Saturday, April 30, 2005


Neoconservatives seek to reduce democracy to an election every four or five years. If a country holds an election even if there are only two parties running with identical platforms, that country is deemed democratic. But there is far more to democracy than the ability to chose your masters. It means rule by the people.

If the people's rule is strangled by bureaucracy, corporate lobbying and political elites, democracy has not disappeared, it is still there but takes a form radically different from the tightly controlled, money-oiled electoral process. Democracy means the formation of pressure groups such as ad hoc committees for this and that, trade unions, student and minority groups. Democracy also means protest and civil disobedience to force our masters (both elected and unelected) to obey the will of the people. A clutter of disparate groups, slogan-shouting, placard waving, traffic jamming trouble makers.

But this noise and disruption is part of and integral to the democratic process. Without it society would be as fixed and rigid as ancient Egypt. Virtually everything we take for granted as part of a democratic and humane society - including most neocons - such as the abolition of slavery, women's rights, the abolition of child labor - I could go on, has come about thru this messy process.

If masses of people are protesting it is for a good reason, and it is their right to do so. Even if you don’t agree with the reasons, you must respect this. Protest is rooted in ethics. People protest because they are opposed to war, exploitation, environmental destruction, or the ill treatment of minorities, not because it is some sort of passtime..

If you don’t want protest, don't do things that give rise to it! If powerful minorities would cease forcing their wishes upon the populace, if society as a whole were to move to a more consensual concept, there would be few protests.

When the media attacks protest movements and seeks to ban strikes, it is acting undemocratically. When magistrates treat the practitioners of civil disobedience as though they were common criminals, they are acting undemocratically. When the police attack and arrest peaceful demonstrators, or prevent them from holding their protest, they are acting undemocratically.

A constant tension exists within society between the authoritarians who would limit democracy to the simple act of voting and the libertarians who see democracy in terms of this broader and more complex situation. I suggest that the authoritarians make the democratic process a lot more painful and conflict laden than it need be by their refusal to see democracy as anything more than a narrow, formal change of elites. In order to reduce conflict and smooth the democratic process I suggest the following reforms:

1. Government must cease to use the police and the military AGAINST demonstrators and in labor-management disputes. There can be no "illegal" demonstrations, and the police must be encouraged to be tolerant of this messy process. Essentially, they must no longer be used as government goon squads. The only role for the police is to prevent serious crimes from occurring, and if such a crime should occur, only the people responsible for that crime should be arrested. In practical terms, if a striker clubs a scab with a baseball bat, the police arrest that striker, but it does not give them the right to wade in and beat up the entire picket line, as they would do now. We have seen how the police have tear-gassed and arrested masses of peaceful demonstrators in the anti-WTO protests under the guise of containing a handful of window-smashers. This must end. Beatings, gassings and arrests of non-violent protesters ought to result in assault and false arrest charges being laid upon the police.

2. Magistrates must cease to use technicalities to fine or jail people arrested for civil disobedience. CD ought to be given a kind of quasi-legality. There is a plain and obvious difference between someone arrested for trespassing in order to steal, and someone arrested for protesting the manufacture of cluster bombs. Judges must examine why an act of civil disobedience has occurred and throw the problem back at those who caused it in the first place. Eg. "We see that it was Ms Jones moral outrage at the manufacture of cluster bombs that caused her to chain herself to the gate. I suggest that Megagreed Inc. reconsider the manufacture of these devices." The organization being protested has to be seen as having some responsibility for a "crime" being committed, not just the protesters.

These reforms would end provocation, both of the police variety and pseudo-revolutionary. Demonstrations would be peaceful and larger as people would not be frightened away by fear of violence. Change would come about more easily as the state would no longer be able to use violence, or the threat of violence against the people.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Suppose you make a CD and sell twenty million copies -you would immediately be elevated to superstardom. Your face would be on every mag and you would join an elite club of celebs. Teenagers would emulate you. It would seem that consumer democracy was operating. The consumers "voted" by buying your product. But there is nothing democratic at all about this. There are probably 200 million potential CD buyers - your sales only represent 10% of the total possible sales. For all you know the other 90% might hate you and your music. Yet you are projected upon the world as though you had universal adoration.

