CONSERVATISM

The history of conservatism in Great Britain has been one of emptiness and ambiguity. A political philosophy that is centered on virtue must be a shadowy voice in a technological civilization.
These days when we are told in North America that capitalism is conservative, we should remember that capitalism was the great dissolvent of the traditional virtues and that its greatest philosophers, Hobbes and Locke, Smith and Hume, were Britishers. In the appeal to capitalism as tradition it is forgotten that the capitalist philosophers dissolved all ideas of the sacred as standing in the way of the emancipation of greed.
The Americans who call themselves “conservatives” have the right to the title only in a particular sense. In fact, they are old-fashioned liberals. They stand for the freedom of the individual to use his property as he wishes, and for a limited government which must keep out of the marketplace. Their concentration on freedom from governmental interference has more to do with nineteenth-century liberalism than with traditional conservatism, which asserts the right of the community to restrain freedom in the name of the common good.

DEMOCRACY

If over a long period a civilization chooses size, it rejects democracy.
In North America the excitement over elections and voting will continue, but they will be rituals of legitimising and not exercises in governing.

ECONOMY

The energy of that generation was drained away in that conflict so that those who returned did not have the vitality for public care, but retreated into the private world of money making. Canada’s survival has always required the victory of political courage over immediate and individual economic advantage.
Although [free-market] conservatism may be appropriate to the United States, it cannot be to Canada, where limiting the civil service in the name of free enterprise simply strengthens the power of private governments. Such strengthening must be anti-nationalist because the corporations are continental [in scale].
I must repeat again Mackenzie King’s great discovery: If his government was the friend of business, the Liberal party could stay in office almost indefinitely.
These days when we are told in North America that capitalism is conservative, we should remember that capitalism was the great dissolvent of the traditional virtues and that its greatest philosophers, Hobbes and Locke, Smith and Hume, were Britishers. In the appeal to capitalism as tradition it is forgotten that the capitalist philosophers dissolved all ideas of the sacred as standing in the way of the emancipation of greed.

IMPERIALISM

The power of the American government to control Canada does not lie primarily in its ability to exert direct pressure; the power lies in the fact that the dominant classes in Canada see themselves as one with the Continent on all essential matters.
One of the worst things about the affluent imperialism we live in in North America is that masses of people can be led easily from acquiescence to indifference about the terrible things that their society is perpetrating in other parts of the world. A country which will scream its head off about a television program and be silent about Vietnam is surely sick.
In the face of the competition from other European empires, the British ruling classes acted as if their only hope of continuing power was to put their fate into the hands of the American empire. That process is epitomized in the career of Winston Churchill. High rhetoric about partnership among the English-speaking peoples has been used about this process. It cannot, however, cover the fact that Great Britain’s chief status in the world today is to do useful jobs for its masters and to be paid for so doing by the support of the pound and the freedom to provide entertainers and entertainment for the empire as a whole. The American empire may be having its difficulties with France and Germany, but it does not have them with Great Britain. Leaving aside the complex question of whether this status was the best that the English could achieve in the circumstances, it is clear that its effect on the possibility of Canada being a nation has been large. The elimination of Great Britain as an independent source of civilisation in the English-speaking world greatly increased the pull of English-speaking Canadians to an identity with the centre of that world in the United States.

LIBERALISM

Liberalism is the ideological means by which indigenous cultures are homogenized.
Liberalism was, in origin, criticism of the old established order. Today it is the voice of the establishment.

 

NATIONALISM

Nationalism can only be asserted successfully by an identification with technological advance, but technological advance entails the disappearance of those indigenous differences that give substance to nationalism.
As Canadians we attempted a ridiculous task in trying to build a conservative nation in the age of progress, on a continent we share with the most dynamic nation on earth.
I think Canada, to exist on the northern half of this continent, has to preserve certain indigenous institutions. Now, this is not to speak against people who are good entrepreneurs - that would just be silly - but I think the language has been totally turned around when you identify the loosing of free enterprise at all costs as conservatism … In the Canadian situation there are certain institutions which we need and which we should know that we fundamentally need. If you don’t have a national broadcasting system in Canada, and if you don’t have a lot of public things of this kind, Canada will cease to exist altogether, even what’s left of it.

PHILOSOPHY

When one has read such pure, clear nobility as Plato’s Republic, one can have little doubt that really true thought is worth thinking.