A news story this week blandly described the perverse reality that is the current state of the Canadian economy. The headline read "Corporate profit margins at 27-year high and likely to stay there." Pretty heady stuff if you took it out of context. But the context is everything: pathetic growth projections, record high personal debt, stagnating wages, hundreds of billions in idle corporate cash, a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure deficit, a growing real estate bubble and a Bank of Canada chief who has no idea how to fix things. And, of course, a prime minister who thinks fixing things is heretical.
It's getting worse.
Stephen Harper is now serving notice that he's willing to tear the social fabric of the country apart if that's what it takes to get his party re-elected. That is, if torquing democratic process, the rule of law, election rules, the tax system etc., etc., to make them conform to Harperism isn't enough, he'll throw stink bombs in the public place in the expectation that, amid the chaos, he'll be seen as the strong hand who can straighten things out.
The Harper government's pursuit of its odious Secret Police Act (C-51) is just another chapter in the most through-going and massive social engineering project in the history of the country. Social engineering used to be one of the favourite phrases of the right in its attack on social programs -- accusing both liberal-minded politicians and meddling bureaucrats with manufacturing the welfare state. They conveniently ignored the fact that there was huge popular demand and support for activist government.
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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.