Cancer Capitalism Part II: The Need For A Diagnosis and Cure
Once Canadians arrive at the correct diagnosis -- that corporate globalization is a cancer – we can then administer the cure, which involves the dismantling of the current system and its component parts, including “trade deals”.
The current political economy more accurately describes the “Cancer Stage of Capitalism” as described by Professor John McMurtry in The Cancer Stage of Capitalism|From Crisis to Cure . Not surprisingly, the cancer system also runs at cross-purposes to addressing catastrophic global warming since it attacks sovereignty, biodiversity, and localized decision-making.
Post-diagnosis, the first part of the cure is nomenclature. We need to free corporate-fashioned words from their false, deceptive meanings.
Here are some examples. Trade deals, including the so-called "free trade" deals which have crippled North American manufacturing, are more accurately described as "corporate sovereignty” deals. These deals empower transnational companies to relocate where wages are low (or in the case of prison labour, non-existent), where collective bargaining doesn't exist, and where unions are impotent or non-existent.
Corporate sovereignty deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA), empower corporations to the extent that government legislation becomes subordinated to corporate profits. Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)[i] clauses– originally crafted by imperial nations to keep their former colonies economically and politically subservient -- are a particularly odious aspect of these deals.
If, for example, Canadian government legislation is perceived to interfere with a foreign corporation’s – or State-Owned-Enterprise’s (SOE) -- future profits, the company or SOE can use the ISDM mechanism to sue Canada for perceived lost profits. Cases are arbitrated outside of Canada’s juridicial reach, by appointed World Trade Organization (WTO) lawyers, and in private. Canada has yet to win a case. The U.S has yet to lose a case.
The "freedom" being exercised by these deals is clearly corporate freedom from the shackles of democratically legislated rules, regulations, and laws. The false notion that they are "free", or that "liberalized" agreements are "liberal" for anyone but the corporations, should be put to rest. Not only do these protectionist deals over-ride national sovereignty and parliamentary legislation, but well-paying jobs are often sacrificed as well. Manufacturing, and “value-added” jobs are often offshored to regimes with less-developed social infrastructures.
Corporate sovereignty agreements subordinate and depredate Life Capital --- the public sphere – at the altar of the “invisible” hand of the blind Market. Developed social infrastructure -- such as universal healthcare[ii], pharmacare, public transport etc. -- is attacked by these agreements, as complicit countries compete to appease the dictates of their extra- parliamentarian masters.
The transnational corporate degeneracy values hyper-privatization that metastasizes on the public sphere. Evidence clearly shows, for example, that P3 hospitals cost more[iii] and are, therefore, an unnecessary burden on the public. Ontario’s planned “privatization” of Hydro One[iv] will also be a burden on public treasuries. A cure would stop these privateering inroads into the public sphere, and reverse the trend by enlarging the public sphere.
Universal Healthcare is an important target. Once the insurance lobbies persuade the public of the false-logic that privatized healthcare is the way to "move forward”, we will be stuck with a multi-tiered, inefficient, and costly healthcare system, (similar to the U.S. system) that will be an unnecessary disservice to the public.
Geopolitically, corporate globalization is also a driver behind the overseas holocaust[v] occurring at this moment. Countries being destroyed, including Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine all had (for the most part) advanced social infrastructures and nationalized industries, which are being destroyed and plundered for the benefit of degenerate transnational predation.
The word "capitalism" itself is also wearing new clothes, thanks to corporate messaging of the "free marketeers", and those who profess a love for "free enterprise." Now the term more often refers to state-subsidized "monopoly capitalism" – all of the “Bigs” – Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Energy, Big Agriculture, etc.
The new "capitalists" also include the speculators who drive up world prices of food and fuel, as they trade in commodities, derivatives, and hedge funds. In the world of these shadow-banking, boom/bust/starvation-creating[vi] "capitalists", the term is divorced from production, in the same way that it is divorced from the notion of the "public good".
The cancer of what McMurtry describes as “money-sequencing” could be addressed by returning to public banking.
George H. Crowell’s explanation in “An Urgently Needed Change in Monetary Policy: Borrowing from Bank of Canada would make governments debt-free” [vii] is brilliant in its simplicity.
Crowell argues that we should do what we did until about 1974: instead of paying billions of dollars in compound-interest on debts to private banks -- the federal government should resume the practice of borrowing from the publicly-owned Bank of Canada, interest free. The benefits that would accrue, including the elimination of government debt, would empower the government to spend money on public institutions, and the life-serving economy.
This change to monetary policy, endorsed by the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER), is largely ignored by corporate media, since such a policy wouldn't serve the immediate interests of the predatory oligarchy.
The diagnosis that corporate globalization and its component parts, including corporate sovereignty agreements, are a cancer, is the first step. The cure will then involve strengthening, rather than dismantling of the public sphere, all with a view to recapturing democracy, self-determination, and national sovereignty. A healthy immune system, free from corporate bondage, will then lead us to a more socially-oriented political economy that can deal with real world crises such as catastrophic global warming, permanent war, and poverty.
We no longer have time to waste on self-generated diseases.
By Mark Taliano
This is an updated and revised version of an earlier article that appeared at Huffington Post.