Friday, March 28, 2008

Blasts From the Past

Recalling a book I read a while ago and which I unreservedly recommend (Walter Gordon & the Rise of Canadian Nationalism) inspires me to offer a little quiz for the political junkies and history buffs among us.

I give you below four quotations from parliamentary speeches, all from 1956. Guess the party to which each speaker belongs. Just ask yourself, "Does this sound like a Liberal, a Tory, or a socialist?". The speakers' identities are given after the full list of quotations (hint: David Orchard is NOT on the list). Don't cheat. Ready? Here goes:


1."Canadians should declare their economic independence of the United States".

2. "If the government is re-elected, Canada will become virtually a forty-ninth economic state in the American union".

3. "What is happening before our eyes is nothing less than economic invasion by our neighbours to the south".

4. "History shows us that economic domination, if not resisted, if not altered, inevitably leads, by a process of absorption, to ultimate political domination as well".




Answers:

1. George Drew, Tory Leader of the Opposition; former Tory premier of Ontario.

2. John Diefenbaker, Tory M.P.; eventual party leader and prime-minister.

3. Leon Balcer, Tory M.P.; Diefenbaker's Québec lieutenant.

4. Davie Fulton, Tory M.P.; Diefenbaker's Minister of Justice.


Don't feel too badly if you failed the quiz: these days, it's hard to recognise real Toryism when you hear it.

23 comments:

Dylan said...

"Don't feel too badly if you failed the quiz: these days, it's hard to recognise real Toryism when you hear it."

SNAP!

Sir Francis said...

SNAP!

Indeed. Is it even remotely conceivable that Harper and Co. could utter words like these?

Red Tory said...

I scored zero for specific attribution but guessed they all came from Tories. Quel surprise!

Hugh MacIntyre said...

I didn't score a zero, but I wish I had. 50 years ago was a different time in the Conservative movement. At the time we were stuck in what was then an absurd idea that we could stay connected to the collapsing British Empire. Holding on to that Empire is even more absurd today. Even the British have moved on.

Today the Conservative Party is, or at least should be, about personal freedoms and a faith in the power of the free markets. It should be the party of strong laws and strong military to defend its citizens.

The Conservative Party should not be about a blind faith in a dead legacy. This party should not hold on to paternalistic ideas of elites 'protecting' the masses from their own stupidity.

Red Tory said...

Hugh — You make the common mistake of conflating Canadian sovereignty with archaic notions of “Empire” on which the imperial sun has most certainly set — a fact that nobody would argue with. Quite obviously things have evolved by considerable degrees since that time. Nonetheless, there are essential core values that linger… remains of the day, if you will… things that last true to form and continue to exercise a positive influence over the manner in which we’re governed.

Ti-Guy said...

I scored a zero, but in my defense, no one in my family could speak English in the 50's, so that cultural memory has not been passed down, so to speak.

Aeneas the Younger said...

I was and am. a real E. Davie Fulton admirer.

As to "Hugh," it seems odd to me that repudiating the great heart of English-Canadian torysim in order to embrace liberalism and economic objectivism whilst at the same time repudiating tradition & heritage in the name of "conservatism" makes me the one out of touch with reality.

Do these neo-liberals even read books? I mean ones that don't come out of Chicago ...

Sir Francis said...

50 years ago was a different time in the Conservative movement.

Actually, there was no Conservative "movement" fifty years ago. Movements are crucial for digestive systems; they are quite useless to political orientations premised upon an organic vision of civic life.

Conservatism did not "move"; it dwelled. It was an indigenous political concomitant of Canada's inner nature expounded by men and women fully grounded in the moral dimensions of the nation's founding. Very different from the meretricious elixir of bestial self-interest being hawked by the obstreperous carnival barkers that make up the current "Conservative" Party.

At the time we were stuck in what was then an absurd idea that we could stay connected to the collapsing British Empire. Holding on to that Empire is even more absurd today.

