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Corporations Have No Use for Borders

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Posted on Jan 30, 2012
AP / Carolyn Kaster

A police officer holds a tear gas launcher at the ready during a standoff with protesters at the G-20 Summit in Toronto in June 2010.

By Chris Hedges

What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.

But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010’s G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.

The voices of dissent sound like our own. And the forms of persecution are familiar. This is not an accident. We are fighting the same corporate leviathan.

“I want to tell you that I was arrested because I am seen as a threat,” Canadian activist Leah Henderson wrote to fellow dissidents before being sent to Vanier prison in Milton, Ontario, to serve a 10-month sentence. “I want to tell you that you might be too. I want to tell you that this is something we need to prepare for. I want to tell you that the risk of incarceration alone should not determine our organizing.”

“My skills and experience—as a facilitator, as a trainer, as a legal professional and as someone linking different communities and movements—were all targeted in this case, with the state trying to depict me as a ‘brainwasher’ and as a mastermind of mayhem, violence and destruction,” she went on. “During the week of the G8 & G20 summits, the police targeted legal observers, street medics and independent media. It is clear that the skills that make us strong, the alternatives that reduce our reliance on their systems and prefigure a new world, are the very things that they are most afraid of.”

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The decay of Canada illustrates two things. Corporate power is global, and resistance to it cannot be restricted by national boundaries. Corporations have no regard for nation-states. They assert their power to exploit the land and the people everywhere. They play worker off of worker and nation off of nation. They control the political elites in Ottawa as they do in London, Paris and Washington. This, I suspect, is why the tactics to crush the Occupy movement around the globe have an eerie similarity—infiltrations, surveillance, the denial of public assembly, physical attempts to eradicate encampments, the use of propaganda and the press to demonize the movement, new draconian laws stripping citizens of basic rights, and increasingly harsh terms of incarceration.

Our solidarity should be with activists who march on Tahrir Square in Cairo or set up encampamentos in Madrid. These are our true compatriots. The more we shed ourselves of national identity in this fight, the more we grasp that our true allies may not speak our language or embrace our religious and cultural traditions, the more powerful we will become.

Those who seek to discredit this movement employ the language of nationalism and attempt to make us fearful of the other. Wave the flag. Sing the national anthem. Swell with national hubris. Be vigilant of the hidden terrorist. Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, responding to the growing opposition to the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipelines, wrote in an open letter that “environmental and other radical groups” were trying to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” He accused pipeline opponents of receiving funding from foreign special interest groups and said that “if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further.”

No matter that in both Canada and the United States suing the government to seek redress is the right of every citizen. No matter that the opposition to the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines has its roots in Canada. No matter that the effort by citizens in the U.S. and in Canada to fight climate change is about self-preservation. The minister, in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry like the energy czars in most of the other industrialized nations, seeks to pit “loyal” Canadians against “disloyal” Canadians. Those with whom we will build this movement of resistance will not in some cases be our own. They may speak Arabic, pray five times a day toward Mecca and be holding off the police thugs in the center of Cairo. Or they may be generously pierced and tattooed and speak Danish or they may be Mandarin-speaking workers battling China’s totalitarian capitalism. These are differences that make no difference.

“My country right or wrong,” G.K. Chesterton once wrote, is on the same level as “My mother, drunk or sober.”

Our most dangerous opponents, in fact, look and speak like us. They hijack familiar and comforting iconography and slogans to paint themselves as true patriots. They claim to love Jesus. But they cynically serve the function a native bureaucracy serves for any foreign colonizer. The British and the French, and earlier the Romans, were masters of this game. They recruited local quislings to carry out policies and repression that were determined in London or Paris or Rome. Popular anger was vented against these personages, and native group vied with native group in battles for scraps of influence. And when one native ruler was overthrown or, more rarely, voted out of power, these imperial machines recruited a new face. The actual centers of power did not change. The pillage continued. Global financiers are the new colonizers. They make the rules. They pull the strings. They offer the illusion of choice in our carnivals of political theater. But corporate power remains constant and unimpeded. Barack Obama serves the same role Herod did in imperial Rome. 

