Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism, 40th Anniversary Edition Paperback – Nov 11 2005
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In 1965, George Grant's Lament for a Nation struck a chord with Canadians who feared the overwhelming influence of American commerce, culture, and technology. Nearly 40 years later, the controversy is still reverberating. Grant saw Canada's absorption into the United States as a done deal. Economic decisions taken in the 1940s undermined the country's ability to set its own foreign and defence policies in the 1960s, he argued. "Once it was decided that Canada was to be a branch-plant society of American capitalism, the issue of Canadian nationalism had been settled." A professor of religious studies, Grant vehemently opposed the Canadian government's acquiescence in allowing nuclear-armed Bomarc missiles on Canadian soil in the early 1960s. He deemed the Canadian military "an errand boy for the Americans," then broadened his attack to take aim at technological progress and the liberal principles that he believed sold the country out. Canadian nationalism has come up against thorny issues of continental relations for about 200 years. While he offered no practical solutions for stemming the erosion of Canada's sovereignty, Grant provided a framework for debate that has held up through free trade, the anti-ballistic missile defence shield, war in Iraq, and one mad cow. Just by posing the question, "can the disappearance of an unimportant nation be worthy of serious grief?", Grant's work became a galvanizing force for finding the answer. --Carolyn Leitch --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Lament for a Nation should be respected as a masterpiece of political meditation ... In this study Professor Grant opened Canadian public debate, with frankness and depth, to include the most fundamental and perennial questions a nation must ask itself about the full meaning of its own political existence. He challenged us to reflect on the unique possibilities and limits constituting our destiny as Canadians." Peter Emberley, Professor of Political Science, Carleton University. "Masterpiece is not a word to use lightly, but Lament for a Nation merits it. In it Grant distilled his years of study of theology and philosophy, together with his knowledge of history and his acute attention to the daily passage of political events. The former adult educator put it all into a book that was instantly accessible to the broad reading public, but rewarded repeated reading by academic philosophers." William Christian, author of George Grant: A BiographySee all Product Description
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Both books are absorbing, though in rather different ways.
Neither of them make complete sense to me.
Frankly, in various of the actions of Mr. Diefenbaker I do not see some sublime, conservative analysis at work: the firing of Governor Coyne from the Bank of Canada for doing his job; the raging of Diefenbaker against his colleagues during his long, enforced retirement; the refusal to help the Kennedy Administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis; the creative arithmetic in which he indulged when talking with British ministers, to his colleagues' consternation, and the British ministers' bemusement. Accident prone, is, rather, the phrase that comes to mind. Smith's book's great strength is the very detailed way in which he presents Diefenbaker's life, peppered with high entertaining anecdotes; but a strong sense of cynicism seems to pervade the book; as if to say that the conservative, God-fearing families of mainly English Canada which elected Diefenbaker should have no voice. But, then, Grant isn't really identifying himself with that strand of opinion, either.
But Grant does have a point in saying that liberal-minded managers in large, North American corporations have a lot of power; in other words, what may be convenient for large corporations need not necessarily be regarded as automatically best for Canada. Written in 1965, this has plenty of relevance now. Except that President Dwight D.Read more ›
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The book describes how Canadians have abandoned their traditional 'conservative' values in favor of the easy continentalist option of acquiring American wealth by accepting American values. The author describes how 1960s Gaullism in France was a reaction to the same forces. The same observations can be made today about the knee-jerk anti-Americanism in Europe and France in particular that is paradoxically based on the inherent attractiveness of American values. The American culture is becoming the world culture. It is dispossessing all other cultures that it encounters. This provokes a reaction among 'conservative' (which includes the globalization protestors who in this book's terms are conservative in respect to culture although they would see themselves as anarchistic, radical etc.) who fear that the cultures that they value are going to be lost to the forces of technic- `the one best way'.
I cannot do justice to this book which links these ideas into the flow of Western ideas. It shows the conflicts that of these differing sets f ideas in the works of philosophers and theologians. it does so in a manner that is very accessible to the general reader but has also provided a basis for research by professional philosopher's, political scientists etc. for the 37years since it was published.
This book is on a par with Jacques Ellul's 'The Technological Society.' It is a book that will be remembered and studied for hundreds of years. It uses as its starting point the issue of Canadian nationalism but its implications are universal. I wish that I could give it six stars.