Letter to My Son
A couple of months ago you asked me whether I thought it had been worthwhile to have spent so much of my time and energy tilting against American windmills. Feeling that there was a certain measure of condescension in the question, I replied with one of my facile, TV-type answers: to wit, that there can be no other real choice open to a Canadian except to resist the Yanks and all their works so that we, as a people and a nation, may escape being ingested into the Eagle’s gut, never to emerge again except – maybe – as a patch of excrement upon the pages of world history.
That should have disposed of your question – but it didn’t, and the damned thing has been festering within me ever since. It has finally forced me, very reluctantly you can believe, to make a new evaluation of the belief which has sustained me through some twenty years of waging verbal warfare against the encroachments of Uncle Sam. Have I indeed been wasting my time? I’m afraid, God help me, that I have. I can no longer convince myself that we have even a snowball’s chance in hell of escaping ultimate ravishment at the hands of the Yankee succubus. And what really hurts is the belated recognition on my part that there never was much change; that Canadians have become so fatally infected with a compulsive desire to be screwed, blued, and tatooed as minions of the U.S.A. that they not only do not wish to be saved – they are willing to fight against salvation with all the ferocity of cornered rats.
So wipe that smug smile off your face. You knew it all along, eh? Well, I should have known it too. God wot, enough people have tried to put me straight. There was Joey Smallwood for one (as smart a promoter as ever hustled a vote), who gave me a fatherly lecture about a year ago. “What the U.S. wants, it will get,” he told me. “And if we don’t give them that they want, they’ll take it anyway. And what they want – is most of what we’ve got.”
That was about as clear an expression of Realpolitik as one can expect from the political animal, even if it was primarily a rationalization intended to excuse our political masters for having already given the Yanks almost everything of any value in this country. Nevertheless, Joey’s point was well taken since those who rule us (they do not “govern” – that word implies statesmanship combined with honourable intentions) have, for their own reasons, long since sold us out. Or maybe they just saw the light a long way back and, in keeping with their dubious professional practices, took the line of least resistance. Some of them, that is. Others sold out with deliberate intent. One day I must tell you the full and stirring story of one of the greatest of all such salesmen – C.D. Howe – and of how he put us on the block. Of course, Howe’s plan was to sell us down the river on the national scale, and we’ve progressed since then. Now every single province is trying to conduct its own sellout, in direct competition with the Ottawa salesman, and it wouldn’t surprise me much to see the game, which is called “who’ll sell out the mostest, the soonest,” reach right down to the municipal level before too long. Hell, what am I saying? It is past that point already. Witness the almost frantic rush of businessmen and owners of Canadian resources to sell themselves and their holdings (“their holdings”? I mean ours, of course) for a quick handful of Yankee bucks.
Joey wasn’t the only one to point me in the direction of acute awareness, and I must add, in my own defense, that I wasn’t as stupid as you may think. I realized what the politicians, at least, were up to ages ago. My naivety – if such it was – lay in my continuing conviction that the people of this land would not forever continue to acquiesce in this piecemeal betrayal of themselves and of their country. I was much influenced by what took place in Cuba and, before that, in Mexico. I believed that if such small, relatively powerless serf states could muster the guts to really kick Big Uncle in the backside, the people of Canada might be goaded into an equivalent demonstration of courage. Alas, Canadians are not Mexicans or Cubans, and I realize now that I miscalculated on a horrendous scale in ever thinking that Canadians would risk cutting off rich Uncle’s dole by assuming the posture of a Man.
This is a fact that I am going to have to learn to live with. We have become a prostrate people – by our own volition. Actually the only time Canadians even raise themselves on their elbows these days is to defend their chosen masters and to attack, with the bitter hostility only known to turncoats, those who dare reproach them for their spineless espousal of slave status. (If this letter to you should ever see publication, the response in the “Letters To The Editor” column will show you what I mean!)
But there is no point in running on about what’s past. My concern is for the future, because the future contains the world in which you’ll have to live. So I have a few words of wisdom for you. Here speaks the hoary elder, and if I belabour the obvious a bit, bear with me.
Despite poor old Lester Pearson’s recent statement in Maclean’s that “the Americans are the least imperialistic people in history” (honest to God – that’s what he said!), the Yanks now control the largest empire the world has ever known. Its citizens have, as Henry R. Luce (founder of Canada’s two favourite magazines – Life and Time) once put it, now risen to the challenge: “to accept wholeheartedly the duty and opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit” (italics mine). In this delightfully frank statement, combined with one by John Foster Dulles – “There are two ways of conquering a foreign nation. One is to gain control of its people by force of arms. The other is to gain control of its economy by financial means.” – you have the essential dogma subscribed to by the military-political-economic hegemony that runs the U.S.A. Once you understand this dogma you will have no difficulty understanding the true significance of current events in Spain, Korea, Greece, Formosa, the Philippines, Venezuela, Dominica, and all the rest of the sixty-odd serf states which are euphemistically referred to as U.S. “client” states. Note with particular attention that most of these U.S. “client” states are run by military, aristocratic, or political juntas of a totalitarian nature – juntas whose prime allegiance is to the hungry Eagle, rather than to their own peoples: juntas, many of which are maintained in power by the United States through classic applications of the principles of bribery, blackmail, subversion…and armed force.
