Watching the antics of a recent anti-Capitalist demonstration outside the Supreme Court of Canada, Cardus senior researcher Brent McCamon was struck by how familiar the communist-inspired slogans were to a great deal of what now passes for liberal democratic belief.
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"For thus you speak: 'Real are we entirely, and without belief or superstition.' Thus you stick out your chests - but alas, they are hollow!” – Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
I seem to have a penchant for seeking out protests – not necessarily to participate but also to observe, to soak in the screams, the worn-out chants, the always amusing soundbite slogans that seem to dominate the political scene in Canada’s capital.
This particular “demonstration,” while not well-attended (although the all-black outfits accompanied by masks certainly upped the intimidation factor) was striking. It took place in front of the Supreme Court of Canada as an “anti-Capitalist” rally and march in support of the Oppression Olympics, to place on a pedestal: “The working poor and workers who are not unionized; workers confronted with precarious and underpaid work; the workers excluded from the labour market; Indigenous communities; people and communities facing racist and national oppression; immigrants and refugees; women and other gender-oppressed people; (and) 2SLGBTQ+ communities.”
Interestingly enough – this section reads like it could be in any one of the Ministerial Mandate Letters that have been released to the public by the federal government in Ottawa.
I suspect that most people observing an “anti-Capitalist rally” protected by the police would smile wryly, shake their heads at the irony, and continue on with their day. I also have enough confidence in our society to say that most people would find the results of the ideology implemented in the wake of the 20th century's Marxist-Communist revolutions deplorable. Such implementation led to approximately 94 million deaths, which is absolutely staggering if one tries to process each individual life taken. Yet many today would argue that the ultimate ideal of equality is, in fact, a good thing.
It’s the age-old argument that “the ideals of communism are laudable, however, they were just implemented in the wrong way.” The sympathy towards this kind of idealism can explain numerous controversies in recent Canadian history, including the current government’s efforts to relocate (hide), downsize (de-fund), and rename (correct), the monument formerly known as A Monument to Victims of Totalitarian Communism: Canada, A Land of Refuge, to simply: Canada: A Place of Refuge.
Indeed, the day before this protest, Jason Barker wrote in his article for the New York Times, Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You were Right! that“social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the ‘eternal truths’ of our age.” This is not to discredit many of the legitimate grievances raised by these movements, but the direction they have taken, particularly relying on the court of public opinion for trial, judge, and jury, have been disturbing.
As Ryszard Legutko, Polish political philosopher, member of the European Parliament, and a key member of the resistance to communist rule in Poland, describes in his thoughtful commentary, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, the consistencies between ideology in liberal-democratic and communist societies are obvious. “The main cause is equality, which both regimes gave a status of the highest value and made a regulating principle."
Equality as a “regulating principle” has reared its head on numerous occasions of late. The list of issues covers a wide range, including, the debate regarding Bill C-16 and the potential of state-mandated speech (especially observing the impact of this on university campuses), and the Law Society of Ontario’s recent dictate that all lawyers in the province must “create and abide by an individual Statement of Principles that acknowledges your obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in your behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.”
Furthermore, we have borne witness to multiple ideological impositions by way of what has become known as the Canada Summer Jobs attestation “kerfuffle,” and the compulsion of belief regarding “reproductive rights”; the assertion that Canada has a “Feminist Government;” the directive instructing Service Canada employees to "use gender-neutral language or gender-inclusive language (steering away from using father and mother, etc.);" the implementation of mandatory diversity targets for Canadian corporations through Bill C-25; and finally, the promise in the 2018 Federal Budget to achieve gender equity in sport at every level by 2035.
This approach to equality, diversity, and inclusion is largely based on the theoretical assumption that diversity (curiously undefined in many cases) in any given area delivers better performance for all those involved – the equal outcome of diverse representation leads to progress. Is that the case for the much applauded gender-parity Cabinet? We must ask ourselves: Is it the appropriate role of government to seek through policy and legislative measures to effect these changes in Canadians’ lives? Why do these institutions seem so uncomfortable allowing people to make choices for themselves?
George Orwell, in his classic allegory Animal Farm, puts it succinctly, “No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
The hollowness of these aspirations to mandated equality, diversity, and inclusion is giving rise to a new social conversation about political correctness, what we mean by equality, the nature of the human person and dignity, personal responsibility, and the importance of affirming truth within society. People are displaying a hunger for more substance, they are turning up their noses to the lukewarm, thin soup that promotes equality as the end goal for liberal democracy – actively rejecting the malaise of post-modernity and its glorification of this concept.
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