IMPERIALISM IN CANADA.
Address by Mr. W. Wilfred Campbell, F.R.S.C., of Ottawa, on Thursday, November 23rd, 1904.
I will not deal with the patriotic side of Imperialism more than to say that I feel we are all loyal British subjects as well as Canadians. I must insist, however, at the start, that the true Imperialist is as good a Canadian as any. I protest against the local Independence man calling himself the only true Canadian. I would retort: " Little he knows of Canada, who only Canada knows." I claim to be an Imperialist not only from the heart, but also from the head, and one of my strongest claims for Imperialism is that I believe it the only means by which there will ever be a real Canadian nation.
If we have in a sense become Americanized, it is our own fault as a people. It is because we have failed to develop our inward and Imperial resources apart from the material. It is because we have failed to use those present-day mediums, the press, the platform, the school, the pulpit, the library, the Parliament, as organizations to educate, influence and inspire our people toward Imperial and Canadian ideals. It is necessary to educate through the mediums I have mentioned, or else we as a people will go to the wall. What we want more than anything else is an inter-imperial Press Bureau established in London, England, to control, influence and elevate the press of the Empire. I would have editorials and all sorts of reading matter, clipped wholly or in part from the press of the Empire and re-circulated throughout-the Empire, so that the daily and weekly thought, news and opinion of the various parts should be circulated throughout the whole. I would replace with this the large amount of what is called American boilerplate in our many Canadian local papers. I would have it attractive as well as elevating and unifying in influence. Let a people in an Empire have their press literature common to all, and the ends of the earth will not separate them.
Then there are the churches; they should be practical influences in Imperial union. It is the duty of Christianity to keep such a great moral force as the British Empire solid and lasting. It is our duty, in short, to organize and use all the practical means possible, because without organization we can do nothing. There is today a great misconception as to the true meaning of Imperialism. Present-day Imperialism is more than a mere self-satisfied jingoism, and a desire to emulate the splendours of ancient Rome. What its opponents fail to see is that true Imperialism, as it stands today, is more than an opinion; it is a vital force, a sort of necessary phase of human progressiveness; that instead of being the foe to the individual national life, it is the greatest necessary means to that end. My belief is that it is the one wicket-gate through which any young people of today can ever hope to finally attain a true national entity. Imperialism is a force which has seized the civilized world, and not to understand and recognize the new Imperial element in the world's progress, is, for the individual, to stamp himself as behind the times; and for the people to acknowledge itself uncivilized.
This Imperial idea is largely a desire to pool interests. It has permeated Canada. The union of churches, the confederation of the Provinces, the departmental store, the trust, the forming of societies for mutual interest, the very trades unions; in short all movements by which the mottoes "union is strength" and "the good of the many," are illustrated and carried out, are a part of this mysterious wave of human interest toward a newer, larger future-that new Imperialism which is taking possession of the modern world. It is, after all, the constructive form which the democracy is taking after its destructive period has passed; and which men like Mr. Goldwin Smith have been looking for, but have not recognized. Just as Christianity was evolved out of Judaism, so the present Imperialistic movement is coming up as the constructive period of the democracy. There is nothing antagonistic to the democratic idea in this Imperialism. It is not merely a re-action. It is something more. Men and nations in the democratic period merely separated, emancipated themselves to come together again under better conditions and through freer relations. The democracy had not for its end the welfare of the mere individual, but rather the good of the many.
Judaism had for its central ideal a peculiar people. Its inception was purely separatist in idea and ideal; it was negative with its many. " thou shalt nots " in its appeal to the individual. It was, in short, more a preparation than an ideal state. Christianity was its true culmination, and was nothing more than the construction period of the world-movement, whereof the Judaistic was the destructive. In chemistry it is necessary for elements in small combinations to separate before they fuse in a greater mass. Yet Christianity, while the real blossom of the Judaistic bud, seemingly taught the very opposite doctrine of world rule. It was, though cradled in a seemingly narrow separatist school, destined to be the great fusing influence, the spiritual world empire.
Just as the orthodox Jew of Christ's day could not see the true significance of Christianity and condemned it as folly and madness; so do the school of separatists in Britain and America fail to see that Imperialism is but the child, the blossom of the democratic idea which they have fostered and have been true to during a century past. But I would not condemn them for this. To each man is given the light of his day and hour; we all see but as through a glass darkly, and the men who fought for the expansion of the democratic principle in Britain and America, during the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries, were great souls, who were true to their light; they did their work well; they were the pioneers of light and self-government among men in their day. If they erred in the fact that they thought their work the only and final effort needed, and their ideal of government the best, instead of being but a preparation for something which they could not see; they have only done as millions of earth's souls have done before them and will do again.