Or, if you find such a mass of evidence too complex for easy assimilation, take a long look at Vietnam instead. Observe, if you dare, the fantastic and fearful similarities between the way the United States is behaving in that small and benighted country and the way Hitler behaved in his heyday.
Having done one or the other – preferably both – I ask you to consider the reality behind the American claims (ably supported by such pillars of righteousness as our own Paul Martin) to being the world’s greatest defenders of democracy. Democracy? My god, it is to laugh … but bitter laughter it must be since demonstrably the United States is currently engaged in almost every form of domestic and external brutality, aggrandizement, degradation of the individual, and destruction of freedom which, so the U.S.A. maintains with a straight face, are the singular hallmarks of the beast called communism.
And what, you say, is this tirade in aid of? Well, it is intended to ensure that you harbour no further illusions about living in a democracy or of being protected by one. You, my son, are a helot, born and bred under the aegis of the United States, and you had damned well better come to terms with this inescapable fact. The illusion of democracy is one that you and your generation can ill afford to nurture. You must recognize that hard reality which not all the cherry-flavoured words of all the hucksters in the world can adequately conceal – you are a serf, no more than that … and Massa lives away down south.
You must rid yourself of this delusion because, as I see things, there is no guarantee that the privileged position presently enjoyed by Canadians as “most-favoured serfs” will last. The day is near when the Yankees will see no further need to pamper us – they’ll own us outright. And then we may expect to be subjected to the same forms of direct oppression that have been inflicted on most of the other peoples inhabiting the two American continents. The steady growth of overt totalitarianism within the Master State itself brings ominous intimations that the good, fat days for the people who sold themselves into bondage may even now be drawing to a close. And remember – a man who sells himself into slavery does not earn the gratitude of his master: instead he earns a deep contempt. We Canadians have well earned such contempt – a wise slave knows that a contemptuous master is more to be feared, in the long run, than an angry one.
Which leads me to an aside I think worth making. Not all Canadians have sold themselves. As you are well aware, the French-Canadians in Quebec don’t share our desire for self-immolation. They are resisting and thereby rousing our particular hatred and resentment. Why so? It is not because we really fear the development of a true federation of two nations (many other countries live with such federations, and live well); it is because we are deathly afraid that the intransigence of Quebec will draw the cold and hooded stare of the Eagle and thereby expose us, by implication, to the furies meted out to helots who revolt.
What I am trying to tell you is that nobody can, at this late stage, reverse the tide. Quebec, bravely as she may struggle, will fail. And so your own survival now depends on your becoming as selfishly inclined, as amoral as the men who have brought you and this country to its present sorry pass. You must needs become one of them, and you might as well become one of the overseer class, if you can make the grade. I recommend that you enter politics. Although you have not yet displayed the requisite capabilities for duplicity, cowardice, self-serving, and betrayal which pass for morality in high places, you might improve with practice. It is at least certain that a political career is one of the few available that will permit you to enjoy, with any security of tenure, the benefits accrued by renegades and sycophants.
You might conceivably consider entering the business world, as an alternative, but the opportunities it offers are strictly limited. This is the Holy of Holies, and since its true hierarchy is almost exclusively composed of citizens of the Master State (whether they are card-carrying citizens or only de facto citizens is of no import), the chances of a helot rising to those secure seats of power are almost nonexistent. But as a politician you would be employed in the services of the Business God, and as a valuable and trusted slave, you would be deserving of good treatment and assured of a safe niche.
There is another course you might consider taking. You could follow the example of so many of your compatriots and anticipate events by journeying to Rome, before the Marines come north for you. As a beginning you could voluntarily enlist in the legions of the Eagle and thereby gain the jump on those of your generation who do not yet realize that the day approaches when the Ottawa satraps will join Australia, New Zealand, and other such in sending levies to fight America’s wars for her. Since you have no Negro, Indian, Eskimo, or other dubious blood in your veins, you ought to be able to wangle a cushy job far from the sound of battle and from the stench of burning babies. Eventually you could hope to be rewarded with citizenship in the Master State, and although this would require that you reject all you have heretofore been taught to believe is good in man, it would at least provide you with something you never had before – a verifiable nationality.
I have only suggested a few of the possible funk holes, and you will easily think of many more. The point is that you should be thinking about them very seriously, and right now. Time is running out for your fellow slaves who, complacent and myopic as they are, believe they have made a splendid bargain with a kindly master. The cold and brutal hour when they learn the truth, and when they learn the price of their betrayal of themselves and of their land, lies close at hand. God help them then, for no one else will wish to, if they could.
Mowat, Farley. “Letter to My Son.” The New Romans: Candid Canadian Opinions of the U.S. Ed. Al Purdy. Edmonton: Hurtig, 1968. 1–6.