oligarchical republic

Americans – not unlike Canadians – have their deep seated differences. In Canada the central root of disturbance is between Upper and Lower Canada or what today is conveniently recognized as the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, more fundamentally, English and French occasionally extending to competition between Protestant and Catholic. Then there is the battle between east and west, amplified to anything east or west of the Toronto-Dominion Centre at King and Bay Streets in the heart of Old Toronto’s financial district.  The western provinces have their wheat and oil. Central Canada is banking and retail trade. The Maritime provinces maintain their historic plurality of British blood and United Empire Loyalists (fleeing American revolutionaries) and the French speaking Acadians (a colony of New France).

The Toronto-Dominion Centre, or TD Centre, is an office complex in the Financial District of downtown Toronto owned by Cadillac Fairview. It serves as the global headquarters for its anchor tenant, the Toronto-Dominion Bank, and provides office and retail space for many other businesses. The complex consists of six towers and a pavilion covered in bronze-tinted glass and black painted steel. Approximately 21,000 people work in the complex, making it the largest commercial office complex in Canada.

As a Canadian my perspective of the Americans is the predominant contest between north and south, extended less vigorously to collisions between east and west. The southern rendition of America, while always favourably coloured with gastronomic variety and social nicety, has a far less palatable reputation for equality and human rights generally.

The average person may be forgiven for thinking that the South actually won the Civil War. Despite a brief experiment in interracial democracy during the Reconstruction years, for much of its history the region has upheld a regime of brutal racial subordination. In the late 19th century, after the overthrow of Reconstruction, many of its state governments disenfranchised Black men, instituted racial segregation, condoned racial terrorism and violence, and kept a majority of Black and white Southerners economically bound through sharecropping, debt peonage, convict lease labor, and tenancy. By the 20th century, Franklin Roosevelt called the South the nation’s No. 1 economic problem, resistant to unionization and social policies. Even today it leads in indices for poverty and weak educational systems. The Jim Crow South was upended by the civil rights revolution. Yet even in defeat, its language of oligarchy and its opposition to progressive political and economic policies through an appeal to racism has been adopted by the modern Republican Party.

The current American family feud regarding the overthrow of democracy is well founded in the opinion of many observers. The impact of religious toxicity on the southern posture cannot be ignored. If one follows CNN it is impracticable to remove oneself from the caricature of southern intelligence; in short, it is a highly uncomplimentary view. Regularly members of the southern states – including its legislators – are presented as purveyors of lies, groundless speculations and supernatural theories. The news clips as regularly disclose an undeniable lack of education. Not to mention the ready acquaintance with guns.

Clearly not everyone in politics is fully devoted to the well-being of constituents. Over and over again we hear of the persuasive influence of lobby interests (like pharmaceuticals) and Christianity. Very little in this regard has changed. Nor is it likely to change as long as candidates for political admission depend on others for money to back their election.

The problem is not insurmountable. But there is no overwhelming urge of those presently at the trough to alter the mechanism. Why spoil a good wheeze?

“He hated monarchy: he hated democracy: his favourite project was to make Scotland an oligarchical republic. The King, if there must be a King, was to be a mere pageant. The lowest class of the people were to be bondsmen. The whole power, legislative and executive, was to be in the hands of the Parliament. In other words, the country was to be absolutely governed by a hereditary aristocracy, the most needy, the most haughty, and the most quarrelsome in Europe.”

Excerpt From
The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 3
Thomas Babington Macaulay