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Patrick Watson (1980) vs CTV (2007): the case of Conrad Black: The Canadian Establishment and governance.

Throughout the trial of Conrad Black I wondered why Patrick Watson‘s articulate and well-researched CBC documentary entitled the Canadian Establishment (1980), was not viewed on CBC. Conrad Black was known for a strong and effective offensive tactics when dealing with his image management in the press and until the guilty verdict became publicized the media was discouraged from entirely objective coverage. This may change now that the jury has revealed to their decision. CTV coverage reveals a pro-Black bias describing him as stoic, proud, even …onian, in the face of this trial, almost agreeing with Conrad Black that he is somehow above the law. However, he did glare and skowl at the jury when they gave their decision. They describe how he helped every community he was a part of. They admire his rise from his university education to an emerging career with the press to the circle of the uber-wealthy. They expect him to stand up to this and continue to argue for his own innocence. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice where he removed evidence from his Toronto office and of email fraud which hold a combined possible sentence of 10 to 65 years. Charges of racketeering were dismissed. Nonetheless he stole millions of dollars from Hollinger, and continues to feel no remorse. There appears to be a strong empathetic response to the potential of his doing his real jailtime in an American jail where he is actually going to have to do work such as laundry. There is speculation and some relief that since he is so ‘astute’ in terms of money that he will have provided for himself and his family, Barbara Amiel, their son and daughter, Alanna in some ‘legal’ fashion. CTV journalists are comparing the American and Canadian legal systems in terms of fairness and approaches to access to jury information. They mused about whether American courts would be harsher on Black and his co-accused than their Canadian counterparts who would be more influenced by Black’s position of power, wealth and prestige. They seem to admire Black for his intelligence and his ability to write and do research and imagine him using his minimum security prison to study and write. Although others argue that an American minimium security prison is not an exclusive club prison like those in Canada and Black will not have access to a computer. CTV interviewees describe Black as someone very concerned with his place in history. CTV journalists look for ‘silver lining’ in his situation. They wonder how Black will survive from now to his sentence hearing by Judge … in November. He is no longer a Canadian citizen since he abandoned it to become a British Lord. This means he has no rights to go to Canadian jails which are considered to be friendlier to the uber-wealthy. Black is expected to begin quickly to appeal the jury’s findings. This will not be stalling the sentencing hearing.

What makes Watson’s (1980) revelations so compelling at this time is the way in which he reveals Black’s roots as outsider on Bay Street until he was able to take advantage of widows of Establishment members to get his toe in the door. While Black’s father had some wealth through his brewery, his family lacked the prestige and power of the Canadian Establishment. According to Watson, it was during the era of Conrad Black that the Establishment shifted towards an even more self-serving attitude of entitlement. His business ethics predates that of the mean-spirited arrogance of the financeers in the 1990s. He seems to embody that which is dysfunctional and unsustainable in a social world corrupted by extremes of wealth and poverty.

My own concern with Black was the role he played as media mogul in obstructing access to an objective press, a keystone of democracy. Like the the New Brunswick-Bahamas Irvings prior to their ethical turn, mass media moguls adopt Friedman’s motto that their sole responsibility is to make money. Black claimed that he hoped to provide more of a pro-business, economic efficiency viewpoint to counteract the perceived social justice bias of the media (Flynn-Burhoe).

Do we secretly admire white collar criminals and their brilliant lawyers? Conrad Black and three others are accused of stealing $60M from shareholders to fatten their 5- and 7-figure salaries. Prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer claimed in his opening statement that media mogul Black failed to provide the public with objective accounts of world affairs.

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CTV News. 2007. Conrad Black. July 13, 2007.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. “Media and Objectivity: a Selected Timeline of Social Events.” >> papergirls. December 6.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007.

Is the Mass Media Coverage Biased in Favour of Conrad Black?”>> papergirls. May 9, 2007.

Watson, Patrick. 1980. The Canadian Establishment. CBC.

Patrick Watson.” Museum TV Archives.


French philospher and superstar of atheism Michel Onfray’s (Onfray 2007) movement of evangelical secularism depends on a moral mathematics of risk society. At its most extreme it advocates a form of instrumentalist social atomism and radical anthropocentrism.

Onfray refers to the influential writings of Nietzsche, who combines philosophy with a searing aesthetic to unsettle 19th century ethics, ethos and morals. Nietzsche work is permeated with a heightened moral relativism where individuals are free to choose their own virtues and vices subjectively and interchangeably. But Nietzsche’s avatar Zarathustra is not advocating a new religion. He is following in the Enlightenment tradition wherein the modern individual perceives religion to be pitiably self-delusional and comfortable. And I never forget that Nietzsche wrote against a late 19th century backdrop of a distorted form of Christian/utilitarianism driving unfettered destructive colonial expansion.