This is revisionist, liberal, post-colonial rubbish. Canadian Tories have never tried to "hold on" to the British Empire, at any time in this nation's history. They have simply always believed that Britain provided us with a legacy of freedom, order and justice that deserves protection--not because it is British but precisely because we have made it entirely our own and because it works.

Today the Conservative Party is, or at least should be, about personal freedoms and a faith in the power of the free markets.

As a Catholic, I reserve my faith for God. I am not inclined to have faith in inanimate objects--like markets. Many of my ancestors worshipped trees and rocks, of course, but I'm not that conservative; I do feel free to avail myself of some of the last millennium's novelties. You, of course, may continue to pray to the God of Buying Low and Selling High; my own notion of human freedom transcends the TSE Index.

It should be the party of [a]...strong military to defend its citizens.

Our military is currently "defending its citizens" by propping up a corrupt, Sharia-based Islamofascist regime in Afghanistan. Our "conservatives" are thrilled by that. While our "strong" military is virtually a tribe of colonial levies serving at the pleasure of a foreign superpower under the immediate political direction of an Eastern potentate, our "conservatives" couldn't be happier.

The Conservative Party should not be about a blind faith in a dead legacy.

Millions of Canadians hold to that "dead" legacy--not blindly, but intelligently and articulately--in numbers at least as great as those thronging the Ayn Rand Society on whose behalf you seem to be advocating.

I'm not saying you can't have your "new" conservatism; I'm simply saying that, like "cold fire" or a "rising fall", it is literally nonsense. Of course, we do live in an age of nonsense. There's the good news: your political philosophy is indeed every bit as modern as you think it is.

Red Tory said...

...the meretricious elixir of bestial self-interest being hawked by the obstreperous carnival barkers that make up the current "Conservative" Party.

Can we please get that cast in amber?

Sir Francis said...

Red:

I see you've asked for an articulation of the CPC "vision" over at DBT's place. Let's face it: the closest thing to a vision we're likely to get from this incarnation of the CPC is "Stéphane Dion is a dummy poo-poo head"--and even that would be perfectly Balfourian compared to what's been routinely spewed by those droogs.

Red Tory said...

Yes, quite so.

In fairness, I also blasted the Liberals on this score over at KNB's place the other night.

Amongst other things, my patience is wearing pretty thin these days…

Hugh MacIntyre said...
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Hugh MacIntyre said...

Moral dimension of the nation’s founding? What moral dimension is that and by what definition are you calling founding? Confederation amounted to a reorganization of a collection of colonies. You can attempt to romanticize it if you like, but the reality is that there was no founding vision of Canada. There was only the hope of breaking a political deadlock.

"Canadian Tories have never tried to "hold on" to the British Empire, at any time in this nation's history."

That is just blatantly wrong. Certainly the Canadian Tories had a Canadian centric view of what the Empire could be, but to claim that an Imperial mission is not fundamental to the classical Tory mission is simply ignorant. This is no revisionist history. The words of the men themselves prove me right. “A British subject I was born and a British subject I will die.”

Perhaps faith is not the word I should have used. Faith requires no evidence, logic or rational. Instead we should place or interests into the free market. You may mock those that buy and sell, but it is they that create our wealth. It is they that keep us all from starving.

"While our "strong" military is virtually a tribe of colonial levies serving at the pleasure of a foreign superpower under the immediate political direction of an Eastern potentate, our "conservatives" couldn't be happier"

This is of course the classic toryism at its worse. This is simply xenophobic crap. Do you truly think America runs our foreign policy? How do you explain the fact that we vote differently many times at the UN? How do you explain our troops not being in Iraq? Our troops not going to Vietnam? The opposition to the North American Ballistic Shield?

I do not deny that there are Canadians that still feel affection for the past. That is what makes it a legacy. What makes it dead is that it has no relevance in real terms. The answers to the great questions of the day cannot be answered with a “God save the Queen”

"I'm not saying you can't have your "new" conservatism; I'm simply saying that, like "cold fire" or a "rising fall", it is literally nonsense. Of course, we do live in an age of nonsense. There's the good news: your political philosophy is indeed every bit as modern as you think it is."

