....after a brief bit about how ghastly the local newspaper is.
If you really, really care that the New Brunswick legislature will be offering a new beer to visiting dignataries, that plastic surgery is popular in N.B., or that the town of Sackvile has cancelled its big hat party in celebration of the Queen, then section A news will be your cup of tea.
The only time I've come across such limp news was yesterday, listening to Moncton radio station 94.5. The news consisted, as I remember, of two items – somebody got sent to jail for something, and somebody didn't go to jail. Private radio in general has become pretty awful in the last ten or fifteen years. But 94.5 is so bad, I wondered whether it might be an Irving station.
Canada&World has only 8 pages, with four of them ads. Of the remaining four, two pages are still about Moncton - with the exception of one story that's about a girl in Alberta. (She takes marijuana to treat epilepsy. The news YOU need to know.)
The three stories on B3 tell us nothing whatever. The biggest one is about a rumour that Canadian jet fighter-bombers killed some civilians in Iraq. But the Irving press has no idea whether it's true.
Well, it's nice, at least, that our news is at last mentioning we're at war in Iraq. As for killing civilians, it would be amazing if they weren't killed. Every war since at least 1914 gas killed masses of civilians. That's the nature of modern war. With modern weapons, it can't be avoided. And, in any case, it's routinely done on purpose by every modern military I've ever heard of.
Another “must-know” story is on B6. A poll in the U.S. shows that the millenial generation ( the one that is currently the annoying one) gets angry at spelling and grammar mistakes – the women more so than the men. Beside it is the fast-breaking news that an 'elite' grad of an 'elite' school in New Hampshire is guilty of molesting an 'elite' girl. (The “elite” school has yearly fees of over $50,000. New Hampshire is in the U.S. which, I'm informed, is the land of equal opportunity for fall.)
So much for Canada&World. No news editor could possibly be dumb enough to think the news in this paper is any news at all. This is deliberate. The purpose of news selections in the Irving press is to keep us ignorant of what is happening. It's quite deliberate. It's obviously deliberate.
In local stories, there are two I would be very interested to see – but I know that I never shall.
1. Why did Irving Ltd. pay a huge settlement in the Lac Megantic disaster case, the one in which almost 50 people were killed, and a town largely destroyed? Nobody pays a big settlement like that unless there is a strong possibility of a serious charge of responsibility for the deaths and destruction.
If I were a drunk driver, and killed people on the road, I'm quite sure I wouldn't get the option of paying a settlement. Why does big business have that option?
Irving oil trains go through this province routinely. If it poses risks, shouldn't we know what they are or how they happened?
This case smells. And the biggest smell comes from the Irving press.
2. A young man carrying combat-style rifles (semi-automatic with large magazines) killed three police officers in Moncton.
Where did he get those rifles?
Why are such rifles allowed to be sold? They're inferior for target shooting. They're a poor choice for hunting unless you have too kill a whole herd of a hundred of moose, and have only ten minutes to do it
Why did Harper destroy the gun registry, depriving the police of knowledge of who owns such weapons?
In Moncton stores today, such guns are very available. You can also, quite easily, buy a Glock semi-automatic pistol in Moncton, a gun useful only for killing people at short range. I'm astonished at the number of guns for sale in this city that are essentially designed to kill people, or that are designed to look military so they can attract those gun-buyers who are 25 going on 10.
Why didn't the Irving press do a full report on this? Why didn't the municipal and provincial governments demand a full report? Why do the people and the newspaper of Moncton put up signs saying they love their police, and build monuments to them when they won't lift a finger to give them the help that could have saved three lives?
Get ready for more of this killing. Harper has really encouraged the gun market in Canada. Given time, he'll catch us up to the U.S. A very serious change is happening in Canada.
The editorial says nothing.
Norbert Cunningham has an interesting column on maritime union. It's an old issue – but it really should be looked at again.
Brent Mazerolle has his usual, pointless column, this time about how he likes some animals and insects, but finds other yuckie-poo.
There's an excellent column by the President of the New Brunswick Medical Society, and the Minister of Health. It deals with the coming crisis of health care for seniors. It's important; but few will realize that because the column is much too long. Relatively few people will read a long column unless it has long breaks and is trivial – like Anne Landers. That's too bad, because this is important.
And Gwynne Dyer drops a bombshell. It's about the Chinese recession, and the effect it's going to have on all of us. I don't doubt that he's right. Capitalism never produces a stable economy. It never has. The history of capitalism is a history of prosperity, frequent recessions, and, less often, depressions.
And that's in the lucky countries like Canada and the U.S. In other countries, like Guatemala and Congo, the history of capitalism is marked by eternal brutality, hunger, lack of education or medical care, poverty, and short lives. (–-though the capitalists, themselves, normally remain prosperous even in the most severe times.)
And now a kind word for the Faith Page, C4. The sermonette is by Brett Annington, Chaplain at UNB – and the only columnist on the Faith Page I have ever found to be worth reading. His style is light, conversational, journalistically effective, and intelligent.
This time, it's about how much the world has changed since his childhood. And, oh, it has. And Canada has changed. The government has used the RCMP as domestic spies for at least a century. But Canadians, until now, have never tolerated the breadth and depth of government spying that we now see. Canadians, as well, have never been so propagandized into quasi-racial hatreds and fears since World Wars One and Two. We've never before seen such trivialization of news media. I've never before seen a generation of teen-agers so lacking in interest in anything intellecual, so accustomed to passive “hanging-out”.
