Common Sense Canadian

Book Review: Beyond Banksters – Resisting the New Feudalism

Posted October 19, 2016 by Rafe Mair in Economics
Bankers' Hall in Calgary (Bernard Spragg, NZ / Flickr CC Licence)

Bankers Hall in Calgary (Bernard Spragg, NZ / Flickr CC Licence)

Something strange was happening in the world and until a social event in November, 2011, I was having trouble putting my finger on it. That was the night some friends held a roast for me to celebrate my 80th birthday. It was held at the Wise Hall in East Vancouver, a traditional left-wing gathering spot.

I was seen by many of the left as little short of fascist, yet, lately I’d come to the viewed by the right as what my father would have called  “parlour pink”.  It would be interesting to see who would come.

Well, they jammed the hall. Guests included captains of industry, right-wing the politicians, left-wing politicians, union leaders, First Nations leaders, and countless friends from the environmental movement. It was a lovely evening and at the end, when I had a chance to speak, I observed that there were a lot of folks in the old Wise Hall who not long ago would rather have been caught in a house of ill-fame.

Things had changed; the political sands were shifting. It was puzzling, for the new contest wasn’t left v. right anymore but “them” and “us”, with “them” being the elite and “us” being the rest. A look at “us” in a picket line shows very strange bedfellows, any of whom, not long ago, hurled insults and worse at each other.

The Brexit Syndrome

Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron stumping for the failed "Stay" campaign

Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron stumping for the failed “Stay” campaign

As I watched this situation mature, it seem to come to a head with the Brexit issue, the UK possibly leaving the UK,  voting in June of this year.

I saw it coming and said so. There were lots of issues, but the deep, underlying feeling was that when the UK voted by referendum to join Europe in 1975, the elite assured the “us” folks that it was a Common Market they were getting into, no more.

It turned out very differently and “us” weren’t consulted and were just expected to follow, in that marvellous phrase of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, “those set in authority over us”. The elite couldn’t understand what had happened. They should have known.

A quick glance around showed that unrest was everywhere yet no one was really writing about it.

That’s changed dramatically as well-known Canadian writer of the left, Joyce Nelson, has written a damned good history of events leading up to what I call the Brexit Syndrome. Her new book, Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, shows that it’s scarcely new in Canada and provides a dramatis personae of the epic Canadian drama unfolding.

A pivotal case

Have you wondered what it is that former Liberal cabinet minister Paul Hellyer, at 93, is doing still raising hell about the Bank of Canada and how it could clean up the National Debt virtually overnight if there were the political will, that hair-brained left loony scheme of bygone days?

Judging by recent converts to this view, it doesn’t seem quite so loony anymore!

And how about COMER and the immense lawsuit the Trudeau government won’t talk about?

Here’s how Joyce Nelson describes it:

One of the most important legal cases in Canadian history is slowly inching its way towards trial. Launched in 2011 by the Toronto-based Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER), the lawsuit would require the publicly-owned Bank of Canada to return to its pre-1974 mandate and practice of lending nearly interest-free money to federal, provincial and (potentially) municipal governments for infrastructure and healthcare spending.

This case, one of federal government coverup and worse, is now looking like a winner. Now that will have financial consequences that neither the Liberals nor Tories care to discuss – and don’t. Of course, out of sight, out of mind has always guided their actions.

This, combined with a tame, authority-loving media have kept us all in the dark – dare I guess you, like me, don’t know much about this story that Paul Hellyer, with the zest and energy of the saint by the same name, evangelizes across the land. That will change dramatically with this book.

Changing governments, not overthrowing them

I am arithmetically challenged and when writing on the most elementary fiscal matters, must have them explained in terms of a kindergarten “number work” class. I confidently tell you that I now understood this shocking tale without difficulty. In fact this is one of Joyce Nelson’s strengths – and she has a lot of them: she can explain complex matters without talking down to you and without sounding like a know-it-all.

An Occupy demonstration on Wall Street by women of (Paul Stein/Flickr)

An Occupy demonstration on Wall Street by women of (Paul Stein/Flickr)

Nelson gives an excellent portrayal of where the opposition now is. The violent street demonstrations accompanied by pepper spray and the police batons won’t likely disappear but they’ve been largely replaced by peaceful protests such as occupy Wall Street and several others.

The great question,  not yet answered, is how this will materialize in political terms.

Traditionally, the discontented have avoided the political system like the plague. They considered voting being the same as honouring the system, which was the last thing they wanted to do. Stephane Hessel remarked in an interview given in 2012 (a year before he died), “The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint.” Instead, he said, “This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but change the way they deal with people’s needs.”

Clear terms

The change is happening. Joyce Nelson walks us through the process and makes it understandable to people who haven’t thought about it very much, if at all,  until now.

This is a most unusual book for political junkies. It makes no attempt to settle scores or slant the historical perspective. I have the impression that Joyce Nelson has looked at the unfolding scene with a bewilderment that suits a keen, inquiring mind rather than that of a judge. Let the judging begin as the case becomes clearer.

But as this old baseball nut can confirm, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard and this one is a dandy.

Beyond Banksters can be ordered online at:


About the Author

Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at


    erik andersen

    Perhaps there is another dimension to this topic. Looking at the place we call Canada through the eyes and mind of the Bank of Canada could help our understanding by what is meant when some of us use the descriptive “colonialism”, when talking about the country and our politicians.

    For more than a decade the economics of the planet have been in major transformation. The BOC , along with every bank and provincial government have projected that by one year hence the GDP will be greater than the then year and every year they have been wrongly optimistic. Wanting recovery and greater growth of GDP is all well and good but wanting and getting are not the same.

    Where this disabling condition prevails the current actors decide it is best to look decisive at all costs so borrowing and contracting is the name of the game. After all don’t people elect politician who promise to “do something” and spending the publics money is a quick way to stir up some dust.

    So what is the BOC saying these days. First off the value of our currency is welded to the price of oil. Secondly our industrial sector has not seen significant benefits from a low valued dollar.
    Thirdly, because all indicators are not signalling a surge in the investment in new machinery the outlook for productivity gains in Canada look dim to non existent.

    So what is the condition in Canada now? We are basically marking time while we wait out a recovery in commodity prices. The prices of almost every thing Canada could and does produce to sell others is set by the buyers. We are not “price makers” ,rather “price takers” , making no sense what so ever to turn over sovereign power that is part of all trade agreements.

    The “street” term for the kind of economy Canada now has is “flat-lined” if we are lucky. Politicians of the “can do type”, in such times they only “push on a string”, a form of not walking the talk.


      I agree .
      I’ve always thought the govt should be responsible for revenue(tax) collection, infrastructure maintenance or upgrades( ie roads, sewers, clean water,etc), health, laws( police, border control, military, etc) ( hospitals and equipment), education (schools and equipment),
      And in a perfect world where we had no enemies and everyone earned the same money for the same work all over the world……that would work..
      Hence, trade agreements, tax subsidies for businesses to locate here, Special interest groups pushing their agendas above all others, ie environmentalists, Nurses , teachers, multinational corporations, and on and on and on ……

      But while govts are trying to juggle all those sticks of bugetary dynamite that is inexorably dragging us all under water……we’ve also morphed into this “nanny state” mentality where the govt is now responsible for car insurance, special needs kids, LGBT washrooms, anti bullying enforcement, and on and on and on.
      And politicians being politicians.
      They cant say “No” . We’re not funding that because ….
      There’s….. no…. more…. money.”

      Nope. . They just make fiscally irresponsible promises to everyone and push the inevitable fiscal “string” down the road and hope some other poor elected fool will inheirit the mess.
      All while our population ages into a grossly underfunded retirement…….
      The results?
      Well, in Japan, the “oldest” country (by population) on earth with ballooning deficits and dropping tax revenue ….we may have a harbinger of what is coming……

      We havent seen anything yet.


    Total agreement Rafe.
    The political “status quo” is failing us.
    The perception of the general public that the Main Stream Media are also “part of the problem” is as disheartening as it is frightening.
    Who do you place your trust ( and your vote) with when you dont believe any politician or anything they say?
    Perception can be just as dire as reality if the majority of people think the “system” is rigged to give prestige or profit to the top 5%.
    Large amounts of money have infested all levels of govt . AND the people that are elected to run our system either through lobbying or other perks…( $50,000 per year for lunches Madame Premier?).
    I recently has a similar discussion with a friend and he suggested that we’d be better off firing all the politicians and replacing them with a large, souless, accounting firm hired to run the country than the current “bought and paid for” “leaders” we now have.
    And as I see the endless unfathomable “leadership” make decision after decision that makes no sense financially, environmentally or socially ……
    I have to wonder if its aready too late and the system will only “reboot” when the torches and pitchforks are at the gate.

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