Part two of a two-part series by TONY SEED. Part one is here.
It gives real meaning to “smitten” as in its banner headline “Canadians smitten  with royal newlyweds.”
The Chronicle Herald declares:
“Whether winners of the geographical lottery by being born in Canada, or here by choice as immigrants to this land, Canadians – under numerous international measuring sticks (none of which are mentioned) – live in one of the most prosperous, safe, just and free societies on the planet.
“Yes, Canada, has its problems (none of which, apart from the weather, are revealed). And, yes, not every Canadian’s experience is uniformly, or even mainly, positive. As we’ve said, no place is perfect.” (Celebrating our 144th, July 1, 2011)
The logic is unassailable! Canadians should spend July 1st “recognizing and appreciating just how fortunate they are to live where they live!” Perfection – with the occasional blemish from individuals, the explicit implication being that those are those (“not every Canadian”) who refuse to “recogniz[e] and appreciat[e] just how fortunate they are to live where they live.”
What is the criteria of the “numerous international measuring sticks” cited by the Herald? It does not say. It simply asserts that it is so. We Maritimers for generations have been told to accept lower-than-Canadian-wage-and-living-standards because we are “fortunate to live where they live.” The enjoyment of “the quality of life … the crash of industry and the cry of the loon” was the slogan of the Nova Scotian government in the 1970s. Now we know why: we won the “geographical lottery!” Why, they’ve even allowed the Natives and other subjects onto the Halifax Commons for a couple of days in the name of “diversity” and “tolerance”, but the monuments celebrating Cornwallis, Amherst and Wentworth and other genocidaires and slave-owners are cast in stone. Colonial justice, by any other name, is not a cause for celebration. Such a system which has produced mass poverty, insecurity and instability is not a cause for celebration.
This is its irrational argument and ahistorical approach on Canada Day. This is what these scribblers see. They cannot cope with reality and consequently suffer from incoherence and delusion. These are views that have no basis in fact or in history.
Here speaks Harper’s fascist one nation politics, the essence of which is to smite anyone who does not agree with the “Canadian values” espoused by the ruling circles in Canada and declare them an unlawful enemy combatant, deprived of their rights “in one of the most prosperous, safe, just and free societies on the planet.”
Is this not the essence of how the Chronicle Herald and Harper tried to frame how the parliament struck down with godly force the struggle of the postal and Air Canada workers –those (“not every Canadian”) who refuse to “recogniz[e] and appreciat[e] just how fortunate they are to live where they live” – or of “the allies” in NATO against the enemies of universal civilized values, for which it is worth dying?
At the same time as the Chronicle Herald is silent on the problems presented by real life, it obscures the real alternative presented in this society to move it forward with these abstractions. History has come to an end, the Chronicle Herald proclaims, and there are no history-making and nation-building tasks to be taken up by the Canadian people themselves. For this ruling elite, Canada is nothing more than “geographical territory“, a bargaining chip for sale, full of abstractions devoid of human beings with sovereign rights guaranteed on this basis and with a future to build. The Chronicle Herald does not place its hope for the future in the striving of all the peoples of Canada, of the Americas and of the world for a new political and economic order and equitable relations between nations and making society fit for human beings. In fact, this affirmation seems to be its chief concern, together with finding the abstract justification to quell it, even though its resolution in favour of the peoples represents the future of the country and humanity.
Nor does the Chronicle Herald, the self-appointed patron of NATO, the war and the Olympic-sized “benefits” of the militarized economy, elaborate whether the content of “justice, freedom and prosperity” means anything for the Canadian context in the 21st century. What do they actually mean? They do not say. They were not discussed in the federal election ending on May 2nd; those who tried were simply not reported on, nor were the May First rallies of the workers from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
In fact, they are not to be discussed.
The circumstances demand that people step forward to discuss, organise and establish the alternative. Since the Chronicle Herald cannot be straightforward about the content of these values, let us try. Canada’s “universal” and “foundational values” and the underlying principles of the federation being celebrated today are based on the 19th century British Empire’s colonial conceptions of democracy based on white men of property, of the white man’s burden, of “peace, order and good government” and all the other outdated notions that are the very source of the political and constitutional crisis facing this country. The Chronicle Herald and the ruling elite bases itself on the imperialist notion that the democratic values of the 19th century empire-builders are absolute and eternal. According to this elite, it is these values and their defence that have characterised the modern history of the world and it is the political and economic system that exists in Canada for which the whole world yearns and strives.
On the one hand, the Chronicle Herald (and through it, Harper) is issuing veiled threats to tell Nova Scotians in no uncertain terms that there is no space in Canada for those who espouse views that do not correspond to these foundational and universal values.