This is why the Occupy Wall Street movement is important. It targets the center of power—global financial institutions. It deflects attention from the empty posturing in the legislative and executive offices in Washington or London or Paris. The Occupy movement reminds us that until the corporate superstructure is dismantled it does not matter which member of the native elite is elected or anointed to rule. The Canadian prime minister is as much a servant of corporate power as the American president. And replacing either will not alter corporate domination. As the corporate mechanisms of control become apparent to wider segments of the population, discontent will grow further. So will the force employed by our corporate overlords. It will be a long road for us. But we are not alone. There are struggles and brush fires everywhere. Leah Henderson is not only right. She is my compatriot.


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By Dean Charles Marshall, January 30, 2012 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Having recently read and appreciated Chris Hedges’ “The World As It Is” and “Empire of Illusion” and observing how the Occupy Movement is playing out have convinced me we’re witnessing the consolidation of “inverted totalitarianism” by the corporate state that he and Sheldon S. Wolin in his book “Democracy Inc” have described so prophetically. As citizens of diminishing democracies in America and Canada we have to acknowledge we’re heading down a “crooked” road towards an inexplicable form of 21st century feudalism. The corporatocracy has anticipated potential rebellion and is putting in place draconian measures to make sure resistance is curtailed swiftly, violently and completely. The powers that be are orchestrating the removal of our freedoms. Time is running out we must resist by using any and all means necessary. When words won’t win action will!

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By prisonerV58, January 30, 2012 at 9:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From the olagarchy virus just south of you!
Hey Canada, welcome to our 1984 nightmare.
welcome to the real version of “The Handmaids Tale”,
Can’t wait to see what your version of the Patriot Act, The Military Commisions Act, SOPA, etc… the list goes on. The global corporations will let you keep your guns, why not they can kill you from above. they will tell you your free, and control everything you do, they will use fear to control you, including your body what goes in it, or comes out of it and the god you pray to.

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By SarcastiCanuck, January 30, 2012 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You’re absolutely right Chris.Money rules here in Canada just as much as the rest of the world.The plutocracy has gone global.

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By vincenyt, January 30, 2012 at 8:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges, I applaud your courageous stand against the rising tide of worldwide corporate oligarchy. I look at the rise of corporatist, conservative, right wing governments throughout the world as a reemergence of fascism to be fought against at all costs. I look at the rising tide of populist anger and rejection of the corporate exploitation of the poor and middle class as a great injustice that will not succeed in the long term. However, I do not equate the positions of the existing political parties in this country as an equilateral threat to the goals of the 99%. The Democratic Party while not as progressive as we desire, in no way is the equivalent of the completely destructive aims of the radical Conservatives that have captured the Republicans. They set their objectives clearly at all all levels of government. Destroy Labor Unions, dismantle the Social Safety Net, privatize every govt. function, eliminate taxation for the wealthy, offshore good paying jobs for the most profit, impose drastic religious ideology, rigid voter suppression and complete elimination of any regulations left to protect the environment and the financial integrity of the economy. I view the Democrats, at this point in time, as the only viable opposition to this massive coup d’etat which will occur if not stopped in time. If the radical right gets complete control of the levers of power in 2012, they will ruthlessly impose their cruel Randian agenda on a politically impotent populace. Their shortsighted policies will lead to economic ruin for the country and despair for increasing numbers of citizens. I believe the only way out of this situation will be revolution because they will not cede power easily. The alternative now is to prevent this takeover in 2012 at all costs.

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By Jeff N., January 30, 2012 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

JDmystic, you might actually be right about Obama doing about as much as is possible considering the political environment he is in.  Whether that is something to be proud of or ashamed of is a different question. 

However, it is a great benefit of OWS and people like Hedges to raise the everyday awareness of people so that they understand the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in.  The only avenue the citizens of the US (the “99%”) have left for advocating values and changes that they need is through community efforts like OWS.  There is no room in politics for making changes in things like health care, education, poverty, our chronic need for warfare, bank regulation, nevermind campaign finance reform.  So what other avenue is open to the average citizen?  I’m not sure how you could see this as counter-productive, it is mandatory at this point.

