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The working conditions we have today were born in struggle and paid for in blood.  We don’t understand the sacrifices others made for us these days.  Not completely our fault as the Powers that Be have employed several strategies against the working class, most notably, divide and conquer, to ensure that the mass movements of the past do not crop up again and threaten the established norms of society.

Take note, single day marchers, that what you are doing is almost completely for your benefit.  Your single day of action is meek, unoffensive, and for the most part condoned by those who make the rules.

Why?  Because everything goes back to normal once you go home.  You benefit from venting and feeling like you’ve done something (as insipid as it happens to be) and life goes on.  Problem NOT solved.

Effective protesting is not convenient, short-term, or easy.  It requires a dedicated mass of people who are willing to put their lives on the line and make the society around them,most inconveniently, grind to halt.   The press will demonize you, the anti-union thugs will beat you, and the police will most likely end up killing you because you are not falling in line with the elite’s rules and expectations.

In 1919, workers in Winnipeg said, “Enough”.

“A combination of social and economic inequality and a growing awareness among the working class of these disparities led somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 workers to walk off the job for 42 days, beginning on May 15.

The reasons so many people put their livelihoods at risk by striking in a harshly anti-union climate were manifold.

Poor work conditions, inadequate wages and the refusal by many employers to recognize and negotiate with unions culminated in the unrest that spilled into the streets and left two men dead by the end of the six-week strike.”

The willingness for people exploit other people is almost unlimited.

 

“Employment offices sprouted up across Winnipeg to connect those workers with jobs. Some agencies “lived to fleece newly arrived immigrants” by charging them steep job-finding fees and locking them into contracts with measly salaries and steep room and board charges, Doug Smith wrote in his book Let us Rise: An Illustrated History of the Manitoba Labour Movement”

Fresh and new to Canada? Let’s exploit you and your family, ASAP.  This is the base standard for human behaviour in society.  Not pretty, but unless we organize against it, it is what we will get.

“The railway yard-adjacent communities were also a public health nightmare.

Unsanitary, crowded conditions meant infections and diseases spread with impunity. There were annual outbreaks of typhoid due to the unclean water supply in the late 19th century: nearly 1,300 Winnipeggers just over five per cent of the city’s population were diagnosed with the bacterial infection in 1904.

The Spanish flu of 1918 killed 1,200 people in Winnipeg, and the working class and immigrant neighbourhoods of the north were worst hit.

“It was a deplorable area in which to live: communicable diseases were rampant; it had one of the highest child mortality rates of anywhere in the country; up until the aqueduct [from Shoal Lake] came through, the water supply was a serious danger to the citizens,” Siamandas said.

“These were the seeds of what led to the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.”

Without equal access to health care, suitable housing, fair wages and education opportunities, and with few of the creature comforts enjoyed by the upper crust, a great unrest was brewing in blue-collar Winnipeg.”

If you ever wondered how bad it has to get before people will act, it is like this.  Gross inequality, squalor, disease and high child mortality.

The Barretts were staunchly anti-union and against collective bargaining. As a matter of principle, the brothers said, they would only deal directly with their workers on an individual basis.

“This is a free country and … as far as we are concerned, the day will never come when we will have to take orders from any union,” Leonard wrote in 1916, refusing to meet a committee of his employees over concerns related to wages and work conditions.

“There was fierce resistance from all employers, public and private, to unionization, and if you dared go on a picket line in Winnipeg, there were injunctions slapped on you and you were in the courts,” said Paul Moist, former national president of Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

This antagonism toward unions continued as working-class tensions deepened during the war.”

Indeed it is a free country.  Freedom has different means depending on which social class you happen to inhabit.  I’m guessing most of my readership is not in the business elite, and as evinced in 1919, the business class has its political shit together we currently do not.  The structures of society are on their side, along with the coercive elements like the police and army.  This is what we have to acknowledge and prepare for if we want to society for the better.

“Leonard scoffed at the suggestion and declared, “God gave me this plant, and by God I’ll run it the way I want to.”

About 45 firms and 1,000 employees went on strike July 22, 1918, after the trades council proposed wage increases and eight-hour days for auto and metalworkers. Though a few of the shops complied, most refused to negotiate with the council, so it was back to work — but the men’s dissatisfaction became a catalyst of the Winnipeg General Strike.

Workers at Vulcan and two other metal shops declared on May 1, 1919, that they would strike again for the right to unionization and a collective bargaining process. The strike started the next day.”

The rest is history, but people today need to know the attitudes that are behind the levers of power.  They cannot be negotiated with when they think they have all the power in the situation.  Power will never cede power willingly.  Only through organized resistance en mass can gains be made.

Please consider this the next time you schedule your appearance at a one day march : who is it benefiting and will your actions change the social bedrock of society.

