Americans don’t know much about Canada, and I don’t blame them. They live in the greatest country in the universe, apparently. The rest of the world is meant to plan itself around the U.S., rather than the other way around, and often that’s how things tend to go down anyway. Canada and the U.S. share the longest international border in the world, and yet, the average American could probably go their entire life knowing nothing really substantial about their northern neighbor beyond what they glean from Degrassi. When Americans do encounter Canada, it is usually in disguise — in movies and on TV, Toronto plays New York, Vancouver plays California, and presumably something else happens to the big empty space between those two cities (to its credit, Montreal can’t really play anywhere else, and Alberta hosts a lot of Westerns, but that’s about it). So I can forgive Americans for being clueless. I can forgive them their ignorance about this big, cold, confusing place just to the north of them. And that’s why I want to clear something up, once and for all, so I can put your minds at rest and save us all a lot of time and energy.
Here it is: Canada is fake.
Now, declaring a country “fake” is both a bold and boring statement. A lot of countries are fake, really; they all require a sort of collective willful suspension of disbelief. Patriotism feels a lot like being super into astrology — sure, you might not be hurting anyone, but don’t you think it’s a bit odd to be focused on what is essentially an accident of birth? So yes, maybe all countries are fake on some level. To achieve a collective identity among otherwise unaffiliated souls, most nation-states share the sort of commitment to the bit that Benedict Anderson, the scholar of nationalism, once described as an “imagined community.” The state itself is the best evidence we have for the claim that something can be both socially constructed and also terribly consequential — a border is an utterly unnatural thing, something that is so flimsy and nonsensical that states spend billions of dollars maintaining the illusion of their reality every year. Canada, the US, Australia, Belgium, etc. are all obviously unreal and also devastating in their real impact.
But when I say that Canada is fake, I don’t mean anything so universal or theoretical. Canada is not an accident or a work in progress or a thought experiment. I mean that Canada is a scam — a pyramid scheme, a ruse, a heist. Canada is a front. And it’s a front for a massive network of resource extraction companies, oil barons, and mining magnates.
Alex V Green on.
I mean, the article says it’s about Canada… but I was thinking of somewhere a little more… immediately underfoot when I was reading it…