These masters of today- surpass them, O my brethren- these petty
people: they are the Superman’s greatest danger!
Surpass, ye higher men, the petty virtues, the petty policy, the
sand-grain considerateness, the ant-hill trumpery, the pitiable
comfortableness, the “happiness of the greatest number”-!
And rather despair than submit yourselves. And verily, I love you,
because ye know not today how to live, ye higher men! For thus do ye
live- best! (Nietzsche 1892)

The brilliance of the canonical writing of Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, Deleuze and even Derrida, is not enough to provide incentive to transform inner ethical orientations or to change outward moral behaviour. Marx was not a Marxist. Derrida himself deconstructed the Author. These leaders of thought provide useful concepts and robust arguments but not comprehensive systems intended for universal adoption. Their space-time dependent oeuvre never claimed to provide comprehensive manifestos with an ethos, code of ethics and a will for social change under accidental temporal and spatial conditions.

Moral orientation imposed through legislation and education aims at protecting current and dominant (not necessarily democratic) concerns of society. Such ordinances and curriculum are necessary in a civil society but they provide at most a minimalist state protection for those at-risk of social exclusion. At their worst the algorithms of moral mathematics ensure a legal and civil method to heighten the vulnerability of the most vulnerable. See Foucault on crime, punishment and discipline.

Nietzsche’s concept of authenticity which is a form of self-making in the register of the aesthetic is incompatible with that form of imposed morality, the Christian-inspired ethic of charity for the Other crushes an individual’s elemental, instinctive and powerful desires (Taylor 1991:65).

In contrast the inner ethical orientations ( BIC 2006 ) of moderate civil religion relevant to social, historical, economic and political context are constituted by a concept of faith as conscious knowledge expressed in action (‘Abdu’l-Baha 1915:549) combined with an an ethos of caring and mutual trust. This concept of faith is held in tension by the use of the faculty of reason to prevent fanaticism and superstition. First it is to know and then to do (‘Abdu’l-Baha 1915:549).

Taylor (1991:10) describes the fading of moral horizons, the loss of meaning, the eclipse of ends, rampant instrumental reason and the loss of freedoms as all part of the malaise of modernity. He cautions that atomist and instrumentalist approaches promote a debased and shallow form of authenticity (1991:120).

keywords: moral mathematics, consequentialism vs deontology, 

Webliography and Bibliography

‘Abdu’l-Baha. 1915. Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Bahá’í International Community (BIC). 2006. “A New Vision for Humanity’s Future.

Colbert, Stephen. 2007. Unquisition. May 3.

Derrida (1990) in Le droit à la philosophie du point de vue cosmopolitique.

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007a.”The West Needs a Spiritual Surge” >> Amitai Etzioni Notes. March 6, 2007.

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007b. L’Occident aussi a besoin d’un renouveau spirituel.” Le Monde. 7 avril.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2007. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Twelve/Warner Books.

Higgins, Andrew. 2007. As religious strife grows, atheists seize pulpit.” Northwest Herald. >> nwherald.com. April 13.

Kinsley, Michael. 2007. “In God, Distrust.” Sunday Book Review. New York Times. May 13.

Lacroix, Alexandre, Truong, Nicolas. 2007. “Nicolas Sarkozy et Michel Onfray: Confidences entre Ennemis.” Philosophie Mag. No. 8. >> Philomag.com

Onfray, Michel. 2007. Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1892. Thus Spake Zarathustra. Trans. Common, Thomas.Taylor, Charles. The Malaise of Modernity. Concord, Ontario: House of Anansi Press.


The Canadian business community has taken the most active interest in politics at the CEO level than any other business community in in the world (d’Acquino cited in Brownlee 2005: 9 Newman 1998:159-160). And this interest and influence has been on the rise in the last decades. Canada’s business community has had more influence on Canadian public policy in the years 1995-2005 then in any other period since 1900.

Look at what we stand for and look at what all the governments, all the major parties . . . have done, and what they want to do. They have adopted the agendas we’ve been fighting for the in the past few decades (cited in Brownlee 2005: 12 Newman 1998:151).

Tom D’Acquino should know as he is the CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

While the average North American is becoming increasingly concerned by climate change, a recent report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has found that fewer than a fifth – 18 per cent – of North American chief executives are concerned about climate change putting them increasingly out of step with their colleagues in Europe and Asia Pacific.

