Today is January 1st, the first day of the year according to the civil calendar. In the liturgical year it is the octave day of Christmas and hence the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord. For as long as I have been writing essays and making them available to the public, I have chosen this as the day for an annual essay summarizing my political and religious beliefs. This is in honour of the late Charley Reese, who was a syndicated op-ed columnist who had a similar practice, maintaining that writers owed their readers this sort of full disclosure.
First, I will say that I am a Canadian. I was born in Canada, raised in Canada, and have lived my entire life so far in Canada, in the province of Manitoba. I grew up on a farm in southwestern Manitoba and, after graduating from Rivers Collegiate Institute, studied theology for five years at Providence College and Theological Seminary, as it was called at the time, in Otterburne in southeastern Manitoba. I have lived and worked since then in the provincial capital of Winnipeg.
I use the old political label "Tory" to describe my political views. This term is most commonly used today to refer to adherents of the Conservative Party but I do not use it in this partisan sense. I have little love for any political party. I detest the Liberal Party for what it has done to my country, and the NDP for the views they espouse which I consider to be both insane and evil, but hold the Conservative Party largely in contempt for not being true to Tory principles. When I was growing up, people who wished to indicate that they held conservative political convictions without necessarily supporting the Conservative Party called themselves "small-c conservatives." I prefer "Tory" because most "small-c conservatives" are actually neoconservatives, that is, people whose "conservatism" contains nothing except the beliefs of the liberalism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, except a highly favourable view of American militarism. Tory was the name of the party that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries fought for the constitutional rights and privileges of the Crown and for the established Church of England with its Apostolic hierarchy and ministry and reformed doctrine and practice against Puritans, Whigs, levellers, and other such radicals. The Tory Party was reorganized into the Conservative Party in the early nineteenth century. My preference for the label Tory is to indicate my greater sympathy with the views of Lord Falkland, John Evelyn, the Earl of Clarendon, Sir Robert Filmer, Dean Swift, Dr. Johnson, James Boswell and Colonel Sibthorp, than with those associated with the Conservative Party at any point after this reorganization.
As a Tory, I am a royalist and a monarchist, rather than a republican or democrat. Monarchism is the belief that political sovereignty is the property of the single individual who is the representative head of the state, and royalism the belief that this office is best handed down as an inheritance through a line of natural succession rather than filled by popular election. This goes against the Modern notion that government derives its legitimacy from being chosen by the governed, but it is based upon the ancient idea that authority, the right to lead, should be supported by power, the ability to compel, but that true authority cannot be based on power. Democracy is a form of government based on power - the power of numbers or mob rule - and is thus the mother of all tyranny. Dictators, tyrants. despots - whichever term you use to refer to those who are in a sense monarchs, but who are in no way royal - derive their power from their ability to manipulate the masses and control the crowds. That is what real democracy looks like. I believe in the Westminster Parliament system, not because it is "democratic", but because it is a way, that has evolved through centuries and has stood the test of time, of harnessing this kind of power into the support of government that has the natural royal authority of the king or queen at its head. Put another way, I believe in the institution of Parliament rather than the ideal of democracy.
Furthermore, as a Tory, I believe that order and freedom are complementary rather than opposing forces. There can be no true order without freedom and no true freedom without order. When revolutionaries attack the traditional order they do so in the name of freedom, but when they have torn the old order down they replace it with a false, new order in which there is little freedom, and far less than in the old order. I believe that the classical liberal idea that the natural state of mankind is to exist as individuals outside of organized society, that such a state is one in which freedom is absolute but insecure, and that individuals create societies by voluntarily contracting to give up a portion of their absolute freedom to gain security for that which they retain, is completely false. The natural state of mankind is to live together in families, communities, and societies, to exist apart from such is an unnatural state, and freedom can only be found in the order of family, community and society. Furthermore, since order is hierarchical, and freedom only exists within order, the idea that freedom and equality go together is also completely false.
Self-described conservatives believe in defending Western Civilization from its detractors and against enemies who would subvert it from within or attack it from abroad. That is all well and good, and I, probably more often than not, would agree with them about those detractors and enemies. Most of these, however, are neo-conservatives who think of "Western Civilization" only in terms of Modern liberalism, democracy, capitalism, and secularism. They subscribe wholeheartedly to the Whig Interpretation of History and the only positive good they can see in the pre-Modern past is what can be interpreted as leading up to Modern liberalism. I, as a Tory, disagree with this perspective very much, and would say that the largest part of what is worth defending in Western civilization is the heritage of the ancient civilizations of classical Greece and Rome and especially the Christian civilization of pre-Modern Christendom. Neoconservatives look back on World War II and the Cold War through the lenses of a sort of Manichean dualism and see them as conflicts between the good side of Western Civilization in the Modern sense of liberal, secular, capitalist democracy and the bad side of the rival totalitarianisms of Nazism and Communism. From my Tory understanding, however, I strongly agree with what T. S. Eliot argued in The Idea of a Christian Society and which was also the entire point of Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy and a number of speeches by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that liberal, secular, capitalist, democracy springs from the same Modern well as Nazism and Communism and we must look to traditions older than this to find something worthy of the honour of being called civilization. In the post-World War II era, and even more so the post-Cold War era, the Tory must be more of a reactionary, a label that I learned to embrace from the example of the late, great, historian John Lukacs, than a conservative.
