Saturday, September 21, 2013

Why is Canada So Boring?

If you’re an American, here’s a mystery for you: there’s a good chance you’re bored to tears when you hear that Canada is often ranked a better place to live than the US. For example, in the 2013 OECD Better Life Index, Canada ranks third while the US ranks sixth in quality of life; according to the 2013 UN Human Development Index, Canada ranks thirteenth and the US sixteenth when the results are adjusted for inequality; in a 2006 study, the US was found to have the ninth lowest social mobility among nine developed countries, while Canada was among the four countries with the highest social mobility; and for five years in a row, Canada topped the WEC’s ranking of countries’ banking systems, which helps explain why Canada withstood the 2008 housing market crash better than most developed countries.

There are many reasons Americans may have not to take such rankings seriously. National pride explains why you would prefer not to hear about how some foreign country is in some ways preferable to yours. Also, many Americans distrust the global institutions that run these studies. In any case, the US scores higher than Canada in certain areas, so the studies might be thought to cancel each other out. Moreover, a militarily superpowerful country like the US might be expected to brush off praise of much weaker countries like Canada. Also, Canada depends on the US for trade, since most of Canada’s exports go south across the border, so the US helps support Canada.

But the mystery remains why there’s not just skepticism here, but sleep-inducing boredom and why Canada specifically is felt to be so boring. After all, numerous European countries also typically score higher than the US in these sorts of studies, but they don’t have a reputation for being so dull. Indeed, this reputation precedes Canadians wherever they might travel around the world. If you Google “Canada boring country,” you get 17 million hits. In fact, there’s a global meme that Canada is, hands down, the world’s dullest country. If the name “Canada” is heard any place in the world, there’s a good chance listeners will yawn or offer some excuse to leave, whereas if “United States” is uttered, people will gather around, raise their voice and shake their fists. So why is the world so bored with Canada? And does this reaction prevent countries like the US from emulating Canada in certain respects or does it at least ensure that Americans won’t appeal to Canada as an example when they discuss their social issues?

Modern and Postmodern Liberalism

A number of reasons for the boredom come to mind. Canada is relatively safe and peaceful, and so Canada doesn’t often make international headlines, because the media prefer stories about conflict. So Canada is less famous than the US and not just because the US is home to the world’s most powerful entertainment industry. Canada is also a relatively young country whose history is less eventful than the American one. Also, much of Canada is snowy and that restricts options for outdoor activities. But the reason for Canada’s reputation that intrigues me is a political one, which has to do with the country’s relatively liberal values.

To see how politics is relevant here, you should consider the difference between modern and postmodern liberalism. “Modern liberalism” is almost redundant, since the liberal attitude a few centuries ago was just the humanistic one that altered Europe after the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the shift from feudalism to merchant capitalism, the Scientific Revolution, and the spread of science-centered Enlightenment philosophy. “Freedom of the individual!” was the rallying cry of the Age of Reason, when our capacity for rational self-control was celebrated as a source of human rights and as a promise of progress in all areas, not just in science and technology.

But then scientists made some discoveries that shook people’s confidence in the prospect of personal and social advances. Darwin explained how our species is in fact continuous with the animals we eat, enslave, or hunt for sport; Einstein, Heisenberg, and Gödel showed that knowledge is relative and partial, not absolute; and Freud popularized the discovery of the irrational unconscious, while cognitive psychologists today expose the myriad biases we have and the fallacies we’re prone to commit because of how the human brain evolved. The World Wars and the genocidal dictatorships of the last century confirmed the suspicion that early modernists got carried away when they speculated that utopias would await us in the near future if only natural inequalities were overcome by social systems that allow individuals to pursue their happiness, systems such as democracy and capitalism. Perhaps our curiosity and our ability to learn are our greatest strengths, but apparently we’re animals first and foremost, regardless of our fantasies to the contrary--at least, that’s the modern assumption which set the stage for current liberalism.

And so we entered a postmodern period of malaise and ennui, of cynicism, apathy, anxiety, and moral relativism. Faith in modern myths of the glories of Reason and personal Freedom were hardly helped when modern experiments in rational socialism ended in catastrophe. For example, from Marx’s prediction of a democratic uprising of the workers against capitalism, to Lenin’s pragmatic realization that a vanguard party would be needed to lead the revolution, to Stalin’s totalitarian repression of the workers due to his unending fear of capitalist sympathizers, there’s a predictable decline and confrontation of humanistic myths with natural reality.

Against the myths that Reason sets us free or that society in general can advance like science or technology, there’s the disquieting fact that the default organization of groups in most social species, from fish to birds to mammals and primates, is the dominance hierarchy, or pecking order, in which the majority sacrifice their wish for an equal share of the resources, in return for protection by the all-powerful alpha members of the group. This is what Trickle-down economics is really about and it’s also why there are Too Big to Fail plutocratic institutions that hold many modern democracies hostage. Moreover, there’s the pragmatic Iron Law of Oligarchy, according to which the larger a group, the more power within it has to be concentrated so that the group’s parts can be efficiently managed. Finally, there’s Lord Acton’s adage that power tends to corrupt people. In short, there’s a force of social gravity, as it were, which establishes as the default social order a pyramidal hierarchy that inevitably corrupts the minority in charge and threatens to bring down the whole society. Thus, modernists put their liberal (rationalistic, individualistic, hedonistic) ideals into practice only to have the socialist paradises come crashing down, humiliated by the force of social gravity.

The Dearth of Canadian Culture

What has all this to do with Canada? Well, for the most part Canadians are postmodern liberals, like most Europeans. Of course, the modern infrastructures of democracy and capitalism are still in place in these societies, but postmodern liberals are chastened by the collapse of socialist utopias and so they only gesture towards living up to modern ideals of skepticism, equality, and human rights. Like the US, these societies are stable and so they avoid extremes or else their opposite extremes balance each other out. But whereas European culture is informed by a long, rich history, Canadian liberalism has no prior traditions to fall back on, the premodern native Canadian ones notwithstanding. There’s British Parliamentary procedure, but Canadians haven’t felt emotionally tied to Britain for a long time. And so Canadians find themselves coping with the cultural vacuum that remains after the loss of faith in modern myths. European liberals have their countries’ long histories and the US is special for the depth of its conservative backlash against modernism, but alas, Canada is uniquely vapid among developed nations.

This cultural emptiness is apparent from Canada’s multiculturalism and political correctness, and from its fetishes for politeness and technocratic efficiency. I’m a Canadian citizen, I grew up in Canada, and I remember learning about the difference between Multiculturalism and the Melting Pot. Canada welcomes immigrants from all over the world and allows them to retain their native cultural identities, whereas in the US, which is also home to many immigrants, they assimilate by converting to the American faith. Canada is like a patchwork quilt or a hotel, whereas the US is more like a homogeneous stew. However, immigrants to Canada have no choice but to keep to themselves and to practice their native traditions, since Canada has no distinguishing modern traditions. True, Canadian culture isn’t entirely vacuous; there are cultural differences between conservative Alberta, liberal Quebec, and elitist Ontario, for example. (If I caused you to yawn just now, dear reader, by using the names of some Canadian provinces, I do apologize.) But whatever habits Canadians have naturally formed over the last couple of centuries, they’re not compelling enough to challenge the millennia-old mores of immigrants from India or China. The oldest, most authentic culture that Canadian liberals can call theirs is just modern European humanism, but for the above reasons this culture is out of favour. Thus, Canadian postmodern liberals are left in the lurch.

In its degraded, postmodern form, the ideal of equality amounts to moral relativism, and so liberals think they’re being “fair” and “tolerant” when they regard all cultures as equal, when each is allowed to flourish as long as it doesn’t act like a weed and strangle the other potted plants. Thus, Canada is like a museum in which you can wander the halls and look over the specimens, keeping your distance for fear of passing judgment, of going native and infecting yourself with the disease of culture. Better to be aloof and neutral, implies the postmodern liberal, but the cost of this rubberstamping of equality is insipidity. Canadians prefer the view from nowhere, but someplace is more interesting than no place.

Postmodern liberals resort to political correctness in the absence of their faith in any myth to rationalize their vestigial ideals. Instead of trusting in the sacredness of secular humanistic principles, to the point of being willing to die for them, these liberals believe in nothing beyond the clichéd, genetically-determined instincts, such as the love of kith and kin. Thus, Canadian culture is defined largely by a dehumanizing, legalistic bureaucracy, the imperatives being to maintain the status quo, to keep the museum’s hallways tidy, and above all to follow the plethora of signs on the walls. Canadians are so obedient to authority figures that in many Canadian suburbs, people don’t lock their doors during the day. There’s no fear of intruders, because most Canadians are passive. But instead of anything as colourful as a religion to rationalize their need to be nice, there’s just reflexive obedience to often stale conventions. The difference between a moral principle and a politically correct rule is that the former has some emotional weight because it taps into a person’s deepest convictions, about God, freewill, fear of death, or some other primordial concern, whereas the latter is like a smile that doesn’t reach the eyes. You can observe Canadian political correctness in action by comparing American to Canadian talk radio shows. In the American ones, both the hosts and the callers rant and rave with hysterical, typically irrational appeals to this or that grotesque narrative of current events. Not only is there little emotion in the Canadian shows, but the hosts usually choose to discuss the most dreary and trivial of matters, such as whether some politician went over the line by using this word rather than that one. The recent scandal involving Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford is an exception that proves the rule.

Canadians are politically correct because they’re preoccupied with being polite, nice, and fair. These are signs of anticulture, of a fear of being called to take a stand, because there’s no ground beneath you. If most Canadians were asked to explain their liberal values or to prove to a terrorist, for example, that human rights and liberties should be respected, they’d repeat some slogans they’d heard in the mainstream media and then they’d sputter, fall silent, and hang their heads. Because Canadian liberalism derives from modernism and Canadians haven’t had the history or the stomach for an American-style backlash, Canadian Christianity is a sad, dejected Frankenstein’s monster, a jumbled abomination that you never take out of your closet because it’s so hideous. Most Canadians couldn’t appeal to God’s will or to the words of the Bible to justify their morality, because they’re too liberal (modern) to do so with a straight face. Meanwhile, the secular, rationalistic defenses of liberal values have come to naught in the postmodern limbo, so Canadians can only smile and nod like Stepford wives.

