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Plateaus of Freedom

Plateaus of Freedom: Nationality, Culture, and State Security in Canada, 1940-1960

Mark Kristmanson
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 319
  • Book Info
    Plateaus of Freedom
    Book Description:

    The security and cultural policy measures examined here, from the RCMP investigations at the National Film Board that led to numerous firings, to the harassment of the extraordinary African-American singer and Soviet sympathizer Paul Robeson, 'attest to the fragility and the enduring power of art to effect social change'.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2315-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxii)

    Ottawa, 1993

    In a small, wood-panelled dining room in the Ottawa Press Club a dwindling group of retired security intelligence officials, along with some of their counterparts who once served in branches of Canada’s federal cultural agencies, meet weekly for lunch, as they have since the 1950s. Invited to sit in, I hear them reminisce, exchange opinions on current affairs, and turn over a few well-chewed enigmas. One former External Affairs man explains the exact status of the Saarland in 1938–9; another marvels at the lax security in the present Privy Council Office. Despite long familiarity there is an...

  6. 1 Characterizations of Tracy Philipps
    (pp. 1-48)

    Disturbances manifested as rumours, and passed by word of mouth from citizen to citizen, trace a spectral double of the triumphalist nationalism with which the anti-Fascist world war has been historicized. One wartime rumour pattern of particular concern to the Canadian government’s Committee on Morale was widespread distrust of British war aims and the use of Canada to further them. The Committee’s professional psychologists took such rumours seriously, regarding them not as idle ‘fantasies’ but rather ‘as important indices of the state of the “public mind”’. In their opinion:

    They are dramatizations of attitudes, beliefs, or values, or they are...

  7. 2 Love Your Neighbour: The RCMP and the National Film Board, 1948–1953
    (pp. 49-85)

    In January 1945 John Grierson stated in his radio address, ‘The Changing Face of Propaganda’, that ‘there is a paradoxical point where a national information service must become international to fulfill itself. [Nation-states] have at many points sublimated their national interests to international ones.’ With the end of the war approaching it was now the ‘logic of the national information services’ to turn to think of the ‘cooperative world to which their nations are pledged’.¹ To some extent this meant inviting motion pictures to treat questions related to international development. But for Grierson the more important question was not so...

  8. 3 Remembering To Forget
    (pp. 86-94)

    Denied the intellectual conviviality of his nfb neighbours by the security scare, over the years Mark McClung cultivated a circle of mostly male friends who similarly occupied the liminal zone between national culture and state security during the late 1950s and 1960s. Gathering for weekly lunches at a corner table in Sammy’s restaurant in Ottawa’s Belle Claire Hotel, rising cultural luminaries such as broadcaster Patrick Watson of the cbc and éminences grises such as Henry Hindley, policy-maker with the Secretary of State Department, were received warmly by representatives of the state security intelligentsia: McClung of the rcmp, Peter Dwyer and...

  9. 4 State Security and Cultural Administration: The Case of Peter Dwyer
    (pp. 95-136)

    If John Le Carré is right to call espionage a secret theatre, Igor Gouzenko’s defection from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa on the night of 5 September 1945 struck various leading players with stage fright. Indeed, the cipher clerk’s defection had so many short- and long-term ramifications for the nascent Canadian security state that its status as a historical event of causal import is almost beyond question. The event caused Peter Dwyer, the British Secret Intelligence Service’s liaison officer for North America, to speed from Washington to Ottawa for Gouzenko’s debriefing, little knowing that it would place him at the...

  10. 5 Pulp History: Repossessing the Gouzenko Myth
    (pp. 137-180)

    Elizabeth Harrison’s 1944 painting of lunch hour in a wartime Ottawa cafeteria patterns and prefigures impending events with considerable prescience.¹ At the tail end of the queue, shuffling towards the distant buffet, the balding Norman Robertson, heavy-lidded and prematurely stooped, appears lost in his own thoughts, oblivious to the crowded scene. At the head of the circuit of lunching officials, George Glazebrook bears his tray across the centre of the cafeteria. The University of Toronto historian was seconded to work under T.A. ‘Tommy’ Stone in the fledgling intelligence branch of the Department of External Affairs in January 1942.² Glazebrook’s weak-chested...

  11. 6 ‘I Came To Sing’: Paul Robeson on the Border
    (pp. 181-227)

    On a typically damp autumn day in November 1995 I drive with my father over to Peace Arch Park, nine hectares of manicured flower beds, trees, and lawns that separate Blaine, Washington, from White Rock, British Columbia. We park near the Canadian customs station and walk down the long gentle slope to the Peace Arch itself, a whitewashed concrete monolith planted in the middle of the intermediate zone between the two border stations. In theory, the park is under continuous surveillance, but I notice that it feels like a voided space, a lull in the overlap of two formidably policed...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 228-233)

    Cultural theorists are fond of ‘surface’ metaphors. For Michel Foucault, social discourse produces different ‘surfaces of visibility’; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari write of ‘planes of consistency’ and of subjectivity as a paradoxical ‘folding’ on itself, and Giorgio Agamben toys with the idea of late capitalist culture collapsing into a ‘perfect exteriority’.¹ For liberals, the ‘plateau of equality’ is a proceduralist surface upon which civil rights are located and cultural differences are arbitrated.² In essence these are allvisualmetaphors and as such they are susceptible to a common perceptual uncertainty: is a given surface to be seen from one...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 234-288)
  14. Index
    (pp. 289-294)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-296)