And there's the huge change in communications so that so many on earth can be in touch instantly for email – or for nuclear bombs. Distance has almost ceased to have meaning. Separate countries no long separate people. What happens in China has a profound effect on our lives, and has it immediately.
We really can no longer be a world of separate countries.
Nor did we begin as one. The first civilizations were developed in cities (though usually much smaller than cities of today). Living so close to each other and so dependent on each other, they had to form some sort of government. And so developed the city-state like Athens or Sparta. With the cities so powerful, they attacked smaller settlement and rural regions, tying them together, often out of greed, but in the process making all dependent on each other, and therefore needing a common government. So developed the nation-state.
The nation -states were ruled, usually, by dictators that we called kings who with their aristocracies, wanted more wealth to be gained by conquering empires which, necessarily, involved fighting others who were playing the same game. World Wars One and Two had a lot more to do with empires than with democracy and freedom. But the increasing destruction as we learned how to get closer to each other by such things as ocean-going ships, and aircraft, raised fears that wars were becoming impossible. The two world wars became, in their way, the guide to the next stage – the world-state.
That was noticed as early as 1919 with the founding of the League of Nations, and again in 1945 with the United Nations. But both have failed. And both were intended to fail.
They failed because the major powers had no intention of accepting a power greater than theirs. The major reason they wouldn't was because the major powers depended on their, individual, power in order to become more powerful. They needed it because of their competitive economic systems (capitalism and communism). And they continued to need power after the fall of communism because all the major powers now became based on oligarchies of the wealthy who needed the station-state to exist under their control to serve the ambitions of the very wealthy.
That accounts for the rise of American Exceptionalism, a title that really means rule of the whole world by the United States. That's why Vietnam and Iraq and Guatemala and Libya and Panama and Syria and Yemen have been under attack. That's why some in the U.S. want a war with Russia. That's why the U.S. maintains the largest fleet in history in the Pacific off the China coast. That's why the U.S. satellite, Japan, is being encouraged by the U.S. to rearm. That's why Canada is showing its satellite status in Iraq today. That's why Canadian sent troops to Afghanistan. It takes a huge military force to conquer the world.
Can it be done? Almost certainly not. At best, it would lead to constant revolt and warfare all over the world. More likely, it would mean a scale of murder and destruction so great that no country could continue to function even as a nation-state.
And, even if it did work, the individual greed of the oligarchs (who prefer to be called capitalists, even entrepreneurs) would create a wage gap (as they are doing now) which destroy their own markets, and make capitalism (by whatever name you call it) impossible.
Individualism can be a very good quality. But the direction of the world for the last several thousand years, at least, has been toward community. Communication of goods and money has created the city-state, then the nation-state, and now the world-state as a necessity
It's made even more so by the world-wide ease of war and destruction demanded by oligarchs. ( Okay, call them capitalists if you want, but their brand of capitalism is very, very twisted.)
And this brings me back to what started me – Brett Addington's sermonette.
The world has changed. It has changed a great deal since we were kids. We're now at the stage of the world-state. What we do, how people live, what standards we have affect everybody. Nobody in the world can escape our interdependence. And that interdependence needs a world government. But the oligarchs of our nation states won't allow that. Their only solution is imperialism and war. We have to decide.
However, I fear there's been another big change in our world, a loss of something we needed.
There's been a wide collapse of religion – except in extreme and unhelpful forms. In fact, it has long become a partner of the oligarchs and a justifier of the killing and exploitation.
If you read most of the faith page, religion is all about pancake breakfasts or special music or getting yourself into heaven (the hell with the rest.) But that's not what religion is about.
It's about setting moral standards of behaviour – setting them our survival and the survival of our children. I'm by no means a Bible thumper. But read the Christian gospels, the Jewish Talmud and the Torah. Read the teaching of Muhammed or Confucius or almost any other religion.
Almost all are practical guides to the way a society has to behave in order to live. They aren't just about dying and going to heaven. They're about how we must live if we are to survive.
I don't know much about the others. But the Christian world has certainly paid no attention to that. It's gone over to babbling about miracles or walking on golden streets, or giggling at the thought that those people you don't like will burn in hell.
In short, to survive, we need morality. We don't have a hell of a lot of that. We have an economic system based on greed, and conquest and killing. The only significant political party in Canada that has its origins in morality is the NDP. It was begun by religious leaders who formed a party based on moral standards like love thy neighbour. It was called the CCF, and is now the NDP. And the NDP still retains many of the motives of its youth as the CCF. (Though I could wish for more.)
Admittedly, the churches were getting pretty wobbly on morality even when I was a kid. But it's become worse – except in emphasizing a few things that will get you – personally – onto a good cloud in heaven where you can, for the rest of eternity, get a good view of God and clap hands for Jesus..
What the world desperately needs in the move from city-state to nation-state to world-state is a conciousness that we all have this life in common – just as such a realization was necessary at the city and nation stage.
But that needs a sense of morality. We aren't getting it from our oligarchs. And we aren't getting it from most of our religions.