Recently I came across an article that sums up some Canadian attitudes so perfectly that I have decided it is time to peck the keyboard about my own view of it. It was written by someone with this “progressive’ mindset but who works in Alberta. Find this article at https://albertapolitics.ca/2020/04/canadas-universal-single-payer-health-care-system-is-our-best-vaccination-against-the-neoliberal-virus/
I made a comment about it. I ended up getting challenged to write an article like this. Here it is.
I come from Alberta and this guy is often a good source of information about how its going there, as long as I crosscheck him with other sources. I still have relatives there I communicate with sporadically, but I now live in the great scapegoat, Toronto. I wish I had left Alberta sooner.
I have found that no part of Canada has a monopoly on mean “peasant’ types of attitudes. I think it is worse in Alberta because of the way the Prairie Provinces were settled, and the baleful influence of the oil and gas industry. But that is another topic I can get to someday.
Untangling the Terminology
What I am about here is to show that the smug, middle class Canadian mentality, as in this “Canadian Politics” article, is part of something far more dangerous and invidious than what he labels as “neoliberalism”. Neoliberal is not a good term for describing any political phenomenon. It is too vague.
A more exact term for what he is describing in the US of A would be nationalism and antiauthoritarianism. It is not really the mentality of the Russian peasant as described; someone’s else’s success is more painful than their failure. It is more like; “I am great, I have a right to ‘succeed’, no one can tell me anything”. It is nurtured by a wing of the American ruling class.
There is not a monolithic ruling class, either in the US or Canada. There are two big factions, linked to similar tendencies around the world, which are fiercely hostile to each other and struggling for dominance. However, they cannot let the peasants see them fighting.
American Nationalism is linked to the old industrial capitalism, and to elements within the new tech industries; ones which still depend on making and moving things. They have been subordinated for awhile. The globalists have been on the ascendancy. Now the globalists are failing.
Globalists; the ones who usually control the ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ side of what passes for political discourse in North America. The ones responsible for the loathsome ‘climate’ nonsense, the ‘degrowth’ and ‘depopulation’ ideas, that humans are a plague on the planet. Also rightly described as the financial capitalists.
Nationalists/neo-industrial capitalists like nation states but want them limited and under their control. It is the globalists who see states and human societies as something getting in their way. They are the rentier class, the financial capitalists, or the neo-feudals, who think manufacturing is ancillary to the economy and should be done where labour is cheapest.
The nationalists see downsides to depopulation, war, and pandemics. These reduce the value of their assets, lead to instability. Globalists/financialists see few downsides to any of this. They can lose trillions from the value of their assets and make it all back next year. They believe they can ride above anything.
The industrial capitalists try to foster nationalism, conservativism, and libertarianism in a section of the public. Global financial capitalists foster all the identity and victim politics, the ‘wokeness’, the demand for purity of language and thought, the progressive thinking which is not very ‘progressive’ at all when examined.
Globalists are the people trying to start a war with Russia. They are the people who would have few scruples about using a pandemic to cover a deliberate crash of the economy. It cannot be discounted that they helped the pandemic along. They drive the ‘climate’ nonsense, which is about neo-malthusianism, degrowth and ultimately depopulation.
They think they would be more secure if they did not have to share resources with so many people in the world. They are by far the most dangerous faction of the ruling class/oligarchy, and promote the most dangerous ideology.
There is no real challenge right now to oligarchy in North America. Some is developing in other parts of the developed world. It is mostly developing from the conservative elements of society. The left in most parts of the industrial world is very thoroughly beaten down or infiltrated and corrupted. It is totally disconnected from what ordinary people really want. That is, for things to be run properly, in the interests of the whole population, not the oligarchy.
Real conservatives and real socialists are just starting to re-emerge in North America. Despite the frantic propaganda levelled at them, they are not roaring fascists and raving anarchists. They are slowly realizing that the real conflict is not between left and right, it is between the ideological thinking which oligarchic factions use to divide people, and the practical thinkers who see the need for a new way of running things.
The rising left and right movements for sane and sensible reforms have different ideas about what is needed. The best of them are realizing the need for cooperation in order to defeat all factions of the ruling classes and end their destructive behaviour. To reiterate, this process is less developed in North America, and less so among the moderate left than the moderate right.
Now, look again at the ‘two nations’ trope
My Alberta friend repeats this idea of the ‘two Americas’, which I have heard before. “…the United States is almost literally two countries…One, a Third World backwater, bedevilled by ignorance and theocracy; the other, a modern social democratic state, educated and productive, being dragged kicking and screaming back into a darkening dystopia…”
He also thinks that if this ‘flyover’ or backward America were separated out, the rest would be “just like Canada”. Oh, boy! Maybe it would have been better if the Rebs had won the civil war. This is almost like a slander against southerners.
As I have said, Canada has its own share of ignorant and backward people, and they are not all in Alberta. Movement toward socialism has been a little stronger here, and we have a few good things like medicare. But neither we nor the ‘nice’ part of the Excited States of America would be described accurately as ‘social democracies’.
