The Western Socialist
Vol. 28 - No. 221
No. 3, 1961
DIVIDE AND RULE
One of the "peaceful" partners to the longest undefended frontier in the world seems to have become a bit piqued of late. A ludicrous process that is becoming crystalized as the "new nationalism" has manifested itself among sections of the population.
Manufactured to order, like all nationalisms, it serves the interests of a part or most of the big business section of society north of the 49th parallel. A liberal helping of imagination is needed, however, to recognize it as anything so negative as genuine nationalism. It takes in not much more than a clumsy reactivating or extending of Canada's old-fashioned and conservative anti-Americanism.
One of the main ideas seems to be that there is now too much U. S. influence (ownership of capital and control of "culture") and it must he slowed, if not stopped altogether. It is time Canada grew up, came of age, etc. But in view of the economic and geographical circumstances prevailing, this is a lot less logical than the baby of a two-breadwinner family deciding to get rid of Pa because Ma wasn't having enough say in how much was to be spent on the children's clothing. The tail decides it doesn't want to be dominated by the dog.
The old Tory maxim of the building of trade barriers against the Yankees, of retaining the old ties of the "mother country," has been revised to suit contemporary conditions by the usual commentators, the news "analysts," university professors, captains of industry, and politicians using the mass mediums of information so consistently placed at their disposal.
In passing, we should not overlook those chameleon-type politicians, who, in addition to catering to almost every section of the business world also claim to be the friend of the working man. Those who now have the make believe Socialist C.C.F. as their vote-catching label and who may replace it with a "New Party," are also in there pitching for the home team with a bellicosity that says: "Move over you right wing conservatives, we'll show you how to run this country for Canadians!" The fact that the ownership of Canada is restricted to a tiny minority of its population is of little consequence to these reformers. The prime activity of out-of-office capitalist politicians seems to be that of getting in by the most opportune route possible.
So we hear that the pillaging of Canada's natural resources by American capital must stop or slow down. If they must be pillaged, it should be in the interests of the Canadian people, because the resources "belong" to the people. We never cease to wonder why, when they own so much potential wealth, the majority of Canadians insist on prostituting their energies for a wage. Probably for the same reason as the majority of Russians, Yanks, Chinese, British and Poles, etc. do it. Because they really do not own any means of production, aside from their abilities to work.
OUR POT OR THEIR KETTLE
Then came the rage about Canadian government officials being barred from northern radar warning stations. These installations are on Canadian territory and the legend decrees that they should be staffed by Canadian forces. Nothing was said about any possible difference between the lofty goals of U. S. technicians and "ours," or, for that matter, about the real reason why humanity on one side of this planet contemplates obliteration of humanity on the other side.
But then our "New Nationalists" cannot attack anything fundamental about the United States, since they are as dedicated to the same type of capitalism. Nor is Canada much more than a dilapidated extension of American capitalism beyond its northern border. Further, a protest against the Yankee cold war is like protesting the protection provided by big brother against the big bully.
So our "New Nationalists" hypocritically peck away at such surface effects as the U. S. treatment of its negro minority. There is no comparable negro problem in Canada because there are not enough negroes for a problem to be created and the government, so far, has not allowed enough of them into the country to give Canadians a chance to show that poverty and social misery can make them as anti-negro as anyone else. Not that a relaxing of immigration restrictions is needed to establish this point. Canada does have a minority of Indians and the discrimination against these natives provides a convincing case of racial intolerance. All across the country, most of the once-proud Redskins exist on a much lower social status than the rest of the working class with considerable legislation directed specifically against them. Only now are a few tentative experiments being made in desegregated schooling for Indian and whites.
THE ECONOMIC FACTOR
Rulers have seldom had any great difficulty in soliciting the sympathies of those they exploit in dramatizing a beef they had with their counterparts in another country. The exploited, generally ready for a change of scapegoat (whipping boy) to blame the frustrations and inadequacies of subjection upon, are a ready and willing ally, even if the smokescreen offered doesn't make much sense.
But the problem is apparent. Wealth, under capitalism, is produced for sale on the market with a view to profit. And some of those "loafers" who own but do not produce the wealth in Canada have had commercial differences with their fellow "loafers" in the United States. For instance, Canadian sellers of wheat have found it difficult to convert this form of loot into cash in the countries where the American government has made granular political gifts. Then there is the question of trade with Cuba and formal recognition of Red China as well as the business of contribution to hemispheric defense. As a topper there are the lesser thieves' quarrels over oil and gas pipelines, and markets and base metals, not to mention the yearned-for raising of tariffs against the flood of cheap commodities from south of the border.
On the other hand, a policy of nationalism can kill two birds with one stone. For there is that even more vital struggle — the one between the home-grown exploiters and those they milk — their own workers. Discontent over unemployment, poverty and twentieth century misery must be diverted to channels that help the dominant few remain in the saddle. Yankee-baiting helps take workers' minds away from their problems and helps keep them from taking half a step toward solving them. Thus "New Nationalism" serves a dual purpose. The real differences between millionaires' pocket books and between themselves and those they rob in their factories, are converted into absurdities for popular working-class consumption.
ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD
Some economists say that productivity in Canada is lower than in the U.S.A. However, general wage-rates are about one-quarter less, according to the Gordon Economic Commission which was appointed to study Canada's economic prospects for the next 25 years. Tariff-protected prices of many commodities are much higher here than their equivalents in the United States, giving Canadian manufacturers a competitive advantage on the home markets.
So one can imagine the chagrin of Canada's exploiter gentlemen when someone like James Hoffa "proposes to wipe out the wage differential between Canadian truckers and their counterparts in the United States," as stated in the Toronto Globe and Mail and as shudderingly echoed by the Quebec Chamber of Commerce. To quote the Toronto paper:
"...an American labor boss who comes over, brass knuckles and all, to tell Canadians what he intends to do to them, and to their country."
Recognizing the logic in some of the cesspool effects of the present social "order" that seep into labour unions, and allowing for it, we fail to see why Canadian workers should be horrorstricken at the prospect of a raise in wages by the Hoffa union, any more than they should be over having the same dreadful consequence of activity in strictly Canadian unions.
Nor is it easy to see any fact in the fiction of workers owning this country ("their country."), when so much of it isn't even owned by native Canadian capitalists. According to Professor C. S. Burchill of Canadian Services College, Royal Roads, $333,000,000 of 1959 dividends went to Canadian stockholders while $490,000,000 went to owners out of the country. But the most important thing he said was that only 5 per cent, approximately, of both populations, own 40 percent of the wealth of the two nations.
Here we see the old ruling class principle of divide and rule still hard at work. So long as the workers are united in their support of capitalism, they will continue to be easy prey for international capital. The only unity that will solve their basic problems is unity for socialism, common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, by and in the interests of society at large.
J. G. JENKINS, S. P. C.