I’m old enough, just barely, to remember watching Paul Henderson score his winning goal against the Soviets in the final game of the 1972 Summit Series. I knew that something important had happened, but I didn’t fully understand what it was until much later. Yes, it was hockey, and our national pride was at stake, but there was more to it than that. Team Canada was fighting for our way of life against an adversary that sought to tear it down. The United States was the standard flag bearer in conflicts with the Soviets, but in September 1972 the Canadians were combatants in the Cold War.
We think that our side won the Cold War. After decades of political brinksmanship in the latter half of the 20th century, the USSR dissolved in 1991 and the West appeared victorious. But that wasn’t the end of the story. The Cold War wasn’t merely a conflict between nations but also a contest between competing political ideologies. The struggle between freedom and collectivism continues but has moved inside Western countries. The threat is now from our own leaders and citizens who appear to believe that Canada should be a socialist country.
And this time, the socialists are winning.
What lies before us is not Soviet-style communism with gulags and firing squads but our own distinctive made-in-Canada version of neo-Marxist progressive socialism. But don’t get caught up in the labels: capitalism, communism, and fascism; democratic socialism and social democracy; liberalism and populism, to name just a few. The variations shouldn’t obscure the main divide: either individuals are essentially free to pursue their own interests, express their own thoughts, and own their own property, or the state directs their actions, words, and beliefs to comport with official dogma.
“The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled, and those who have no such desire,” science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein has written. The concept of political correctness originated in the Soviet Union as a reminder, according to Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of International Relations at Boston University, “that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself.”
In its Canadian campaign, one of socialism’s most potent weapons is our disbelief. We are apt to rationalize that the trends in this country do not portend actual socialism, but instead constitute merely a gloss on our unshakeable foundations of free-market liberalism. Unfortunately, that is not what the evidence suggests.
In modern Canada, socialist thinking has become part of the furniture. At its core is the belief that participation in public life requires comportment with progressive ideology. Legislation presently before Parliament will make it a criminal offence to counsel your child not to transition to a different gender; owning property is now regarded as a privilege that should be exercised in the public interest and taxed when it sits empty in busy urban centres; private health care is prohibited; businesses are expected to serve as social welfare agencies, providing benefits to employees even when the employees are unable to provide benefits to the business; doctors who publicly express divergent views on lockdowns or vaccines are apt to be censored or investigated; governments plan and manage the economy, and keep citizens “safe” from the risks of viruses and their own mistakes.
Great civilizations are not conquered from without until they have destroyed themselves from within, wrote historians Will and Ariel Durant: “The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes. …” Do these features sound familiar?
Canada is in retreat, more interested in redistributing wealth than in producing it, more resolved to administer than to build, and more prone to languish than to strive. We trade freedom for the appearance of safety, and competition for the solidarity of victimhood. We are more comfortable with the goal of being equally poor than unequally wealthy. We impede and discredit our own energy exports. We punish risk and reward conformity. Our civil servants get lucrative salaries and pensions while governments shut down small businesses. Who in their right mind would now aspire to be an entrepreneur?
In typical Canadian style, our socialist revolution advances with earnest capitulation. But this fall from grace is not a uniquely Canadian phenomenon. As British doctor and writer Theodore Dalrymple has observed, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph, said Burke, is for good men to do nothing; and most good men nowadays can be relied upon to do precisely that. Where a reputation for intolerance is more feared than a reputation for vice itself, all manner of evil may be expected to flourish.”
Socialism will not work. It never does. But this time it may take Canada down with it.
Bruce Pardy is a law professor at Queen’s University.
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Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.