Monday, December 23, 2013

A government for capitalists

The political commentator Yves Engler has written an article on the Dissident Voice website but makes interesting reading and can be related to the concerns of the previous blog-post.

Engler writes:
‘Should the primary purpose of Canadian foreign policy be the promotion of corporate interests? Canada’s business class certainly seems to think so. And with little political or ideological opposition to this naked self-interest, Harper’s Conservatives seem only too happy to put the full weight of government behind the promotion of private profits. Recently, the Conservatives announced that “economic diplomacy” will be “the driving force behind the Government of Canada’s activities through its international diplomatic network.” According to their Global Markets Action Plan (GMAP), “All diplomatic assets of the Government of Canada will be marshalled on behalf of the private sector to increase success in doing business abroad.” ’

It is pointed out that ‘the Conservatives’ have spent tens of millions of dollars to lobby US and European officials on behalf of tar sands interests; expanded arms sales to Middle East monarchies and other leading human rights abusers; strengthened the ties between aid policy and a Canadian mining industry responsible for innumerable abuses.’

The article explains the link between commerce and government is not a new one. The owner of the Toronto Globe, George Brown, for instance, negotiated a draft treaty with the U.S. in 1874, while Sandford Fleming, the surveyor of the Canadian Pacific Railway, represented Canada at the 1887 Colonial Conference in London. There were trade commissioners, for instance, long before ambassadors. By 1907 there were 12 Canadian trade commissions staffed by “commercial agents” located in Sydney, Capetown, Mexico City, Yokohama and numerous European and U.S. cities.

 Canadian companies are major global investors. The world’s largest privately owned security company, GardaWorld, has 45,000 employees operating across the globe while another MontrĂ©al-based company, SNC Lavalin, has engineering projects in 100 countries. Corporate Canada’s most powerful sector is also a global force. The big five banks, which all rank among the top 65 in the world, now do a majority of their business outside of this country. Scotiabank, for example, operates in 50 countries. Three quarters of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada or listed on Canadian stock exchanges. Present in almost every country, Canadian corporations operate thousands of mineral projects abroad. With $711.6 billion in foreign direct investments last year, Canadian companies push for and benefit from Ottawa’s diplomatic, aid and military support.

Engler concludes  the article by stating;
 "Few in Canada promote any alternative to capitalism. Until unions, social groups and activists put forward an alternative economic and social vision it’s hard to imagine that Canadian foreign policy will do much more than promote private corporate interests.”

Should we  really be at all surprised by the above commentary. The article fails to explain just what is the role of a nation and its government. The blame is placed at the feet of one particular political party and its leader rather than at the system, which Engler even offers the historical evidence for. It can be no plainer than the explanation offered by Karl Marx in one of his basic texts 'The Communist Manifesto':
 ‘...the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie....The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.’ [SOYMB emphasis]

So indeed the Foreign Affairs ministry can be rightly considered as the international sales-office of Canadian Capitalism Inc. Indeed the full title of the ministry is Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and its purpose is described on its website - ‘ensuring that Canada's foreign policy... advances Canada's national interests... expanding free and fair market access at bilateral, regional and global levels... to achieve increased economic opportunity... for Canada...’

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