FEATURES ARCHIVE: Thoughtful Editorial Observations from the Past and Stuff Like That ...

Why the Rude Macedon?

Well, first the name - it comes from an old Petrarchus quote (one of those old Greeks anyway, the smart and democratic bunch) who once said something like "We encountered a Rude Macedon on the way, a man who insisted on calling a spade a spade..." - which sounded quite appropriate. I may not be right all the time, but I will not intentionally lie - which seems to be basically opposite to the governing philosophy of our times, where politicians and newspapers and "community leaders" such as businesspeople, lawyers and police or even many religious leaders lie incessantly. It is very disturbing to have to deal with this - when you know they lie sometimes, then anything they say becomes suspect, which does not make for a good, open, free or just society - which I would like to live in. We were pretty well on the way here, in Canada, by the 1970s, after very progressive governments and leaders such as Diefenbaker, Pearson, Tommy Douglas, and Pierre Trudeau - but then things started to go downhill rather quickly.

And for many years now, I have wanted to and tried to participate in the national debates on important issues of our times - have tried hundreds of times to do so through normal democratic channels - i.e. sending letters to newspapers and MPs. But the newspapers (with one or two exceptions) won't print them, MPs either don't answer at all, or send me some form letter outlining the government spin on whatever issue I wish to comment on - completely ignoring any hard questions I might be asking. I do not consider this to be an adequate acknowledgement of my friggin right as a Canadian citizen to have a voice here - and "having a voice" doesn't mean speaking or shouting in an empty room - it means at the very least being listened to, and perhaps, if enough of us share the same view, having our views acted upon. As has become so clear the last few years, however, the government is not following the wishes of the majority of people in this "democracy", but most un-democratically dancing to some other drummer, some drummer who seems to be beating the tune of the wealthy and their corporations - a tune echoed and trumpeted day after day by the mass media, in concert, again most undemocratically - a message most Canadians are opposed to.

For instance - poll after poll shows that most Canadians are not concerned with continually lowering taxes for the wealthy, but want their health care system adequately funded. But day after day in the media, we hear that we must lower taxes and privatise our health care system. Similar examples abound.

Our media have been taken over by people whose goal is not to further democracy by providing high-quality debate and opinion for all Canadians to use to make informed, intelligent decisions about things that need to be done in our country, but rather to push a particular agenda, the agenda of a small interest group, the very wealthy. That this agenda happens to be very contrary to the interessts of most Canadians obviously doesn't concern them at all. Or perhaps, looking a bit deeper, that is the point - it concerns them greatly, and they know that in order for their agenda to prevail without massive physical oppression, a massive brainwashing and propaganda effort is required - which has been underway for well over 20 years now - we can look back, really, to the right-wing reactionary movement in the US and Britain beginning in the 1970s, when the corporate class in these countries - the largest and most influential group of wealthy interests in the world - became alarmed at the Tri-lateral commission-defined "Crisis in Democracy" (don't get the wrong idea here - their concern was that too much democracy was starting to happen, not the other way around), and began to take serious steps to roll back democratic gains that had been made in the rather glorious years (Vietnam war notwithstanding) of the 1960s in the western world. That whole history is deserving of an essay in itself, and I'll not attempt to precis it here.

The "Canadian" (I use quotes because they are Canadian, in my mind, in the same way that Benedict Armold was an "American", as he betrayed the people trying to found that once-great nation) reactionary movement began also in the 1970s, with the forming of the BCNI (Business Council on National Issues, recently becoming the CCCE - Canadian Council of Chief Executives - or, again, preferably more truthfully, CCCT - Canadian Council of Chief (you guessed it) Traitors) and the corporate offensive that resulted in the turnover of John Turner's and Alan McCachern's progressive budgets for the Trudeau government in the mid years of that decade, and began the corporate tax rollbacks which led to government borrowing and the great manufactured national debt "crisis" (read scam) that dropped from the sky like a ton of bricks in the mid-1980s under Mulroney, the first truly puppet government of the right-wing reactionaries, gleefully beginning the process of gutting the social structure Canadians (real Canadians! led by other real Canadians like John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau) had built over the preceding 40 years, in faithful bootlicking service to his corporate masters, both here and south of the border, a process continued for the last decade by Chretien and his equally corporate-subservient caucus.

And during this time the media became, rather than impartial "journals of record", as they are supposed to be in a democracy, a central part of the problem - which was no surprise, considering their ownership. Few 'normal citizens' own newspapers - they are owned, in the modern world, by people who can afford them - and people who can afford them are, invariably, of the corporate robber-baron class, with motives and political desires reflecting that class, which are, much more often than not, diametrically opposed to those of the common people. They own the newspapers and television stations, they own the politicians - ergo they own the country.

This corporate ownership of the media has been very frustrating for those of us trying to fight for a better, more progressive Canada, trying to fight the "race to the bottom" for most of us that is the reality of corporate globalisation. Even though we have tried to participate in the national debate through letter writing to these papers, we are rarely published - occasionally a letter or column from some of the more better known Canadians fighting for a just society is printed, surely - appearances must be kept up, and a few letters such as that allow them to say they are covering all sides of a position. But it does not take a lengthy perusal of these papers to see that their coverage is vastly one-sided - for every hundred words allowed in support of policies most Canadians prefer, stuck on a back page somewhere, there are thousands for the corporate agenda, front-page headlines and featured on op-ed pages. The cumulative effect is easy enough to predict, not unlike the house edge in Las Vegas. The propagandists do not have to convince all of the people to support their agenda - just enough to swing an election - and in a first past the post system such as we have in Canada, it is easy enough to manipulate the vote so that solid majority governments are formed by the corporate party of the day with much less than a majority of the votes - all of the major changes taking apart our country during the last 20 years have been implemented by governments with well under 50% popular support, making one wonder just how the corporate press would define democracy, were they forced to. And a lot of people want to talk about this issue, this most undemocratic and archaic form of government - but the corporate owners of the newspapers like things the way they are, so there has been no debate in the media about this, nor will there be. But something they want - like the FTA for instance, or to promote a new right-wing Republican party in Canada, or lower taxes - why, endless words in their papers, and quick action by government on their agenda (if the politicians want their support in the future - which most of them do - being corporate shills is certainly a better paying job than most workers have - although most workers would not be willing to sell their souls as do the politicians).

In any event, the Rude Macedon is one attempt to respond to this very non-democratic press in this country, and their equally non-democratic agenda. I wish my voice to be heard in the national debate in this country and now, with this great tool called the Internet, I have that opportunity, and will use it. They can keep my words out of their papers - they cannot keep them out of cyberspace.

To arms, Mr. Asper**, if you dare! Our weapons will be our words - a seeker after Truth and a Just Society vs a shameless promoter of Lies in the service of Elitism. The judges will be the people of Canada and, on a bigger stage, posterity. I will happily abide by their informed decision.

(**damn, I so much wanted to say "Mr. Black" - but the fucker up and left before I got started. oh well, can't say I'll particularly miss him - a clever way with words at times, but a heart the same shade as his name)

Gee it's good, to be Back Home again....