Saturday, October 15, 2011
Will the Anchor Hold?
With each passing day the Occupy Wall Street movement, in New York and elsewhere, grows more resilient. It shows itself to be more than a mere protest, the standard venting over one egregious malady or another, but rather a rejection of an entire rotten deal that Western governments have wrought for their young people and those to follow.
We shouldn't be surprised that the OWS movement has sprung up. We should be surprised that it's taken this long, that the deal had to get this rotten before it sparked a truly broadbased dissent.
Throughout much of the world, national governments are broken, defective, dysfunctional. It's as blatant as a plague pustule in Washington. It's somewhat less obvious in Ottawa but it's there.
What is the prime directive of any democratic national government but to protect the welfare of its people and the country? Isn't that implicit in universal suffrage? How, then, did our governments veer so far into corporatism to the detriment of our democracy?
Corporatist government is inherently undemocratic as it places corporate interests, capital, above the interests of the public often using the most astonishing fabrications to blur the distinction, to supposedly merge the irreconcilable. Corporatism in a democratic state is wilful dereliction of duty and a wanton abuse of power. It strikes me that the essence of Occupy Wall Street is to dismember the fabrications that prop up corporatism in the guise of democracy so that it can be exposed for what it is, denounced and expelled.
A telltale sign that a democratic government has turned corporatist is in the emergence of leadership vacuums. These arise when our leaders, choosing instead to be our rulers, determine not to exercise the authority, powers and resources we vest in them to protect the interests of the people and the country. When this occurs it's invariably related to a conflict between the interests of the people and country and competing interests such as those of an oligarchy or corporatist movement.
And just what leadership vacuums exist in Ottawa? Where to begin? Two obvious examples are climate change and wealth inequality. More and more wealth is concentrating in the hands of an ever richer elite who, conveniently, are almost uniformly opposed to any effective government action on climate change. The link exists and it's as powerful as it is obvious.
I became The Disaffected Lib when I watched as the Liberal Party leadership played Quisling to Harper's drive to shift Canada's political centre far to the right. My disaffection turned to anger as I saw the party of Laurier, St. Laurent, Pearson and Trudeau go utterly flaccid on the dangers of the day - climate change and inequality. "Funding for the arts" and "daycare"? Go f__k yourselves!
One lesson I have drawn from watching Occupy Wall Street is that we're saddled with a political class that's obsolete. If the OWS people tell us anything it just might be that we're witnessing what could turn into a mass extinction of our conventional politicos.
These, our supposed leaders, are of a different time and they're incapable of evolving to survive the rapidly changing events that are overtaking them - and us. They have no answers for us, no guidance, no vision. The engines are still churning but we're rudderless in a sea of shoals.
How can one tell they're obsolete? That's actually quite easy. All you need to do is look at the future leaders. They're people not already invested in the existing, sputtering machine. They can see politics for what it is and they don't hesitate to point out what needs fixing. They're not radical. Compared to the existing bunch with their heads buried in the sands of convenience and narrow self-interest, these future leaders are infinitely rational. Unlike the existing leadership, the future leaders want to fix what's broken, to salvage what can still be reclaimed. They want to do these things because they know how much hangs in the balance for their generation and those to follow if they fail. They are not of us. We have seen to that.
I've seen their faces, some of them at least. They're part of a movement that toppled Mubarak, revolted in the streets of Athens and Madrid and now occupies Wall Street. The future leader our country, our world, needs will be cut from that cloth.
Why do I think the OWS will prevail where so many others have failed? Because this movement is so well anchored by the dual scourges of inequality and climate change. These are two malignancies that the movement's adversaries create and nurture and have absolutely no interest in treating. They're not going away, either of them. All the movement need do to win is persevere until its adversaries inevitably have to own the diseases of their own making.
Skepticism on our part is natural. It is only when you get really close into this movement that you can appreciate that it is inevitable and really unstoppable. It is the only vehicle that even attempts to respond to what vexes our youth and what threatens to make their future unlivable. This is not to say that the immediate effort will overturn the world order. That will take some time and follow a path that is not by any means predictable.
The OWS movement is probably just a early step in a process as essential to life as breathing. It is a process rooted in a struggle to break the mantle on which a mountain of inequality has been built even at the cost of the health of the environment itself and the mutilated future of millions, probably billions of people around the world. It is a struggle not of their own making but from which neither is there any safe withdrawal. This can't be turned off and it won't.