TPC: Canada and the Dying Citizen
“World peace, cooling the planet, lowering the seas…[these] are psychological ways to square the circle of failure to solve concrete problems at home,” writes Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and professor at California State, in his incisive new book, The Dying Citizen. That is, empowered cosmopolitans, technocrats, and globalists in the West are so busy loving humanity abstractly and remotely, that, like Dickens’ Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House, they have forgotten about the only people to whom they are actually responsible—those back home: the citizens of their respective nations.
For instance, rather than work to serve Canadians living in the province of Alberta, the prime minister is serving—extra to, and perhaps unwittingly or worse indifferently, the Saudis, the Russians, and other competitors—the world, or at least he likes to think so. Ethical Albertan oil can stay in the ground, thousands of Canadian workers can stay home, and the poor of India and central Africa can continue burning toxic dung or lump coal as their primary fuel (thereby creating far worse emissions). However, the circle of failure will have been squared and virtue will have been successfully signaled, even if the gesture is one both suicidal and ineffective. Trudeau is altogether happy to sacrifice the average Canadian’s wellbeing at the altar of progressive globalism, which is concerned with the promotion of “social justice, addressing climate change, and encouraging global homogeneity of abortion rights, identity politics, and eventual collective world government.” Samuel Huntington, who Hanson invokes, claims that those who together with Trudeau make up the global elite are “linked to each other by myriad global networks but insulated from the more hidebound members of their own societies…[and] abandon their commitment to their nation and their fellow citizens and argue the moral superiority of identifying with humanity at large.” Abandoning commitment to the nation can be deleterious.
While criticism is now mounting with regards to the Liberals’ CanSino deal, where hopes of the CCP providing us with a vaccine to deal with the virus they created were dashed thereby putting domestic efforts two years behind, not enough has been said about the fumbled COVAX initiative.
Under Trudeau, Canada and 75 other well-to-do countries joined a global initiative of 168 economies to, in the words of Dr. Peter Singer writing for the CBC: “support the equitable sharing of COVID-19 vaccines…Canada recently committed $220 million to procure up to 15 million vaccine doses for Canadians, and another $220 million to purchase doses for low- and middle-income countries, in addition to earlier commitments.” When a plane is thrown about by a storm such that the oxygen masks drop, it is widely accepted that you’re to put your own on first before aiding others with theirs. Justin Trudeau is clearly not one for conventional wisdom.
Rather than focus first on meeting demand at home, the Liberals fussed around with this redistribution scheme. Ironically, since Canada itself didn’t have the capacity to produce vaccines at home, after blowing $440M on this initiative and putting global virtue ahead of common sense, it ultimately had to draw upon the COVAX supply. Just as a cow split between 168 economies feeds nary a belly, a vaccine-sharing initiative split between 168 economies doesn’t produce herd immunity in any single state.
Not only are global solutions oftentimes ineffective in addressing material problems, they frequently have the reverse or unintended consequences for the rooted demos.
So promised Justin Trudeau and decreed the COP26 cabalists: Canadian lumberjacks can’t fell trees; Canadian oil workers can’t extract oil; Canadian miners can’t mine. It doesn’t matter if Canada, when accounting for its carbon absorption, is already carbon neutral or that when industry is unhindered by the LPC and NDP, Canada produces less than 2.5% of global emissions. The global elite are committed to saving the planet, even if it kills you.
Amidst this continued subordination of Canada to some amorphous global good parameterized by amoral technocrats, there are real problems that actually can be resolved, such as unclean drinking water on reserves, inflation, inaccessible housing, opioid abuse, and rising crime. Doing so, however, would be hard work, and less glamorous, with fewer or no Swiss alpine retreats.
Invisible threats are, however, easier to tackle than the tangible challenges the Davos Man can circumnavigate. What’s more, these challenges aren’t his own. Hanson makes clear that the cosmopolitans in Ottawa and “those who draft globalized rules for others have the resources to navigate around them.” This became especially pronounced during the pandemic. Trudeau can go to Tofino or party with naked chin in Glasgow, but God help you if you should need to fill your gas tank to drive your masked kids through the vax-pass checkpoints to school. The difference is the parent now struggling in Oshawa or Surrey is a Canadian citizen, whereas Justin Trudeau can afford to be a global citizen.
Hanson emphasizes the extent to which the perceived and real value of citizenship has been greatly dissipated, and the role the global elite have in that dissipation.
To be self-governing in any meaningful sense, citizens must be economically autonomous. Owing to de-industrialization, the growth of the provider state, the over-regulation of business, crony capitalism, exorbitant taxes, and rising debt, that autonomy is being fast eroded, and the result is that the working and middle classes are being transformed into peasantry.
For citizenship to be preferable to mere residence, there needs to be value in it besides a few increasingly meaningless legal and financial distinctions or protections. Borders must be secure and proper partitions. There needs to be unifying values and some central vision, argues Hanson; a sense of belonging and national pride. However, as Ian Dowbiggin noted in his recent piece on Canada, “The First Post-Nation,” the federal Liberals are not entirely convinced they lord over a nation inasmuch as a half-mast hotel with, in the words of Trudeau himself, “no core identity, no mainstream.”