There are few real social democracies in the world. Most of them are in Western Europe and they have been under intense attack by the globalists who have gained control of the undemocratic European Union apparatus.
Now, look again at Canadian Assumptions of Superiority
To base Canada’s national identity on having a few social programs, most notably medicare, which are superior to the American’s, is pathetic. Especially so since our medicare is still much inferior to what the most advanced nations have, or have had. It could even learn some things from Cuba’s system.
The American state has “…congenital flaws — its sclerotic, fundamentally undemocratic slaveholder constitution and its deeply ingrained racism,…” There is plenty of racism in Canada. We never had many slaves because they were not economical here. We never outlawed slavery; our colonial masters did it for us.
As for our constitution, it is at least as ‘sclerotic’ as the Americans. Worse, it is something that was largely imposed on us by said colonial masters. Somehow we are incapable of bringing it into the modern world. Most of our trouble, as in the USA, is really traceable to this unworkable constitutional structure which cannot be reformed.
My Alberta friend picks some strange heroes. I do not understand how Abraham Lincoln became a hero to Canadian ‘progressives’. He really was not very progressive, even toward the freed slaves. Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister who messed up the United Kingdom. How was she responsible for American or Canadian problems?
Yet he also seems fond of Both Lenin and of a particular Soviet era Russian ‘dissident’; an obvious and strange disconnect. He uses this above mentioned criticism of Russian peasants. This is supposed to be comparable to the behaviour of the ‘second nation’ Americans, the ‘backward’ ones. Is this a slander of the Russian or the American “peasants”?
We also have the Governor of California and a US Navy Flat-Top skipper thrown into the stew for unclear reasons. I do not see the connections in all this, but it is somehow supposed to show the superiority of Canada, such that we are not going to collapse and the Americans are. However, I have already read this trope, that the USA shows signs of heading toward a collapse similar to that of the USSR in 1991, only put forward much more convincingly. More anon about the probable effects in Canada of an American collapse.
Other points here; Canada is probably even more dependent on 10K Kilometer supply lines and just in time delivery than is the USA. We are at least as incapable of planning, and of keeping on hand critical materials. Further, Covid19 has shown that in any supply breakdown, the Americans will grab what they want first and we will be stuck.
While Canadians are less prone to extreme behaviour than most other peoples, and more likely to back off before something gets out of hand, we still have some fairly insane ideological conflicts. We have our own “peasant nation”, which is not so nationalistic but does tend to a “gimme, gimme, and don’t bother me about anything” variation on anti-authoritarianism.
We have a really big “social democrat” second nation in Canada. Most of them would not know ‘socialist’ and ‘democratic’ if it fell on top of them. However, I suspect that percolating underneath this, we have a fairly strong and growing trend toward a deeper democracy, leading to better ways of running things.
Consequences for Canada of a US breakdown
I have shown that Canada is just as broken as the USA. When the US collapses, it will bring down Canada as well. We have the same consumer debt bubble, inflated housing market, and decayed infrastructure. Our social system is relatively better developed than the Americans, so we will collapse less severely and recover more rapidly than we otherwise would have.
We really have somewhat similar social factions, linked into larger, world wide tendencies. Thus if the US falls into a civil war between these factions, it will spill over into Canada. Some people would frame this as a conflict of regions, and think that the western provinces would try to split from Canada.
I would expect a conflict between social factions, taking place in all parts of the country. It would not be like a civil war, a military conflict, but something like the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, or the present Latin American ‘cacerolazo’. There will be riots and street battles, private seizures of public assets, the public trying to seize control of public services or creating their own, raids on supermarkets, refusal to pay taxes and rents, and so on.
Canada will be hard hit by its extreme dependence on imports, especially of food. There will likely be some real starvation, not because the governments will not have enough money to get food supplies in, but due to inability to organize distribution. We will still be a very wealthy country.
As well, there will likely be world wide food shortages, with the states with the bigger armies and closer to the sources grabbing supplies first. You can see in the struggles to import medical supplies how the fight to feed Canada would work out.
On the far side of the breakdown
Canada and the USA will both likely survive the likely breakdown. The Globalist fake progressives will fail; in North America and everywhere. There will likely be a period of ideological right wing rule, but it will not last long. They will be incapable of governing and will be pushed aside by more sensible people.
Globalists will keep trying to regain influence, as they did after the second world war which they created. But people will start experimenting with new forms of democracy and economic organization. Canada will do what Canada tends to do in periods like this. We adopt the ideas from elsewhere, implement them imperfectly, and then talk as though we invented them.
To conclude, here is what Canada really needs a vaccine against; the smug, superior, deluded, fake progressive form of nationalism which is transmitted by Globalism. I will be writing a lot about what Canada needs to do to protect itself in the short term from the supply shocks which will start coming frequently. As well, about the kind of reinventions needed to enable Canada to get through the rest of the century.
So, my Progressive Alberta internet acquaintance; make of this what you will. I will stay in Toronto, probably the safest place in the country to be. You can stay in Alberta and write and be smugly superior about the people of a province who have made all the wrong choices for prospering in the 21st century.