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By Alan MacDonald, January 30, 2012 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Hedges rightly says, “Corporate power is global, and resistance to it cannot be restricted by national boundaries. Corporations have no regard for nation-states. They assert their power to exploit the land and the people everywhere. They play worker off of worker and nation off of nation. They control the political elites in Ottawa as they do in London, Paris and Washington.”

.. and “Our most dangerous opponents, in fact, look and speak like us. They hijack familiar and comforting iconography and slogans to paint themselves as true patriots. They claim to love Jesus. But they cynically serve the function a native bureaucracy serves for any foreign colonizer. The British and the French, and earlier the Romans, were masters of this game.”

....and finally, “And replacing either will not alter corporate domination. As the corporate mechanisms of control become apparent to wider segments of the population, discontent will grow further. So will the force employed by our corporate overlords.”

And yet, there is little to no appreciation, nor discussion, that when it comes to disguising, camouflaging, and anesthetizing “all the people, all the time” to the fact that our country has been ‘captured’ and fully “Occupied” by a global corporate/financial/militarist (and media) EMPIRE that hides behind the facade of its modernized Two-Party ‘Vichy’ sham of faux-democratic and totally illegitimate government—just as surely as the Nazi Empire tried to hide behind its single-party? ‘Vichy” facade in France c. 1940—- “Nobody Does It Better” than Obama.

I was struck not only by the idiocy of the Republican’s auditioning for the 2012 contest to become the next faux-Emperor/president of this collapsing global “Vichy Empire” (which many still think of as ‘our country’), but also of the more dangerously insane and guileful lies of Obama in his SOTU (or more accurately SOTE - State of the Empire) speech, in which this consummate con-artist repeatedly used the words ‘grow’ and ‘growing’ multiple times to describe the economic trajectory of what he called, this “Indispensable Nation”, which this old ‘OKie Doke’ scammer used as both a means to further disguise the FACT that our nation has actually now been fully ‘captured’ and “Occupied” behind the facade of a global corporate/financial/militarist (and media) EMPIRE merely posing as a “Vichy” sham of faux-democratic and totally illegitimate government, and to also give a tip of his hat to international war criminal and mass-murderer of a million Iraqi children and citizens, Madeleine Not-so-bright, who coined the term.

Obama is clearly the Global “Vichy” Empire’s first choice as the world’s best deceiving cheer-leader for continuing on this path to extinction via lulling Americans into sleep.

Yes, when it comes to using “Friendly Fascism” [Bertram Gross] and “Inverted Totalitarianism” [Sheldon Wolin] as the most favorable anesthetics for fooling “all the people, all the time”, this death-star Global Vichy Empire has all the faith in the world that “Nobody Does It Better” than Obama.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOd1JJvwlM


Best luck and love to the Occupy Empire educational and revolutionary movement.

Liberty, democracy, justice, & equality
Over
Violent/Vichy
Empire,

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By rumblingspire, January 30, 2012 at 7:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the myth of the nation used to serve blue blood.  now it serves green.

burn all flags!
ignore all borders!

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By balkas, January 30, 2012 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

having said about china what is said in the post bellow, i am not happy about its
socalled progress.
progress without regress is ok. and chinese, indian and all other lands’ progress is
also highly regressive.
so, i suggest no more ‘progress’. we had way too much of it already and any further
‘progress’ just might elide 5 to 6 billion earthlings. and aside from this scenario, we
should leave s’mthing for future generations!!
but i cannot blame chinese people all that much for industrializing so that they
wouldn’t become like palestinians unless they manufacture necessary weaponry and
which can be done only via heavy industry.
everybody is now aware what world supremacists are doing to the palestinians and
asking, am i next! thanks

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JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, January 30, 2012 at 7:02 am Link to this comment

Chris writes, “Barack Obama serves the same role Herod did in imperial Rome.”

