(Image Credit: Jeen Jager at pxhere.com; the image is at this link. I have altered the color of the grass to red. Used without any other modification under Creative Commons Licence)
Developments are afoot that will increase the government’s control over Canadians’ lives, and Canadians’ dependence on the government. Some call this a move to make Canada communist, but there’s a lot of nuances between where we are and communism.
Over the past two years, I have written several articles on issues that (I believe) take Canada in the direction of being a more authoritarian State. The sources for these issues are diverse, from government policy and announcements of policy intentions to public statements by members of the punditocracy / commentariat to widespread public support for certain ideas. In all frankness, I am not the only one who senses this direction of movement (or is it drift?). But I think that enough pieces are now in place for us to take a step back and take a holistic view of what this movement / drift portends for us as a society.
Once again, I am not the first on the only one to ponder this – a lot of people have done this already, and concluded that Canada is becoming a communist country. As evidence, many point to the old video where Justin Trudeau, before he became Prime Minister, expressed open admiration for the ‘basic dictatorship’ of communist China. If we are able to set aside this ‘clinching’ evidence for a moment, if only because Trudeau could have simply been trying to appear very intelligent without realizing the import of what he was uttering (which I consider to be on form for him), we will hopefully be able to assess our situation based on the developments that are taking place rather than on personalities.
The question here is whether Canada is gradually (and yet too quickly for many people) getting transformed from a democracy into a communist State. Thankfully, there is a scientific concept that we can use to arrive at not just the answer but also our understanding of that answer. Fortuitously, it involves the same colour that has historically been associated with communism – the colour red.
If you are familiar with the basics of astrophysics, you will know that as Object A travels through space, if it comes near the gravitational field of Object B, it loses speed in the direction in which it was travelling originally. This is because of the tug of war between the force of the momentum of Object A and the force of the gravitational pull of Object B. If that gravitational pull is sufficiently stronger of the two, then Object A falls towards Object B. However, there is an exception to this – light.
Since light must travel at a constant speed (just under 300,000 kilometres per second), when it encounters the gravitational pull of Object B, instead of slowing down, it loses energy. In slightly technical terms, its intensity drops to the lower end of the spectrum of visible light, viz., the colour red. The extent of this drop is determined by the strength of the gravitational pull of Object B. The greater this gravitational pull, the further down the spectrum the light will shift towards red. The term ‘red-shift’ encapsulates this phenomenon.
If we were to apply this concept of ‘red-shift’ to a society, and specifically to the way it is governed, our first task is to identify the factor that corresponds to the spectrum of visible light. My theory is that in societies, the equivalent of the energy of light is the vigour with which the State is kept out of the lives of individuals. As this vigour diminishes, the hand of the State lies more heavily on individuals, placing more and more limitations on what they can or cannot do. The resulting constriction of operating space concomitantly makes individuals more and more reliant on the State (willingly or otherwise). I believe that in the absence of external forces intervening, this becomes a process that reinforces itself, causing a downward spiral in individual freedoms and an upward spiral in the role of the State in people’s day-to-day lives. At the terminal point of this process, you get a society where people can’t do much – if anything – on their own because the State is in charge of everything. We commonly call this ‘communism’, but my preferred term is ‘authoritarianism’.
To reiterate a point that I made in my podcast episode ‘Is PM Trudeau *really* a dictator?’, the distinction between an ideal democracy on one hand and a dictatorship / authoritarian regime on the other is not dichotomous, but rather two opposing end points on a continuum. There are tiny steps (which may not be ‘tiny’ for many) by which a democracy suffers the death of a thousand cuts. I think that enough of these cuts are being inflicted / threatened such that we can rule out randomness to these occurrences. I say this because politics is an imprecise field, with many untenable ideas get thrown about for a variety of reasons, ranging from insistence of pressure groups to the politicians’ flailing attempts at survival.
ARROWS IN THE QUIVER
At the risk of sounding repetitive to the readers who have read my earlier articles on the various issues that are dragging us to the ‘authoritarianism’ part of the graph, here is a short (and quite possibly incomplete) list of policies / proposed policies that lead me to such a conclusion:
- Invocation of the Emergency Measures Act on justifications that are falling apart as time passes,
- Bill C-10 that would bring all social media content producers and user generated content within the purview of the CRTC,
- The as yet unnamed ‘online harms Bill’ (which used to be known, it its previous avatar, as Bill C-36 but which died on the floor when PM Trudeau called an election) that would enable proactive prosecution of Canadians even before they have done or said anything,
- The freeze on the legal importation, sale or transfer of handguns when the ‘LAGO’ community (‘Law Abiding Gun Owners’) isn’t responsible for gun-related crimes,
- The incessant demands / push for making Covid vaccine mandatory, including a 3rd dose,
- Bill S-233, asking the government to formulate a plan to bring in a version of Universal Basic Income for all people in Canada over the age of 17 (there is no distinction between Canadians and foreigners in the Bill), and
- Motion M-44 asking the government to open up immigration for people of ‘all skill levels’ on which the Immigration Minister has stated that the government is already working.
The latest addition to this list was provided by the Stephane Perrault, Chief electoral officer of Canada. He wrote, in a report, about political parties, that in respect of ‘a party (that) has as one of its primary purposes the promotion of hatred against a targeted group, there is at present no ground for barring the party’s registration, or requiring the party’s deregistration, under the (Elections) Act.”
National Post columnist Colby Cosh has given a brilliant critique of this idea in his recent article. As he has pointed out, such a party would already be illegal under existing laws. But the drive here is not to close a legal lacuna. Rather, it is something that we have seen often in recent times (including, notably on the handguns issue): it is to re-lliegalize what is already illegal. In the context, the currently fashionable buzzword ‘hatred’ is not only a useful tool but one that cannot be challenged effectively. Mr. Perrault suggests that any ‘elector’ can approach the courts to have a party deregistered (or refused registration). It is unclear as to why he thinks that the mechanisms currently in place are insufficient to deal with any such party. If this proposal gets implemented, then at the very least some parties could be looking at frivolous litigation being initiated against them. It is also certain that this new mechanism would not yield any benefit to the Canadian society – unless the objective is to keep Canadians fighting amongst themselves.
In the movie Genghis Khan, there is a scene where a young Genghis (then known as Temujin) was shown a crude map of the world by his teacher, who tells Temujin that to the west lay the rich west, and to the east, the richer China, and in the middle was hungry and poor Mongolia. Temujin asks him why Mongolia was hungry and poor when it lay between the rich west and the richer east, and the teacher replies: “Because Mongols are too busy fighting amongst themselves, that’s why.”
The proponents of the policies that keep Canadians divided into factions and fighting amongst themselves may have their own motivations for doing so, but the brunt of the damage caused by these policies will be borne by ordinary Canadians.
STATE OF NOTHINGNESS
Returning to our analogy from astrophysics, we know that when Object B is a black hole, its gravitational pull is so powerful that every Object A that comes within its gravitational field gets sucked into it, never to be seen again. Even light, at its high speed – the highest in the universe as far as we know – cannot escape it. I am not a physicist – far from it – but as a layman, I think that the term ‘escape’ is incorrect / misleading here. I think what happens is that the incalculably massive gravitational force of the black hole causes light to lose all of its energy and thus light ceases to exist. Naturally, it cannot ‘escape’ from that gravitational field, because it is not there anymore. One stage before that final moment, the ‘red-shift’ of light is complete; whatever its initial colour (depending on the amount of energy it had), it is now a beam of red. I think that in the context of politics / governance, we can call it communism. The question is whether the current momentum of policies will take us to that stage, or we will find the resources to arrest and reverse this movement.