JR'S Free Thought Pages
John McMurtry’s Ethical Critique of our Dystopian Global Predicament
By JR, December, 2017
We are living on this planet as if we have another one to go to - Terri Swearingen
The notion of saving the planet has nothing to do with intellectual honesty or science. The fact is that the planet was here long before us and will be here long after us. The planet is running fine. What people are talking about is saving themselves and their middle-class lifestyles and saving their cash flow – Lynn Margulis
There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god – J B S Haldane
The dogmatic, irrational and death-dealing war economy neo-conservative and neo-liberal strategies that have brought our world to chaos, instability and obscene levels of economic inequality and injustice is a death spiral propelling us to the brink of worldwide political and ecosystem collapse - John McMurtry
The Global Problems are Overwhelming and Systemic
In the summer of 2016 unprecedented forest fires raged through the Northern Alberta tar sands city of Fort McMurray, incinerating much of the infrastructure and surrounding heavily polluted area; this year an unprecedented hurricane and massive floods inundated the Texas oil city of Houston. So what’s going on? Canadian political philosopher John McMurtry has an explanation for these ongoing catastrophes of which Mother Nature being pissed off, is only one of countless manifestations. His critique is based on an in-depth researched holistic analysis of the global failure of a carcinogenic capitalist ideology, its lack of any sense of limits or ethical oversight and wanton disregard for the ecosystems and other necessary forces that sustain all life on the planet. As a result of these pathological influences , we are killing the host - to quote Karl Marx, “all that is solid melts into air and all that is holy is profaned.” As McMurtry says, it’s not just our so-called “democratic” governments that are complicit in the carcinogenic capitalism of exploitation and assaults on humanity and its resources but the corporate controlled mainstream media endlessly promoting the mantra that “anything and everything of significance that occurs is accountable to the market, which itself is accountable to nothing.”
The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" was coined by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil. The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz's theodicy, the vain attempt to solve the problem of evil given the existence of an omnipotent beneficent Christian God. This effort was effectively skewered by Voltaire in his infamous book Candide. But surely if an accurate update of Leibniz were to be written to describe the current global ideology of corporatist kamikaze capitalism, it would be “the worst of all possible worlds”. Perhaps the Leibniz Christian God is asleep at the wheel - or simply doesn’t give a damn about his planet and its lemmings in human form.
Since the breakup of the Soviet bloc and China’s turn toward neoliberal free markets, many economists have pronounced the “end of history,” whereby capitalism reigns supreme as the ultimate form of socio-economic arrangement. We’re informed by conservative and liberals alike that “there is no alternative” (the infamous TINA principle, Margaret Thatcher’s proclamation of capitalist libertarianism) that has since the 1980s been transformed into a doctrinaire ideology called neo-liberalism) to a viral globalized capitalist/corporatist dictatorship whereby the “Market” has become the new “God”, the arbiter of all things in the universe.  Belief in the Market God (Adam Smith’s infamous “Invisible Hand of the Marketplace”) also considers as axiomatic the “just world hypothesis” whereby mysteriously everyone gets what they deserve. Consequently inequality and injustice are deemed inevitable, merely universal scientific laws of the universe such as universal gravitation or biological necessities such as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. As David Harvey has argued in his book A Brief History of Neo-liberalism, wherever the neo-liberal program has been implemented, it has caused a massive shift of wealth not just to the top one percent, but to the top tenth of the top one per cent; In the United States, for example, the upper 0.1% has already surpassed the position it held at the beginning of the 1920s. Today the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans control more wealth than the bottom 90% With his regressive tax plan for the super wealthy, Donald Trump now intends to make these stark conditions of grotesque economic feudalism even more draconian. The conditions that neo-liberalism demands in order to free human beings from the slavery of the state – minimal taxes for the wealthy and big corporations, privatization of everything in sight, the dismantling of public services and social security, deregulation, the smashing of the unions – just happen to be the conditions required to make the elite even richer than the obscene levels of absurdity already achieved, while throwing the rest of the population off the bus.
The first implementation of the neo-liberal racket occurred in Chile in 1973 as a democratically elected social democratic government was overthrown with the help of a CIA orchestrated coup, their president Dr. Salvadore Allende assassinated and tens of thousands of Chilean labour leaders and leftists murdered. The result was an unmitigated disaster for the country as the fascist dictator Pinochet ruled the country with an iron fist for decades, creating a utopia for capitalist exploitation. One of the first experiments in the United States occurred in New York City, which was threatened by a budgetary disaster in 1975. Its bankers demanded that the city follow their neo-liberal prescriptions: massive cuts in public services, the demolition of the unions, social program cuts and public subsidies for big business. In the United Kingdom, stagflation, strikes and budgetary collapse allowed Margaret Thatcher, whose ideas were framed by her neo-liberal adviser Keith Joseph, to come to the rescue of big capital. Her program of crushing the unions and privatization of public utilities balanced the budget but created a whole new set of crises of which we are all now well aware.
Indeed, the so-called “free” market, a world order within which society and community as we’ve always conceived it, does not exist. Only atomized individuals competing with one another as they, without any moral compass, exploit the environment and other people to get what they want. This sordid world view has now been institutionalized and even glorified in popular debased culture through revolting TV spectacles called “reality shows” such as Shark Tank, The Apprentice and Storage Wars. We have reached the point at which our corporate oligarchs, their sycophantic politicians and much of the world’s conformist population of docile sheep have so rigidly embraced an abominable amoral system of ideas that they reject any prospect of rational challenge or even the remotest possibility of reform or change. This stance is the quintessence of authoritarianism and dogmatism. In this sense we are ruled by a global religion, the very antithesis of the scientific enterprise and the values of the Enlightenment.
But many of us in the 99 percent are not feeling so happy or secure about this zombie economy’s results. Many are working harder and longer just to maintain shelter and keep food on the table; others are homeless as they work at slave labour jobs. Even the college-educated are mired in student debt, keeping the purported “American Dream” beyond their grasp. But as the late George Carlin informed us in one of his brilliant skits, the Dream has become a Nightmare; in fact it always has been for most of us. And then there are those who have never been served well by this economy such as the poor (who we are informed by Christianity’s sacred book, “will always be with us”) and Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Moreover, African Americans were liberated from enslavement only to be largely shut out of “free” market opportunities. Immigrants continue to work in the shadows and women still earn only about three-quarters of what men make for the same work.
But have we ever had real democracy in the US or anywhere else on the planet? One of the most persistent beliefs among Americans regarding the United States is the folklore that it is a democracy. Returning to George Carlin, who in the skit mentioned above on the American Dream, one of his vitriolic critiques of his home country, proclaimed that, “The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. . . . You have owners”...and “they’ve got you by the balls”. But whenever the standard American democratic mythology waivers even slightly, it invariably becomes necessary to point out anomalous or detrimental exceptions to these alleged core American values and foundational principles. For instance, aspiring critics frequently bemoan a “loss of democracy” due to the election of clownish buffoons, ignoramuses and silver spoon autocrats like George W Bush and Donald Trump, draconian measures on the part of the state, the revelation of extraordinary malfeasance or corruption, deadly foreign interventions, or other such activities that are considered undemocratic exceptions. The same is true for those whose critical framework consists in always juxtaposing the actions of the U.S. government to its founding principles, highlighting the contradiction between the two and clearly placing hope in its potential resolution.
