As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary of confederation many informal expressions of national pride have been heard. The official gala at Parliament Hill on July first, marred by the actions of demonstrators representing so-called First Nations was less spontaneous.
Spontaneous does not necessarily mean thoughtful. Responses to surveys of sources of Canadian pride included tropes about natural landscape, universal healthcare and diversity. These are accepted bromides mouthed by others in the culture and adopted without question.
The most common bromide I’ve heard through social media, the press, sports announcers and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is that Canada is the best country in the world. To which I respond, by what standard?
If the scale is to what extent has the country regressed toward a Leftist, utopian welfare state, then yes, Canada is surely a contender. But a proper standard must be in the form of an appropriate fundamental.
Canada the nation is a modern social system with a government. The fundamental relationship which has been the criteria for judging political societies for most of history is that between the individual and the state. This has been the case since we evolved from living in primitive tribal societies.
The essence of the individual is survival by the volitional use of his mind, a function which cannot be forced. The essence of the state is force, which in advanced societies has been deemed delegated to the government by the members of that society. Without such delegation societies would be anarchistic, full of conflict by competing factions and often plagued by civil war. Instead we have defensive, rights-protecting institutions of police, military and systems of justice both civil and criminal. You may think of this force as the point of a gun ultimately, properly used against those who initiate force.
The proper criteria for judging the best country must be the relationship between these essentials: force vs. freedom. Now the judgment becomes more meaningful and perhaps more difficult.
Canada is a semi-free country. It is not the worst in the world nor the best. Unfortunately, since the high point of individual freedom during the historical period of the Enlightenment most advanced western countries have regressed.
We now endure governments that have greatly increased functional scope. The modern welfare state with its elitist political bureaucracy, mercantilist trade policies, preventive law, oppressive taxation and official policies that intrude on privacy and most dangerously, seriously restrict free expression has become the norm.
The nationalist road Canada is traveling develops classes and clashes within society and this can only result in more unrest, conflict and official repression. It will not end well unless a government less coercive begins to emerge or we will not last fifty years let alone another 150.
© Copyright 2017, Edward Podritske