Red White and Blue, Gaze in your Looking Glass, You’re not a Child Anymore
As a native-born Canadian, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for America.
America has always been more daring in its military adventures, entrepreneurship, and ‘can do’ attitude than Canada.
Canada’s English-speaking population is descended mostly from Loyalists, who were the losers of the American Revolution, making them less risk-taking by nature.
We also built our country on a society called New France, which is mostly French-speaking, and determined to stay that way.
Also, the Crown chose not to wage all out war against Aboriginals, choosing instead to annex their lands through treaties.
So, Canada is a country governed by compromises, not by any grand vision of ‘We the people, in order to make a more perfect Union…’
This brings me to the heart of the matter. America, the country that I hold in high esteem, needs to rediscover John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier.
I believe that Kennedy’s New Frontier was supposed to become a more humane articulation of American state power, one where the pen would be used as well as the sword.
With the assassination of JFK, the New Frontier has been hijacked by an anti-statist conservative agenda, which mistrusts non-military state power.
This agenda is even beginning to resemble Corporate Anarchism: To deconstruct state power, even the state itself, so as to put corporate power at the helm.
I shudder to think of a world governed by post-modern joint stock companies, whom, as persons before the law, take on all of the dysfunctional characteristics of the human person, writ large.
This is why the corporate world needs to act in ‘best enlightened self interest’. If our politicians don’t have the will to regulate the corporate world, then the corporate world needs to voluntarily contribute, through taxation, to the structures of civil governance within their jurisdictions.
If this means that the cost of doing business goes up in the world, then so be it. The problem in Iraq is that anti-Western violence in the country is due to who those Marines are guarding inside the Green Zone in Baghdad.
The people inside the Green Zone are deconstructing all the state owned economy. I’m not advocating Stalinist style economics. But neither am I condoning ‘laissez-faire’.
All the more reason to revive the New Frontier. Iraqis know that when President Bush speaks of bringing ‘liberty and freedom’ to Iraq, it means that the friends of the regime will get rich parcelling out Saddam’s state enterprises to the lowest bidder.
The business elite of the world, especially America’s elite, need to be more flexible, like after WWII, with the Marshall Plan. America utilized a system of mixed market capitalism to rebuild Western Europe.
The reality in Iraq is not what it was in the wake of WWII. But I’m sure America would win over more friends among Iraqis if they practiced a more balanced form of capitalism there, and were willing to keep certain state industries in public hands.
America needs to realize that there is more than Adam Smith’s version of capitalism and democracy. In fact, the greatest period of economic prosperity and stability was when the New Deal was replicated in peacetime between 1945 and the early 1970s.
What went wrong is that the New Deal slowly broke down, as the tax and spend agenda took over, and America tried to have its Great Society and Vietnam War at the same time.
If America wants to be respected, it needs to reinvigorate the power of its Civil State. It needs to fund the costs of government, abroad, and at home, where more is spent on the military and prisons, than on education or fighting urban decay.
A good example comes from my country. There were huge problems in what is today Ontario in the mid 1800s, with plenty of violence.
A reformer called Egerton Ryerson convened the taxpayers , and essentially told them the following: ‘You have two choices, both entail increasing your taxes. Either pay for more soldiers, lawyers, jails, courthouses, police, or pay for a public education system.
They chose the latter, and all citizens received a first rate public education, which not only taught them to read, write and count, but to respect the law.
America needs to take a look at its policy options. The prison-building lobby in Congress has gotten too big. America is starting to resemble Britain in the 1500-1600s, with overflowing jails and widespread poverty, a formula for people with an agenda for self aggrandizement. Britain proceeded to empty its jails into the Army and Navy, and sent these people off to establish colonies abroad.
There HAS to be a more humane way to wield American influence in the world than to wage war against all.
This is true in light of America’s debt. The British Empire floundered when its source of financing became insufficient, and had to turn to America for help.
The same fate could befall America if it keeps on at its current rate of 300 billion dollars of deficit every year.
I will conclude with the words of Styx, a U.S. rock band, who, on the eve of the pullout from Vietnam, wrote a song called ‘Suite Madam Blue’. The song ends with a call for America to show leadership: ‘Red White and Blue, gaze in your looking glass, you’re not a child any more. Red White and Blue, the future has all but past! So lift up your heart, and make a new start, AND LEAD US AWAY FROM HERE.’
I pray that citizens of America, and its leaders, political, and corporate, heed once again the call of the New Frontier, in the quest for the establishment and maintenance of civil governance structures, at home, and abroad.
The viability of the next Pax Americana depends upon it.