The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, October 5, 2018

More Assorted Reflections

The first Assorted Reflections can be found here.

- Although Oliver Cromwell’s Puritans claimed to be fighting for the freedom of the people against “tyranny”, it was King Charles I who had the love and support of the common people. The Jacobins, likewise, declared themselves to be the champions of the poor of France, even though in the cahiers detailing their grievances the poor of France had not called for the overthrow of the monarchy, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were in fact more popular than the men who deposed them, the Revolution was instigated by a cousin of the king, and most of its leaders were upper class intellectuals. Marxism considered itself to be the voice of the proletariat (factory workers) despite the fact that its founders were a pseudo-philosopher (Marx) and a factory owner (Engels), it has always been led by intellectuals, and has never drawn significant support from the actual working classes, who generally suffered the most wherever it came to power. Similarly, the feminist movement appointed itself the voice of the female sex, although it has never spoken for family oriented women who make marriage and children their top priorities and is overtly hostile to Christian women who believe the Sixth Commandment applies to both sexes. The claims of black activist groups to speak for all blacks and of the Anti-Defamation League to speak for Jews are further examples of the same.

- From its beginning feminism has drawn inspiration from both liberalism (classical) and Marxism, with some feminists leaning more toward liberalism, others towards Marxism, but with a general alignment to the liberal-left. The liberal-left has always been inclined towards democratic and small-r republican institutions of government – an inclination which in no way conflicts with its inclination towards totalitarianism. Within such institutions, feminism had to fight for the right of women to vote and to hold elected office. Conversely, we on the conservative-right have traditionally been inclined towards the institution of hereditary, royal, monarchy. This institution has allowed for reigning and even ruling queens and empresses since the dawn of human history.

- Feminism has strange priorities. On New Year’s Eve, 2015, gangs of migrants harassed, assaulted, and in some cases raped large numbers of women in Cologne and other German cities. The feminist outcry over this was insignificant, almost non-existent in comparison to the loud noise they are currently making over Brett Kavanaugh, the charges against whom are unsubstantiated and suspiciously timed. Indeed, most feminists have jumped on the “migrants welcome” and anti-Islamophobia bandwagons, proving that while politics makes strange bedfellows, intersectionality makes the strangest bedfellows of all.

- While I do not take the position that women ought to be kept barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, I do think a case can be made that this is what should be done to feminists. Especially the male feminists.

- It has been reported for a couple of weeks now that Her Excellency, Julie Payette, is less than happy with her position as Her Majesty's vice-regal representative in the Dominion government and that others are less than happy with her performance in that role. Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that she was chosen for the position by the Liberal Party. The Grits, and especially the Trudeau branch of the party, have long lacked both an understanding of and an appreciation for the office of the Governor General and the grand, traditional, institution of royal monarchy it represents. So, when it falls to them to choose the next Governor General, they don't look for the person best suited to represent the Queen in Canada - which is the actual, constitutional, purpose of the office - but for someone to be the face of Canada, as they envision it, which is constantly changing, to the world. There is a simple solution to the problem. I have long maintained that while the Canadian Senate is badly in need of reform, the reform it needs is reform that respects and is consistent with the constitution that the Fathers of Confederation bequeathed to us in 1867. The complete overhaul of the Americanized, Triple-E, model proposed by the old Reform Party is unacceptable. The most necessary reform could be accomplished simply by removing control over who is recommended to be appointed to the Senate from the Prime Minister's office. Having the provinces, rather than the federal government, recommend the appointees to the Senate seats allotted to them would be an obvious way of doing this. Similarly, it should not be the Prime Minister who advises the Queen as to who her representative should be. Indeed, unlike the Senate, in the case of the Governor General's office it was not established in Confederation that the Queen would appoint based on recommendation from the Prime Minister's office, but rather, until the Statute of Westminster the appointment was made on recommendation by the Imperial Privy Council. In the Liberal Version of Canadian history this is regarded as a step forward in the evolution of Canadian nationhood. This is because the Liberal Version falsely superimposes America's story - the story of former colonies forging a new national identity after severing the imperial connection - upon Canada. Canada's true story is the exact opposite of this - the story of Britain's loyal North American colonies, English-speaking Protestant and French-speaking Catholic, coming together to create a new nation that would deliberately retain the connection, that would in time become more familial than imperial. Since so many Canadians do not know our own story, transferring the right of recommendation from the Canadian PMO back to London would not sell in this day and age, but that is not the only option that suggests itself. The Queen's Canadian Privy Council, minus the current Prime Minister and Cabinet, is the appropriate body to make the recommendation.