This a current list of the Chief Executive Officers of the Officers of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives:

  • Dominic D’Alessandro, Vice Chair Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO Manulife Financial
  • Thomas d’Aquino, Chief Executive Officer and President of Canadian Council of Chief Executives
  • Paul Desmarais. Jr. Vice Chair President of Canadian Council of Chief Executives and Chairman and C0-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation of Canada
  • Richard L. George, Honorary Chair Canadian Council of Chief Executives and President and CEO of Suncor Energy Inc.
  • Jacques Lamarre, Vice Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO SNC-Lavalin Group, Inc.
  • Gordon M. Nixon, Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO of Royal Bank of Canada
  • Hartley T. Richardson Vice Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President and CEO of James Richardson and Sons, Ltd.
  • Annette Verschuren Vice Chair of Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and President of The Home Depot Canada

Selected bibliography

  • Brownlee, Jamie. 2005. Ruling Canada: Corporate Cohesion and Democracy. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
  • Brownlee’s (2005) publication stems from his MA thesis supervised by University of Manitoba Sociology Professor Greg Olsen. It builds on the work of William Carroll, Wallace Clement and Murray Dobbin. I highly recommend this book for teaching, learning and research on how Ottawa really works. Some of the well-constructed arguments are located in sections entitled: economic cohesion and the structure of corporate capital, mergers and acquisitions, interlocking directorates, a class conscious business elite, public policy formation network, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Global policy organizations, advocacy think tanks and economic elite, corporate social responsibility and the role of states in the era of globalization. The bibliography is a book in itself. The appendices, Media-Corporate Director Board Interlocks and Think Tanks – Corporate Director Board Interlocks for 2003 provide missing pieces to a puzzle.

  • Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006.Media and Objectivity: a Selected Timeline of Events
  • Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2005. Interview with Jamie Brownlee in response to Globe and Mail article “Canada’s top 10% pay 52% of total tax bill.”
  • Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “King of Canada: Tom d’Acquino CEO of CEO’s” Google Docs and Spreadsheet. mirror
  • “The Globe and Mail Weekly Appointment Review.” Globe and Mail. January 22, 2007. p. B6
  • Hackett, Robert A. and Gruneau, Richard. 2000. The Missing News: Filters and Blind Spots in Canada. Ottawa: Centre for Policy Alternatives/Garamond Press Inc.
  • Hackett, Robert A. and Zhao, Yuezhi. 1998. Sustaining Democracy? Journalism and the Politics of Objectivity. Toronto: Garamond Press Inc.
  • I first read this book while preparing to teach a Northern-centred introductory human rights course in Iqaluit, Nunavut. My students were often employees of the Nunavut Government involved in making history as they introduced their own human rights bill. I wanted the inconvenient truth claims in Hackett and Zhao to be illegitimate but their research was unfortunately very robust. I thought I lived in a country whose forms of democratic governance were maturing until I read how we were actually going backwards not forwards in terms of objectivity and mass media.

    These recent shifts in media ownership and policy might be seen as the equivalent of a non-violent coup d’etat, a metaphor evoking the inherent link between media power and state power — between the colonization of the popular imagination and the allocation of social resources through public policy and market relations. Communications scholar Herbert Schiller suggests that what is at stake is “packaged consciousness”: the intensified appropriation of the national symbolic environment by a “few corporate juggernauts in the consciousness business (Hackett and Zhao 1998:5)

  • N/A. 2007. “U.S bosses out of step on climate change.” Management-Issues
  • Newman, Peter. 1975. The Canadian Establishment. Toronto: Mclelland and Stewart.
  • Newman, Peter. 1975. The Canadian Establishment. Toronto: Mclelland and Stewart.
  • Newman, Peter. 1981. The Acquisitors.. Toronto: Mclelland and Stewart.
  • Newman, Peter. 1998. Titans: How the New Establishment Seized Power. Toronto: Penguin Books.
  • Olsen, Gregg. 1991. “Labour Mobilization and the Strength of Capital: The Rise and Stall of Economic Democracy in Sweden.” Studies in Political Economy. 34.
  • Olsen, Gregg. 2002. The Politics of the Welfare State: Canada, Sweden and the United States.. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

According to TD Bank Financial Group Economists Drummond and Tulk (2006) wealth disparities will intensify. They paint a dismal picture for Canadians excluded from the top quintile. Prospects are bright for Canada’s 22 billionaires and others in that elusive group of Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) ie c. .004% of Canadian families (Stenner et al., 2006 ), who hold more than $10,000,000 in assets. In sharp contrast to Canadians in the four lower quintiles, the UHNW benefited with large increases in wealth since 1984. Unlike real estate held by the lower quintile, these rare families saw their luxury homes, properties, businesses and collections rise in price. With these additional assets they were able to invest, many in tax-free RRSPs, so their net worth grew. “If investment returns rise the trend towards growing wealth disparities will likely intensify. This could be compounded by sluggish wage gains in the low end and the financial challenge of immigrants – the main source of growth in the younger, less affluent population (Drummond and Tulk, 2006).”