Wind-up do-gooders need a well-oiled machine in which to run along their grooves, and so there’s a giant government bureaucracy responsible for all of those signs you see in Canada. Above all, the Canadian elite want to be efficient, to eliminate waste and to avoid mistakes, all of which distract Canadians from pondering whether the underlying assumptions of their liberal, modern way of life are still credible. Canadians often complain about the fact that their political leaders have no vision for Canada’s future, that they don’t tackle the big issues but take on meager projects piecemeal, pandering to useful demographics in the professional fashion, but lacking the authenticity of a true representative of Canadians, someone who knows what Canada’s about and believes so strongly in the Canadian way of life and mission that he or she is willing to take a stand and keep Canada on the straight and narrow path.

The Canadian Liberal Party looks to Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, as the godsend to motivate the Liberals, but this is a case study in the hollowness of postmodern liberalism. (Again I apologize if I’ve made you sleepy by using the names of some Canadian politicians.) Justin Trudeau has little relevant experience and has only his name in common with his dashing father. Conservatives can get away with fantasizing that political skill is inherited, because they take seriously wacky myths about the divine right of kings and about the divinity of the blood of God’s chosen ones. Liberals have no such recourse, so the appeal of Justin Trudeau is literally as slight as the importance of his surname’s letters. That’s how toxic the liberal’s actual myths and ideals are now: Canadian liberals are more interested in the name of a bygone Liberal leader than in rethinking their values to suit the postmodern world.

Unlike in most developed countries, then, in which the natural environment provides only the backdrop for the people’s doings, the trees, valleys, rivers, and wildlife in Canada are the true stars of the Canadian show; Canadians themselves fade into the background. To be sure, Canadians are for the most part friendly, peaceful, safe, free, diverse, efficient, and relatively affluent. Canada is a hybrid society: individualistic without being anarchic and socialistic without being oppressive, and so Canadians enjoy a relatively high standard of living. But the cost of how these benefits are produced becomes apparent if we take the long view. In particular, we should keep in mind Oswald Spengler’s theory of how civilizations rise on the power of the ideals that first inspire a people, but then languish as the population becomes disillusioned. In Europe and the former North American colonies, this decline is reflected in the transition from the modern to the postmodern period.

Canadians are currently lounging in the dire peace that comes from lethargy as the modern Western civilization as a whole wanes, as postmodern liberals surrender to the fate of modernity. They have the narrow-mindedness of a body that’s shutting down in reaction to lethal forces. Their ossified infrastructures run on autopilot as Canadians defer to the technocrats to maintain social stability at all costs. Again, Europe and the US have compensatory strategies to delay the inevitable and to distract the masses from appreciating the meaninglessness of their lives, but Canadians aren’t so lucky. The bankruptcy of modern myths and ideals is on display in liberal Canada and Canadians lack even a curtain to cover their shame as the modern show winds down on their stage. If it can bear the pitiful spectacle, the world can watch liberal Canadians acting out their roles as modern, civilized, rational and free citizens. But the performance is absurdly hollow and the viewer can’t help but fidget in her seat, waiting for some plot to transpire, for some character growth or action sequence or powerful dialogue or even just for the peanut vender to hurry down the aisle so the spectator has some amusement to pass her time.

So while Americans would do well to appreciate the strengths of Canadian society, they can’t be expected to do so because Canadian anticulture wards off outsiders. However, boredom with Canada is actually a defense mechanism. Canadians sometimes say that the US is the canary in the coalmine, that what happens just south of the border is bound to catch up with Canada. But in some ways Canada’s the canary, which is to say that disenchantment with modern ideals may be more apparent there than elsewhere. Whereas Americans should be horrified by this, they indulge in boredom as though they were safe from the civilizational forces that have drained the life from Canadians, as though many Americans’ wallowing in premodern irrationalism were a viable strategy for surviving in the postmodern world that’s shaped by hyper-advanced science and technology. Neither Canadian automatism nor the American retreat to delusions seems like a promising lifestyle for denizens of the new world.   

100 comments:

  1. This is something I've puzzled quite abit myself. The answer, I think, is that we're more *American* than Americans, and that makes us invisible the world over. Check out #53 at

    http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/light-time-and-gravity-ix/

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    1. It's interesting how our theories overlap. You think Canadians are quintessentially nothing, that our anticulture is an omen of where all humans are going, since we'll be overshadowed by our technology and by our mounting scientific knowledge that the manifest image is an illusion caused by our ancestral blindness to what exactly is going on in the brain. On my political account here, our anticulture is an omen of the West's decline: Canadians have raced to the furthest end of postmodern liberalism and we're not creative enough to fill the void at that finish line with some distraction. So we're left in the void that comes after the collapse of modernity.

      The end of the manifest image and the end of modernity? Quite similar theses, I think. Just a difference in emphasis. Notice at the end where I too say that in this sense, we're further than the Americans; we Canadians are the canaries in the coal mine.

      Also, your point about Canadians being perfectly average due to our multiculturalism reminds me of the fact that objective facial beauty is a matter of having the most average features. But I don't think anyone would say Canadian culture is particularly beautiful or aesthetically pleasing. If anything, our blandness is a sign of a culture of kitsch, of politically correct cliches.

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    2. Joining the conversation late. However, as a Brit now having lived in Canada for 6 years, I can safely say I have never ever been so bored to death in my entire life. (I am married to a Canadian, so NO - I cannot just go back where I came from - an oft said Canadianism). It is so very true about the complete lack of a cultural identity, and of any distinctive culture. Shopping. That's all they seem interested in. And the myth about politeness is just that. The persona presented to the world is of excessive politeness, but believe me in living here I can categorically state that I have never come across such impolite, dour, humourless people in my life. The poorest Egyptians (yes - I have been there) display much more dignity, social grace and a sense of fun than the general populace in Canada. Mind numbing and soul destroying are the vest I can say about it.

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  2. you really don't have the faintest idea how lucky you canadians are, do you? thanks for writing this piece - it saves me the trouble of reading your other stuff

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    1. If you're talking about the fact that Canadians are "for the most part friendly, peaceful, safe, free, diverse, efficient, and relatively affluent," I not only have the faintest idea about that, but I wrote that in this article. The fact that Canadians are lucky in these ways is consistent with the blandness of Canadian culture. So you're not actually contradicting this article. Also, you're attacking the messenger; I didn't create the global impression that Canada is the most boring country. I'm just trying to explain why so many people have that impression.

      What's your doctorate in, again?

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    2. my doctorate is in one of the social and behavioral sciences - which makes it more relevant to this discussion than doctor laura schlessinger's ph.d. is to her radio talk show career

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    3. i recently moved to Canada from the uk a couple of years back, my wife and i are just hitting are 50s, we love Canada but must admit its is very boring! would have hated being here in my 20s! my wife works for childrens mental health, and it really has an effect on the young people of today, drug taken is rife! she cant believe how open and accepted it is, we plan to retire in florida or the med, some of us oldies need excitement !

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    4. Thanks for your comment. I'd have thought that older folks might appreciate Canada's tameness, but I suppose those who are young at heart might prefer the sort of adventure you won't find in Canadian culture. Then again, driving across Canada to see its natural beauty, letting the dull Canadians themselves fade into the background, would surely be worthwhile.

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    5. Your Topic sucked chicken balls.... Canada is wayyyyyy better than the US because we don't spend all our money on our Military and McDonalds. We spend a reasonable amount of money on Universal Health Care!!!!! Damn were good at being a country eh?

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    6. way better maybe but that's not saying much. Look at the intellectual commentary above. Are there any canadians willing to stand their ground otherwise the marvellous education that they apparently receive is waste of money. There's a big world out there Canada

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  3. I am an immigrant from Latin America to the U.S. I have also visited Canada and have family there, and I have to disagree with you on this one. I have interacted with so many Americans who have absolutely no idea where Argentina is, and are even less interested on finding out, I have never known a Canadian who didn’t already know. I like Canadians. Maybe I am a boring person. But to me Canada is what a civilized country should be like. The only thing that makes your country boring to me is the weather, too cold.

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    1. I hear what you're saying, but I don't think you're actually disagreeing with what I said. I'm not saying Canadians are unlikeable, ignorant, or altogether worse than Americans. I'm saying Canadian culture bores the majority of the world. In fact, I'm only reporting that fact and I'm trying to explain what it is about Canada that's causing that impression. So to disagree with this article, you have to think that Canadian culture isn't boring, compared to other cultures, or that my explanation of the blandness's cause is off-base. Do you see what I mean? My thesis is a little more specific than what you're making it out to be.

      I agree that in many ways, Canadians are ideally civilized. But perhaps there's such a thing as being overly-civilized. Do we want to behave like trained pets? In any case, I like Canadians too. I am Canadian, as are my family and most of my friends.

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    2. Well, chaos and colorful mythologies and religions are certainly more "interesting" than boring liberal Canada.

      I'm confused by the "purpose" of this article. Maybe High Arka is correct and you are some kind of Avatar of the Forces of Darkness looking to bring the darkness of caste warfare, communal religious mass slaughter, and the like to one of the few "peaceful but boring" places? You, Benjamin, are you perhaps Stephen King's Red King or Walter O'Dim? Eager to bring down peace. (LOL. I am just kidding. Sorta. :), Cheers.

      The Swedish Dark Folk duo Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio would agree with you. Their albums are fully "Satanic" in the sense that you have discussed elsewhere, and they certainly promote a kind of nihilistic love of chaos as a generative force in human culture.

      http://www.maxilyrics.com/ordo-rosarius-equilibrio-a-man-without-war,-is-a-man-without-peace-lyrics-6b95.html

      Or: "Sheep for a Lifetime (the average Canadian, hmmmm?) Lion for a Day."

      http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858807207/

      ORE are Swedish, and Sweden at least had a militant past with a folk culture. Even though Sweden may be even more "neoliberal" in many respects than Canada, as you note there is that rather violent cultural history! Plus great metal music! :)

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    3. I wrote this article a couple of months ago and its initial purpose was to elaborate on my brief remark on Canada at the end of "The Hidden Divergences between Conservatives and Liberals." Also, this article provides a case study in my critique of postmodern liberalism.

      I think your point about the chaotic alternative to peaceful Canada might apply more to Nietzsche who takes power as his ultimate metaphysical principle. I like what Nietzsche says about creativity, but I also agree with Schopenhauer that withdrawal from nature is better than being as naturalistic (animalistic and power-hungry) as possible.