[Source: cbc.ca]

 

 

 

 

 

The system is in trouble claims Jeff Cohen writing for Counterpunch. I can see where he is coming from as it would seem like our leaders often listen to the elites more than the people who have elected them. The current system is start to reach the limits of which it can tamp down popular discontent and anger with the system. Trickle down economics is bullshit and the people know its bullshit because they cannot support their families with both parents working anymore. The working poor is an ever widening class as more wealth and opportunity continue to be funnelled upwards in society.

Class warfare is on the horizon and may be with us sooner than we think as disasters driven by climate change may provide the impetus for tipping into mass protests and civil unrest.

“Neoliberalism – whereby politicians first and foremost serve corporate interests (with crumbs hopefully “trickling down” to the masses) – went into high gear 40 years ago. It was called “Thatcherism” in the UK and “Reaganomics” in the US. And neoliberalism has been the driving economic ideology ever since, with wealth and income flowing unrelentingly upward even after “the opposition” took power. In the US, we had corporate-friendly “New Democrat” Bill Clinton (NAFTA, Wall Street deregulation, welfare “reform,” mass incarceration); in the UK, they had Tony Blair and “New Labour” (so pro-corporate that Rupert Murdoch endorsed him).

Unlike past governing crises, today’s are not mere factional fights among elites, with the masses watching from the sidelines. Nowadays, the governing factions have to answer to voting blocs that are increasingly angry, intransigent and demanding. All this makes gridlock even more stubborn.

Since naked service to corporate elites and “trickle-down” promises don’t sell anymore to an insecure middle class, right-wing leaders like Trump (and Europeans being cultivated by Steve Bannon) are now “populist” and “anti-elites” – openly tapping into racism while scapegoating immigrants for society’s problems. Instead of “the magic of the free market,” they sell the magic of steel slats.

Meanwhile, usually pliable Democratic leaders in the US must contend with a younger, more multi-racial, increasingly progressive and uncompromising base. Leadership seeks to appease with rhetoric and symbolic gestures, while resisting the base’s demands for far-reaching economic and environmental reforms that conflict with the wishes of the party’s donor class.

So Republicans and Democrats go to war over wall-funding, while quietly coalescing on bigger issues such as the perilous, anti-democratic power of Wall Street and the diversion of mostfederal discretionary spending to the unaccountable military-industrial complex.

And the U.S. political system avoids the biggest issue of all – the calamity that gives new reality to the old rhetoric about “capitalism’s final crisis”: human-made, profit-driven climate change that keeps burning hotter while liberal and conservative politicians fiddle. Republicans deny the science; Democratic leaders deny and delay the transformative solutions that are needed – like a “Green New Deal” that would undercut certain corporate balance sheets.”

  We humans are really bad at responding to the necessity of long term change.  It doesn’t help that we also happen to be locked into political systems that strongly bias short term thinking and solutions.  I’m thinking when most of Florida is underwater and New York City looks more like Venice the powers that be *might* acknowledge that we have a bit of climate situation on our hands.

Canada is not much better, Andrew Scheer leader of the Conservative party during a Town Hall:

“He promised tax reform and reiterated his opposition to the Trudeau government’s carbon tax, which he called “a cash grab, not an environmental plan.”

“Scheer had to get out of his vehicle and walk to the venue in Nisku, Alta., because of a 22-kilometre convoy of truckers protesting Trudeau’s carbon tax and environmental policies. Scheer sought to reassure people by promising to scrap the prime minister’s carbon levy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Awesome.  Because the weak half measures started by Trudeau and the Liberal Government definitely need to go.  Why is it that when it comes to climate change conservative types all of suddenly need to compete to see how can fiddle the fastest while the world burns?

In Counterpunch John Davis writes this on our climate situation:

 

“Naomi Klein optimistically wrote, way back in 2014, in This Changes Everything, “There are ways of preventing this grim future….but the catch is these will involve changing everything….it involves changing how we live, how our economies function, even the stories we tell about our place on earth”.

Five years later, it is no longer a matter of preventing a grim future. The careless extension of what the American Sci-Fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson calls ‘The Dithering’ – those decades when we understood the atmospheric CO2problem but totally failed to address it – guarantees its imminent arrival. The catch now is that the climate is changing everything for us.  We have already liberated enough carbon in the atmosphere to put the weather on disaster auto-pilot for the next millennium. We can but batten down the hatches, stockpile provisions and close the fire-doors. The weather is the effective change-agent, not we nor our politicians. The pretense that humans are in charge has finally to be abandoned. We await our fate possessing only crude materials of resistance and, thus far, almost no political will to emplace them.

The most salient function of government is the protection of its people – our allegiance to the Republic depends on its successful manifestation. The present regime appears totally committed to the denial of our climate reality and its power to inflict terrifyingly real damage on our underfunded and aging infrastructure and to the people that that infrastructure supports. Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Maria, Harvey, Thomas, and Michael, should each have been a wake-up call, a weather 9/11. Instead, they have proven to be opportunities for official prevarication, dissembling and hand-washing. From George Bush’s, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”, to Trump’s notorious paper towel toss (in post-Maria Puerto Rico) there is a through-line that speaks of the government’s dismissal of the seriousness of these amplified weather events and their wider implications. The validity of the updated death toll in Puerto Rico of almost 3,000 was, predictably, denied by the president – while estimates of the toll continue to rise. A Harvard study now puts the number of Maria-related fatalities at over 4,500, as of year’s end. The climate has far exceeded the lethality of 9/11. Its death toll, in fire, flood, drought and wind is ever rising, as each season’s disasters inexorably add bodies to the statistical burial mound.”

The weather gives exactly zero fucks about borders and national security, and ‘rogue’ nations.  Every nation is going to have to work together to survive the coming up climactic upheavals.  I certainly hope our unerring dedication to fossil fuel industry will be worth it.

As an atheist it is sometime easy to become hyper focused on what those people over there are doing wrong and how they need to fix their views and join the 21st century.  Sheldon Wolin takes this view and compares it to what we have going on right now in society, rightly criticizing the capitalist-consumption aesthetic that, by any other name, is doing exactly what religion does.

 

“There was , he [Max Weber] contended, no room any longer for occult forces, supernatural deities, or divinely revealed truth.  In a world dominated by scientifically established facts and with no privileged or sacrosanct areas, myth would seemingly have a difficult time retaining a foothold.  Not only did Weber underestimate the staying power of credulity; he could not foresee that the great triumphs of modern science would themselves provide the basis for technological achievements which, far from banishing the mythical, would unwittingly inspire it.

    The mythical is also nourished from another source, one seemingly more incongruous that the scientific-technological culture,  Consider the imaginary world continuously being created and re-created by contemporary advertising and rendered virtually escape-proof by the enveloping culture of the modern media.  Equally important, the culture produced by modern advertising, which seems at first glance to be resolutely secular and materialistic, the antithesis of religious and evangelical teachings, actually reinforces the dynamic.  Almost every product promises to change your life: it will make you more beautiful, cleaner, more sexually alluring, and more successful.  Born again, as it were.  The messages contain promises about the future, unfailingly optimistic, exaggerating, miracle-promising – the same ideology that invites corporate executives to exaggerate profits and conceal losses, but always with a sunny face.  The virtual reality of the advertiser and the “good news” of the evangelist complement each other, a match made in heaven.  Their zeal to transcend the ordinary and their bottomless optimism both feed the hubris of Superpower.  Each colludes with the other.  The evangelist looks forward to the “last days”, while the corporate executive systematically exhausts the world’s scare resources.”

Sheldon Wolin.  Democracy Incorporated, pp. 12-13.

So, I think it is time to work on our own epistemology.  I’d like to be able to square our expectations of others with those we place on ourselves.

 

We have too much oil in Alberta.

“The province’s landlocked oil is selling for a massive discount. The world price is hovering around $55 US per barrel. The price Alberta gets is called the Western Canada Select price — and that’s worth about $12 per barrel. The gap is called the price differential.

It’s just one bit of bad news after another for Alberta’s NDP government.

As if inheriting an economy heading into a recession in 2015 wasn’t bad enough, the NDP has watched the world price of oil stabilize while the price our landlocked energy industry receives has dwindled to a record low.”

We just can’t sell enough of the damn stuff to make it profitable, and the current status quo is making other people rich so it appears we’re kinda stuck at the moment.

What an incentive to actually put the dollars into diversifying our economy and weaning the oil industry off of the huge public subsides it receives.  I would also like to see our domestic gas prices reflect the current glut of oil in Alberta.

Of course, to even question the primacy of Oil and Gas in our province is akin to heresy, but it doesn’t mean questioning the priorities of our government should not be done.

We have a NIMBY problem here.  The bad news is that said NIMBY problem is on a planetary scale and my backyard is really everyone’s back yard so to speak.  The doom of our time is coming, human driven climate change, and we merrily continue to do that very things that will cause our end.  It’s fascinating watching the ecocide play out because if there is one truth to the entire situation it is this – until the elites of our society feel the pain of AGW, nothing will be done – because the current status quo is a just too darn profitable and comfortable to want to change toward a future that might sustain the future of the species.

Of course, from my small balcony in which I view the world, I can point to one system that has been royally screwing the planet since it’s inception – capitalism.  And yes, yes, yes, apologists I’m happy I’ve been given the few crumbs of technology and relative stability that make my balcony observations possible but – and it’s a rather large but – would I trade my technology and relatively easy life style for one that works withing the boundaries of the carrying capacity of the earth?  Absolutely.  It is the adult and responsible course of action; the only hitch is that doing the right thing is rarely a profitable venture and we all know how the ‘right thing’ vs. ‘making money thing’ goes, at least in our current economic paradigm.

