Gardeners vs. Designers: The One Minute Version

Canada is a rare jewel in human experience which is why we are a magnet for people from virtually every other country in the world.

Why do they come and why do we welcome them? Because in Canada we are free to put our best efforts into making our best life according to our lights. Unlike in many other societies, our place in Canada isn’t determined by our race, our class, our religion, our caste, our sexuality or our ethnicity. That is why so many people come here at great cost to themselves—so that their children will never have to know a world where their place is fixed before they draw their first breath.

In a society of free people like Canada, however, where we are each able to pursue the good life as we understand it, it will never be possible to arrange society in patterns that are pleasing to progressives, with groups of various kinds (racial, sexual, ethnic, linguistic) getting their “fair share” of the good things in life like jobs and incomes and nice houses. When individuals who “belong” to many groups are free to make their own choices, the “pattern” of outcomes for specific groups will necessarily be chaotic—not a pattern at all. The same is true of other patterns or designs progressives try to impose on the complexity of Canada: “liveable” cities, and green economies and poorly performing health care that work badly but cater to progressive prejudices.

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Because the distribution of power, wealth, income, education and knowledge is unpredictable and driven by the desires and plans of individuals, attempts to “correct” the structure of society in accordance with the prejudices of progressives must unavoidably mean that we as individuals are less free to live our best life. This is because the pattern of distribution can only be corrected by frustrating and obstructing the plans we are pursuing for ourselves.

But of course progressives claim that they know more than the rest of us. They know how we should live and what we should want. We should, for example, queue for our health care, give up our cars and take transit to work, move out of distant spacious suburbs and into dense downtown neighbourhoods, abandon fossil fuels, shift from a natural resource economy to one based on high tech. These all-wise, clever, well-educated progressives make better decisions than we could make for ourselves because they have Ph.D.s from high-falutin’ universities and have worked at fancy firms like McKinsey and understand arcane knowledge like statistics.

But this is nothing more than a pretence of knowledge; the knowledge civil servants and their political masters have about us is always partial, out of date and often misinterpreted because it is politically convenient to do so. Politics doesn’t allow us to make superior choices; on the contrary political choices are always less well-informed and accommodate less of the diversity of Canadians than the “patchwork” that emerges when we are free to act on what we know and what is important to us and can tailor our world to fit our priorities rather than having them imposed from above.

In any case, the stock of human knowledge is growing exponentially, far faster than governments and computers can collect and analyse it. So far from governments knowing more than we do about our lives, they know far less. We are more likely to live as we want to live, in accordance with our own values, if we are free to make our own decisions based on what we know about ourselves, our loved ones, our communities and our values. We should be celebrating the dynamism and good sense of Canadians’ choices, rather than seeing those choices as something to be “corrected” by our betters.

Thus creeping progressivism and its irresistible itch to “fix” things by designing something “better” and imposing it from above endangers what has made Canada great. Progressives think the more they can design society and history in accordance with their prejudices, the happier we will be. Gardeners think that happiness resides in the free choices we make for ourselves and the life we make for ourselves through those choices. Thus they believe that the “designing” approach of the progressives is the greatest threat to Canada’s continued success as one of the world’s most wealthy, dynamic and attractive societies.

Media Coverage of Gardeners vs. Designers

Political ‘designers’ are trying to tell you how to live
True North Canada 20/10/06

May I see your social licence, please? Book excerpt
Resource Works 20/10/05

Paul Stanway: How Does Your Canada Grow? A New Look At The Political Divide
C2C Journal 20/09/30

Book excerpt: Brian Lee Crowley – Here’s what makes Canada great
National Post 20/09/23

COVID-19 perfectly illustrates progressives’ ambition to remake our society
The Globe and Mail 20/09/18

Danielle Smith: Tending the garden should be the new political paradigm for conservatives
National Post 20/09/18

Brian appears on The Geoff Currier Show
Global News Radio 20/09/16

Brian appears on The Danielle Smith Show
Global News Radio 20/09/15

Brian joins host Mark Sutcliffe on Ottawa Today
1310 News 20/09/14
(segment starts at 31:26)

Brian joins the John Gormley Show to explain more about Gardeners vs. Designers.

Gormley on Demand 20/10/26

Denley: Basic values better than ‘big ideas’ of Canada’s political class

Ottawa Citizen 20/12/29

Brian Lee Crowley: Are urban planners making cities unlivable?

Toronto Star 20/11/28