Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quote for the day

John Ralston Saul:
At key historic moments every society burns into its unconscious the outline of patterns for agreement and disagreement. These become the civilizational model and remain in place for centuries. The spring of 1849 was the defining moment for modern Canada. On one side was the European monolithic model, the colonial party, loyal to whatever empire was dominant, provided that this loyalty brought them power, income and psychic comfort -- power and income without real responsibility. Like all colonial elites they were pessimistic about their own capacity as elites to think and act in a manner appropriate to this place.

On the other side was a democratic movement that sought to develop new approaches to the public good. In Canada that meant loyalty to an unprecedented idea of complexity, which in turn means that everyone, leaders in particular, would have to discipline themselves through restraint -- restraint as encouragement to a civilization of complexity involving the other. Each Canadian crisis since 1849 has been a replay of these opposing patterns.