Considerable wealth was accumulated in Canada between 1999 and 2005. In 2005 net worth increased by 41.7% to nearly $1.5 trillion (US?). The most recent Statistics Canada report revealed today that the Canadian national net worth reached $4.8 trillion by the end of the third quarter. While in terms of an economist’s algorithm this translates into an average of $146,700 per person. In reality only the a tiny number of Canadian households benefited. “The gain in net worth resulted from an increase in national wealth (economy-wide non-financial assets) as well as a sharp drop in net foreign debt. National net worth grew 2.8% in the third quarter, the largest increase in more than two years (Statistics Canada 2006 )”.

Drummond and Turk are concerned that in spite of the dramatic growth in Net Worth, there is a significant portion of the population with little or negative Net Worth (debts/assets ratio) in 2005.

Although Drummond and Turk cite the World Institute for Development Economics Research as their source in regards to situating the seemingly overwhelming disparity between the 10% of households that are extremely wealthy and the lower quintiles. (I believe they refer to reports by Senior Researcher of the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) of the United Nations University, Mark McGillvray (2005) whose research is available only of the deep Internet — an exclusive members-only club.)

For the first time however, 165 of the UNHW families accepted to be interviewed by the Stenner Group. The True Wealth Report (Stenner 2006 ) reveals that the most popular past-times of UNHW are traveling (particularly to London, Paris, Vienna, New York and Vancouver staying in ), playing golf and taking part in other sports, collecting art and antiques, drive BMW’s, Volvo’s or Porsches. They claim their philanthropy is tied to both their religious faith and strategic money management (Stenner et al., 2006 ).

(Morissette and Zhan, 2006)

According to Stats Can economists in their recent report who refer to research by Western University Economist James B. Davies and Shorrocks Economist with the United Nations World University, it is to measure the actual holdings of the uber-wealthy. Forty-eight percent of Canadian wealth might be held by less than 1% of the Canadian population; (Davies and Shorrocks, 2000, Davies, 2003).

Western University Economist and co-author of publications with Shorrocks, editor for the United Nations World University publications and Financial Post journalist (Chevreau, 2003) both cited Shillington’s C.D. Howe Insitute report (2003), revealing an unintended disincentive for the those who earn under $50,000/annual to save. “Shillington (2003) has used Statistics Canada’s 1999 Survey of Financial Security to illuminate what he calls the “futile saving” problem. He looks, first, at the savings of “near-seniors”, those households where the older spouse is aged 55 – 64. He finds that 21% of these households have no retirement saving, and in total 53% have retirement savings of less than $100,000. On the grounds that savings of $100,000 would not permit the purchase of an annuity of more than about $10,000 Shillington believes that the majority of these people will be GIS recipients in retirement. Their savings are thus “futile”, since they will be at least half confiscated by the GIS taxback.17 Turning to actual GIS recipients, Shillington reports that about 23 percent have an RRSP, with an average value of $43,000; 29 percent have an RPP, with an average value of $65,000; and about 40% have either an RRSP or RPP. In Shillington’s view this represents the result of a gigantic fraud, however unintentional. Governments and financial institutions have advertised the importance of saving for retirement very heavily, and the annual campaign to get RRSP contributions is a vigorous one. The voices warning low-income people that this is in no sense an “investment” are tiny ones.” (Davies, 2003) p. 28

Shillington concluded that

poor seniors dependent on the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and its means-tested provincial and municipal counterparts should not bother with RRSPs. To do so means losing GIS benefits, rent subsidies, drug benefits, provincial aid programs like Ontario’s GAINs and similar welfare programs.” Once RRSPs create income from Registered Retirement Income Funds after 69, $1 in income reduces GIS benefits by 50¢. Since half of GIS recipients pay income tax, they face an effective marginal tax rate of 75% on extra income. In some cases involving dividend gross-ups, the effective top-rate savings may pass 100%, Mr. Shillington said. For them, “RRSPs are a terrible investment. They are victims of a fraud, however unintentional.” Saving $100,000 in RRSPs may be futile if that is your target. However, it does not mean younger people with $100,000 already saved should stop, as long as they are on the way to accumulating several hundred thousand dollars by the end of their working lives. “RRSPs can be dangerous to your financial health” is the subtitle of Free Parking, a self-published book by “reformed financial planner” Alan Dickson. “I totally agree with the report,” Mr. Dickson said. Citing 2001 Statistics Canada data, Mr. Shillington said of $1-trillion in retirement assets, $600-billion is in employer pensions, $340-billion in RRSPs and $70-billion in RRIFs. (Chevreau, 2003)

“National net worth reached $4.8 trillion by the end of the third quarter, or $146,700 per person. The gain in net worth resulted from an increase in national wealth (economy-wide non-financial assets) as well as a sharp drop in net foreign debt. National net worth grew 2.8% in the third quarter, the largest increase in more than two years (Statistics Canada 2006 )”.