      So note that there are many social options other than Canadian blandness and "the darkness of caste warfare, communal religious mass slaughter, and the like." The reason why you've got to be at least somewhat joking here is that your point is hyperbolic. Surely our choices aren't just to be a meek, mild, overly-civilized Canadian or a brash, rude, warmongering Republican or some other xenophobic tribalist. There are many things between those extremes. I agree that those poles are relevant in that many people do live down to the stereotypes. But I like to imagine a different version of the ubermensch, of the superior person. And my point is that however safe and happy Canadians are, there's something rotten in Ontario.

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    4. Nuance, Banjamin? You are expecting Nuance now from your commentariate? Pish! :)

      I'm off to pillage the next village. One of the sons of a shopkeeper there was seen polluting the daughter of a high caste landowner. communal violence is the only proper response! :)

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    5. Some of your argument gets at a boring culture, and some gets at a lack of culture. I (a Canadian) think it's more about the latter. And I think that's okay. I think Canadian culture is encapsulated in the question we often ask each other: "Where are you from?"

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    6. You're right that there's a difference here, but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Canadians themselves are boring to the extent that they lack a culture. This is of course a generalization and there will be exceptions. I'm Canadian too and, frankly, I don't think I'm boring. Then again, when my Canadian instinct to be overly polite kicks in in public, I may indeed be boring. The thing is, we're not defined by our national identity. We behave as Canadians only in certain situations, but in private we tend to show the more unique side of our personality.

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    7. I just stumbled onto your article and have to say, you’re bang on, especially with regards to your comment, “Canadians themselves are boring to the extent that they lack a culture.”
      I'm a born and raised Canadian - third-generation: my grandparents came from Poland prior to WW2 but by the time I was born in the late sixties, my parents' knowledge of the German language had deteriorated so much the language was never passed on to me, other than in a terrible mash of English and German words strung together; any culture and tradition that my grandparents might have brought with them also seemed to be lost by that time - probably partly in my grandparents’ attempt to embrace their new country.
      As someone who fiddles around writing stories, and as an avid reader, I have begun to look more closely at the novels and authors I really love to examine what makes those stories different from the others, what makes them different from what I could produce, or am currently producing myself; I find it comes down to having a cultural identity: those authors with a cultural identity - a strong sense of tradition, language, beliefs, history, etc - make for richer story tellers, in my opinion. And not to say that third-generation Canadian authors aren’t good or deep, but the authors I love (ie: Yann Martel, Esi Edugyan, Michael Ondaatje…) seem to have a greater depth to their writing - maybe this is because of their life / cultural experiences,. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud to be Canadian, to see how our strengths are demonstrated in characters such as Inspector William Murdoch and Constable Benton Fraser, but I think we (and I’m speaking on behalf of third-generation Canadians here) have lost something vital and colourful in the act of boiling down our mosaic (I’m sorry, but I think this is what’s happening), and I wonder, might this contribute to the “boring” factor? I don’t know for certain, but would argue so.
      As an example of what I’m talking about, the Greek Orthodox Christians living here in Vancouver have revitalized the Greek Orthodox tradition of diving into a body of water to retrieve a sacred cross as part of a symbolic blessing related to Christ’s birth and baptism (this is celebrated on January 6th). An overheard comment was, “They’re in Canada now, why do they need to do that?” and it confirmed for me then that tradition and culture are something my own children (now fourth generation) are sorely lacking in their lives. Celebrating events like the Greek Orthodox Epiphany, Chinese New Year, Diwali, etc. for those immigrants not only enhances the flavour of the Canadian experience, but the flavour of their own individual lives, and it perpetuates and preserves the culture they were born to.
      I guess the question is now, how do we (gratefully) put aside (or maybe somehow assimilate?), the culture of non-culture that we, as third and fourth generation Canadians, have lapsed into (ie, politeness at all costs, walk the fence, don’t take a stand {and I refer to the Dalhousie University Dental fiasco here}) in order to forge our own identity, energy, traditions, history, and strength?
      Thanks for your article, I greatly appreciated it!

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    8. Thanks for reading, LD. I suspect that culture forms over time. It expresses a people's interests. Canadians will have to go through more traumas and disasters and triumphs before those interests are shaped in a more distinguished way. We've been shaped by Britain and by the US and haven't had much time to develop our own interests. Alternatively, we could be swallowed by the monoculture in which case we'd lose our identity...

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  4. Sounds utopian to me! Boredom and efficiency, technocracy, what's not to like?

    Also, those old myths of Europe don't really function anymore. I mean, I love reading Baudrillard but I do so in a bleak desolate shithole surrounded by sectarian rioters and fundamentalist preachers who stop you on the street to tell you how they exorcised demons from a woman and the demons came out in a mans voice. Every year we go without burning a witch is a victory for the small progressive minority who heard about this thing called the enlightenment but can't talk too loud about it for fear of getting beaten up... you think i'm exaggerating, don't you...

    To be fair I live in Northern Ireland. The more progressive and cosmopolitan parts of Europe are just like the Canada you describe. But i'd swap with you anyday.

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    1. I take your point, that most people would prefer to live in Canada than in almost any other place in the world. Perhaps this is a case of the grass always being greener on the other side. But if something disgusts me, I don't give it a pass. I've written a lot about American politics, because it's much more interesting than the Canadian sort, but Canada annoys me for different reasons. The Childish Christianity of parts of Ireland would be worthy of a rant for the obvious reasons. For every disgusting absurdity, there's a glorious rant waiting to happen, right?

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  5. I've only ever heard the idea that Canadians are boring being said by Canadians, it seems.

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    1. Well, Canadians would know best. And if Canada were boring, it wouldn't make sense for non-Canadians to talk much about Canada. But like I said, when the subject of Canada does happen to come up around the world, there's a good chance the non-Canadians will spread the meme that Canadians are bland. And if you Google "Canada boring" you get over 70 million hits.

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    2. if you google "new york boring" you get 115,000,000 hits

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    3. Well, you're right about that number, but you're wrong about its relevance. If you look at the first 8 pages of Google for "Canada boring," you find that around 75% of the links are actually about Canada or some Canadian city being boring, whereas if you do the same for "New York boring," only about 20% are about New York itself being boring.

      So granted, while most of the millions of hits for "Canada boring" (including the many pages past page 8) likely aren't relevant, there are far more relevant hits for Canada than there are for New York. That's evidence for the meme in question. Moreover, the notion that New York is boring is ludicrous on its face.

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    4. I dunno - I hear little of Spain, or Guatemala or other places that don't come to mind because I hear little or nothing about them. While Canada was seeding Canadian TV seemingly everywhere (if it getting to Australia is any indicator of propergation). Bloody Degrassi Junior High - I bet that name doesn't even ring a bell, 'cause like Australians don't drink four X beer even as its exported everywhere, I bet you didn't watch it - just forced us to!

      Canada is like the kid who is partially concious of the structure of the social scene - and thus can't enter it, because being in it consists of being unaware of that structure (yet moved by it). To use a prince of nothing quote, Canada is 'not of the people'.

      I mean, that's the thing with that kid, they want to be there, the cool 'there' - but what is 'there'? That's what makes them partially concious - they can see some of the structure, but they can't see that there isn't a 'there' involved. The best you can get is if the structure swollows you whole and mostly the kid is too self reflecting for that (or atleast for that kind of swollowed whole). Not being boring isn't a driving force in the kids heart, it's simply a bauble to the kid, held at arms length in the hand to observe and covet, wrapped in intellectual understanding and quarantened against moving the heart in the way other countries are moved by their passions.

      So you turn over this bauble of why you are boring. Much like a 'Do I look fat in this dress' question.

      Eh, maybe! Maybe not. I really don't hear much of Spain though - maybe glimpse on the TV briefly an entire nation wide music scene which seems as passionately followed as ones here, yet utterly unknown musicians and songs. But that's the thing with the kid - he's wrapped up in his own bauble. Swollowed by it.

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    5. you have a nice link list, by the way

      i still think you don't realize how lucky you canadians are - here's something i wrote a couple years ago that relates to that -

      Through a combination of circumstances (i.e. cable channel-surfing at the right time), I found myself watching the opening ceremonies of a NASCAR race near Richmond, VA, not far from where I went to high school. It was a glittering pastiche of religion and patriotism - the Pledge of Allegiance led by a quartet of soldiers (black and white, male and female) from Fort Lee, where my late father Colonel Charley served for several years; the U.S. Marine Band performing the National Anthem; a minister asking God's blessing not only on "the sport we love" but "our soldiers overseas, defending our freedom".

      To the audience, it was ritual giving visible and audible form to their Love of Country, God and one's fellow human beings; I'm sure they swelled with pride as they pledged loyalty to the Flag, symbol of our forefathers and the sacrifices they made to give us all we have today. Meanwhile, as I watched this spectacle at home, I felt sick at heart as I thought that this handsome facade means, in practice, not just wholesale theft, but mass murder. What will it take to rip the mask off, to break the trance?

      Recently I was reading the Wikipedia entry about Muhammad Asad, born Leopold Weiss – a remarkable story. In looking at the publicity materials for the documentary film about him, titled A Road to Mecca, I found the following sentence: “I fell in love with Islam,” he said matter-of-factly shortly before his death in 1992, “but I overestimated the Muslims.” Similarly, I feel like someone who fell in love with the idea of America that I learned as a boy, but has been greatly disappointed by the reality of it, and of us.

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    6. Well, I agree completely that just because a country isn't boring (e.g. the US) doesn't make that country great or even tolerable. The thing is, I've already criticized American politics and religion a lot on this blog, so I thought I'd pick a different target. (I think I know more about American culture even though I'm Canadian, because I can't keep myself awake long enough to research Canadian history or current events).

      I'm with you regarding the grotesqueness of American culture. I'm not sure which link list you're talking about, but if you're referring to the Map of the Rants (the list of main articles on this blog), I encourage you to give a few more of those articles a try. See for example, "The Vileness of Guns and of Just Wars," "The Helpful Strangeness of Religious Fundamentalism," and "Obama or Romney" (or any of the others under Liberalism and Conservatism or Oligarchy).

      Anyway, I'm arguing here that Canada is pretty boring, but I don't mean to come close to implying that the US is better than Canada. First of all, as you no doubt appreciate, being a social science guy, such a generalization would be meaningless. Also, again, I don't assume that all ways of being nationally interesting make for equal greatness in cultural terms. I like to look at normative questions in aesthetic terms and much of what I see in American culture disgusts me.

