. (a shorter post than more recent posts)
B.C. writer F.S. Michaels begins her book Monoculture with a quote from Nigerian writer and poet Ben Okri:
It’s easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.
Michaels’ book “Monoculture: How one story is changing everything” is a good little read. Essentially, it lays out how the ‘economic’ story is the master narrative of our time.
The governing pattern that a culture obeys is a master story — one narrative in society that takes over the others, shrinking diversity and forming a monoculture. When you’re inside a master story at a particular time in history, you tend to accept its definition of reality. You unconsciously believe and act on certain things, and disbelieve and fail to act on other things. That’s the power of the monoculture; it’s able to direct us without us knowing too much about it.
Over time, the monoculture evolves into a nearly invisible foundation that structures and shapes our lives, giving us our sense of how the world works. It shapes our ideas about what’s normal and what we can expect from life. It channels our lives in a certain direction, setting out strict boundaries that we unconsciously learn to live inside. It teaches us to fear and distrust other stories; other stories challenge the monoculture simply by existing, by representing alternate possibilities…
… Monocultures and their master stories rise and fall with the times…
Michaels, in a well-researched, tightly woven narrative explains how the “economic story” has largely come to dominate in six areas of our world: work, relationships with others and the environment, your community, your physical and spiritual health, your education, and your creativity.
The diversity of values and stories that once sustained us in different parts of life are giving way. That loss puts us at risk. Once you lose the diversity of stories that sustained you in different parts or your life, shaping who you are and how you live, it’s hard to even think beyond the economic story, harder still to recognize how a monoculture constrains you. You struggle to make decisions that go against its tenets. Conformity seems like an easier, more realistic choice.
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The pervasiveness of this ‘economic story’ really is quite remarkable.
Several posts over the last few weeks on this site have alluded to it, or just got right into it.
Look at this for example… an invite from a respected Canadian University, in which I just received this in an email, inviting Graduate-level students to a ‘connection’ conference:
The focus of the conference is Connecting Research to Industry. Graduate students attending the conference will have the ability to present their research to representatives from a variety of industries. This is a great chance to showcase your research and connect with industries that may be interested in your work—you may even land a new job!
What about policy-neutral research and science as heavily advocated by Dr. Robert Lackey and others?
This type of ‘connecting research to industry’ goes down some slippery slopes, such as having major oil companies sponsoring University Research Chair positions into things like water sustainability and ecosystem reclamation. That’s a problem.
A slope lubed with tar sands bitumen… one might say…
It’s also part of the ever-growing, pervasive “economic story”. So deeply buried in society and culture now, that it’s largely unquestioned and simply accepted ‘as the norm’…
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There has also been the fine work of the Conservative/Reform Party of Canada in their most recent efforts to apparently “modernize” many of Canada’s federal legislation and Ministries.
Here’s just a few recent stories running the media, discussing this great ‘modernization’ occurring in Canada.
A report from the Commons environment committee has government MPs calling for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to be “modernized” and the opposition dismissing the committee’s work as a fiction.
Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield tried to reassure Nova Scotia’s nervous inshore fishery Friday when he met with his regional counterparts to discuss the modernization of the commercial fishery.
Ashfield said Ottawa’s upcoming modernization of the commercial fishery is not imminent.
But the fate of policies that have protected inshore fisheries from corporate takeover remains uncertain.
“I’m in listening mode. That’s what I’ll be doing for quite some time now to see where we should go in the course of time,” Ashfield said.
His department has touched off widespread fears in coastal communities.
Its discussion paper on modernizing the fishery omits policies that have protected inshore fisheries from corporate takeover, in particular the owner-operator policy, which requires a licence holder to catch the fish.
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Yea… uh huh… “I’m in listening mode…”
If you’re in it now… then what the hell were you (and your colleagues) doing in the six years previous…?
What’s going on in Ottawa these days from:
- “modernizing” the Criminal Code (e.g. get tough on crime… even though crime rates have been falling nationally for years), and yet, also, decisions like today:
.(that pesky Supreme court thing, just keeps getting in the way of the Reformers…and their ‘modernization plans’)
- “modernizing” Environmental Assessment processes (e.g. ‘streamlining’),
- “modernizing” the Fisheries Act and Canada’s ‘commercial fisheries’,
- “modernizing” our trade with Communist, human-rights questionable China,
- “modernizing” our free-trade agreements (e.g. sending job somewhere cheaper), and
- even “modernizing” how we do elections such as the insidious robo-calling (e.g. what us? no… we don’t do those dirty U.S.-style election tactics…).
Suppose it just has to wait until next election until Canada’s federal government gets “modernized”. For example, putting the “Canada” or “Canadian government” back in where it belongs and ripping out the “Harper”.
As pointed out before, the current regime is little more than a name-change of the old “Reform” party… a.k.a. ‘modernize’ to our reform version of the economic story…. they say.
Otherwise known as the ‘invisible hand of the market’…
Suppose the message might be clear when the very visible hand of the Canadian public slaps this ‘modernizing regime’ right off their ‘modernized’ perch…
change is afoot and maybe ‘the story’ will change with it…