Through the curiosities of circumstance, Nigel Clarke finds himself marooned in Ottawa, the capital of the socialist haven of Canada. Thanks to The Progressive Army and co-conspirators who must remain nameless, Nigel is able to smuggle his thoughts on life behind the curtain to the outside world each week.
To read last week’s correspondence here
Earlier this week, I walked to the National Art Gallery to see the works of the great socialist masters, “The Group of Seven.”
My Canadian acquaintances cryptically warned me against disparaging The Group of Seven, whom I assume to be some sort of revolutionary heroes. Luckily, there was no need. They were fantastic.
Later, as I stood before a large mosaic of some sort of historical scene, an elderly man walked up and stood beside me. Unprompted, he stated to the otherwise empty room, “Beautiful. It makes me think of the great Canadian mosaic.”
I turned to look at him. He was disheveled, though I suppose I was also. He did not appear to be a staff member, but I could not help asking him what he meant.
Apparently, the ‘Mosaic’ is the Canadian version of the ‘Melting Pot’ in the United States. As might be expected in this socialist system, it is similar in the questions that it answers, yet different in approach.
The concept of the Melting Pot is that immigrants to the United States and, I suppose, those native-born as well, are expected to adopt certain characteristics; to all melt together in the same pot.
The Mosaic is a different piece of imagery. Each person acts as an individual piece in a much larger picture.
To the socialist propagandist who came up with that, whoever it is – I commend you.
Many activists in the United States and I would suggest progressives specifically, will be familiar with a catchall well-used by opposition – “If you don’t like it, leave it!” It strikes me that this is a statement which relates to the Melting Pot ideology. Namely, if you are in the pot, you are expected to melt with everyone else (though a better word for ‘melt’ might be “conform”). If you don’t like the heat or viscosity of the mixture within the pot, leave it.
In a country now on its 27th Constitutional amendment, and literally founded by people who were in a situation they didn’t like (and rather than ‘leave it,’ sought to change it), the statement might not hold much water, to begin with. But it is not only historically inept. It also contains an element of misguided pride, felt in the underlying connotation – America is already Number One, so despite what your liberal arts degree might tell you if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Unfortunately, in an increasing number of measurables, it is ‘broke.’
Currently 22nd out of 31 “developed economies” in income equality, 41st globally in press freedom, 34th of 35 “developed nations” in childhood poverty, 21st globally in the Democracy Index, and so on. The statistics are damning.
It seems that change is not superfluous, but critical, unless one is content with the United States being, in a measurable way both politically and materially, an impoverished nation.
Wait, who is the patriot in this scenario again?
Speaking of ‘patriots,’ a common critique of “socialism” from self-defined “patriots” on the right, which I have spoken about before, regards the levers of tyranny – the more power government is given over the individual, the more they are given the ability to exploit and infringe on ‘freedom.’
It is interesting to apply this critique to the discussion on the Melting Pot and the Mosaic.
The implication of the Melting Pot is that everyone is melting into … something – a vague set of characteristics which stipulate the baseline of ‘being an American.’ But within the existence of a baseline is the implicit requirement that said baseline be defined. Those most empowered to influence this definition are those in the prevailing establishment power structure.
Consider the time just after 9/11. Republicans and Democrats alike, alongside the mainstream media, told the country that a baseline of being an American was support for the Iraq War. This message, repeated with impunity, has morphed now into general support for the military-industrial complex. To put in a way that’s a little more palatable – America as the benevolent policeman of the world (I’m relatively sure this message uses “man” and not “officer”).
It appears as though in the Mosaic system, it is less about the power structure defining the baseline as it is about the baseline defining itself.
The difference is, by not encouraging homogeneity the Mosaic encourages the populace to select for their baseline the ideological characteristics which they find most appealing. Each individual exists as a unique piece of the Mosaic. The people are empowered to decide what the broader picture looks like.
Back to the example of the military-industrial complex. In socialist Canada, as in many countries, war is distinctly unpopular among the proletariat. As such, support for warmongering, or ‘acting as a benevolent policeman,’ has not been included in the baseline of ‘being a Canadian.’
It is an interesting way for socialism to function. Not so much an increase in governmental control, but an increase in the power the people have to define their narrative.
Since we were speaking of so-called “patriots” earlier, I feel compelled to use their language and point out that this appears to be an issue of the ‘The Free Market.’
In the Mosaic, it looks as though ideological pillars must compete with each other in an open market for the favor of the masses so that they might be included in the baseline.
In the Melting Pot, these ideological pillars simply need to curry favor with the establishment power structure.
I think about Donald Trump and his Muslim ban. It is, in reality, a blatant and ham-handed attempt to use the power to define the baseline. Trump’s required characteristics for ‘being an American’ explicitly exclude people from certain countries and implicitly exclude Muslims as a whole.
It appears from afar that Trump is imploding in a grotesque spectacle. But it is the Melting Pot that demands conformity, then bestows the power structure with the opportunity to define what conformity means.
Read More: Correspondence from Socialist Canada