The Kingdom of Católica America 8: Reflecting On A Counterfactual (What Could Have Been)

Today, Rush Limbaugh bemoaned a recent New Yorker article, titled We Could Have Been Canada:

I just want to share with you how this New Yorker story begins. New Yorker story, “We Could Have Been Canada — Was the American Revolution Such a Good Idea? — And what if it was a mistake from the start? The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America — what if all this was a terrible idea, and what if the injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them?”


“[W]hat if the injustices and madness of American life since” our founding…? The injustices? This kind of filth was not prevalent two, three generations ago. In World War II, there was a common unity. A common bound among 90% of the population was patriotism. You can’t say that’s the case today, not with crap like this. And this guy, whoever wrote this — he’s just a product of some crypt, filthy educational system. The story goes on to claim that because of our form of government we had a slavery longer than we should have.


Not true, by the way.


We would have been more violent than we should be, and that we’re not as democratic as we should be. We’re just a really bad, horrible, rotten place — that everybody in the world wants to get into for some reason. I don’t know why, if this is such a rotten-ass place, that they want every immigrant in the world to get in here, but they do. The point is, young people read this crap. They hear this crap in their classrooms, they’re educated to this crap, and they grow up believing it. At what point do significant numbers say, “You know, America’s not worth defending the way it is.”

It seems here that Limbaugh is unable to take an objective and unemotional look at history. Attacking the romantic notions that define the United States is like a sacrilege to him. I enjoy listening to Limbaugh if I have the time, but his knee-jerk reaction at those who dare to re-think the past is a spectacle.

But to make matters even more embarrassing, it only seems as though Limbaugh had perused the beginning of the article.

His fault is actually the fault of many on the Alt-Right. They cannot think beyond 1776. Propose something new and different from their nostalgia, and you are deemed silly or irrelevant.

Now, I am not an uber admirer of Canada or any such thing. But I do recognize that America is, in fact, an empire of many nations, and these different nations are in the continental United States. Furthermore, if this empire that affords us so many conveniences and so much happiness is to survive, it can no longer be run like a republic that’s populated by a nation of people who share the same blood, culture, and language. America has decided to roll the dice with pluralism, and so now we get to take a chance and see if this doesn’t result in a bloody genocide.

An empire must be run like an empire if it is to survive. And so, for this reason and many others, I promote the idea of a Catholic monarchy. And if we are to promote such a Catholic monarchy, we are going to have to do better than Rush and take a deeper look at Adam Gopnik’s article, We Could Have Been Canada:

“The radical Whigs were for democratization, the authoritarian reformers firmly against it. The radical Whigs were for responsible authority, the authoritarian reformers for firm authority. And so on. This quarrel, du Rivage argues, swept across the Empire and, as much as it divided colony from home country, it united proponents of either view transnationally. Those we think of as “loyalists” in the American context were simply authoritarian reformers who lost their war; those we think of as “patriots” were simply radical Whigs who won.


“This account cuts against the American specificity of the Revolution—the sense that it was a rebellion against a king and a distant country. No one at the time, du Rivage suggests, saw what was happening as pitting a distinct “American” nation against an alien British one. Participants largely saw the conflict in terms of two parties fighting for dominance in the English-speaking world…The transnational nature of the Revolution, du Rivage shows, has been blanked out.”

As you can see, if we do better than Rush Limbaugh and read beyond the headline, we can begin to understand this idea that the author is conveying–that the American Revolution was actually more like a bloody internecine rebellion, or as what Charles Coulombe has termed, an English civil war that ended as a worldwide conflagration.

I, of course, share the argument that “radical Whig” betrayal of the crown led to a mercantile oligarchy that we’ve never recovered from. In this, I’m sure that the Loyalist Tories would agree. If you somehow doubt this, I’ll just ask: How’s that establishment-controlled political system working for ya?

This is an un-romantic view that Rush Limbaugh cannot grasp. It’s easier for him to just play “Let’s bash the Democrats.”

The authoritarian reformers—the empire, in other words—have something to be said for them; and what is to be said for them is, well, Canada. Our northern neighbor’s relative lack of violence, its peaceful continuity, its ability to allow double and triple identities and to build a country successfully out of two languages and radically different national pasts: all these Canadian virtues are, counterintuitively, far more the legacy of those eighteenth-century authoritarian reformers than of the radical Whigs.

Two languages, and different national pasts, sure. They’re both white peoples, but it’s working out better than not. The authoritarian reformer is more decent and civil than the radicalized American Puritan.

On a bit of a side note, I laugh when I read Alexander Hamilton’s sour contempt towards Canada in a letter called Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress:

The affair of Canada is still worse. The Romish faith is made the established religion of the land and his Majesty is placed as the head of it. The free exercise of the Protestant faith depended upon the pleasure of the Governor and Council…They may as well establish Popery in New York and the other colonies as they did in Canada. They had no more right to do it there than here. Your lives, your property, your religion, are all at stake.

Equally hilarious is when I read about how the bitter rebels took measures to rename every “King Street” in the colonies to “State Street.” After the war, Fr. Pierre Gibault once reflected on how he regretted the loss of the mildness of British rule. I am certain that the Natives also had preferred easier British rule to the more violent and intolerant Puritain mind that was set against the Natives as less than human.

I do not think that emulating Canada is a worthy goal. We ought to be striving to go beyond what Canada is. Not towards leftist socialism under the limp-wristed leadership of a college teacher, as we see in Prime Minister Trudeau. But instead, we should be like the authoritarian reformers. Rather than upend the entire system, maintaining the monarchy yet solving problems within that paradigm would have been more constructive and probably less bloody, as Gobnik argues..

Of course, how can you argue against any of this if you haven’t read more than a headline?

America is not such a “rotten-ass place,” as Limbaugh accused. But Catholics such as myself believe that it could be even better than it is. I dare to ask the question: Is the current form of America worth defending? Honest question.

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