|Green Island Backgrounders|
- outside-the-box perspectives on life in Canada/Capitalistland
Citizen management in the modern capitalist democracy
by Dave Patterson, May, 2010
Now wait a minute, I can hear it all now from those who somewhat cynically or angrily or disparagingly have clicked this link to quickly dismiss anything that might be said about "me!" being "managed" - hey, no way, baby! I know our government is doing bad things, and I am a very progressive activist, fighting them every day! Managed?!? No way!!
Maybe. I'm not looking for a fight, just trying to figure out why, when most people in Canada apparently don't agree with most of what has been going on in our country the last 30 years, things don't seem to be improving, as you'd think they would in a 'democracy' which supposedly means, after all, that 'the will of the citizens' is paramount. That doesn't seem to be the case these days. I don't mean to imply that 'everyone' in the country is indoctrinated - just most - that's the game, in the sense of the old Lincoln saying, you don't need to fool all of the people all of the time, just enough of them enough of the time. Many people have managed to work their way through the current systemic indoctination everyone is subjected to in Canada - that is to say, assuming you are some age of 'adult' - did you or did you not go to school for the first 18 years or so of your life? Most people have - it is, after all, compulsory to the age of at least 16. And I have to ask - if you are an activist, and understand our government is getting up to a lot of stuff 'we' really don't think they should be doing - do you really think they make you go to school for at least 16 years for your own good? Really? You maybe ought to think about that. (nothing new about this - quite an interesting essay about the same thing was written back in the 60s - a time when there were a lot more 'thinking people' than there appear to be now - THE STUDENT AS NIGGER Essays and Stories by Jerry Farber . Or a guy called John Taylor Gatto - The Underground History of American Education. There's lots else out there, for those who have escaped the indoctrination and can think for themselves - or for those who are starting to understand they have been indoctrinated, and are starting the process of freeing themselves. It can be done.
And don't get angry at things I am not accusing you of. Don't confuse 'indoctrination' with something much more intrusive and controlling such as brainwashing, which involved essentially using various extremely violent tactics to remove all traces of ego from a human brain, and then 'programming' that more or less blank and powerless part-of-a-brain to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli. The brainwashing of an entire population would be an exceedingly difficult thing to even attempt, and quite obvious to everyone not directly so treated. That has nothing to do with 'indoctrination', a much milder process, and one easily applicable to very large groups of people in certain conditions - conditions which maintain in our modern world, and have since we first emerged from caves. Look at the case of young children born into religious families - they are indoctrinated to believe in some higher power. You cannot call it anything else. Aside from this belief in the higher power, however, they are more or less free to think for themselves about most things in our society - the decisions they make may be guided to a greater or lesser extent by their beliefs, but they are still free to read what they want, talk to whom they want, and think what they want. The fact that their thinking is somewhat constrained in the matter of whether or not there is a higher power is what the indoctrination is all about.
And I would suggest that most people in Canada are similarly indoctrinated - in the religion of modern capitalist democracy. Indoctrinated from a very early age, by the television you watch, your parents who were similarly indoctrinated, your schools, your peers - there is a certain set of beliefs to which all citizens subscribe to as 'basic beliefs' about which no discussion is needed or tolerated. Outside of that set of beliefs, of course, you are free to do and think and believe as you like. The few people who actually do question the central dogma are of no real concern to the rulers, as long as most people
Mmmhmm, but not really, I hear the protest - we know the country is far from perfect, and we fight to change things to make it better - how does that fit the 'you're all indoctrinated' theory?
Perfectly, actually. The whole idea is that you do not believe you are indoctrinated, you are free to participate in the running of your country through participating in the political system - no way we're indoctrinated.
