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Shades of quickly fading blue – the decline of the Tory tradition in Canada since the 1980s (Part Four)
By Mark Wegierski
The notion of Canada ever being a more conservative society than America has largely disappeared from the perception of both the general public and the media and intellectual elites of Canada. Yet, until the 1960s, it could be argued that Canada was indeed a more substantively conservative society. In contrast to the United States, however, Canada was almost always in its history characterized by a far greater degree of “niceness” and politeness than America, mostly avoiding such aspects of American society as racism and excessive commercialism. It is not too popular today to say that the roots of Canadian politeness may actually lie in an earlier social conservatism. The attempts by the current-day “politically correct” to “demonize” Canada’s past and even some current-day realities would be outrightly ridiculous if they were not so deeply entrenched now among the Canadian intellectual and media elites. One would want to laugh at “politically correct” persons who claim to be Canadian nationalists, while characterizing Canada historically, and to some extent even today, as a presumed nexus of “white evil.” Nothing confident, socially healthy, or truly tolerant can be built on the ground of ever more pronounced self-hatred.
It should also be considered that Canadians have been typified as being deferential to authority. In the pre-1960s, when the “traditionalist-centrist consensus” was in place, this contributed to making Canada more socially-conservative. However, once the ruling paradigm was changed from the top, this has meant that many Canadians have become among the most ardent exponents of “political-correctness” in the world. (1)
It should be remembered that, insofar as America remained more liberal than Canada, the Liberal Party pushed for "Free Trade", increased contacts with the United States, and advocated continentalism (typified by Frank Underhill and, to some extent, Mackenzie King). Now, when America appears to be more conservative than Canada (owing to a variety of reasons), the Liberal Party has suddenly discovered what it calls Canadian nationalism (what is called "the unique socially-compassionate political culture of Canada").
What is also somewhat ironic is that there has apparently occurred a similar dialectical “flip” between the United States and Europe, as the United States and Canada. It has been argued that America today (frequently characterized by its willingness to exercise power) is a considerably more conservative society than those seen in Europe, and especially in the Western European countries (characterized as a so-called “postmodern paradise”). (2)
However, it could be argued that Canada, America, and the European Union are today, to a large extent, just three “super-states” of somewhat different forms of the “managerial-therapeutic regime.” What appears to have occurred is the near-total reconstruction of what it means to be a “European”, an “American”, and a “Canadian” today.
It is an interesting question which of those societies is best equipped to weather the coming storm of the conflict with Islam, the challenge of such powers as China and India, and the burgeoning rise of what was during the Cold War named the Third World. It’s possible to argue that what remains of Western civilization will mostly become localized in Eastern Europe (3) and Russia. Considering that possible context, the reconciliation of the Western, Eastern, and Southern Slavic nations may become a matter of world-historical importance.
(1) A similar point has been made in a recent column of Ted Byfield in Western Standard (“A Society of Yes Men.” June 4, 2007, p.14). He also makes the point that the current-day elites in Canada are still mostly WASPs. Presumably the WASP elites still remain prominent because they are the most ultra-politically-correct grouping.
(3) The term “Eastern Europe”, although disliked by considerable numbers of people living in those countries, continues to persist to a large extent. The dividing line between Western and Eastern Europe is said, according to some historians, to run roughly from Szczecin on the Baltic Sea to Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. It can be seen that many of the Eastern European countries are resisting the trends to de-nationalization today. Thus, what is considered the supposed “backwardness” and “parochialism” of those countries (from the standpoint of “politically correct” left-liberalism) may indeed be their greatest strength for the future. Why should they adopt the worst aspects of such Western European societies as Holland?
To be continued.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.