The idea of "consumer democracy" is a fraud. The majority is not heard from. A minority of the public fosters its wants and desires upon us. They are able to do this because of the vast weight of millions of customers, even though these customers represent a minority of the total. Corporations deliberately create these compact minorities through adverstising. They prey upon the most seceptable or naive sectors of the population. Children, teenagers, the neurotic, the less educated, the less intelligent, are all there for corporate exploitation.

Thus, we are innundated with products, attitudes and services the majority of us don't really want like MacDonalds, gangsta rap, Walmarts, 12 yearolds dressing as whores, monster houses, the Olsen twins, etc.

The corporate apologists claim that choice exists among different products and that if the desire for a product arises, the market will fill this. But this is not the case if all companies act together and deliberately exclude different products. For example, planned obsolescence. There must be millions of people out there who would prefer this not exist, yet where is to company bragging that its products last a lifetime? How is it that all car companies abolished bumpers at the same time? Where is the car that has bumpers?


World class crackpot David Icke thinks we are ruled by a reptilian race from another solar system. Laugh all you want, but mixed in the lunacy lies a litle shard of truth. There is a portion of the human brain which functions entirely on raw instinct and is devoid of higher functions such as sympathy, empathy, love, and compassion. This portion of the brain is commonly called "the reptile brain" and is in both structure and function very much like the grey matter of crocodiles and lizards.

Dr. Paul MacLean, Chief of Brain Evolution and Behavior at the National Institute of Health, discovered that we have three brains within one. These are:

1. Brain stem - archiopallium, (reptile brain)
2. limbic system - site of emotions or paleopallium (mammal brain)
3. neocortex or neopallium (rational or human brain)

It was once believed that the rational brain or neocortex controlled the two lower brains. But Dr. MacLean showed the lower brain can take over and control the higher brain. The brain stem or archiopallium has a similar shape, function and traits as those of reptiles, hence the term “reptilian brain”. It is a purely instinctual brain concerned with survival and reproduction. Driven by fear the reptile brain becomes dominant when one feels endangered. Reptile brain traits include: Obsession with control and domination, treating others as objects to be used, paranoia, suspicion, aggressiveness , territoriality, greed, conformity, deception, repetition of the same patterns and never learning from error.

Empathy, live and let live, sharing, reciprocity, the imaginativeness, these are the traits that made us human, reinforce and further our humanity. The opposite of these traits tends to undermine our humanity and cause social retrogression.I suggest authoritarians tend to use more of the reptile brain than more libertarian-oriented people. As society engages in de-evolution, - due to the domination of authoritarian beliefs and practices - the use of the reptile portion becomes more evident. Psychopaths are the fullest example of the human reptile.

The film "The Corporation" suggests that corporations lack of empathy, greediness and lust for control msakes them act like psychopaths. Take this one step further. The people in control of these corporations are aware of what they are doing, accept, and indeed revel in it. If the corporation is a psychopath, so also the corporation's bosses. One would have, in all fairness, to extend this analogy to all areas of society where the abuse of authority is not unusual, such as politicians and bureaucrats.

Thus, in one sense, reptiles rule.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Whenever you have large scale or long-lasting unemployment you also have an increase in ill health, substance abuse, family break up, suicide and other forms of premature death. Furthermore, unemployment has a very negative effect on medical and social costs. This information comes from a series of studies done in Finland,Denmark, and Canada.

The following are the finding of Does Unemployment Cause Mortality? By Pekka Martikainen, Population Research Unit, Department of Sociology University of Helsinki.

“Previous observational follow-up studies of individuals have shown that mortality rates among the unemployed are higher than among the employed... Two mechanisms may explain this excess mortality. Causal effects of unemployment: Becoming jobless and prolonged redundancy have negative effects on health and increase the risk of premature death. The causal effects of unemployment are mainly assumed to be mediated through increased psychosocial stress, tobacco and alcohol consumption, as well as loss of income and material deprivation."