But. How exactly are you trying to change things? Almost everyone is working within the political system - a few will be Liberals or Green party workers, most will be working with the NDP. As Leonard said in a very insightful song - They sentenced me to 20 years of boredom, trying to change the system from within .. And so it is. The parties are all carefully controlled. It may be evident to some that the Liberals and Conservatives are a kind of Tweedledee-Tweedledum, and it doesn't really matter which party gets in, they follow the same general program - the 'neocon' program of globalisation and reducing the size of government. And the NDP is allowed to exist as a convenient place to part the votes of the few people who understand enough of what is going on to understand that capitalism may not be the most democratic or fair way to run a country. But the NDP has no chance of getting into power, and everybody knows that. The chances of any kind of meaningful change in our country through any of the established political parties is nil - so as long as you are working within this system, you are doing exactly as the rulers wish you to do. The 'indoctrination' is your belief that Canada is a democracy, and you must work for change from within the system. It's related to where we are going here - for instance -
Do you believe that Canada is a democracy? A 'great!' democracy even? How did you arrive at that conclusion? Did you have various debates and discussions during your school years about this? You know - your teaching person, dedicated to giving you the best education possible, and creating an intelligent, questioning,well-informed, engaged citizen, set up a debate - side A - Canada is a great democracy, side B - some people suggest Canada is not such a great democracy. And etc - and after presentation of strong arguments for both sides, you are aware of the feelings of those who believe Canada is maybe something other than a great democracy, but you believe the arguments that Canada is, indeed, a great democracy to overwhelmingly make this POV the winner. Several such debates, of course, throughout your 'education' - a grade 3-4 student is going to have different background information and knowledge to participate in such a debate than a high school or university student, so such examinations of your country should be ongoing, to ensure you have a full education, with full and deep understanding of this and related issues - that's what a good education means, after all. You had such debates, of course, right? We all do - because by golly you sure aren't indoctrinated with the belief that Canada is a great democracy, that's for sure ... you are sure the country is a 'democracy' aren't you? A real democracy, that is, not some democracy in name only like, oh you know, the People's Democratic Republic of Korea, or the Congo, or something?
Are you? I'm perfectly serious. Just have a quick consideration of some things they don't get you thinking about in the media, or school, or anywhere else.
Questions arise about the idea Canada is a democracy at all, let alone a 'great' one. For example, as any kind of activist, or even engaged citizen, you would surely be aware that most Canadians do not believe people who smoke a bit of pot should be regarded as criminals by 'our' government - and yet the government continues to persecute such people, and every year tens of thousands of people in Canada are turned into criminals and face considerable financial hardships from having to deal with the legal proceedings etc, and god knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the police, court and jail systems persecuting these people a majoirty of people in this country do not think are committing any kind of crime at all. I'm just wondering how you would square this with the idea we are a 'democracy', the fundamental principle of which is, of course, that 'we the people' rule, by majority. There are countless examples - anything from apparently relatively trivial things such as mandatory seat belt laws to extremely major things such as 'free trade' agreements that are imposed against the wishes of most Canadians, whether not asked at all about such things (seat belt laws - you ever get asked about this?) to being asked, usually via an 'election' but having the wishes of the majority circumvented through various demonstrably undemocratic manoeverings. And yet almost everyone believes Canada is a 'democracy' wherein 'the people rule'.
Those are kind of 'in your face' examples, that is to say at least you know about them, and can at least consider how a country could be a democracy with so many major and minor laws and policies existing that obviously go against the will or desire of the majority. But there are even deeper and more serious indications that major decisions are made about the country that you don't even know enough about to think about and wonder about. For instance - What about the Canadian money supply - do you know anything about where money comes from? This is an extremely important issue that every citizen should be fully aware of, in order to make good decisions about if the country actually were a democracy. We currently have a 500 billion dollar national debt you probably know about, and you would know the government has been making big noises about this debt for many years, and cutting back all kinds of social programs that made the life of citizens in general in the country better. But how much more than that do you know?
You're probably a bit less aware that over the last 30 years or so, the governments of Canada (including provincial) have paid in the area of two trillion dollars in interest on this debt - two trillion dollars of tax dollars turned over to banks or other 'investors' rather than spent on those programs that were and continue to be cut by every government, Liberal or Conservative, from Mulroney through Chretien and Martin and Harper, and their finance ministers - and every provincial government the same. And I am virtually certain you are not aware of the fact that there is a very strong argument to be made that all of this money turned over to private banks (or a small percentage of investors) should NOT have been spent that way - every Canadian government, national and provincial, had the option, over the years, of 'borrowing' from the Bank of Canada, without having to pay interest on the money they borrowed (paying interest to the Bank of Canada is simply a bookkeeping entry, as the money just goes from one gov account to another, no effect on the 'big' bottom line ..). The story of where our money comes from is somewhat longer, and the details are not that important now as the point is - at what time did you participate in the decision to incur this massive debt? At what point in your great democracy did the citizens of Canada have a debate on the options for financing 'your' country, and decide to embark on the path leading to this great debt rather than taking other options which would NOT have led to this great debt? And whether or not you agree with the current process of letting private banks create all of our money - if you never participated in any decision-making process on this most important of all things in your country - how in the hell can you claim to be living in a 'democracy'? Surely you understand that 'he who controls the money controls pretty much everything else' - do you understand enough to understand that that private banks control the Canadian money supply, and that it is thus something considerably less than true to claim Canada is a 'sovereign' country, or 'democracy'? And it must be completely obvious that the citizens of Canada have no input whatsoever into this most fundamental of all things that make any person or country 'independent' - and if you're not 'independent', you can hardly be 'democratic'.
