Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An Ancient Struggle: The BCM vs the AGM

There is no other blogger like Pundita. She has carved a niche - part history and part humint - that makes any essay of hers a thing unto itself. In addition there are the sparkles of her dry wit sprinkled through her work.

Take, for instance, her view of the mess in Canada. Her post is long and too full of history to quote in its entirety, but I’ll give you the flavor of her style and the way (in this case) that she lays out in detail the differing world views of the British and the Americans, a difference in philosophy that she traces back to America's beginning and its separation from England...Pundita archly assumes that England could be back any day to pick up the fight where it left off around 1812 or so:

If I thought medication would help, I suppose I would tell a psychiatrist that I’m always on the lookout for the British counterinsurgency. I don’t like admitting this to you -- paranoids generally don’t unburden themselves for obvious reasons; you could be a Redcoat spy. But as there is no other way to explain the reasoning behind my view of Section 13 of Canada’s Human Rights Act (see the last two Pundita posts about Section 13), I have let you in on my secret.

I am not prejudiced against the British, you understand; I’m waiting for them to make another try. There is a difference.

Section 13 is a direct consequence of Canada’s official multicultural policy, which is written into their Charter of Rights and Freedoms under Section 27.

But what is multiculturalism and how did it come about in Canada? Here is the Canadian government’s explanation. Yet mountains of books and scholarly papers have been published in the attempt to answer the question. None of them are worth a plug nickel in my view, unless they explain that multiculturalism was a British invention for managing native populations. [my emphasis -- D]

So when I review published criticism of the Section 13 complaints against Maclean’s magazine, I can only shake my head in wonder at such blindness. The critics, whether from Canada or America, are doggedly determined to pin blame on human rights commissions, or Liberals and the Political Correctness movement.

Let us be clear. The war between the American colonies and Britain ended, but the ideological struggle never did. That struggle has been played out most recently in Iraq, which saw the British approach to managing the natives in Basra in open conflict with the US attempt to block Iranian weapons from entering Iraq. My nightmare is that it’s being played out in Afghanistan as well.

What are the two sides in the struggle? The British colonial model (BCM) is that you allow the natives you rule in foreign lands to keep to their own ways as much as possible without your losing control over them. This approach arose out of practical needs to keep tribal rivalries from spilling into wars that the British home office would find hard to control.

On the topic of democracy the BCM says: What use it is to teach these tribes democracy when the first thing they’ll do with it is tear each other to pieces and balkanize into territories the size of a postage stamp?

The BCM is basically a conflict-management model…

- - - - - - - - -
The American Government Model (AGM) is built on the defense of liberty and the protection of individual rights. That the United States has often betrayed the model when applying it to foreign relations does not invalidate it.

I see in the conflict between the BCM and AGM the age-old struggle between maintaining order and self empowerment.

Now we proceed to Pundita’s one minute history of the modern world.

In the post-World War Two era the BCM seemingly went into eclipse. But on close inspection -- and Canada is a good example -- in many places the BCM continued to influence government policies even in countries that had won full independence from the British.

The BCM produced a way of thinking that is so deeply ingrained in post-colonial countries that I believe this is why many Canadians don’t see that Section 13 poses threats to their freedom beyond the issue of freedom of speech.

When push comes to shove the BCM is so useful at maintaining order that there hardly seems a contest between it and the AGM.

Here we come to a snag, which became evident when British rule left countries that often were creations of Colonialist deals and alliances.

In the many bloodbaths that followed it was clear that all the BCM had ever done was keep a lid on situations. In horror, the British tried as best they could, given their own very difficult situation after World War Two, to right the wrongs of the BCM in former colonies.

They soon learned that several governments in the former colonies preferred mass slaughter as the means to managing uprisings, despite all the years of British influence under the BCM.

The British got a chance to redeem themselves during the Cold War, and particularly toward its close, when they threw considerable resources at helping Eastern European countries learn the ropes of democracy.

Then came the end of the Soviet Union. Then followed the golden years when it seemed that globalization had obsolesced the ideological struggle between order and freedom. Somehow, unrestricted trade between nations would translate into freedom and order for all.

Then came 9/11, followed by the Democracy Doctrine and Bush’s announcement that he planned to export the doctrine to the four quarters. At this news people around the globe thought they were experiencing an earthquake. No, it was just millions of government officials hitting the floor with a thud after fainting in horror. [my emphasis --D]

And here we are today. Where exactly is “here?”