“…Total mortality among unemployed men is 2.54 times higher than among employed men. This excess mortality falls by almost 40 per cent when sociodemographic background variables available at the census are simultaneously adjusted for. Nonetheless, relative excess mortality of 1.93 still remains. Adjusted relative death rate among unemployed men is higher for accidents and violence than it is for diseases, 2.51 and 1.70, respectively. Highest relative mortality prevails in alcohol related diseases, respiratory diseases and alcohol poisonings. Excess mortality is also more pronounced for circulatory diseases than cancer.”

The Danish Study concludes:

“This prospective study suggests that high local unemployment and individuals’ experience of unemployment increase mortality risk, even after adjustment for other social and behavioral factors.” (1)

According to the Canadian Public Health Association:

“…the literature shows a strong positive relationship between unemployment and ill health. Canada has a high prevalence of unemployment, and there are high, direct, health care and societal costs resulting from current unemployment trends. Based on these assumptions, the total excess annual cost of health care in Canada attributable to the unemployment level in 1993 was $845 million, for 12.3% unemployed or $1,085 million for 15% unemployed…. 2

Statscan agrees with this study stating,

“Unemployed people tend to experience more health problems. Long-term unemployment could extend ones' susceptibility to poor health.”

So isn’t it about time that unemployment-causing neocon politicians got charged with first degree murder?

1. High local unemployment and increased mortality in Danish adults;
M Osler, U Christensen, R Lund, M Gamborg, N Godtfredsen and E Prescott, Department of Social Medicine, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, and The Copenhagen Centre of Prospective Population Studies, Danish Epidemiology Science Centre at the Institute of Preventive Medicine, HS: Copenhagen University Hospital

2. Discussion Paper on The Health Impact of Unemployment - Canadian Public Health Association

3. Statscan Health Indicators

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


The late Terrance McKenna
made the observation that psychedelic plants may have had a profound impact upon human evolution. I would like to explore that thought.

Humans have had the same physical brain for at least 200,000 years. But having 1400 cc of grey matter doesn't mean you know how to use it. There are millions of people, who, either from cruel child rearing practices, or a poor social environment never rise above corporate junk culture and thus never really exercise their imaginations and creative powers. While early humans were undoubtedly stimulated by their broader environment, following McKenna, I suggest that they also received a significant boost from certain plants.

Our ancestors would have carefully observed animals to see which plants were edible. They also would have experimented by ingesting small quantities of substances to ascertain their effects. They would have soon been aware of which of these were edible, which were poisonous and which had "interesting" effects. These latter plants would have effectively kick-started the imagination.

These interesting effects include a very heightened awareness of the senses, most particularly color and sound, a feeling of at-one-ness or unity with the world, a pulsing energy running thru everything (The world is alive.) and a dream-like or magical quality to existence. It is not difficult to conceive how art, music, poetry, spirituality and philosophy would be stimulated into existence by such visions.

The stimulation of the imagination gives rise to creativity. Some of this creativity will be technical in nature, such as how to manufacture better spear points. These technical improvements would be an obvious aid in human evolution, but so to would be the social improvements.

Rituals would evolve out of the ingestion of psychedelic plants. Not everyone could take them at the same time, since the band would be vulnerable to attack by predators such as lions and saber tooth tigers. Music and dance might arise spontaneously in such a setting, initiated by the "high" minority and then taken up by the rest. Rituals, are of course, a form of social bonding, as are art and poetry.

Their imaginations stimulated, people wish to communicate the marvelous experience of their "trips". This would further develop language, which here-to-fore may have only dealt with relatively mundane matters, such as "The fruit is now ripe" or "Watch out ! A poisonous snake!". A more articulate populace, would in turn develop a philosophy or coherent (and therefore bonding) world-view based largely upon the effects of the plant chemicals.

A society with closer social bonds and a better communication system (language) would have an edge on societies that lacked these. (*) I suggest that mutual aid was further advanced thru bonding and language, and thus was partially a result of the ingestion of these plants. Mutual aid, in turn, furthers bonding and also cultural and technological development.

