BY DAVID WEALE
The ‘gospel’ according to bankers, global capitalists and their political henchmen contains a small number of fundamental axioms or verities. I call them unholy principles.
The first is that it is a righteous thing to tear down all barriers to global trade, especially those that protect local economies that are impediments to the aspirations of the big boys. From a million pulpits they assure us that the free, wide-open market (which, of course, is not free at all) will render all of us prosperous. The message is believed fervently and proclaimed relentlessly. So much so that the average person accepts it as a self-evident truth, even though it is an outright lie.
The second unholy principle is that the GDP must continue to increase. This uncritical, faith-based commitment to eternal ‘moreness,’ (which is clearly catastrophic to both human society and the environment over the long haul) is, nonetheless, the principal dogma of the corporate faith. Yet it is an immature, unevolved doctrine unworthy of those women and men of spirit in all cultures who realize there is more to life than the making and spending of money.
The third unholy principle is that the well-being of many societies, including ours, depends on robust immigration. This obsession has nothing to do with compassion for the displaced and downtrodden. Immigrants are viewed less and less as individuals to be welcomed into the society in a wise and compassionate manner, and more and more as statistics within a soulless, corporate world-view -- mere ciphers within an economic equation.
To understand better what I am saying I would direct you the remarks of former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna in The Guardian, March 22, who says that our economic situation in Atlantic Canada will be “catastrophic” without heavy immigration. Ask yourself if that sounds like it is coming from a broad-minded, big-hearted individual who wants to help immigrants, or a man with the bottom-line, tunnel-vision of a banker, which he is. And yet I would challenge anyone to come up with one major study which has demonstrated over time that immigration improves the economic situation for the residents of the host community.
There are many great reasons for inviting immigrants into our country; however, the need to increase the economic well-being of the community is not one of them. Oh yes, it might increase the GDP, and provide greater profits for the multinationals and their shareholders, but will the average citizen be better off? There is no proof of that. None at all. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t welcome immigrants, just that we should pay no heed to those false premises which corrupt the entire process, which is happening on the Island right now.
From beginning to end this latter-day gospel of more, of which our premier is a high priest, is characterized by magical thinking, grandiose pronouncements, and a thinly disguised lust for greater profit and power. And yet, sadly, it has become the meta-narrative for the entire world.
We need a new story. One with more heart and soul. One that is not so driven by greed. One that honours local communities. One with respect for the environment that sustains us all. And I am just foolish enough to believe that a little place like P.E.I., and others like it, where attachment to place, and love of community are so strong, are ideally positioned to provide inspiration for the new storyline for which the whole world is longing.
But first we need to get rid of the priests.
- David Weale is a founder of Vision P.E.I.