By Henry McRandall
In recent weeks we have seen a great upsurge in mass protests across much of Europe as its citizens are being asked to accept drastic government “austerity” to pay for the massive bailouts over the last couple of years of global banks, financial institutions and corporations and the billionaires and mega-millionaires who control them.
In effect, middle-class, working-class and poor Europeans are being asked to tighten their belts – several notches – for many years to come and those European masses are beginning to reply with a measure of defiance.
The likely upshot of the public resistance to government austerity will be some sort of compromise that will lighten the burden on the masses.
But how will the masses in Canada and the U.S. respond in the coming months when North America’s poor, working class and middle class are also told to ante-up to pay for the bailouts of their “betters.?”
Europe has a long tradition of vocal public dissent and powerful labour unions torganize mass protests. In general, poor, working-class and middle-class Europeans are somewhat disinclined to simply turn the other cheek when the corporate socioeconomic elite slaps their face. No, the European masses have a proud tradition of fighting back.
That is not the case in North America, however. Over the past 100 years, there have really only been two decades – the Dirty Thirties and the Sexy Sixties – in which the subject class has stood up to the ruling class.
Yet, while there is much in common in the recent socioeconomic chronologies of both countries, there has also been a significant divergence.
Althouogh union membership is very low in both Canada and the U.S., it is much lower in the U.S. than in Canada. Although Canada’s unions are more political than their American brethren, both have seen a great decline in their influence over their own memberships, let alone over the public at large.
In both countries, civil society has become moribund as individual citizens have become much more isolated from each other – from their friends, their neighbours – and even their families.
In most European countries there is still a much greater sense of mass social solidarity than in either Canada or the U.S.
Unfortunately, the corporate socioeconomic elite in North America – and especially in the U.S. – has been extremely effective at nurturing a lack of cohesiveness or solidarity on the part of the masses – the poor, the working class and the middle class.
To achieve this they have employed a simple strategy of Divide And Conquer. By keeping the growing anger of the masses dispersed internally and aimed at each other, they have effectively kept the masses from uniting to confront the common enemy – the corporate socioeconomic elite.
The poor, the working class and the middle class – in both Canada and the U.S. – must stop allowing the corporate elite to keep them warring against each other on the basis of petty and irrelevant differences such as race, colour, creed (or lack thereof), ethnicity, national origin, gender and sexual orientation.
If the poor, the working class and the middle class – in both Canada and the U.S. – are going to avoid long years of government-imposed austerity, then they’re going to have to rediscover their common humanity and unite as one against the predator class.
Will North Americans just accept austerity?
By Henry McRandall