That is the dangling question, isn’t it? I suggest your go over to Pundita’s essay and find out precisely where 'here' appears on the map…

19 comments:

islam o' phobe said...

What tripe. The British Colonial Model and the American Government Model are hardly dialectic opposites. Carving chunks out of Serbia and donating them to Albania is no less colonial than the classic British model.

Your friend Pundita has carved out a niche so numbingly predictable that its now impossible to browse the blogosphere for even a few hours without stumbling upon it in one form or another.

American foreign policy "is built on the defense of liberty and the protection of individual rights" and although "it has often betrayed the model when applying it to foreign relations" it cannot be invalidated.

I don't object to this strain of thought per se but to present it as original or newsworthy is ridiculous. It is a merely a description of the mental atmosphere of 90% of American bloggers, commenters and media pundits on the internet today.

Ypp said...

Multiculturalism is definitely about power. "Divide and Rule" - that's how Romans put it. If society is divided, it will never rule itself.

Many Americans warship on "freedom". They cannot apprehend that in War on Therror we are opposed not by tyrants but by peoles, who democratically and freely chose to hate us and to fight us. But the real difference between america and Europe is that America wants power and have power, whereas Europe wants power but have none.

Dymphna said...

islam o'phobe--

Any argument that begins with "what tripe" is rude.

And as for this:

I don't object to this strain of thought per se but to present it as original or newsworthy is ridiculous. It is a merely a description of the mental atmosphere of 90% of American bloggers, commenters and media pundits on the internet today.

And *you* complain about another making remarks that can't be invalidated??

Disagreement is fine. Arguments that are forced to use words like "tripe", "ridiculous" or "numbingly predictable" are not arguments on the merits.

I suggest you look up the rhetorical device called "the appeal to ridicule" since that is the main form of fallacious argument you've used here.

If your point was to change anyone's mind, you've failed. If your point was to display your intellectual superiority by relegating Pundita's theory to the "ninety per cent" then are we to presume you are among the non-run-of-the-mill ten per cent?

By all means, remain with your chosen few. We numbingly predictable bloggers will carry on somehow without you.

islam o' phobe said...

I apologise for my rudeness. I was in a bad mood and inebriated and shouldn't have posted anything at all.

islam o' phobe said...

It won't happen again.

Dymphna said...

Apology accepted. Most of us have been-there-done-that. The worst part is cotton tongue in the morning.

Derailed Cluetrain said...

I have to side with islamo' above in evaluation of the proposed theory, if not, perhaps, in his wording.

If what Pundit calls the BCM is a historical left over in former colonies, then how, pray tell, does multiculturalism and political correctness rule the roost in countries that were neither colonies nor under British influence? To wit, all of Western Europe.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

unless they explain that multiculturalism was a British invention for managing native populations.

False premise. Sorry, but the British empire didn't enforce multiculturalism. It turned people into British subjects and imposed British values on them, either through force or education. Multiculturalism would not have driven the pirates out of Borneo, nor pacified India.

Multiculturalism was a socialist invention designed to tear society apart and its first big target was, ironically given the argument, Great Britain, along with the United States.

The whole argument about socialist ideas being "British" or "American" or invented wherever is silly, anyway; the international nature of socialism makes the specific origin of any particular idea irrelevant, since its adherents have consciously and subconsciously rejected their national origins and are no longer binding themselves to their pre-existing cultural mores.

Pundita said...

I generally refrain from posting an answer to criticism expressed in the comment section of another blog. But in this case I'm making an exception. I will answer the critics as soon as I have time, which should be by 9:00 PM ET at latest.

And thanks to Dymphna for posting the essay under debate, which gives me the opportunity to correct what seem to be a few widely held misconceptions.

Regards to all,
Pundita

islam o' phobe said...

Thanks dymphna for being understanding. I've spent the last 18 months obsessing over Islam and politics nonstop and its had a bad effect on me when combined with my personal and professional life. I'm going to stop going on the internet for a while and get back to reading fiction for my sanity. I appreciate your contributions.

Tom Davis said...

A few thoughts:

I think multiculturalism is post-imperial. Imperialists adopt it when they feel guilty and give it up, but still think their power is necessary. So Graham's criticism is basically correct, but I think Pundita is still onto something. Since nearly all nations of Western Europe attempted an empire of some sort, Derailed's criticism is wanting.

