An Angry Old Man Hates Democracy

Jean Swanson and I went to Victoria on February 23/02 {thanks to busses supplied by the B.C. Federation of Labour}, to attend the huge rally to protest Gordon Campbell’s vicious cuts to social programs, labour standards, environmental laws, and government services.  About 25,000 citizens were there.  It was an inspiring and peaceful rally – one more step in the long fight to stop the big business fanatics who want to serve up B.C. citizens and resources on a platter to international corporate and investment powers.

During the rally Jean and I went for a walk on the streets close to the Parliament Buildings to stretch our legs.  We saw a man in his seventies walking towards us.  He had a slight limp, and he used a cane to steady himself.  He had a round, flushed face and a handlebar mustache.  He wore a jaunty brown fedora and an expensive, brown camel hair coat.  He was obviously very angry, and smoke appeared to be hissing out of his ears.  His eyes flashed like a prairie thunderstorm.

“Thousands of socialists are ruining the lawn,” he snarled.  (the lawn in front of the Parliament Buildings)

“And a handful of capitalists are ruining the province,” Jean replied, as fast as an Ali left jab.

“Canada is a capitalist country,” he said.  “You only get what you work for.”

“Canada is supposed to be a democracy,” I said.

“Democracy is a joke,” the old man said, and he walked on, muttering to himself.

Why did he call democracy a joke, I wondered.  What did he mean when he said that Canada was a capitalist country?  Capitalism is about accumulation.  It is about buying cheap and selling dear.  It is about maximum profit.  The old man holds the value of making money above all other values, and he thinks Canada, also, should hold the value of making money above all other values.  That’s why he called Canada a capitalist country.  Democracy, on the other hand, is about equality, citizen participation, and human rights.  Democracy and capitalism have never gotten along.  They hold different visions about what it means to be a human being, and how a human being should live.

The old capitalist who called democracy a joke reminded me of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ story called A Christmas Carol.  Scrooge said, “Humbug” when his nephew wished him a Merry Christmas.  What did Scrooge mean by that?  He meant that the value of making money was the only legitimate value, and the values of Christianity, and the other great religions of the world, were just so much “Humbug”.

Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute wrote an article in the Toronto Star (Dec. 24/92) entitled “Dickens was wrong; miserly Scrooge was a hero.”  In it Walker took the same position as the old capitalist we met on the streets of Victoria.  Making money is the only legitimate value.  Scrooge is a hero according to Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute, and this neoliberal propaganda tank is a major influence on the corporate elite that controls the B.C. provincial Liberal Party.

The narrow, self-centred, acquisitive values of unrestrained corporate capitalism lead to a world where,

“Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep.”

(King Lear, by Shakespeare, Act 4, Scene 2)

We have some very dangerous, violent people in charge of our province right now.  They have a monetary vision of the world that is quite different from the democratic vision of most ordinary Canadians.

~ Sandy Cameron

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