Collectivism and the SPPhttp://tehowe.blogspot.com/2008/06/collectivism-and-spp.html
The following is the text of a speech given at the SPP rally in Toronto on June 14, 2008.
You can’t imagine how encouraged I feel, how happy it makes me to see so many engaged Canadians standing on this lawn today, ready to speak truth to power. It’s the weekend, and you’ve actually chosen to protest the SPP instead of, say, checking out North by Northeast. You’ve actually picked geopolitics over music, which for me personally is a tough choice. But that makes you leaders – leaders at getting the word out to friends, family, and co-workers, and for that I applaud you, and I think you should all give yourselves a hand for coming out and defending your country. You are heroes.
I’d like to open with a quote that some of you here may recognize.
The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations.
(The bourgeoisie) compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, ie., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.
So it’s clear, I’m sure, that this was written by Karl Marx. He penned these words in 1848, one hundred and sixty years ago, and his book, the Communist Manifesto, has without a doubt been one of the most influential political and economic tracts in the intervening years. How prescient he was! How farsighted! And, in my humble opinion, how poisonously wrong in his implication that capitalism necessarily greases the skids for the increased socialization and integration of the world – a situation from which the workers need only pick up the pieces and introduce some beneficent dictatorship of their own.
As Alan Watt is so fond of reminding us in his excellent podcast, Marx also foresaw the creation, in Das Kapital, of a world organized around three major trading blocs overseen by a world government. George Orwell or Eric Blair, a socialist in his own right, wrote of a similar arrangement in his famous novel 1984, a dystopia in which Eurasia, East Asia, and Oceania - roughly corresponding to today’s EU, APAC, and the various regional initiatives comprising the Americas – are played off against one another with the intent of pigeon-holing the peoples of the world into a paradigm of unending economic warfare.
This brings us to the ‘Security and Prosperity Partnership’, a title which Orwell would surely have found some amusement in. In The Road to Wigan Pier, he wrote disparagingly of the “hypertrophied sense of order” displayed by his Fabian socialist counterparts, whom he said were not offended by the world for it’s miseries, but rather because:
it is untidy; what they desire, basically, is to reduce the world to something resembling a chessboard. … The truth is that, to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which 'we', the clever ones, are going to impose upon 'them', the Lower Orders...
Having watched the behavior of our elected leaders as they roll out the SPP, I can only agree with him. In fact, did you hear that just this week, Canada, Mexico and the US met in Meech Lake of all places to sign a ‘trilateral ministerial declaration’ – just think about that language for a second – ‘trilateral ministerial declaration’! I would have had no idea about this but for the Council of Canadians, who posted it on their website. Among the provisions cited are the creation of
national transportation infrastructures that, taken together, will develop gateways and trade corridors and better allow the countries to maximize the opportunities associated with global supply chains. Canada and the U.S. have strengthened collaboration to enhance crossing capacity at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway, while the U.S. and Mexico have taken important steps toward fulfilling components of the NAFTA’s trucking provisions.
What they’re talking about of course, is a North American Union on the pattern of the European Union – a situation created by interlocking trade deals and legislative harmonizations – more nuspeak – that threatens to dissolve the border by fiat. But do not mistake this for free trade – this is another misleading aspect of NAFTA and the SPP. Freedom does not require volumes of regulation and a separate class of interpreters.
You want to know who knows a little something about freedom? The Irish people, that’s who, and this brings us to the good news section of my talk – and don’t worry, I’ll only ask you to bear with me for another minute or two as I’m sure that you’d like to have your say, as well – the Irish people who just yesterday, despite the best efforts of the political elite in Europe, voted down the Lisbon Accord, which they rightly recognized as simply a repackaged version of the European Constitution, a document which would have continued the march to integration on the continent, introducing a Presidency and accruing greater powers to Brussels as the culmination of a process that began fifty-odd years ago and was sold as an industrial and economic treaty. Well, the Irish know a little something about encroachment and economic imperialism, and I think they deserve our recognition today. They’ve smashed the latest step towards the centralization of power in Europe and set the creation of that unaccountable, unelected state back for years. Let’s give it up for their courage!
Incidentally, they were the only country in all of Europe allowed a referendum on the ratification of Lisbon, and the reason was their constitution, which demanded it. And this brings me to the importance of law.
John Adams, a framer of the American Constitution, wrote famously that he desired “a government of laws, and not of men”. I do not believe his intention was to create a system in which laws are perverted and twisted by the arbitrary desires of men, but rather immutable laws which protect the conditions of our well-being. And this is perhaps the most devastating aspect of the Security and Properity Partnership. Under a different context some of its provisions might actually make sense if freely accepted by the people in the course of their independent actions in the marketplace. But as it stands it can provide neither Security nor Prosperity if it comes at the cost of our liberty, sovereignty, and self-determination. Canadians must not be cattle, must not accept unquestioningly the ministerial declarations of unaccountable supra-national bodies put together in secrecy by business interests in partnership with the state.
We must not accept the increasing centralization of state power under our government or that of any other, the purpose of a government of laws being to prevent the seizure of power by men. The only place that power belongs, friends, is in your hands – the power to see to your own life and affairs. National boundaries, far from being arbitrary lines in the sand, protect the individual by acting as firewalls to the growth of state power. Should one country go bad, it cannot then metastasize over the surface of a continent except by the provenance of war.
I found it interesting as I was putting this talk together this morning to discover that the Italian for union is fascio. It’s latin root, fasces, referred to the bundle of rods which the ancient Roman magistrates used as their symbol of authority. How often have you heard that we will be stronger through unity? The strength of the fasces in Rome were used for corporal and capital punishment at the pleasure of the law-makers. Thankfully, this symbol does not appear in Canada’s coat-of-arms. The word fascism – as it has evolved and come down to us today – should not be seen merely as a label to be applied exclusively to the far right, but as a symbol of the danger of collectivism, whether of the right or of the left. Does it matter if you’re punched in the face with a left or a right hook? This distinction is an artificial one and distracts us from a more fundamental truth:
The only alternative to collectivism is to once more enshrine the rights of the individual, an idea which in today’s political context is given some lip service but which has in practice and in law has been all but abandoned.
We are Canadians, and we live in North America, but we are individuals first, with friends, family and communities reaching out around ourselves as though in concentric rings. Our consent to be governed derives from the fact, that as individuals, we possess individual rights, and any legitimate government, distanced from the individual as it is, must respect these rights.
We must not accept surveillance and tracking, as provided for in the SPP, in the name of Security. We must not accept the diminution of our legal protections and the abandonment of our workers by industry for third-world neo-feudal states in the name of Prosperity. We must let Ottawa know that we are not part of a collective, that we are not here to be herded into a North American Union. It’s regarded as something of a truism that we as Canadians are in favour of peace, order, and good government, and now it is our turn to prove it to the world. Thank you.