Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In the Name of Capitalism

“An estimated five hundred babies were born inside Argentina’s torture centres, and these infants were immediately enlisted in the plan to re-engineer society and create a new breed of model citizens. After a brief nursing period, hundreds of babies were sold or given to couples, most of them directly linked to the dictatorship.”

Naomi Klein,
The Shock Doctrine

I’m currently on the last leg of the literary marathon that is Naomi Klein’s latest book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. The foreboding undertones that ‘something’s gotta give’ have become a parallel narrative to the current state of economic meltdown. I delve deeper into reflecting on capitalism’s contentious trajectory over the last century and the virtues and intentions of the individuals responsible for plotting and enacting its materialization and its relationship to democracy.

Even before entering into WWI under false pretexts, the American corporation Bethlehem Steel was illegally profiting from the killing in Europe, waving an irresistible temptation under Woodrow Wilson’s publicly peace-loving nose. “Record profits in record time?” he must have thought. And with some coaxing from other corporate lobbyist who would profit from the war machine, the Yanks were in.

Next? Why not decade after decade of clandestine coup plotting, imperialist economic meddling and omniscient oversight of genocide in Latin America in the name of sowing the seeds of democracy through neoliberal economic reforms.

Post-Soviet reform packages in Russia (at least) kept most of the wealth in the country, albeit in the pockets of a tiny bourgeois clique, but the reconstruction effort in Iraq has effectively sidelined what you might call local industry and infrastructure potentialities, with profits vacating the region into the hands of Halliburton and the like.

War reconstruction as a business is not a new idea. The difference today is that the perpetrators are emboldened by their own success and the failure of the rest of us to effectively confront and dismantle the economic system they preach globally like gospel. Day by day and year by year, the covert becomes more overt and humanity continues to bleed in the name of unbridled capitalism.

Somehow, I suppose from a persisting sense of nationalism that I feel less pride for each day, I’ve been especially taken aback by Canada’s capitulation to the crisis-creating machine. Klein details how the aggressive lobbying to sink Canada’s sterling credit rating alongside the trademark media forecast of impending doom led to the financial crisis in 1993-94. The ensuing bullying from the neoliberal technocrats prompted the government to slash public spending on education and healthcare programs, a blow that we have yet to recover from.

With Harper back for another pillaging, emboldened by our apathy and ignorance, I fear that the next round of crisis won’t be so contrived, but rooted in a critical devastation to one of the many communities of living beings that are bearing the onslaught of capitalism’s externalities – namely, the poor and middle classes, and what’s left of the old-growth forests, the fish, the birds and the bees.

Stayed tuned for the next posting when I’ll have shaken my post-election depression and will write about something much more positive. Thanks for voting!

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