Suppose I were to go public, and tell the world I had formed a committee of retired professors like me who would plan the economic future and the economic policies of the New Brunswick government? Suppose I were to add that we were in coalition with the government - that is, we were declaring ourselves members of the government. What would people say?
I mean, what would they say after they stopped giggling?
Norbert would write a humorous column saying he had read a book on the subject. And the book said you cannot be a member of a government in a democracy unless you get elected first. And you can't just announce you're a member. You have get enough elected members to ask you and come to agreement with you. And Norbert would be right.
But nobody would do anything worse that giggle. I mean, who takes retired professors seriously? (Who takes unretired ones seriously?) There's that image thing kicking in.
Okay, let's say a group of union leaders announce they have formed a committee to plan the New Brunswick economy, and that they are in coalition with the government.
New image. Evil. Trouble-making unions. A threat to God's natural order. Norbert explodes in rage.
Notice that in both cases what's wrong is that to be a part of a government in a democracy you must first be elected by the people. And even then, if you are not a part of the government party, you have to ask those who are if they will let you join the governments. In one case, retired professors are claiming a right to be in government - simply because they are group. Same in the other case.
This notion of choosing a government by groups rather than be individual votes has gone by many names and with many variations - group government, corporatism.... The basic idea is that we do not have rights as individuals. We have rights according to the group we belong to. Those rights include the right to be represented in government. In practice, how many rights you have are directly related to how wealthy you are.
Okay. Now for the real world.
Just over a year ago, Mr. Irving publicly announced he and his group, largely of business people with a scattering of potted plants for appearance's sake, would plan the economy of New Brunswick, and were in a coalition with the government - that is, though not elected and not invited, they were part of the government.
That was a claim based on the idea of group government. They were leading businessmen. Therefore, as a group, they had a right to be represented in government.
Dead silence from Norbert. Ditto for Alward. Then, after everybody had taken enough time to ignore it, Alward announced that people chosen by Mr. Irving's group would have official standing as advisors on the economy. Why? Well...I mean....well....these are very rich people....so.....
That is what is called group government or corporatism. It was adopted in the 1920s by an Italian leader name Mussolini. He called it fascism. For good measure, it was picked up by a dictator in Spain name Franco. He called it fascism, too.
Oh, naughty, naughty. Wrong image. The business leaders of New Brunswick are fine and honest people. Fascism is a dirty word.
New Brunswick has taken a long step toward fascism. So has most of the western world. In the United States, Obama will be running for president with gifts, largely from corporations and wealthy individuals of a billion dollars. The Repulican presidential candidate and all the candidates for Congress will be running on money from the same source. Government of the people, by the people died a long time ago. And it sure is not government for the people. In Canada, Harper has changed the rules to make it tougher for anybody who doesn't have very rich friends to even make a showing.
To a large degree, we have government by big business. That's why we're fighting a losing war in Afghanistan. Did you see crowds in the street demanding we go to war? Where did the demand for war come from?
Try a lobby goup called the Canadian Council of CEOs. And why were they made at Afghanistan?
They weren't. But the US was their essential market. And helping the US would make sure that the American government would keep it easy for Canadian goods to flow across the border.
How do you feel about war in Syria and/or Iran? Who cares how you feel? The only issue is whether it will be to the advantage of Canadian big business to send us to war.
Economically, fascism means government according not to individual choice, but according to group membership. That's what we have.
Too bad it creates such a bad image.
Now - what makes members of a group believe that they have rights simply because they belong to a group.
That's another topic and, believe it or not, it has something to do with hockey and the Olympics.