By SANDRA L. SMITH*, TML Daily, February 27, 2010
“At this time, the modern personality cannot be defined in the old way, where the worth of individuals is determined by their ownership of property. On the contrary, the modern personality will be defined on the basis of the flourishing of all members of society. Modern society will create its own modern personality in such a way that it will have everyone as the player and the producer, the script writer, the director and the technician, the promoter, the spectator and the critic, all making up one indivisible whole. All human beings will be brought to centre-stage, instead of being cast into the wings or thrown off the stage as unworthy members of the cast.”
A SALIENT FEATURE of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is the personality said to be Canadian promoted by official circles. From Canada’s Prime Minister on down to the broadcasters and sportscasters working for CTV a performance-based Canadian personality is being pushed. The personality must be aggressive, competitive and unapologetic: “We are winners,” “We are No. 1,” “We stand second to none.” This is the same idea thrown at the workers across the country day in and day out so that they make concessions which permit the monopolies to be “competitive on the world markets.” Those who do not perform to expectations can expect to be losers and be cast aside like scrap.
The mission statement of the Olympics speaks of “building a peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” Over and over, the official circles speak in the name of these high ideals and emphasize that the Olympics are not “political.” But what Canadians are experiencing with these Olympics shows that the financial oligarchy, its political representatives and the privileged International Olympics Committee (IOC) elite use the games for their own narrow aims thereby blocking the development of a human-centred Olympics movement.
This is what Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed when he addressed the BC Legislature on the eve of the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics:
“[…] Patriotism, ladies and gentlemen, patriotism as Canadians should not make us feel the least bit shy or embarrassed. I know that thoughts of grandeur and boisterous displays of nationalism we tend to associate with others. And, over the centuries, things have been done around the world in the name of national pride or love of country that would have been better left undone. Yet, we should never cast aside our pride in a country so wonderful in a land we are so fortunate to call home, merely because the notion has sometimes been abused.
“There is nothing wrong, and there is much that is right, in celebrating together when our fellow citizens, perceiving some splendid star high above us willingly pay the cost and take the chance to stretch forth their hands to try to touch it for that one shining moment. For, no good thing is without risk, no ideal can be reached without sacrifice. Ask any Olympian who wears the Maple Leaf. But that Maple Leaf, we must remember, symbolizes more than just the athletes who wear it[, it] symbolizes the country we love. […]
“So let us hold our flag high at our embassies and our aid bases, our outposts and our vessels, our stadiums and our venues, even our homes, during these Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Games. But not just for these Games, also for the G-8, the G-20, the North American Leaders’ Summit, the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and any other great occasion, not only as a symbol of how appreciative we are for all we have, but also as a sign of welcome to the world.
“Let it be a cheerful red and white reminder of a quiet and humble patriotism that, while making no claims on its neighbours, is ever ready to stand on guard for itself.
“We will ask the world to forgive us this uncharacteristic outburst of patriotism, of our pride, to be part of a country that is strong, confident and tall among the nations.
“And we will let our flag wave here in British Columbia — Beautiful British Columbia — over the podium of the 2010 Winter Games. This truly is British Columbia’s Golden Moment. And it is also Canada’s time to shine.
“Thank you, and God bless Canada.”
This is self-righteous indeed coming from a government whose main feature is its abuse of power and running roughshod over what its citizens say they want, especially as concerns a guaranteed livelihood, equality and their right to health care, education, social security and a healthy social and natural environment, as well as opposition to the use of force in sorting out conflicts on the international stage.
The patriotism of the working class differentiates itself from the patriotism of the ruling elites by clearly establishing that patriotism is not the be-all and end-all. The be-all and end-all for the working class is its own emancipation and the emancipation of all humanity. If the working class were to get caught up in the chauvinist web of bourgeois patriotism, which is thrown at it from time to time whenever it suits the interests of the ruling class, the workers would never be able to support the national struggles that are just, such as the struggles of the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Haiti, all of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, etc., or fight for their own independent interests as they are doing at this time against the vicious nation-wrecking agenda of the monopolies and governments at the federal and provincial levels.
The working class is presently engaged in an all-out fight to put weight behind its own demands. This includes a clear message to the Canadian ruling class that it is against annexation, foreign domination and wars of aggression and occupation. It not only opposes the plunder of Canada’s resources but also the merciless plunder of the resources of others and exploitation of their labour. In other words, the working class is putting forward its own demands and those of the nation. In this manner, it is taking measures to constitute itself the nation. The bourgeoisie has no interest to establish a truly independent state. The working class must raise the banner of the nation but not as if this is the be all and end all but because it must fight for its own emancipation and the emancipation of all humanity on a new modern basis. It cannot agree to have Canada subservient to the interests of foreign monopolies or for Canada to be used as a base for occupation and aggression abroad.
It would be funny if it were not so tragic to see the muddle in which Canada’s ruling class finds itself. Canada as a country was constituted to stop the British North American dominions being annexed by the United States. Thus, the Canadian identity has a definite material basis: we are not American. Now that we are being fully integrated into U.S. wars and fully annexed and the ruling class has totally deprived itself of the only nation-building project it had it wants to brand us with the aggressive characteristics associated with our neighbours to the south. On this basis it claims Canadians are not Americans! It is a pursuit made all the more desperate for being hollow.
Speaking strictly according to the conditions prevailing at this time, who really is going to hoist the banner of the nation in the true sense of the word? It is only the working class. The working class can only emancipate itself within the framework of the nation. This does not mean that the working class must be insular because it operates within the framework of the nation. On the contrary, its internationalism lies in defending the working class of other countries hoisting their banners and supporting the struggle for their emancipation within the framework of their own nations.
1. Sandra L. Smith, from the Report to the 7th Congress of CPC(M-L), March 28-31, 1998
* Sandra L. Smith is the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).