- Mazo de la Roche, at one time Canada's most popular novelist (she also wrote plays, short stories, and a memoir), had very strong views as to who was qualified to be Governor General. According to her biographer Ronald Hambleton she believed the office should be restricted to the aristocracy and preferably a member of the royal family. De la Roche is buried very close to the grave of Stephen Leacock in the churchyard of St. George the Martyr at Sibbald Point in Sutton, Ontario. Both were traditional Canadian Tories - royalists, who believed in Canada and her British institutions and connection, and were suspicious of American liberal republicanism. With her reverence for nobility and the aristocratic ideal, so obviously on display in her Jalna books, de la Roche was more properly the High Tory. Apart from his royalism and his views of race and sex, Leacock's dissent from egalitarianism was in the direction of individualistic meritocracy. He was, perhaps, the quintessential Canadian Low Tory.

- Canada's British institutions and familial connection have historically been means to the end of preserving Canada's independence from the United States. The reverse is also true, that the cause of maintaining Canada's independence from the United States has been the means to the end of preserving her British institutions and familial connection, valued as goods in themselves. The main weakness of Canadian Toryism, apart from the fear of being seen as too right-wing by the electorate that has led to far too much left-ward drift over the years, is that while it always recognized the first point, it seldom fully grasped the second, which is the more important of the two. John Diefenbaker was an exception to this. John Farthing, whose Freedom Wears a Crown articulated and defended the point, was another. Neither man was properly appreciated by the Conservative Party.

- Conservatives of the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries looked back to the eighteenth century statesman Edmund Burke as their prophet. Ironically. Edmund Burke was a member of the Whig (liberal) Party. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this. The ideas that conservatives most respect in Burke are his defence of the British monarchy and established Church, his condemnation of "armed doctrines", his revision of social contract theory to make the "contract of each particular state" into a "clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society" that is a "partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born," and the local patriotism of his "little platoons," all of which come from his Reflections on the Revolution in France, written late in his career, and which better reflect Tory convictions than those of his own party. Indeed, this sharing of ideas has gone both ways. Thomas Hobbes, who introduced social contract theory to begin with, and David Hume, the noted eighteenth century skeptic, are both recognized as significant contributors to the development of the ideas of classical liberalism, but politically both were affiliated with the Royalists/Tories. In Hume's case this only really comes out in his History of England. At any rate, excellent as many of Burke's "neo-Tory" insights in the Reflections are, conservatives would do better to look to his friend the lexicographer Samuel Johnson, the oft-quoted Dr. Johnson, as their eighteenth century prophet. T. S. Eliot was one conservative who recognized this, and his famous statement "I am an Anglo-Catholic in religion, a classicist in literature and a royalist in politics" consciously echoes Dr. Johnson's definition of a Tory.

- Canadian conservatism began as an adaptation of British Toryism. It was royalist, but, due to the greater denominational differences that have been here since before Confederation (French Canadians were predominantly Roman Catholic, English Canadians were traditionally English Anglicans and Scottish Presbyterians, with a sizable number of English Methodists and Baptists and Irish Catholics, and smaller numbers from other denominations) it was less associated with church establishment than its British parent, although it was far from being secular, and Canada, contrary to the claims of certain ignorant Grits, has no tradition of separation of church and state. Since the 1950s, and the birth of the American conservative movement (as recently as 1950 Lionel Trilling could write "In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition"), Canadian conservatives have tended either to borrow ideas from American conservatives (Canadian neo-conservatives) or to emphasize the differences between Canadian Toryism and American conservatism and try to re-align the former with socialism, progressivism, and the left (Red Tories). Both tendencies are mistakes, in my opinion. Contrary to some clever arguments from the Reds and the examples of lovably eccentric individuals like George Grant and Eugene Forsey who were able to blend religious conservatism and the Tory love of Canadian institutions with otherwise left-wing views in their personal philosophies, there is no natural affinity between Toryism on the one hand and socialism, progressivism, and the left in general on the other. Canadian neoconservatives, however, have had the perverse tendency to pick out of the big tent of American conservatism, the ideas that are least compatible with our own Toryism and neglect those that are the most. That big tent originally consisted of classical liberals or libertarians (liberals in the nineteenth century meaning of the term), ex-Communist Cold Warriors, and traditionalists like Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, and Robert Nisbet. The traditionalists borrowed from British classical conservatism as many ideas as they could compatibly incorporate into a liberal republic. Obviously, these are the American conservatives most compatible with our own Toryism. They are also the most neglected by Canadian neo-conservatives. This is perhaps not surprising when we consider how neglected they are in their own movement. Their role in the big tent was largely supplanted in the 1970s and 1980s by the New Right and (American) neo-conservatives. The New Right was an alliance between populist-nationalists and the Religious Right. There was some overlap in position between the older moral and social conservatism of the traditionalists which corresponded closely to that of British and Canadian Tories but the predominantly evangelical/fundamentalist Religious Right more often seemed to be a revival of Puritanism, the theocratic Calvinism that had been the first form of liberalism before it went secular, and the Tories' oldest enemy. The American neo-conservatives were New Deal, liberal, Democrats who defected from the left when the New Left became pro-Soviet and pro-Palestinian. These became the arch champions of American, neo-imperialistic, militarism. It is from the classical liberals and American neo-conservatives that Canadian neo-conservatives have borrowed the most. The Religious Right has had much less of an impact, perhaps because of the large influence of social justice theology on our evangelicals, although interestingly the socially and morally conservative George Grant, usually considered a Red Tory, was willing to look on the Religious Right as allies in the fight against abortion and euthanasia. With the election of Donald Trump to the American presidency, the populist-nationalists, with the backing of a sizable portion of the Religious Right, rose to ascendency in the big tent of American conservatism, much to the disgust of the Republican Party elite, an alliance of the neo-conservatives, classical liberals (except the Trump-supporting paleolibertarians), and a minority of the Religious Right. Already in Canada we see signs of this impacting us, with Doug Ford leading the Ontario Progressive Conservatives to victory on a populist-nationalist platform, and now Quebec having given a majority government to a party which, like Maxime Bernier's proposed new federal party, blends classical liberalism with populist-nationalism. What this entails for the future of Canada and Canadian conservatism remains to be seen. I will still be holding on to my classical, Canadian, Toryism with a willingness, as always, to entertain worthy ideas from any of these other varieties.

