Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Dream Lives On

Mel Hurtig died last week. He was an economic nationalist who watched as Lester Pearson sacked his hero, Walter Gordon. And he watched yet again as  Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper integrated Canada into the American Empire. But, if you look around the world, economic nationalism is making a comeback. Tom Walkom writes:

Globalization is under attack in the U.S. and Europe. Americans fret about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership deal and the existing North American Free Trade Agreement. They have come to understand that such trade and investment pacts don’t always work for them.

The entire European Union project is being questioned in France, Italy and the Netherlands. The single European currency is rightly viewed by many of the countries that use it as a Trojan horse.

The Council of Canadians, which Hurtig helped found, didn’t have much luck in Canada when it argued against the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU.

But it did have some success in Europe where its agitation helped produce a backlash that may well sink CETA.

The signs are everywhere. But those signs have been ignored by Canadian businesses:

Today, there is little support for economic nationalism among Canadian business. Conversely, there is little desire among the general population to protect Canadian firms that ultimately don’t want protection.

Still, this does not mean the urge for autonomy has disappeared completely from the country. If economic nationalism means economic democracy then the spirit of Mel Hurtig arguably lives on among those who want a fairer shake for the middle and working classes.

It also lives on among those who don’t want the laws of the land overturned by foreign business in the name of free trade.

It may be one of history's ironies that Mel Hurtig's ideas will be more powerful after his death than they were when he was alive.

Image: rabble.ca


Steve said...

Sorry Owen no one believes in ideas anymore. If we could make it into a game or an app
maybe we could score.

Owen Gray said...

Attention spans have gotten shorter, Steve. And therefore some people don't think very well. But there are exceptional people who don't go with the flow.

Steve said...

And who is litterate enough to listen even if they were inclined? Its not by accident
we can no longer critically think.

The Mound of Sound said...

Here we are in 2016, a decade after John Ralston Saul's "The Collapse of Globalism." In 2005 he chronicled the demise of globalism as a failed ideology, a belief-based system more akin to a religion than anything else. Yet we remain mired in a failed experiment that continues for want of any vision for a new way.

Trudeau and every Western leader quests for perpetual growth in GDP - production and consumption. Yesterday was Earth Overshoot Day yet they scoff at the idea even as the corruption of our atmosphere proceeds apace, our lakes and coasts host red tides and blue-green algae blooms, our aquifers drain and farmlands subside, exhausted farmland succumbs to desertification and deforestation spreads around the world.

How do you imagine our political caste, the High Priests of Globalism, will respond when they meet with the world's top climate scientists in Geneva this month like patients in a doctor's office awaiting the dreaded results of that awful test? How will they respond when they're told the fossil fuel era must end, not on its own terms, not gradually, but by their hand, promptly? How will they cope with the idea that 27-trillion dollars of proven fossil fuel reserves fully subscribed on stock markets around the world are effectively worthless, stranded? How will they react when told that their three-pack-a-day habit must end, cold turkey, if mankind is to have any chance of a future?

We seem to be nearing the moment when all these calamities, so effortlessly kicked down the road for the past two decades, turn leaden and can be kicked no longer. How will they respond? Will they jettison globalism? Will they find new modes of organization - economic, political, social? Will they chart a way forward for this century? Or will they shrug and say "we can't" to mask a true intent of "we won't." I know how I'd place my bet and, yes, I would bet the farm.

Owen Gray said...

Hurtig always had the courage of his convictions, Mound -- through thick and thin. On the world stage, I see no one like him.

Owen Gray said...

Orwell would remind us, Steve, that when our language is corrupted so is our thinking.