Tag Archives: Oligarchy

“Fringe” parties and the Overton Window

This is the latest in an ongoing (and soon-to-be-concluded) weekly series on the question of voting and whether it’s worthwhile. You can read the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth entries if yer interested.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve looked at several reasons why voting is not a meaningful or useful activity most of the time. A lot of these reasons have boiled down to one of a few issues: namely, our dysfunctional party system and the strong influence of capital over our governments.

At the outset, I considered the fact that none of the parties likely to win this fall’s election intend to address the fundamental issues and injustices of our time, from climate change to systemic racism to imperial warmongering, and I posed the question, “Does it really matter who wins?” If all we’re going to get is different shades of bad (from not-completely-terrible orange to holy-hell-this-is-awful blue to a-kinder-gentler-but-not-meaningfully-differently-awful red), then what’s the purpose in engaging in the whole exercise?

From there, I explored the dynamics of lesser-evil-ism, and how strategic voting consistently plays to the interests of capital by helping to elect parties which are willing to sell out their principles for votes (and which demonstrate when in power that they’re also willing to sell out their principles for dollars). Continue Reading

Trans-Pacific Partnership – the scariest trade deal you’ve probably never heard of

A few weeks back, a poll by Environics Research Group for Trade Justice Network, “an umbrella group dedicated to challenging the secretive process by which international trade deals are generally negotiated”, released a poll showing that three out of four Canadians have never heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Assuming my readership is roughly representative, that means that for 75% of people reading this, this is your first introduction to the horrorshow of a trainwreck of a landmine which is the TPP. So, fair warning – there’s not much good news in this post, not many glimmers of optimism, no clear path forward. This is a story about a disaster in progress, a disaster which has been carefully concealed from the public.

There’s something darkly ironic about the CBC reporting on ERGTJN’s poll results, because they’re very much part of the problem. They haven’t exactly covered the story in great depth – a Google search reveals that the term received a mere ten mentions on their site all year up until their article about the poll, with half of these being passing references and the other half being related to the squabbles in the US Congress and among US Presidential candidates over the super-secretive trade deal. If you’re wondering why Donald Trump easily has four times the name recognition of the TPP while possessing way less than a quarter the relevance, look no farther than the mainstream media.

If you’re one of the 75% who don’t know what I’m talking about, I won’t leave you in suspense any longer. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is ostensibly a free-trade deal being conducted between twelve Pacific Rim nations, including Canada, which will vastly empower corporate interests while in large measure sacrificing the national sovereignty of all nations involved.

The full extent of the damage this treaty will do is unknowable, because we’re literally not allowed to know. The treaty will remain secret until four years after it is completed and signed and ratified and brought into force.

Does that sound absurd to you? Almost as though it couldn’t be true?

Because, unfortunately, it is.

Economist Robert Reich explains it succinctly in this (admittedly US-centric) video (h/t Lorne over at Politics and its Discontents): Continue Reading

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