The problem, however, is that there is no contradiction or supposed loss of democracy because the United States simply never was one. This is a difficult reality for many people to confront, and they are likely more inclined to immediately dismiss such a claim as preposterous rather than take the time to scrutinize the material historical record in order for them to understand this for themselves. Such a dismissive reaction is due in large part to what are perhaps the most successful public relations, bullshit and propaganda campaigns in modern history. What will be seen, however, if this history is seriously and methodically scrutinized, is that the United States is a country founded on elite, colonial rule based on the power of wealth. In short, the United States (and Canada) is a plutocratic imperialist oligarchy that has succeeded not only in buying the label of “democracy” to market itself to the masses, but in having its citizenry, and many others, so socially and psychologically invested in its nationalist origin myth that they refuse to hear lucid and well-documented arguments to the contrary. The history is readily available for anyone willing to do the scholarly work; a good place to start is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Rosanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. Any serious examination of the origins of America from the time of Columbus to the American Holocaust of Indigenous people , massive land theft, the slave trade to the founding fathers and drafting of the Constitution ought to will suffice for even the most indoctrinated person.
Throughout history, governments in both the United States and Canada for example, whether in the hands of Republicans or Democrats (in the US) or Conservatives or Liberals (in Canada), have failed their responsibilities to bring democracy to the vast majority of its citizens. The only minor concessions to democracy have been the result of mass dissent by labour, women, peace and civil rights activists, strikes, boycotts, sit-ins, direct action and civil disobedience until the elites and corporations that own the country and its political machinery were forced (primarily out of fear and power of the other – other than the rule of “might is right”, the only principle they understand) to introduce reforms. Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for real democracy, which requires direct action by informed concerned citizens. But has reform really worked? Yes, perhaps for brief periods such as the three decades following World War II, but anytime there is a lapse of diligence, the 1% (the masters of mankind and the gods of war) want it all back and during the past three decades it’s been a total defeat for the reformists on the left. We have arrived at the point whereby we must admit to ourselves that this oppressive vile global capitalist system is beyond redemption or reform; it simply cannot be fixed; only destroyed.
We are now locked into a vile destructive unjust economic world order that is creating unprecedented levels of economic inequality that are the very antithesis of democracy, what I would call the global death march of corporate capitalism. While many of us may want a new economy where people and planet are prioritized over profit, some remain deeply cynical and skeptical that another world is really possible. Then a there are countless others who are intellectually slothful and simply don’t give a damn as long as their own atomized consumer driven lives of quiet desperation are tolerable. We may make some progress locally but then feel powerless to affect national and global forces. Too often the economy is conflated with markets in which corporations compete to make profits for the wealthiest 1 percent as the rest work for an unliveable wage or salary (or don’t make money at all). Work itself is seen as legitimate only if it “legally” (according to laws written by bankers and corporate lawyers) generates profit for someone else. The fraud of “intellectual property” is a supreme example; this swindle has been astutely challenged by Brian Martin (follow the link). Value is measured only in monetary terms, based on what people are willing to pay in the more often than not manipulated markets which have become nothing more than rigged casinos. The capitalist mindset also separates economy from society and nature, as if it exists apart from people, communities, government, and our planet. What we call The Economy is its own dues ex machina, fuelled by power, profit and unmitigated greed to satisfy the “national interest” of a miniscule oligarchic financial elite.
When everything that we label “economic” is assumed to be capitalist -transactional and market-driven - then it is no wonder that we run short on imagination. A capitalist may be defined as someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. To escape this amoral capitalist hegemony we need to broaden the definition of economy beyond the capitalist model. What if, instead an economy is, rather than a narrow singularity, all the ways that we meet our material needs and care for each other? Perhaps then we would see that beneath the official capitalist economy of which most of us are slaves, we’d discover all sorts of thriving non-capitalist economies in which there are no profit motives or market driven deities. These include tasks that we undertake every day. We care for our children and elderly; we cook and clean for ourselves and each other; we grow food; we care for the natural environment that sustains us and provide emotional support to friends. These are all ways of meeting the material and emotional requirements of ourselves and others as we’d do in a morally functioning loving family or community. Would anyone behave like a capitalist within their own family network? I hope not.
Enter Canadian Political Scientist John McMurtry
Professor Emeritus of the University of Guelph in Ontario , John McMurtry presents in his voluminous writings what may be one of the most scathing and convincing diagnoses and compelling explanatory critiques of neo-liberal globalized capitalism written in recent decades. McMurtry penetrates the pabulum offered up by corporate media propagandists and their lap poodle politicians to expose the wanton greed of the entitled class and the inherent immorality of the rapacious life destroying capitalist DNA to describe our “worst of all possible worlds”. The partnership of money and greed is a long-standing pathology as old as “civilization”, but was never allowed to run roughshod over sovereign nations like an out-of-control deadly virus, destroying all bases of life support and the earth’s bio systems. The only rules are “might is right” and an ethos based on the mysticism of “the invisible hand of the marketplace” that has become the arbiter of everything, overriding even the most basic notions of community, decency and morality such as the golden rule. Capitalism not only loots, attacks and destroys any and all of the necessary life support systems in the public realm, many of which were won by many decades of struggle - rights such as decent wages, working conditions and access to health care - but has no respect for the planet’s failing delicate ecosystems. Most importantly, McMurtry offers a thoughtful and compelling package of socio-economic alternatives that, if implemented, might well help secure a measure of real social, economic and environmental justice. His many writings express a scholarly diagnosis, prognosis and remedy to our global dystopian malaise are not easy to decipher and unravel, but when you finally do, the revelation is uniquely profound.
His works have been published in over 150 journals and books, including his classic magnum opus The Cancer Stage of Capitalism (1999, 2013-2nd edition), the result of twenty years of research and intellectual toil. I urge everyone to read this book, if only to realize the magnitude of our precarious predicament and how it unfolded. Professor McMurtry is one of four brilliant overachieving brothers from a distinguished Toronto family  and is recognized in academia as a leader in the anti-globalization, environmental and peace movements. His prior life experiences as a professional football player, journalist, world traveler, respected teacher and public intellectual combine to create probably one of the most original, humane and articulate voices in the world today. I would elevate him to the intellectual status of Canada’s Noam Chomsky.
In the preface to Value Wars: The Global Market v The Life Economy he compares the fanaticism of the 9/11 hijackers with the corporate value-set. The author contends that close ties among the business community, the U.S. government and many of the terrorists (the worst being the USA itself) exemplify the moral crisis. That the incident has provided a pretext for the U.S. to systematically repress its citizens who are opposed to globalization and to actively colonize strategic nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq merely compounds the situation.
McMurtry deconstructs and dismantles the Orwellian "inversions of meaning" employed by power elites to elicit popular compliance for a new Gilded Age - the oligarchic neoliberal hegemony of corporate capitalism. He explains what he calls the “Great Reversal” in the 1980s, a stealth coup d’état that resulted in corporate control of the government apparatus and politicians who now simply rubber stamp legislation crafted by corporate lawyers, bankers and financial vultures in the back rooms of corporate penthouse suites.  These are the beneficent caretakers who live by the golden rule, namely, “Those who have the gold make the rules.”
