In late 2015, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Canada had become the world’s first post-national state. A society defined by the litany of identities found from all over the world, not one defined by its European history.
With Trudeau at the helm, Canada has headed straight down this post-national path at full speed. However, despite this transformation occurring in a country as far away as Canada, its possible that Australia, and much of the West, is destined for a similar fate.
A good question one might ask themselves is; what is a post-national nation? When using this term, its clear Trudeau was referring to the lack of nationalism in Canada and therefore the lack of an identity one can base themselves on. A post-national state is one that does not possess a mainstream. This includes a mainstream idea of values, language, and of course identity. In a ‘national’ state, the mainstream would be clear and obvious, something that most people could articulate with ease, as many in Canada could probably do in previous decades.
In order to achieve this post-national status, the Liberal Party of Canada (which is Canada’s centre-left party) led by Trudeau implemented policies centered around identity politics and cultural relativism. For example, Trudeau removed the citizenship language test for many newcomers and chose a cabinet that was at least 50% female. And when asked to explain his gender parity promise, he famously answered with, “Because its 2015”.
Honestly speaking, it doesn’t make much sense to allow someone into society before they know that societies language. Whether you want that person to fully integrate or not, fluently speaking the national language makes sense from almost any reasonable perspective, unless of course you’re ideologically driven.
Canada is unique in that it’s got two main languages, French and English and certainly has a different culture to Australia’s. But, it’s also similar in many ways. Traditions of individuality, liberty and Western liberal ideals dating back to the signing of the Magna Carta and the formation of parliamentary democracy, the most successful form of government, are just as much apart of Canada as they are apart of Australia. And unfortunately, this similarity indicates that Australia may be just as susceptible to Canada and potentially follow in its footsteps.
This then begs the questions, how does a country become a post-national state and is it such a bad thing? Firstly, in order to achieve a level of enlightenment only experienced by those as progressive and ‘woke’ as Trudeau and his government, one must first be a firm believer in the idea of cultural relativism.
I mentioned this term in the third paragraph but will explain it here for those unaware of what it means. Cultural relativism is the idea that no culture is superior to another and therefore no member of a culture can criticize another’s cultural practices. This pervasive idea has become commonplace throughout Canada. And Trudeau proved just how much of a believer he is in cultural relativism when he tweeted in 2011 a condemnation of the then conservative governments use of the term barbaric to describe honour killings, female-genital mutilation and forced marriage.
Just to be clear, Trudeau did say that these practices were unacceptable but focused primarily on the use of the word ‘barbaric’ to describe practices any reasonable person would consider barbaric, but, I digress. A society doesn’t have to embrace cultural relativism completely to become a post-national state. What’s required is a gradual breakdown of the identity a society bases itself around. This can occur through the conflation of nationalism with racism or even stupidity. As some will no doubt have found, many of those who consider themselves modern and progressive look down on those seeking a more genuinely conservative approach to policies.
For example, and this is anecdotal but relevant nonetheless, a close friend (also a well-educated university graduate) criticized my criticism of India being the most unsafe country in the world for women with, “Australia’s not much better, one woman dies every week from domestic violence.” Despite the obvious absurdity of claiming Australia, one of the safest and most stable countries to have ever existed, is even comparable to India in terms of violence against women, this shows the pervasiveness of cultural relativism. And also the way in which it produces a level of silliness found, not exclusively but certainly primarily, within academic schools of thought. This isn’t to argue that Australia’s perfect or that domestic violence isn’t an issue, but Australia is far better in terms of overall criminality than the vast majority of other countries.
Secondly, post-nationalism is an objectionable direction to take a country. As outlined above, it erodes the identity and values a society bases itself around. And allows for the existence of practices that were once deemed backwards and non-sensical. Furthermore, without the existence of a primary ‘mother’ culture and values a society loses what many immigrants seek to become apart of whilst also allowing for the formation of parallel societies.
Unfortunately, I do believe Australia is on course to become a post-national state currently. The glee with which many politicians embrace identity politics is awful to watch and evidence of the changing tides. But, Australia does have a strong core identity and importantly lacks a leader as contemptible as Trudeau, for now. So, things may change, and opinions might shift so my prediction may well not come to fruition.
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy my analysis of Chinese imperialist growth here.