The carefully scripted media barrage unleashed around the royal visit aims to sanctify Harper’s fascist politics by divine right.
On the other hand, the parliament has set the ground to divide the polity into “left” and “right” or unions pro and con with the Harper extremists presenting themselves as the mainstream, so that the dictum of the war on terror “You are either with us or with the terrorists” becomes the line of demarcation within the country and abroad and all opposition to the rule of the monopolies is suppressed. This is how the issue is being framed. Harper’s Conservatives are now the party of all Canadians – the party, the people, the nation are the one nation politics which can take Canada into the future. It is the notion of a “benevolent dictator” or of the “divine right of kings”, notions needed by the ruling elite, those who claim that they are destined to be the “managers” of the people, because they alone consider themselves capable of ruling over the people; the people are deemed incapable of anything and even referred to as a mob. The carefully scripted media barrage unleashed around the royal visit aims to sanctify this fascist politics by divine right. The other parties in the House of Commons have the choice to follow along or be cast into the dust-bin of history as partisans of the extremists.
Real life and the authority of conditions shows how false this dichotomy is, as illustrated by some 3,000 Newfoundlanders who demonstrated on June 25th against Harper’s wrecking of the Marine Rescue Centre in St. John’s. Coming from all political persuasions and walks of life, they highlighted the crisis of the 19th century Canadian federation.
The state celebrations of hereditary right and aristocracy, the Royal Prerogative and Harper government’s wrecking agenda is in contempt of all modern standards of public right, social responsibility and sovereignty. That alternative is to renew the outmoded 19th century arrangements on which the society is based so that the forces which have usurped power by force cannot deprive the people of the ability to exercise their rights.
On July 1st, 1867 the streets of Halifax were lined with black flags.
The people of Nova Scotia, which prides itself on being the home of “representative democracy,” never gave their consent to the new federation in the 1860s.
It was not based on popular will but on power-sharing arrangements at a time the needs of nation-building were subordinate to the British empire to stop the annexation of its dominions north of the 49th parallel by Grant, Seaward, Sumner and the partisans of manifest destiny and the Monroe Doctrine. That federation was brought into being by an act of the British parliament, the British North America Act, 1867. It vested sovereignty in the Queen and not the people. On July 1st, 1867 the streets of Halifax were lined with black flags. The property holders of Nova Scotia, who alone enjoyed the franchise, then voted virtually unanimously against the 1867 federation in the first federal election, but their representatives to the new House of Commons such as Joseph Howe were either bought off with sinecures or betrayed their constituents.
So long as all links with the past are not broken in terms of the economy, politics and culture, are not broken at a time when a country is formed, as took place in Canada and other countries created out of the British Empire, it is not possible to speak about the present. It is not possible to speak about independence, sovereignty, freedom and justice in the profound sense of the words. The present, in this case the situation as it stands in Canada after 144 years, is merely an extension and continuation of the past. There have been quantitative changes, especially the development of socialized production and the bringing into being a new class of producers of the wealth of society with its own independent organization, aims and thought material, but no qualitative changes have taken place. Whether it is the question of Quebec, the First Nations, women, electoral reform and the rights of the producers of all the wealth of the society, it can be seen that no arrangement has gone against the spirit and the letter of the BNA Act issued by the British with the approval of the Anglo-Canadian colonial ruling elite. Furthermore, these quantitative changes have, in many important aspects such as the political process, the economic system and the relations with the United States, been for the worse. These quantitative changes have now created the conditions for a qualitative leap.
One hundred and forty four years later, the issue remains: Nova Scotia needs politics, a new politics through which the modern working class can take control of the economic and political affairs so as to resolve the crisis in a way that benefits the people and the nation. This politics cannot be confined to protest and solidarity as the be-all and the end-all and the justification for abstention of the working class from new politics and fighting for modern arrangements. This nation-building project requires abolishing the arrangements which make the people subservient to foreign monarchs and the interests of the monopolies they uphold. It requires blocking those who want to deprive the people of their sovereign power.
That is a project worth celebrating!
Down with the status quo!
1 Websters defines smite as
smites, 3rd person singular present; smiting, present participle; smitten, past participle; smote, past tense
It gives three web definitions
- inflict a heavy blow on, with the hand, a tool, or a weapon
- affect suddenly with deep feeling; “He was smitten with love for this young girl”
- afflict: cause physical pain or suffering in; “afflict with the plague”
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Constitutional Monarchy – Remnant of medievalism and colonialism that should be abolished – not celebrated!