By Mark Taliano
This word does not, however, describe our current federal regime, as it dismantles environmental protections, deregulates markets, subsidizes transnational corporations, bails out banks, and weakens the public sector at every turn. The word that does, however, describe our current federal regime, is “neoliberal”. Beneath the surface, the Harper regime, with its Reform party roots, is actually a “neoliberal” government.
Not surprisingly, the term “neoliberal” is rarely used in the corporate media, just as the phrase “human-caused climate change” is rarely found in corporate media.
The big question is why? And the answer is fairly straightforward. Huge corporate entities make the rules and frame the discussions.
Neo-liberalism is an economic theory that benefits about 20 per cent of the population, while it is a disservice to the rest. It is also the economic theory that created the catastrophic crash of the financial markets in 2008, as well as the economic devastation elsewhere in the world.
Hallmarks of this theory include privatization, deregulation, the rolling back of the public sphere, and the enrichment of the 1%.
It preaches a “laissez-faire” market approach, but it relies for its success on huge public subsidies and bailouts. It creates a casino, boom/bust economy that is insured by unwitting public citizens.
It plays havoc with environmental stewardship (gutting environmental regulations); it plays havoc with financial markets (unregulated financial transactions ( i.e hedge funds/derivatives); and it plays havoc with solidarity movements such as unions. Most insidious of all, though, it becomes stronger where democracy is weak or non-existent. Democracy and neoliberalism move in opposite directions.
Chinais a flourishing capitalist, “neoliberal” country, but when democracy tried to break out atTiananmen Square, the students and their democratic ideals were wiped out …. literally. The bodies were burned, and nowChinais a strong capitalist, but aggressively anti-democratic country.
Russia, too, is now a capitalist country with a “neoliberal” economy, but its democracy is very weak.
So, the unseen, un-named influence in the Harper regime, and to a slightly lesser extent, the McGuinty government, is neoliberalism.
In some respects, apart from the lack of respect that it demonstrates to working people, neoliberalism is also evil.
The military-industrial complex grows by creating fear and by waging war. So, in 2003 when the U.S and the U.K unleashed weapons of mass destruction onIraq(a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, terrorism, or the alleged weapons of mass destruction), the corporate media barely mentioned the thousands (over 100,000) of American anti-war protestors in the streets. Not surprisingly, CBS was owned by Westinghouse, and NBC by General Electric, two major weapons manufacturers, when the Iraq War started.
According to Iraq Body Count, from 106, 695 – 116,548 (likely more) innocent, non-combatants have lost their lives so far since the criminal invasion ofIraq.
The military industrial complex also affectsCanada. Lockheed Martin, the sole source provider of the F-35’s will likely cost Canadians billions more than expected. This, at a time when public services such as health care are under-funded and dysfunctional.
Even as neoliberalism fosters these maladjusted priorities, it is still a winning formula for the exploiters though: they use public money to undermine the public sphere, so the largely unaccountable transnational corporations can profit. This insinuation of the private sphere into what has traditionally been the public sphere is happening at an alarming rate now, and it will continue to drive up prices for ordinary citizens, especially in the realm of health care.
Canada currently has record levels of economic disparities, record levels of planned environmental devastation, and record levels of democratic deficits: all hallmarks of neo-liberalism.
Yet even as this exploitative system crashes economically, and forces “austerity” on the 99%, it is still fairly intact ideologically. It is still wearing the mask of “conservatism”, and it is still a taboo topic for the corporate media.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
Mark Taliano is a Niagara native and frequent contributor of political essays and commentary to Niagara At Large.
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