Corporate controlled government and their compliant echo chamber mass media have resulted in a loss of meaningful dialogue and debate; instead, the fanatical pursuit of private wealth accumulation via plunder of the commons, privatizations and dismantling of the hard fought for social programs that emerged following the Second World War are proclaimed to be the only viable option for society. But even as imperialist wars of regime change, the plunder of the countries resources and the human, environmental and other externalities escalate as a consequence of the neoliberal agenda, the state increasingly collaborates with capital in a deliberate manner by negotiating and enforcing pro-corporate trade deals that are merely blank cheques to private pillage, impunity and “investor rights” , social program cuts, the fire sale of state assets and the application of “full spectrum dominance” of endless surveillance, police and military force and incarceration against anyone who dissents.
In the same vein as Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s classic study, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, McMurtry explores the insidious schemes by which the finance capitalist system of “transnational money sequences”  colonize the minds and bodies of its docile subjects. Relentless advertising and indoctrination induce consumption through garish "repetitions of mind-shackling misrepresentations" while the media projects false "images of dream-like omnipotence" of the acquisitive consumer culture. When their devious psychological methodologies fail to manipulate and condition citizens to behave in the properly prescribed lemming-like manner, the strong arm of the proto-fascist state apparatus, its militarized police and massive prison system is deployed to keep the rabble in line by enforcing subservience. At the same time, the "real capital criminals", the war crime presidents and prime ministers and their larcenous mafia masters in the banks and big financial institutions who are like cancerous tumours devouring the host planets resources and demolishing its ecosystems are rewarded with millions of dollars in bonuses and stock options while at the same time granted get out of jail free cards. Why do we continue to tolerate these sociopathic monsters and re-elect their lap poodle conservative and liberal politicians?
McMurty’s vision is conveyed in what he calls "A Life Economy Manifesto" entailing “life capital” that would help restore our failing ecosystems, grotesque economic injustices and medieval inequalities  and bring decency, mortality and civility to a beleaguered contaminated world. His broad knowledge of science, history, economics and philosophy enable him to build a rational credible vision of not only reform (which has not worked in the past), but a grand ethical transformation, a revaluation of values, to use Nietzsche’s term. He is especially effective when he explains how really existing capitalism has strayed from its professed principles; the author highlights numerous contradictions of the neoliberal theology of “financial fascism” and argues that his proposals offer a better way to achieve peace and prosperity not merely the interests of a tiny elite, but for all. While some of his ideas have been stated elsewhere; for example, the author advocates taxes on speculative investments, greater public accountability of corporations and their duplicitous media , reductions in military spending, dismantling the multi-trillion dollar offshore tax havens (that are legalized theft by corporations  and the super wealthy), and so on, his ability to effectively compare and contrast the corporate "cancerous death wish" economy with his "life economy” alternative frames the discussion in an interesting and uniquely compelling manner.
John McMurty’s vision for saving our planet’s fading future entails a new paradigm - a 180 degree rotation tantamount to a Copernican political and economic revolution.
 The purveyors of the endless death spiral of neo-liberal capitalism of in both multi-national corporations and our complicit governments throughout the world also preach the illusion of infinite, perpetual growth on a finite planet. They are experiencing a terminal overdose of cognitive dissonance and fighting it tooth and nail. These sociopathic and psychopathic authoritarians are not stupid; they know exactly what they are doing to people and the ecosystems - and they don’t care. But how do societies become psychopathic and self-destructive?
Consider the conclusions of Andrew Lobaczewski, a Polish psychiatrist who survived imprisonment, torture, the deaths of his colleagues and the destruction of their research records, to reconstruct their conclusions from memory after the rise of Poland’s Solidarity Movement and the collapse of the Soviet regime. His summary of their work explains how societies, the majority of whose populations are normally decent functioning people, can be collectively perverted by a psychopathic pathology by way of the activities of a very small percentage of psychopaths (or sociopaths), who, for genetic (or socialized) reasons, lack a conscience and the capacity for empathy, combined with a compulsive need for power and control over others. Sound familiar? Their work, in addition to the career research of UBC professor emeritus Robert Hare of the University of British Columbia (considered the world expert in psychopathology) have concluded that about 1% of the general population are incurable psychopaths but even more disturbingly, those in positions of power the percentage is 10%. However, if you take into account the estimated 4% of undiagnosed or undetected psychopaths, the total nears 6% of the general population. Psychopaths are dumbfounded and amused by the conscience-constrained caring, compassion and mutually empathic behaviour of those in their surroundings. Still, despite dismissing and holding in contempt such sentiments, they learn to emulate and manipulate them for their own selfish desires. Meanwhile those within the unsuspecting multitude cannot even imagine acting with the unconstrained ruthlessness and cruelty of the psychopaths among them, thus reducing themselves to mere tools of psychopathic manipulation and exploitation. The vast majority of people’s failure to take the existence of malevolent and malicious behaviour seriously is what makes them so susceptible to what Lobaczewski and his colleagues call “macro-sociological pathologization.” The psychopaths’ ruthless drive for power of the psychopaths, combined with their chameleon-like ability to mimic normal emotions and spout ideological rhetoric persuasively, allows them to rise to leadership positions in institutions of business, law, media and government. They become what Lobaczewski terms “pathocrats” and the institutions they control become “pathocracies.”
Sadly, according to Lobaczewski, another 12% make alliances with pathocrats – some even adopting their abhorrent behaviour as a way of making their way in the global capitalist system of power and exploitation, thus raising the potential total of psychopathic behaviour to about 20% of the population, certainly more than sufficient to infiltrate and control government, courts, law enforcement, the military, media, big business and financial corporations. UBC professor Robert Hare is the creator of the Psychopathic Checklist, the 20-item personality evaluation protocol that sparked the 2003 University of Victoria law professor Joel Bakan’s documentary The Corporation, which argued that corporations are fundamentally psychopathic organizations that attract similarly disposed people. Compelling evidence from recent events, particularly graphic being the 2008 multi-trillion dollar bailouts ($29 trillion in the USA alone) of corporate criminals on the backs of the victims, abounds to support the film’s thesis.
The financial meltdown of 2008 not only devastated the global economy, it not only exposed the blatant criminality of psychopathic banks and other mafia institutions of finance capital, but the deceit and lies propagated by those advocating globalization. Among these countless lies: that salaries of workers would rise, democracy would spread across the globe, the tech industry would replace manufacturing as a source of worker income, the middle class would flourish, and global communities would prosper. After 2008 it became clear that the “free market” is a scam, a kamikaze zombie ideology by which workers and communities are ravaged by predatory capitalists and assets are funnelled upward into the hands of the global 1 percent. The endless wars, fought largely to enrich the arms industry and swell the power of the military, are futile and counterproductive to national interests.
Mr. Audacity of Hype, Barack Obama rode a wave of bipartisan euphoria into office in 2008 and then spent eight years betraying the public by instituting a Mussolini style proto-fascist corporatist agenda. Obama’s assault on civil liberties, including his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush. He accelerated the war on public education by privatizing schools, expanded the wars in the Middle East, including the use of militarized drone attacks, provided little meaningful environmental reform, ignored the plight of the working class, deported more undocumented people than any other president, imposed a corporate-sponsored health care program that was the brainchild of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and prohibited the Justice Department from prosecuting the bankers and financial firms that carried out derivatives scams and inflated the housing and real estate market, a condition that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. He epitomized, like Bill Clinton, the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party. Clinton, outdoing Obama’s later actions, gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - a blank check to multinational corporations, the dismantling of the welfare system, deregulation of the financial services industry and the huge expansion of mass incarceration. Clinton also oversaw deregulation of the Federal Communications Commission, a change that allowed a handful of corporations to buy up the airwaves.