As long as we’re using religious analogy I’ll proffer that that Chris Hedges serves the same role Herod did in imperial Rome. Actually, a better analogy would be, “Chris Hedges serves the same role as did Judas Iscariot; complaining bitterly about the expensive oil wasted to wash Jesus Christ’s feet.” (These religious analogies are ridiculous don’t you think?)

Of all the prominent, viable, politicians in this nation Barack Obama is at the forefront of combating inordinate corporate power; a fact that is ignored or distorted by chronic dissidents and perpetual cynics. Barack Obama is doing everything he can under current political realities to combat the excessive power of corporatism.

Chris Hedges and OWS perform a valuable service in the struggle against corporate power right up to the point where they become counter productive. Chris hedges, OWS, and their ilk are far past the point where they have become counter productive.

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By Tara, January 30, 2012 at 7:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with Chris. I am Canadian; been watching Canada transform in a drastic
way in the last few years under Stephen Harper. I believe he is a sociopath.
There is something missing in him. Something vital to keep Canada as it was.
His party is filled with egomaniacs and narcissists. Perhaps other sociopaths.
They lie, they cheat; they steal. They are destroying this incredible country.

I think there are so many people at the top that simply don’t have a conscience.
Psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists.. If we don’t start to recognize this, we will
are all in deep trouble because these people simply don’t care, but they will
pretend that they do.

I miss Canada and I will stand for this country if I have to. Canadians need to
vote the them out.

Thanks Chris for all your work. We need more people like you. Before it is too
late.

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By balkas, January 30, 2012 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

pejas,
thanks for correction, but the declaration of the independence does say,
doesn’t it, that pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right. i often use
the word “inalienable”, but not this time. i thought it not mattered, what
mattered to me was the point.
but i often forget which right is where. thanks

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By litlpeep, January 30, 2012 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Why should corporations fear lap dog presidents, cabinets, parliaments/congresses, courts, and appointed officials, who all get their marching orders from corporations?

Why was it fascism in Italy?

Why was it Nazism in Germany?

God bless the United Lapdogs of America!

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By balkas, January 30, 2012 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

hedges at times smears china’s system of rule with labels such as calling it “totalitarian capitalism”. however,
dares not or is loath to elucidate us about its structure of governance and society.
nor does he talk about the THE THOUGHT on which chinese rule rests.
after all, all governances rest on a hunch, idea; later verbalized and enshrined in a constitution.
why does he reject to compare the US/European thought with the thought [whatever it might be] in china?
is it totalitarian, evil, or what? if it is evil as hedges tacitly says, why is it that no congressperson, cia/fbi agent,
MSM columnist, ‘expert’ had not as yet described the ideology which prevails in china.
wouldn’t have by now each one of the above mentioned people rejoiced over the opportunity to limn it as evil
once it would be reviewed by them; saying, then, See what awaits you if you change what we have in the US.
but there are reasons, i think, why chinese ideology, structure of governance and society is not studied in US and
canada and i don’t need to tell you all of them.
one of them is racism! another one is religions, etc. and hedges cannot shake off his religious upbringing and
thinking. thanks

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pejas's avatar

By pejas, January 30, 2012 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

Balkas, you might want to check your facts: It is the Declaration of Independence that mentions the “pursuit of happiness” as one of our rights, not the Constitution. There is also no mention of a “guarantee”.  Beyond that, “large stockholders” are part & parcel of the whole problem with corporations. US law forces corporations to make decisions based solely on what will provide the greatest profit to the stockholders, thus putting large stockholders in the driver’s seat. They can & do put their own financial gain ahead of everything, certainly the welfare of any individual or nation, but also ahead of the long term wellbeing of the corporation itself. These large stockholders are free to operate as parasites, sucking dry their “host” then moving on to the next.