Modern? My ideas reach as far back as to Hobbes, Locke and Adam Smith. I think what you are being confused about is that you think I think of myself as a conservative. I am a member of the Conservative Party, but what is in a name? What I am is a market-liberal. I understand the value of an individual’s liberty and property over the slavish oppression of communal rights.

Hugh MacIntyre said...

I agree with you, Red Tory, that we have with us core values passed down from our British heritage. That is undeniable and and positive. It is the British ideas of freedom that makes the corner stone of a strong society. That is not what Toryism represents. A true Tory is someone who is under the delusion that government should structure society. Society can only be stable and strong when it is instead structured through the free choices of the individual

Hugh MacIntyre said...

Yes liberals read books. Ever hear of Hayek, Locke, Mills and Adam Smith? Do you understand the books that you read?

Sir Francis said...

Confederation amounted to a reorganization of a collection of colonies...there was no founding vision of Canada.

Oh indeed. "Peace, order and good government" are just meaningless, empty words. They imply no core values, no vision.

That you believe your nation to be the jerry-built creature of casual expediency is, to me, worthy of pity. In any case, it is the totally ahistorical projection of a liberal Canada-hating agenda upon the actual event. That you regret the nature of the founding vision cannot negate the existence of it.

Certainly the Canadian Tories had a Canadian centric view of what the Empire could be...

Precisely. The key term is "Canada-centric"; Tories wanted Canada to retain its British civic texture. The destiny of the British Empire itself was largely irrelevant to that enterprise. Why was Robert Borden so passionately insistent on Canada being accorded a seat at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and at the League of Nations if he was so acquiescent before the prerogatives and majesty of the Mother Country? Because he saw Canada as an independent Dominion--a nation that was very much on its own and that could not count on using the myth of the greatness of the Empire as a geo-political crutch.

If we want to talk seriously about a Canadian politician who suffered from embarrassingly mawkish notions concerning the British Empire, we'll need to talk about Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who was no Tory.

By the way, when Sir John A. said, "“A British subject I was born and a British subject I will die”, he was merely expressing a non-controversial legal fact; it remained a fact for all Canadians until 1947, incidentally.

...those that buy and sell...create our wealth. It is they that keep us all from starving.

Keep us all from starving? Markets haven't managed that yet, I'm afraid. They have also often triggered starvation. You may have heard of the Potato Famine?


Do you truly think America runs our foreign policy?

Only when a weak, self-loathing government allows it to--like now, for instance.

How do you explain the fact that we vote differently many times at the UN?

Please provide some significant recent examples of this independence. Our last major foreign policy gesture was a knee-jerk recognition of Kosovo, which sedulously followed America's lead.

How do you explain our troops not being in Iraq? Our troops not going to Vietnam? The opposition to the North American Ballistic Shield?

Because moderately assertive Liberal parties (you would call them "xenophobic") were in power, and your "Conservative" party was not. Harper wanted us in Iraq, would have wanted us in Vietnam, and supports our running behind the skirts of the U.S. Ballistic Shield.

I think what you are being confused about is that you think I think of myself as a conservative.

Thanks for clearing that up, and thanks for providing anecdotal support for my thesis--that the CPC is essentially a vessel of materialist liberalism.

I understand the value of an individual’s liberty and property over the slavish oppression of communal rights.

But you do not seem to understand how to avoid a false dilemma.

A true Tory is someone who is under the delusion that government should structure society.

Nor do you seem to know what a "straw man" is.

Do you really believe that Benjamin Disraeli or Sir John A. Macdonald thought of society as something that is or could ever be "structured" by a government? A more hysterically grotesque caricature of Toryism cannot be imagined.

Aeneas the Younger said...

