Last week, the United States Supreme Court gutted campaign finance legislation with a decision rooted in the legal fiction that corporations are people. In abolishing the distinction between the two, the court effectively gave corporations much more political leverage; and it declared that corporatism was a sacred cow in a country which likes to call itself "the world's greatest democracy."
In that same week, voters in Massachusetts voted for a candidate who is the antithesis of the man who held the seat for 46 years. Bob Herbert, in The New York Times, claimed that the vote did not represent a vote for corporatism: "In 2008," he wrote, "a startling 91.6 million people -- more than 30 percent of the entire U.S. population -- fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, which is a meager $21,834 for a family of four." This, while the barons of Wall Street were taking home six and seven figure salaries. The result in Massachusetts was an angry rejection of the notion that corporations are people.
And in Canada this weekend, Canadians took to the streets to protest the proroguing of Parliament by a Prime Minister who claims that things run more smoothly -- at least for the markets -- when Parliament is closed. When the people's representatives return, he said, "there will be votes of confidence and election speculation for every single week after that for the rest of the year. That's the kind of instability I think that markets are actually worried about."
The statement is stunning in its utter disregard for the public good. Government's primary task is to insure market stability. This from an angry man and an angry party who lust for a majority government, and who -- time and time again -- manage to trip over themselves. In his book, The Unconcious Civilization, John Ralston Saul saw through the ruse:
The neo-conservatives, who are closely linked to the neo-corporatists, are rather different. They claim to be conservatives, when everything they stand for is a rejection of conservatism. They claim to present an alternate social model, when they are little more than courtiers of the corporatist movement. Their agitation is filled with the bitterness and cynicism typical of courtiers who scramble for the crumbs at the banquet tables of real power but are always denied a proper chair.
It has begun to dawn on a growing segment of the population that North America's elites -- legal and political -- are little more than corporate shills. The Supreme Court and Mr. Harper have each had their Marie Antoinette moments, notifying the public that they can eat cake. It would be in their own self interest to remember the lady's fate.