America's multiculturalism is a bit different. We for decades favored the melting pot social model. Politically we began by fighting an empire, and we didn't like the taste of empire we got in the Philippines. The few who talk up empire today disquiet the majority of us. The European style multiculturalism has gripped mostly our elites, leaving us tempted but ultimately not takers. We will continue the good fight.

I must confess that Pundita’s comment about “British counterinsurgency” to me seems original and does strike a note with me on one subject. I’ve talked with a number of persons in the U.S. who very strongly desire British-style gun control, and I often can get them to state that if they could play it over again, they would have preferred that the American Revolution failed! I find this to be astounding, but it very much fits Pundita’s didatic model. Again, I think we have a deep truth here.

Pundita said...

This is to reply to arguments and and questions posted in this comment section:

The argument that multiculturalism is a socialist invention is uninformed. However, the term has come to mean so many things, and been bended to so many modern political causes, that the best I could do in my essay was to warn that the term had many meanings.

But study Canadian history to become aware of the profound distinction between the genesis of multicultural policy in Canada and Europe. From the beginning, Canada's multicultural enterprise was used as a tool of expansion in 'native' tribal regions and for nation-building. In Europe, multiculturalism was used as a means to manage immigrant populations.

Turning to more modern times, and just to set the record straight, the first full articulation of Canada's multiculturalism policy came not from a Liberal or socialist but from a Progressive Conservative, Senator Paul Yuzyk, in his initial Senate speech in 1964.

The Liberal government that brought Yuzyk's ideas into legislation was acting on the problem of Canada's 'third force' more than on socialist politics. Canada's third force -- after the first and second forces of the British-French compact and the aboriginal inhabitants -- was the huge and rapid influx of a wide variety of culturally diverse immigrants during the post World War Two period.

The size and speed of the influx had overrun assimilation policy. This situation was leading to 'ghettoizing' of large numbers of immigrants, thus raising the specter of race riots and worse.

So, without launching a discourse, I'll just note that given the crisis situation that had built up, it's likely that even the most hard-core Conservative Canadian government would have clutched at the straw that Yuzyk offered.

The bending of a nation-building strategy to managing immigrant populations had mixed results, and was viewed with deep distrust by the Québécois. They feared that multiculturalism would rob them of their historic place of importance in Canada's power structure.

To whatever extent West European socialists found multiculturalism policy attractive, it is inarguable that West European governments that began to adopt multicultural policy in 1973 were influenced more by Canada's success than by socialism.

The more you know about the distinction, the more readily evident that the current arguments in West Europe about multiculturalism are too narrow. If those Europeans contesting multiculturalism want to get on better ground, they should study Canadian history and the history of the British colonial enterprise. But make sure to dig deep, when it comes to studying the Canadian enterprise.

As I politely indicated in my essay, Canada's official version of how multiculturalism came about in Canada is not the only one. If you want a far more critical version, read historical anthropologist Eva Mackey's book, The House of Difference: Cultural politics and national identity in Canada.

Mackey's view of the building of the Canadian nation is also open to some dispute. But if you put Mackey's and the official views together, you'll be in the ballpark. From that vantage point you can feel your way to an understanding of how the BCM was very effective at nation building and managing natives -- and even the French, who themselves were no slouches at colonial enterprise.

With regard to a critics's sweeping claim that the British empire "imposed British values" on those ruled under the British enterprise, the claim is so vastly misinformed that I have to restrain myself from mockery.

Would that the British had imposed their values on the 30% of Africa that they ruled! And if only they had imposed their values on Ceylon, and India including the region known today as Pakistan! If only -- then oceans of blood would not have been spilled in the sectarian and tribal convulsions that arose to replace British rule.

The British imposed order on myriad tribes and clans. As part of that effort, they created a veneer, a stage show of British justice and governments. Once the veneer wore off, prebendalism arose like a monster from the deep, only made even more vicious and grasping by the long decades of British 'management.'

Prebendalism is an undescriptive term for the age-old tribal and clan practice of expropriating the lion's share of state revenues for the personal use of the most powerful chief, his immediate family, and their protectors.

The graft is vast that arises from prebendalism in governments that only pay lip service to the kind of values the British espouse. It is so vast that nobody in the modern development or aid community wants to attempt to tot up the trillions of US dollars and British pounds that ended up in the pockets of a relative handful of scoundrels who bled their nations.

If British values had been absorbed in their 30% of Africa, by the 1980s, post-colonial British Africa would have been a trading and industrial giant that eclipsed the European and American ones.

