The Fraser Institute and the subversion of Canadian values: part one

 The Fraser Institute and the subversion of Canadian values: part one

Since the early 1970s, there has been a broad international agenda led by right-wing American foundations to sway public opinion towards greater acceptance of an economic philosophy called Neoliberalism, of which Canada’s Fraser Institute has been a pivotal part.

It is by tracing the connections between the Fraser Institute and several prominent Canadian politicians, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and other far-right conservatives, including Premier Gordon Campbell of British Columbia, that we can identify the source of their disdain for traditional Canadian virtues. These politicians' dismissive attitudes toward democracy, a penchant for slashing social programs, their unconditional support for American foreign policy expeditions, and an utter refusal to condemn the gross human rights abuses of Zionism in Israel are all a part of the larger movement they support by their policies.

Despite its radical nature, the Fraser Institute is a part of everyday Canadian life. Each year, the group announces a Tax Freedom Day, the first day of the year when the country of Canada has theoretically earned enough income to fund its (supposedly horrific) annual tax burden. The institute’s “Report Cards” on the school and the health care systems are widely-circulated and designed to convince Canadians of the importance of reducing public spending and privatizing these and other social services.

As reported in The Tyee, Paul Shaker, dean of the faculty of education at Simon Fraser University, said recently, “Part of the international movement of neoliberalism is to treat schools as simply another service that can be commodified and deserves no special place in society. This movement has been coming along since Thatcher and Reagan, and reached a fevered pitch over the last ten years." If you want to analyze why things have deteriorated in Vancouver, Shaker said, "it probably has to do with this global and political movement.”

HISTORY

The premise of Neoliberalism, and that of Neoclassical Economic theories in general, is the pessimistic view that human beings are selfish creatures. It develops from a crass Darwinian attitude which deems that people ought to be responsible for their own “failings” (like poverty), and therefore, that governments should not provide services to assist them when they are in need.

Ultimately, the pursuit of self-interest is thought to create efficiencies that should be favored over any form of government activity. However, while the profit motive is certainly tolerable in certain situations, it is contrary to the public good in others, as in cases of essential human needs like education, health, water, energy sources and so on.

Essentially, Neoliberalism draws support from the philosophy of Adam Smith, who maintained it was not necessary for governments or any other social organizations to enforce a redistribution of wealth, because the free pursuit of self-interest would create enough surplus to benefit all. The disguised intent here is to induce societies to expose what should be publicly-held assets or industries to exploitation by private interests, and to then prevent governments from taxing these corporations, or regulating their activities in ways that might restrain their owners' lust for profits.

The chief propagandists of Neoliberalism were Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, who, in 1947, founded the Mont Pelerin Society to coordinate the creation of an international network of think-tanks and foundations designed to spread their philosophy. The basis of their propaganda was a scare-tactic of equating “big government” with totalitarianism. In Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Milton Friedman proposed that centralized control of the economy was always accompanied by political repression. Similarly, in The Road to Serfdom (1944), Hayek argued that “Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends.”

It was at the Rockefeller-funded University of Chicago that Friedman helped build an intellectual community that produced a number of Nobel Prize winners, known collectively as the Chicago School of Economics. In 1975 Friedman accepted the invitation of a private foundation to visit Chile and speak on principles of “economic freedom”, completing the CIA’s mission, following their support of the Pinochet coup against the democratically-elected socialist Allende.

Friedman’s activities were part of a broader strategy for the subversion of cultures and social democratic institutions around the world, carried out by the CIA and assisted by both the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. Frances Stonor Saunders, author of Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, details how the CIA ran cultural congresses, mounted exhibits and organized concerts, sponsored abstract art to counteract art with any social content, and subsidized journals that criticized revolutionary politics throughout the world.  Among the more prominent intellectuals benefitting from CIA funding were Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, George Orwell, Jackson Pollack, and Gloria Steinem.

Another was Irving Kristol, often called the “godfather” of Neoconservatism, a right-wing political philosophy that emerged in the US, and which supports using American economic and military power to purportedly bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries.

A number of prominent think-tanks and organizations closely related to the neoconservatives include the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Project for the New American Century and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).  Kristol became a senior fellow at AEI, arriving from the Congress for Cultural Freedom following the widespread revelation of the group’s CIA funding.  The stated mission of the AEI is “to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate.”

The ranks of  Kristol’s Neoconservatives were largely filled with former Marxists of mostly Jewish academic origin, who eventually transferred their devotion to an ideal of American military power.  Their swing to the right during the sixties and seventies is viewed as a result of the change in Israel's geopolitical status to military superpower.  As political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg describes:

“One major factor that drew them inexorably to the right was their attachment to Israel and their growing frustration during the 1960s with a Democratic party that was becoming increasingly opposed to American military preparedness and increasingly enamored of Third World causes [e.g., Palestinian rights]. In the Reaganite right’s hard-line anti-communism, commitment to American military strength, and willingness to intervene politically and militarily in the affairs of other nations to promote democratic values (and American interests), neocons found a political movement that would guarantee Israel's security.”