Nature, as we’re told, abhors a vacuum. Barring a national identity, and with global identities so vaporous and contrary to the local instinct of the human being, tribalism is taking hold once again, not just in the form of identity politics, but in pronounced provincialism also.
Makes sense. Identity amongst diverse peoples can only be achieved with common values, a common religion, a common language, a common law, and or common experiences; which is to say the citizenry must together share something beyond space that directs or harnesses their energies, trumps their tribal and racial memberships, and unites them in common-cause. Such efforts, however, are being caltropped by the “evolutionaries,” as Hanson terms them: those aiding the globalists, not all intentionally, in rendering our countries unrecognizable. Perhaps taking a cue from Alinsky or Marcuse, they recognize that bereft of a history, tradition, culture, language, roots or ties, a people thus disenchanted will embrace whatever alternative it is you’re keen to implement.
Today, in Ottawa, in the media, and on college campuses there are iconoclasts, social engineers, and leftists who seem overly keen to destroy what little binds us as a nation. In tearing down statues, cancelling Canadian greats, revising or rewriting history books, and enforcing laws unequally (despite recent protest from the Ontario Court of Appeals, there ostensibly remains different laws for different racial groups), they strike at the building blocks of what many may have hoped or thought to have been the bedrock of any possible national identity. What’s more, by the popular embrace of identitarianism, which is to say race-, gender-, and sexual-orientation-focused identity politics, many in positions of political and cultural power are undermining whatever transcendental appeals previously subordinated the tribalism that makes existence a war of all against all. This is not unique to Canada, but part of a guided global trend.
When a nation’s flag cannot be flown; when its leadership discounts any existence or hope of a unifying identity; when foreign interests trump national interests; when global objectives are prioritized over the local good; what we are ultimately left with is not a post-nation, but a global substate, wherein we are not citizens of a place, but subjects of a remote ruling class competing for a voice not with 38 million but 8 billion people. For those who discount borders and think Westphalian sovereignty antiquated, this is not a bug but a feature.
In Orlando, Florida, there was a conference this last November centered on the topic of national conservatism. Yoram Hazony, Sohrab Ahmari, Dave Rubin, Douglas Murray, Jonathan Isaac, J.D. Vance, Peter Theil, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and a host of other intellectual heavyweights convened to discuss, among other things, the failure of neoliberalism; the impact of globalism on the working and middle classes; the cultural devastation resultant of decades of libertarianism; the need in the West to re-industrialize; oikophobia; and the sense that nationhood may not be the ideal, but “is the least pernicious system compared to the alternatives.”
Extrapolating from some of the wisdom shared, much of which resonates with that in Hanson’s The Dying Citizen: it would be prudent not only for our ruling elite to turn their attention back to those who’ve conferred them power and to remember that charity (i.e. especially of the kind performed with other people’s money) starts at home, but to curb the erosion of the meaning and value of citizenship. To do so, we must revisit our national vision.
Business guru Jim Collins notes that an organization’s vision is comprised of your: core values and beliefs; your purpose; and your mission. Your purpose is “the guiding star, always out there on the horizon, never attainable, but always pulling you forward.” Your mission is what specifically you endeavor to do or what problem you collectively seek to solve in the interim. Finally, values and beliefs refer to the way you comport yourselves in the performance of your missions and your purpose. A shared vision is incredibly powerful as it creates cohesion, cooperation, and community: things our nation desperately needs.
Anchoring our purpose in a unique and proud national history, crystallizing our values without making relativistic or identitarian concessions, and then pursuing a national mission that is relevant and good for—not necessarily the world but—Canadians, is the best way to restore the value of citizenship, to improve the lot of the Canadian demos, and to enrich our democracy.
As per one of the key focuses at the NatCon conference, all this depends upon two things: the wellbeing of the family and Canadians’ stake in the national project. Therefore, rather than having our distantly-minded politicians use our tax dollars to fund foreign abortions and education, perhaps they could make it easier for Canadians to raise families. Instead of redistributing wealth to our enemies in the CCP and our competitors in the Near East, perhaps they can support Canadian industry. Rather than castigating Canadians while fetishizing foreign powers, the Trudeau Liberals could wake up to the fact that the populist backlash of the nationalist variety we saw in the UK in 2015 and in the US in 2016 is only the start, and that Canada is hardly immune. Either the ruling elite abandon globalism or there will come a time when the people will abandon the ruling elite.
Notwithstanding the speed and ease of today’s communications technology and travel, and the international nature of modern trade and diplomacy, the Canadian reality is local. Our federal politicians ought to come back to that reality. They should once again regard national matters and citizens as their top priorities. To strengthen the re-prioritized nation, they will have to curb the trends and thinking undermining it, reinvigorate citizenship, and abandon globalism.