Paul Street adds to the argument:

   “Other thinkers of an eco-Marxian bent, myself included, narrow the diagnosis. They historicize the climate crisis, situating it in the specific historical context of capitalism. The concept of “the Anthropocene” has rich geological validity and holds welcome political relevance in countering the carbon-industrial complex’s denial of humanity’s responsibility for contemporary climate change, they note. Still, they counsel, we must guard against lapsing into the historically misleading, fatalistic, and often class-blind use of “Anthro,” projecting the currently and historically recent age of capital onto the broad 100,000-year swath of human activity on and in nature. As the Green Marxist environmental sociologist and geographer Jason Moore reminded radio interviewer Sasha Lilley last a few years ago, “It was not humanity as a whole that created …large-scale industry and the massive textile factories of Manchester in the 19th century or Detroit in the last century or Shenzen today. It was capital.”

Indeed, it was not humanity as a whole that built the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)in 2015 and 2016. It was capital, corralled in the accounts of Energy Transfer Partners, under the supervision of a reckless, eco-cidal and profit-mad billionaire named Kelcy Warren, who funded  the DAPL with billions of dollars from across the world’s leading financial institutions.

It was not humanity as whole that hid evidence of Greenhouse Gassing’s deadly impact on human prospects.  It was capital on various levels but most particularly in the form of Exxon-Mobil, who (in the greatest climate and environmental crime in history) buried the findings of its very own cutting-edge scientists in the 1970s and 1980s— an offence that that, as Chomsky says, “is almost hard to find words to describe.”

Moore and other left analysts argue with good reason that it is more appropriate to understand humanity’s Earth-altering assault on livable ecology as the “Capitalocene.” It is just a  relatively small slice of human history – roughly the last half-millennium give or take a century or so – during which human society has been socially and institutionally wired by a specific form of class rule to relentlessly assault on an ultimately geocidal scale.

It is only during the relatively brief period of history when capitalism has ruled the world system (since 1600 or thereabouts by some calculations, earlier and later by others) that human social organization has developed the inner, accumulation-, commodification-, “productivity”-, and growth-mad compulsion to transform Earth systems – with profitability and “productivity” dependent upon on the relentless appropriation of  “cheap nature” (cheap food, cheap energy, cheap raw materials and cheap human labor power)  Moore maintains that “humanity’s”  destruction of livable ecology is explained by changes that capitalism’s addictive and interrelated pursuits of profit and empire imposed on its behavior within “the web of life.”

It is capitalism and its quarterly earnings obsession with short-term profits, not Rich’s “human nature,” that constantly plunders and poisons the commons and trumps long-term planning for the common good.”

Hurricanes give no fucks about your socioeconomic status.

Our short-sighted nature will be the end of us.  Unless…

“This in one of the timeworn paths to societal ruin discussed in a paper published five years ago by mathematician Safa Motesharrei, atmospheric scientist Eugenia Kalnay and political scientist Jorge Rivas in the journal Ecological Economics. Reviewing past societal collapses, they reflected on a potential current global scenario in which:

“[T]he Elites—due to their wealth—do not suffer the detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners. This buffer of wealth allows   Elites to continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe. It … explain[s] how historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases). This buffer effect is further reinforced by the long, apparently sustainable trajectory prior to the beginning of the collapse. While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory ‘so far’ in support of doing nothing.”

Is this not the state of “humanity” under the command of capital today, with many millions of disproportionately poor and powerless people already suffering from climate disruption while the wealthy few continue to enjoy lives of unimaginable, environmentally shielded opulence atop a recklessly fossil-fueled planet so vastly unequal that the world’s eight richest people possess as much wealth between them as the bottom half of the species?

It’s “the rich,” not humanity in general, that “are destroying the Earth,” as Herve Kempf noted in the title and text of an important book eleven years ago. At the same time however, it is in fact up to “our species,” yes, humanity, to save itself and other Earthly life forms by engaging in a great mass uprising against those who have plundered and poisoned the commons for private profit. (If there’s another intelligent life form out there that survived the transition to high-tech modernity and developed the capacity to save other species in the galaxy, now would be the time for them to travel through tie and space to lend us a hand.  I’m not holding my breath for that!)   The best bet we have, my fellow world citizens and common(s)ers, is is eco-socialist people’s revolution here on the planet itself.”

Revolt or die comrades.  :/

 

Bonus Reading: Human Nature and Dynamics There is a good deal of math here, however, also a very readable paper on the collapse of complex societies. It’s a good read and worth your time.

 

 

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