Canada’s youth have to take to the streets to reclaim the country’s democracy and economic priorities, famed TV personality David Suzuki says.
In an interview with JobBook News during an Occupy Montreal event this past weekend, the host of CBC’s iconic The Nature of Things and renowned environmental activist took a step away from the policy-oriented issues he usually talks about and took a broadside at what he sees as an over-corporatized society.
“It seems like money is everything that determines what our priorities are now,” Suzuki said. “And the economy is just a means to something else, surely. The economy by itself is nothing, we use the economy for something else. Do we want justice? Do we want greater equity? Do we want greater environmental protection?”
Suzuki mused on the meaning of the Occupy protests that spread across Canada and the world this past weekend, wondering if this will prove to be the West’s own Arab Spring.
“The big question for me is … is this our Middle Eastern moment when people are rising up and saying we’ve got to take back our country, take back our democracy ... and stop serving the corporate agenda.”
Suzuki said the core issue in the Occupy protests is that “we are now being ruled by what seems to be the corporate demand. The corporations come above the public. And this is intolerable, it can’t go on.”
He went on to say that Canada’s youth aren’t turning out for elections “because they know that the agenda they hear about from all these politicians isn’t about them, its about the corporate agenda. …
“They’ve got to get back out there and reclaim democracy. Right now we don’t have a democracy. … They’ve got to talk about the obscene difference … in the one per cent of the population that are making huge amounts of money, wanting to avoid taxes or any responsibility to create jobs. Let’s take back those priorities and say this is not acceptable.”
Suzuki is not the first prominent person to use the Occupy protests as a sounding board for ideas that may have seemed too radical, or too inflammatory, just weeks ago, before the protests sprung up and gained considerable support among the public.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told an Occupy Wall Street crowd earlier this month that Wall Street made money in recent decades by "misallocating capital" and by "socializing losses and privatizing gain.”
"That’s not capitalism,” Stiglitz said. “That’s a distorted economy."
In a speech at Occupy Wall Street earlier this month, famed European left-wing philosopher Slavoj Zizek touched on many similar themes as Stiglitz and Suzuki -- in other words, the notion that democracy and capitalism are increasingly at odds with each other.
Referring to public anger over corporate profits, as well as the rise of communist-run capitalism in China, Zizek said: “The marriage between capitalism and democracy is approaching a divorce.”
Jospeh Stiglitz at Occupy Wall Street: