“Conservatism”, Sir Roger Scruton has written, “starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating: the work of creation slow, laborious and dull.” (1)
As is generally the case with Scruton’s thoughts on conservatism, this is very well put, and this is the reason why those of us who are conservative see red whenever juvenile and ignorant, trendy, crowd-following, leftists attack the honours our societies have awarded to those who put that hard work into creating those good things. The classical liberals who pass for conservatives in the American republic have been fighting this sort of thing for decades now. Since at least the 1990s, there have been calls for schools, libraries, and other institutions bearing the names of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to be renamed on the grounds that these men had owned slaves. This latter fact was deemed by some to outweigh all that Washington and Jefferson had done to build their country and to be sufficient justification for flushing their republic’s Founding Fathers down the Orwellian Memory Hole.
Now it is our turn, up in the Dominion of Canada, to have to deal with this sort of nonsense. You might recall that during our sesquicentennial celebrations last year, a group of professional demonstrators, claiming to speak for Canada’s indigenous peoples, defaced the statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax and demanded that it be removed. The incident made national news, as did a skirmish between the demonstrators and a handful of Canadian servicemen who rightly objected to the demonstrators’ one-sided, skewed, and utterly factually erroneous interpretation of Cornwallis’ response to the 1749 Raid on Dartmouth. It was not long after this that the sound of shrill leftist voices began to be heard calling for Sir John A. Macdonald’s name to be removed from government buildings. While initially these calls met with a cold response from those with the authority to make such changes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and the left’s campaign of anti-Macdonald propaganda began to reap results. Earlier this year the Canadian Historical Association removed Sir John A.’s name from their award for the year’s best work of scholarly Canadian history and, as anyone who has handled a recently printed $10 bill must know by now, his place on our currency has been significantly downsized. Most recently the city council of Victoria, British Columbia, whether out of sympathy with the agitators or in an act of craven cowardice, removed the statue of our first Prime Minister from its place in front of the city’s Hall.
Before briefly looking at the flimsy pretext chosen by these latter day Robespierres and Che Guevaras for their assault on the memory of the leading Father of Confederation, it would be good to remind ourselves of what all we, as twenty-first century Canadians, owe to this Victorian era statesman.
First and foremost, as the Honourable Hugh Segal observed, Canada herself is Sir John A. Macdonald’s bequest to Canadians. By Canada, of course, I mean the country. A country is a political entity, consisting of a land, its governing institutions, and everything in-between. On July 1st, 1867, the British North America Act came into effect, creating a new country which it gave the title of Dominion and the name of Canada. The name had been around for centuries, having been derived through a misunderstanding from the Iroquois word for village, and first applied to the French colonial society on the bank of the St. Lawrence River. Several revisionist (2) versions of Canadian history have sought to downplay the importance of Confederation, the Fathers of Confederation, and Sir John A. Macdonald, through the subtle device of using “Canada” in both of these senses interchangeably without noting the distinction. A similar device is to use “Canada” to mean just the land, without the institutions, as if the entire land would have borne the name even if the Dominion had not been established in 1867 and all of that territory eventually brought into Confederation. These are just pathetic attempts to avoid the obvious and downplay the importance of Confederation, and it is worth noting that this type of revisionism started with historians like Sir John Stephen Willison, Oscar D. Skelton, Frank Underhill and John Wesley Dafoe who were affiliated with the Liberal Party and who wanted to see Canada go down the opposite path to that in which the Fathers of Confederation had placed her.
Between the end of the American Revolution and Confederation, the North American colonies that had remained loyal to the British Empire perpetually existed under the Damoclean sword of American invasion and takeover. Among these colonies were the original French Catholic Canada which had been ceded to the British Crown at the end of the Seven Years' War.. The Crown's promise to respect and protect their language and religion prompted the Puritan Yankees to throw a hairy fit, petulantly declare their independence, and form a republic. Consequently, there was also now an English Protestant Canada, formed by the United Empire Loyalists who had fled north to this region to escape persecution in the new republic. In the War of 1812-1815, fought between the British Empire and the United States, the latter had invaded the Canadas with the intention of “liberating” them, which, of course, really meant conquering and enslaving them, and the French and English Canadians, recognizing this, joined the Imperial army in the fight to repel the invaders. After the War, the Americans let it be known through their talk about their Manifest Destiny, i.e., to expand to cover all of North America and their adoption of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, that the conquest of British North America was still on their minds. When, in the internecine war of 1861-1865, the American government showed itself willing and capable of waging total war against a sizable portion of America when it wanted to break off in resistance to the new technocratic order, the leaders of the provinces of British North America realized that the time had come to confederate for their own protection.
It was here that Sir John A. Macdonald took centre stage. Macdonald, a Scot as you may have gathered from the name, had been born in Glasgow but raised in the Loyalist town of Kingston, upon which the fictional Salterton in which Robertson Davies set his first trilogy of novels, was based. Apprenticed in law early in life, he quickly rose to prominence as a defence lawyer in Kingston, before turning to politics and winning the premiership of the province of Canada. There was only one province of Canada at the time, Upper (English) Canada and Lower (French) Canada having been merged in 1841, which created all sorts of difficulties for the government. In 1864, a way out of this provincial constitutional mess presented itself. The Maritime provinces were meeting in Charlottetown, PEI, to consider a merger and Macdonald, who as the leader of the Conservatives had just formed a coalition government with George Brown’s Clear Grits and Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s Parti bleu, asked and obtained permission for the province of Canada to send a delegation. In the Charlottetown Conference, the follow up Conference at Quebec the next month, and the London Conference a year and a half later, the provinces worked out the Confederation of the Dominion of Canada – in which Ontario and Quebec as they would now be called would again be separate provinces, in a larger federation, under a strong central government. By the second Conference, Macdonald had clearly emerged as the dominant figure in the process. Following Confederation he would become the first Prime Minister of the new Dominion and, with the exception of five years from 1873 to 1878, he filled this office until his death in 1891. As Prime Minister, as well as in his role as Father of Confederation, he was a nation-builder, obtaining for the Dominion the North-Western Territory and Rupert’s Land, out of which the prairie provinces were formed, and convinced British Columbia to join Confederation with the promise of a transcontinental railroad. This railroad was also to be the jewel in the crown of his National Policy of building a strong Canadian economy by using tariffs to protect our growing industries from cheap imports from the south and promoting internal east-west trade. He fought for this policy – and, hence, for Canada – to the very end. He was convinced that our survival depended upon it – that economic integration with the United States would lead to our being swallowed up by the republic culturally, and eventually politically. The amount of American money that went into funding his Liberal opponents – some of whom, such as Goldwin Smith were open annexationists – demonstrates the truth of this conviction. (3)
We owe the fact that we are a country today, and not a part of the United States, largely to the efforts of Sir John A. Macdonald, both in Confederation and as our first Prime Minister. We also owe the Fathers of Confederation in general, and Macdonald in particular, a debt of gratitude for the form of government they bequeathed us. Today, liberals, socialists, and neoconservatives alike speak incessantly about our “democracy” but, thanks to the conservatism of the Fathers of Confederation, we have something much better than mere democracy – we have a parliament. The difference between the two is that democracy, in the modern sense of the world, is an abstract ideal, whereas parliament is an institution that has gradually evolved and which has been tested and proven by time. Modern history is full of examples of how attempts to impose democracy – the abstract ideal – on a country have backfired and produced the worst kinds of despotism. The Cromwellian Protectorate, the first French Republic, the Third Reich, and Communism in every country where it gained control, are among the most obvious such examples. The beginnings of the Westminster parliamentary system, which the Fathers of Confederation in their conservative wisdom which preferred the tried and true over the untested and innovative had borrowed for Canada go back at least as far as the Magna Carta in the thirteenth century and, indeed, can be traced through the institutions predecessor, the Great Council, back to the Norman Conquest and perhaps as far back as the reign of Alfred the Great of Wessex in the ninth century. By the late Victorian era, in which Confederation took place, the system, while far from perfect – no human system ever is, the acknowledgement of which fact is a key to distinguishing the true conservative from the modern liberal idealist – had more than proven itself. Parliament is democratic in that the main legislative body is the elected assembly, the House of Commons, but it is more than democratic and the reason it has stood the test of time so well is because its democratic elements are incorporated into a larger system that provides balance and prevents the excesses of pure democracy that led ancient thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle, so much wiser than modern philosophers, to identify pure democracy as the worst of all constitutions. Our parliamentary system is also monarchical. This was not imposed upon the Fathers of Confederation by London, as some liberal revisionists have claimed, but was their unanimous choice, not only because retaining Canada’s connection to Britain and her place in the Empire that would soon evolve into the Commonwealth would be an ongoing bulwark against American takeover, but because a monarch, a head of state whose position is hereditary rather than elected, is therefore above partisan politics and a symbol of unity as no elected president could ever be, as well as a symbol of such pre-modern virtues as loyalty and honour, that the Fathers felt were worth preserving in an era when commercial and technocratic change threatened to sweep them all away. A monarchy has a touch of class that is beyond the reach of any republic and, the delusions of our southern neighbours to the contrary notwithstanding, the Westminster system of king/queen-in-parliament has provided the most freedom under a stable order of all constitutions ever developed on the face of the earth. (4) At the risk of being repetitive, we owe Sir John A. Macdonald and the other Fathers of Confederation an incalculable debt of gratitude for ensuring that we inherited this constitution.
The assault on Sir John A. Macdonald’s memory, in one sense began with the historians referred to above who, in support of the Liberal Party’s agenda of Americanizing Canada, rewrote Canada’s story, making it out to be an American-style struggle for independence from Britain rather than what it actually was, a deliberate building on the foundation of our British roots in a struggle against American expansionism. The Liberal version could not be told without downplaying the importance of the Fathers of Confederation and especially our first Prime Minister. The long Liberal assault on Canada’s founding, history, and traditional institutions laid the foundation for capitulation to the outright attack on Macdonald in the present day. The pretext for that assault is the Dominion government's policies, under Macdonald, towards indigenous Canadians. Not, that is, Macdonald's indigenous policies in the provinces already in Confederation, the central provinces and the Maritimes. There, Macdonald, much to the fury of his Grit opponents, proposed giving indigenous people – well, the adult males who met the same franchise requirements as everyone else at any rate - the right to vote. Clearly this is not what the Macdonald-haters have in mind when they condemn his indigenous policies. No, they are talking about his policies in the West, particularly in the North-Western territory and Rupert's Land, which, after their acquisition from the Hudson's Bay Company were being settled to create the prairie provinces and where the railroad, to connect central and eastern Canada to British Columbia, making the Dominion a transcontinental nation as a further bulwark against American expansionism, was being built. The military suppression of the Red River and North-West Rebellions in 1870 and 1885, and the subsequent hanging of Métis leader Louis Riel who had led both insurrections, is part of this, although only a small part as that is generally the way governments deal with insurrections, and was the cause of more bitter feelings among French Roman Catholics in Quebec than among natives who, a fact that seems to have been largely forgotten today, did not historically get along well with the Métis. The emphasis is on the Indian residential schools, or rather, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s interpretation of these.
