1.31.2012

hedges: what happened to canada? (corporations have no borders)

Chris Hedges:
What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.

But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010’s G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.

The voices of dissent sound like our own. And the forms of persecution are familiar. This is not an accident. We are fighting the same corporate leviathan.

“I want to tell you that I was arrested because I am seen as a threat,” Canadian activist Leah Henderson wrote to fellow dissidents before being sent to Vanier prison in Milton, Ontario, to serve a 10-month sentence. “I want to tell you that you might be too. I want to tell you that this is something we need to prepare for. I want to tell you that the risk of incarceration alone should not determine our organizing.”

“My skills and experience—as a facilitator, as a trainer, as a legal professional and as someone linking different communities and movements—were all targeted in this case, with the state trying to depict me as a ‘brainwasher’ and as a mastermind of mayhem, violence and destruction,” she went on. “During the week of the G8 & G20 summits, the police targeted legal observers, street medics and independent media. It is clear that the skills that make us strong, the alternatives that reduce our reliance on their systems and prefigure a new world, are the very things that they are most afraid of.”

The decay of Canada illustrates two things. Corporate power is global, and resistance to it cannot be restricted by national boundaries. Corporations have no regard for nation-states. They assert their power to exploit the land and the people everywhere. They play worker off of worker and nation off of nation. They control the political elites in Ottawa as they do in London, Paris and Washington. This, I suspect, is why the tactics to crush the Occupy movement around the globe have an eerie similarity—infiltrations, surveillance, the denial of public assembly, physical attempts to eradicate encampments, the use of propaganda and the press to demonize the movement, new draconian laws stripping citizens of basic rights, and increasingly harsh terms of incarceration.

Our solidarity should be with activists who march on Tahrir Square in Cairo or set up encampamentos in Madrid. These are our true compatriots. The more we shed ourselves of national identity in this fight, the more we grasp that our true allies may not speak our language or embrace our religious and cultural traditions, the more powerful we will become.
Read it here.

5 comments:

johngoldfine said...

"Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush."

Hard to believe that anyone could be a diminished version of Bush 2, who with a little help from his friends opened new vistas of tininess. Even on the smaller stage of Canada, Harper could not possibly be smaller.

laura k said...

Bush as a stand-in for the entire BushCo regime, not Bush personally. Diminised because of smaller stage, as you say.

New Nova Scotian said...

I respect the heck out of Chris Hedges and that is probably why I find this article so depressing. I didn't move to Canada to fall into the same dung heap I had over in the States. What can I do now for my family? Move to Iceland?

laura k said...

Many of these problems are global, as Hedges points out.

Many others, I do believe are fixable here in Canada. The US doesn't have the equivalent of the NDP as Official Opposition.

For me the equation is still pretty solid. Canada is nowhere near what it could be, but it's a few light years ahead of the US.

CAulds said...

I particularly like the way the people here in Atlantic Canada casually affirm their refusal to go along with the politics of fear and prejudice that are infecting Canada too.

If you ask them why they won't embrace the politics of racism, fear, hatred, prejudice or greed, they don't embark on a political rant; they just say, casually (as though theirs not a conscious choice), "Well ... we just don't go for that kind of thing here in Canada."

It's just not their nature. And that is the foundation of Canada's strength ... it's the collective heart of the Canadian people.