The New North American Cogito – OpEd
By Bruce Mabley
Health, Justice and Education. These are the pillars of any viable free and democratic society. They are the offspring of a political revolution in America that occurred several centuries ago. This revolution, and its societal creations, is now in peril.
In some parts of North America, there was no revolution, only stagnation under the British boot. Scottish, French and Irish farmers rose up in 1837 to challenge British tyranny much like their American brothers and sisters some 60 years before. The rebellion of Upper and Lower Canada was partially an extension of what happened in America and France. The northern children of the American and French revolutions, was brutally suppressed by the British. The latter sought to control their remaining northern colonies while practicing genocide on the troublesome French in Lower Canada. One only has to look at Lord Durham’s report to confirm British intentions.
I am writing these words in a country where I am no longer welcome and increasingly branded a traitor. Even my words are censored by world class newspapers. Even a banal medical act becomes a tense struggle between ‘angryphones’ and proponents of the French language. In such cases, the Hippocratic oath comes under partisan pressure and the patient suffers. Speaking the language of Molière, Trenet, Sartre or Camus is a one-way ticket to exile. I am already in exile, trapped in the country where I was born.
In North America, health is no longer a priority. Helping the ill has become a political football, a hobby that the political class indulges in over their orange juice in the morning. Like Luther, who nailed his ‘radical’ theses on the doors of a Church that had lost its way, now is the time for indignation. Indignez-vous!
Even elections have become parodies of truth as foreign countries plunder our legacy of freedom with the assistance of a corrupt media and feckless politicians. In the words of the film ‘Saving Private Ryan, it is fubar.
Harken back to the failed rebellion of 1837 in Lower and Upper Canada, which was suppressed brutally by the British troop and their loyal militia. As such, we are the unhappy owners of the British parliamentary tradition, a system that has corrupted the soul of a once proud northern democracy. In 1837, in Canada, Scottish French and Irish farmers were shot or hung by the British occupiers. Others like Mackenzie fled to the USA and lived there in exile hoping to find solace in a republic where the people mattered. He was sorely disappointed by what he observed and thought was the land of liberty. He quietly returned to the British-controlled Northern dominion. Other French rebels, like Papineau and his fellow rebels were either shot and or hung.
Rousseau’s warning has come true in North America that ‘Man was born free, and he is in everywhere in chains.’ Everywhere there is pernicious there is practiced a brand of political bovaryism that is nothing more than an excuse to do nothing and help the rot continue unabated.
I represent a new kind of refugee, a North American one. Not the first and certainly not the last. A quick glance and even a cursory analysis of the now rapid destruction of the three pillars has confirmed our decadence. The fall of Rome must have happened a bit like this.
A continent gone mad, invoking the political constitution of their rebel forefathers to stall change with the connivance of juridical and political elites who are supposed to be the guardians of equality and uphold its sacred principles of Liberty.
Liberty or Death? I am in exile in all but name.
North American prosperity and democracy is supposed to be the moral guide for the rest of the world. One observes that the West is fast becoming a laughing stock. Our European friends are no better. For example, Spanish nationalists invoke their constitution to stifle Catalan freedom and independence. It is a crime to not be a Spanish nationalist. We are not far from the Munich compromise of 1938, a political fraud and sell-out followed by the debacle itself – World War Two.
Narratives of North American justice cloak themselves in the robes of equality. Everywhere there is cynicism and ‘ressentiment’. Lawyers plying their wares and ready to distort the truth in the name of an oath that they no longer believe in. Judges whose narratives on society have been bought, not earned. Criminals exercising rights they do not deserve to have and sanctioned under a sanctimonious and rigidly authoritarian system called bovaryism. Are the criminals any different from the self-serving political elite that fosters such interpretations? This is fubar.
Here and there small rays of hope pierce the monotonous mist. Americans should be proud of President Biden yet he provokes the ire of the GOP and its acolytes. To the north, the picture is very different indeed. It is worse. In the oval office, one can behold the bust of Robert Kennedy. A man who once wire-tapped Martin Luther King! After his brother’s assassination, RFK began to read the Greeks and his catharsis was well underway. Miracles can happen. Thin rays of hope in a sea mired in man-made pollution and hatred yet it has provoked the ire. RFK’S speech in Indianapolis in 1968 on the terrible night of the assassination of MLK was a stunning example of courage and devotion. North America needs more leaders like him.
Let’s declare war on culture and history say some on the Left. Yes, black lives do matter but it is not a license to destroy the imagination and élan of humanity at any stage of its development. My father was a racist but I loved him. Like Camus, who refused to berate the French in Algeria in the 1960s by saying at his Nobel lecture that ‘Je crois à la justice, mais je défendrai ma mère avant la justice.’
North America is also Mexico. Corruption, drug cartels and fear of violent death is what American Manifest Destiny left in its wake. No democracy, rather a gringo legacy of hate and violence. The notion of family love and solidarity has been replaced by the values of money and personal gain. And we presume to preach to the Ukrainians about democracy and freedom Their understanding of the West is expressed by the military equipment arriving each day. Freedom cannot be found exclusively in a tank. Russia has imposed this deadly logic on innocent people on both sides. I have seen such damage with my own eyes in Syria at a time when the West did not care to look. The Western ignorance reared its ugly head again by its silence meaning that Arabs are expendable and why bother. War is never positive and increases the suffering of the innocent. Letting allies down especially in crisis zones is a recipe for future trouble. If only former President Obama had understood that.
We have not heeded the wise caveats of philosophers like Marshall McLuhan who taught us that the medium is the message. The so-called politically neutral media now hide the truth, proliferate disinformation and seek to deaden the masses with maxims and trivia. Their goal is to seek political cover in order to ply their unseemly wares. In this, Trump was right. It explains his rise to power and will probably spell his demise. Hegelians will nod and smile, the dialectical law of the negation of the negation is at work, as always.
The internet age as multiplied the insipid world of screens, both small and large. Make computers friendly said Steve Jobs and make money. Modern internet technology, while useful in several specific instances, has set human social interaction back at least 20 years. It is a trap, an invitation for popular hysteria and nihilism. As McLuhan had predicted, the new internet medium has dealt a blow to human progress, the end of which is still not in sight. It has become an excuse to make money off the unhappiness of many, a prop used to justify a reduction of freedom in our daily lives. The homeless, the poor, the mentally challenged, minorities, majorities many have fallen at the altar of its alleged progressive nature.
Education is where perhaps the rot can be stemmed in the long term, if not stopped. To reverse the nihilism now infecting our educational systems, whether they are de-centralized or not, is impossible for me to imagine. The modern fetish with rights and entitlements has ruined the profession of teaching and rendered teaching not a pleasure but an obstacle course. And the low pay runs in tandem with a progressive decline in quality and quantity. We are shaping a continent of Borg-like automats devoid of creative ability and values.
Leave no child behind spoken from the mouth of one the merry band of profligates has become a codeword for mediocrity and decline. As a teacher and university professor myself, I speak from experience. The love of teaching, that special brand of intimacy and social duty, has been dashed by thoughtless bureaucrats and ideologues with little or no concern for the recipients of knowledge. The view is that education must appear in the robes of equality and freedom while secretly replicating the ambiguous values of individual freedom. The crisis in education hits home hard since, if we are to pull out of this morass, it will be by properly educating our youth and instilling values including respect for the values of intelligence.
Not elitism, rather values like freedom and the common good. Abandon the hypocrisy and soothsaying. Indignez-vous!
The Outcast, weakened by a sense of growing desperation, returns to his tiny island kingdom of thieves and scoundrels, a place where truth and ideas are the money of kings.