As almost everyone in Canada knows by now there were a lot of bad things that happened at the Indian residential schools. There is, however, a difference between what the average Canadian thinks those bad things are and what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says they are. The first thing that would come to the average Canadian's mind if asked about what bad things happened at the residential schools would be abuse - physical and especially sexual. For it was complaints about this kind of abuse that put the residential schools in the news, beginning in the late '80's, and which led to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement early in the new millennium. Obviously, such abuse is horrible and indefensible. It goes on in schools of all sorts, public and private, religious and secular, boarding and day, but it seems to have been far more common at the residential schools than most other kinds, even other boarding schools which, including the elite boarding schools for the wealthy and privileged, have a bad reputation for being rampant with sexual abuse. Interestingly, however, according to retired Manitoba judge Brian Giesbrecht the residential schools were not an exception to the general rule with boarding schools that most of the sexual abuse came from other, older, students. (5) At any rate, while the TRC heard and documented a great deal of testimony about this sort of abuse, it is not what its report focuses on and condemns.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2008, in accordance with the Settlement Agreement and released its lengthy final report in 2015. Without questioning either the veracity of the testimony of former students as to bad or even horrendous experiences in the schools or the value and necessity of allowing their stories to be heard, there is good cause, given the methodology of the Commission, to question the accuracy of the overall picture painted by the report. Following similar methodology, it would not be difficult to produce an equally damning or worse portrait of the public school system. Set up an inquiry into the public schools and invite everybody to relate their experiences when it is common knowledge that it is really only bad experiences you are interested in and that you are out to crucify the education system, and see what kind of results you get. Ten years before the TRC was established, Alberta Report magazine ran an article by Patrick Donnelly in which numerous residential school alumni were interviewed and testified to an overall positive experience at the schools. (6) Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield received a letter from the Alberta Human Rights Commission saying that a law professor at the University of Calgary had filed a complaint against the magazine over the article. The AHRC did not prosecute but my point is that even then there was pressure to silence anything that went against the interpretive narrative that would eventually be incorporated into the TRC report. This is much more the case today, after the report came out, as Senator Lynn Beyak discovered when she found herself censured by her own cowardly party and the recipient of a flatulent letter from the apostate primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, co-signed by the indigenous bishop, for basically saying the same thing that Cree playwright, novelist, classical pianist, Order of Canada recipient, and residential school alumnus Tomson Highway said in an interview for a column that was published about the same time as the TRC’s final report:
All we hear is the negative stuff, nobody’s interested in the positive, the joy in that school. Nine of the happiest years of my life, I spent it at that school. I learned your language, for God’s sake. Have you learned my language? No, so who’s the privileged one and who is underprivileged?
You may have heard stories from 7,000 witnesses in the process that were negative. But what you haven’t heard are the 7,000 reports that were positive stories. There are many very successful people today that went to those schools and have brilliant careers and are very functional people, very happy people like myself. I have a thriving international career, and it wouldn’t have happened without that school. You have to remember that I came from so far north and there were no schools up there. (7)
Those who were so quick to condemn Senator Beyak should carefully read Mr. Highway’s words and the learn to tell the difference between denying, contradicting, and silencing one person’s negative testimony – what she was falsely accused of – and denying, contradicting and silencing another person’s positive testimony – what they are guilty of doing.
The TRC’s judgement on the residential schools, arising out of an interpretative narrative that was well in place before the Commission began its investigation, was that the schools were the central element in a program of “cultural genocide.” “Cultural genocide” is the expression that was coined to equate imperial cultural assimilation with the physical extermination of a people. The thinking behind this equation, taken to its logical extreme, would equate the outlawing of the Hindu practice of suttee – the immolation of widows – in India under the Raj, the suppression of slavery, and the suppression of tribal warfare which, being total, frequently amounted to genocide in the literal sense of the word, with the Armenian genocide, the Holodomor terror famine in the Ukraine, the Holocaust, and the slaughter of the Tutsi in Rwanda. Obviously, it is possible to go too far in the other direction. Not all forms of imperial cultural assimilation are on the same moral level as the end of the slave trade. Nevertheless, the reasoning behind the concept of “cultural genocide” is clearly flawed. We shall shortly consider the ideology that produced the concept – and the entire anti-colonial, anti-imperial narrative to which it belongs. First, however, a few things need to be said about cultural assimilation as practiced at the residential schools.
The schools were not initially thought up by Sir John A. Macdonald, or, for that matter, anyone else in the Dominion government. The first ones predate Confederation by a few decades. They were founded by Christian churches as outreach missions to the aboriginals. Naturally, evangelism was one aspect of their mission. This would be sufficient in the minds of some Christianity-hating leftists to indict the schools with “cultural genocide” in and of itself. However, the other aspect was social. The lifestyle by which most of the native tribes, particularly in the West, traditionally sustained themselves, one of hunting, fishing and trapping, was, if not dying out completely, becoming less and less capable of sustaining the native populations, for a number of reasons, such as the shrinking numbers of bison and other game and the decrease in demand for the products of the fur trade. Perhaps, and I say this facetiously, PETA and other animal rights nuts are the ones who should be charged with "cultural genocide." The churches that founded the schools, wanted to provide training for aboriginal children in the skills they would need to survive in a modernizing economy. For this reason they were often called industrial schools. Foremost among those skills, would be the ability to read and write in the language the economy was conducted in, which, keeping in mind that these schools existed mostly in the West, was usually English. Accordingly, most of the schools taught English in a style similar to the way French is learned in the immersion schools to which English-speaking parents who want their kids to have the advantages that come with full bilingualism send their children today. The schools were not monolithic, however. Some taught reading and writing in native languages as well as English. Of those that were full English immersion, the rules about speaking native languages outside of class varied. Those that banned the speaking of native tongues outside of the classroom, generally did so when their students came from different tribes, especially those between which an historic enmity existed. That the students would gain a language, usually English, was the reason for the immersion. The prevention of mutually hostile language cliques forming was the reason for the bans in the schools that had them. Had the disappearance of the native tongues been the aim, dictated by the government, full immersion and the bans would have been universal practice, which they were not.
After Confederation and the acquisition of Rupert's Land and the North-West, the Dominion government brought the residential schools under its aegis, funding and regulating them, while the churches continued to operate them. It was the social aspect of the schools' mission rather than the evangelistic that garnered the government's interest, and, yes, in articulating the case for the schools to the House in 1883, Macdonald spoke in terms of cultural assimilation, although not in the crude and vulgar words that are sometimes falsely attributed to him, more often to Duncan Campbell Scott who expanded the government's involvement in the early twentieth-century, but which in reality were spoken by an American General who was, ironically, advocating integrated public education for native children. While it is easy for squeamish people in the twenty-first century, comfortable in their delusions of their own enlightenment, to get their panties in a twist about the idea that in "central training industrial schools" the indigenous children "will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men" such people seldom bother to place these words in their historical context, and I do not mean that they were spoken without the advantage of our supposedly enlightened hindsight.
Remember that Confederation occurred two years after the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox. Do you recall what happened in the United States immediately after that? I'd be amazed if you don't because it is a huge part of the story of the American wild West. The triumphant republic, having squashed the Confederacy, immediately sent its forces to the frontier to deal with the Indians that had been conducting raids on settlers, kidnapping, raping, and murdering them. Oh yes. If you happen to believe the Disney version of what the Indian lifestyle was like, i.e., that they were all enlightened, tree-hugging, hand-holding, environmentalist, pacifists, then grow up! This picture, cooked up in Hollywood out of one of Rousseau's lamest thoughts, is actually a huge insult to the great Indian warriors. They were responding to what they, hardly without justification, regarded as an invasion in the same way that for thousands of years they had dealt with other of their own tribes when one had encroached on the other's hunting grounds. The American government, not bound by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 - another of the reasons for their rebellion against the Crown - waged a series of incredibly bloody wars against the Indians. The intensity only increased after they had their butts handed to them at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Needless to say, the Dominion government was watching these events closely and Sir John A. did not want a repeat of the Indian Wars in Canada. The danger of this was allayed, somewhat, by the aforementioned Royal Proclamation under which the Dominion was required to make treaties with the tribes before settling people in the territories. However, Sir John knew that the integration of the tribes into the rest of Canada would be the surest safeguard against the kind of Indian-settler conflicts that had escalated into such bloodshed in the United States. He was thinking in terms of civilization, not culture. (8) The disappearance of native languages, styles of dress, and the like, was no goal of his. Their becoming peaceful, law-abiding, Canadians who do not wage war on each other, make raids on settlers, and rape and murder, most certainly was.
So was their developing a means of sustaining themselves in the modern economy. The conflict between the Indians and the settlers in the United States had been inflamed by the shrinking of the buffalo herds and in Canada the buffalo had virtually disappeared by this time. One cannot understand Sir John A’s thinking without being familiar with Benjamin Disraeli’s Sybil, the concepts in which are the basis of the “one-nation” policy of Disraeli’s own premiership in the United Kingdom, (9) and which informed Sir John A.’s own similar thinking and policies. The novel, subtitled “The Two Nations”, warns of the dangers of social unrest and instability that could ensue from it becoming effectively divided, by industrialism, into two nations “the rich” and “the poor.” Macdonald, a statesman rather than a politician – the difference is that the former thinks of the next generation, the latter of the next election – could see that if aboriginal people did not learn a new way of sustaining themselves, a gap in wealth between them and other Canadians would develop that would be so large as to make the gap between capital and labour seem miniscule by comparison, and that this would generate social discontent that would be greatly exacerbated by the fact that the two groups, unlike those in the Earl of Beaconsfield’s novel, would be separated by culture and race. It was these concerns, shared by many of the native tribes themselves, who in fact, had often gone to the government and the churches and requested these schools, that led Macdonald to give the government’s support to the residential schools.
When told that aboriginal children were forced to leave their families and attend these schools it is important to put this in context. Note that I am not talking about the use of the residential schools as a place for government child welfare social workers to put children. That is a much later development in the history of the schools, that had nothing to do with Sir John A, although it is what most of those living today who tell about being forcibly removed from their parents are remembering. Yes, in the 1880s, the government made education mandatory for native children between the ages of 7 and 16, which due to the location of the reservations often translated into their having to go to residential schools. Often, but not always, or even in the majority of cases. Over the entire history of the schools, only 30% of aboriginal children – approximately 150, 000 in total – attended. That is an average over the entire period – it was much higher around the middle of the twentieth century and later, and accordingly had to be much lower in the early days of the Dominion. The vast majority of the schools established for natives were day schools. Here is the historical context of the initial law making education mandatory for native children. In 1871 the province of Ontario had passed a law requiring that children between the ages of 7 and 12 attend school for a minimum of four months per annum with a penalty in the form of a fine to be imposed on the parents. British Columbia passed a similar law in 1873, PEI made education compulsory for twelve weeks a year between the ages of eight and thirteen in 1877, and by 1910 compulsory education was almost universal throughout the Dominion. (10) To this day education is mandatory throughout Canada, usually up to age sixteen, in some provinces up to eighteen. The 1884 amendment to the Indian Act took place within this historical framework, applying to native children the same rules that were being applied to all other children in the Dominion – and with the same exceptions that were usually made. Ironically, mandatory education is the final plank in the manifesto that gave birth to the ideology that produced the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist narrative.
For yes, the anti-imperialist, anti-colonial narrative is the product of Communist ideology. The narrative has roots in the teachings of Karl Marx himself but it really took shape through the pen of V. I. Lenin, in his Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, first published in 1917 shortly before he seized control of Russia. Ironically, it would be with the backing of the country that is most closely identified with capitalism, that the Soviets were able to transform Lenin's narrative into a global movement.
The year was 1945. Six years previously, the British Commonwealth of Nations, including the Dominion of Canada, had rallied to the cause of King, Country, and Empire and followed the United Kingdom into war with the Third Reich, whose tyrannical dictator Adolf Hitler was threatening all of Europe with his plans of conquest. We emerged victorious in the end – but the real triumph belonged to the United States and the Soviet Union, nominally our allies, but who were determined to usher in a new age in which they would be the superpowers. Shortly thereafter, each would turn on the other in the “struggle for the world” (11) that is generally called the Cold War, but in this they were united, that the old age of European imperialism must end. Lenin's narrative, modified to link old world imperialism to National Socialism's plans of conquest, took on a life of its own as a movement, with the USA (12) and the USSR as its co-sponsors, demanding that their erstwhile “allies” Britain and France withdraw from their empires.
The ironies and hypocrisies abounded. This version of the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial narrative was, of course, a thinly veiled justification of the neo-imperialism – and neo-colonialism – that America and the Soviet Union were themselves now engaged in, the former by offering protection to her client states against the latter, which was exporting its influence through subversive, revolutionary movements. A further irony, of course, is that the Third Reich, far from being an example of old world imperialism, was an ideological state, built by an ideology that was a close cousin to that which ruled the Soviet Union, and a more distant cousin to that upon which the United States was founded. (13)
The similarity between Hitler’s regime and the Soviet Union, especially under Stalin, is key to understanding the importance of this narrative to Communism at the time. The two regimes were virtually identical. Both were police states that drew inspiration from Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, that were ruled by an ideological party that claimed to speak for “the people,” that maintained order by promoting a general fear among the populace through secret police, arbitrary justice, show trials, and encouraging everyone to spy on everyone else and inform, even on his best friends and closest family members, so that nobody could trust anyone else. Both killed people by the millions and enslaved and imprisoned countless more. Stalin’s regime survived the war, and indeed, had expanded its control, and it was very much in the interests of the regime, and the international Communist movement allied with it and to a large extent controlled by it, to keep the word’s attention focused on the evils of the regime just defeated, rather than on those of the one that was still around. Thus, they entered into prosecution of the War Crimes trials with much gusto, to the point that they more closely resembled the Soviet style of “justice” than that of the English-speaking world, a fact that only a few, chief among them being American Senator Robert Taft, cared to take notice of at the time. (14)
They needed, however, to find something about the Third Reich to focus on that would draw attention away from the fact that they were basically running the same kind of regime, with all the same evils, themselves. You could hardly point the finger at the SS when you have the NKVD, it is a bit cheeky to talk about concentration camps when the GULAG has them set up all over Siberia, and there is not much point condemning the Gestapo when you have had the Cheka, the GPU, the OGPU, the GUGB, the NKGB, and the MGB. Fortunately – for the Communists, if not for civilization – they had an easy solution to their dilemma. Indeed, it coincided with existing Communist policy for already in the 1930s Communists had been talking about stirring up racial strife as another weapon in their war against the capitalist bourgeoisie. (15) For, while Communism was hardly clean in this regards itself, (16) Hitler was well known to be stark, raving, bonkers when it came to the subject of race, and the ideas of a Darwinist struggle for survival between the races, Aryan supremacy, and anti-Semitism were integral parts of the ideology of National Socialism. So, the Communists realized, the way to divert attention from all the ways in which Lenin and Stalin were similar to Hitler, was to direct attention to his racialism, as if this and not his tyrannical, murderous, Soviet-style, police state were his chief evil.
I will interrupt this history at this point to make the observation that while the assault on the legacy of personal freedom under king/queen-in-parliament that Sir John A. Macdonald bequeathed to us began with an old-school, Americanizing Grit, Willian Lyon Mackenzie King in 1926, (17) it was resumed with vehemence in the 1960s by two Communists who had taken over the Liberal Party. One of these was Lester B. Pearson whom evidence suggests was, although his education was at Oxford rather than Cambridge, the same kind of traitor intellectual as Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Donald MacLean, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. (18) The other was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who, with his head already full of left-wing ideas, was taught Fabianism in London, came under the influence of more radical Marxism in Paris, spent some time behind the Iron Curtain, headed a Canadian delegation to an international Communist conference in Moscow hosted by Stalin, co-founded the far left Cité Libre journal that engineered the anti-Catholic "Quiet Revolution" in Quebec, and expressed his sympathies with Marxism and his admiration for tyrants like Mao all his life. (19) He did everything he could to try and transform Canada from a free parliamentary monarchy into a peoples' republic. It was through his efforts that a polite, smiley-faced, friendly Canadian version of a Soviet-style inquisitor tribunal complete with its own secret police was established under the euphemistic "Canadian Human Rights Act" which does not, as its title may lead you to believe, have anything to do with extending the protection of traditional British/Canadian legal rights to all people on soil governed by Canadian law but rather with limiting such traditional British/Canadian legal rights as freedom of association and speech. Note that these two Communists, Pearson and Trudeau presided over the residential schools when the abuses were at their worst. I don't see anyone demanding the removal of their statues, do you?
Now, back to where we left off. Communism's plan to use the evils of the defeated regime, to distract from the evils of the still-existing regime, and thus to point to something unique to the former, was the genesis of anti-racism which, although it had been no part of the original Marxism, or even of the anti-imperialist narrative as Lenin had formulated it, became integral to the neo-Marxism that, with American help, was pushing the developing narrative. Indeed, if you look closely enough at the various anti-racist groups and organizations of today, especially the violent "Antifa" type, you will find in most cases some version of Marxist-Leninism - Stalinism, Maoism, etc. - behind them. Nota bene, racism itself as both a term and a concept, is an invention of the neo-Marxism that has set itself up as its opponent. (20) It is not fully synonymous with the older concept of racial prejudice, either in the sense of positive bias towards one's own group or negative bias against others. Whether one's prejudices qualify as "racism" or not in neo-Marxist theory depends upon whether or not one belongs to Marxism's perpetual bête noir, "the bourgeoisie", "the capitalists" or simply "the haves." In practice what this means is that the most hateful and violent words and actions directed towards whites, all elevated to the status of "haves" by neo-Marxism (21), on the part of other groups, is not "racism", whereas any insensitive comment, however mild, on the part of a white person towards another racial group is considered "racism" and therefore a more serious offence than even a violent crime in the other direction. The neo-conservative objection that this is inconsistent and that there should be a universal single standard that condemns the same kind of words and behaviour as racist regardless of who says and does them (22) misses the point. Since the term and concept are neo-Marxist inventions they can define them as they wish. It is not how they use their own terminology, that deserves condemnation, but the evil theory behind it, and the even more evil motivation behind that theory - Communism's need to find something in Hitler's mass-murders that would make them out to be worse than Communism's own larger scale mass-murders.
Just to be clear – whether racial prejudice is wrong or right, it is wrong or right regardless of whether the prejudiced person “has power” or not. The most sensible way of looking at it, long the view of most civilized people, is that it is probably inevitable, as the byproduct of the in-group loyalty necessary for social cohesion, and as such ought to be tolerated up to a point, but should be looked upon with extreme distaste when taken too far, such as when it is ideologized as in National Socialism and becomes a threat to civilization.
It may seem like I have been following a rabbit down a trail, but this is all relevant. Consider the point about how neo-Marxism coined and defined racism so that it applies to one group and not another. I have already discussed Sir John A.'s remarks in the House of Commons in 1883 in support of the residential schools. Another aspect of those remarks that is condemned by the self-righteous today, who usually have no idea what the word meant in the nineteenth century, was his description of the natives as “savages.” Three years later, after riding out on the new railroad to what is now Alberta in July himself, for a pow-wow with Chief Crowfoot of the Blackfoot and other chiefs, Macdonald invited several chiefs to come east on the railroad to visit him at home. Chief Crowfoot was invited, of course, as was Chief Red Crow of the Bloods, and they accordingly came that fall to Sir John A's home in Ottawa. They were also given a mini-tour of Ontario. Red Crow, on his return from his visit to Ontario, used the exact same word to describe the whites. How many of the same people who condemn Sir John A.’s use of the word would also condemn Red Crow’s?
More importantly, however, the term "genocide" was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, who, with American sponsorship, put forward the resolution he had drafted for the Genocide Convention to the United Nations in 1948. This served the Soviet/neo-Marxist interests well, especially since they, the Soviets that is, were able to use their position at the UN to remove Lemkin's category of political killings, and thus their own crimes, from the definition of genocide. Thus they achieved their wishes, an international treaty that condemned Hitler's crimes but not theirs. The concept of cultural genocide, which was Lemkin's but not included in the Convention, although it has been heavily promoted by neo-Marxists, served their purposes even better. It allowed them to equate the actions of their enemies with Hitler's crimes even when physical extermination was not involved. It did not matter how many eggs, Stalin broke, in his quest for the omelet of progress, so long as he was not racist in breaking them, but the civilizing efforts of the old empires was to be treated as the moral equivalent of the Holocaust.
Just in case you failed to catch the point, what really makes mass murder evil is that it is mass murder. Whether it is because you don’t like Race X or because you see the kulaks as an impediment to your progress towards a workers’ paradise, is trivial and insignificant. If you cannot understand this, you are a moral imbecile.
Anti-racism, by which Communism deflected the world's attention from the many ways in which it and National Socialism were identical, quickly became part of the anti-colonial, anti-imperial narrative that the Soviets were using to demand that the old European powers withdraw from their empires, in reality to make way for the new Soviet imperialism, a demand with which the Americans, who would promote their own neo-imperialism as a protection racket against the Soviet neo-imperialism, heartily concurred. The European powers withdrew, and in the new states that emerged from the former empires, the Soviets and Americans backed rival factions in civil wars, while the tribal wars, which the empires had so long suppressed, resumed with a genocidal fury, while the perpetrators of the genocides used their seats in the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Genocide Convention of which they had all signed, to blame their present woes on the old imperial powers. Read Paul Johnson's Modern Times for a detailed history of the whole sordid mess. (23) This is the fruit of the insipid narrative, generated by Communists to cover up Communist crimes, that has so permeated Western civilization, or what is left of it, that we actually consider it a sign of our "enlightenment" that be buy into this drivel and use it to sit in judgement on our ancestors.
Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, by the way, look suspiciously like they are another Communist invention. They were started up in Latin America, when the Soviet Union that had been sponsoring revolutionary terrorist groups throughout the continent collapsed, and the United States, seeing that the subversion had been cut off at the source, withdrew its support from the governments that had been fighting to suppress the revolutionaries. Governments more sympathetic to the Marxists came to power, and set up the TRCs to condemn the former regimes for the violent measures taken to suppress groups that, judging from how their ideological comrades have behaved whenever they did get into power, would have been much, much, worse. Perhaps the best known Truth and Reconciliation Commission was the one established in 1995 in South Africa after the African National Congress came to power. The ANC, unpopular as it is to point this out today, was and is a Communist front, which through its guerrilla arm “the Spear of the Nation” waged a terrorist war against the Afrikaners who sought to maintain control of the republic they had created through a policy of racial segregation called apartheid, an ugly policy to be sure, but not significantly different from the policies of other African countries except that the Afrikaners were the wrong colour. The ANC also waged a very nasty war on South African blacks who did not support them or who belonged to the wrong tribe. Needless to say, it was the crimes of the apartheid regime and not their own that their TRC investigated, even as the ANC was preparing for the Zimbabwe-style genocide it is currently carrying out, to the silence of most of the world’s press.
