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Monday, 24 October 2011

What's happening in democratic Toronto...and most other 'developed' democracies, it seems

Capitalism screws up from time to time. It’s in the nature of the beast. You don’t have to be a Marxist to accept this. And various instruments are then installed to allow levels of profit to recover, and the beast cavorts on. It was a form of devilish amnesia that, in the early 2000’s, with the 'victory' (aka self-defeat) over communism now several years behind them, led a new MBA generation of financial “notsosmarties”  to remove regulations put in place in earlier generations to avoid the risks of economic collapse and political revolution. Given globalization and the hubris associated with being the one combatant left standing in the ring, consequences were predictable. Economic collapse on a global scale, with the poor left poorer and the 1% holding their spoils. Although “bail-outs” were adopted by many former anti-Keynesians to staunch the blood flow somewhat, what could not be staunched indefinitely were the ultimately more profound political consequences. That’s what the “Occupy” movement represents: international resistance by the powerless and victimized majority to a world run by private businesses with the “legal” right to do with societal (aka our) wealth what they wish. Why this movement is so important is that like all fundamental change it starts with a stirring in the roots and will result in formal political change, i.e. in the relations between people. The problem is not with bankers; like boys, bankers will be bankers. The problem is with political structures which have lost popular support because whatever party is in power nothing fundamentally changes. They are all dancing to the same more or less neo-con tune. The erosion of the power of government in liberal democracies has been the goal of most right wing neo-conservative governments and they have been successful. Governments have reduced their capacity to govern to such an extent that their electorates have concluded they are powerless. They are not, but it will take a re-guttification to start the process. In the words of the street slogan, “you say cutback, we say Fight Back”.  Our movie this week “Beyond Elections” will help us consider what form of politics we want to replace the “bankrupt” (no metaphor that, any more) forms we – decreasingly -  participate in, every few months it seems, in Canada. If we’re doing it so often, because the electorate sees not much difference between the flavours on offer, and so elect minorities, then how about ewe do things differently. Electoral reform won’t do it – the bankers will still be in charge. We need fundamental change. Looks like we might have to start using the R word.

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