Canadian Nationalism and the Struggle for Popular Sovereignty

By Kalturnyk, Ken | Canadian Dimension, September-October 2002 | Go to article overview

Canadian Nationalism and the Struggle for Popular Sovereignty


Kalturnyk, Ken, Canadian Dimension


During the past year or two we have seen evidence of a resurgence of Canadian nationalism reminiscent of that of the 1 960s or of the period surrounding the debate over the Charlottetown Accord. The question being debated in the Canadian Left is whether this nationalistic sentiment plays a positive or negative role in the struggle for social progress.

During the 1960s and 1970s Canadian nationalism figured prominently in anti-imperialist and socialist politics, aimed primarily against American economic, political and cultural domination and a desire to defend Canadian sovereignty. There were also currents of economic nationalism, in sections of the Liberal and Conservative parties, although it was always difficult to distinguish how much of this was based on a desire to defend Canadian independence and how much was based on narrow, economic self-interest. For its part, the NDP rejected the nationalism of the Waffle and expelled its leaders.

During the 1980s, Anglo-American. imperialism adopted the strategy of neoliberalism in response to a crisis in profitability. One aspect of this strategy was the destruction of whatever remnants of socialism remained in the countries of eastern Europe, and the crushing of the nation-building in the liberated former colonies in order to bring these countries fully into the capitalist market. The embracing of those policies by the Mulroney and Chretien governments has placed in jeopardy whatever limited sovereignty Canada previously enjoyed. The resulting concern and apprehension generated amongst Canadians has given rise to this new wave of sentiment for Canadian sovereignty.

NATIONALISM: PROGRESSIVE OR REACTIONARY?

While the Canadian Left has generally had little trouble accommodating itself to Quebec nationalism or to the pro-sovereignty sentiments of Aboriginal peoples, there has been a historical split on the issue of Canadian nationalism. This has mirrored to some extent the dichotomy within Canadian nationalism, itself. The anti-imperialist nationalism of a section of the Canadian Left has been counterposed by the anti-Quebec nationalism of some sections of the Right, including a significant section of the Liberal economic nationalists. In fact, many of the latter brandish their "nationalism" only in opposition to Quebec sovereignty, while at the same time advocating greater economic, political and cultural integration with the United States.

In my view, there is nothing inherently positive or negative about nationalism. What ultimately determines whether nationalism plays a progressive or reactionary role is the overall political context in which it is placed, that is, whether the movement for nationalism links itself to progressive or reactionary politics.

Human beings are social by nature. We simply cannot survive without a community. A community has been necessary for protection against the forces of nature, as well as to facilitate economic activities. Historically, as technology developed, especially the technologies of transportation and warfare, the need for larger and Larger communities also arose. Tribal forms of social organization gave way to towns and cities, then empires and countries. However, as the sizes of human communities increase, so do the disintegrating forces arising from conflicting individual interests. So, a greater unifying concept has been needed from the earliest days of large-scale human societies to ensure that communities remain united.

The first such unifying concept was based on family ties -- the tribe. When communities outgrew this concept, it was replaced with others -- language, religion and ethnicity being the main ones. However, with the rise of mercantile capitalism during the late Middle Ages, even those concepts became restrictive and limiting, and the concept of the modern nation state began to emerge, especially in western Europe. The main purpose for the construction of nation states was to secure domestic markets in the hands of a particular grouping of capitalists and to use the collective economic activity of the workers under their control to enable them to compete effectively with other groups of capitalists. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Canadian Nationalism and the Struggle for Popular Sovereignty
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.