A thought that I would like to return to at another time has to do with the hostility of authoritarian systems toward psychedelic plants. Authoritarianism destroys mutual aid and the social, replacing these with bullying, exploiting hierarchies of power. In essence the authoritarian system is a form of de-evolution, stripping us of what made us human to begin with. Thus it is natural the authoritarian (the sub-human) would wish to prevent the use of plants which stimulate the imagination and the social.

(*) Which is not to say that I believe in a brute "survival of the fittest". I suspect that bands of homo sapiens communicated their new-found knowledge to each other, giving them an advantage over the less evolved homo erectus.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


The neocon line is that everything is just hunky-dorey with Wallmart. Sure, we are losing our jobs, but the poor are benefiting by all those low prices. You should know right now, "there ain't no sech thang as a free lunch" and be very suspicious.

Cheap TVs, sound systems and appliances are a cover for increased expenses elsewhere. While UNNECESSARY consumer goods have truly gone down in price, certain NECESSITIES have shot up in cost. Couple this with stagnation of incomes among working people and a decline in incomes among the poor and the cheap consumer goods are no bargain.

Two essential aspects of living, housing and transportation have gone up in cost a much greater extent than either the rate of inflation or increase in income. In some Canadian cities, rents and house prices are ten to twelve times what they were 35-40 years ago. At the same time, the minimum wage and welfare have gone up only six or seven times. In the USA, housing costs, adjusted for inflation, rose 42% between 1970 and 1996. During the same period, worker income stagnated, and for families with parents under age 35, actually declined. Americans who made less than $20,000 US in 1997 spent 52% of their income on transportation and housing. (1)

Back in the 1960's a bus ticket cost 20 cents. Same ticket today is $2.50 or twelve and a half times. If the minimum wage had shot up to the same extent it would be $14 an hour! In the US the percent of family income devoted to transportation has doubled since the late 1930's. Looked at in dollar terms, a family making $40,000 US has to shell out $7600 for transportation. if the proportions were the same as in 1939, they would have $3800 extra to spend on other things. (2)

Back in the days when housing and transportation were relatively cheap, consumer durables, were, for the most part, relatively expensive. But no one went without. Everyone had a fridge, stove, and TV. If they couldn't afford new stuff, they bought them second hand. You could always pick up a fridge or TV for 25 bucks at the SallyAnn. NO ONE HAS EVER SUFFERED BY NOT HAVING THE LATEST TV OR FRIDGE. But, people who have to shell out 50 or 60% of their income for rent DO suffer.

Many consumer durables, adjusted for inflation, cost about half what they did in the 1960's. Had the same cost decline happened with housing and transportation, you would have no trouble buying a house in Vancouver for $70,000 or renting a two bedroom apartment for $400 a month. (3) A bus ticket would cost only 60 cents.

Wallmart’s "inexpensive" consumer goods are an example of capitalism's bad priorities. The important things, basic human necessities, are poorly met. In exchange, we get a lot of cheap, badly-made, job-killing imports. It's a lousy trade-off. (4)

1. Segal, Jerome, "Graceful Simplicity", p. 46
2. ibid, pps. 53, 54
3. Actual prices are approximately $400,000 and $1200
4. The situation is even worse than I portray here. Many government services that were once free now cost, taxes for working people doubled as the government off-loaded them on workers as a means of lowering corporate taxes, it costs twelve and a half times more to mail a letter than 1968.


(Taken from a posting by Stuart at The Tyee)
Wal-Mart sales clerks made an average of $8.23 an hour—or $13,861 a year—in 2001. That's nearly $800 below the federal poverty line for a family of three. (Source: Business Week)

In Georgia, Wal-Mart employees are six times more likely to rely on state-provided health care for their children than are employees of any other large company. (Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Reliance on public assistance programs in California by Wal-Mart workers costs the state's taxpayers an estimated $86 million annually. (Source: UC Berkeley Study)

In the first decade after Wal-Mart arrived in Iowa, the state lost 555 grocery stores, 298 hardware stores, 293 building supply stores, 161 variety stores, 158 women's apparel stores, 153 shoe stores, 116 drugstores, and 111 men's and boys' apparel stores. (Source: Iowa State University Study)