 McMurtry’s inventory of global destruction is described as follows:
The air, soil and water cumulatively degrade; the climates and oceans destabilize; species become extinct at a spasm rate across continents; pollution cycles and volumes increase to endanger life-systems at all levels in cascade effects; a rising half of the world is destitute as inequality multiplies; the global food system produces more and more disabling and contaminated junk food without nutritional value; non-contagious diseases multiply to the world’s biggest killer with only symptom cures; the vocational future of the next generation collapses across the world while their bank debts rise; the global financial system has ceased to function for productive investment in life-goods; collective-interest agencies of governments and unions are stripped while for-profit state subsidies multiply; police state laws and methods advance while belligerent wars for corporate resources increase; the media are corporate ad vehicles and the academy is increasingly reduced to corporate functions; public sectors and services are non-stop defunded and privatized as tax evasion and transnational corporate funding and service by governments rise at the same time at every level. (McMurtry, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism, 2013, pp. 144-46)
The expression neo-liberalism was concocted at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two libertarian capitalists who were to characterize the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they considered liberal democracy, epitomized by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual evolution of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a form of collectivism that occupied the same political domain as Nazism and Stalinism. In The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning and programs for the common good would have a debilitating effect on individualism and entrepreneurship, leading inexorably to totalitarianism. Like Mises’s book Bureaucracy, The Road to Serfdom was widely read by conservatives and right wing liberals alike. It came to the attention of some very wealthy and powerful people who envisaged in the philosophy an opportunity to privatize everything in the public realm and free themselves from contributing to social services, regulation and taxation. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organization that would spread the doctrine of neo-liberalism - the Mont Pelerin Society - it was soon supported intellectually and financially by multi-millionaires, big business and their various supporters in academia and the press. There is a long history of this reactionary far right libertarian movement as outlined in a recent book Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean. Neo-liberalism is not really a bona fide political or social ideology, but rather a self-serving racket for unlimited profit while offloading all costs and risk onto the public. The massive multi-trillion dollar bailouts in 2008 were an egregious example of how far the neo-liberal gods of the market have pushed this monstrous scam.
 Upon setting foot in the Americas, Christopher Columbus (the “great explorer” thought he was in the Far East) and the Christian Europeans who followed began robbing, enslaving and murdering the native inhabitants and then pillaging everything in sight. The trans-Atlantic slave trade began almost immediately thereafter as the native peoples rebelled against being enslaved, adding countless numbers of Africans to the ongoing genocide against the indigenous populations. Moreover, it is estimated that over half of the colonists who came to North America from Europe during the colonial period were impoverished indentured servants and women were generally trapped in roles of domestic servitude. Rather than the land of the free and egalitarian, European colonial expansion to the Americas imposed a land of the colonizer and the colonized, the master and the slave, the rich and the poor, the free and the oppressed. The former constituted, moreover, an infinitesimally small minority of the population, whereas the overwhelming majority - meaning the masses - were subjected to slavery, servitude, unremitting socio-economic oppression and early death.
Moreover, when the elite colonial ruling oligarchs decided to sever ties from their homeland and establish an independent state for themselves, they made sure is was not instituted as a democracy. On the contrary, they were fervently and explicitly opposed to democracy, like the vast majority of European Enlightenment thinkers. They understood it to be a dangerous and chaotic form of uneducated mob rule. For the so-called “founding fathers,” the masses were not only incapable of ruling, but they were considered a threat to the hierarchical social and political structures of entitlement purportedly necessary for peace, order and good governance. In the words of John Adams, to consider but one revealing example, if the majority were given real power, they would redistribute wealth and dissolve the authoritarianism and subordination of the masses necessary for conservative political dominance. When the eminent members of the landowning class met in 1787 to draw up a constitution, they regularly insisted in their debates on the need to establish a republic that established a democracy in name only, void of real content. Democracy, as Plato argued in the Republic was only reserved for philosopher kings and aristocrats and the genuine article of democracy for all was judged worse than “the filth of the common sewers” by the pro-Federalist editor William Cobbett. The new constitution provided for popular elections only in the House of Representatives, but in most states the right to vote was based on being a property owner, and women, the indigenous peoples and slaves - meaning the overwhelming majority of the population - were simply excluded from being participants in government in any way. Senators were elected by state legislators, the President by electors chosen by the state legislators and the Supreme Court was appointed by the President. It is in this context that Patrick Henry flatly proclaimed the most lucid of judgments: “it is not a democracy.” George Mason further clarified the situation by describing the newly independent country as “a despotic aristocracy.”
Andrew Jackson for example, presented an image of himself as a “democrat” and “man of the people” that was going to put a halt to the long reign of autocratic patricians from Virginia and Massachusetts. Slowly but surely, the term “democracy” came to be invoked as a public relations ruse to re-brand a plutocratic oligarchy as an electoral regime that serves the interest of the people or demos. Meanwhile, the American holocaust of America’s Indigenous people continued unabated, along with chattel slavery, colonial expansion and top-down class warfare.
 One of the most celebrated and well-known of the alumni from the University of Guelph is the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith.
 John was one of four sons of Roy McMurtry Sr., a successful lawyer whose children were born during the Great Depression. Their father instilled in them both ambition and a concern for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. They took quite different paths, but in their own ways, each one fulfilled their father’s dreams of their future.
The sons cannot be re-united now because Bill McMurtry passed away early in 2007. While he lived Bill became a partner in the legal firm of Blaney McMurtry. He practiced law and was a passionate champion of social justice. Whether bringing attention to violence in ice hockey, advocating the reform of the criminal justice system, fighting urban sprawl or working for aboriginal rights and ethnic diversity, he recognized injustices and sought to rectify them. He also found time to be a director of the St. Lawrence Centre for the arts and a founder of the Toronto International Film Festival. His passion was rugby.
Another of John’s brothers is Robert McMurtry. Robert, since graduating with an MD from the University of Toronto in 1965, spent time in Africa and founded and directed Canada’s first trauma unit and its first multidisciplinary hand surgery program. Formerly a professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, he also served as the Dean of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, where he remains a teacher and a researcher, while conducting a private practice and taking on increasingly influential roles as a health care policy advisor to government.
Brother Roy McMurtry Jr. is the most widely recognized of the four. His current position as Chancellor of York University follows his tenure as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario, time served as the province’s Attorney-General and Solicitor-General and success as a skilful architect of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s “Big Blue Machine,” which kept the Tories in control of provincial politics for well over a decade. In less partisan moments, he played a crucial role in the negotiations leading to the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982. And, yes, he was also a formidable college football player and one-time Chairman and CEO of the professional Canadian Football League.
Then, there is John. Like his siblings, he has been a tough, competitive, dedicated and principled over-achiever. Arguably the best athlete of the four, he was a linebacker for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. While a pro, he played through a broken nose, a broken jaw, several fractured ribs, plenty of broken and dislocated fingers and toes, numerous ligament tears, cartilage damage and a separated shoulder. Doped up on morphine, he persevered through the pain. He was and remains a man’s man to be sure. But his writing is original and the scholarly critique he offers of capitalism takes time to digest and decipher but it’s worth the effort. He has been widely published, and he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2001, a notable achievement in itself. But, there is more and that’s where the intellectual voyage of John McMurtry the radical intellectual gets interesting and compelling.