Clever people like Derek Foster who know how to work the system trigger angry responses against publicly-financed assistance for the lowest quintile. (Heinzl, 2005) Foster (born c. 1961) began making astute investments while still in university. He learned from finance gurus Peter Lynch and Warren Buffett. In 2005 he continued to earn enough from his total investments (which total six digits) in Starbucks, Colgate-Palmolive, Rothmans Inc., Royal Bank of Canada, Corby Distilleries Ltd., Manulife Financial Corp., George Weston Ltd., Pembina Pipeline Income Fund, Canadian Oil Sands Trust and a dozen or so others, that he and his family of four can live modestly without ever having to work again. Their low income c. $30, 000/annual actually allows them to enjoy certain publicly-financial benefits designed for low-income earners with no assets (Heinzl, 2005). Others include Dianne Nahirny’s Stop Working, Start Living (http://www.smartmakeovers.com) and Alan Dickson’s Free Parking and Advance to Go (http://www.freemoneypress.com)

(McGillivray, 2005)
(McGillivray, 2005)

Unfortunately I cannot use this source. References have no weight: [1.4 million Canadian children — about one in five — living in poverty, an increase of more than 500,000 since 1995. [. . .]”Housing, health, education, labour rights and a healthy environment are all included in the covenant,” she said. “Wealthy nations like Canada are expected to take steps toward meeting the goals of the covenant, but since Canada last reported in 1993, it has taken many steps backward.” [. . .] But life may not be as rosy as the UN survey found. A recently released Indian Affairs study said off-reserve aboriginals came in about 35th and on-reserve natives rank about 63rd in the world, putting their standard of living in Canada at the same level as Mexico’s and Thailand’s. The Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards recently said anyone who has tried to measure Canadians’ quality of life has found it’s worsened considerably during the 1990s, even though the economy has bounced back from the last recession. (McGran, 1998 )

With more than a billion people living on less than one dollar per day, some evidence of increasing gaps in living conditions within and between countries and the clear evidence of substantial declines in life expectancy or other health outcomes in some parts of the world, the related topics of inequality, poverty and well-being are core international issues. More is known about inequality, poverty and well-being than ever before as a result of conceptual and methodological advances and better data. Yet many debates persist and numerous important questions remain unanswered. This book examines inequality, poverty and well-being concepts and corresponding empirical measures. Attempting to push future research in new and important directions, the book has a strong analytical orientation, consisting of a mix of conceptual and empirical analysis that constitute new and innovative contributions to the research literature.Mark McGillivray is a senior researcher with the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) of the United Nations University.

Selected webliography

Chevreau, Jonathan (2003) RRSPs a bad option for low-income earners Financial Post.
Davies, James B. (2003) Social and Economic Risks to Seniors in Ontario. Ontario Panel on the Role of Government (OPRG). Toronto.
Davies, James B. & Shorrocks, Anthony F. (2000) “The Distribution of Wealth.” In Atkinson, A.B. and Bourguignon, F. (Eds.) Handbook of Income Distribution.
Drummond, Don & Tulk, David (2006 ) Lifestyles of the Rich and Unequal: an Investigation into Wealth Inequality in Canada. TD Bank Financial Group.
Heinzl, John (2005) The ‘Youngest Retiree’ Tells How To Punch Out Of The Workplace. Globe and Mail.
McGillivray, Mark (2005) Inequality, Poverty and Well-being, Helsinki, Finland, Palgrave Macmillan.
Mcgran, Kevin (1998 ) Anti-poverty activists take case to the United Nations. The Canadian Press. Toronto, ON.
Mcquaig, Linda (1995) Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths, Toronto, Viking
Mcquaig, Linda (1998 ) The Cult of Impotence: Selling the Myth of Powerlessness in the Global Economy, Toronto, Penguin Books
Morissette, René & Zhan, Xuelin (2006 ) Revisiting Wealth Inequality. Perspectives on Labour and Income. Ottawa, ON, Statistics Canada.
Shillington, Richard (2003) New Poverty Traps: Means-Testing and Modest-Income Seniors. C. D. Howe Institute. Backgrounder. 65.
Statistics Canada. (2006). “National balance sheet accounts: Third Quarter”. Press Release. Ottawa, ON. December 15, 2006.
Stenner, Thane, Bower, Rod, Currie, John & O’connor, Rory (2006) True Wealth Report: Values and Views of Ultra-Affluent Individuals, Vancouver, BC, T. Stenner Group ™.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. 2011-03-04. “Need versus greed: The global economy is growing quickly, but too much wealth is siphoned off by well connected billionaires.

This post is being written on line back and forth between articles, EndNote, zotero and the slow world. It is currently being updated.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen 2008. “Food Fertilizer Fuel.” >> papergirls.wordpress.com

Speechless

December 11, 2006


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Somewhere on the Pacific a small lifeboat shared by two unwilling and unlikely passengers rolled with the waves. Pi knew he could do more than just survive once he realized that Richard was dependent on him. Pi could fish. A Bengal Tiger, king of his own ecosystem, would die at sea without the help of the seventeen-year-old. The book really ended there; it didn’t matter after that what was truth or fiction. Pi’s understanding of power in everyday life was his new reality.