An investigatory body that had its conclusions in place before it began its investigation and was notoriously closed to hearing any point of view other than its own, modelled on a kind of tribunal that was invented and given a euphemistic name in order to investigate and punish the enemies of Communism, gives a judgement of “cultural genocide” which is an odious moral equation of cultural assimilation with physical extermination originally dreamed up to divert attention from Communism’s crimes. Yes, we have every reason to reject this judgement.
Communism like Nazism, was a twentieth century manifestation of the much older totalitarian spirit of anarchy and revolution. The Dominion of Canada was founded upon rejection of that spirit, for which reason Communism targeted her for destruction long before its Cold War against the American republic that served its, as well as the American’s, neo-imperial interests. Our government was fighting Communist subversives back in the early days of the presidency of a man who tried his hardest to be the best friend of the worst of the Soviet tyrants. During the Cold War, Communists working through the continentalist, Americanist, Liberal Party, seriously undermined the legacy of freedom and order, under parliamentary monarchy, that the Fathers of Confederation had left to us. Now, that revolutionary spirit that prefers the “quick, easy and exhilarating” work of destruction to the “slow, laborious and dull” work of creation can be seen at work again, using the mistreatment and suffering many indigenous Canadians experienced in the residential schools as a springboard to attack the man who undertook that work for us a century and a half ago. The man who in a debate against opponents who wished to break up the reserves and leave the indigenous people to fend for themselves, articulated the government’s responsibility to protect them, saying “We must remember that they are the original owners of the soil, of which they have been dispossessed by the covetousness or ambition of our ancestors” and that they “have been the great sufferers by the discovery of America and the transfer to it of a large white population.”
Make no mistake. Those who are attacking Sir John A., and through him the country he founded, while they may shed crocodile tears, possess in their hearts not an iota of the genuine care for the suffering of the aboriginals that he did. Revolutionaries are always those who care the least about the people whose suffering they cynically exploit to advance their destructive agenda. The people of Paris fared horribly under the Reign of Terror. The condition of the workers was one of hopeless slavery under Bolshevism. It is easy to tear down statues, to compare the father of your country to Hitler, and to otherwise carry on in a juvenile manner, but it is much harder to break the cycles of abuse, dependency, addiction, and utter poverty that afflict native Canadians.
The spirit of anarchy and revolution appears to have the upper hand at the moment, but those of us who still cherish loyalty and honour, order and freedom, and all the good things that are difficult to build and easy to destroy, can take some cold comfort, if it is only a prophetic schadenfreude, from the fact that in the divine order of things, revolutions always eat their own. Just as Philippe Égalité, Marat, Danton and ultimately the “Incorruptible” Robespierre himself were consumed in turn by the bloodshed they unleashed, so the ninth of Thermidor will eventually come for the new revolutionaries.
In the meantime, we resist as best we can, neither giving in to their demands, nor buying in to their deceptions. Let us always honour and remember Sir John A. Macdonald, the Dominion of Canada that he built and led, and the freedom in order for which it stood.
(1) Roger Scruton, How to Be a Conservative, London, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014, pp. viii-ix.
(2) “Revisionist” history has two meanings. It can refer to the efforts of those, especially after a war, to sift through propaganda and reconstruct events as they actually happened. It can also refer to the rewriting of history to serve some ideological agenda. It is in this latter sense that I use the word here.
(3) For details of Macdonald’s economic nationalist fight for Canada against forces that wished to see the country swallowed up by the Americans, see chapter nine, “Veiled Treason”, in David Orchard, The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism, Revised and Expanded Edition, Westmount, QC, Robert Davis Multimedia Publishing Inc., 1993, 1998. For his life in general, see Donald Creighton’s biography John A. Maconald, originally published by Macmillan in two volumes, The Young Politician, 1952, and The Old Chieftain, 1955, then in a one-volume edition by the University of Toronto Press, 1998. There are many other biographies of Macdonald beginning with Sir Joseph Pope's two volume Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, G.C.B., First Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada in 1894, and more recently Richard Gwyn's Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald - His Life, Our Times in 2011, but Creighton's is the sterling standard. Of course, since Creighton's opinions and prejudices matched my own to a large degree I am biased in its favour, but I am hardly alone in considering this the definitive Macdonald biography. Both volumes won the Governor General's Award, Arthur Meighen described it as "the finest biography any Canadian has produced", and Harold A. Innis, to whom the first volume was dedicated said that this was "the highest honour, academic or otherwise which I will ever achieve." The 2018 re-issue of the U of T edition includes a new introduction by Donald Wright, Creighton's own biographer, that addresses the recent controversy over Macdonald in a much more irenic and much less dogmatic tone than I have taken here, Wright undoubtedly having much more patience with statue-raising revolutionary rabble than I do.
(4) As Richard Cartwright said in the assembly of the province of Canada during the debates on Confederation in 1865 “For myself, sir, I own frankly I prefer British liberty to American equality.” The classical liberalism that inspired the American Revolution, like its more radical cousin that inspired the French Revolution, considered liberty and equality to be compatible goals. For the conservative case that the two are contradictory and incompatible see Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of Our Time, Caldwell, Idaho, The Caxton Printers Ltd., 1952. Whether compatible or not, conservatives have always had a higher view of liberty to equality, and it was the egalitarianism in the formula of Americanism, that the conservative early Canadians objected to over the libertarianism, although they also rightly regarded the American equation of liberty with republicanism to be absurd. The embrace of egalitarianism and identification of liberty with “America” was the result of a hijacking of Canadian thought in the middle of the Twentieth Century.
(5) Brian Dale Giesbrecht, “Teaching the Residential School Story”, Frontier Centre for Public Policy, November 2, 2017.
(6) Patrick Donnelly, “Scapegoating the Indian Residential Schools”, Alberta Report, January 26, 1998.
