Infuriating Flip-Flops

The Liberal Party of Canada has often been accused of campaigning on the Left and then governing from the Right. They certainly out-flanked the social democrats on the Left in the last election and effectively sucked the wind out of the sails of the social democratic leader Thomas Mulcair (who, to their dismay, alienated even his own base of support by running on a small-c conservative or Blairite platform).

One of the “star candidates” for the Liberal Party was Chrystia Freeland, now Minister of International Trade in the Trudeau government. Freeland was a promising candidate and appointment because of an apparent distaste for wide-open neo-liberalism. Not only was she chums with Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz, who is himself very critical of neo-liberalism, but Freeland was the author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. She seemed, therefore, to understand the problem and the threats to democracy that so-called “free trade” deals represented.

Now, in an apparent flip-flop, Freeland is campaigning around the globe to get very controversial trade agreements ratified, such as CETA and the TPP, including a prospective one with China. She has, apparently (and against Joe Stiglitz’s advice it seems) become an enthusiast for the very trade system that paved the way for the Plutocratic dominance she critiqued in the first place.

(I haven’t read her book Plutocrats. I’ve only read reviews, so maybe I should read her book before I accuse her of the traditional Liberal Flip-Flop).

It seems that no one, conservative, liberal, or social democrat, has any other plan or model than following the same old Yellow Brick Road into its inevitable dead end in Plutocracy or  Corporatocracy or climate catastrophe, even when they recognise and acknowledge the problem. Governments become mere facilitators, and parliaments and congresses more like Boards of Directors or the Steering Committees of what Sheldon Wolin calls “Democracy, Inc” — the corporate or managerial state.

Even the social democrats seem to have no other plan but the follow the same Yellow Brick Road into political irrelevancy, if not political oblivion.

Neo-liberal economics is itself, also, the great threat of climate disaster. Not only does it encourage more rapid “development” of already precarious natural resources, and globalises demand for them, but the egregious investor-state provisions, which often allow private corporations to sue governments for potential lost profits, also accelerates the rate of extraction and distribution of natural resources resulting in accelerated depletion.

In fact, while I was preparing this post, I received by email from The Nation Institute, another dystopian projection for the fate of the Earth by the American energy expert Michael Klare (which some of you have already seen, I  suspect), and it is not encouraging about our prospects or hopes for a safe and orderly transition to a conservation economics or sustainability or, for that matter, our chances to dodge climate catastrophe. Klare’s analysis of the futility of the Paris Agreements and the likelihood of the worst-case scenario materialising are pretty convincing.

What’s the problem here but a total lack of hindsight and a total lack of foresight? If the future inherits anything from the present it may well be only… Regret — “the most destructive force in the universe” is how I heard it described once by a character in a recent movie.

That’s a horrid legacy to pass on.



6 responses to “Infuriating Flip-Flops”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    An old associate of mine has taken on the task of analysing trade deals in the context of shrinking growth, as well as the influence of the kleptocracy

  2. abdulmonem says :

    Flip-flop is the sign of our time. It is hypocrisy par excellence. it is in full swing in the middle east. The land of resurrection and death, with their daily sacrifices that intended to no one but to the misguided self. The blue-print of our universe is running fast in manifesting its hidden events through natural and human tools who think they are the users, oblivious of being used to ward their destruction. I feel we are galloping fast toward facing the consequences of our deeds. History bears witness to this cycle of destruction.What do we expect when the animal is running loose to devour the resources of his earth insatiably, specially its oil,gas and coal and lies and oppression replete the earth I think there is no legacy to pass on, after everything will return to its original owner and the stupidity of the humankind puts on hold after they have polluted the earth and sundered it in fragments and put obstacles in the face of the human to move freely in this divine earth. It is sad that the overall picture is no longer available to the human vision,and he has been offered a new god objectified in every new product that promises him alluring satisfaction in this materialistic heaven away from the stupid call of the mythical mind and his false promise of spiritual rebirth. Of course the divine plan is programmed to be carried out by groups of human, be it Jews,Christians, Moslem or others, we are undoubtedly living under the rein of the Jewslh-Christians alliance who has been able to subject the earth to their rules., but the cycle will not stop their. It is important to mention that not all the jews or all the christians are part of this alliance and the jews are the actual runners of the show. At the end one has to remember not to forget the power that speaks through us and to be very careful not to abuse it and to bear witness to the one. who we are all going to meet atheists and theists.

  3. abdulmonem says :

    After I made my comment I read an article entitled Homo-bangian and the new world by Gagdad Bob on his blog, One cosmos. I do not agree with the man on every thing he writes, but he has some flashes which worth noting. like this article which I like you to read if you have the time.

  4. davidm58 says :

    Another flip-flop this week was when Donald Trump, who for years has fueled the “Birther” conspiracy theory, finally admitting that Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.

    However, despite the “period,” he didn’t stop there. He went on to blatantly lie again, accusing Hillary Clinton of starting the Birther theory.

    In response to this, columnist David Brooks provided acknowledgement that we have indeed become a “Post-Truth Society” (without uttering those words). He said this on the PBS Newshour last night:

    “What struck me was that, especially reading the comment, the statement from the Trump campaign, which we heard summarized by Trump himself earlier in the broadcast, you know, we’re always used to spin.

    Usually, there’s some tangential relationship to the truth, but a corroding relationship to the truth, frankly, as politics has gone on over the years.

    But now we’re in a reverse, Orwellian inversion of the truth with this. And so we have a team of staffers and then the candidate himself who have taken the normal spin and smashed all the rules.

    And so we are really in Orwell land. We are in “1984.” And it’s interesting that an authoritarian personality type comes in at the same time with a complete disrespect for even tangential relationship to the truth that words are unmoored.

    And so I do think this statement sort of shocked me with the purification of a lot of terrible trends that have been happening. And so what’s white is black, and what is up is down, what is down is up. And that really is something new in politics.

    And the fact that there is no penalty for it, apparently — he’s doing fantastic in the last two weeks in the polls — is just somehow where we have gotten.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      Regardless of the outcome of the American election, we’re in a whole new world now. Something has obviously shifted, and quite suddenly too even though we should have seen it coming.

      Andrew Coyne is probably the only articulate Canadian conservative that I have any time for, and he’s reduced to something like stuttering by it all. Like some other conservatives here in Canada, he couldn’t bring himself to support Harper’s re-election bid and caused a bit of controversy in his circle by backing the social democrats.

      His last article, which appeared in the Montreal Gazette expresses his thorough perplexity — it’s nothing but a string of questions and question marks. He’s been reduced to grasping at straws to account for the changes.

  5. Andrew says :

    I’ve decided that talking about atmospheric carbon pollution while within the neoliberal corporatocracy is like asking the drug cartels what they think of heroin addiction 😦
    Here’s one for the ole curmudgeon JMG if anyone is talking to him these days:

    That’s the view from way down here……….

    Signing off while sucking carbon in the cesspool of sociopathic narcissism that is Vancouver, B.C. !

    where the !@#$%^& is that green oil………

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