Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Log 254: Canada: no prospect of social change, since even our leftwing leaders would sooner drop dead than utter the word socialism

Plaque recording the location of the formation...Image via Wikipedia Plaque commemorating the foundation of the British Labour Party by the trades unions in 1900

I have to confess it in my eighty-fourth year --- I am never going to live in a country that can expect drastic political change.

That has been made obvious by the recent breakthrough of the New Democratic Party being accompanied by the even more pronounced dominance of the Conservative party, now ready to govern almost unchallenged for at least the next ten years. Could anything be more depressing for a guy with my outlook?

I grew up in what I like to think was a socialist country, New Zealand in the 1940s. Our Labour government was elected in 1935, when I was seven, but they performed excellently, especially considering that most of their ministers were self-educated working men.

In fact, it was from that government that I developed my preference for politicians from the working class. When I moved to England I discovered the Labour Party there, although led by the upper middle class products of universities, also had its good admixture of working class activists, most of whom learned their political techniques in the labour movement.

Thus the Labour party in those days was a party which varied between supporting the status quo and injecting some realism into the search for an egalitarian society.

I have lived in Canada since 1954, off and on, and have long since become accustomed to the dominance of capitalist-oriented political parties. Mind you, I have always recognized that the very existence of the NDP has been a major influence in the differences, such as they are, between this country and the United States. But anyone who thinks that an NDP government will in anyway transform Canadian society is out to the races, as we used to say. In case you haven’t noticed, leaders of our so-called socialist party, many of whom I have interviewed in the last 50 years, would sooner drop dead that utter the word socialism.

There are countries whose residents can hope for drastic change in their lifetimes. Most them would be within what we have grown accustomed to calling the Third World. Of course sheer weight of numbers will dictate that dramatic change must come to India and China, but if I had written this a few months ago I would probably not even have mentioned the Arab countries of the Middle East, who now seem to have entered waters so uncharted that whatever will emerge is anybody’s guess. That it could take a socialist direction does seem unlikely.

Most African countries seem to be mired in corruption, and their economies seem to be irrevocably in the grip of the capitalist drive that has led to globalization with all its problems. Capitalism doesn’t give a shit about poverty: in fact, its very success depends on robbing poor nations of the resources they are sitting on, and keeping them poor. The only thing that matters to the capitalist world is that its growth-ethic be undisturbed, no matter how absurd it may be to imagine that it can go on forever.

That probably leaves only some Latin American nations that have recently shown signs of shaking off the old imperial controls. Countries like Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia possibly Argentina, with some hope for such as Uruguay, Chile and even Paraguay and Ecuador. A leftist orientation seems to have taken root in some of these nations that could, in the longer term, possibly lead them to creating some sort of economy analogous to what exists today in Scandinavia.

Of course any move leftward by any nation on earth must expect immediately to meet the ferocious opposition of the United States, for whom interference in the affairs of other nations seems to have become almost a reflex action. Their recent invasion of Pakistan with the intention of kidnapping, killing and disposing of the leader of a small terrorist organization is just the latest in a long line of interventions, and will certainly not be their last.

All of this leaves Canada more or less on the sidelines, so far as the possibility of social change is concerned. We can forget about it for the next ten years, and even longer, except that the Harper government will be active during all these years in imprisoning people for minor offences in terrible inhumane prisons from which they can be depended upon to emerge --- if they ever do emerge --- embittered, angry, and criminal in intent.

What a prospect!

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