Every year Wal-Mart purchases $15 billion worth of products from China. (Source: Washington Post)

Today Wal-Mart uses over 3,000 Chinese factories to produce its goods—almost as many factories as it has stores in the U.S. (3,600). (Source: L.A. Times)

All else being equal, U.S. counties where new Wal-Mart stores were built between 1987 and 1998 experienced higher poverty rates than other U.S. counties.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


First off I should point out that you can no more write with accuracy about Free Market Libertarianism (hereafter FML) in general terms anymore than you can of any other ideology. For a minority of FML the following criticisms will not apply, especially the radical libertarians following in the footsteps of Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess. This article is directed more toward anyone who accepts "really existing capitalism" uncritically, and this would seem to encompass the majority of mainstream FML. I should also add, that I have always had friendly relations with FML's and still believe that we need to work with them in order to eliminate repressive laws, war and imperialism.

The main reason why FML won't get anywhere is its disconnection from the lives of that 80% of the population who are employees. While it is true, FML does connect with workers as tax-payers and as the victims of the very government institutions allegedly there to help them, it has little to say about work and the work situation.

Wherever allegedly FML economic ideas have been put into practice, the result has been a reduction in services and living standards for those concerned. Privatization and de-regulation, for example, gave rise to crony-capitalism and corruption on a massive scale (Savings and Loan Scam, Enron etc.) Replacement of union jobs by non-union does not result in improved living standards and working conditions, but the opposite. Government cut backs have given us unemployment, closure of necessary institutions like schools and hospitals and a general decline in the remaining services. Application of alleged free market principles in Russia, Argentina and the Third World has been a human disaster. FML promote privatization, sub-contracting and the abolition of such laws as minimum wage and work hours. WITHOUT OTHERWISE LEVELLING THE ECONOMIC PYRAMID, such a program can only strike fear into the hearts of working people.

FML's are seemingly oblivious as to the reasons why these regulations and nationalizations, trade unions, socialist and populist movements came about in the first place. Writing these off as the products of ideology and economic ignorance is far too facile and explanation. The various anti-capitalist social movements arose because artisans and farmers were suffering the effects of the GOVERNMENT SPONSORED capitalism. They were losing their independence and being turned into proletarians and naturally hated it. The various reforms and nationalizations came about as a means to overcome the negative effects of corporate capitalism upon the population. These reforms, however, PRESERVED corporate capitalism. They were the minimum standard agreed upon by the capitalists themselves to offset social unrest and other problems like crime and epidemic illness. To abolish these reforms WITHOUT FIRST ABOLISHING CORPORATE CAPITALISM is to threaten the return of the social conditions of 1900. We can see this in the USA today, where this process of turning back the clock is most advanced: mass criminality, lower life expectancy, gated communities, increased work hours, and a fortune spent on security.

One of the most important examples of FML disconnection from the lives of the overwhelming majority is the problem of the workplace itself. True, being a worker is not as oppressive as being a chattel slave or a military conscript. We may quibble about how much coercion is involved. Nonetheless, working for someone else is generally very unpleasant. Karl Marx did not invent worker alienation, virtually without exception, everyone working for someone else experiences feels it. The moment you enter the factory gate or the office door, you lose all your natural rights as a human being. You have no freedom of speech or right of assembly, you have no say or vote in what goes on. You may as well be a cow or a piece of machinery.

One disgusting example occurred in court in the US a couple of years ago. The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that is was all right for an employer to fire an employee who had attended a meeting (on his own time) the boss didn’t like. This decision shows that human and democratic rights are meaningless and the US has returned to a kind of feudalism. The fear of these sort of attacks guarantees that working people won't support FML parties.

Few people, given the choice of working for themselves or working for someone else, would freely choose the latter. That you "consented" to being an employee is a sick joke. The choice is narrow - either voluntary slavery or starvation. Of course, if the only choice available is whether to be beaten with a broomstick or beaten with a 2 by 4, people will always favor the broomstick, but it doesn't mean they necessarily enjoy getting beaten. Few indeed, are the mainstream FML's who are aware that corporations, as well as the state, have done everything possible to destroy small businesses, small farmers and artisans and convert them into wage laborers.