It is a great and wise law of life that we should not see too far into the future; as to do so would paralyze our effort here. Could the first artist have seen the perfection of Greek art, or the first discoverer the wonders of modern science, he would never have climbed the first few steps in that great stairway by which mankind has reached the present attainment of its expression of sublimity and beauty; and its power over the forces of nature. So God, who has the whole truth, gives each age and period its own task to perform, and encourages it by its very blindness. Thus also has it been in the realms of human self-emancipation, social and civil. If the fighter for self-government, for individual and local representation, had seen the ultimate possibility of Imperialism as we see it now, he would not have struggled so hard to get away from central government. To him was given the instinct to destroy, to get away from, to separate, to individualize; and we cannot be surprised if this school of men do not yet see that their work was only preparatory, if they yet think that the world's work is still to be destructive and not reconstructive on a newer, better, more rational basis. There are many earnest men in England and America today who do not see the matter in this light, but who, if they did, would approach the whole question of Imperialism from a saner, less aggressive standpoint. It should be our duty to appeal to this class, and to awaken the general intelligence of the British peoples here and elsewhere, within and beyond our borders, to a sense of the need of studying Imperialism from a rational and practical standpoint, and to make them realize that it is a real, vital force that they have to face, and no mere chimera.
It must be remembered by the friends of any cause, no matter how righteous it may be, that there are many reasons why it may not appeal to other communities or portions of a community. It is, I believe, more often from a lack of intelligent presentation of its case, than from any outside opposition, that many a good cause has failed to succeed. In a country like Canada and an Empire like ours, it is our duty, whatever our own beliefs, to appeal rather to the larger common sense and reason of the people, and to aim to set our ideas before others more as if they were theirs than ours, and to try and let them see those ideals fairly at their best from their own standpoint. Believing this, I think it is the duty of the Imperialists to organize a thorough and wise education of our people concerning Imperialism as an ideal and a necessity in all of its many phases. It is only by such a wise, patient and rational education of the people concerning this subject that we can ever expect to attain for Canada her proper place and share in this world movement.
All progressive communities, all organizations, and progressive men of today are consciously, or unconsciously, Imperialists. We have been warned, as the worst charge against Imperialism, by its opponents that it will embroil us in outside struggles and troubles, wars and responsibilities. This is the whole cry against its inception. They say, " We want to live to ourselves." "We want to be independent." Yet what is the truth? There is no portion of our people in Canada who have ever been truly independent of, or free from, the outside 'world. No sane man believes that we can in a world like this live to ourselves. Is there a church in Canada, a society or organization, a business interest, a political party, a profession, an institution of any sort, or a man worthy the name, which is not in some sense Imperialist, which does not have deep interests of some sort outside of this country?
All our religion, our commerce, our culture, our thoughts, our education, our travel, our progress, our invention, our science, our literature, is a continual rebuke to the separatist. Yet, to the large mass of our people this truth is so little known. It is decidedly time to point out in no uncertain manner that Imperialism is not a mere desire of a portion of ours or any people; but that it is a great force in the modern world, swaying us all; that it is here to stay until it has performed its work of reconstructing the modern democracy.
Are not our churches, as missionary bodies, continually in danger of embroiling themselves in distant lands? If this is wrong, why allow them to do so? The most of our Canadian churches were mixed up in the Boxer troubles in China, troubles which nearly involved the whole world in war. Should they withdraw their interests and cease to be Imperial? Look at our commerce, it demands that we have world-wide relations. It daily exposes us to outside complications. Must it cease? What of our press? The most Imperial influence in the whole world today? Should we muzzle it, because it is hourly interesting us, as it has been for nearly a century, in outside affairs? Might not its very attitude in the present war irritate either nation? What of our reading matter, our literature, our science, our trade, the very ladies and their fashions? You may call it cosmopolitanism; but it is simply Imperialism in one form or another. It is interdependence, rather than independence. The men who went to South Africa were Imperialists, but so were the Papal Zouaves, who went to Italy to fight for the Pope; so have been all of our business men, scholars, students, politicians and men in whatever walk of life who have left our country to make their way in Britain, the States and other countries; or who, residing here, have obtained and accepted honours, titles and recognition from governments and learned societies outside of Canada. These, each and all, have by their action and desire, voiced the incompleteness of a mere narrow Canadianism, and its impotency to satisfy the ambition and ideal of any man who has ambitions and ideals. These are all in act and ideal Imperialist, and among them as remarkable examples are those Canadians whose ambitions have led them to the wider field of the Imperial Parliament, such as Messrs. Blake, Brown, Devlin and Parker. Some of these Canadians have, inconsistently, been among the bitterest separatists. They would keep the average Canadian narrow and isolated, while they themselves take advantage of the larger scope. Is this fair, is it just, to the people? Why should they take part in Imperial affairs and deny the right of the people to do so? This is only one among many of the inconsistencies of the opponents of present-day Imperialism, who, while openly fighting it, have shown by their very method of opposition the vital necessity of a greater centre of social, political and ideal unity, such as is found in the great capital of the British Empire and its central government.
