Monday, October 20, 2008

Changes in Attitude: Left-leaning Hemisphere

Add Ecuador to the growing list of nations leaning left in the Americas. Today, President Correa’s new left-leaning constitution was approved by a significant 64% margin. There are few right-leaning countries remaining in our hemisphere and Latin America is merely a microcosm of the global liberal/conservative contest.

In colonial times, the fear over liberalization was derived from fear by the ruling elite over sharing the land, wealth, and power they amassed through conquest and slavery. They chose to conserve their land, wealth & power, so they were conservative. Those seeking balance, retribution, fairness, (you decide) were liberal in their approach. The 21st Century finds Presidents Correa (Ecuador), Chavez (Venuzuela), Morales (Bolivia), Garcia (Peru) and Lula (Brazil), among others, liberalizing their countries.

A similar battle is waging in the USA today. Instead of colonizers, the right now represents U.S. corporations such as Bear Stearns, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. The CEO's of the nine major banks that taxpayers now partially own were paid $32.2 million last year, on average. On the retail end, we've seen similar gluttony. Global colonizers such as Wal-Mart entice young people from all over China to leave their family farms to slave in squalor in company-owned factories producing plastic gimcracks for voracious consumers, in the name of monopolistic ambitions, profit, and cheap consumer crap.

Consumer culture – isn’t this a crime against nature?

Regardless, corporations are paying billions to their leaders and shareholders, such as the Walton family, while a generation of indigenous peoples move away from their fields to barely subsist in polluted cities working for Fortune 100 companies producing unneccesary consumables. Whether it's a Nike sweatshop in Asia or a garment sweatshop in Latin America, CEO's are making hundreds times more than the workers.
Why grow food when you choke the planet in cheap plastic toys for “happy meals”? The children who throw away today’s toy tomorrow do not realize its half-life is 5000 years. This is the modern day conquest - pillaging once peaceful agrarian societies of their way of life to line the bank accounts of multinational corporate executives. The consequences are not tangibly different from colonization that occured centuries ago through slavery.
In this context, it is not hard to understand backlash against capitalism. "We need to reintroduce morality into capitalism" - Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France.

The USA is set to join the leftist movement next month by inaugarating a liberal to the White House on promises of increased regulation and an economy that works for people as well corporations. The U.S. Congress is already leaning left. Obama shuns lobbyist contributions and special interest money. His average contribution is $86 and he's received such donations from over 3 million voters. If you are surprised by this, read on.

There are three reasons our hemisphere continues to lean left, according to the book “Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left”:

1. The end of the Cold War removed the stigma of the left. The USA could no longer label leftist governments ‘communist sympathizers’.

2. Latin America's extreme concentration of wealth, income, power, and opportunity (among two percent of the population) meant that it would have to be governed from the left. “The combination of inequality and democracy tends to cause a movement to the left everywhere. Impoverished masses (98% in much of Latin America) vote for the type of policies that, they hope, will make them less poor.” – Jorge Castaneda

3. Real democracy will naturally lead to victories for the left. Wealth cannot be unfairly concentrated among those who must seek reelection in a land of fair elections, unless the rising tide truly does raise all ships or the voters can be duped. Voters like “Joe the plumber” are often duped into voting against their best interests by narcissists seeking the throne (versus seeking to serve).
For example, McCain keeps calling Obama a socialist, saying he wants to redistrubute wealth with his tax policies. This is either an attempt to dupe the voting public, or evidence of how little McCain understands the progressive income tax was introduced 95 years ago. Wealthy people have higher tax rates; poor people benefit from government programs while paying little to no tax. If we want to talk about socialist actions, Paul Volcker asks "How do we reprivatize institutions" that have been "socialized" by the Bush administration?

In this context, it is no surprise that corporate greed unveiled results in the masses saying “no” to conservative party staples such as obscene wage multiples for CEO’s who create huge taxpayer debts in their bonfire of the vanities. Anyone surprised by Obama’s popularity needs a refresher course in cultural anthropology. Everyone else already knows why the hemishpere is leaning left... we are so much more than consumers and too many corporations are acting like conquering colonists instead of good citizens.

No comments:

Post a Comment