This last aspect brings us to the next major point: As Proudhon stated 160 years ago "Property is Theft!" Anyone who supports the status quo in property relations is covering up a series of monstrous crimes. Long before wage slavery, long before serfdom, long before chattel slavery became the norm, people were free peasants, artisans, hunters or fishers. Everyone had access to property and a minority did not hog most of it. Even 19th Century Canada and the US were largely artisan-farmer economies. People did not give up their property freely - they were forced off the land either directly or indirectly thru governmental action. Capitalism is essentially the state socialism of the rich. Few FML’s will admit this very large skeleton in the capitalist closet. While most working people also are unaware of this fact, many are cynical when it comes to the capitalist rhetoric about “self-made men.”


Students voted Monday to end the strike. In spite of not winning completely, the strike is of the rare times a neocon government has been beaten back. Hopefully this victory will inspire workers as they are forced to confront the Charest regime in its attacks on working people.

For a good article on the strike see:
Rabble News

Sunday, April 10, 2005


THE NEXT WAVE OF OFFSHORING Far Eastern Economic Review March 2005 By Robyn Meredith

A few interesting quotes from this article:

Robyn happily chirps, “Over the next decade, offshoring will knock millions of white-collar Americans and Europeans out of work, blowing a hole in the middle class from Los Angeles to London, from Boston to Berlin, from Toledo to Tokyo, from Austin to Amsterdam… Fat, rich and spoiled Westerners have for several generations been shielded from workplace competition with the world's most populous nations. ”

“Here's the extent of the good news for middle-class America: If history is any guide, just over a third of those who are laid off because of offshoring will quickly find a new job and be no worse off, according to consultants McKinsey & Co. Just over half will have to take pay cuts of at least 15%. A quarter of those laid off will take pay cuts of at least 30%. European workers are even in worse trouble: those who lose jobs there are only half as likely as Americans to find new jobs within six months, according to McKinsey.”

“Yet offshoring doesn't have to be all doom and gloom for Western countries. Economists say increased trade-globalization-however painful for those who lose their jobs because of it, always brings more wealth to the world as a whole. Offshoring is already a net gain for the U.S. and for the country where the jobs land. Every dollar of spending that U.S. companies transfer to India creates $1.46 in new wealth, according to McKinsey research. India keeps 33 cents of that gain, while the U.S. keeps $1.13 for every dollar spent on offshoring.
This means consumers in the West are big winners, too. Despite the pain felt by white-collar workers whose jobs are moved offshore, the jobs transfer will bring lower prices to the shores of the industrialized nations.”

This goes to show the inhumanity of the neocons - a full two-thirds of laid off workers will face long term unemployment and lower wages. But it is even worse than that. Every time you have mass unemployment you have bankruptcies, family break-ups, an increase in substance abuse, an increased risk for heart attacks and suicide. Simply put, unemployment ruins lives and worse, KILLS.

Most of the so-called increased wealth certainly won’t do to the work force, it will go to the greedy corporations that are outsourcing. And even if offshoring was beneficial, doesn’t Robin’s sort of argument have a familiar ring to it? Isn’t it “the end justifies the means?” Isn’t it “Well, it’s OK to destroy the lives of these people because the majority benefit”? Isn’t this the same thinking as “Yes, Stalin is a brute, but give him credit, he industrialized Russia?” THE NEXT WAVE OF OFFSHORING shows once again how amoral and nihilistic the neocons are.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


A group in France, RATP claims that free city transit would cost no more than one where you pay for a ticket. How can this be possible, you ask?

First off, the true cost of so-called private transportation must be considered. These include pollution, road and street repair, injuries and deaths, and the cost of gasoline and diesel for a petroleum importing country like France. Anything that lessens the amount of "private" traffic also reduces these hidden costs. If free transit shifted, say 15% of traveling away from autos, add this to the "plus side" of the public transit ledger.

