- Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada's Cold War
Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada's Cold War is a rare reminder that with a focused topic, qualified contributors, and a principled editor, conference proceedings can make good books. Beginning as lectures at the University of British Columbia, this third volume in the Green College Thematic Lecture Series focuses not on the Cold War we thought we knew, the international chess game of superpowers, but on the cultural campaign within a lesser power's borders against enemies real, imagined, and grossly exaggerated. It's a book not about what they did, but about what we did, [End Page 438] and to whom. From its revisionist perspective, Canada's Cold War was less about the 'Red scare' than about protecting the Canadian identity from its most powerful ally and from many of its own least powerful citizens. As editor Richard Cavell says in his introduction, ours was a Cold War fought 'for nothing less than control of national self-representation.'
Director of the University of British Columbia's International Canadian Studies Centre, Cavell has brought together a select group of established scholars from history, sociology, literature, film studies, political science, and sexuality studies to explore various fronts of this cultural war. Among the eight essays selected for publication from the original series are learned overviews like Reg Whitaker's summary of American influences on Canadian defence and security policy during and after the Cold War, and Valerie Korinek's analysis of Canadian women's attitudes towards the Cold War through the pages of Chatelaine. There are also more specific Cold War stories, such as Steve Hewitt's account of RCMP surveillance of the Unitarian and United Churches for suspected Communist sympathies, or Gary Kinsman's story of Canada's war on queers, the over nine thousand 'suspected,' 'alleged,' and 'confirmed' homosexuals investigated by the RCMP because of their supposed susceptibility to Communist blackmail. The dominant themes in these and the other contributions include Canadian attempts to monitor and regulate 'deviant' sexual behaviour because of its supposed association with 'deviant' politics, and the recurring argument that as a cultural discourse, Canada's Cold War began well before the Gouzenko affair and survived the collapse of the Berlin Wall to affect present Canadian attitudes towards immigration, security, and the Other. American influence on Canada's Cold War is less a theme than a constant presence, both historically and in the book's own assertions of the uniquely Canadian origins and flavour of Canada's Cold War. As Cavell puts this argument, 'To state that Canada's Cold War was "culturally" produced is to assert, broadly, that it was not a "natural" outgrowth of our contiguity with the United States or of our European ties, but that it was actively produced here and not just passively received from somewhere else - its roots lying deep in the historical substrata of the nation.'
My only complaint with Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada's Cold War is perversely enough its greatest strength, its focus. The essays in this collection are united not just in their topic, but also in their politics and their methods, Marx reigning distantly over the one and Foucault more closely over the other. The application of the same method from the same political stance tends to produce the same conclusions, which is precisely and laudably what gives the collection its thematic unity. But it also obscures other approaches to the subject, among them the 'more conventional accounts' of Canada's Cold War occasionally referred to in introductory paragraphs and footnotes. Myself, I would have liked to have heard herein from those more conventional accounts, to hear what they might say [End Page 439] about, for instance, Kinsman's attempt to 'disrupt and decentre the master-narrative of heterosexual Cold War Canadian history.' But since those accounts are readily available between other covers, Love, Hate, and Fear needs only to be read with the caution that it is not an introduction...