Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov. 3: an extra on Donald Savoie's vision of the future...and....

In his Saturday column for the Times and Transcript, prof. Don Savoie writes glowingly of the world of the future when globalization is complete.  Now, I am not an economist or student of government. But I am blessed with a normal intelligence with a normal capacity for seeing what is obvious - and that tells me Dr. Savoie is wrong.

First, the definition of globalization. It means the integration of peoples and governments of countries with an international system of economics.  In this case, the economic system is a perversion of capitalism called oligarchy. Roughly, that means all power is in the hands of a sort of aristocracy, usually an aristocracy by birth, just like the middle ages. It's a world that will have no boundaries between us all. Free trade is the prelude to it - aimed at no boundaries restricting the flow of investment and profit-taking. Oligarchy has become the ruling system of China, Russia - and the US and Canada much of the rest of the world.

Think of that because there is a huge gap Dr. Savoie doesn't mention.

Globalization means the weakening and, effectively, the disappearance of national governments. But governments are all we have to maintain law and order, to plan economies and social conditions, and to reflect the wishes of the people, one hopes, through democracy.

But there is no such thing as a world government.

The UN was first presented as a step to world government. But it never was because five major powers of the time gave themselves the right to veto any vote of the UN. Those powers still have that right - the US, the USSR (its veto now inherited by Russia), France, Britain and China. And they have used it to make sure the UN can never have the power to pass or to enforce any laws.

When I was a child, the standing joke was about USSR use of the veto. We said that nyet (no) was the only word in the Soviet vocabulary. But, decades ago, it became the US that was the world leader in saying no. Today, world leaders in breaking international law are the US, China, Britain, and France. And the reason that Israel has not been charged with violations of international law is because the US, in particular, has used its veto many, many times to prevent it.

The US, in particular, but other members of the five have commonly used their power to make sure the UN never becomes a world government, and never has the ability to enforce any law. That means that if we fully accept globalization, we will lose all rights and protections - except those that the super-rich are gracious enough to grant us.

That's no exaggeration. We're already well on the way as democracy is sliding in countries that once were pioneers of it.

As for Dr.Savoie's opinion that the power and efficiency of big business will be used to bring prosperity to the world, I can think of only two words - bull and shit.  We've been living under the rule of big business, and on a widening scale, for over fifty years. In that time, the world has not become more prosperous. Europe is an economic shambles. Africa is even worse off than in the bad old days of colonialism. Central America is held in poverty and near-slavery by the rule of big business. Even North America, as Dr. Savoie may have noticed, has been getting markedly poorer, partly from recession and partly from the greed of big business in ever-widening the wage gap. And it is not going to get better any day soon. In fact, it's not ever going to get better if the Don Savoie's have their way.

Business of any sort is not a social service. Nor should it be. Business exists to make money for itself. It has no higher purpose. That's okay. That's the way capitalism is supposed to work. But it's also supposed to be restrained and regulated (and to pay its share) by government. What Dr. Savoie is proposing is that the rich be allowed to stomp all over the world, exploiting people and resources without any control whatever.

So far as I know, there is no plan for a government for the whole world.  If it were to be a democracy, I can't even imagine how it would work. We would require a legislature of millions of MPs, most of them coming from countries that have never had an election.

But that doesn't matter because no election is planned. The history of the years since 1945 has been a history of the US trying to conquer the world. That's what Vietnam, Haiti, Guatemala, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan were all about. That's what thousands of drone attacks have been about. That's what special ops assassination teams and destabilizing of governments around the world are all about. Obama and many other US politicians speak of "American Exceptionalism".  They do it publicly on radio, TV and in print. But it rarely occurs to any reporter to ask what that means.

What it means is that it is God's plan for the US to rule the world. It stands above the law, any law, and has the right to invade, to kill, and to conquer as it wishes. That is not just my opinion. That is actually what the term means. Globalization will mean the triumph of - well - not of the US. The American people will suffer, already are suffering, under globalization. It will be the triumph of the very, very rich. who will then be free to knock off each other.

The world of globalization would (will?) be hell - a world of chaos, exploitation, terrible suffering. It would also be a world of towering violence - violence from the rich to keep control, violence from the criminal to survive, and violence from enraged populations that are already on the edge of rebellion. That's why we have seen the militarization of police forces and the destruction of civil rights, especially in the US but also in most western countries. That's why Harper is going to grab his chance to pass oppressive laws - And his excuse is that two, deranged Canadians became killers. He's playing on the fear that Bush and Obama played on to destroy democratic rights in the US.  It's a world we don't have to guess about. It's the world we have already entered and with worse, much worse, to come.