So let us not talk about the imposition of British values on regions that only knew the clan system or tribalism before the British came along. The British were intent on managing those populations, not transforming them into genuine democracies.

Toward the end of Empire, yes, the British made sincere attempts to encourage 'home rule' and a transition to independent democratic government in many places they ruled. But within less than a decade of British pullout, it was evident that in many former holdings, the effort was too little, too late.

There are exceptions to the rule but without examining the list, I think it's fair to observe that in places where the British system managed to hang on well past the British exit, there was a government infrastructure in place prior to British arrival that represented an elevation on tribal government. India's maharaja system is one such structure.

None of the above is an attempt to demonize the British or their empire. One must look at things in the context of history, and not neglect the many positive contributions of Empire. It is very likely that many of the tribes the British oversaw would have otherwise died out from wars, cycles of revenge, and starvation. Why, even the Saudi tribe owes their existence to British intervention against the Turks' attempt to wipe them out.

Yet all the above explains why the British became so very critical of the US nation-building effort in Iraq. They knew from long experience that the US had walked into a maze of tribes and clans that the US could not expect to transform into a genuinely democratic nation -- not without more years and patience than the US was probably willing to invest.

The British also knew the consequences of the US hastily setting up a "stage show" democratic government, then pulling out of Iraq, leaving to their own devices the tribes and clans that had been released from the Baath party's iron grip.

Now I turn a critic's mention of PC. The critic asks if what I call the BCM is indeed "a historical left over in former colonies, then how, pray tell, does multiculturalism and political correctness rule the roost in countries that were neither colonies nor under British influence? To wit, all of Western Europe."

The above answers much of the question but with regard to PC, that was not a British invention, or British modification of strategies used by Roman Empire. Political correctness comes from an entirely different stream; namely, the ancient Chinese one.

The strategy arises from tactics for managing tribes that came under Chinese rule. The strategy is almost the inverse of multiculturalism. PC arose from the idea that no matter what tribe you belong to, when you are under the rule of the Emperor, you are going to think and act like a right proper member of the Middle Kingdom. This means it's not correct if your choice of words reflects anything but the Middle Kingdom way

This strategy was updated by Mao Zedong and used to repress dissent in China against his brand of Communism. This led to the Orwellian tactic of not naming unpleasant situations for what they are. Thus, the death camps in Mao's China had names roughly equating to "The Happy Inn of Reeducation."

So. As to how PC and Multiculturalism got married in West Europe (and in America and Canada) frankly, I think I would need to ingest a powerful hallucinogen before I could wrap my mind around how the situation came to pass.

But I'll bet that when you dig to the bottom, you will find mass education systems that don't put much emphasis on teaching world history except maybe revisionist history, which was never much good at describing the details of Mao's reign of terror.

I hope all the above helps underscore why I brought up British colonialism in the context of a discussion about Canadian multiculturalism policy, and Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act. The angry debates about Canada's human rights commissions and the discrimination complaint against Maclean's magazine are hyper-focused on Canada's Conservative-Liberal political divide.

I interject that the debates have been egged on by American Conservatives jumping into the fray. But to hear these debaters tell it, the entire problem could be solved by getting rid of the Liberal invention of the rights commissions. And from the other side, Liberals howling that the Conservatives are hell bent on destroying Canada's rich multicultural 'liberal 'democracy.

So, with the facts of history in mind, my essay was in the nature of rifle shots aimed above the head of an unruly mob that was turning violent. If everyone would calm down and think, they would realize that the situation they find themselves in -- facing the death of free speech in Canada -- was not an invention of socialist or Liberal policies.

It arose from highly pragmatic nation-building strategy, which by many twists and turns had led Canada to where it is today: a nation that is a 'liberal' democracy in name only.

Canada is not yet a police state, but it has long been drifting somewhere between the authoritarian democracy of a nation like Singapore and the liberal democracy of the United States. That Canadian's don't seem to see this -- they better open their eyes.

My essay was to warn that unless Canadians ditched the narrow Left-Right context of their debates, they stand to lose more than free speech. They stand to lose their democracy.

Tom Davis said...

Pundita, your essay warns very ably indeed. I loaned a copy of Mark Steyn's America Alone to a friend who wants to "talk" with me about it. I can see that I'm in for a grilling, so I'll be bringing a printed copy of your essays on the HRCs and the presumption of innocence to enter into evidence.

Pundita said...