      If I lived somewhere in the American South, I might constantly want to wear a black armband to symbolize the fact that the manifest absurdity of Bible Belt culture must kill the spirit of all of the southern inhabitants. Whether we're talking about "conservative" American economics, morality, or religion, that culture is a curdled mess. All by itself, American Christianity is an abomination and clear proof either that there is no God or that God's taste is so atrocious we have an aesthetic obligation to counteract his commandments.

      By the way, Richmond, VA is where the first part of my novel is set.

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    7. All by itself, American Christianity is an abomination and clear proof either that there is no God or that God's taste is so atrocious we have an aesthetic obligation to counteract his commandments.

      or else proof that american christians are in the same spiritual condition as st. paul reported of himself - they now see 'in a glass, darkly' and only later will perceive 'face to face'

      i offer, as a counterexample of an american christian, showbiz personality fred 'mister' rogers

      Junod, Tom (November 1998). "Can You Say ... 'Hero'?". Esquire. Retrieved July 30, 2010.

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  6. I've noticed that some of the worlds most ardent Libertarians are Canadian. There are several youtube channels from Canadians, that are completely dedicated to Libertarian ideas. One of the more popular is Stefan Molyneux, who has over 100,000 subscribers.

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    1. Yes, I've known a few Canadian libertarians. There's likely a spillover effect from the US. At any rate, I hardly think Canadians add anything distinctive to American libertarianism (to Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Fox News, American talk radio, and so on).

      If your point is that Canadian culture isn't absolutely vacuous, I agree. This article is somewhat hyperbolic to drive home its point, which is that compared to other countries, Canadian culture is very boring.

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  7. Using libertarianism as a counter-example to vacuous culture seems...suspect to me. Especially as most libertarians trade "Love of Country" for "Love of Corporations"

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  8. I'm new here; this is the first article I've read, so I don't know your other views, but -

    the manifest absurdity of Bible Belt culture must kill the spirit of all of the southern inhabitants.

    I'm not sure how you can write such an insightful article, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and then add something so silly. Have you spent time in the South? The culture there seems to me to be quite spiritually fulfilling, more so than anything you get elsewhere in North America. Down there, they've got Things They Believe In, like country, family, faith, and Believing in Things seems to uplift people, everywhere that I've ever observed. You just finished writing a perceptive article about how Canadian culture (or lack thereof) is spirit-killing, and then you argue that a culture oriented the other way round is *also* spirit-killing? Cripes, man!

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    1. Well, thanks for stopping by, Tucker, and I hope you'll check out some of my other articles. I made that point in a comment on this article, and I made it to show that I sympathize with a rational fellow who has to put up with the manifest absurdities of Bible Belt culture. I see your point that guns, family, and Jesus seem to make Southerners happy, but I'm afraid that evangelical Christianity is philosophically untenable and disgracefully incoherent. Jesus was opposed to both guns (violence) and family. Just because someone believes in something doesn't mean that belief deserves respect. It matters what you believe in. I disagree with postmodernists who say all worldviews are equal.

      So the issue here is what counts as spirituality. The Southern versions of Christianity I'd classify as delusions, not as authentic expressions of spirituality, which must begin with a reckoning with harsh existential truths. A distortion of Jesus's anti-nature message is being used to rationalize tribal bigotries and fear of scientific truth in the American South (and in Alberta too). I have contempt for the abomination of "conservative" American Christianity and I can't sugarcoat that judgment. I support that judgment in "Christian Chutzpah," "The Helpful Strangeness of Religious Fundamentalism," and "The Comedy of Theism," which you can find in the Religion section of the Map of the Rants.

      I'd tend to agree with Thomas Frank and with Obama that most of the quarter of Americans who vote Republican (half of Americans don't vote) are suffering economically and they're desperate for some worldview that makes them feel strong and in control. That's evangelical Christianity. That way they feel they can have their Jesus and their guns too, and they cling to them, as Obama said. They're voting for the party that effectively cares only about the rich, so they've been duped into voting against their economic interest, as Frank says. As for the rich Southerners, I don't think Southern culture defines them, since rich people are transnational in this globalized age. But they could use their "spiritual" rationalizations too, as if Jesus would have approved of their wealth.

      For the record, I've spent only a little time in the South. My brother lives in Charleston.

      So yes, there are different ways of killing the spirit. Ever so many ways, which is why existential authenticity is rare.

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  9. Hi there, I think it's an interesting article. However, I would make a difference between Québec and the rest of Canada (I'm Argentinian, by the way). I find that province to be extremely interesting, much more than the USA for that matter. But I agree that the rest of Canada seems a bit dull. That being said, it is an amazing country altogether.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree Quebec has a distinctive culture. At least, for political reasons, Quebecers protect their culture wherever they can. Still, that culture is liberal and humanistic, so for the above reasons it's in trouble. The most amazing parts of Canada are the natural landscape and the wildlife, not the people.

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    2. You are right. I spent a year in Toronto and thought what a dull, stupid place this is with its uptight white and Asian people snobbishly going about their steadfast lives in that land of the living dead. And then I went to Montreal, and saw that I am back among real human beings. Case in point. Could you make it through this insufferable Canadian blog that tries to prove that Canada is not boring, when ironically, the blog itself is painfully so.

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    3. A disappointing finish there--not because you don't care for my blog, but because you say this blog is boring in the same way that Canadians are boring. That's just foolish (assuming you've read a representative portion of my blog, which is doubtful). The anti-cultural Canadians are boring because they're conservative; above all, they want to follow the rules to maintain their security. So they're loath to shake things up.

      By contrast, my blog aims to subvert the propaganda that justifies many social conventions. For example, I hearken back to the old occult, Gnostic take on Satan as Lucifer, according to which the devil is the Promethean hero and God is the villain (given Mainlanderian psycho-analyzing of the almighty God, which dictates that any such God would be inevitably psychopathic). Show me the last time you heard boring mainstream Canadian anti-culture praise Satan for rebelling in a tragic fashion against the established order. No, there's nothing really Canadian about this blog.

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    4. "uptight white and Asian people snobbishly going about their steadfast lives in that land of the living dead." Isn't it interesting how some racist comments are more socially acceptable than others?

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  10. It's true that Canada has seemed boring some convincing sources: Faulkner, Hemingway and Layton leap to mind. But in general, I've noticed that most people who complain about how boring Canada is, tend to be very boring themselves. I mean, for chrissake, Toronto's politics are obviously the most interesting in the world.

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    1. But isn't Rob Ford the exception that proves the rule, as I suggest in my satirical article on Ford (link below)? I think it's also more likely that those who complain that something is boring are eager to have more excitement in their life. Maybe those folks (including me) should work harder to entertain themselves, but it's also possible that they're stuck in the wrong culture.

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2013/11/mayor-rob-fords-scandals-make-toronto.html

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  11. This is absolutely stupid. First of all what defines boring? Are you referring to the people, the culture, or the Country as a whole? Because you can't say the country as a whole considering you don't know enough about the country to even make that comment. You can't say the people because everyone is different and there are plenty of exciting Canadians, and there is nothing boring about Canadian culture to a Canadian. A Canadian would find American culture boring, if both countries liked each others culture so much then they would have the same culture. There's just so many things wrong with this article to even spend more than 30 seconds commenting on it.

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    1. Unfortunately, this article doesn't argue that Canada is boring. The article assumes that Canada is boring, based on evidence of the global impression of Canada in the mainstream media, such as the evidence of the google searches given at the beginning. The article then offers an explanation of why Canadian (and especially Ontario) culture gives people that impression. So your criticisms are off-base.

      Now, you can deny that most people have that impression of Canada, but that's another story. Here's some more recent evidence of that impression. Just after the Rob Ford scandal, Jon Stewart introduced the subject on the Daily Show by saying something like "And now, here's some news out of...Canada." He paused before he said "Canada" and the audience laughed, the joke being that there's never news out of Canada, because Canada is so boring.

      By the way, I'm Canadian and Canadian culture bores me.

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  12. Have to totally agree Canadians are boring as is their country. Moved here from the UK 10 years ago and every year gets more and more boring and the winters are 6 + months of really boring times. I could not imagine staying in Canada when I am retired, that's why most Canadians become snowbirds and go down and annoy Americans in the thousands - but that ruins parts of America. Canadians are jealous of Americans and their diverse country, Canadians got the worse deal on the cold North piece of land they have and cannot stand to see Americans with their diverse country - there is a climate for everyone down south!, I am out of this country as soon as I am able to move - I need something to do that does not involved eating, drinking and taking drugs - previous person is correct drug use is rife over here and no one thinks twice about getting in a car and driving drunk!.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree Canadians have some reason to be jealous of Americans, although Americans have different reasons to be jealous of Canada, or at least liberal Americans do.

      But do Americans really find Canadians annoying? I'd have thought that Canadians are as quiet as church mice down there. If we're talking stereotypes, surely Americans have more of a reputation of being annoying (brash, rude, obnoxious, aggressive, etc). Of course, that stereotype is pretty much useless, since as you say, there's diversity in the US.

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  13. Post 1

    Quite an interesting writing. I stumbled upon this because I was „researching“ Canada out of personal interest. I live in Estonia and just recently I’ve started thinking of the possibility of moving to Canada someday; that obviously requires effort from my part and good circumstances. It’s clear I can’t judge whether Canada is interesting or not. But I can say Canada is rarely written or spoken in Estonian media (that could but necessarily won’t imply boredom), usually in the context of multiculturalism or global politics (where Canada isn’t standing out from the rest of the countries, rather vice versa).

    I’m actually jumping off the wagon here but there are points I’d like to emphasize. I’ve, too, got the impression that Canada is friendly, polite, kind, nonjudging, tolerant, trusting, sociable, etc. I’d add „caring“ too, but I’m not sure whether there’s a genuine caring behind this polite and perfect Canadian facade. Anyway, it’s basically the opposite in Estonia: this society is quite hostile, intolerant, misocynic, mistrusting, indifferent to weaker and poorer members, jelous, uncaring, impolite, banal, emotionally closed, primitively materialistic, etc. Surely to some extent this all can be put down to involuntary and repressive Soviet era. But there’s been already 22 years since Estonia’s reindependence and within the last 4-5 years people have become and are still becoming more and more intolerant, hostile, and other characteristics I mentioned. So, Estonians can’t point all fingers towards the Soviet Union. What’s maybe even more tragic than Estonian history (and not just recent history) is the fact that Estonians act and behave like victims, they victimize themselves, hence perpetuate the victim identity. My point being: it’s a tremendous value to live in a society that’s as liberal and welcoming (even if only on the surface) as the Canadian society. There are probably only a few societies as friendly as You’re living in. I hope You’re wise enough to appreciate this.

