"Those who crowed at Diefenbaker's fall did not understand the policies of government that were essential if Canada was to survive. In their derision they showed, whether they were aware of it or not, that they really paid allegiance to the homogenized culture of the American Empire" -George Grant, Lament for a Nation
George Grant has proven himself to be the most insightful writer in the history of Canada. This is most evident in his seminal work, Lament for a Nation, wherein he demonstrates the inevitable reality that the sovereign nation of Canada is doomed to be amalgamated into the American Empire. On this count, he was entirely correct. From its inception, Canada has been a client state to the world hegemon of the period. First, it was a scion of the British Empire. Later, as the British Empire declined, Canada was transformed into a branch plant of the American Empire. Now, as the bright star of America wanes, the question then arises: who is to take up the role of hegemon over Canada? The most obvious contemporary candidate is China. However, this initial instinct fails to account for the severe internal and external problems that face China. These problems are of such a magnitude as to serve as significant restraints on Chinese ambition. The eastern tiger is rendered in paper. The likely future of Canada is as the contested ground between two empires–each strong enough to challenge the other, but too weak to secure total dominance on the international stage.
Canada’s subjugation became a reality just as George Grant predicted. But at this point, we must diverge from Grant. The subjugation of a sovereign state under another is a far cry from the disappearance of said nation. As the American Empire declines, Canada must again look to its own interests. In light of this, a wise Canadian grand strategy for the 21st century must be centered on trying to balance between the two great powers.
The first and most pressing question posed by the history of Canada is, ‘why is Canada always a client state?’. More than anything else, our geography has a significant role to play in this. We have been caught between the global hegemon and its ascending rival for the last four or so centuries. It is a state of affairs that will continue to persist as America declines, and China ascends. Canada’s geography allows for a relatively limited quantity of arable land, leading to a smaller population base as a result. While Canada may be technically larger than the United States in terms of the total landmass, America has orders of magnitude more arable, livable land, translating into their population outnumbering Canada almost ten to one. It is important to remember that the majority of Canadians live clustered about the Trans Canada highway. Canada is truly faced with a neighbour of behemoth proportions.
The difference in scale between Canada and America translates into cultural and economic dominance, a dominance which is difficult to overcome without meaningful linguistic or religious differences around which to crystallize a distinct identity. Successful examples of distinct nations overcoming imperial absorption attempts can be seen in Ireland, Poland and Quebec. Hence, with the decline of Britain as Canada’s anchor of national identity, Canada became a flotsam nation, confused as to whom it was. This confusion facilitated Canada’s subjugation under the American banner, a process completed in 1963, when the Americans, via Kennedy orchestrated the defeat of Diefenbaker with the help of Canada’s urban elite.
However, Canada’s vassalization to the American Empire has been challenged of late. Chinese influence in Canada has been spreading to financial, industrial, academic, and political arenas. Although, the rise of China as the global hegemon is by no means inevitable; on the contrary, China is beset by a number of serious ailments that have no clear remedies. Most pressing amongst them are the desertification and subsequent food and water insecurity that are occurring in Northern China, the looming demographic crisis brought on by a long period of low fertility compounded by a rapidly aging population, and the severe financial challenges in China’s future. The latter include their increasing debt to GDP ratio, the changing nature of their manufacturing, the weakness of the Renminbi (Chinese currency) compared to the dollar, and the continued illicit exodus of capital from China despite the best efforts of the administration in Beijing.
The relevance of this discussion may seem questionable to those who do not believe the American Empire is weakening. However, the signs of American decline are evident and and familiar to the general public. The state of the American election and the increasing internal divides between the urban and rural populations point to long term instability and internal conflict. Trump’s first few years were spent essentially asserting control over a rebellious political elite. While Democrat candidates would likely benefit from a loyal bureaucracy, the continued economic decline will no doubt exacerbate already severe tensions between the tens of millions of Trump supporters and the coastal elites. America has reached the limits of its growth, and any ‘return to status quo’ is pure fantasy. The American working class will need to reconcile itself with a declining quality of life despite a large swathe of the elite class wielding levels of wealth almost unprecedented in history. In that sense, a decline of the American Empire is assured.
There are those who would argue that the current presidential contest will shift the direction of the American Empire into either a renewed ascendance or an accelerated decline: however, both of these positions ring hollow. A Joe Biden victory would not be a return to the status quo for the average American or the American Empire. There would be an intensification of the forever-wars in the Middle East in which America still finds itself mired, and likely the starting of a number of new conflicts. Obviously, this would not bring about meaningful positive change for the average American’s quality of life. If anything, a Biden victory would prompt an accelerated decline in American quality of life. Joe Biden has made his career helping the big banks and the credit card industry pass legislation. The leftist assumption that this corporatist politician will follow through on any promises that would harm his principal constituency, namely, the finance cartels, is an exercise in partisan delusion. A Biden presidency would likely result in the intensified looting of the American corpse.
