Three things have been nagging at me.a bit, over the past few days:
- First, a very interesting CBC News report about an CBC-Angus Reid poll, from almost a week ago, that says that “According to the results of a national polling partnership between CBC and the Angus Reid Institute, those aged 18 to 34 have a much cooler relationship to Canada than older Canadians … [and] … Overall, the majority of Canadians polled said they were proud of Canada. Those 65 and over were the most proud, with 65 per cent saying they were very proud of Canada … [but] … pride diminished with the age of the respondents. The poll revealed that only 40 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 said they were very proud of Canada;”
- Second, a report in this week’s edition of The Economist, which says that “The nation state is back: “Time to reject the ideological templates provided by the socialist left and the libertarian right and to embrace a new centre ground in which government steps up,” [UK Prime Minister Theresa] May declared. So borders will be strengthened, foreign workers kept out, patriotism respected, order and discipline imposed, belonging and rootedness enshrined. “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word citizenship means,” she said,” which would seem to fly in the face of the Canadian poll finding; and
- Third, a signed (by Professor David Bercuson) editorial in the current (Fall 2016) edition of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute’s journal The Dispatch, in which he says that the globalization, which many will say is what is driving younger Canadians away from their parents’ and grandparents’ healthy nationalism and which seems to be driving Prime Minister May’s shift in direction is neither a bad thing nor dead.
I agree, broadly and generally, with David Bercuson that “The great problem with globalization today is not that it exists but that most liberal democracies have done very little to mitigate its negative impacts and are now seeing pushback against the process itself. But the process will continue to march as technological revolutions in computing, transportation – of goods, but also of people – and communications continue to make it easier and more lucrative to build global value chains. There is simply no stopping it, given the proclivity of humans to find better, faster, cheaper, more efficient ways of moving goods, people, money and investment around the world to enrich themselves … [and that] … There is, however, a greater duty than ever for governments to tax the process and use the avails to do what the progressives did more than a century ago. Not re-impose tariffs, which won’t work, or to “stop” globalization, which will work even less, but to make sure that the fruits of globalization are more evenly spread. That will take real political courage, which we have seen little of in the last few decades.“
I need to emphasize that I oppose ALL corporate taxes … I believe that they are just inefficient versions of the HST. But I also agree that corporations cannot be allowed to not pay some share of their incomes into the coffers of the nation-states in which they operate or into which they sell their goods and services. My favourite way to tax corporations is through a consumption tax, like the HST: it is simple and it is “fair” to all, producer and consumer alike, and it cannot be “evaded” by hiding profits elsewhere.
But, I do not believe that globalization is either the reason some young people seem to reject nationalism nor an excuse to return to jingoistic nationalism.
I think both the young people who seem “to say their attachment to Canada depends upon economic conditions than to say they love Canada for what it stands for.” and Prime Minister May whose appeal, The Economist says, “will resonate with the public and may propel the Tories to a landslide at the next election,” are wrong. But I do agree with The Economist when it says that “it is not enough for liberals to shake their heads at Mrs May’s populism. They have to grapple with the reasons for its appeal.” We are, I fear, losing the attachment battle. Some young people are, as the CBC-Angus Reid poll suggests, “willing to reject the idea of one dominant Canadian culture and embrace multiple identities,” as ethnics, as young people, as students, as gays, an Christians, as workers, as any number of things besides being ‘Canadian,’ while others, as The Economist says, want to do something “about bosses who do not look after their staff, companies that do not pay enough tax and utility firms that rip off consumers,” and about “liberal politicians and commentators who “find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal” and “left wing, activist human-rights lawyers”“
The complaints of all groups are not about globalization … they are about perceived inequality, perceived lack of opportunity, and perceived threats. They are, in short, about fear. Young Canadians and middle aged Brits, and Americans of all ages are afraid of losing something to someone else. In most cases they are not sure what might be lost … a job? Sure, but jobs have been lost and people have retrained for new ones for millennia. Is it that immigrants are “taking jobs?” It’s true that some immigrant communities bring, to Canada (and America and Britain) good educations and excellent work ethics and they are, of necessity, willing to do jobs that no one else wants for the salaries offered. There aren’t many doctors driving taxis but I can guarantee that people with PhDs in physics were delivering flyers and waiting tables to make ends meet while, simultaneously, they earned yet another graduate degree in a Canadian university to qualify for a good job here … did they “take someone’s job” or were they just the only ones willing to work that hard?
Part of our problem is that “culture of entitlement” that people like Clement Atlee, Lydon Johnson, Pierre Trudeau and Gough Whitlam foisted upon our societies; another part is that we have lost sight of our history and our core values. We are so concerned with the histories of this, that or the other (ever smaller) group that we ignore the history of the whole ~ of the Anglo-Saxon, liberal, democratic, secular and capitalist West from the 7th century Witenaġemot to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the peaceful change of elected governments from Liberal to Conservative and back to Liberal in the 21st.
I am a committed globalist. Globalization, broadly and generally, has done more good for more people in this world, lifting hundreds of millions from abject poverty into the ranks of the hard working lower middle class or better. Globalization and free(er) trade have done more to make and keep the peace than all the UN peacekeeping forces piled one atop the other. It is prosperity that keeps the peace, not troops in baby-blue helmets.
Yes, some people have won much more than their “fair” share and ye some companies have hidden behind poorly drafted laws to avoid paying their “fair” share bit both those problems can be solved, locally. But I am also proud to be Canadian: proud because, again broadly and generally, my country has done the right things far, far more often than not, at home and abroad. We are anything but perfect but we are, in all fairness, better then most … better, in fact, than almost anyone else. We need to preach and teach the fact, and I assert that it is a fact, that our Canadian “way of life,” our Canadian culture, our Canadian modern, enlightened, liberal, democratic, capitalist and secular “system” is the gold standard … it is why so many millions want to come to here to live and raise their families.
Globalization isn’t the problem, in fact, it, mixed with free(er) trade and free(er) movement of peoples is part of the antidote to the poison of fear based nationalism.