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Editor's note: This piece contains explicit descriptions which may be upsetting for some readers.
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The economy is a difficult subject for journalists to cover. Most have never studied economics in any depth. At Carleton University's Journalism School, an estimated six per cent of Bachelor of Journalism students take the Introduction to Economics course, the prerequisite for all other courses in economics. That means 94 per cent likely have no economics background.
So how can they cover Canadian politics, with its emphasis on the economy?
The greatest progressive innovation of our century -- to this point -- has been the World Social Forum (WSF). In the book Another World is Possible: popular alternatives to globalization at the World Social Forum, William Fisher and I first contended that the World Social Forum represented the beginning of building a new left and a new global civilization, grounded by a desire for participatory, radical democracy.
If you are searching for significant anniversaries for 2015 one that you might find illuminating is the publication of a book published 40 years ago entitled The Crisis of Democracy. The title would seem fitting today but that's not the crisis its authors had in mind. It was commissioned by a new international boys' club of finance capitalists, CEOs, senior political figures (retired and active) and academics from Europe, North America and Japan.
No doubt the rich and powerful have been cracking up with laughter for decades over their ability to peddle "trickle-down economics" to a trusting public.
But a surprisingly strong report just released by the prestigious Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) may cause the public to regard these wealthy snakeoil salesmen more skeptically in the future.
Essentially, the OECD report reveals the immensity of the trickle-down scam, which the report shows has not only failed to foster economic growth as promised, but has proved to be an overall killer of economic growth.
Does it ever feel like you've just woken up and found yourself living in a country you don't recognize? How did Canada get to where it is today -- a more militaristic, nationalistic, free-market-at-all-costs place that seems to have shed its world-renowned reputation as a land of peacekeepers, multiculturalism, social responsibility and scientific advancement?
It hasn't been by accident. In fact, as Donald Gutstein points out in the opening phrase of his book, Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada, this is exactly what Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised he'd do.
And he did it with a little bit of help from his friends.
This article is adapted from This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, by Naomi Klein and was first published in The Nation. You can read our review on rabble.ca here.
About a year ago, I was having dinner with some newfound friends in Athens. I had an interview scheduled for the next morning with Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Greece's official opposition party and one of the few sources of hope in a Europe ravaged by austerity. I asked the group for ideas about what questions I should put to the young politician. Someone suggested: "History knocked on your door -- did you answer?"