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"True Patriot Love"

Today is Canada Day, the Canadian Equivalent of the American Independence Day, where every raving patriot crawls out of their suburban cracks to lead the once-a-year patriots and the odd fire-works enthusiast, in a celebration of their home and "native" land.  Jack-asses wearing Canadian flag capes are out en masse, Real-Estate agents are leaving Canadian flags in the mail boxes of homes they want to sell––this year seems oddly more patriotic than last year's Canada Day, though one would have to wonder what the average Canadian is so damned excited about in 2011.

Maybe they're extra patriotic this year because, especially just after the predictable conclusion of the CUPW strike, they're happy that their beloved country is smashing unions.  Maybe they're extra patriotic because their government is happy to vast sectors of the people starve through the recession.  Or perhaps this patriotism is to celebrate "our boys" in Afghanistan, some of whom were recently killed.  Then there is our government's recent endorsement of NATO intervention in Libya that must be worthy of celebration.  Finally, the ongoing re-invasion of Kanehsatake is yet another reason for patriotic cheer: you have to keep the colonized down if you're going to celebrate this thing called Canada.

The sickening spectacle of patriotism that manifests every Canada Day, however, is partially a mirage.  True, there are numerous packs of loud zombie patriots in their flag capes and Canada shirts roaming the streets and advertising their religious fervour.  There are also just as many people, if not far more, who do not care about celebrating "Canada" because it means celebrating the terms of their exploitation–-the fact that they are jobless, that the Canadian state sends police to brutalize their communities, that they are only in this country because Canada was "peace-keeping" in their homeland, or that they are from nations colonized and genocided in order to establish Canada.

I know there are some well-meaning progressives who will argue that it is in "bad-taste" to attack this patriotism because it will alienate the people.  Aside from the taillist nonsense of this position, the people who advocate this position are generally people who have no idea how "the people" feel about these things because they never bother to ask "the people" in the first place.  Generally speaking, the you-will-alienate-the-people argument is applied haphazardly to anything that makes those making the argument uncomfortable: you will alienate the people if you talk to them about politics, you will alienate the people if you mention communism, you will alienate the people by just talking to the people in the first place.  The argument is nothing more than an excuse from people who have willfully alienated themselves from the people and choose to remain comfortably ignorant.  But to paraphrase Mao, without investigation there should be no right to speak.

(And in any case, when was it principled to hide one's politics for fear of being alienated from the masses?  When is it ever principled to accept the existence of a holiday that is primarily a celebration of colonization and genocide?  The more radical politics are kept hidden, kept away from the people they are supposed to serve, the more they atrophy and become self-fulfilling prophecies.  If you hide your politics from the masses then eventually no one will know about the existence of these politics, in some cases gravitating to the existence of other and abhorrent political frameworks.)

Earlier today, with a few comrades, I "celebrated" Canada Day by handing out the latest issue of The Partisan, a free and small communist news source produced by the PCR-RCP, which was an anti-Canada Day issue filled with articles about why we shouldn't celebrate Canada day, why indigenous struggle is important, and why Canada is an imperialist country.  Some people, who initially refused the paper, would return as soon as we said it was anti-Canada Day.  Only a few were upset by the anti-patriotism, and as usual a lot of people wanted the papers.  As usual more than a few stopped to talk with us about politics––which was the point of the paper in the first place.  We did not alienate the people we encountered aside from those who should be alienated in the first place: reactionary patriots who sing the national anthem whenever a home is bombed in Afghanistan.


  1. I went through my first ever Canada Day yesterday (first summer I've been in Canada), it was, well, ummm, very settler patriotic.

  2. And this year the holiday falls on a weekend so the entire weekend has become a celebration of colonial-capitalism. I made the mistake of going on a day trip to a small beach town today - because I thought it would be quiet - and ended up encountering an entire town in the throes of extended Canada day...

  3. Maybe this year SEEMED more patriotic in Toronto than usual because last year we were a little more pre-occupied with our friends and comrades who had been/were being detained for G20 stuff, for which I am sure the rest of Canada was inapproriately rejoicing.

    I remember we were sitting in a pub after a march (I don't remember which one) and then someone said "hey, do you guys realize it's Canada Day?" lol. We stand on guard for thee, indeed.

  4. Gina: good point about the G20 possibly being a distraction from the normal Canada Day patriotism... Even still, the outer expression of patriotism during Canada Day, at least in the cities, has becoming more intense over the past decade. It used to never resemble the American 4th of July parties and was more an excuse to get drunk and set off fireworks anywhere (for a problematic reason, true, but that reason was less celebrated before). And how is Sudbury during Canada Day?


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