A SMALL MIND FOR A SMALL WORLD

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Tue May 8 18:28:04 MDT 2001




          A SMALL MIND FOR A SMALL WORLD

  Mike Harris and the Political Agenda of
Globalization

        JOHN CLARKE, ONTARIO COALITION AGAINST POVERTY
(OCAP)

        May 4, 2001

Anyone who is not a corporate apologist will readily
acknowledge that 'free trade' agreements have
remarkably little to do with trade.  Rather, they are
all about Global Capital's basic social and political
agenda of removing any and all barriers to the making
of profit at the expense of workers, communities and
the environment. No hard won standard that might limit
the mobility or conduct of Capital can be left intact.
 Everything must be reduced to the lowest level
regardless of what human misery is generated or what
measures of repression prove necessary to contain
discontent and resistance.

If we accept this working definition of Globalization,
then the Harris Government in Ontario is, surely, an
impeccable specimen of that approach to plundering the
world. Ontario, Harris has stated, is now 'Open for
Business' and it must be granted that he has delivered
on this to the full. Precisely because of a huge
transfer of resources and political consideration to
the wealthy, the impact on the rest of us has been
appalling. The homeless sleep on the streets, children
go to bed hungry, workers' legal protections have been
gutted, vital public services have
been wiped out and the very physical infrastructure of
the Province is now
threatened with a wave of privatization and the
dismantling of systems of public scrutiny.

The set of Tory thugs that are implementing these vile
measures are an interesting political formation.
While, of course, they are carrying out their attacks
on behalf of powerful corporate interests, they are
far from being the most patrician bunch to every
occupy Queen's Park. To a huge degree, their ranks
consist of crude and petty exploiters.  Their outlook
is narrow and grasping and summed up in the term they
have promoted - 'common sense'. Their frame of
reference is the immediately
apparent or, at least, a selective interpretation of
it. 'Common sense' dictates that the world will be a
better place if their social layer can enrich itself.
For years,        they have grumbled about things like
social programs, trade unions, Native rights and
environmental protections. They have dreamed of law
and order crackdowns and an education system that
serves business needs and casts aside those who fail
to make the grade. Now, to their initial amazement,
they have been placed in political power. And what a
time to be there! Across the whole hemisphere and even
the planet, like minded regimes are busy carrying out
wrecking operations like theirs.

People like Mike Harris are of the right kind for the
present time as far as the major corporations are
concerned. Their brutality and dull witted
intransigence are tailor made to carry out the attacks
deemed necessary.  Harris is an enforcer for Global
Capital. This leads me to point out something that
members of the Anti Globalization Movement sometimes
fail to clarify properly. When, very correctly, it is
stated that measures like the Free Trade of the
Americas Agreement limit the ability of governments to
take measures to protect their populations against
corporate encroachment, it is often implied that they
are, somehow, the hostages of this process. If Mike
Harris were told that the free trade agreements will
tie his hands and prevent him enacting measures of
social provision or regulation, his only request would
be to be tied up tighter. He and his Government are
not the victims of globalization but soldiers fighting
a war on its behalf.

Many OCAP members were in Quebec City recently and the
courage and        determination that went into that
struggle inspires us enormously. We do hope, however,
that people will agree with us that the time has come
to take some of the political energy that has fueled
challenges to reprehensible gatherings like the Summit
of the Americas and to direct it at governments who
are implementing the agenda on the ground. If we have
agreement on that then the selection of the Harris
Regime as a target must be a given.

Perhaps now might be the moment to ask why, given the
hideous and unprecedented rampage of the Ontario
Tories, are they still in power? For such a political
goon squad to carry on they need three things.  First
of all, they must have the confidence and backing of
the corporate elite and its media. This is something
Harris has in bucketful's. Secondly, they must have a
base of support in the population. It doesn't have to
be anything close to an actual majority but it does
have to be significant.  With about 45% of the two
thirds of eligible voters who see any reason to vote
backing the Tories, they can retain power under a
system that passes for democracy and justify any
social crime they carry out as being in line with the
'will of the people of Ontario'. There are enough
materially
privileged and politically backward people around to
give the Tories a couple of        terms of office
before they use up their shelf life given the
lamentable state of both parliamentary and extra
parliamentary opposition to them.

The above point brings us to the most vital and yet
the most preventable factor that keeps the Tories
alive. In order to hurt so many people so badly and
retain the confidence of Bay Street, they must operate
in conditions of relative passivity. The corporate
powerbrokers are not squeamish people.  They know
Harris's work isn't going to be pretty and that some
significant confrontations are a given but they do
insist that the political and economic disruption
generated by these not reach levels of fundamental
crisis. If such a movement of social resistance were
to emerge, then Harris would be instantly transformed
into a political liability about to be jettisoned.

OCAP has participated in the general movement against
Harris over the last six years. We organized some of
the earliest demonstrations, joined the Days of Action
and, then, spent a difficult period in the wake of
their demobilization fighting the impact of the
Government's attacks on the poor and homeless.
Throughout all this time, we advanced the proposition
that the misery could be challenged if a united
movement would come together that set itself the goal
of fundamentally disrupting the Tories and making
their agenda unenforceable. Then, on June 15 of last
year, we marched on Queen's Park under the slogan
"Fight to Win". We
wanted to make the case that the rituals of token
protest needed to be replaced with a practice of real
resistance. Following that landmark struggle, we have
forged ahead with plans for a campaign of economic
disruption against the Tories that will involve
communities under attack right across Ontario.
Preparations for this are forging ahead. On June 15
and 16, we will be holding a Provincial Assembly in
Toronto to cement this movement and prepare for action
in October. With this campaign we serve notice that
the retreat before the Tories is over. They can be
stopped and they can be driven out of office. Such a
development would be viewed with horror by the forces
of Globalization across this hemisphere and beyond.

OCAP doesn't have delusions of grandeur. We can't win
this fight alone but we have issued the call and we
are initiating a fightback.  In October, people will
be moving against the flow of goods and services and
the systems of production in Ontario. They will be
hitting the cash registers and emptying the wallets of
the very people who demand of Harris that he make them
richer. Harris's claim that 'Ontario is Open for
Business' will start to ring a little hollow. The
forms that this disruption will take can be many and
varied. The Anti Globalization Movement, with its
affinity group method of action could play a huge and
important role in
creating a resistance too mobile and far flung for
their riot squads to have an impact on. We hope that
members of that Movement will join us in this
struggle.

We would welcome all support and would be happy to
discuss the basis of co-operation with individuals or
organizations. The starting point, as far as we are
concerned, is to move beyond registering our
opposition to an agenda we accept as inevitable and,
instead, to fight to win.


-------------------------------------------
Macdonald Stainsby
Rad-Green List: Radical anti-capitalist environmental discussion.
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                                     --Bertholt Brecht







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