A Commentary by Mark Taliano
The largest threat to meaningful democracy and a strong economy in Canada is barely perceptible, but pervasive and well entrenched.
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.
(Niagara At Large encourages all visitors to this site to share their views on this post or any other posts NAL has posted. Divergent views are most welcome in the spirit of NAL’s goal to operate as a virtual town hall for discussing and debating issues of interest and concern to our communities and countries across the greater Niagara region and beyond.)
I am equally concerned by the ultra-right … and ultra-left.
Mr Taliano is entitled to his opinion and certainly has the right to express his opinion.
But, as someone who once worked in the mainstream media, I find his fear-mongering about the media to be a bit “over the top.”
It has been my personal experience that, for the most part, the mainstream media does try to be reasonably impartial. I have found that the “alternative” media tend to be more obviously partial to the “left of centre” viewpoint.
When trying to determine the facts of a situation, I usually find it best to read what each side is saying … and then find the truth somewhere in the middle.
What is “The FIPA agreement”? Overall well done except for your comments on energy.
“It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that alternate energy sources are not only cleaner, but also less expensive than fossil fuel sources.” THIS STATEMENT DEPENDS ON LOCATION, IS RARELY TRUE AND IN IT SELF MISLEADING. ” and it isn’t saddled with the same toxic “externalities”. BUT WIND DOES HAVE TOXIC EFECTS IN ITS LOCAL. “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. ” THIS IS NOT TRUE IF YOU CONSIDER A LONG TERM.
Thank you Mark Taliano! As usual you have interpreted and transmitted another almost hidden truth about so many of the big and nefarious international corporations and the fallacy of ‘free’ trade. My academic and clinical research area has been real time information-communication (verbal & kinesic) on a smaller scale. It is quite correct, as you say, that many communication ‘workers’ are enlisted in duping the public in an ongoing way. It’s also so true that ‘modern’ mass memory is short and forgetfully plays into the greedy one-percents’ hands. Please publish more of your enlightening views in NAL on a regular basis. /wfh
Well said Mark. Having had experience in the media industry I have found that they have either adhered to an agenda or basically got the facts wrong. Unfortunately, we as human beings, are inclined to WANT to believe what we hear. That is definately a shortcoming of our species. A little bit more cynicism on our part would go a long way in ensuring the truth, or a more accurate version of it, be delivered by our government, big business and the media.
FOX, SUN, etc. Need we say more? Why do you think Doug has this forum? I believe he was fed up with having to toe the corporate line. Just my guess.
As usual you enlighten and bring truth to the fore front but the problem seems to be the “Jones Theory” where you neighbor works on the same line (Once) goes to the same church and their children play together but when it comes to “class” many feel they are better than their neighbors and they vote for the Corporate Agenda.
When it comes to certain media Journalists who still try to tell us the World is “Flat” all I can say is open your Eyes for God’s sake. There are so many fabulous Journalists waking the streets of this country that it is pitiful and many of the Journalist still employed are “New and/or those who write and hold their noses while following the Corporate media line”.
Democracy is a pipe dream, fostered by propaganda and driven to a point where it is a joke. Democracy is mouthed by the 1% gang only and as I watch a TV program tonight discussing how much money one needs to retire I shook my head in disbelief as there are no life time jobs anymore, very few pensions and the Cost of Living is drowning everyone not included in the 1% or the $100,000. dollar clubs
I have gone down this road talked and wrote MPs and guess what they don;t give a damn
Once again Thank You Mark Thank you for the Truth.
Mr. Mackenzie: mainstream media is too tame and unrealistic. What happened with XL Beef? Has the food processing industry improved?
What happened to Nortel? A once strong Canadian technology company? If the Chinese government aided intelligence in stealing their technology than our government must be exploring ways to insulate us from a corrupt and vicious government right? It surely isn’t allowing their state government to purchase major energy interests in Canada right? This Huwaii company is on the up and up right?
Misinformation, like these jokers that deny our impact on the climate, they are weeded out quick by a vigilant and unbiased platoon of journalists seeking the truth, right?
NAFTA commoditizing water and shipping our manufacturing jobs South, or east has been a good deal right? FIPA isn’t going to give more protection to pharmaceuticals than to impoverished people in struggling nations who need medicine, right? I could take pride in campaigns like foodland Ontario and appreciate the Ontario Content quota of the green energy act without having to worry about the US/WTO trying to pressure the government out of those moves, right?
Is it fear mongering, or is it just calling out the media for sucking on the teet of the corporate fat hogs that fund their drivel? The mainstream media had better feast on the ad-rates from these rich boomers, because I’ll tell you that when Al Jazeera, RTV and Rabble are in the kids smartphones these days, the monolithic mainstream media can fade off with print media and all the other relics of bygone times.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to get a free trade deal with the European Union,the problem with that is that we in Canada hardly make anything here anymore, under NAFTA we purged all our factory jobs and sent them to Mexico for free.We are right back to where we were before the World War 2. drawers of water and hewers of wood and now some gooey crude oil.you want fries with that economy? 72 years on this planet, tells me the unwashed citizenry are screwed big time. Canadian voters fall for the biggest line of spiel out there and commit hari kari.and then suffer a 6 year hangover.
First of all, thanks for the Commentary Mark Taliano. I enjoyed listening and I tend to agree. fully. We will not be an energy superpower, but an energy colony. We have been hoodwinked and those of us who are awake are not happy about it at all. We are further confounded by the spin on almost everything. Orwell was not far from the mark, was he? The language and the repetition have lulled us to sleep. I don’t talk much at work because the others there read and listen to mainstream info-tainment-news and buy it up.
I think if alternative energy research was granted the breaks large corporations are given things would change, and Mr. Taliano’s comments on energy would ring true.
I sure hope Canadians wake up and we can salvage the beautiful country we had and our integrity on the world stage; seems it is quite tarnished at the present time.
I have also, for a change, really enjoyed reading all the comments on here. As follows, I don’t agree with all of you, but sure do appreciate the respect you all offer each other.