Speechless refers to both the writer and reader. At one level it’s about a writers’ block being blogged. At another level is refers to deafening silence that occurs when one speaks with too much feeling or mentions an uncomfortable idea in a nice place, a unpleasant reminder in polite company, a divergent idea in a space of group think, another perspective than the Renaissance perspective. But it also refers to robust conversations among political philosophers who understand the power of language and everyday life. Socrates, Plato, Derrida called for renewals in philosophy. They examined what we do with words, the role of memory. Speechless alludes to Derrida’s urgent appeal for a renewed democracy, for a revitalized philosophy from a cosmopolitical point of view.

The human eye can distinguish 16 values of grey but that’s not including the subtle differences in the colours of grey. We just don’t have the time to see the variations.

I began speechless on October 16, 2006. Two months later I have learned what a permalink is and how to make one. It’s the equivalent to the old web page’s index.html. Now I have to learn where to use it.

https://oceanflynn.wordpress.com/index.php/2006/12/11/speechless

The cloud of tags below has grown organically since I first began using WordPress as my main blog host on October 16, 2006. I am building my customized clouds of folksonomies by working on and learning from a number of Web 2.0 feeds. This includes a Flickr account for photo blogging which attracts alot of viewers. I have only a couple of dozen images but one image alone uploaded on October 22, 2006 was viewed 1,179 times over a period of 64 days! I reworked this image again and posted it on speechless under “Wave Algorithms.”

Featured folksonomy:

Benign colonialism is a term that refers to an alleged form of colonialism in which benefits outweighed risks for indigenous population whose lands, resources, rights and freedoms were preempted by a colonizing nation-state. The historical source for the concept of benign colonialism resides with John Stuart Mills who was chief examiner of the British East India Company dealing with British interests in India in the 1820s and 1830s. Mills most well-known essays (1844) on benign colonialism are found in Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy. Mills’ view contrasted with Burkean orientalists. Mills promoted the training of a corps of bureaucrats indigenous to India who could adopt the modern liberal perspective and values of 19th century Britain. Mills predicted this group’s eventual governance of India would be based on British values and perspectives. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for indigenous peoples as settlers, merchants and administrators also brought new industries, liberal markets, developed natural resources and introduced improved governance. The first wave of benign colonialism lasted from c. 1790s-1960s. The second wave included new colonial policies such as exemplified in Hong Kong (Liu 2003)), where unfettered expansion of the market created a new form of benign colonialism. Political interference and military interference (Doyle 2006) in independent nation-states, such as Iraq (Campo 2004 ), is also discussed under the rubric of benign colonialism in which a foreign power preempts national governance to protect a higher concept of freedom. The term is also used in the 21st century to refer to American, French and Chinese market activities in countries on the African continent with massive quantities of underdeveloped nonrenewable envied resources. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized.

For more see Flynn-Burhoe (2007).

There is a widespread Canadian mythology that First Nations, Inuit and Métis are among those who benefited from settler colonies prempting, improving, managing and governing aboriginal lands, resources and educating, training, developing, serving, monitoring and governing its peoples. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for the indigenous peoples since the arrival of settlers. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) addressed these claims but the term benign colonialism is still a convenient truth for many. Celebratory and one-sided social histories of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the RCMP, and various government leaders such as John A. MacDonald or civil servants such as Indian Agents, northern adventurers, when viewed through the lens of settlers while ignoring the perspective of First Nations, Inuit and Métis contribute to on-going dissemination of distorted histories. Museums, maps and census contribute to these distorted histories by grave omissions.

Related citations:

“Today, Mill’s most controversial case would be benign colonialism. His principles of nonintervention only hold among “civilized” nations. “Uncivilized” peoples, among whom Mill dumps most of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, are not fit for the principle of nonintervention. Like Oude (in India), they suffer four debilitating infirmities – despotism, anarchy, amoral presentism and familism — that make them incapable of self-determination. The people are imposed upon by a “despot… so oppressive and extortionate as to devastate the country.” Despotism long endured has produced “such a state of nerveless imbecility that everyone subject to their will, who had not the means of defending himself by his own armed followers, was the prey of anybody who had a band of ruffians in his pay.” The people as a result deteriorate into amoral relations in which the present overwhelms the future and no contracts can be relied upon. Moral duties extend no further than the family; national or civic identity is altogether absent. In these circumstances, Mill claims, benign colonialism is best for the population . Normal relations cannot be maintained in such an anarchic and lawless environment. It is important to note that Mill advocates neither exploitation nor racialist domination. He applies the same reasoning to once primitive northern Europeans who benefited from the imperial rule imposed by civilized Romans. The duties of paternal care, moreover, are real, precluding oppression and exploitation and requiring care and education designed to one day fit the colonized people for independent national existence. Nonetheless, the argument also rests on (wildly distorted) readings of the history and culture of Africa and Asia and Latin America. Anarchy and despotic oppression did afflict many of the peoples in these regions, but ancient cultures embodying deep senses of social obligation made nonsense of presentism and familism. Shorn of its cultural “Orientalism,” Mill’s argument for trusteeship addresses one serious gap in our strategies of humanitarian assistance: the devastations that cannot be readily redressed by a quick intervention designed to liberate an oppressed people from the clutches of foreign oppression or a domestic despot. But how does one prevent benign trusteeship from becoming malign imperialism, particularly when one recalls the flowery words and humanitarian intentions that accompanied the conquerors of Africa? How far is it from the Anti-Slavery Campaign and the Aborigine Rights Protection Society to King Leopold’s Congo and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”?

Here Doyle is referring to John S. Mill cited in “A Few Words on Nonintervention.” . 1973. In Essays on Politics and Culture, edited by Gertrude Himmelfarb, 368-84. Gloucester, Peter Smith.

See also WordPress featured blogs Benign colonialism.

Related tags: Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, Hackett and Zhao, economic efficiency, Power and everyday life, ethical topography of self and the Other, teaching learning and research, wealth disparities will intensify, C.D. Howe, Cannibals with Forks.Selected annotated webliography

Campo, Juan E.  2004. “Benign Colonialism? The Iraq War: Hidden Agendas and Babylonian Intrigue.” Interventionism. 26:1. Spring.

Doyle, Michael W.  2006. “Sovereignty and Humanitarian Military Intervention.” Hoover Institute.

Falk, Richard. Human Rights Horizons: the Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World. New York & London: Routledge.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. Benign colonialism. >> Speechless. Uploaded January 14th, 2007

Liu, Henry C. K. “China: a Case of Self-Delusion: Part 1: From colonialism to confusionLiu 2003.” Asia Times. May 14, 2003.

Kurtz,Stanley. 2003.”Lessons from the British in India.” Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint. Policy Review.Mill, John Stuart. 1844. Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy.
Of these Essays, which were written in 1829 and 1830,

Current debates on colonization and human rights (Falk 2000) raise questions about the notion of benign colonialism. The dominant language, culture and values of colonizers imposed on colonised peoples is often narrated as salutary. Dominant social and cultural institutions contributed to faciliating the entry of indigenous peoples trapped in unsustainable subsistence economies. Previously colonised peoples claim that the colonization process resulted in a parallel process of the colonization of the minds of indigenous peoples. The process of decolonization of memory (Ricoeur 1980), history and the spirit is crucial for the social inclusion (OECD) of indigenous peoples and nations within nations, such as Canada.

 


Circumtomato

Economist Milton Friedman, propagated 18th century values in the Post-WWII global economy. Like Adam Smith he preached the gospel of minimal government, laissez-faire. The triad, Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944), Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957), and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (1962) pit economic efficiency against social justice.

“It is standard doctrine, at least among American economists and in much of the business community, that firms should maximize the stock market value (Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2007. “What is the Role of the State?” in Escaping the Resource Curse. supra note 154, at 3, 28-29).” Under U.S. corporate law, for example, a corporation’s board of directors must make decisions that reflect the profit motivations of shareholders or risk liability for a breach of fiduciary duty.” (The Yale Journal of International Law. Vol.36:167:184).


A Circumtomato Globe: Devouring the Earth, Extremes of Wealth and Poverty

I compiled this digitized collage, inspired by Deborah Barndt’s Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail on November 16, 2006. I used a Google earth generated globe to situate as a kind of circumtomato globe. I developed the concept of John Elkington’s Cannibals with Forks for the image of a world being devoured by those who choose to make decisions based on only one bottom line.


In its Oxford style debate 2.0 on sustainability and corporate responsibility, The Economist set forth the proposition for debate, “Without outside pressure, corporations will not take meaningful action on sustainability.” The final vote count was: Pro 73% / Con 27%.


Henry C K Liu, chairman of the New York-based Liu Investment Group wrote this in his article (2003) about Hong Kong’s benign colonialism that seduced Milton Friedman.

Love is blind and infatuation disguises faults as virtues. As Rudyard Kipling fell in love with the pageantry of colonialism and saw racial exploitation as the “White Man’s Burden”, Milton Friedman, Nobel economist, fell in love with colonial Hong Kong, seduced by the wine-and-dine hospitality of its colonial masters and elite compradores. Friedman mistook Hong Kong’s colonial economic system as a free market, despite Hong Kong’s highly orchestrated colonial command economy.