Today, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in their controversial bestseller, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, list the AEI s a principle aspect of America’s powerful Zionist lobby, which is dominated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The group, which would eventually furnish 59 members of the Reagan national security team including the president himself, focused on exaggerating the threat of the Soviet Union as a cover for their activities, maintaining: “the principal threat to our nation, to world peace, and to the cause of human freedom is the Soviet drive for dominance” and its “long-held goal of a world dominated from a single center -- Moscow.”  This Cold War scenario became the rational behind the CIA’s covert support for the Mujahidden war in Afghanistan, beginning American’s entry into a long-lasting battle for control over Central Asia, known as the Great Game.

Their domination of the Reagan administration provided them the opportunity to push their Neoliberal agenda.  By the end of the 1970s, many of the world’s economies were suffering as a result of the Oil Crisis and stagflation.  This presented the scenario by which, in the early eighties, Reagan and Thatcher were able to propose their drastic reforms--breaking down trade barriers and reducing government power--to supposedly revitalize their stagnant economies, thus ushering in the modern rush of Neoliberal policy implementations.

Part two of this article, which follows next week, will look further into the activities and supporters of the Fraser Institute.

Comments

The Fraser Institute

Thank you David for exposing us to who the Fraser Institute really represents. If you put Gordon Campbell and Steven Harper in the same group making policies you know it won't be good for 95% of Canadians. It amazes me that the citizens of Canada have re-elected both these far-right politicians that actively try to reduce the tax revenue through huge tax breaks for the rich and the corporations. They use this reduced revenue to justify reducing or eliminating social programs and the liquidation of public assets in order to try and balance their budgets. This is not the Canada in which I was raised where corporations paid fair taxes for the RIGHT to operate in this country and everyone could find a family doctor. Another good article about the Fraser Institute can be found here http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2010/07/29/WhyAttackCensus/index.html?commentsfilter=1 Thanks,

 Hi, Gravity. Just wanted to

 Hi, Gravity. Just wanted to say 'thanks' to you for summing up the situation in a nutshell like you have. One might imagine that society might put actual human beings first, and for a while in the 20th century it seemed to, but groups like the Fraser Institute are now dedicated to fixing that problem through exactly the methodology you outline: lower taxes and cut services. The result? People serve business interests and not the other way around.--ed.

Fraser Institute

Yes the carbon tax is right wing legislation. It punishes all people in the Province but the Pollution issue in mainly in Vancouver to the Fraser Vally but everyone has to pay for their crap they put in the air. Think of the families up north and the carbon tax and now the HST to top it off and they are not causing the pollution problem but they have to pay for it. That is right wing economics. Carbon tax should be only on the foks that live in the pollution areas and of course the industries everywhere that do pollute too and make money because of it but the Campbell will just give them tax credits to cover the carbon fee. I think the carbon tax should only be on large cities where pollution is a problem, the right wingers like punishing people no matter where they live! Long live the Social Democract's***the left wingers to take this right wing government down where they belong!

Fraser Institute

There must be a way to voice your opposition to the Fraser Institute, other than the anti-semetic tirade in your opinion piece. Also, calling Gordon Campbell's government "far-right wing" does a discervice to those who must deal with those types of governments on a daily basis. Does a far right government institute things such as a carbon tax? Does a far-right government continually increase spending in the public health sector every year! I think not. You would have a greater chance of pulling people to your thinking by pointing out the issues you disagree with and letting them make up there own minds. I dislike the Fraser Institute's "rating" of public schools throughout the province, however I do not have to show bigotry to get the point across.

 Whoah! First of all, charges

 Whoah! First of all, charges of 'anti-semeticsm' are extremely serious. Don't make such accusations without offering support for your views. That's truly offensive and disturbing. As editor, I would never publish anything bigoted. As for the rest of your comments, I'll defer to David Livingstone.--ed.

What's there to respond to?

This kind of accusation is precisely the tactics that the sponsors of the Fraser Institute have worked so hard to legitimize.

I can imagine that this kind of information can be hard to accept, so I'll forgive this early outburst.  Don't shoot the messenger.

The neoliberal agenda, of course, has had particular success in Canada, mainly in the western provinces, primarily Alberta, enabled through their adoration of Ralph Klein, but also of course in the more conservative parts of BC.

The notion of "fiscal responsibility" gave the West an opportunity to finally feel they had one up on the "East", against which they had been so bitter since Trudeau.

In turn, the resulting doctrine of "Western alienation" became the feeding ground for a growing conservative movement, with the likes of Preston Manning, and his Reform party, which eventually gained such strength that it produced the new Conservative Party of Canada, and now a reigning Prime Minister.

I can admit that it would be disappointing to discover how the whole time they were just being played by big American oil interests, which in Canada, of course, are concentrated In Alberta.

Now we know what camp Campbell comes from as well.  I don't think a single act of purported environmental benefit disqualifies him from the tag of "far-right".  I consider "right-wing" to represent traditional conservatives. 

The "far-right", on the other hand, are of the new neoliberal variety, of which Campbell is a  known representative, who are more extreme in their views, usually reflected in cutting income taxes to the wealthy, the elimination of social services, and the selling off of public assets to private interests.  All of which we've sorely had to witness during his time in office, and will continue to unless Canadians can wake up to the threat of this Neoliberal agenda.

Ultimately though, it's both you and I, as well as ordinary Canadians, who will be the victims here.  And it's the deceptive ideology of neoliberalism which is being used to divide us, and ultimately colonize us.