Ticket sales make up only about 30% of the amount that goes to provide for public transit. The rest is provided by the government. Before anyone gets worked up over subsidies to public transport, remember that so-called private transportation is even more highly subsidized by the state, some $135 billion per annum in the USA.

Then there are the costs of printing and selling tickets, keeping the turnstiles functioning and policing for free riders. This sizable amount would have to be deducted from the cost of public transit.

A further saving could be made from de-bureaucratizing management. High-salary government bureaucrats could be eliminated and replaced by a board of directors elected from the transit workers and users. The transit company would become a stake-holder cooperative rather than a government agency. Lower level management posts could be eliminated as the transit workers could practice self-management on a day-to-day basis. With democratic management, the need for strikes, which are so costly to a transit system, would be eliminated.

Of course no "free" system is actually free. Transit must be paid for in some manner. At present, it is covered by a mix of taxes and tickets. By eliminating tickets, it would seem that taxes would bear the entire burden. Not necessarily as taxes could be replaced by user fees. The group which benefits most from transportation systems are businesses. The movement of workers and customers, as well as goods, is a business cost that is socialized - imagine if each company had to supply its own transportation system to bring its workers to the job and consumers to the shop, as well as paying tolls to pay for the roads and bridges. An alternative method of finance would be to charge each business a user fee, and like water rates, the bigger the business, the larger the charge.


The student movement has been split over whether to accept the government’s offer of $70 million in bursaries for the next year and a restoration of the $103 million the following years. Two of the major student organizations, the FEUQ and FECQ voted in favor and the others, especially the more militant CASSEE, have rejected it. The later group has moved beyond the simple single issue to a direction that is critical of the present politico-economic system. As I write about 80,000 students or approximately 40% of the total remain committed to the strike.

Such a high level of militance continues to put great pressure on the neocon government and is a good measure of what is in store for the future. In spite of the more conservative student federation’s copping out of the strike, it should be kept in mind that this has been one of the few times a neocon government has been forced to back down in its attacks upon the people. The neocons will soon learn that “crime does not pay!”

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The recent, and indeed on-going, college and university student protest movement in Quebec is of historical significance. For the first time in North America a European-level of student solidarity has arisen. Previously, student militance tended to be a minority movement or, as with opposition to the war in Vietnam in the USA, sparked by something outside of direct campus issues. Here we have a student general strike over the neocon Liberal govts. abolition of bursaries. More than 200,000 students have taken part in actions. Even the rather conservative economics students of the University of Montreal went out for a day. Some high schools went out in solidarity, as well.

The movement has a sense of humor and is mature. In one action the students formed an orchestra, stood in from of the Liberal Headquarters and played the "103rd Symphony" (in reference to the $103 million cut from bursaries) There has only been one minor action out of hundreds - the partial looting of a supermarket - that might turn off supporters. And public support does run high - 63% according to the polls. ( I remember when student protests got very little public support.)

Decisions are made at mass democratic assembles. Hopefully, this will remain the case and the students will refrain from throwing up a group of "leaders" who will act as intermediaries, and eventually sell-out the movement.

The state is backed into a corner. They offered $70 million in bursaries and the students refused - only the restoration of the full $103 million. Some campuses went as far as to demand that the govt resign as their only negotiating point.

All of this bodes well for the future. Student movements often invigorate the workers movement (remember 1968!) and this may be the shot in the arm we need, in order to have an all-out general strike against the Pinocharest regime and its vicious attacks upon workers. Mass student activism is a radicalizing process which gives rise to a whole new generation of militants. The future is hot!

Comment To The The Tyee

(In reference to the up-coming BC election. )With the Gliberals record, the NDP should be ready for a landslide. That they might not even win a minority govt. points out what a poor opposition they have been. But then again, the NDP and the hard right share a common fear of the average working person. Both parties wish to be in power to rule OVER us and not to allow us to control our lives in our communities. Thus, it is no wonder that most people are not enthused about such an “opposition.” Social democracy was originally about empowerment of workers, farmers and their communities. Somewhere along the line this got lost. Democracy got reduced to the quadrennial farce whereby we elect an elite who do what they want and to hell with our wishes. Loss of the true democratic vision has meant the stifling of social democracy and a further lack of imagination. It is no wonder that in many countries they have become Neocon-lite. Rather than give our time to the NDP perhaps we should think of forming committees of correspondence to discuss and agitate for empowerment of the community, cooperative development and self-management?

