Opinion Column

THE DUEL

Conservatives are literally anti-social

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

(Mike Hensen/Postmedia Network/Files)

(Mike Hensen/Postmedia Network/Files)

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This week's question: Is social justice a myth?

A spectre is haunting the West, Brent Stafford argues, the spectre of social justice.

Conservatives are triggered by the very concept of social justice – a more fair distribution of wealth, power and opportunity.

In the conservative world-view, we’re all just atomized individuals. “There’s no such thing as society,” late Conservative British PM Margaret Thatcher pronounced. The right is literally anti-social.

They say: let the market decide what’s best – laissez-faire. Wealth will eventually trickle down to us – their theory goes – but instead it’s gushing upward. Thatcher’s favourite economist, Friedrich Hayek, warned that policies aimed at sharing the wealth are a slippery slope to totalitarianism. But radical inequality is the real threat to freedom.

Executive bonuses balloon while the rest of us get smaller pay stubs, disappearing benefits, pink slips and eviction notices. One percent of the global population now owns the majority of its wealth. The pie gets bigger – wealth has doubled since 2000 – but our slice gets smaller. We bake the pie. But the right doesn’t want us having a say in how it’s divided.

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

Over generations, we won public education, healthcare, environmental regulation and better wages. Such reforms were only a start, but conservatives fought them at every turn and are rolling them back.

The conservative project is to defend safe spaces for corporate profiteering and oppose any protest movement or policy that gets in the way. They may don hard hats for photo-ops but the right represents bosses not working people.

Their dream of pure capitalism is our nightmare of poverty, alienation, war and pollution. Theirs is the true road to serfdom.

It’s hard to write this week. My friend and colleague Tracey Morrison died. She was a well-known fighter for this city’s most marginalized – for housing, drug treatment, and dignity. She worked to heal the ravages left in the wake of residential schools. And she fried up the best bannock on the Downtown Eastside. She told politicians “I can be a flower in your pocket or a thorn in your side.”

Tracey was truly a warrior for social justice. And so are millions of us working to make our communities better.

But Brent says, “If you believe in any of the tenets of social justice, then you are an enemy of the West.”

We don’t want the one 1% to run – and ruin – the world. If that makes us the “enemy within,” let’s wear the label with pride.

Garth Mullins is a broadcaster, activist, writer, musician and trade unionist. He’s at www.garthmullins.com or @garthmullins