Again, the point would be - if this is such a very important part of our country, why don't you know anything about it? Indoctrination could explain this - everything in your education system and government and media carefully make sure you never think about this funamentally important question of where our money comes from and who controls it to what ends. There is no information readily available about it aside from simplistic, and fundamentally false, civics-book type pacifiers, you are never asked about it, it is never presented as something a citizen ought to be concerned about, and you are told that insofar as economics and money is important, it is being well looked after by the experts in government and the financial world of banks and other money management places.
Anyway, the case that most citizens of our country are indoctrinated is pretty solid for anyone able to transcend the kneejerk NO WAY reaction and simply consider some things such as I point out above - but questions remain - why would anybody want to indoctrinate the citizens of Canada, and how do they get away with such a terrible thing?
So first - why would anyone want to indoctrinate most of the citizens of Canada? Straightforward and simple answer - would you rather live in the mansion on the hill with all the wealth you could ever wish and no need to work a day in your life, sharing the real power in your country - or in the town below, working hard to support either a more or less comfortable middle class sort of life or stuck in the slums in a mostly short and brutish sort of life, with little real power about what happens in your country? I suspect most people would prefer power and wealth - certainly those running our country and world do. And there is no doubt that Canada is a wonderfully wealthy country, after 3-400 years of the wealth accumulated from those centuries of hard work by many millions of people in a resource-wealthy part of the world which has remained pretty much untouched by the brutally destructive wars that have devastated much of the world's countries at one time or another.
I think the source of this mistaken belief is multifold. The people who have indoctrinated all Canadians to believe Canada is a great democracy understand various things, and have shaped the indoctrination carefully. They don't care about controlling your every activity - they just want you to remain unaware of the massive theft of wealth that has been underway for a long time, and make sure that the people of the country continue producing that wealth and turning most of it over to the rulers - what you get up to aside from that is of no real concern to them. Thus the basic idea is keep the people producing and ignorant - and if keeping the people reasonably happy is the best way to do that in the modern world, then that is what they will do. And what they have done.
People in modern Canada treasure the idea that they live in a 'democracy', so the real rulers take some pains to tell people they live in a democracy, and ensure any dissenting opinions are very marginalized. No discussions in school or the media pointing out such things as I point out earlier (there are many, many other examples of laws that are imposed on you with no real opportunity for you or anyone to be voting on them). The rulers also understand that if your life is reasonably happy and full, you will easily be led into confusing your personal wellbeing with the idea that you live in a 'democracy'.
But many haven't - and perhaps the most dangerous are those who are actually indoctrinated, but also actually believe very firmly they are not. Working away diligently at things they really believe will help make our country better - but are actually things that are simply analagous to the old 'rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic' metaphor. Spending a lot of time and energy doing nothing useful - when that time and energy might be spent doing things that actually had some small chance of effecting change here. We do not have enough people doing actually useful, constructive work here - so the idea of many, many people who want to help spending their time in useless activity is frustrating, to say the least.
And what does that have to do with 'indoctrination', then?
Let's look at a favorite 'activist' tool - the big demonstration. Lots of time, energy and money spent on doing these things - lots of attention from governments and the media. But what actually gets accomplished? Activists have been doing big demonstrations - well, more or less forever, I suppose - but in modern times, let's just go back as far as the anti-globalisation demonstrations that became 'big' with Seattle in 1999. In Canada we've had a few biggies - the Vancouver 1997 APEC demonstration that even predated the Seattle one, through the infamous Quebec - Copenhagen 2009
The question is, of course - what have 'we the activists fighting for a better Canada/world' actually accomplished at these huge demonstrations, that took such a lot of time, energy and money to organise? I think it is pretty obvious we have accomplished, in any meaningful way in terms of increasing citizen influence on our governments, essentially diddly squat over the last couple of decades.
The bad guys have been and continue to win. Globalisataion continues apace - we haven't even slowed them down.
And yet people keep doing demonstrations, in the face of no results. his is a big hurdle, but it's pretty much right at the top of the list if you are ever to get outside the box, start thinking *really* for yourself, and become part of the solution to a better Canada and world rather than part of the problem.
We all get indoctrinated when we are children. Usually our parents are not evil monsters doing this, they are themselves indoctrinated, and just pass it on, really, usually at any rate, meaning well.
Think, for starters, of religion. Any of them. Any person who is able to think as a functioning adult understands clearly there is no 'god' of any sort up there, no 'creator of the universe' watching us, judging us, rewarding and punishing us on whatever whim - it's just a fairy tale.
But a very useful fairy tale for controlling people. Which is why the whole thing started in the first place.
I don't want to get into a big harangue about religion right here - I just want you to understand about indoctrination, and look into a mirror somewhere, real or in your mind, and start talking to yourself like an adult. If most humans believe in some 'god' - and yet any logical, thinking person understands there is no god - then what's happening? Indoctrination, very obviously.
If most of the world's population can be indoectrinated about something as important as this religion stuff - and most of that most be further conditioned into accepting the 'need' to go on great killing expeditions in the name of that 'god' - what else are you indoctrinated about that you really have no idea of?
You think Canada is a great democracy? Why? Because you get to vote every now and then and the masters treat you better than some masters in other countries treat thier citizens, and give you a fair amount of freedom when you're not at your job? That's not democracy - democracy means 'we the people' decide what happens in our country, and on that basis, Canada is not even remotely 'democratic'. Think about it. Think about how many Canadians wanted 'free trade'. Think about how many Canadians want their fellow citizens harassed and jailed for smoking pot. Think about how many Canadians wanted to join the US in their little Afghanistan invasion. Think about how much say you got in lowering corporate taxes and running up a half trillion dollar national debt. Ask yourself why you still have this knee-jerk reaction telling you that Sure!! Canada is a Great Democracy!! - when all the evidence says just the opposite.
You think the Canadian justice system is really fair and impartial - one of the best in the world, really, a great pillar of Democracy? You believe that our media is fair and impartial and gives you all the information you need to be a well-functioning citizen? You believe the education system is designed to turn out intelligent, well-rounded citizens? Why on earth would you believe such nonsense, and many other things about our country, when the evidence is so strong that all of these beliefs are very false?
Indoctrination. It doesn't mean your're brainwashed like a zombie or stupid or subject to some Manchurian Candidate control words at which time you will lose your 'free will' and become a puppet of some sort - it just means that you have been taught as a child to believe certain things that are not really true, certain quite important things about your life and times, and that as an adult those who control the indoctrination continue with regular maintenance to ensure you still never question those beliefs. As an alcoholic can decide to put a lid on the bottle and retake control of his life, it is entirely possible for an indoctrinated citizen to stand up some day and start to question your beliefs that do not seem to meet the 'reality' test, and thus come to an understanding of how, previously, you were indeed indoctrinated. If you want to.
I have a lot more here - Chapter 5: How do they do this? Indoctrination - the main thing is to try and keep an open mind, when some inner knee-jerk reaction type thing says "You don't want to go there nonononononoooo!!!!' - go anyway. Just think. If you can read some of these things, and logically decide you are not indoctrinated - fine. Not everyone is - some people have managed to escape the childhood indoctrination - but given the state of things in Canada, obviously most people have not. And if we are to retake the country - we can only do it when some majority of people get out of the box - and they're only going to do that by understanding how they have been indoctrinated and shake off those brain chains.
It can be done - but it's a lot like being an alcoholic - the first and utterly essential step is to acknowledge the situation.
??? - me? Sure, I was indoctrinated like everyone else - I was well into my 30s before some life experiences forced me to start questioning things - and once you start opening doors and turning on lights, you begin to see how much of a lie everything is, from the 'justice system' to the 'free media' to the very idea of 'democracy' itself - it's a journey (a bit about mine here -
As the old saying goes - the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Finding your way to Green Island may be a short journey or a long one for you.
But the first step is simply acknowledging that so much of what you have been trained to believe about 21st century Canada is a pack of lies.
The View from Green Island