SF wrote:

"Conservatism did not "move"; it dwelled. It was an indigenous political concomitant of Canada's inner nature expounded by men and women fully grounded in the moral dimensions of the nation's founding. Very different from the meretricious elixir of bestial self-interest being hawked by the obstreperous carnival barkers that that make up the current "Conservative" Party."

Well done Sir. I tip my hat to you - again.

Aeneas the Younger said...
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Aeneas the Younger said...

"Hugh" wrote:

"Yes liberals read books. Ever hear of Hayek, Locke, Mills and Adam Smith? Do you understand the books that you read?"

Hayek, Locke, the Mills, and Adam Smith - liberals ALL! Proving my point about people of your ilk and the CPC: A liberal party.

I'm partial to Plato, Augustine, Hooker, Burke, and Oakeshott. And I admire Wellington, Disraeli, Macdonald, the Churchills, Amery, Borden, Fulton. And I view the American Empire with a furrowed brow and a great deal of suspicion - which makes me a conservative.

Now that we have clarified things ...

Hugh MacIntyre said...

Good God have you ever sat in a history class? Or do you just make it up as you go along? Bordon pushed for resolution IX because it was a part of his vision of the Empire. He wanted it to turn into a committee of dominions deciding policy together. An independent Canada would have been a horrifying thought to him.

Peace, Order and Good Government is a good thing. But is this a founding value? Isn't the point of every government peace and order? To say otherwise is absurd. That line merely states the role of government in society.

MacDonald wasn't merely stating a fact he was responding to the idea of Canadian independence. You can't just imagine historical circumstances as they fit your point.

And my good friend Wilfrid was not an Imperial hawk. I am perplexed on how you could imagine him more of an Imperialist than Bordon.

I don't understand your problem with America. I really don't. Why are you so paranoid about them?

Disreali and MacDonald were both collectivists. they saw the world in terms of communities and not individuals. The result is that their policy was to "do what is best for the community" and ignore individalism. this is what some people call social-engineering. Creating a policy meant to make an ideal society.

The modern Liberal Party is guilty of this, socialists are guilty, and classic Tories are guilty.

Hugh MacIntyre said...

Aeneas, I was responding to the notions that liberals don't read books. I was listing them because they are classic liberals.

It seems that people keep harping on me being a liberal. I have already said and never denied that I am a market-liberal. I would even call myself a Libertarian if the mood struck me. I don't disagree that the Conservative Party is full of market-liberal ideas. That is why I support it.

My point is this, you have lost touch with the way that Canada is evolving. Ask yourself why there is not true Tory party? The Conservatives has some Tory tendencies but you correctly point out that they are not dominant.

So where is the outcry for a new party? Why does no one seem to care except for you few?

Toryism is dead, and good riddance to it.

Aeneas the Younger said...

"Hugh:"

I actually applaud you for your honesty - you are a liberal. Just don't go calling yourself a tory or a conservative.

The PC Party was stolen by Brian Mulroney, Stephen Harper, Reformers (liberals) and Peter McKay. Coporate Money greased the skids for this hijacking.

The fact that the CPC cannot procure a Majority is partly and largely based on the fact that they have lost the "tory" vote. Since the meger, I - and most of my Friends - have voted for the Greens.

Enjoy Minority Governments - they are here to stay ...

Sir Francis said...

Good God have you ever sat in a history class?

My dear Hugh, you will earn the right to use that tone of supercilious insolence when you learn to spell the key words of your posts. Writing things like "Bordon"[sic], " Disreali"[sic], and "MacDonald"[sic] (hint we're talking about the prime-minister, not the people who make Big Macs) is doing your credibility no good.

Bordon[sic] pushed for resolution IX because it was a part of his vision of the Empire.

Thanks for the misdirection by red herring (have you ever sat through a logic class?). You refer to the Imperial War Conference of 1917, not the 1919 Versailles Conference that I was discussing.

He wanted [the Empire] to turn into a committee of dominions deciding policy together.

No. His main concern was to guarantee the Dominions' right to independent foreign policies. Every responsible Canadian historian acknowledges this.