    When you say – and that’s my interpretation of things here – Canadians lack the insight of realizing how culturally and politically shallow they are, how automatic their responses are, it’s relevant to point out that Estonians lack insight, too. That’s a different kind of insight, though. Estonians lack the genuine understanding of how important it’s to be nice with other people; being nice with others is an inescapable rout of thinking and pattern of behaviour when you want to build a happy, creative, innovative, wealthy and sustainable society. I believe the Estonian uninsightfulness is even striking and worse than the Canadian one. Without basic humanity and respect for human beings you can’t be happy yourself; those are the creatures you’re surrounded by, day by day. Competition and survival alone won’t build a happy society; emotional reservedness can’t be separated from intellectual reservedness, at least not on a societal level.

    Another point I’d like to stress is as follows: societies are different like people, and people have different personalities. To oversimplify matters here, one could claim that certain societies remind certain personalities. And Canada could be a perfect society for someone who doesn’t really understand the concept of constructing one’s identity based on their etnicity or patriotism; or for someone who lacks emotional depth, charm and self-irony (which Canada could lack, I can’t make that claim) but is friendly, tolerant, and peaceloving; for someone who doesn’t fancy gold, glamour and power; etc.

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    1. Post 2

      At least when I „reasearched“ Canada in the last few days, I came up with this personality analogy. I tried to understand why Canada is – for some odd reason – appealing but the other Anglo-Saxon countries aren’t (and of course there are other countries I find appealing but I’m unwilling to learn German, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish or Dutch). I figured it must somewhat resonate with my personality. On the other hand, seeing through the lack of meaning and depth in Canadian society and this specific cultural emptiness compared to most of the European societies – that might be a slight turn-off. It’s easier being superficial and befriending superficial people in a superficial society if you’re personally, too, superficial enough not to comprehend the superficiality surrounding you. But, again, that realization from my part is rather intellectual, I doubt I’d be feeling down or devastated by this devoidness when I experience it. Also, Western world is technologically advanced enough to offer many succesful forms of escapism (internet, music, video games, etc). Those direct problems and dislikes that arise from one’s society aren’t that direct primary anymore.

      NB1 Have you read Baudrillard’s America? If not, I recommend You do.

      NB2 Sorry for the grammar, English is not my mother tongue.

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    2. Thanks for these thoughtful comments. I think we've got to distinguish between whether a culture is interesting and whether a country's a good place to live in. There are lots of reasons to live somewhere regardless of whether the culture is boring. Canada has a lot going for it compared to placed like South Korea or Somalia.

      Your comparison of Canadians' with Estonians' lack of self-awareness is interesting. I agree, historical context is quite relevant here. For Canada, the elephant in the room is Canada's relationship to the US, but it's also the history of modernism which I go into in this article.

      And I agree that different kinds of people will indeed fit better in different kinds of countries. Still, I think if we polled everyone in the world, we'd find that the majority think Canadian culture is more boring than that of most other cultures.

      I haven't read that book by Baudrillard, but I have tried to read Simulacra and Simulation. I don't care much for that postmodern, obscurantist style of writing. But read as poetry it can be interesting. I'll look into his America.

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    3. Thanks for responding. I formulate my following thoughts in fragmentary remarks that have no chronological or logical order.

      1. I agree Canada is perceived as boring. You’re saying it’s done so by non-Canadians (you’re foremost thinking of the Western world, I believe). I re-read the article and there are no mentions of how Canadian perceive themselves. Boring? Maybe You could give me a brief boredom-related insight here.

      2. „The bankruptcy of modern myths and ideals is on display in liberal Canada and Canadians lack even a curtain to cover their shame as the modern show winds down on their stage. If it can bear the pitiful spectacle, the world can watch liberal Canadians acting out their roles as modern, civilized, rational and free citizens. But the performance is absurdly hollow [---].“

      Does this also mean Canadians are emotionally shallow (compared to other Western nations, particulary the European ones)? And do Canadians experience emptiness and that something vital missing? Is there a sense of meaninglessness?

      3. „Better to be aloof and neutral, implies the postmodern liberal, but the cost of this rubberstamping of equality is insipidity. Canadians prefer the view from nowhere, but someplace is more interesting than no place.“

      Do Canadians themselves feel they’re missing out, whether just interesting things/events or being alive?

      4. You mention lethargy. We both know Canada is doing great in all kinds of international ratings measuring economy, press freedom, democracy, competitiveness, innovation, peace, happiness, etc. Are there any specific symptoms of lethargy (depression, apathy, loneliness, etc)? Any escapist behaviour (excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, etc? Clearly You’re not saying Canadians are lethargic in the sense that they’re lazy. Yet you mention Canadians being passive.

      You also mention automatism and imply that Canadians are unable to defend liberal values, they only come up with hollow slogans. They can’t comprehend the depth behind this, why those values are meaningful. Couldn’t it be – I’m being provocative here – that Canadians don’t reflect because they’re already satisfied with these values lended from the history and practices of the Western societies? When everything’s going for you it’s a rather common sense, I’d say, not to go too deep with reflection process. You’re probably similar with Thomas Kuhn and his paradigm: as long the normal scientific activity is succesful and productive, you don’t question the paradigm. You just act on it.

      The mobilizing force to live must lie someplace else than in culture or sophisticated reflection. Maybe it’s in human relationships and love? Maybe it’s in the realization that there’s something grandiose in the experience of being free of history, narrative, meaning, and coherent cultural identity? Plus the enormous free space one experiences in Canada. Do we have to see Canada in terms of decadence?

      5. You’re saying Canada is considered boring because of its vapidity and lack of culture. I’m not defending Canada here but I also suggest the majority considers piece, friendliness, safety, politeness, stability, predictability etc boring. Maybe it takes an amount of emotional intelligence not to perceive those things a boring. And that’s not Canadians fault.

      6. You wrote the immigrants have no true Canadian identity to embrace or rely on, hence their original identity and cultural background will remain unchallenged. Yet they live peacefully and willingly side by side. That’s quite unique in the world. How’s that possible? I doubt it would be possible without any mellowing of original background; but besides that there must that something that binds those people, some Canadian essence or core. Something that not only works as an amortisation (exluding conflicts of different cultures) but makes people want to experience this diversity (experiencing this diversity makes people happier, kinder, more open).

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    4. You ask a lot of questions here and make a number of interesting points. I'm a Canadian and I think Canadian culture is relatively boring, but I doubt I'm representative. Like anyone else, Canadians are generally proud of their country, so they'll resist my thesis here. But objectively, it's hard to deny.

      As for emotional shallowness, I think it's a matter of being too safe and secure without much experience of the dark side of life. In the Middle East, for example, people are much more up-front about death, because dead people lie in the streets. But Canadians repress death. So it's a matter of being pampered, spoiled, and having forgotten our participation in WWII and the like. What makes Canadians so boring is that Canada doesn't really do much of anything on the world stage. We don't get involved in great adventures so we don't build up our character with memorable experiences. This is largely because our history has been so short. Just compare Chinese to Canadian history, for example. Which is more interesting? The question is rhetorical, because the answer goes without saying.

      As for lethargy, I think this is largely a matter of the snowy weather. I've read that populations in hot zones like the Middle East are much more energetic and even frenetic. In cold zones, people reserve their energy as if they're hibernating. But there's also the existential side of this: Canadians are postmodern liberals, for the most part, so they're nihilists even if they can't admit this to themselves. When you don't believe in anything, you have no deep reason to do anything, so that makes you less likely to take part in any interesting venture.

      I'm sure you're right: Canadians would think liberal values are commonsense (like in normal vs paradigmatic science). But unlike in science, Canadians have lost touch with the modern theory that supports those values. Normal science is based on a theory that works, but we've shifted from the modern to the postmodern outlook, so postmodern liberals are left without even a presupposed theoretical justification. All that's left now are hollow vestiges of that theory, such as you find in Jon Stewart's sentimental centrism.

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    5. We don't have to see Canada as decadent. When we're talking about something as complex as a country or a culture, there's always more than one dynamic taking place. I talk about decadence for the same reason Nietzsche did, to show people what they're repressing. Decadence and existential inauthenticity are the sides of the story that aren't being told. They don't explain everything about Canadian culture, but they explain much of it.

      Regarding emotional intelligence, I might be writing something about that for next Monday, to follow up on something I say in this Monday's article, on ancient and modern enlightenment. As I said, I think Canadians are generally pampered, infantilized consumers who lack existential authenticity. For example, much of our security and economic prosperity comes from the United States, but Canadians can't admit that fact, because we love to pretend we're more civilized than Americans.

      How do immigrants live so peacefully in Canada? That's an easy one: there's no ideology here to fight over. It's like staying in a hotel in which everyone can keep to themselves as long as they follow the hotel's purely pragmatic rules (throw your garbage in the trash, wash your hands in the public restroom, etc). By the way, there are literally signs in public Toronto restrooms which tell people to wash their hands after they relieve themselves and also inform them as to how to wash up. That's the extent of Canadian culture right there: pragmatism to make Canada as pleasant as possible, which leaves us free to deal with our existential concerns on our own. That's the liberal way, except that what ends up happening is that demagogues control the ideological discussion and you get a race to the lowest common denominator, leaving you with childish consumerism (materialistic values). Again, I'll likely say more about this next week.

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    6. OK, thanks. I’ll keep it short (I don’t wanna become annoying here).

      1. „As for emotional shallowness, I think it's a matter of being too safe and secure without much experience of the dark side of life.“

      I’d say it’s quite the opposite in Estonia. Estonians hang on to their brutal, bloody and tragic past; that enables to bear a grudge against Russia. Estonian media rarely discusses issues involving love, happiness, solidarity, caring, kindness, etc. I mean, occasionally you encounter opinions on those topics but they rareyl create any turbulence. Being a proponent of higher educational and social expenditure will likely give no extra votes to this politician, proposing bigger military budget likely does; Estonia is one of the very few Western countries with a military spending of at least 2% of its GDP. That’s all partly because of the weakness of social democratic or socialist political power; liberals, conservatives and centrists are the ones who have always had and exchanged the political hegemony, controlled the discourse and talking points. And I’m not even certain whether it comes down to the majority of Estonians being right-wing or anti-left-wing.

