Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has written a book all Canadians should read.
Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush & His Corporate Pals are Plundering the Country & Hijacking Our Democracy is an accurate portrayal of the dangerous path Canadians may be on if they repeat the mistakes the US electorate has made over the last decade.
What are the mistakes?
Ordinary citizens have allowed several serious political issues to become the territory of one party or the other. This certain polarization has opened the door for the systematic dismantling of democracy.
Environmental regulation, energy conservation, liberal arts education, women’s rights, minority rights, and non-military humanitarian campaigns are now seen as being solely the property of liberals.
The conservatives on the other hand have claimed religious and moral issues, corporate and technological innovation, and hegemony as their legitimate stomping grounds.
This simplistic dichotomy of important issues has encouraged an electorate to believe that environmental sanity and corporation savvy are mutually exclusive; that morality and science are fundamentally at odds; that minority business subsidies and the free wheeling largess of the Chamber of Commerce somehow derail one another, and that a free and independent press run by a mega-corporation is a managerial impossibility and doomed to fail economically.
And there is fear that a strong and vivacious arts program somehow prohibits a university’s dependence on substantial research grants.
This black-and-white economic, environmental and moralistic view of America has led that country into a black and white version of democracy.
The result, according to Kennedy, is a somber one.
Over the long haul this petty and wrongheaded division has lead the US down a lonely and destructive path toward fascism.
When a country allows and encourages the wealthiest of its citizens to finance, organize and manage political campaigns and when it permits the majority of print, television and internet outlets to be owned by individuals with particular points of view, democracy dies.
Kennedy reminds us the definition of fascism is “a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism.”
He points out that Benito Mussolini often complained, “fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”
Fascism took hold in the 1930s simply (and I do believe fascism’s growth among national economies was simply not complex) because political stalwarts in Spain, Germany, and Italy choose industrial power over the other options — which, of course, includes the economic and social power of the individual within small communities.
The US tilt toward fascism should have been anticipated in light of the following:
In 1988 President Ronald Regan and his far-right cohorts were able to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated that broadcast and other media companies have a duty to create and maintain an informed public.
Kennedy quotes journalist Bill Moyers in this regard: “The clear intent of the doctrine was to prevent a monopoly of commercial values from overwhelming democratic values — to assure that the official view of reality (corporate or government) was not the only view of reality that reached the people.”
Bush and Dick Cheney insisted that national energy, mining and resource policies must be approved (which in today’s world means nothing short of dictated) by corporations that stand to benefit most from these policies.
Therefore, mining lobbyist Rebecca Watson was named secretary of Land and Mineral Management.
Mining lawyer and lobbyist Bennett Raley became assistant secretary of Water and Science.
Mining lobbyist Jeffrey D. Jarrett was appointed as the director of the office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
Mark Rey, the head of the department of Agriculture, is a former timber-industry lobbyist.
Linda Fisher, deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was a long time lobbyist for Monsanto Corporation.
The list goes on and on.
Those closest to the president and therefore the most influential policy makers are all, without exception, former oil and gas executives.
This, of course, includes the vice-president, the secretary of state and the secretary of defence.
What makes his book recommended reading for Canadians is the fact that Kennedy’s conclusions know no national boundaries.
In short he recommends, “corporations, no matter how well intentioned, should not be running the government.”
He strongly suggests a free-market economy can only prosper when those in business do not cheat on their environmental commitments.
“When polluters cheat, it distorts the entire marketplace, and none of us benefits from the efficiencies and democracy that the free market promises.”
No matter if you are a citizen of Canada or the US, the fact of the matter remains: “Communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business.”
And no matter where we hold your citizenship, Kennedy emphatically encourages us to keep in mind that democracy fails from a single source: “the control of government by businesspeople acting in their own self-interest.”