The violence of extremes of wealth and poverty is the moral dilemma of the 21st century, not the acquisition of wealth by individuals, corporations and nation-states. The use of that wealth to convince civil society through mass media of a fair redistribution of wealth is unconscionable. In his book entitled The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Times, Harvard Economist, Jeffrey D. Sachs (2005) reveals the gaping chasm between the real and the perceptions of the real in terms of the ways in which the world’s wealthiest share their wealth with the world’s most vulnerable, at-risk populations. Based on OECD statistics and his own research Sachs claims that the extremes of poverty could be overcome in 25 years if wealthy nations devoted just 0.7% of their GNP (instead of the 0.33% currently provided) official development assistance (ODA) in developing countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that Canada’s official development assistance (ODA) was 0.28% of gross national income (GNI) up from an all time low of 0.22% in 2001. In 2005 the world’s most powerful, wealth nation, the United States devoted just 0.22% of its GNP to foreign aid.

Public perceptions reflect support for higher levels of aid. When asked what percentage of the federal budget they think goes to foreign aid, Americans’ median estimate is 25% of the budget, more than 25 times the actual level. Only 2% of Americans give a correct estimate of 1% of the budget or less. When asked how much of the budget should go to foreign aid, the median response is 10%. Only 13% of Americans believe that the percentage should be 1% or less. Over 60% of Americans believe that contributing 0.7% of national income to meet the Millennium Development Goals is the right thing to do (Sachs 2005).

In an article published in The Economist in 2005 entitled “The Biggest Contract” (in reference to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of social contract), Ian Davis challenged Anglo-Saxon corporate management to revisit, redefine, re-articulate and reinforce with greater subtlety their relationship with society as an implicit social contract that acknowledges obligations, opportunities and mutual advantage for both sides.” Corporate management needs to recast this debate and recapture the intellectual and moral high ground from their critics.” Davis argued that like the political leaders in Rousseau’s 18th century, corporate management in the 21st century will lose legitimacy if they refuse to serve the public good. Davis rejects the nonproductive binary oppositional environment of public debate on economic efficiency vs social justice. The strongly held belief in Anglo-Saxon economies [1] that the “business of business is business” (to create shareholder value) is as outworn, ideology-based and caricature-driven as is the extreme version of Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).

Davis argued that an informed, educated and engaged [2] CEOs and upper-level management should map-out long term options and responses to relevant, evolving, overarching, broad, carefully researched social pressures and issues as an implicit and integral (not merely peripheral) part of corporate strategy rather than depending exclusively on lower-level public-relations tacticians operating with a knee-jerk, defensive, narrow, reactionary, rebuttal stance to individual, local and immediate (at times, ill-defined) laws, (political, ideological, etc) tensions and (environmental, sustainability, NGO) concerns. “Large companies need to build social issues into strategy in a way which reflects their actual business importance.” The CEOs should blend and harmonize their supporting efforts, such as trade regimes, with sophisticated, sensitive and successful approaches to risk management, social and economic development issues, access to social services particularly for the most vulnerable populations and resolutions of regional geopolitical conflicts. See The Economist premium content.

“Since 2006 investors have flocked to sign the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) but now find themselves in the firing line for ‘greenwashing’, as many fail to fulfill their promise to fully integrate and report progress on environmental, social and governance factors. Most Australia-based UNPRI signatory super funds contacted by Ethical Investor admit there is still much work to be done to fully integrate Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) into its investment analysis and decision-making (Wagg and Taylor 2009-05-31).”

Notes

1. The Anglo-Saxon shareholder-value model has increasingly taken on global significance.

2. Davis argued that executive managers must introduce explicit processes which include the development of resources such as broad metrics, summaries and analysis of relevant social issues in order to systematically “educate and engage their boards of directors.

For more on this topic see also papergirls.wordpress.com

Selected Bibliography

Wagg, Oliver; Taylor, Nicholas. 2009-05-31. “UNPRI: Greenwash or Green Fix? Ethical Investor.

Barndt, Deborah (2001) Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail, Aurora, ON, Garamond Press.

Davis, Ian. 2005. “The biggest contract: By building social issues into strategy, big business can recast the debate about its role, argues Ian Davis.” The Economist. May 28.

Elkington, John (1997) Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, New Society Publishers, Limited.

Elkington, John (2003) Chrysalis Economy: How Citizen CEOs and Corporations Can Fuse Values and Value Creation, Wiley, John and Sons, Incorporated.

Friedman, Milton. 1970. “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”, The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970. Copyright @ 1970 by The New York Times Company.

Liu, Henry C. K., 2003, “China: a Case of Self-Delusion, from colonialism to confusion,” Asia Times, May 14, 2003.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. 2005. “Facts on International Aid.” The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Times.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. “The Strategic Significance of Global Inequality.”