As for a Trump victory, it may stave off the accelerated looting of the Empire by the elite financiers and technocrats that continue to plunder the wealth of America. But, as we have seen for the last four years, there has not been a material improvement of life for the average American. For all the talk of a strengthening economy and such, a booming stock market is a fickle affair and provides benefit primarily to the wealthiest of society. The inflated value of financial instruments does not produce more cars, more clothing, more food, or more houses, certainly not when those numbers are representative of technology firms and websites such as Facebook or Apple. Neither have meaningful contributions to make to American quality of life, compared to a more classic American company such as Ford in its heyday. When Henry Ford increased his wealth in his company’s earliest days, the surplus capital was invested directly into the American people, via the innovation of the weekend, or by doubling the wages of his employees. In contrast, the giant tech companies of Silicon Valley, and the grand financiers of Wall Street are not in the business of material production, nor are they in the business of creating real wealth. Principally, they are creatures of wealth redistribution, of wealth concentration. Hence, the ever-worsening wealth gap present in the United States and the western world. Should Trump manage to find victory in his current struggle, then he will spend the rest of his tenure engaged in a vicious cold war with the financial, political and media elites of America.
Astute observers will note that this is an exact reflection of Diefenbaker’s experience. Urban elites, viewing a candidate popular amongst the rural and working-class of the country, increasingly harangued him. When said candidate proved himself a real threat, they unified into a solid opposition and wielded all of their influence to oust him. In Canada, this resulted in the subjugation of Canada by the American political body. As noted by George Grant, in the federal election of 1963, the Liberal party and the urban elite aligned, at the behest of JFK with the American position against Diefenbaker’s assertion of Canadian independence. Since the fall of Canadian independence, Canada has served as a satellite state of the American Empire. With America now in a situation of decline, one can only wonder to whom she will be subjugated, should her urban elites triumph over the working class.
Regardless of how the wind blows, the working American will be out of luck. America is destined for accelerated looting, with further centralization of wealth. The position of America’s current technocrats and media barons is eerily reminiscent of the opulent patrician families of late-stage Rome, the absolutists of France, or the sheltered nobles of Russia. Each were utterly disconnected from the realities of their nation, and had long abandoned their noblesse oblige, dwelling in their blissful ignorance until they were torn apart by vengeful mobs. Should Trump emerge victorious from this current electoral struggle, the American people can look forward to an intensifying cold civil war as the elite fractures deepen and democratic processes remain entirely useless. As it stands, the American judiciary seems poised to determine the next President of the United States, demonstrating the de facto reality that the people are not ‘sovereign’ in this modern democracy.
There are those who will note that the destruction of the middle and working classes of America would not harm America’s ability to project power. Therefore, despite the decline of the productive classes of the US, America’s status as the world hegemon will remain as it is. This preconception must be dispelled with an understanding of how exactly America and its aspiring successor China have projected power. The institution of America, from its inception in 1776, has been a project of materialism over idealism. In every conflict, America has gained victory through superior logistics and manufacturing, rather than superior quality or tactics. During the American civil war, the initial tactical and quality advantages of the South were later negated by the manufacturing capacity and larger population of the North. A war of movement was made into a war of attrition: the Northern advantage in productive capacity won the day. In the second world war, a similar phenomenon occurred, wherein the American productive capacity was brought to bear against its foes. While German tactics in the second world war are an insightful reflection of German idealism as embodied in the military theories of Von Clausewitz—overcoming France with extremely outdated and outclassed training tanks—American warfighting was Anglo materialism brought to bear. With the American productive capacity being used to sustain both the Soviets and British, America fought in the Pacific and served as a major portion of the European invasion force. As with the prior war, the Axis, particularly Germany, was starved of bodies and material and overwhelmed by the sheer weight of American productivity. In a similar vein after the war, when the Soviet Union was challenging the United States for global dominance, it was the American economy that enabled them to contain and ultimately bankrupt the Soviet Union.
This is the crucial difference that must be acknowledged in light of a hollowed America. America has always used overwhelming production to drown its foes in dollars, in steel, and in bodies. When this advantage cannot be wielded effectively, then American ability to secure victory comes into question. American defeats in Vietnam and its enduring conflict against the Taliban are examples of this.