- The elements of genuine moral and social conservatism are the beliefs: a) in an unchanging and universal moral order or natural law with fixed standards of right and wrong (C. S. Lewis’ “Tao” from The Abolition of Man), b) that tradition, through which the accumulated wisdom of the past is passed down to us, is a more reliable guide to these standards than private, abstract, reasoning, c) that the cultivation and nature of right habits of behaviour (virtues) is more effective than the imposition of rules at producing right decision-making and that while the information transmitted in the process of cultivating such habits necessarily includes some rules, the bulk of it cannot be codified as rules and can only be learned from example, which is best accomplished in the home with the support of the teaching ministry of the church, and d) that the government’s role is the “ministry of the sword”, by which it makes and enforces the laws that uphold the peace, order, and justice that provide the civilized framework for all of the preceding points. The popular perception of moral and social conservatism, however, has largely been shaped by the New American Religious Right, the most immediate direct ancestor of which was the Prohibition movement which grew out of the Temperance Movement supported by evangelical and fundamentalist revivalists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is often forgotten today that Prohibition was considered to be a Progressive cause, both big and small p, at the time, and also had the support of the Social Gospel movement (theological liberalism) and first-wave feminism. Indeed, in Canada at least, the latter was largely responsible for Prohibition passing – the provinces generally voted Prohibition in immediately after feminism won the franchise for women in World War I and then voted it back out again once the men returned from overseas. While Prohibition did have its supporters among Conservatives, the most traditional Tories and the churches most associated with classical conservatism, the Anglican Church which at the time was still “The Tory Party at prayer” and the ultramontane Roman Catholic Church of pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec, opposed it. Stephen Leacock gave lectures against it pro bono public! There are significant differences, of course, between the Prohibition movement and the New Religious Right. The former sought to impose on society a new law, the complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages, which was not grounded in tradition, had not been part of mainstream Christian orthodox moral theology (it belongs rather to the Islamic tradition) and which, despite the best efforts of Rev. William Patton to prove otherwise, clearly contradicts the Scriptures. The latter was a response to a moral revolution that removed long-standing, traditional rules, which are supported by orthodox Christian moral theology. There is nothing in its opposition to abortion, euthanasia, and the ongoing sexual revolution with which genuine moral and social conservatism would disagree, but in its presentation it evokes the image of previous evangelical backed moral crusades, such as Prohibition and the seventeenth century Puritanism that would put a man in stocks for kissing his wife in public when he returned from a three year voyage on Sunday, an unattractive image to say the least.