Friday, April 01, 2005


Henry Ford was that rarest of breeds, an intelligent capitalist. He realized the consumption of manufactured goods was limited by low wages. So he paid his production workers the highest wages in industry. They now had enough money to buy his cars and this ushered in the era of mass production/mass consumption that Antonio Gramsci called "Fordism". The other auto manufacturers denounced Ford as a "communist", but he laughed all the way to the bank. Wealthy before, he soon became the richest man in the world, thanks to mass consumption,

Fast forward 90 years. The capitalists are now trying to undo the "Fordist revolution." Their joy is in beating our wages and working conditions down to a minimum. Rather than a high-wage auto plants, low-wage Walmart and MacDo are the model. Factories are shut down and cheap imports brought in from low wage - lousy working condition countries like China. Governments seek to outsource and corporatize their functions and turn their former employees into insecure cheap labour

Since nothing occurs in isolation, a fact forgotten by our greed-stupified capitalists, "reverse-Fordism" creates a major problem. Who will buy the goods? Someone who goes from a well paid job to a poorly paid one is not about to buy an expensive appliance, a new car, or seek a mortgage. Every person whose job is lost or "privatized" at a lousy wage is a lost customer for some other industry. A rich minority can never sop up all the production that a reasonably well paid work force can – which was the major reason for having a high-wage work force in the first place.

In order to compensate, many people have been running up high levels of debt since their incomes don't match consumption desires. These debts become a chain around their necks and the result is a new kind of debt peonage. Welcome to the future... which turns out to be like 1890! However, large consumer debt, coupled with balance of payments problems (thanks to all those cheap slave-labor imports) coupled with high government debt is a rickety structure like a house of cards and the whole thing could come crashing down at any moment. But even if the debt problem did not exist, a continuing trend of low wages and poor working conditions will eventually lead to economic stagnation and crisis.


One of the major hurdles activists face is the underlying philosophy of this culture, one that sees everything as disconnected. Thus, people do not see the reality that "an injury to one, is an injury to all," nor do they see that a victory by one group of oppressed is a victory for all the oppressed.

Typical of this sort of ignorance is the far too common negative attitudes toward Native struggles, most particularly land claims. These attitudes are encouraged by the corporate media, since land claims threaten the corporate state. This observation seems a common place among the libertarian left - after all land claims mean the potential loss of corporate control over vast amounts of minerals, water and timber.

But there is more to it than just resources. Native People, after centuries of oppression, cultural genocide and racism are standing up and fighting back. Yes, there are corrupt Indian bureaucrats and would-be capitalists among them. Yes, cigarette smuggling and casinos exist as well. However, consider the possibility of Native People reaching back into their traditions, developing a cooperative, sustainable and communitarian economy on their territories.

One small example of Native communal developments is found in the Innu Reserve of Essipit on Quebec’s North Shore. According to an article in the Montreal Gazette Feb. 27th entitled “A Success”, the Innu have financed a number of successful industries and have become the main economic force in the area, keeping the neighboring white town of Les Escumins alive. There is a certain amount of jealousy involved as the white municipality complains that First Nations People have an unfair advantage since their Band Council can invest in profit making enterprises while their municipal govt. can only invest in non-profit services and infrastructure. (Rather than being jealous, change the stupid law or find some way around it.)

Should Native People continue in a communitarian direction and reject the corporate capitalist model, Canada would have these islands of alternative economic development based on a revitalized Native culture. Most likely, First Nations alternative economies would then link up with existing non-Native cooperatives. Both groups would support each other. One result (rather than jealousy) could be a growing desire for a communitarian approach and local control of development in non-Native communities. All of this would be bad news for the greed heads.
Blogging Change
BCBloggers Code: Progressive Bloggers Site Meter