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By balkas, January 30, 2012 at 6:10 am Link to this comment

its not the corporations that do not recognize nat’l borders—it is the THOUGHT [ideology] which does not
recognize borders nor even some ancient countries like iran, afgha’n, palestina..
it is the ideology; propounded/promulgated in the bill of rights, constitution, schooling, churches, which sets up
corporations and in order that these control much of the 99%.
so, police, army, fbi, cia; in short, the military arm of the 1%, does not have to be used by the onepercent to
control much of the 99%; merely hiring/firing, setting wages/benefits works marvels for the 1%.
and if corporations would fail in that endeavor, they can always bring in THEIR ARMED services.
so, it boils down to changing the ideology. nearly all lands’ governances rest on exact same ideology that exist in
US and canada.
however, in much of europe onepercent cannot get away with so much abuse as the onepercent in US because in
each european land there is a viable second political party or a party which differs much from all other parties.
these other countries we could just lump in one party as far as most important issues are concerned.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, January 30, 2012 at 5:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joe Liberman was on Hannity’s radio program yesterday and
said that the Keystone Tar Sands pipeline would be approved.
They know in the senate that Obama will approve it after the
election.  “Canada is going ahead with the project with or without
us.  If we don’t buy that oil the Chinese will.  We can’t let it go to them
when we need it”, he said.

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By Ching-Ching, January 30, 2012 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

What also derserves to be mentioned is the fact that the Harper government (because it’s not called the Canadian government anymore), has passed an omnibus crime bill that will see more people thrown in jail at an additional cost to the provinces and tax payers. More super max prisons will be built to accomadate these new prisoners and all at a time when crime rates in Canada are steadily declining.
The reality is that only 35% of the voters voted for the Harper conservatives and because the left is split into several parties, he still managed to form a majority government. To say that the political system in Canada is flawed, is an enormous understatement.

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By balkas, January 30, 2012 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

well, hedges i am not fighting or speaking out only against the same
corporate leviathan.
in fact, i seldom speak out against corporations. i’d rather speak out
against large shareholders, bankers, the system of rule, bill of rights,
constitution, ‘law’, apsolute diktatorship of the onepercent, etc.
perhaps hedges is right in saying that constitution should not be
changed, but why doesn’t he tell us why he thinks so.
if the constitution guarantees a person’s right to pursue happiness,
how’s then a person wrong in donating 1, 2, 3, 12 million to a politico
who’s going to pass laws that makes the money donor happy ?

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By charlesfrith, January 30, 2012 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

Canada is run by the same globalists who run the US and
Australia.

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Concerned Canuck's avatar

By Concerned Canuck, January 30, 2012 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the nod, Chris. I absolutely agree that the difference between Canada and the
US is about 5 years. The last moral stand my government took was opting out of Gulf War
II. The tar sands is a bloody disgrace as is our waffling on Koyoto.  On the bright side, the
G-20 arrests woke up a lot of folks to the extra-constitutional encroachments from law
enforcement. Being optimistic, I don’t think we’ve past the point of no return quite yet and,
having experienced my first arrest this summer, I don’t intend on letting these things get
that far. I believe it was your Ben Franklin who said “If we don’t hang together, we will
most surely hang separately!” So, hands across the boarder!

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Concerned Canuck's avatar

By Concerned Canuck, January 30, 2012 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the nod, Chris. I absolutely agree that the difference between Canada and the
US is about 5 years. The last moral stand my government took was opting out of Gulf War
II. The tar sands is a bloody disgrace as is our waffling on Koyoto.  On the bright side, the
G-20 arrests woke up a lot of folks to the extra-constitutional encroachments from law
enforcement. Being optimistic, I don’t think we’ve past the point of no return quite yet and,
having experienced my first arrest this summer, I don’t intend on letting these things get
that far. I believe it was your Ben Franklin who said “If we don’t hang together, we will
most surely hang separately!” So, hands across the boarder!

Report this

By balkas, January 30, 2012 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

canada as part UK and after as an independency had been- in regards to its
geographic position, nato, and protective nuclear umbrella—an extremely
belligerent land.
it had always supported ashkenazim in their quest to expel palestinians from their
land.
its peoples, particularly those from the isles, had been and still are also racist
towards even some europeans and asians, let alone indigenous pop.
until as late as sixties there had been a lot of hatred for catholics. is canada getting
now even more belligerent? well, i do not read papers nor watch tv news, so i
cannot say what is going on now as to regards to more warfare. thanks

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