All that is obvious even to my simple mind. It's too bad that experts so often lose the ability to see the obvious.

While I'm writing, I should touch on a story about MacLean's magazine rating Mount Allison as the best undergraduate university in Canada. In fact, there is no such thing as a best university in Canada, in the US or anywhere in the world. Until university ratings, most people judged universities on the basis of snobbery. If rich kids went to it, it was a "good" university. I attended three universities.

One of them, Sir George Williams (a YMCA school, mostly for evening students) was looked down on as vastly inferior to McGill, to Queen's,and just about every school. Acadia (for my MA) was off in the bush somewhere. Mentioning the name just got me blank stares. Then I hit the big time with Queen's. What a thrill!

But the teaching at all three of those universities was much the same. All of my teachers had exactly the same training in how to teach - that is, they had none at all. The one exception was Prof. Fred Gibson at Queen's. He had no teacher training - but he had an instinct for it. And he had a respect for students, and a real desire to help them to learn. And he was utterly without the arrogance and pomposity and intimidation I had found in so many professors - and would continue to find through my own teaching days. As well, in over forty years of university teaching, I rarely heard anyone discuss teaching - except keeping notes up to date and having a clear voice.

The fact is that most university teaching consists of having students memorize things they will forget very quickly because they have no use for them. I have never known a discussion on why, for example, we should place such an emphasis on memorization in history. Or why we should teach from the general to the particular. I spent years writing assigned papers. I never once had a teacher to actually taught us how to write them. I remember vividly sitting in a professor's office when a student came in to ask politely why he got a D on his paper. The professor waved him out, "It is not up to my standards."

What standards? What are the assigned papers supposed to achieve? Nobody, including most professors, ever think of that.

This "best university" rodeo is a scam to sell magazines for MacLean's. They make up various categories that they think represent quality in a university, get some statisticians to figure out ways to put numbers on them, and then run these numbers as marks of quality.

Sometimes, they don't even do that that. I was rated at least twice as one of the five most popular professors at my university. What a crock! In the first place, popularity has nothing to do with the quality of teaching. In the second place, it is not possible they could have rated the thousands of professors across Canada with their hundreds of thousands of students for popularity. How they came up with my name, I have no idea.. Nor do I care because it means nothing.

What is the best university for  you  depends on who you are, and what you want and what you need. It also depends on the luck of the draw in the professors you get. What is best has nothing to do with the universities because they're all much the same.   And that's true all the way up to the most famous universities in the world.

And don't fall for the line that some school is really good because it's professor publish a lot. Fred Gibson of Queen's was recognized by other professional  historians (who often consulted him) as one of the great ones. But he published very little.  And I can think of many historians who have published profusely - and who are the most personally obnoxious people and the worst teachers I have known.

Oh, the Maclean's rating praised Mount A for the high grades achieved by its students. Hey guys, according to your own magazine, Mount A has high entrance requirements. So, yeah. Of course it will have higher grades achieved. That's like praising a hospital that accepts only healthy people.

The MacLean's ratings have actually made Canadian universities worse. In years when they should have been working on improving their teaching (it was probably better in the  Middle Ages), they have been scrambling to win the approval of the editors of a magazine. I know of at least one, prestigious university that hired a MacLean's employee at a very high salary to teach it how to get top ratings. Imagine that - a university hiring a journalist to tell it how to be a university!

I was lucky. Sir George Williams College with its library barely the size of a living room, and available to kids like me who had flunked high school, and who couldn't have afforded full time, the words of our college song.....
"Put on your red'n'yellow sweater,
The dirtier the better
For it's not so gorgeous
That we go to Sir George's,.
But McGill won't have us

And I'm grateful to Acadia for giving me a chance to go on despite a very weak record on my BA.

And, oh, I'm grateful to Fred Gibson of Queen's for being a fine teacher and a fine man.

But none of the above would have impressed the MacLean's reviewers.

1 comment:

  1. Strong evidence has come to light Canada's Parliamentary Hill shooting was staged, but the official narrative that it was an act of terrorism is being perpetuated and protected by our national broadcaster the CBC.