Friday, May 31, 2019



When push comes to shove there are differences between environmental activists visions of the future and those of its allies in the union movement and on the left.
This is especially true when it comes to two controversial topics, oil sands development and nuclear power.  We will look at the oil sands in this essay and the former in a separate essay.

Oil sands or tar sands are bitumen oil sites, these are some of the most ancient of types of oil man has used. It was often the easiest oil to find, as it pooled up to the surface from cracks and was accessibleIt is actually asphalt, except instead of being baked and hardened like your roads or sidewalks, it's a gunky, fluid,  semisolid tar. In ancient societies they knew of it and called it pitch, using it for lamps and as a form of waterproofing for building. 

There are two countries that have extensive oil sands holdings, Canada and Venezuela.  There are other deposits but these two are the biggest. Canada's are in Alberta and have been underdevelopment since the 1960's while Venezula's await development.

And herein lies the essence of our tale, for the past decade  there has been a serious campaign against Oil Sands development and production in Alberta by Greenpeace in particular and other environmentalists as well as by unions and the broad left in Canada and in the United States.

And yet there has been no discussion of the fact that the Belle of The Left, the Home of the Socialist Boliviarian Revolution; Venezuela will have to develop its oil sands eventually as it runs out of conventional oil to meet China's needs as well as America's.

A split already exists when we see the lack of criticism of the BRIC countries by Greenpeace, and Venezuela and Cuba in particular, though not part of the BRIC's perse they are existing regimes that still call themselves socialist as does China.

In Cuba the spilt is based on US foreign policy, which is the embargo of Cuba, which even capitalists in Canada ignore, taking advantage of the lack of American competition to make their own deals with Cuba.

In particular there is one Canadian company involved in Cuban coal, oil, nickel production that has never faced protests from the left or unions or the environmental movement, but has faced 
harsh criticisms and penalties from US Senators and Congressmen who support the Cuban embargo.

That company is Alberta based Sherrit International. And even though it is situated  in the oil refining heartland of central Alberta, there have been Greenpeace banners unfuraled, or picket lines set up. Why? Well they are unionized, they have a good economic deal with Cuba that sees them share 50/50 in development costs and profits. They work closely with the unions in Cuba meeting their demands for infrastructure spending in villages.

But they are miners, they are mining coal, nickel and now they are exploring for oil off the coast of Cuba. While having a model for development economics their model for mining is no different than used anywhere, including in Fort McMurray, since all oil sands production is mining.

So if mining is bad and oil development is bad why is Sherrit OK but not Transcanada or CNRL.

Because it's Cuba a darling of the Canadian left. Heck we take vacations there, sitting on the white sand beaches, not getting mugged, smoking real Cuban cigars, drinking authentic Cuban rum (not Bacardi), dance to hot Cuban Jazz and drink dark organic 
coffee for desert.

It was Canadians and Germans who invested in Cuba after the embargo, Albertan's set up some of the first vacation get away's, Air Canada flies to Havana, and Alberta ranchers have provided Raul Castro with Grade AAA Bull Semen for his experiments in cattle production. It's not just the Left and the Friends of Cuba but businessmen in Alberta who saw an opportunity.
I personally know of two groups of Edmonton area German businessmen who invested in Cuba already in  the Seventies building vacation getaway motels for Canadians and Europeans.

The left wing resurgence in Latin America in the last decade with the election of socialist governments in Brazil, Peru, Educador, Bolivia, Venezula, Argentina, and with the collapse of Argentina under the dead weight of capitalist debt, another way forward was embraced.
And most of the these countries like Canada are resource producers, hewers of wood drawers of water for US Imperialism, where they had once been for their European masters.

China the new imperial power on the block, a now ascending super power, politically, economically and militarily able to compete with America, is investing in Latin American resources as she is in Canadian resources, she would in America too but her corporations have been rebuffed.

So here we have the Left of Capitalism, China, the Latin Americas,  and the opposition to the West, non aligned nations like Iran, all doing what monopoly British American capitalism does.
It is two different forms of post WW II state capitalism, it is the organic growth of capitalism into a centralizing global force.

Because the rest of the world is not America, I will deal with what we all have in common sans the Americans. At various levels regardless of ideologies, we are all liberal capitalist economies that have social democratic values.

We are mixed economies as Ed Broadbent would tell anyone who would care to listen, he would insist we are not American capitalism, nor are we socialism, we are in between, we are social democratic economies, mixed state and private investment.  

The dialectic of late capitalism in the post war economies of last century was that the century began and ended with revolutions, that threatened to overthrow capitalism, but did not and in failing allowed capitalism to ameliorate its worst aspects, increasing its ability to transform itself from being dark satanic mills of production to air condition malls of consumption.

Even the United States as President Eisenhower pointed out in 1960; was transformed into 
 a state capitalist economy, he called it the Military Industrial Complex (MIC)

So capitalism having reformed itself in order to avoid further revolutions, depression and war, 
became the vision of Kautsky and  Bernstein and the followers of the Second International like Ed Broadbent and the NDP Despite Lenin;s scathing criticism of them Kautsky and Bernstein were correct in predicting the adaptability of capitalism but also that this would eventually lead to social democracy, and then socialism.

After the end of WWII the world was recreated in that image with the UN, the ILO charter, the international Charter of Human Rights, the Bretton Woods agreement, the IMF and the Marshall Plan for Europe, and the American reconstruction of Japan. Canada was central in the creation of the ILO, Human Rights charters and found statement of the UN. Not the USA, who maintains to this day a conservative conspiracy view that is really an attempt at one world government. Even our own neo republican right wing believes that as Harper has shown with his disdain.

So today there are two opposing views of society, a left and a right. But that does not make them socialist. And in fact I was about to write anti-capitalist but that too is simply another aspect of the left wing of capitalism.

No I mean good old fashioned, learned on yer grandmothers knee, yes sirree with a capital S Socialism, the peoples control of the means of production and distribution and consumption.

1 comment:

AAB College said...

Thank you for sharing