 As McMurtry explained in an interview from February 11, 2016:
“To begin with, this system is not as almost everyone assumes, a ‘free market’. Its trade and investment treaties across borders prove it to be a transnational corporate dictatorship in principle. Corporate lawyers write all the rules in secret. They override the policies of elected legislatures. Global supply and demand are controlled by dominant transnational corporations. Open market competition is ruled out by predatory and transfer pricing, corporate lobby control of state policies, and vast and growing government subsidies to favoured players.
While “the free market” is still absurdly assumed as given, “efficiency” is even more universally assumed as its regulating discipline and logic of “progress”? Indeed it is the justification for all the jobs continuously lost, all the deregulations, pollutions, soil and air contaminations, resource-mining horrors such as the Canadian Tar Sands and inhuman exploitations from one place to the next across the globe.
Yet in fact this system is the opposite of ‘efficient’ in life means production and reproduction – the substance of any real economy. What is miscalled ‘efficiency’ merely lowers money costs for private profit agents. In reality, this system is now by far the most wasteful system ever, wasting more life value than it produces. 90% of the biomass it converts into commodities for profit ends up as waste within six weeks. Even 40% of final food products are thrown away without consumption. Fresh water lakes, rivers and aquifers are everywhere polluted and drawn down without efficient water use entering the equations.
‘Absence of waste’ is the definition of efficiency. But this system wastes everything to multiply private money sequences with ever more people jobless, species in spasm extinctions, oceans poisoned and hollowed out, and junk of every kind becoming more dominant across domains.”
 The expression “transnational money sequences” is explained by McMurtry thus:
Money becoming more money for private possessors has become the ultimate ruling value on Earth by corporate market indoctrination, treaty commands and armed force. The transnational money-sequence system selects only for more priced commodities without life standards, multiplies more money to the richest, and depredates life capital at all levels. The ruling value system here would be laughably absurd if not so eco-genocidal in effects.
Wall Street has now modelled control of all the water and land in the world for future profit to its ‘investors’, and anything else that can be bought and sold to spike private money sequences. These are called ‘sophisticated financial instruments’ of ‘development’ and invade everywhere with state protection by myriad-article treaties in corporate lawyer code contrived behind closed doors. Every plane of existence from which more money-value can be extracted is in the cross-hairs of this investment regime with no protection for the social and ecological life support systems of the world and a-priori impunity for destroying them. The crowning irony is ‘austerity programs’ for the rest of society, but never for the obese and cancerous money party showing all the hallmark characteristics of a metastasizing global cancer system.
“With captive customers, the cash flows are virtually guaranteed. The only major variables are the initial prices paid, the amount of debt used for financing, and the pace and magnitude of outrageous endless fees, usurious interest rates on credit and price hikes – easy things for Wall Street to model.” Thomas Berry long ago said more directly, “corporate profit is the deficit of the Earth”. The money-sequence cancer system is how it works with ever more ‘freedom’ to hollow out societies’ life capital bases. Seek exception. We have lost our ultimate value ground without knowing it, and this is the reason people feel ever more helpless and meaningless.
The first is that the life-ground of value is not created by the global market, and even less by individuals in money exchanges – the ruling delusion within which state policies and economic understanding are imprisoned. Our ultimate economic ground begins with reproduction of the planetary atmosphere itself, the oceans, earth’s hydrological cycles, soil cover, forests, fellow species, and so on – all basic forms of universal life capital ignored by the moribund model. So-called “economics” is geared towards relentless exploitation and eco-genocide without even knowing it.
Yet life capital includes much more than the planet’s physical resources. It denotes all real goods that are reproduced and cumulatively advance through time, including scientific knowledge and human energy sources. Securing our collective life capital base to live by entails policy and regulation to prevent every kind of life capital being run down, wasted or destroyed as it is now. The binding Ozone Layer Protocol was implemented with success in 1989, but nothing binding since has been allowed by the life-blind system. Instead, the publicly deregulated and subsidized private money-sequence disorder keeps invading across borders with no recognition it is objectively evil as measurable by its laying waste of the collective and individual life capital of society, nature and citizens.
This is where moral and policy deciders must reclaim human purpose and life by binding life standards regulating international trade and investment. We have already significantly achieved these standards in public health and higher education, but these too are now undermined by the corporate profit driver that is alone protected, facilitated and. Like a plague, infecting everything.
 From the same interview in endnote 1, says reported:
“The recently released Oxfam Davos Report (January 16, 2016) is a perfect example because it clearly succeeds in informing us of the escalating extremes of inequality which this system has produced – a fact on which now everyone agrees. The first essential fact it identifies reports from global business statistics that 62 individuals now own more wealth than 50% of the world’s population.* More shockingly, the second essential fact reported is that this share of wealth by half the world’s people has collapsed by over 40% in the last five years.”
*The latest Oxfam Report (2017) has now reduced this number from 62 to 5.
“Yet even in this report the big lie continues that “the world has made great progress in tackling world poverty” and that “extreme poverty has been halved since 1990”. The near automatic assumption that the poor are being “lifted out of poverty in greater numbers” thus persists even though the business evidence itself shows that, in fact, the poorer half of humanity has lost 42% of their wealth in just the last few years. What does this mean for “trickle-down theory”, “global competition nets more wealth for all”, and “Parteo optimal markets”? It means that they are all delusionary. The World Bank and other figures purporting to show great gains for the poor are based on income gains of less than a cup of coffee a day – typically of emigrants forced into big polluted cities that formerly had at least a family home, clean air and green surroundings.
Yet observe that throughout the revolutionary redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, the magic of the market and globalization are proclaimed as “enhanced competition”, “liberalized de-regulation”, “‘more labour flexibility”, “reduced welfare costs” and “austerity programs to correct excesses”. In fact beneath the pervasive propaganda conditioning citizens to believe in the money shell game devouring the world, the poorer half of humanity has been deprived of one trillion dollars of wealth in five years while the 62 richest people have gained almost twice as much for themselves by the operations of this system.
But the end is not yet. Other figures in the Davos Report show that a further $760 billion flowing to non-producing investors has been gained by transnational tax evasion with impunity across the world. This is another revolutionary turn of ‘globalization’ to enrich the richest while doubling down on deprivation of the poor. Yet at the same time, it strips the funding of public sectors and institutions which have evolved to serve the common life interest of societies outside the global market. Governments which could once protect the deprived at all levels of life organization are now widely bankrupted or debt enslaved along with most citizens. Who has reported any of this?
In consequence, the world slips into deeper recession from the collapse of demand at the public and majority levels as the poorest half’s share of wealth is almost halved and the share of the richest is more than doubled for accumulation. But this cause of the Great Recession is ignored by governments and international policy meetings as if it did not exist.
As these and other facts show, borderless and de-regulated corporate globalization is eating the world alive. That is why these facts are never reported by the mass media or politicians. It is why claimed actions to stop the world bleeding never face the system disorder causing them. It is why even concerned organizations continue to repeat falsehoods as if they were true. Once again like a cancer system at the macro level, this exponentially multiplying private money-sequence system has no committed life functions but to feed on life and life conditions to grow it. But what progressive journal or even book connects all of these dots?