- David Lane was a disturbed individual who rejected the Christian faith in which he was raised for a revived, Nordic, paganism and embraced a violent racialism and was eventually sent to prison for the crimes he committed as a member of the Order, a neo-Nazi terrorist group that supported its activities with funds obtained through armed robbery. Obviously a man who any sane person would consider to be utterly repugnant. What is interesting, however, is that if you take the "fourteen words" meme attributed to him, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children", and substitute any other colour or racial identity for "our" and "white" you will end up with a statement that would be considered unobjectionable, non-offensive, acceptable, laudable, and even an essential goal of social policy by liberals, progressives, and other self-identified "enlightened" people. Make the substitution and you will see what I mean. This provides us with a challenge for the soi disant "enlightened." Either admit, that despite its unsavoury origins and associations, there is nothing objectionable in the content of the “fourteen words” meme or disavow all the other racial identity politics that you support.

- Another white nationalist meme is that of “white genocide.” It purports to explain the observable phenomenon that has sometimes been called “white death,” i.e., the vast shrinking, over the last century, of the Caucasian percentage both of the total world population and of the populations of historically white countries, that has accelerated after the post-World War II Baby Boom as white fertility has dropped and white populations have been aging without reproducing themselves, relying instead upon immigration to replace themselves. The explanation offered by the “white genocide” meme is that this is due to the plotting of some racial enemy. Although there certainly are leftists who express their hatred of white people in genocidal terms, an obvious example of which being Noel Ignatiev, and genocide would be an apt description of what is being done to the whites of Zimbabwe and South Africa, the phenomenon as a whole is probably better described as “white suicide.” The white nationalists are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking “who is doing this to us” they should be asking “why are we doing this to ourselves.” The answer is liberalism.

- Forty-five years ago, in the eerily prophetic novel, The Camp of the Saints, French author Jean Raspail warned of the coming death of Western civilization through an invasion of the masses of Third World poor aided and abetted by a suicidal white liberalism. The author was not a populist-ethno-nationalist, at least not primarily, but rather a traditional Roman Catholic and a legitimist royalist. Perhaps this explains his insightful prescience.

- Both the left and the right believe that ethnocentrism has both a healthy and a toxic form. Where they disagree is over what constitutes the difference between the healthy and toxic. The right would say that a healthy ethnocentrism is the kind of in-group loyalty that promotes and facilitates social cohesion, trust, and cooperation whereas toxic ethnocentrism is characterized by a paranoid distrust and violent hatred towards other groups. The left is more simplistic. For them it is a matter of skin colour. If you have the wrong skin colour, white, your ethnocentrism is toxic, no matter what form it takes, if you have the right skin colour, all others, it is healthy, even if it is expressed in paranoid and hateful terms.

- Today “enlightened” seems to mean “uncritically following the latest trends and fads in modern philosophy.” Come to think of it, that’s what it meant in the days of Diderot, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Kant and Rousseau, as well.

- Finding economic truth boils down to one question: who is the most competent to make the decision? If it is a decision that primarily affects the individual and his family, then the individual and family are under most circumstances the most competent to make the decision. There are obvious exceptions of people who lack the rational facility to make their own decisions, but for the most part this stands true. Conversely, if it is a decision that primarily affects the good of the country as a whole, the government is the most competent to make the decision. Again there are obvious exceptions, such as when the government consists of arrogant, egotists, obsessed with reading everything through the lens of the latest trend in progressive and politically correct ideology, but generally it is the case. The doctrine of laissez faire or economic liberalism is the error of thinking that the individual is competent to make all decisions (and that the common good of the whole country is thereby brought about through Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”). Socialism is the error of thinking that the government is competent to make all decisions, including those that individuals and families should be making for themselves. The latter is by far the worst error of the two, but they are both errors.

- When someone says "satire is dead" they generally mean that things so bizarre have been happening in reality that it would be pointless to parody them. Satire is dead, but for an entirely different reason - the widespread influence of liberal, progressive, and left-wing thinking. The left does not get satire, because the left is incapable of distinguishing between basic human imperfection and huge evils that demand immediate rectification. This is because they refuse to accept the basic Christian truth that human history, between the Fall and Second Coming, is the history of people with the fundamental flaw of Original Sin, and that perfection cannot be expected on this earth and in time. Therefore, their response to any perceived imperfection is "this is unacceptable, it must be smashed, crushed, destroyed, and replaced with perfection." The point of satire, however, is to help us live with our imperfections, by allowing us to laugh at them. The political, social, religious, and cultural institutions that make for the good and civilized life are not perfect, but they can never be perfect, so rather than smashing them, crushing them, and razing them to the ground, let us laugh at their imperfections, so that we can appreciate them, warts and all. This spirit is completely foreign to the progressive. This is also why the greatest satirists - Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson, Stephen Leacock, and Evelyn Waugh to give a few examples, have been Tories.

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