How is America to maintain its influence when it lacks its traditional advantage? Rather than being a nation of manufacturing and physical productivity, modern America’s principal export is its culture. However, the appeal of this export will decline along with the American Empire's ability to project power. The increasing alienation from traditional allies and the rise of regional blocks opposing American influence have resulted. Lacking its traditional path to victory, America will be hard-pressed to maintain its existing state of affairs.
What then does the future look like for Canada? We enter an unprecedented era. Industrial society reaches its pernicious height and begins to negotiate its decline. The great powers of our history are shadows of their former selves. They have been spread thin by the demands of maintaining their empires. Canada must navigate the increasingly byzantine politics of the 21st century if she wishes to properly secure her sovereignty and independence. As it currently stands, Canada serves as a battleground between the old and the new regimes.
Ultimately, the persisting influence of either China or the US will not serve the interests of the Canadian people. Both seek to exploit Canada as an industrial branch plant, a place from which to harvest resources and to erect factories to serve the empire. And perhaps it is that reality that lends the 21st-century an air of novelty regarding Canadian foreign policy. No longer can Canada hide behind the skirt of a grander power.
The question is then automatically posed, why is our previous position of protectorate no longer tenable as we delve deeper into the 21st century? The answer lies in two factors. Firstly, our current hegemon is in clear decline–a decline that has been mirrored in Canada. As it is in the imperial capital, so must it be in the imperial provinces. The opioid epidemic has ravaged rural Canada, Canadian metropoles are increasingly rife with crime, homelessness and drug abuse, and crucially, the Canadian middle and working classes continue to be impoverished, with rising levels of household debt and declining wages. All of these phenomena mirror the trends in America.
With our previous hegemon in clear decline, what then of the rising hegemon? Why should Canada not merely submit to Chinese authority? The problems are as follows: firstly China’s ascendance is by no means guaranteed. The country is contained by a coalition of regional powers, notably India and Japan. Beyond that the culture of China is entirely alien to Canada: lacking a shared history, a shared faith or a shared language, China would be altogether incapable of coming to dominate Canada by passive means. Such methods were how the Americans managed to supplant the British, via a shared history, language and religion, combined with their overwhelming economic power that would naturally amalgamate the Canadian people and market. Fundamentally China is too far, too alien and too weak to achieve what the American Empire was able to accomplish at its unrivalled height. Namely, the integration of Canada into its sphere of influence.
If Canada is to survive—if her people are to prosper—then she must for once stand alone.
Nor would Canadian alignment with China be in the interest of Canada. China’s record with its extant colonies speaks for itself; rather than operate as the west does with the various nations of Africa, China demands land or resource rights be offered as collateral for the loans it has offered. When its loans are defaulted upon it then simply seizes the relevant lands. This process is exacerbated by the explicit neocolonialism employed by the Chinese, where the seized land is subsequently populated by ethnic Han-Chinese to cement its new ownership. The beginning of this process can already be observed in Canada with the Chinese acquisition of various mineral rights and the complete buyout of various Canadian primary resource corporations. As America continues to weaken, Chinese expansion and interference within Canada will become far more aggressive.
If Canada is to survive—if her people are to prosper—then she must for once stand alone. To that end, the 21st century demands astute navigation of the treacherous waters in which we find ourselves. Moving into the 21st century, Canada must assert its total ownership of the North-West passage, an oceanic trading route connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific. This route will become a critical trade route and must be properly defended for the benefit of Canada. If our claim to it is not asserted, our regional rivals, particularly Russia, will repudiate our ownership. To achieve this would require a significant expansion of the extant Canadian navy, in addition to the construction of northern bases along the relevant straits to enforce Canadian sovereignty. Furthermore, critical industries and corporations must be owned by Canadians and retained within Canada. The era of free trade economics is far gone, and continued allegiance to this concept is an anachronism. Canada has a tradition of crown corporations that enabled the strong initial development of this nation, and should be wielded once more to defend Canada from external interests. If Canada is to succeed in the face of the modern economy, then she must be willing to adopt the successful economic model demonstrated by Japan and to a lesser extent Korea, wherein industries are fostered and protected by the state to lend the nation a competitive edge. Failing to protect vital Canadian assets will lead to their continued acquisition by an increasingly hostile China. However, it is unlikely that Canada alone will possess the power to contest even a weakened America or China. If Canada is to succeed then the future leaders of this nation must leverage the Sino-American rivalry, wielding one against the other pursuant to Canada’s own interests. The waters of the future are dangerous, but with a keen eye and a steady hand, they can be navigated towards Canadian sovereignty, dignity, and prosperity.