 On corporate controlled main stream media, McMurtry comments:
“The mass media never question the global corporate market. It is assumed as natural and good as enslavement of other peoples and women once were. Mass homicide by system starvation and ecocide are indeed still called ‘development’. Problems of systemic life depredation and ruin are never raised, even as knowledge and information themselves are corrupted into what corporations can sell for profit. Instead, endless images, gossip, worship of celebrity and obscene wealth, tales of fear, appetite and projections rule the public airwaves.
The latest designated enemy like Putin or other stigma objects is the release valve for pent-up hatred and frustrations – with total indifference to hard evidence as long as the story sells and the game keeps going. It is almost comical – the lead New York Times lying at will about the latest whipping boy – if it were not equivalent to a collapsed social immune system in the face of a macro cancer system. Some in the academy seek truth and stand against the perpetual big lies, but this resilient core of evolving human understanding is embargoed in the corporate media.
At the most general level, the mass media are governed by three final goals – selling corporate ads, glorifying money power, and blocking out ruin of life capital bases by the ruling disorder. These are the unseen general laws of the mass media across the West and its allies.
Professional sports with their mindless patriotism, national anthems and military glorification exemplify the global corporate system as the unseen but ultimate propaganda site. The more money you get as a star, the more the money-sequence system is glorified, the more ads are sold by the contest spectacles, the more public attention and wealth are diverted from real issues, and the more the ultimate struggle for better life on earth is displaced by sports attire logos fiercely competing for external money prizes.
Big-money sports are a media allegory of the system. Unending battle cries of “everything is at stake here” are the hysteria of the money-driven forces displacing all that really matters to our lives and the future of life on Earth. Even if a real public issue is allowed into the spectacle-sales agenda, like climate destabilization, it too is converted by corporate media into saleable profit opportunities and false images of collective action. The rising cataclysmic storm, sea-rise and weather extremes are themselves euphemized as ‘climate change’, and only market solutions are reported and promoted. No binding policy reduction is made, and ecocidal trends are not connected back to the system as common cause.
The media are also now controlled by monopolies which defund investigative journalism and increasingly strip newspapers for quick cash to their stockholders. Reduced to ad vehicles and infotainment, the media follow one underlying law of meaning. The truth is what sells. The only ‘free’ agency left is the money party behind myriad front names and business lobbies buying elections and minting laws beneath public accountability or glare of publicity on any step.
Yet it is not only the mass media that avert their attention from the objective destruction of life capital bases. There are state propaganda machines abroad like the US ‘National Endowment for Democracy’ and George Soros leveraging billions made from attacking sovereign currencies who together destabilize countries where the transnational media are not yet in control – as in Ukraine before the fascist coup, or the most progressive Latin American countries, or countless other victim societies like Serbia, Syria and Venezuela now on the line for a new US-controlled media empire.
Meanwhile in the background once independent scholarly journals are all bought up by transnational corporations selecting and monopolizing academic knowledge for proprietary profit while bankrupting university libraries with multiplied book and subscription costs for the creations of faculty and scholarly referees paid nothing. Is there any limit to the invasion of even independent original research and dissemination?
Yet even the best known theorists blinker out the occupation. German social philosopher and scientist, Jurgen Habermas rules out any alternative economic order to the global market a-priori. The dominant American justice theories of John Rawls and Robert Nozick cannot get beyond self-maximizing agents in a social void with any life capital bases. Even socialist theory and doctrine provide little or no life-grounded analysis and policies for recovery.”
On the obscenity of unprecedented global economic inequality, read John McMurtry’s article of January 24, 2016, “The Davos Blind Eye: How the Rich Eat the Poor and the World.”
 In an interview with Jeffrey Klaehn who queried him about the power of corporations, McMurtry responded with “ They have increasingly achieved supreme power because our governments give it away to them - for example, not only by tax giveaways, but by rights to loot national natural resources, policies of deregulation at every level, endless billions budgeted for transport and utility services geared for corporations and corporate commodities, diplomatic offices for business outside the country, financial subsidies without limit to the auto, aeronautical and military industries, and free band width monopolies to monopoly media. These transfers of public wealth and power to dominant for-profit corporations are all legitimated as "necessary to compete" against societies handing over public wealth and resources to corporations too. With all this transfer of public treasure and property to for-profit corporations, they have come to subordinate governments and expropriate public domains across the world. They have stripped governments and the public with legal grants of self-regulation that allow them to grab benefits without burdens, claim rights without responsibilities, privileges without duties, and enjoy legal immunity by limited liability as well as rights to privacy from inspection and rights to personhood that no natural person can exert. They are the Frankenstein monster of the market state.
They are able to manipulate governments by pressure of the mass media they own and advertise in - whose public airwaves have been given away to them with no accountability to truth or the public interest. Dominant financial and personnel contributions to political parties and candidates of their choice and lucrative corporate positions and directorates for compliant politicians and bureaucrats after their service complete the box around the mainstream parties. Typically, corporate lawyers dominate on both sides of the fence and know well the effects which they can produce by playing this corporate game of power. So, Bertrand Russell's criterion of power works well up to a point… first of all, what about the unintended power which often does most damage - for the most far-reaching example, the power of corporate extractors and polluters to impose cumulative and deadly ecological damage on the world. They have the power to destroy the conditions of world life itself, but not by any intention to impose their ecocidal effects. Their power is in this way blind. But all such power falls outside Russell's criterion.
I have always had trouble using the concept "ruling class" or the "powers that be" or "elites" for people who are supposed to be controlling the system. I understand them more as temporary functions of the system they are creatures of. From what I know of corporate CEO's, heads of governments, foreign ministers, presidents of universities and so on, they are programmed by the system, and they get to the top because they have learned to be very adept in serving it and other privileged people within the same game. They see and do only what fits their role - with turning money into more money for money possessors the master function of the system. Heads of state now resemble entertainers or political pop stars ringed round by perception managers in a staged reality with orchestrated effects and texts prepared behind the scenes. "Elite" or "rulers" are terms which seem to me to mask an all-the-way-down conformity and banality of mind underneath the manipulative system climbing.
The media's endless variations on the rhetoric of "freedom" versus "dictatorship is quite mindless. It almost always means only freedom for domestic capital and more rights for first world capital in the third world. Our ideological dementia is that capitalist causation of mass deprivation is taboo to discuss, and non-market solutions anathema to the market group-mind. Whether or not changes are life enabling, or disabling, to the majority population virtually never gets investigated. Consider the demonization of Cuba over 50 years despite the region-leading literacy and public achievements. Here we see the naked life-blindness of our corporate culture media, an extremism and dogma which goes unobserved.
I think Lewis Mumford captured well the image (of the capitalist system) as “the soulless mega-machine”, but the point now is to understand the exact disorder down to the everyday regulators of the ruling economic mechanism which must be redirected to survive. Even the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre viewed the system as "a monstrous construction with no author." But the fact is that we author it every day by the economic paradigm we blindly follow. The "bounds of power; lie in a collective mind prison. The regulating order of how we live is assumed as “iron laws of the economy" over which we have no control… I reject the economic "laws" model as disastrous, including the Marx version of it. But those who pooh-pooh Marx assume this same model, only without the possibility of revolution. All the dominant models misconceive the economy as a structure of physics-type laws. Even Jurgen Habermas, the founder of the theory of "communicative action," sternly admonishes against any interference in the "self-regulating market." Theory has not yet awakened to the fact that the economy is a normative social construction. Marx himself thought change of the economic order could only come by its internal laws necessitating an inevitable result. This profound disorder of modern thought has reached a crescendo of stupefaction in ultra-liberalism. Its messianic inflexible doctrine of “no alternative” implies a kind of theocracy.
