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Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, a rare Saturday column on the lessons we should draw from the election of Donald Trump in how we organize and work within our political system.

For further reading (beyond the writing already linked here)…– Others offering similar thoughts include Murray Dobbin, Rick Salutin, Kai Nagata and Robert Reich.– Tabatha Southey highlights how racism . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Where I live, the summer has been, with just the occasional respite, unbearably hot. It has certainly interfered with one of my seasonal pleasures, sitting on the deck and reading the newspaper while watching various species of birds visit both my feed… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Where I live, the summer has been, with just the occasional respite, unbearably hot. It has certainly interfered with one of my seasonal pleasures, sitting on the deck and reading the newspaper while watching various species of birds visit both my feeders and my bird bath. In those quiet moments, the wall that we humans far too frequently erect to separate us from nature seems to barely exist. The air, the sunlight, the perennials at the side and back of the yard are but a few of the things that I, the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits, butterflies and bees share. The illusion of Eden, however ephemeral, percolates into consciousness. All, for a few moments, is tranquil and holy.

But of course, the above is a very idealized version of reality; nature, in its more intrusive forms, elicits an entirely different response. For example, several years ago we awoke to find a bat in our bedroom. Let’s just say that its presence was a source of deep consternation culminating in its capture and ultimately, its death, as it had to be tested for rabies.

While few would blame me for the actions I took, the incident does underscore another truth. We enjoy nature, we want to recognize ourselves as simply part of a vast and powerful reality, but we want it only on our terms. In a recent column, Rick Salutin reminded us of that truth:

When I got home from the cottage Monday, there were signs of struggle in the kitchen, like scratched, torn packaging on rice cakes. Mice? But why didn’t the cat disperse them as he always does? Rats? Later I heard scuffling and went back in: a squirrel!

It’s shocking how menacing they look in there, versus through the backyard window. Panicked and dangerous — the squirrel that is, but me too.

There’s such a sharp separation involved: them out there, us inside. Panic looms if it breaks down.

Salutin goes on to talk about other aspects of nature that we are increasingly contending with: the forest fires, the coastal flooding, etc., all a response to the separation that we have allowed to evolve and culminate in the early stages of climate change. That reality, he says, stands in sharp contrast to the romanticized nature that urbanites maunder on about (‘I love Nature.’). (See opening paragraph.)

And, in the way that only Rick Salutin can, he offers us this insight:

There’s a reason why indigenous peoples everywhere have led on dealing intelligently with climate change: not because they’re wiser or nobler but because they haven’t experienced a rupture with the non-human world to the same degree as most of us. They remain aware of the ways we’re part of the natural realm, and how dangerous and menacing it can be if, like any relationship, that one is left unattended or gets misshapen by a power imbalance. If you live oblivious to something you’re intimately part of, the odds don’t favour you, ultimately.

He might just as well have added that, with the power we wield, it doesn’t favour nature either.

Indeed, Derrick Jensen, in a piece well-worth reading, has a name for what we do to the planet: human supremacism.

Here is human supremacism. Right now in Africa, humans are placing cyanide wastes from gold mines on salt licks and in ponds. This cyanide poisons all who come there, from elephants to lions to hyenas to the vultures who eat the dead. The humans do this in part to dump the mine wastes, but mainly so they can sell the ivory from the murdered elephants.

Right now a human is wrapping endangered ploughshares tortoises in cellophane and cramming them into roller bags to try to smuggle them out of Madagascar and into Asia for the pet trade. There are fewer than 400 of these tortoises left in the wild.

Right now in China, humans keep bears in tiny cages, iron vests around the bears’ abdomens to facilitate the extraction of bile from the bears’ gall bladders. The bears are painfully “milked” daily. The vests also serve to keep the bears from killing themselves by punching themselves in the chest.

And those are only a few dramatic examples of our ruptured relationship with the larger world. Every time we use our cars when we could have walked, every vehicle we buy that is bigger and more powerful than we need, every minute we spend idling our cars so we can stay cool or warm, every drop of water we waste when we let the tap run while brushing our teeth, all and so many more of our heedless daily decisions and actions reveal us for the human supremacists we are.

Our arrogance, our assumption of a natural superiority over nature, our insistence that we are separate from nature, continues apace. It is destroying our world and, of course, us along with it. All because of a perceived right to do what we will with the world around us.

A benighted and shameful view, but one that, despite all the indicators, sadly shows absolutely no signs of abatement.

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Are You A Supremacist?

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- Andrew Jackson makes the case for a review of Canada’s tax system focused on boosting revenue from the wealthy people and corporations who can readily afford it:These tax loopholes are costly. Partial inclusion… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Alberta Politics: We need a referendum on electoral reform? No! We need a national referendum on the TPP!

PHOTOS: Justin Trudeau, back in 2015 before he was prime minister, promising Canadians real change, including electoral reform, if we gave him the chance. We gave him the chance. Below: Opposition Conservative interim Leader Rona Ambrose (CBC Photo) an… . . . → Read More: Alberta Politics: We need a referendum on electoral reform? No! We need a national referendum on the TPP!