(7) Joshua Ostroff, “Tomson Highway Has a Surprisingly Positive Take on the Residential Schools”, Huffington Post Canada, December 15, 2016.
(8) John Lukacs discusses the “originally German but by now worldwide, accepted notion of the superior nature of Culture over Civilization.” The former is “material and bourgeois” the latter is “spiritual and creative.” He discusses the development of this idea in the nineteenth century and its influence on Hitler who was “a proponent and promoter of art and ‘Kultur’” but the enemy of civilization. He notes that the Greeks, who along with the Romans “were the founders of our still extant urbane notions of a civilization”, had no word for culture. He takes the position, against both Hitler and the intellectuals of our own day, that civilization is more important than culture. This discussion can be found in John Lukacs, The Hitler of History, New York, Vintage Books, 1997, pp. 267-268. In his second memoir Lukacs writes “When civilization is strong and widespread enough, culture will appear and take care of itself.” John Lukacs, Last Rites, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2009, p. 58.
(9) Disraeli’s premiership in the United Kingdom was contemporaneous with that of Macdonald in Canada.
(10) See Philip Oreopoulos, “Canadian Compulsory School Laws and their Impact on Educational Attainment and Future Earnings,” Statistics Canada, May 2005. Chapter II, “History of Compulsory Schooling in Canada.”
(11) James Burnham, The Struggle for the World, New York, The John Day Company, 1947.
(12) Consider what Dr. Paul Gottfried has to say about the influence of American reconstruction policy in post-WWII Europe on the development of political correctness in Paul E. Gottfried, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy, Columbia, University of Missouri Press, 2002.
(13) Here, briefly, is the family tree: The first generation is Puritanism, which overthrows King Charles I of England and Scotland and beheads him in 1649, establishing the tyrannical Cromwellian Protectorate, which, mercifully, ends with the restoration of the monarchy and the Church of England. A century later, Puritanism has secularized and become classical liberalism, the second generation, which again revolts against the British Crown, this time in a secession movement of the thirteen colonies who establish the American Republic. Many of those who remain loyal to the British Crown flee to the northern provinces which in another century become the Dominion of Canada. Less than a decade after the Americans win their independence, however, a nastier sibling of classical liberalism, Jacobinism, rears its ugly head in France. There, a combination of intriguers, including Philippe Duc d’Orleans who wanted the throne for himself, agents of the Prussian king who wanted to break up the French-Austrian alliance, and various other troublemakers, stirred up, with the help of the prostitutes of Paris and imported foreign cutthroats, a serious of revolts against the popular, reforming, King Louis XVI of France and, eventually force him off the throne. In the chaos of the republic that is then declared, Maximilien de Robespierre, leader of the radical egalitarian Montagnards, plays the other factions of the Jacobin Club against each other, as the king, queen, much of the nobility and the Catholic clergy are put to death, along with a sizeable number of ordinary Frenchmen, as “enemies of the people.” The other Jacobin factions, such as the Girondins and the Hebertistes, are denounced and eliminated in turn, before finally, fed up with all the bloodshed, the assembly turns on Robespierre and feeds him to his own guillotine, effectively ending the Terror. Fifty years later, however, the spirit of Robespierre is revived and revolutionary fires burn across Europe, as, in London, a revolutionary living in exile and masquerading as a philosopher and economist, Karl Marx, pens the words that will become the death warrant of a hundred million people in the next century. Marxism is the third generation, a descendent of Jacobinism, and from it springs Leninism or Bolshevism, which in October of 1917 takes over Russia from the weak provisional government that had toppled the Tsar, puts the Tsar to death, and establishes the Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics, the totalitarian police state that holds its people in an iron grip for almost a century, swallowing Eastern Europe through the Second World War, and establishing duplicates of its regime throughout the world, most notably in China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Castro’s Cuba. Meanwhile in Germany, Adolf Hitler, leads National Socialism, a close relative of Bolshevism that establishes an extremely similar regime, to power in 1933, plunges the world into the Second World War, loses, and National Socialism, in terms of any real power and influence, dies with him.
(14) See chapter 9 of John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage, 1956.
(15) See William Z. Foster, Toward Soviet America, New York, Coward-McCann Inc., 1932, particularly the section entitled “Revolutionary Forces in the United States” in Chapter IV, “The Revolutionary Way Out of the Crisis.”
(16) Karl Marx was, even for the nineteenth century, quite extreme in his vulgar remarks about the African race and was also, despite his own Jewish ancestry, a raving anti-Semite. The Holodomor, the engineered famine that killed seven million people in 1932 to 1933, was directed against the Ukrainians.
(17) John Farthing, Freedom Wears a Crown, Toronto, Kingswood Press, 1957, Eugene A. Forsey, The Royal Power of Dissolution of Parliament in the British Commonwealth, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1943.
(18) James Barros, No Sense of Evil: The Espionage Case of E. Herbert Norman, New York, Ivy Books, 1986, 1987, pp. 122-123, 191-202, 223-231.
(19) See David Somerville, Trudeau Revealed by His Actions and Words, Richmond Hill, BMG Publishing Ltd., 1978.
(20) Samuel T. Francis, “The Origins of ‘Racism’: The Curious Beginnings of a Useless Word”, in Jared Taylor ed., Samuel Francis, Essential Writings on Race, New Century Books, 2007, pp. 70-74.
(21) For how this has turned the left on its former support base see Paul E. Gottfried, The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium, Columbia, University of Missouri Press, 2005.
(22) An example of this kind of argument is Dinesh D’Souza, The End of Racism, New York, Free Press Paperbacks, 1995. See in particular chapter eight, “Institutional Racism and Double Standards”, on pages 289 to 336.
(23) Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties, Revised Edition, New York, Harper Collins, 1992.
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