We’re told that “Marxism is dead”. What does "Marxism" mean to those who say this? Usually people who say this sort of thing know nothing about historical materialist thought and want to avoid the problem of class oppression which Marx systematically exposed. If "Marxism" means analyzing affairs in terms of class-opposed economic interests, the statement is tantamount to an invocation of death to critical thought. I don't think class analysis reveals the ultimate problem we have, nor do I think autonomous productive force development can be expected to revolutionize capitalism to a conscious human order, or cause workers to do so by its mechanical industrial discipline and organization. On the others hand, it is quite mindless to say the Marxian method is "dead." It reminds me of that other triumphal death-adage, "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." Both Marxists and First Nations have risked their lives against capitalist extermination of alternative communities. The "dead" idea is a homicidal exorcism.
Understanding the disorder is the first and decisive step. So far as I can see now, there is almost no understanding of this economic paradigm's increasingly spectacular inefficiency in securing, producing and distributing means of life which are otherwise in short supply. It is now an economically failed system in even its "miracle economies," the former Superpower bloc, and U.S. society itself. Worst of all, it has utterly failed in securing ecosystem services and natural resources for the future. Yet even progressive economists still play at the margins of the dominant paradigm, which counts only commodity exchanges as values, while the more radical count on the system's own mechanisms to lead the revolution. I think the internal regulators are being overlooked by an externalist mechanics of the economy as a machine God. In an era of electoral accountability and universal education, progressive changes follow public understanding. For me, the missing revolutionary subject is a cognitive problem, and public understanding of the failed model is what is most lacking. The real meaning of the "knowledge revolution" will be when the set-points of understanding shift out of the money-sequence paradigm towards economic reality.
I think that at this stage all the constitutional resources are already available to steer out of the crisis. I also think that constitutionality is the required common ground of decision and legitimacy. We have seen the disasters of other paths over the last century. I explain the constitutional parameters and steps available, including transnational money supply, in my Value Wars: The Global Market versus the Life Economy. My general premise is that the only way we have for intervening effectively is public authority, elected governments working autonomously and by international laws and agreements - as Social Europe did after World War II - to institute life-protective norms binding international debt and loans, foreign investment, trade and employment. If the binding articles of international trade included what the informed public is already in favor of - global ecosystem protection and international criminal law - a dynamic of public understanding and implementation could unfold to redirect us from the current catastrophic path. Recall that the post-World-War European Union managed forty years of unprecedented prosperity and equalization by just such remedies - until the neoliberal crusades were allowed to unravel the historic success. But the European people are beginning to wake up to what has happened underneath their eyes.
They (popular uprisings) are essential, and far more prevalent than the corporate press reports - from China and India in the hundreds a day to Ontario during the disastrous Mike Harris misgovernment to New York and San Francisco under Bush. One could go on and on here. The most effective uprising is to vote down the quislings of the capitalist theocracy - look at what has happened to Harper business populism in Canada as well as the "liberalization" constitution of Europe. Societies must reclaim their tax-funded resources and electorally accountable organization to act for the public interest against the transnational corporate coup d'etat. Once an informed public understanding is aroused - as the resistance and condemnation of the Iraq War throughout the world showed can happen, as well as the historic public rejection of the neo-liberal constitution for the European Union in 2005 - the course of world events can change. Public understanding has passed the leadership as the unspoken crisis of corporate world rule worsens. The so-called elites are still at the market magic thinking stage. Compelling corporate-market compliance to a life-serving rather than life-deprecating order is what people are uprising for in diverse ways. The signs of life infrastructure collapse by the dominant paradigm's cumulative failures are unfolding, but the correctable cause is not yet clearly recognized.
Elected governments have forfeited their power to govern in the common life interest because they are in the thrall of market fundamentalism, the most powerful fundamentalism of our age. In the historic reversion to magical formulae of "market miracles" and "shock treatments," the transnational corporations and money party have been allowed an unlimited license to override the laws of nations. Omnibus fiats of "free trade" have been coined in a fascist-like flood of new commands overwhelming publics so that they are overwhelmed by the tidal events. As in the past too, secretive and peremptory regulations reaching into every corner of existence paralyze people with the volume and speed of ever new demands and bite slogans proclaimed by a total propaganda apparatus. Most people and politicians are so submerged in the propaganda of "freedom," "globalization" and "necessity" they do not really know what is going on. In particular, they do not recognize that there are no limits of life conditions, social protection or service to societies permitted by this monolithic new apparatus of transnational corporate rights. That the thousands of prescriptions are called "no alternative" and "freedom" at the same time reveals the brutal Orwellian double-think of the whole program. Former space for performance requirements, public oversight and regulation, and control of national markets and resources for the public interest have been declared illegal with no debate.
The supreme effective criterion of economic policy across nations has become increase of transnational capital and commodity flows and the outrageously lucrative payoffs to executives and stockholders - end of story. Only market magic thinking could imagine this would lead to anything but disaster, but governments have internalized this meta-program as their own and yielded up their public authority and powers as if they believed they are promoting peoples' "freedom and democracy." Yet all you have to do is read - as politicians and media pundits have not - the binding treaty articles of this capitalist world rule - the NAFTA, the WTO, IMF, World Bank and the 2005 European Union Constitution - to recognize that their unending prescriptions protect only the rights of transnational corporations to penetrate and control all economic sectors where profit can be made, without the right of democratic intervention at any level. Exceptions are all put on the defensive. Everything is up for transnational corporate grabs from local markets and public services to water and education. Nothing that is alive is protected by the binding terms.
I think all of it (the global corporate coup d'etat) expresses the syntax of a ruling group-mind which cannot think beyond the freedom and salvation of money-capital and commodity circuits. It is the capitalist correlative of a theocracy. It has been on an increasingly drunken world crusade since the Thatcher-Reagan turn, and its set-points are to lock all societies into a nineteenth-century capitalist model to abolish a century of social reforms and public institution building and evangelizing the world-rule program at every step. The corporate media are structured to present nothing which connects capitalist globalization to a mounting record of economic meltdowns, mass murderous invasions and cumulative ecological disasters. The subornment of government and public communications by corporations and the money party (concepts well known to Lincoln who saw the danger early on) has only succeeded by its invisibility to the public. People do not recognize as they fear for their jobs and shop in a world frenzy that the larger economy of producing and reproducing our means of life includes ecosystem services, the entire social sector, un-priced women's labor and the civil commons as a whole - all of which are being stripped and degraded. So what has happened is a covert usurpation of the overall economy by unaccountable multiplying money leveraging vultures that depend on the submergence of everyone in a market theology - privatizing, deregulating and tax-defunding everything in sight with no track record evidence to justify one stripping move. Not a thing. Market worship is not just idolatry. It is completely out of touch with biophysical and social reality. It has to be ruled back into line with civil and ecological life requirements for global survival.
Well, certainly these are the corporate images (“claws in the back of business and environmental police with jackboots”)invoked every time a government moves to do its job. As for my "images of power," I think of concepts like power in terms of defining principles with images as testing illustrations. Now pervasively un-rooted images are the shadows on the cave wall transfixing the population into a hypnotic trance of endless electronic spectacles. As Spinoza once put it, "In despotic statecraft, the supreme and essential mystery is to hoodwink the public and mask the power that keeps the people down in the specious garb of religion." He might have added today, "The religion is capitalist fundamentalism and the garb is corporate PR images.”
