Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 3, 2000
Culture savagery mimics economic Darwinism
The Darwinian ideology of the survival of the fittest that has characterized the late 20th century drive towards globalization has left its mark on individuals, families, communities and entire nations.
The agenda for this single global free market economy has been set by big transnational business interests and such institutions as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. The rules of the game are simple: Compete or be written off.
There is a strange fascination with this savagery that is reminiscent of the days when Christians were thrown to the lions in ancient Rome. Television audiences are glued to their sets like peeping Toms to witness a microcosm of this "new reality" as contestants vote to bump rejects off a tropical island until there is a single million-dollar winner left.
Is life imitating art or are these shows simply a reflection of an accepted new morality that the winner takes all? Nation states that want to be among the winners have brutally slashed social programs, health care, education and funding for environmental protection in order to attract billions of foreign investment dollars.
Citizens who see themselves as winners and pride themselves on being self-reliant clamour for tax cuts and less government regulation designed to protect the common good.
"Caring and compassion is socialism," says media owner Conrad Black.
Statistics Canada reported in mid June that the income of 20 per cent of the wealthiest Canadians has risen by 6.6 per cent. The middle-income earners' take home pay dropped by one per cent since 1989 and the poorest fifth saw a decrease of 5.2 per cent in their income over the last decade.
Since 1989, when Parliament solemnly vowed to eradicate child poverty, the number of children living in poverty has risen by 60 per cent while the number of millionaires has tripled.
To make ends meet, families now have to work longer and harder at two or three jobs, often without benefits since the companies they work for are competing to stay in business. Downloading of responsibilities for our neighbours has moved from the federal level to the provinces to the municipalities and right down to our places of work.
Social spending has dropped to the level of the 1930s, according to the Council of Canadians. Unfortunately that is where a lot of Canadians want it to be judging by those who have faith in the Alliance Party to help us "pole vault over the Americans" in the race to the top.
The Americans we want to emulate or surpass are known for both the largest number of billionaires and largest number of children and elders living in poverty in the industrialized world.
Their average home size has doubled in the last 20 years, but they also count the largest number of homeless in the western world. It is a culture of winners and losers.
Those who drop out of the race are written off as "genetically challenged," unfit to participate in the booming economy. "They were dealt an unlucky intellectual or physical allocation from the roulette wheel of genetic inheritance," according to Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute. "That's life," the new realists might say.
Psychologist Rollo May believes that competition is the primary source of anxiety in our culture. A recent article described how some people who want to stay in the race resort to courses originally designed for torture survivors.
An Angus Reid survey revealed that 53 per cent of Albertans suffer from job-related stress or other anxieties. It is peculiar that in our pursuit of happiness we feel so desperately unfulfilled.
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