      It’s probably more accurate to describe Estonians as emotionally ignorant (or something like that), not shallow. There’s a lot of bully-mentality and materialistic shortsighted-ness here – common traits of post-Soviet societies. Anyway, I think the Estonian atmosphere is the unhealthier one of these two. The society as a whole must be doing something fundamentally wrong when people are unhappy and hostile. And Happy Planet Index and other sources second this impression that Estonians are great at being miserable.

      2. If I’m correct, You’re saying Canadians themselves don’t experience any emptiness or meaninglessness? And there are no feelings of missing out or lacking vividness?

      Those questions are crucial, I believe. When one has had this horrible realization of privation, one wants change and enhancement to happen. If there hasn’t been any realization, nothing groundbreaking will follow.

      So, what about Canadians? They’re pleased with their current state?

      * Hopefully You write more articles regarding Canadian society and essence. Especially emphasizing the dark side, negative aspects. The goodness of Canada is probably more apparent and comprehensible anyway.

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    7. I entirely agree with you that it's possible to go too far with dark experiences. That's why the main goal of this blog is to sketch a philosophy/religion that stays true to the dark, horrible aspects of nature while still giving us a reason not just to live but to strive for a sort of tragic heroism. Stewing in grief and bitterness won't make for a creative life, as I put it, or for a lifetime of great art. In fact, pessimism can be a cliche just as much as can optimism.

      I don't know if most Canadians are overall pleased with Canadian society. I'd expect they would be so, but sometimes you need an outsider's perspective to tell you what's really going on. So whether Canadians are happy with Canada might not be so philosophically interesting.

      I used to know someone from Estonia. He was a friend of mine who became an enemy, back in grade 8. I'd gotten a TV watch for a bar mitzvah present, which back then was an amazing gift. My Estonian friend begged me to lend it to him because he wanted to show it off at his church, of all places. I lent it to him and he brought it back broken. It never worked again. I suspect he broke it on purpose, because he didn't want anyone else to use it after he was finished with it.

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  14. I am a new immigrant from China. I have lived in Canada for three years, I really enjoy the wonderful nature here. But to my personal experience, Canada is the most boring Country I have ever visited/lived. I often felt this country lacks something. I don't know what it is, but I can deeply feel something is missing in this country. It's too plain too simple.

    In comparison, I have lived in the China for more than 20 years and UK for 5 years. I never had the idea that the country itself was boring, never. The reason I think, both countries are very old, has long history and culture to explore, especially in the UK, there are historical places verywhere, their architecture is sooo beautiful, not to mention british people are unbelievably friendly and kind. There is a spirit I think, whether good or bad, the country has that other countries don't.

    Sorry for my bad English, I'm not a native. : ) But thank you for writing this article, Benjamin! It's been very pleasant to read and helps me to understand much further about why I think Canada is boring.

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    1. sorry, I meant there is a spirit, whether good or bad, every country has that other contries don't. I think Canada lack that spirit.

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    2. Thanks for your reinforcing observations. I should say that Canadians are also known for their friendliness, at least outside of Toronto, and we probably get that from the British. I think the lack of a unifying spirit is due largely to our multiculturalism, which weakens our national identity. The downside of a strongly unified country, though, is that the people can be xenophobic and racist.

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    3. Perhaps that's why we don't have far right political parties enjoying popular support (ie. France's National Front, UK's UKIP). At least the Canadian political atmosphere doesn't smell like Germany, circa 1930s.

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  15. Best piece of writing on Canada I have ever read. Just wow. I am canadian and there is so much truth here I have never seen it all put together like that.

    Canada is great. Liberal social system, people are compliant, no unrest.

    But boring. So painfully boring. One of the reasons I love the US is that anytime I go there, people are just so open and talkative and hell I'll say it "Freer". In Canada people are GENERALLY quiet, reserved and there is a sense of being constrained.

    Thank you!

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    1. Well, thank you very much, Anon. I'm Canadian too, but it's one thing to see what's going on and it's another to put it into words.

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  16. As someone from Europe living in Canada for almost 3 years (and in 3 different cities) I can confirm that Canadians ARE extremely dull people as well as tight when it comes to spending money. If an interaction with a Canadian involves money prepare to be gobsmacked by their greed and lack of tact.

    Regarding the myth that Canadians are extremely polite - in reality they are nowhere close to being as polite as the average European.

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  17. Wow, so much vindictiveness towards Canada here, including from Canadians. Telling people that they're boring or dull is pretty much telling them they're worthless, and that other criteria don't matter a damn. I mean, would you rather be called bad or boring?

    The message to Canadians seems to be clear: "Be more bigoted, intolerant, irresponsible, immoral, arrogant, destructive, and violent; you'll have more fun and people will like you more." Well, OK, I can see the attraction, in an amoral, psychopathic way, and yet when you hear about the latest serial killer or rape atrocity or massacre that occurs in the Third World (or anywhere) on the TV, do we say, "Good for them - what a fun and interesting place - I'm packing my bags"?

    No. Places that are more kind and peaceful, more generous, more competent, more successful, less corrupt, and low in conflict ARE described as boring compared with others. Scandinavia is boring compared with the former Yugoslavia. Morocco is more boring than the Congo. The US is more boring than Latin America. Minnesota is more boring than Florida. Britain is more boring than Greece. Japan is more boring than Vietnam. And Canada is more boring than the US. And so on.

    But invoking Godwin's Law for a moment: when the US was hiding behind boring neutrality, and European nations were collaborating timidly with the Germans, it was Canada that marched to the sound of the guns in WW1 & 2. From the start. It didn't have to, but it did. No questions asked, apart from "Where's the just fight?" Boring? I don't bloody think so.

    And what I find is that it's usually the whiny, superficial little squirts who tend to make the disparaging remarks - not wise, perceptive people.

    So Canada-bashers, frankly, f*ck you. Canadians: take accusations of being "boring" as a compliment. God bless Canada - no nation on earth can look down on you.

    From a Brit.

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    1. I think this is a false dichotomy, between being dull and safe, on the one hand, and exciting and war torn or psychopathic on the other. Yes, the most dangerous countries may not be boring places to live, but dangerousness is a sufficient rather than a necessary condition of being interesting. Most of Europe, for example, is far more interesting than Canada, without being particularly hazardous.

      Anyway, I agree that Canadians have their virtues. My point is that those virtues have their downside, which is that Canada has become famous for being dull. Canada's involvement in WWII, by the way, is probably the most interesting thing Canada has ever done. When was the last time Canadians tackled such a large problem head on, going off on such an adventure?

      Whether anyone can look down on Canada depends entirely on the criteria. If you care most about peace, safety, and politeness, you'll rank Canada quite high on your list of top places to live. But if you care about culture, about depth of feeling and experience and history, you won't give Canada a second thought. That's just the way it is.

      And I don't see how the personal attacks strengthen your case.

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  18. Kojii Nazz,

    I don't see the relationship between Canada being a boring nation its involvement in WWII that was mostly commanded by the UK.

    Also, France and other nations fought against Germany but were unable to beat it and the famous battle of Dunkerque where all the French Air Force has been sacrificied to save the remaining of the Allied forces is to be remembered and not blamed...

    About Canada being a boring nation, my opinion is that thr Chief of State is not currently in Canada and the executive power is divided in many hands which reduces the prestige of the Prime Minister of Canada who is not even the Commander in chief, it is the Governor general who assumes this power, himself having to consult with the Royals.

    In a monarchy, the prestige goes to the king or queen in power. If the king or queen does not reside in the country, then the prestige will be transfered to the country of his residence in this case the UK.

    Much prestige will be gained when Canada becomes a republic. His people will become true free citizens and will truly own there land.

    Unfortunately, dulliness gives only way to pride!

    Nicolas.

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  19. I am Canadian but have not lived there for decades. I do visit often. Canada is the A student who scores well on all the "tests" - but who can't let their hair down enough to be its own unique, uninhibited self who can change the world. The Bill Gates' of this world are generally not the ones scoring A+ in traditional systems. The US system pivots on freedom and innovation whether conservative or liberal. This bent towards freedom of thought and action has some massive downsides (violence) but the freedom to color outside the lines also creates an interesting country that hits home runs. Per capita more home runs than any other country in the world. Unless Canada allows itself to get messy (and it is not in their culture to do so) they will be akin to the safe but boring suburbs of the world.

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  20. Thanks for your article which really hits the nail on the head as to why I don't like living in Canada. I'm a dual U.S./Canadian Citizen who was born in Canada to an American mother. I grew up in Canada. Later, I spent 17 years in California. I just can't seem to find friends in Canada and I know why now. It's that I have no real interest in them because they are boring. I live in Vancouver and am bored to tears. Everything is so safe and sanitized and 'nice'. It all feels too perfect. I see a facade instead of real human beings--sort of like robots running around like servants. Everyone is so 'liberal' but at the same time they seem so conservative--they don't actually live out any liberal ideas. They say they are multicultural but don't really engage with people from other cultures. Yes, I do feel safer here than L.A. My body might have been murdered in L.A. but my soul is being murdered here, day by day--by the banality of it all. Try anything new and people say, "Oh we can't do it that way--that's what the Americans do." If the Americans ate food, Canadians would quit eating just because the Americans actually eat food. That is sort of an anti-culture--the culture is more about what it is not than what it is. Thanks for admitting it--you really made me happy for the first time in a long time. I don't hate Canadians, but that is partly the point--in love most people would prefer that someone actually react to them negatively than to be ignored--at least it is a place to start and to grow. Good luck. Admitting a problem is a first step in finding some life. By the way, I also don't like some things about Americans--especially their acceptance of violence and war, and I spoke up about it while I lived there. But that is a different story.

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    1. Well said. I think you nail it when you say Canadians are very liberal but also conservative at the same time. Those attitudes cancel each other out, leaving you with anti-culture. And indeed, that's a well-known problem with multicultural tolerance: it's not the same as having an interest in engaging in depth with any foreign culture (or with any culture at all).

      There certainly are problems with other countries, including the US. I think of the South Park episode about the cultural elites in San Francisco who cause a toxic cloud of "smug" because they live off the smell of their own farts.