Legitimizations are most viciously false when they conceal the facts of criminal force and fraud as "protecting the innocent" or "necessary for freedom." The "legitimization" of the war-criminal Bush regime is an ongoing spectacle of false legitimizations from the stolen 2000 election on. 9/11 was the launch pad of the legitimizations backwards and forwards, diverting attention from the stolen election, the biggest corporate fraud in history by Bush's leading backer (Enron's Ken Lay), falling U.S. trade and budget figures - all the while justifying war-criminal invasions and torture-regime occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Since the George Bush Jr. regime essentially represents U.S. Big Oil, Big Pharma, finance capital of mega banks, brokerage houses and parasitic hedge funds and the one-billion-dollars-plus-a-day Pentagon and war business, legitimizations have to be this regime's stock-in-trade. Otherwise it would be seen for what it is - the fascist turn of a national corporate world empire losing its productive superiority on every level. On the logistical level, the Bush PR machine has been remarkably effective at keeping the people up to their eyes in fairy tales. Magical thinking is the key to our era's blindness. I suspect they have operant conditioning results that tell them a U.S. presidency and the monopoly media empire can sell anything to about 50% of American voters, no matter what. As long as "the President" keeps on trumpeting "freedom and civilization," "God's will," "pro-life" and so on, about 50% will eat it up. The One Market under God has a large constituency - the “we-can-kill-therefore-we-are mob”, the TV-brain-dead, and the Pentecostal and other evangelical hysterics. The American Dream is now completely unhinged from reality. A bought Congress and packed Supreme Court provide no corrective feedback to what has become "the American Nightmare."
There is an "imposed ignorance" insofar as no corporate mass media or journal of record will publish any line of evidence or reason that exposes the ruling system of "competitiveness" turning the world into more money for money possessors and multi-billionaires such as Gates, Bezos and Buffet. As long as the accepted purpose of daily human existence is to think in these terms, ignorance is built into the system. Any facts or arguments which contradict the standard legitimizations of "freedom," "democracy," and "development" are automatically negated, sanitized, personalized or otherwise selected against so that the truth becomes unthinkable. This is the nature of what I call "the regulating group-mind." Try to think of exceptions. Think of one place where, for example, anyone says something as obvious and demonstrable as "the capitalist experiment in the former USSR has disastrously failed" or "no binding articles of any free trade agreement protect against increasing world pollution and inequality." The doors are closed against any truth about the deep-structural disorder. Yet no direct censorship is required. It is built in at an inter-subjective level.
I do not want to underestimate the extent to which ordinary people's desires and prejudices are formed by the media and ubiquitous image managers of the capitalist system. I agree that they orchestrate everything to maximize sales of their political and commercial products with no other interest in mind than their own self-gain and their paymasters.' That is the game they play. But I think it is a circular game of blind ignorance and self-desires which includes everyone who buys into these supply-demand loops at ideological as well as product levels. It is not just the corporate marketers of commodities and politicians controlling television. It's the careerist structure of competitive self-marketing and advancement in the schools and universities, and the mind-sets of people watching Reality TV and buying lottery tickets to be money-rich. It is a regulating structure of collective values and identity structure. The most compulsively adept are not a "ruling class" so much as selected for the top by the system's life-blind mechanisms.
I think we are wired into something deeper and more pervasive than one-way propaganda. Those at the top certainly get the most as the winners, while the losers don't matter by its rules—but who repudiates the money-market game itself? Sports heroes from poor backgrounds are in this way a perfect transmitter of the system to both the privileged and the masses. They legitimate the game as rewarding the best and most admired. That is why spectacle sports and endless spin-off contests are the only social bearings left in the commercial media, with selection for money-take the measure of meaning and status across the spectrum. "Being a winner" in these terms is what the Many and the Few both assume as the set-points of life. This is becoming the global game across individuals, classes, corporations and nation-states. The final irony is that its delusions rule as the public interest.
The belief that it (the system) is “human nature” is precisely what locks people into it. It fixes the collective mind-set as inexorably prescribed by 'Nature' itself - just as the caste system, slavery, racism, the inherent inferiority of women, and so on, have been conceived from ancient China and India onward. Once the rules are presupposed as given by God or the physical structure of the world or human genes, then playing by them becomes a necessary condition of one's survival and success. Here the rules of the game prescribe money-scoring as the bonding order, "Our way of life," evolutionary competition for survival, God's design, and so on. It is quite imbecilic, but believed - even if nothing works from the family to the international economy by its rules, as we are increasingly learning by the meltdowns of life infrastructures at every level. Freedom, on the other hand, is conscious self-government that chooses how to live, and does not ascribe it to natural laws or the Deity. There is continuous choice in whether we accept the rules of the game as individuals and societies, or not, and that choice is what is repressed by this concept.
In or out of government, the most basic move we have to make is to understand that "the economy" is not the competitive self-enrichment of atomized individual or corporate fictions. It is how we live to secure, produce and distribute means of life so that peoples' lives can flourish. Government exists to serve this common life interest - not the money-capital accumulation of plutocratic business elites without limit. People can understand that if they have any choice. Just as they have fought to protect public healthcare against for-profit privatization and the, growing “corporate sickness business”, they will do the same given a chance with other shared life requirements. Power is an instrument one way or the other. That is the choice. When life and death are shown to be at stake on every parameter of life means and conditions, as they now are in generational terms, we act accordingly, or are complicit. That is our condition.
In essence, the claimed moral system of the market is the freedom of individuals to exchange for goods in accordance with the same rules which are assumed to produce the public interest by ensuring market supply for market demand. That is the meta-narrative. The reality is what is left out. Only those with money demand have a right to live. A few people can possess more wealth than over 50 nations.* The environment and the world’s ecosystems can be made into rancid sinkholes so that people cannot breathe, stand in the sun or find uncontaminated water. Life security and meaningful jobs can disappear for an ever greater majority of society, and no problem is seen. These consequences are all "externalities" and collateral damage to the capitalist game and any government intervention is proclaimed an interference with "market freedom" - which means freedom of transnational corporations and stockholders to be unaccountable to anything, including world life itself. What is not recognized is that this regime is structured to turn the living into the un-living at every level. (Interview from Jeffrey Klaehn, ed., Bound by Power, Black Rose Books, 2006.)
*Conditions of global economic inequality have become far worse since this 2006 interview. There has been the 2008 financial meltdown and subsequent bailout of larcenous banks, corporations, the auto and insurance industries and other financial institutions engaged in blatant criminality. But the oligarchs of finance capital are back in business with more rapacity and latitude to exploit and plunder with impunity than ever before. The latest Oxfam analysis reports that five multi-billionaires such as Gates, Bezos and Buffet now have more wealth than half the world’s population.
John McMurtry’s brief explanation of the Cancer Explanatory Model for Capitalism
Many of his web postings are archived on the Canadian web site Global Research. His writing can be accessed by conducting a search here:
My search came up with this:
Since net neutrality is being decimated by our corporate capitalist masters, you may find some links don’t work. I’ve discovered this sort of tyrannical censorship already happening. You may have to copy and paste the link in the address window.