Therefore, while as a Tory I share the anti-socialism of soi-disant conservatives, indeed, in what I would say is a stronger form, I do not share their enthusiastic pro-capitalism. Conservatives' objection to socialism is that it doesn't work, that it places all of a nation's resources under the control of incompetent administrators, robs people of incentives and makes them into de facto slaves, and promises abundance to everybody but delivers instead the misery of long line-ups for one's pitiful ration of the most basic goods and services. All of this is true, but from my perspective the real reason socialism deserves condemnation is that it is the vice of Envy, second only to Pride as the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins, hypocritically wearing the mask of the highest theological virtue, Charity or Christian Love. As for capitalism, I find it difficult to be enthusiastic for the great engine of change, which has been driving people out of the countryside and into big, ugly, sprawling cities for over two centuries now, uprooting communities, dividing families, replacing woods and meadows with cement and asphalt and teaching everybody to value everything in terms of its utility or, worse, its sale price. Yes, I am aware that of all the ideological systems of the Modern Age, it is liberal capitalism that actually delivers the material progress they each promise. My question for those who think that this is sufficient to answer the above criticism is whether or not this material progress is worth the cost. Two thousand years ago, Someone asked "what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" and warned that "ye cannot serve both God and mammon." Oswald Spengler said that the Western Civilization of the Age of Progress possessed a Faustian soul. Perhaps it is time that we look past the happy ending Goethe gave to his version of the Faust legend and remember how Christopher Marlowe originally ended his great tragedy.
I began contemplating the hubris of modernity long before I encountered the concept of "chronological snobbery" that so poignantly captures its essence in the writings of C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield. The realization that we have developed an unhealthy habit of ascribing too high a value to scientific explanations of the world, treating as dogmatic truth what is at best plausible speculation, without questioning the materialist presuppositions that have increasingly biased the entire scientific process, and ignoring the obvious fact that science's primary value to mankind, its utility in harnessing nature to serve his will, is independent of whether its hypotheses are later verified or proven false, helped me, to overcome the stumbling blocks that science classes unwittingly placed in the way of accepting the Christian faith that was still, at the time, albeit in a somewhat watered down form, taught in the early grades of the public schools, at least in the rural parts of Canada where I grew up. When I was fifteen, I, in the lingo of evangelicalism, accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and was baptized about a year and a half later. Aware that mainstream denominations had been infiltrated by a form of Modern unbelief that pretended to be faith while coming up with clever ways to explain away the authority of the Scriptures and the articles affirmed in the Apostles' Creed in their literal sense, I spent the early years of my Christian faith in dissenting sects where this was not so much a problem. As my faith matured, and I came to appreciate the richness of liturgical worship, the unsurpassed affirmations of the Christian kerygma in the ancient ecumenical Creeds, that a right understanding of the Scriptures can hardly be a matter of private interpretation since prior to the relatively recent invention of the printing press and spread of literacy it was not possible for every believer to have his own copy to read for himself, that studying only or even primarily the theologians of the last five centuries and bypassing the Church Fathers of the first five centuries of the Christian age is a sure way to fall into serious error, and the importance of the three clerical orders and the sacramental ministry established in the New Testament, I was confirmed in the Anglican Church. I have in no way abandoned my contempt for the kind of thinly disguised unbelief that explains away the deity, Virgin Birth, and bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ as these have traditionally and literally been understood and retain my conviction that, in the words of Dr. Bob Jones Sr. "whatever the Bible says is so" and have become, therefore, a sort of fundamentalist High Churchman.
I am well aware of the fact that those who follow the spirit of the present age will find my views, religious and political, to be highly offensive. This does bother me and since this type are so eager to take offense at thoughts and words that do not conform to the current fashion I take no small amount of delight in so giving it. It saddens me greatly to see the extent to which this spirit of fashionable progressivism has pervaded my own country, the Dominion of Canada, which was originally built upon the solid foundation of Honour and Loyalty in conscious rejection of the path of severing ties to the past and rushing headlong into the future. I have been watching, over the last half of a decade, as all across Western civilization increasing numbers of people have, in an expression taken from the most boring movie trilogy I ever slept through, been "red-pilled", that is to say, had their eyes opened to the fact that what we have been told to think about race, nation, ethnicity, immigration, sex, gender, sexual/gender orientation/identity and similar matters for a couple of generations now is all a pack of ridiculous lies. While I find this somewhat encouraging, have very much enjoyed watching the bien pensants of the left break down into raving hysterics over it, and would like to see more of this in Canada, I also see reason for caution. There is too much populism among the red-pilled and not enough deep reflection on how the lies they are rejecting are the result of a downward trajectory that began when Western Civilization entered the Modern Age by stepping away from the order of Christendom in which, as Fr. Seraphim Rose put it "Orthodox Christian Monarchy is government divinely established, and directed, ultimately, to the other world, government with the teaching of Christian Truth and the salvation of souls as its profoundest purpose."
Happy New Year
God Save the Queen!
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