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  21. I am a European that has been living a bit over a year in Toronto which, probably, of all places in Canada epitomizes the dullness, combined with complacency and a lack of interest on other people and cultures.
    I think that your article makes sharp and precise observations of Canadian people and culture, even if I am not sure I fully share your diagnosis on how did they get there.
    I believe that a very relevant factor is the specific British influence. While American and British culture share common roots, one can see the Americans as the rebels against the Metropolis who had to build their own diferential culture, exacerbating the individualistic aspects of British idiosincracy and combining it, particulalry in rural areas, with a strong religious sentiment. The Canadians, on the contrary, were the conformists, the loyal servants of the Empire that fought for centuries in wars that were not theirs without questioning what they were doing, just because they felt it was their duty.
    An element of British culture which is very present in Canada (and, to some extent, in the US) is the repression of expressing your feelings. That repression, in my opinion, also leads to a lack of interest in other people feelings and concerns. In my experience (which, probably, is biased, since I am from Spain, where expression of feelings and empathy or anthagonism are key elements of the culture) people here get very nervous when you start talking about the issues that really concern you and about your feelings. Social interaction is governed by politeness and correctness, which is good in many respects, but tends to be dull.
    And, after all that, may I say that all in all, this is a nice place to live. People are polite and society peaceful and civilized. As I use to say when they ask me: Canada is OK, no more, no less... and, comparatively with many places in the world, being OK is quite an achievement

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  22. I'm Canadian and I have to say I cannot help but agree. I am originally from the prairies but have been living in Vancouver for a few years and although the differences are vast, there is still a lack of vibrancy and life. Many people who live in Vancouver would strongly disagree, and I get it; there's nothing necessarily bad about Vancouver, so what's there to hate? I'm sorry, but it is so dull here. The mountains and the abundance of "nature" just aren't doing it for me. There is no buzz, the night life is bogus (sorryimnotsorry), and it's expensive. Don't get me wrong, I love Canada. I love that I can go to the doctor and not have to worry about a ridiculous hospital bill, and I love that we're polite, and I love the nature! But anyone who has travelled/lived overseas cannot deny that Canada , underneath all the 'I am Canadian' crap, is missing a type of vibrancy/buzz/heartbeat.

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    1. Thanks for that comment. Your experience does seem to corroborate mine. I recently came across someone who works in the wall and floor tile business and he told me that Torontonians, at least, prefer beige tiles to those with more daring colours. Doesn't that just say it all? Better to play it safe than to rock the boat. We Canadians are boring because we're afraid of the drama that comes with a distinctive, substantive culture based on a shared history of poignant experiences.

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  23. If you find Canada/Canadians "boring" then it is more a reflection of you than anything else.

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  24. I moved to Canada 3 years ago from the US. It's a nice country and there's lots that is good about it but it is very boring. Its so boring that I am planning on going back to the US soon - before I slip into a coma.

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  25. Curiously, the description of Canada in the main article reminds me very much of the UK, which is an insipid, boring, conformist multicultural/acultural place. However, the UK's biggest problem is hideous overpopulation. At least you guys in Canada have plenty of room!

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  26. This is so well-written and mostly congruent with my observations. However, it fits the description of old "Anglos". The younger generation and all of us with necessary hyphenation
    may provide a different picture. Canadian satirist Will Ferguson made my earlier days in Canada slightly more bearable with his book, Why I Hate Canadians.
    Thank you for your essay, Ben...

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    1. Thanks for reading. Let's hope the new generation will be more adventurous. I foresee a globalist culture dominating the scene, though, one maybe led by Chinese pragmatism and materialism.

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  27. This Angeleño knows that Vancouver is definitely overpolite and lonely and Mayberry and superficial and rejects intimacy and even advertises itself as a safe suburb for Americans (though Vancouver's violence often comes *from* its burbs, but whatever). But at the same time there was a sort of buzz: it has the Canadians who are actually boisterous and creative, a hidden panache, a San Francisco vibe (and not just in Gastown) that attracts those Canadians who *won't* keep off the grass. Even the usual Northern dourness is more of a heavy self-deprecation.

    But I really am wondering whether BC can be considered any sort of exception to this overall pattern of Canadianness (which paradoxically exists by not-existing), or if the Continental Divide isn't enough to take Hollywood North all that far outside the median. Perhaps Canadian inertia will even force the birth of a new culture of doing your best with what you're given!

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    1. I think you're right about Vancouver, although I've never been there, so my impression is secondhand. And you might be right that Canadians shouldn't be blamed for being boring, since we do the best with what we're given in terms of our harsh lands and dependence on the US. My article here isn't meant to judge Canadians, but to explain why we're anticultural, given that that's what we are. And of course, there are exceptions in some individuals and perhaps even cities. It's the overall Canadian culture or vibe that's in question.

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    2. oh, Vancouver's definitely gloomy, passive-aggressive, and "cliquish"--but a little less so than Seattle (which makes up by being bigger): so perhaps there's a cultural continuum; besides, there's so many ex-Vancunians completely agreeing with the original article

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  28. Great article, great observations! I have moved back to Canada to be closer with my family after living in Berlin for almost a decade now. As a person who loves underground techno parties and transgressive performance art shows, moving back here feels like a culture shock. Guys.. It's like a friggin' retirement home here.. life here is boring me to tears. Serious question: IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO CHANGE THE STATUS QUO? it's a beautiful country and there is so much potential here, I can't believe we're letting it all go to waste!

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    1. Well, what we should do, culturally speaking, is of course a subjective matter that depends on our preferences. The question is whether Canadians tend to have any personal preferences at all. Are we Canadians persons in the deepest sense or just robotic functionaries, following the signs and the rules to keep the peace?

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    2. I don't want to believe you, but you just hit the nail on the head. This is depressing. I see where you are heading. Enter the Canadian automaton - polite, civil, and unassuming. Doomed to a life of offending nobody, and achieving absolutely nothing. Cultural nihilism at it's finest. Robot functionaries eh? So how do we turn them into passionate human beings? Me and some DJ friends were organising a techno party last night and IMO its really hard to get Canadians to come out to party. Although we had a decent turnout last night, I had to put in 3 times as much effort in promotion than what I used to do in Europe (i've worked as a promoter in Rotterdam and Berlin) Seriously, gauging by the effort I put in I would expect 3 times as many people to show up. Maybe everyone's way too comfortable in their own little pods.. nobody wants to come out to play.

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    3. After some rumination I'd like to make a small amendment to my previous post. Nobody's too comfortable in their own little pods to want to come out to play. Rather, nobody sees the point in coming out to play. Why bother going out, getting sweaty dancing to industrial techno in a dark warehouse with drunk strangers, when you can stay at home, drink coors light and watch hockey night on CBC? I know, I know, different strokes for different folks...each to his/her own..but still, there's no excuse for being boring!!! *sigh* If it wasn't for family, I wouldn't have moved back here. The concept of "fun" here is strangely vanilla.

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    4. I wonder whether a differential background assumption of national fame helps explain why some cultures have night lives while others have none. Some European countries are world famous because of their historical deeds. Even Germany is infamous, which means that Germans today who had nothing to do with the Nazis are still closely connected to individuals who literally made world headlines for years. By contrast, modern Canadians have virtually no history worth speaking of. There's a stereotype of Canadians as being polite mounties living in igloos and eating poutine and maple syrup, but that doesn't make Canadians famous, since those characteristics are themselves too boring for anyone else to think about for more than a second out of a year, if that.

      My question, then, is about the effect of being indirectly famous on a culture. It's as if having a night life, dancing at a rave party, sleeping around and so on is a way for members of a famous society to act as if they were each personally celebrities. They want to be seen in public because they know that many foreigners are preoccupied with their culture, albeit not with them personally. Their night life is their pseudo public life, whereas members of a boring culture like Canada's don't want to go out at night because they presuppose that no one else cares to think about them. We're neither famous nor infamous; we're not on anyone's radar, so pretending to be rich, partying celebrities would be absurd for Canadians. We couldn't keep up the pretense.

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    5. Very interesting view here. This reminds me of Franz Kafka's The Hunger Artist where he illustrates the pointlessness of the artist's grueling performance when there are no spectators to the act. Why bother, when nobody's even watching?

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    6. Yeah, I haven't read that Kafka story, but I suspect that's the right lesson to draw. Saying that Canada is boring is tantamount to saying Canadians lack international fame. And the question is whether famous people tend to let their fame go to their head, so their lifestyle becomes relatively wild and carefree, whereas ordinary folks go to bed early not just because they have to work hard and their jobs are real, but because they don't fool themselves into thinking they deserve to party all the time. Full-time fun is for phony, corrupt hedonists. In the same way, I argue that happiness in general is unbecoming for existentially authentic individuals, since it requires delusions and blindness to the world's manifest horrors.

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    7. I'm going back to my roughneck gig at Fort McMurray, make a ton of dough, save that up, and then take you on a trip to Berlin. We'll have group sex in Berghain, we'll get hammered at Bar 25, experience chemically induced euphoria at Tresor. After a systematic Rimbaudian derangement of the senses with hordes of other fellow hedonists, we'll return to our yawning post-modern liberal homeland (Canada) and write a length commentary about our imminent existential crisis. Sounds like a plan, eh?

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    8. Actually, that sounds terrifying, but maybe that's just my Canadian pseudo civility talking. For the record, I write about my experience of altered states of consciousness here:

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2014/01/awake-while-sleeping-dmt-and.html

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  29. Dear sir, do you go by Ben or Benjamin? Anyhow, can you elaborate on the waning of Western civilization? I personally don't see any vision or trajectory in modern industrialized societies to come to genuine grips with their future situation - which is increasing population and demand on an ever decreasing supply with a fickle economics that can barely keep one mode of production viable for a century before it becomes obsolescent. Addiction to electronic communications devices and ambiguous 'information' don't appear to be any sort of long-term vision for humanity either. It's interesting how socializing has now become a commodity to be advertised and sold in this banal materialist culture - a means to generating profit while ultimately alienating people physically. (present irony noted, but proven as I am now a lonely and angry person in general thanks to modern technology and the propagandist public relations / marketing industry that has stunted my emotions with product desire)...

    Culture is ultimately secondary to means of survival among this social animal, and most indications suggest that once a host depletes and toxifies its habitat, it simply goes into decline... I don't know, I think there will either be a lot of people either living very poorly in the future, or less likely, much fewer people living relatively well - but that would be contrary to the extraction/expansionist behaviour of humans.

    With the deprivation or hollowness of contemporary values / living that you're suggesting, what do you see as the vision for life in such societies or simply life in general? I tend to view the long and entrenched mores of Europe, Asia, etc. as having their own pitfalls, the greatest mutual slaughters of humankind witnessed on the planet arose out of their cultural intransigence (ultimately territorial, animal testosterone) Two world wars arose out of such things, and then there's the colonial record in the centuries before...