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Rick Salutin argues that we need to say no to any more trade agreements designed to privilege corporations at the expense of the public. Will Martin reports on the IMF’s long-overdue recognition of the failures of ne… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Kaylie Tiessen offers some important lessons from Ontario’s child poverty strategy – with the most important one being the importance of following through. And Christian Ledwell encourages Prince Edward Isl… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Lars Osberg discusses the positive effects of raising taxes on Canada’s wealthiest few. And Avram Denburg argues for a speedy end to income splitting due to both its unfairness,and its impact on the public revenue needed to fund a healthier society: (I)ncome splitting primarily benefits middle- and upper-income . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

– Alex Himelfarb highlights the vicious circle the Harper Cons have created and driven when it comes to public services: Today’s austerity is not a response to fiscal crisis. The 2012 budget demonstrated that it’s about redefining the purpose of government, about dismantling, brick by brick, the progressive state . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

– Branko Milanovic answers Harry Frankfurt’s attempt to treat inequality as merely an issue of absolute deprivation by reminding us how needs are inherently social: “[Under necessities] I understand not only the commodities that are indispensable for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

– Emmanuel Saez examines the U.S.’ latest income inequality numbers and finds that the gap between the wealthy few and everybody else is still growing. The Equality Trust finds that the UK’s tax system is already conspicuously regressive even as the Cameron Cons plan to make it more so. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Politics and its Discontents: A Reconsideration

While I have written about the importance of critical thinking many times on this blog, I have always considered it an ideal, a destination that we should strive for throughout our lives. Never is the journey complete; never are we entirely free from our cultural, political and social contexts and values, all of which act . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: A Reconsideration

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– PressProgress notes that the Cons’ economic track record is one of eliminating well-paying jobs in favour of lower-wage, more-precarious work. And Jim Stanford follows up on why we shouldn’t believe the Cons’ spin about deficits: I think that a more fruitful and principled line of attack on the . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

– Murray Dobbin writes about the damage caused after decades of allowing the corporate elite to dictate economic policy – and notes that the Cons are determined to make matters all the worse: However you see it — as separate from society or integral to it — Canada’s “economy” is . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Shannon Gormley points out that human rights are meaningless in the face of a government which claims the entitlement to strip people of their humanity – which is exactly what the Cons are setting out to do: (W)hen Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced this . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

– Geoff Stiles writes that instead of providing massive subsidies to dirty energy industries which don’t need them (and which will only have more incentive to cause environmental damage as a result), we should be investing in a sustainable renewable energy plan: (W)hereas countries such as Norway have . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Politics and its Discontents: About That War Thing

I am dismayed over the general collective amnesia that has once more taken hold of political leaders and the public over the latest so-called world threat. In the solution being embraced, few seem to remember the abject failure of past incursions in the Middle East, incursions that only gravely exacerbated existing problems. It is . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: About That War Thing

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Following up on yesterday’s column, Michael Harris offers his take on how Stephen Harper refuses to accept anything short of war as an option: Stephen Harper talks as if this is yet another of those good-versus-evil fables he is always passing off to the public as deep analysis . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

– James Meek observes that decades of privatization in the UK have eliminated public control over housing and other essential services – and that privatization takes far more forms than we’re accustomed to taking into consideration. And Rick Salutin offers his take on the latter point: Economist Mariana . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

– Andrew Jackson writes that public investment is needed as part of a healthy economy, particularly when it’s clear that the private sector isn’t going to put massive accumulated savings to use. Bob McDonald notes that we’d be far better off using public money to fund basic research . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Politics and its Discontents: Explaining Justin Trudeau

No matter what the Liberal leader says or does, his popularity ranks at a consistently high level. While part of the explanation for his standings in the polls surely lies in the Canadian people’s weariness with the Harper regime, a regime that has shown itself, through its practices of division, neoliberal politics and fear/hate-mongering, . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Explaining Justin Trudeau

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Jenna Smialiek reports on Gabriel Zucman’s conclusion that the .1% has managed to prevent the rest of us from even approaching reasonable estimates as to how much wealth is being hoarded at the top. And Bryce Covert discusses how that carefully-cultivated lack of knowledge figures to distort policy . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Robert Reich discusses the rise of the non-working rich as an indicator that extreme wealth has less and less to do with merit – as well as the simple policy steps which can reverse the trend: In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Jessica McDiarmid reports on the hazardous materials being shipped by rail across North America – and it’s particularly sad that Canadians can only learn about the risks being imposed on us through a U.S. guide. But lest we be under any illusions that our neighbours have an . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Rick Salutin discusses how corruption has become endemic in the global economy as an inevitable consequence of me-first values: You wouldn’t have those CEO pig-outs absent neo-liberalism’s moral model: get rich not just quick but hugely. As Kevin O’Leary loves saying, and CBC plasters on its promos: God . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links