Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Colonialism or corporatocracy....people are powerless

By Chris Hedges, from truthdig.com, May 15, 2012

In Robert E. Gamer’s book “The Developing Nations” is a chapter called “Why Men Do Not Revolt.” In it Gamer notes that although the oppressed often do revolt, the object of their hostility is misplaced. They vent their fury on a political puppet, someone who masks colonial power, a despised racial or ethnic group or an apostate within their own political class. The useless battles serve as an effective mask for what Gamer calls the “patron-client” networks that are responsible for the continuity of colonial oppression. The squabbles among the oppressed, the political campaigns between candidates who each are servants of colonial power, Gamer writes, absolve the actual centers of power from addressing the conditions that cause the frustrations of the people. Inequities, political disenfranchisement and injustices are never seriously addressed. “The government merely does the minimum necessary to prevent those few who are prone toward political action from organizing into politically effective groups,” he writes.
Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability—keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits—ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.
And Gamer is not the only writer talking about corporate colonization.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, in his book, The Price of Civilization, speaks of corporatocracy, in the U.S. in which the Republicans are captives of the oil industry and the Democrats of Wall Street.
Whether one chooses the colonization metaphor, or the more 'diplomatic' bureaucratese, the facts on the ground are the same.
The people, especially of the U.S., and to an increasing extent in Canada, are increasingly becoming pawns of a state dedicated to the corporation. Another writer who pointed to this development, as long ago as 1995, was John Ralston Saul, in his insightful and edgy book, The Unconscious Civilization.
And just to flesh out the picture a little, Sachs points in his book, to the discrepancy in funding, in New York State, between schools in poor neighbourhoods and those in affluent neighbourhoods. Per capita spending in the poor districts runs around $15,000, whereas in the affluent districts, the number is $29,000.
That kind of discrepancy speaks to a failure of governance, failing to level the playing field.
In Canada, those numbers would not apply, but certainly, there is a culture dedicated to the oil industry, worshipped and propagandized by the federal government, rending some provinces whose natural resources are not as deep or as accessible as others, less wealthy.
Yet, when someone tries to bring about the leveling of the playing field, as Thomas Mulcair is trying to do, in support of the eastern provinces whose manufacturing sectors have been gutted, while the provinces like Alberta cruise on growing piles of petrocash, he is called "daft" by western politicians.
Because of a boom in the oil and gas sector and a range of other factors, the economy has reverted toward being a staples-driven enterprise. “In July, 2011, unprocessed and semi-processed resource exports accounted for two-thirds of Canada’s total exports, the highest in decades,” Mr. Stanford wrote. “Compare that to 1999, when finished goods made up almost 60 per cent of our exports.”

That’s quite a change. A tilt, to be sure, that fits the old cliché about Canadians being hewers of wood and drawers of water. Our fur-trading legends, Radisson and Groseilliers, would no doubt heartily approve. But didn’t someone say the way to go in the 21st century is the knowledge economy?  (By Lawrence Martin, Globe and Mail, May 15, 2012)
Yesterday the Minister of Education in Quebec resigned, after fourteen weeks of being harrassed by students opposed to an increase in tuition fees for universities, although Quebec's fees are the lowest in Canada.
That speaks to a kind of impotence in the face of intransigent political actors, who have damaged their cause by taking to the streets and other acts of disrespect to the civil society.
So, while revolts do not work, because governments often take just enough measures to lance the boil, and the real issues do not get resolved, we are witnessing a kind of political establishment, funded by the corporations which have a very different agenda from that of the general public.
And, it would seem, that the public is powerless to take back the state from those wealthy players.

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