July 6, 2005

Chalcedon...

Instapunk has a long post for Canada Day, contrasting Canada and the US...Poor poor Canadians. It must be hard to have much of a self-image when foreigners don't consider you worth loathing...

...Does all of this tell us anything about ourselves? I believe so. But for the miraculous wisdom and courage of our founding fathers, the United States might be just like Canada, with a population of 30 million enervated Europeans, an incompetent socialist government, a social and cultural history lacking in brilliance or innovation, and a role in world politics as irascible pawn of the United Kingdom. Indeed, we might be several such nations, 7 to 10 million strong (or weak), quibbling and sniping and sneering at one another from sea to shining sea. Look at Canada with fresh eyes. It's what we could easily have settled for, a passive mediocrity destined to be a footnote in the history of man. Thank God for the road we took instead, and the giants who built that road so long ago...

I would go along with John Adams, who thought the US was "independent" before 1776, that the change happened inside us, and the Revolution merely confirmed it. And I think Canada was a sleepy backwater then and destined to stay that way. Immigrants by the millions were pouring into our ports because this is where it was happening! (To use a 60's metaphor.) I would not want to underrate the courage and wisdom of the founders, which was extraordinary by any measure. (Including the hatred of contemporary academic "historians," whose unflagging efforts to denigrate them testify to their greatness.) BUT, every "golden age" is seen to arise out of a time of vigorous commercial growth and military pride. It's was the growing strength and wealth of America that called forth those great men. And still brings them forward to lead the empire today...

Even if our armies had been crushed by the British, American growth would have continued. Even at the height of Britain's military commitment, they could only cover small parts of the 13 colonies. And even during the Revolution, our population was growing, and settlers, the Scotch-Irish especially, were trickling westward over a hundred different trails, creating new and very democratic communities, defeating savages, clearing land, and creating a culture new to the earth. British armies in New York or Charleston would only have irritated Americans to a fury, and made a future revolution inevitable.

Canada is like that Greek town founded on the opposite shore from Byzantium. Canada is Chalcedon.

Posted by John Weidner at July 6, 2005 11:52 AM
Weblog by John Weidner