Dec 18, 2009

Ho Ho Ho. Help!


Are you worried about a last minute gift for one of your progressive friends?  Me too.  So I have a proposal that might help both of us.  I am going to suggest a new book you might find interesting in the hopes that you will take advantage of the comment section at the end of this blog to suggest a book idea to me.

I have just finished reading Donald Gutstein’s Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy (Key Porter Books, $22.95). 

Gutstein outlines how an interlocking web of major corporations, right-wing foundations, business friendly newspapers and organizations like the Fraser Institute have worked together for 40 years to dominate the political discourse in Canada and the United States.  Literally billions of dollars have been spent preaching market fundamentalism and attacking the role of government.

Foundations and corporations fund academics and right-wing think tanks to provide legitimacy to their ideas.  These ideas in turn are widely covered in an increasingly concentrated media.  Fraser Institute veterans go directly to work for major newspapers where their roots are rarely if ever acknowledged.

Gutstein presents many cases of how these links work.  He reports on the correspondence between the Fraser Institute and big tobacco asking for money to counter “risk activists and their misleading and misguided propaganda.”  Most interesting today, for obvious reasons, is how energy companies have funded the climate denial industry in an attempt to face down a virtual unanimity among climate scientists. 

Gutstein argues the right has been very successful in its efforts to undermine public confidence in public institutions – an argument that’s hard to ignore in the face of a voter turnout of less than 50%.

But the good news is that the system doesn’t always work.  Most people still believe there is a climate crisis and that something needs to be done about it.  Despite two decades of attacks most Canadians are still proud of our public health care system.

Conservative ideas have plenty of money behind them.   Progressive ideas could use more support.  So maybe I will offer another gift suggestion.  What about a membership in the CCPA for your friends? 

So that being said, what’s your idea for a book I could give Seth Klein this year?  Don’t tell him I asked.