The opponents of Imperialism are in a minority, but they are in their way active. They are the " Little Englander," the " Little Irelander " and the " Little Canadian." Sincere as they may be, they are behind the times. They still live in the destructive period of the democracy. It is quite possible that even great movements or parties may change places, and the one progressive party become in time the historical back number. By clinging to a mere political creed or idea long after it has performed its work, men can become as obsolete in idea as old words and old customs. Today the men who are little Englanders, little Irelanders and little Canadians are behind the times in their political ideals. Many of them are so far bemuddled in 18th century issues, 18th century bitterness, and 18th century ideals long accomplished, that they have forgotten that this is the 20th century. They have forgotten that much has taken place in the interval; that the world of today has outgrown the stage of mere expansion and individualistic antagonism; that life has become more self-controlled, that man's view, as a whole, is larger, saner and more centralized. They do not see that the foes to be fought today are not old-world tyrannies, but the evils of ignorance and materialism and their attending tyranny everywhere, especially on this continent.
"We bear with us the despot in our blood."
There is a law of mankind that the struggle for liberty must ever be against the ruling force in a people. The ruling power today and for a century past has been the people. The democracy has now become the tyrant. For this reason it is all-important that the people should be warned of the fact that the danger is now to be found in the democratic rather than the aristocratic element, which no longer rules. If the democracy were left to itself, it would soon bring its own destruction, but Imperialism, or the saner constructive period, has taken its place. Whereas the early democracy was necessarily separative, destructive, revolutionary, iconoclastic, negative, bitter, alienating, breaking down, despairing, so the newer democracy or Imperialism, is saner, wiser, calmer, tolerant, constructive, unifying, peaceful, practical and hopeful. It is the great principle of peace and progress today over the world, and it is this principle of sane Imperialism which should be the chief platform of all progressive parties today. No sincere, large-minded man, no real statesman, can exist today who does not make it his main platform. It must appeal to the practical, progressive young man of the present, as answering to all his ideals of life. It is after all this ideal, neither wholly democratic or aristocratic; but the happy blending of both; which is ever found in any condition of society where a consistent progress is built upon a firm and lasting foundation.
Mr. Goldwin Smith in his address before the Canadian Club, made the statement that, no matter what our outside affiliations and ties, our future as a Canadian people had to be worked out in connection with this continent. He instanced also the blending of the crosses on the Union Jack as an example of the power of geographical propinquity to triumph over all other influences. Though he did not say it in so many words, he meant us to understand that no effort on our part or no outside influence could prevent our ultimate absorption in the United States. Now this geographical axiom was cleverly put, and might seem true at a superficial glance. But I deny that it is proved either in history or in our own experience.
The map of Europe as a whole shows that the greatest antagonism and alienation exists between the countries bordering upon each other, such as France and Germany, Russia and Germany. Then the blending of the crosses on the Jack took, as Mr. Smith knows, a thousand years to accomplish; and its ultimate accomplishment then, under far different circumstances and conditions from those under which he would have Canada merge into the United States. The very blending of the crosses i's even after all that time, a direct negative to Mr. Smith's philosophy, as it shows that it was no absorption, but a free union of three independent peoples, each maintaining its personality and ideals, under one flag, the blend of their several national banners. I am afraid Mr. Smith's argument is not worthy of his well-known historical outlook; and his illustration of the geographical propinquity idea is singularly unfortunate, as has been pointed out.