To Tom Davis:
Regarding your comments, I think it's vital for those outside Canada to realize that quietly, under the radar, Canada's version of multiculturalism is having an impact globally. This impact will only increase.

As I noted in my essay, the Aga Khan is pushing the Canadian Way. And many world leaders are doing the same.

But as I pointed in my earlier essays on the Maclean's affair, Canada's government is making a deceptive sales pitch to the world. They're saying in essence, 'We have this beautiful liberal democracy and multiculturalism is big part of our success as a liberal democracy. If we can do it, you can do it.'

My earlier essays, starting with the Jan 8 one, turned up that Canada is not a liberal democracy. The Canadian government is studiously ignoring that to make their multicultural policy 'work,' they're having to make the fundamental rights of Canadians very conditional. And they are having to take draconian measures, including the blatant intimidation represented by Section 13, to repress speech.

That is not a liberal democracy. But the Canadian Way is very useful to repressive governments that want to put on the appearance of democracy.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Pundita, I suspect you have misunderstood the rasons for British disengagement in the years after world war 2. We were forced into it, and rushed. Look at Rhodesia, where the local government engaged in an extensive policy of education that made the country one of the most stable in Africa until very recently precisely because it continued to implement the sort of policies that the Empire had been implementing in its latter years. Even that one was rushed in the end, under pressure from the UN.

You're right that our leaving caused problems, but not because of the policies of Imperial Britain, but because of the fact that we were forced to leave without having accomplished the aims those policies were put in place to achieve. Another century, even another fifty years, would have seen the exact outcome you predicted regarding an industrialised Africa but that outcome would only have been possible if we hadn't faced the pressure from the United States, coupled with the misguided post-war Labour government policy, to disengage from our colonies and put "natives" in leadership positions on a rushed time-table and without consideration for their leadership abilities, often within a decade in some places.

I don't disagree in principle, and I am very glad that you didn't engage in mockery. I just happen to think that your assessment of the causes is not quite correct. Perhaps a definition of the meaning you're ascribing to "multiculturalism" would be useful. As you say, it's a well-worn word...

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Whoops, typos. That's what I get for posting at ungodly hours in the morning again...

Pundita said...

By multiculturalism I am referring to Canada's official policy by that name. In the essay under discussion I provide a link to a Canadian Parliamentary research service paper on the official policy. I strongly recommend that everyone interested in the topic read the paper. No matter how multiculturalism has been defined, Canada's version is the one that is being promulgated worldwide.

islam o' phobe said...

Despite my earlier vulgar tirade (and I extend my apology to Pundita if she will accept it) I must note that the year (1973) that West European governments began to adopt multicultural policy (influenced maybe by Canada's success in this area or maybe not) coincides with the Arab oil boycott. Food for thought.

Laine said...

Here's an alternative theory of how formal i.e. government funded multiculturalism started in Canada in the 60's despite Pundita's crediting of an obscure conservative senator in the Canadian Senate which is to Canadian government as the appendix is to the body in importance.

Formal multicult is the bastard child of Pierre Trudeau, an admirer of Mao who also made Castro his son's godfather. This Liberal French Canadian Prime Minister who hailed from Quebec wanted a strong federal government that could force other provinces to kowtow to the French Canadian sense of entitlement which gave no sign of abating although their numbers as a percentage of the total population were dwindling.

The obstacle (more perceived than actual) to eternal continuation of Quebec's special status (hogging much more of all federal government programs than its share of the population warranted) was an English Canada that was in reality quite a sugar daddy to its petulant gallic province.

Trudeau hit on the idea of diluting English influence by importing large numbers of third world immigrants who would predictably settle mostly in English Canada. Quebec, unlike English speaking provinces had a right to restrict immigrants who had been allowed in by the federal government. Typically, Quebec would admit only 12% of total immigrants or half its "share" according to population while neighboring Ontario would have to take in nearly twice its pro rata "share". Incidentally, Quebec vacuumed up a permanently fixed 25% of federal funds for immigrant settlement from the federal government no matter how few immigrants they actually accepted leaving Ontario short in resettlement funds.

The first half of Trudeau's plot worked splendidly as the British fact is almost erased from public Canadian life. However, despite protectionism benefiting the French, Quebec's largest city, Montreal has become multicultural enough to threaten them as well in the long run.

Subsequent to Trudeau, the Liberals party has ridden multiculturalism to decades of power since new immigrants and their vast extended families invariably vote "for the one that brung you".