Mouseland

Tommy Douglas

The Story of Mouseland was first told first by Canadian politician Clarence Gillis, and later and most famously by Tommy Douglas, leader of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and, later, the New Democratic Party of Canada, both social democratic parties.

It was a political fable expressing the CCF’s view that the Canadian political system was flawed in offering voters a false dilemma: the choice of two parties, neither of which represented their interests. The mice voted in black cats, which represented the Progressive Conservative Party, and then they found out how hard life was. So they voted in the white cats, which symbolized the Liberal Party.

The story goes on, and a mouse gets an idea that mice should run their government, not the cats. This mouse was accused of being a Bolshevik, and imprisoned. However, the speech concludes by saying you can lock up a mouse or a person, but you cannot lock up an idea.

A variation of this story is told in Douglas Adams’ novel ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish,’ involving a democracy where people vote for lizards as their leaders. No one is happy with this situation, except for the lizards, but the people continue voting for the lizards ‘because if they didn’t vote for a lizard… the wrong lizard might get in.’

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