corporate de-/re-contextualizes reality for us all the time. That’s actually why Politics, Re-Spun exists.
So what are you doing tomorrow night at 7pm? Do you believe people should be able to protest, or take pictures in public or [yikes!] even just BE in public without fear of the police pinning you to the ground, kneeing you in the back and breaking your arm?
Do you think protest is your right as a citizen without the chill factor of wondering if the police will beat you for no good reason?
If so, Tuesday, 7pm is when you should join this protest at the police station, before it marches to city hall.
It was warm and sunny at Grandview Park last night when Occupy Vancouver rebooted, in a modest way with 5 people talking about what Occupy means, how to communicate with our communities and what to do next.
We talked about Occupy from 2.5 years ago to now, the Wave of Action initiative that is rebooting Occupy’s around the world, May Day actions around the world, and what Occupy Vancouver should do next.
We came up with a simple idea: people need to hear about what Occupy is. So we’re planning an information meeting.
People want to know the history of how Occupy started.
They want to know how Occupy Vancouver went 2.5 years ago.
They want to know what is going on with the Occupy Movement around the world now.
They want to know what Occupy Vancouver could be now: do we actually occupy something or work as a different kind of activist organization.
They want to know, of the dozens of progressive causes to work for, what we should prioritize on and how we decide that priority list.
And we need to figure out how to communicate with people beyond Facebook, Twitter, the WaveOfAction.org website and the Occupy Vancouver website. This is key since there are 3 Occupy Vancouver Facebook instances, two of which are useless: one is a mockery page and one is run by no one, literally, so it’s filled with spam. This is the real, actual Occupy Vancouver Facebook page. We also need to figure out who’s got the Occupy Vancouver Twitter and website passwords [if it’s you, please get in touch with me!]. One thing we know for sure, the Occupy Vancouver page at WaveOfAction.org is reliable and real. 🙂
And we also need to figure out how to connect with the rest of the progressive movement in/around Vancouver. And as you can see from the photo below about labour’s May Day march last night, things can pretty much only get better!
So if you would like to get involved with planning Occupy Vancouver, and its upcoming information night, please contact me or join the Wave of Action website [it’s free and easy, and Looks like Facebook, but is just a full-service, full-privacy social media platform for Occupy around the world] and connect with the Occupy Vancouver page there.
We will meet in Grandview Park on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territories.
615pm is the start time, though honestly, I’ll be there a bit early. With my Occupy Vancouver sign taped to my hockey stick. In some convenient part of the park, since there will be a May Day march arriving there for a rally at the same time.