    I'm on the fence right now, are we simply a base animal, or divinely inspired creation? Is all religion and spiritual belief merely a mutation of our fear response? I don't know if you've read Thoreau's Walden, but the chapter titled Brute Neighbours has territorial ants fighting to the death - it's always intrigued me how such little brain mass is required to elicit the behaviour of territorial conquest and violence. Is it better to live an animal life of irrational slaughter, hierarchy and judgement and praying to God for his divine intervention / preference as a 'natural human being', or worship hockey players, drink Tim Horton's coffee and yap endlessly on Facebook and Twitter? The latter, as a 'spiritual belief' or 'way of life' are so apparently ridiculous and banal it doesn't even warrant comment, but it raises the question - what should a human aspire to...?

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    1. The waning of Western civilization, eh? That's a big one. I draw on Oswald Spengler and Morris Berman on this stuff. But I don't pretend to be able to predict how or when Western civilization will collapse. Indeed, I doubt that the history of previous collapses provides much guidance, since our high tech systems may require us to adjust our expectations. What may be happening is that we're making ourselves obsolete, but our artificial systems will live on, being more or less automated or at least highly seductive to competitor societies.

      That is, I focus on the question of the quality of our culture or on the ideas and values that are conventional, that set the standards of normality. The question of the state of the whole society is too complex for me, which is to say it's an empirical rather than a philosophical issue. I think we can take it for granted, mind you, that all societies eventually end, but whether they end in spectacular failure or they merely re-establish themselves in a renaissance is another matter.

      For example, did ancient Rome entirely die out? Well, the Roman military collapsed, but Roman imperialism lived on in the Catholic Church, which preserved some cherry-picked pagan knowledge through the Dark Age. Now it's the American or the global plutocratic empires that carry that "Western" flag.

      Indeed, the question of the cyclical nature of societies is mooted by the thesis that there's a naturally default kind of society, the dominance hierarchy, which usually holds sway even as it's rationalized with different legal regimes, myths, and national characters. Suppose the American economy does tank, for example. Would that be the end of America? Not really, because American culture would live on in the mass media that have already influenced most other countries. The Asian societies that might take the place of the US would embody parts of American culture (individualism/egoism/narcissism, celebrity worship, bogus notions of liberty, etc). Moreover, "Western culture" is really a euphemism for the global monoculture. As the human presence becomes more of a global village, the loss of any one country becomes secondary to the survival of the transnational framework.

      And again, the default social dynamics would merely play themselves out in a different guise. In other words, there's really just one main type of social arrangement, as I see it, and the differences between societies across history are superficial. To the extent that those differences are instead radical (as in communism, democracy, etc), they're short-lived and thus they're exceptions that prove the rule. I like the line from Cloud Atlas: "There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well."

      You ask whether we're a base animal species or are we godlike? That's sort of what my whole blog is about. I wouldn't say I'm on the fence, but I try to show that it's a false choice. We're both natural and animalistic, on the one hand, and godlike on the other. We have the potential to transcend our animal instincts, to face the existential predicament like no other species can, to nobly suffer in light of that knowledge and to create whole worlds to take our minds off the horror of the original world's undeadness.

      What should a human aspire to? Tragic heroism. That's my short answer.

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  30. Your act of writing this article was probably one of the less boring things Canada has seen lately, thank you for that.

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  31. I'm going to Canada for a postgraduate study program, and I'm actually reluctant to go there.

    I don't even know why lots of Indonesians want to go to Canada and stay there (as far as I know, it's only for the salary and quality of life). I've always thought that Canada has nothing, but then again, I'm in the school of thought that says, "Natural scenery doesn't make a country, the people do", and "The only good thing coming from Hollywood these days is drama."

    Indonesia, for all its problems, at least has people who care about their country and want to develop it any way they can. Canada almost seems like it doesn't even have a people.

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    1. The anticultural aspect of Canada pertains mostly to Ontario. There are cultural differences between central, Eastern, and Western Canada. Alberta is conservative because Albertans have oil money, BC residents are liberal and relaxed because they live on a beautiful coastline, Ontario (or, rather, Toronto) has the most immigrants so we're the most multicultural and thus anticultural, for pragmatic reasons (so no sub-culture is excluded or offended). Overall, Canada is boring not just for the postmodern reasons I spell out in the above article, but because of the snow and our conservative British heritage. I plan to write on the last two points in an upcoming article.

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    2. I guess Alberta's called 'the Texas of Canada' for that reason. Still, I heard Alberta's bleeding jobs because of the recent oil price drop.

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    3. Being a Canadian who has spent time growing up in Jakarta, I would say that you're in for a really boring postgraduate experience. Indonesia brings back fond memories. I miss the food, music, art, culture - and above all, the warm passionate people. Ah, none of that in this cultural wasteland. Gue bosan di Canada!!

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  32. Totally agree with the article. Canada feels very boring and empty. Multiculturalism means no culture at all. I lived in several countries before moving to Canada (Russia, Israel, Germany, Thailand) and I never felt so much bored as I feel living in Toronto. People are living in ethnical ghettos, sticking to their own. Children and students are brainwashed with political correctness (very much leftist in nature). People looks like robots or zombies, emotionless as if somebody sedated them with strong tranquilizers. So that artificial stimulants are required elevate the spirits (alcohol, drugs, food ...).

    Canada is not only boring, it is lifeless. Welcome to the future :(

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    1. Ummmm....if you think any place is boring, it might have something to do with you (the person who thinks this). Do we all need to be entertained all of the time? And does America really have a culture? I don't think so. I'm from Kentucky/Indiana. All I can think of is racism, fake Christianity and yard sales. Oh I forgot the junky roadside monuments for people who have died in car wrecks. Most of America is boring. Yes, It has it's hotspots but not everyone can live in New York City or visit the tropical beaches. Fact; everyday life can be blah if you need to be entertained. People need to live more; make things, make music, go outside, climb a tree, get a hobby, etc. This is a great topic by the way and I'm glad you posted it. I'm living in the North Country, NY, and I'm planning to visit Canada. It's not far from here and I can guarantee that I will not be bored in Canada, however, I do agree that no visual comes to mind when you think of Canada. I ask my niece who travels, "How would you describe Canada?" And she just said, "Cold." Maybe what Canada needs is an advertisement strategy to sell that cold, or maybe not. Maybe that's why Canada is such a great place; not everyone is flocking there to do their self-centered thing. I think it takes character and guts to survive that kind of cold. People are closer when they go through rough times together. Maybe that's why they're so friendly and helpful.

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    2. Kelly, I agree that an interesting culture isn't necessarily an admirable one. Nazi culture is interesting but hardly one we should emulate. The same is true for the ancient Aztecs and indeed most for ancient, bloodthirsty cultures.

      But there's a deeper, structural reason why the more multicultural parts of Canada--especially Toronto--are particularly boring, or anti-cultural, and that's what I focus on the above article. It's a problem with liberalism, which folks in China, Russia, and the Middle East are becoming more and more aware of. See, for example, the rise of interest in Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss in those parts, as discussed in this article:

      https://newrepublic.com/article/79747/reading-leo-strauss-in-beijing-china-marx

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  33. Why are Canadians boring? IMHO it's the food.
    Go on any journey via Canadian National... or into any restaurant in anglophone country. There's no need for a menu, the national dish always appears to be the same. You get a "cutlet" (a quarter-inch thick slab of animal tissue, slathered in generic brown gravy), a hefty dollop of a white, spackle-like substance considered to be mashed potatos (with more brown gravy) and six pale green peas from a can. Never more, never fewer.
    Compare and contrast with what you find in Quebec! Walk in any restaurant and tell your waiter "I'm thinking of the veal Marsala. But could you please ask the chef whether he might poach his veal in something else? Perhaps a nice beaujolais?"
    The waiter will immediately go off to confer with the chef. The result of further negotiations will inevitably result in a memorable meal... because the chef will have become aware his product is being consumed by someone possessing of true discernment.
    Loonies please take note.
    (comment by paleologue O)

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    1. Hi, Paleologue. Yeah, there's not much in the way of Canadian cuisine. I suspect that's a symptom rather than a cause of the lack of Canadian culture, though. Quebec's more liberal and defensive about protecting Francophone culture, so I'd expect Quebecers to be more discerning about their food as well as their fashion, arts, and everything else.

      When I think of Canadian food I think of poutine, peameal bacon, Kraft dinner, and other such hearty fare. Toronto has a lot of multicultural options, but not many distinctively Canadian ones, at least not as far as I'm aware. We mostly pick our foods from other cultures.

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    2. The Quebecois are inordinately proud of their culture... because (a) they have one and (b) it's something they can hold over the Anglos. They dress better, eat better, look better (to them anyway) and most of all, have such an exquisitely expressive, nuanced language they sincerely feel sorry for you, that you are deprived of that pleasure.
      They must bristle when they hear the anglais speaking of themselves as Canadians"... as in, the only real Canadians. And smile as they think of your people, somehow stuck in a land where the only thing they have to eat is poutine and moose meat. I expect they think this to be just punishment for your sins of hubris.
      Were they to ever come to power in Canada, holding dominion over all the anglais living in the Outer Provinces (like Ontario), they would no doubt want to pass laws like fining you for mangling their fine language-- which would be mandatory for all public transactions.
      You should visit them some time. No other people on earth is quite so proud of themselves. Be sure you start every conversation with this phrase:
      Pardonnez moi. Je suis un pauvre provincial qui n'a pas bénéficié de l'avantage d'apprendre votre langue exquise.
      Should they hear that, even poorly spoken, they will condescend to speak with you in English. Good luck!

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  34. This reminds me so much of the Austraia/New Zealand thing. NZ is arguably more progressive on a lot of social and political issues than Australia (and there are many reasons for this) - as Canada is more so than the US, but this rampant PC culture (and yes I am a progressive and support PC ideas generally) that NZ has, seems to stifle any real cultural pzazz. Their cities feel dead and there is no 'celebration' of different cultures, and cultural practices; no vibrancy, because nobody wants to highlight different cultures as being 'separate' from the mainstream NZ way of living; as if to highlight other cultures is to make those people feel as though they are different, and not part of the fabric of the country. I felt the same way in Canada.

    Don't get me wrong, NZ is a beautiful country, and a great place to visit for its natural beauty, as is Canada, but there's an incredible blandness to both cultures, and the people.

    It's not something you can really put your finger on, but there is a real sense of 'vanilla' about NZ that I also experienced in Canada; as if there's no life in the country or its inhabitants.

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