Borden himself said that the resolution asserted "the right of the Dominions to an adequate voice in foreign policy and foreign relations." Historian Desmond Morton thus concludes that "the emergence of Canadian sovereignty was the one great Canadian victory of the war".

At the Versailles Conference, Borden wrote to his wife of "Canada's anomalous position; a nation that is not a nation. It is about time to alter it". This hardly sounds like someone who is comfortable being part of a faceless agglomeration of subservient colonies.

Indeed, one of Borden's biographers points out a fact that is obvious to anyone familiar with the man's career: "Borden believed that proposals for imperial institutions, which might limit Canada's determination of her own affairs, were dangerous". I've lifted the foregoing from a short Globe and Mail resumé of Borden's prime-ministership, compiled by Brian Mulroney no less (you must love him, since he hates us). Go ahead and take issue with the likes of Dr. Desmond Morton. You'll do so to no effect whatever.

The example of Arthur Meighen presents us with another Tory who asserted Canadian foreign policy independence in a significant way. At the 1921 Imperial Conference, Meighen insisted that Britain cancel her long-standing alliance with Japan, an alliance that had made Canada's relations with the United States very awkward. Meighen's request essentially invited Britain to amend her foreign policy for sake of Canada's--an unprecedented act of Dominion autonomy.

And my good friend Wilfrid was not an Imperial hawk

Laurier's pro-Imperial sentiments are well known (to those who have sat through a history class, of course). During Victoria's 1897 Jubilee, Laurier famously said, " If a day were ever to come when England was in danger, let the bugle sound, and . . . though we might not be able to do much, whatever we can do shall be done by the colonies to help her".

Laurier later arranged to send over a thousand volunteers to South Africa during the Boer War, in an act that outraged real anti-Imperialists. You might to read up on his careeer, rather than relying on an absurd Liberal mythology.

The most egregious act (or attempted act) of Imperial intervention in Canadian affairs was invoked by a Liberal--when Mackenzie King demanded that Lord Byng contact the British Colonial Office and request its permission before allowing Arthur Meighen to form a government. This invitation to Imperial submission (which was utterly unconstitutional, by the way) was never equalled by a Tory prime-minister.

I don't understand your problem with America. I really don't.

What a croaking and petulant response--utterly void of any semantic thrust. Please try to argue. Pouting doesn't work.

Disreali and MacDonald [sic] were both collectivists. they saw the world in terms of communities and not individuals.

Another false dilemma. They saw the world as comprising individuals and communities, which is a symptom of sanity.

...this is what some people call social-engineering. Creating a policy meant to make an ideal society.

On the contrary. Toryism is premised upon the radical insufficiency of the human being. It is anti-utopian; thus it mocks all attempts at perfectibility through talismans like "optimised utility" and "unregulated markets". It is precisely because the creation of an ideal society will always be beyond the resources of human spontaneity that the Tory insists on the need for collective enterprises that nurture inner restraint and direct individual action towards the common good.

I admire your commitment to "individualism", but I wonder how you plan to be true to it. Am I to take it you've arranged to un-do the years of damage inflicted upon your autonomy by "collectivist" forces like your family and your schools? Am I to take it you've developed your own non-communal language by which you may endlessly converse with yourself? Will you soon be leaving for Baffin Island, where you may develop your own individual idio-culture, untrammelled by the labours of previous generations, or is there some other even more barren place that would allow you to find out what it really means to live outside of a community? Please do tell.

So where is the outcry for a new party? Why does no one seem to care except for you few?

My dear Hugh, there is an outcry. This news may not have made its way into your grotto, but the vast majority of Canadians loathe politics and their politicians. A huge number of Canadians do not bother to vote, and the polls typically indicate that 70%-65% of Canadians cannot stand your party. If you want to think that your little libertarian coup d'état is an incontrovertible political fact, be my guest. After all, it is a low-calorie alternative to cookies and milk. Far be it from me to deny you that small pleasure.