A Commentary by Mark Taliano
Political and corporate elites conveniently ally themselves to this threat to create a communication firewall between the relative few who have access to power, and the rest of us who do not.
This imperceptible, yet ubiquitous threat to Canadians and their freedoms is thought-control, known alternatively as indoctrination, or, in an opposing country, propaganda.
The drivers of thought control include corporate sponsored “think tanks” that masquerade as non-partisan research centers. The public relations services that they ultimately provide are not about the communication of sound research, or, god forbid, the public good, but rather about supporting partisan views.
The Koch Bros. funded Fraser Institute, as an example, endorses catastrophic global warming through its pseudo-science misinformation campaigns: it is thought control masquerading as evidence-based research. The Koch’s also use opaque financial schemes to secretly fund other organizations that create unreasonable doubt about climate science.
Mainstream media, with its concentration of corporate ownership, is another driver of indoctrination. The media’s often unified messaging, and limited agendas, serve the self-interests of their corporate owners, more than they serve the wider interests of the public.
The result is that decent people who have neither the time nor the inclination to do independent research, are duped.
The Harper government values indoctrination more than previous Canadian governments. It engages 1,500 “communications” workers in its ministries, offices, and departments, to “massage” messages and to hide and falsify scientific and economic realities. The repeated mantra is that they are sound economic managers, job creators, and leaders who are transforming Canada into an Energy Superpower. To facilitate their agenda, they offer false choices, repeating that we must choose either pipelines or job losses. The reality is that there are plenty of jobs to be created that do not depend on pipelines or fossil fuel extraction. In fact, relying so heavily on a commodity-based economy costs many jobs because the dollar is artificially inflated by commodity-driven economies.
Ultimately, these false choices are an endorsement not only of catastrophic climate change, but also of bad economic policy. Good environmental policies translate to good economic policies, and good jobs. Bad environmental policies, on the other hand, enrich the world’s richest individuals and corporations, but impoverish the rest of us, and devastate the air and water on which we depend for healthy living.
On the climate front, it’s hard not to notice the high cost of droughts, storms, and rising sea levels. It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that alternate energy sources are not only cleaner, but also less expensive than fossil fuel sources. In Australia, wind power is already less expensive than fossil fuel power, and it isn’t saddled with the same toxic “externalities”. In Canada, for every $1 million invested in the capital intensive oil and gas industries, 2 jobs are created. The same money invested in the clean energy sector creates 15 jobs.
“Message massagers” also count on us having a short memory. If memory served us better, we would remember that in 2008, financial deregulation created a world-wide financial crisis from which we still have not recovered. A similar scenario occurred during the 1929 market crash as well, but we have been encouraged to forget these economic crises, and not improve regulations, so that the few, supported by compliant legislation, can continue to plunder the many.
“Communications” workers are specialists at using word meanings promiscuously. For example, false associations are made between “free markets” and “free” people, when in fact free markets and forces of corporate globalization commodify workers, destroy unions, and exploit what are essentially slave workers overseas — quite the opposite to what the word connotations imply.
“Free” markets also rob citizens of the right to democratically create local legislation that is to their economic and environmental advantage, rather than to the corporate advantage of foreign-owned entities. The FIPA agreement, with its secret tribunals outside of Canadian law jurisdiction is a glaring example of a (state-owned) transnational corporations’ ability to “freely” usurp democratic rights from Canadians.
Realities on the ground serve as reminders of where we’re actually heading, but we need to be conscious of the warnings. For example, manufacturing, which creates more jobs than pipelines, continues to languish, and the flight of manufacturing overseas, thanks to “free markets”, continues to negatively impact our middle class and our economy.
Governments also put a spin on employment figures. As Jim Stanford explains, the fact that the “official” jobless rate fell to seven per cent does not mean that more people are employed. In fact, the same statistical analysis shows that the total employment fell by 22,000 people. Again, beware the spin.
The corporate messaging obliterates memory and consciousness in an unsuspecting public, and encourages political passivity and conformist intolerance. We become distracted and diverted from important issues by “infotainment” masquerading as news, superficial political sound bites, and ultimately, confusion. We recoil into the comfort of reassuring beliefs, political disengagement, and the false-assurances that our political elites, specialists that they are in economics and international affairs, will govern us with wisdom and common sense.
Once we become more conscious of what is happening, and sharpen our memories of what has happened, we will be better positioned to access the levers of power ensconced behind their firewalls of indoctrination. We will also be better positioned to salvage what is left of our democracy, and our economy, from the assaults of corporate and political indoctrination.
Mark Taliano is a Niagara resident and regular contributor of news and commentary to Niagara At Large.
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