I am not such a fatalist, as he is, to believe that mere force of numbers and geographical considerations are the only forces left in the world. It is not only a challenge to the spirit of a free people, but an insult to their personality and worth to say that they are but the driftwood, the puppets of mere population and physical geography. I believe (and I think that I have studied the spirit and panorama of history as wisely as Mr. Smith, though not so long) that there are stronger forces in men than those of mere geographical considerations to unite them or keep them apart. And I believe that it is in the power of the Canadian people to keep themselves apart, as an individual people, as the Scotland of North America, for a thousand years to come, if God has a special work for them to perform. This is after all the secret of all true nationhood, aside from a strong conservative race individuality. I know all Canadians feel in their hearts that we have gone too far forward as a separate individual people on this continent to lightly surrender all our individuality as a people. Small as we may be, great as are our problems, our difficulties to solve, we would answer that, as a people, as a Canadian community, from the Citadel of Quebec to the Yukon, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, two significant names, we are here to stay; and it will need a stronger argument than the geographical to convince the Canadian people otherwise; and a stronger force than mere territorial propinquity to destroy our hopes and spirit as an individual Canadian people.
We in Canada have to realize this world-force called Imperialism. W e cannot, any more than could the Boer or the Mormon stand alone. We can no more get away from this world-influence as a people, than we can live without world-trade, world-news, and a myriad other world-influences which guide and fill our lives. If we are to be in the procession at all we must either choose for ourselves or be led as an inferior people. We have but one choice between two different imperialisms, that of Britain and that of the Imperial Commonwealth to the south. If we examine into the matter calmly, aside from other considerations, we cannot but see that if we ever hope ultimately to be a nation, we must in selfdefence stay within the British Imperial system; whereas to enter that of the American means sheer annihilation of all our personality as a people. We will be merely a bundle of states added to the rest, and will lose everything we value, our laws, customs, political system; our whole identity as a people.
Whereas, if we stay in the British Imperial system as an integral part of it, we lose nothing, but keep all we have got, and have a chance, ultimately, of becoming a great individual community on the northern part of this continent. By remaining British, we do not cease to be Canadian. Our very remoteness from the great Imperial centre will in itself safeguard our own individuality as it has done in the past. The very ocean barrier which has been regarded as an obstacle will be a blessing rather than a curse to the Empire and to the sister states making up the Imperial whole. It is this very widespread condition of the British Empire which makes her the one possible ideal union of independent peoples.
On the other hand the American Imperialism has many attendant dangers, springing out of the country's very compactness. The imperial control of a vast continent such as this by one dominant force is not a very satisfactory thing to contemplate. It is absurd to think that the American Republic will always remain a bundle of separated States, as it now is, any more than it was to be expected that its original republican ideal could forever remain. We have seen that original ideal largely superseded; and we will also see in time the present State demarcations disappear. Even today many of the States count for little in the control of the whole. We have for years heard more of a Solid South, the West and the North, than we have of State individuality. There is a strong possibility of a gradual coming together of certain portions of the country in groups of States; and this would be a great improvement in the rule of the country and less costly to the people. As the Canadian population develops more and more in the West, this will be also necessary in some of our Eastern Provinces. There is nothing more absurd than many of these local Governments, and much of our political corruption arises out of their petty condition. This is especially true of the States. If, as Mr. Smith seems to feel, the ultimate fate of Canada is to become a part of the North American Federation; if, I repeat, such a fate is intended to be the destiny of this country in some distant period of the future, then how much better it would be to postpone that date until, under such a condition as I have described here, we might be able as a large and powerful community to dictate our terms, and like Scotland's relationship to England, still retain our personality, socially and politically, as a Canadian people. Our choice in short is Imperialism or Imperialism. The wise Canadian, aside from all other considerations, will choose that Imperialism which is the freest and best, namely the one which will advance and develop Canada as an independent country and our people into a great and important branch of the British peoples. Let us be true to our independence in the Empire, but let it be the independence of self-respect, of a mature, not a childish people. Let it be the independence of a responsibility to ourselves and the Empire. Let it be a sane, generous spirit of self-sacrifice, such as the relation that a well-regulated, well-to-do household would bear toward the immediate community which it helps to compose; not a false independence of suspicion, distrust and antagonism eternally, straining toward separation.
We must realize sooner or later that no true patriotism is ever built upon or fostered in hatred. A mere negative patriotism is none, and the greatest weakness of the destructive period of the democracy has been its element built upon hate. The sane, hopeful ideal of Imperialism is one that should permeate our people. It would raise us out of the narrow slough of mere localism, that political and social slayer of any people, and make of us finally, what we hope to be one day, a great nation. But we must work to create a common sentiment in a great Imperial ideal; for without a common sentiment of feeling, the Empire, as it stands today, cannot last.
Remembering Empire's bounds
Not larger than the loyalty that upholds,
Not wider than the speech that makes us one,
Not greater than the pride of common dreams,
Of common blood, of common faith and song;
For vain the splendour and the freedom vast,
And vain the iron power that makes it sure,
And vain the mighty toil that would endure,
If love be not the anchor that withstands.