The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter in Winnipeg - A Sonnet

The milk-white snow drifts deep across the street
Blown by an ice cold wind out of the north.
The sidewalk, slippery with last night's sleet,
Spells doom for those who from their house set forth.

The sun, half-hidden behind thick grey clouds,
Provides a little light but not much heat.
Wool scarves, wrapped tighter than bleak funeral shrouds,
Conceal the face of every one you meet.

There's hoar-frost covering every hydro line
And icicles are hanging from the eaves.
It is so cold that even booze and brine
Have reached the point at which they both will freeze.

All of these things place one thought on the brain -
It's winter time in Winnipeg again!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This and That No. 4

In re-reading Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences for the review essay (“How We Got Here From There”) which precedes this post I finally located the passage in this book which I searched in vain for when writing the essay which launched this blog (“The Divine Right of Kings Versus the Tyranny of The People”). That passage, from Weaver’s 4th chapter “Egotism in Work and Art” reads:

It would be an unpopular man who should suggest to the present generation that work is a divine ordinance. The idea has been grouped with the widely misinterpreted divine right of kings, and , if we examine the matter closely, we find that the two are indeed related. For whether one is a worker or a ruler, the question becomes at once: What is the real source of his authority to act? That Governor John Winthrop found a solution for this problem is worth knowing. In a statement to the General Court of Massachusetts in 1645 he said: “The questions that have troubled the country have been about the authority of the magistracy, and the liberty of the people. It is you have called us unto this office; but being called, we have our authority from God; it is the ordinance of God, and it hath the image of God stamped upon it; and the contempt of it has been vindicated by God with terrible examples of his vengeance.” In other words, the leader may be chosen by the people, but he is guided by the right; and, in the same way, we may say that the worker may be employed by anyone, but that he is directed by the autonomous ideal in the task. (p. 76)

In the second paragraph of his Introduction Weaver makes reference to how the “widely prevailing Whig theory of history, with its belief that the most advanced point in time represents the point of highest development” prevents people from admitting the truth of certain basic facts. That same Whig theory is brilliantly undermined by his book. Although American conservatism is thought by many to be a re-labelled classical liberalism, the book which “launched the renaissance of philosophical conservatism” in the United States, was definitely written by a Tory, albeit an American Tory, loyal to the institutions of his own country as a good Tory must be. For more on Toryism I refer you to my essay: "On Being a Tory in the Age of Whigs"

I inadvertently left out the third of the three books I had intended to include in the “Also Recommended” section. Rather than edit it in now I will mention it here, it is T. S. Eliot’s Notes Towards a Definition of Culture which was published by Faber and Faber of London, first in 1948 (the same year Ideas Have Consequences came out), my copy being the 1967 reprint of the 1962 Faber paper covered edition.

I chose this book, like George Grant’s Technology and Justice and C. S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man because of thematic similarities. Lewis’s book, about what abandonment of the universals that underlie all traditional cultures is doing to modern man is most directly parallel to Weaver in theme. Eliot, who wrote to define culture, distinguishes between a number of different meanings, pointing out that religion is at the heart of culture, and, in defending his concept of a higher culture (led by an aristocracy of course) points out that the ability to think in terms of the universal is the mark of a higher culture, and that this is why Christianity, which is a universal faith in the sense that it believes and preaches that there is one God for everybody and invites everybody to participate in Christ’s redemption and join in Christian worship, is at the heart of the higher culture and civilization of the West. Grant’s book also looks at the decline of Western civilization but my inclusion of it is more because of parallels in secondary themes, such as the significance of the development of technology.

All three of these men were like Weaver conservatives and Christians - indeed, they were all Anglicans (or in Weaver’s case Episcopalian). Grant and Lewis were also strong Christian Platonists like Weaver – Eliot I read as being more Aristotelian. This is an after the fact observation. It was not a conscious consideration in choosing the recommendations.

Some might lift an eyebrow at my recommendation of Grant’s book. George P. Grant is often referred to as a “Red Tory” – indeed, the “Red Tory” because the Red Tories claim to get their inspiration from him. I challenge Grant’s being so designated, however, and not only because Grant rejected that label himself, which is the reason I did not refer to him in my essay on "Red Toryism" ("Red Is Not the Color of Toryism"). A “Red Tory” is a progressive or socialist who is a member of the Conservative Party and sometimes cloaks his real philosophy in conservative lingo. Grant, after a Christian spiritual awakening at the end of World War II, became a genuine philosophical conservative. As such, and as a patriot, indeed a nationalist, of his country Canada, Grant was a true Tory. He was a left Tory on economic issues to be sure, and here he departed from the Tory tradition in Canada, but this was certainly not the case with regards to social issues, which are more important than economic issues (see his essays on euthanasia and abortion in Technology and Justice).

There is a point to be made about conservatism and indeed about politics in general in the above, which is related to what Richard Weaver wrote about knowledge. Just as truth about God, the hierarchy of goods, and other universals is at the center of true knowledge, with facts about the observable material universe at the periphery, held together by that truth which is at the center, so practical economic and social issues should be the peripheral matters in one’s political outlook with more basic principles about the organization of political society at the center. At the heart of conservatism, is the preservation of the values, institutions, culture, civilization and the very life of the political society. Specific stances on economic and social issues must be held together and related to each other by that center. The same holds true for other political viewpoints.

A distinction needs to be made, however, between two different uses of the word “politics”. The most common use of the word “politics” today is in reference to partisan politics – to the struggle over power in political society. The familiar farcical etymology of “politics” – from poly (many) and ticks (blood-sucking insects) – is quite appropriate in reference to this kind of politics. The original meaning of politics, however, the meaning reflected in the title of Aristotle’s Politics , and for that matter Plato’s Republic (the title of which is Politeia in Greek), is reflective thought about matters which concern life in an organized, sovereign, society (which in 5th/4th Century BC Greece, was the city/state – the polis). While this must rank below theology, metaphysics, ethics, and other such branches of philosophy pertaining to transcendent truth, in the hierarchy of the sciences (in the original meaning of science, i.e., all organized human knowledge, not just facts about the physical world), it also ranks above all the natural sciences.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How We Got Here From There

Ideas Have Consequences by Richard M. Weaver, Chicago and London, The University of Chicago Press, 1948, 1984, 190 pages.

The collapse of Western civilization is evident wherever we turn our eye. When living amidst ruins our thoughts often turn to the civilization that existed before the collapse and to the question of what happened to it. How did we get to where we are today from where we were back then?

Sixty-six years ago, the Second World War came to an end. Today, this conflict is widely remembered as “the Good War” and the Allied victory is regarded as the ultimate triumph of good over evil by many. Distance from the events has helped this rather uncritical perspective to spread. For while the end of the war had brought about an end to the tyranny of the Third Reich and to the aggression of Imperial Japan, it also brought about an end to the British Empire. The liberation of occupied Europe and of the concentration camps had brought to light the astonishing degree of evil that was possible in the country that had given us Mozart, Beethoven, and Goethe. An even more evil regime than Nazi Germany, Stalin’s USSR, came out of the war triumphant. Stalin held in captivity the Eastern European countries the Red Army had “liberated” from the Nazis and now posed a major threat to Western Europe. Finally, the war had been brought to an end, by the unconscionable act of dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities.

In the years immediately following the War, the question of “how we got here” was on many minds. In 1948, the University of Chicago Press published an answer, in a brief but deep, book by Richard M. Weaver entitled Ideas Have Consequences. Weaver was an English professor at the University of Chicago and a conservative. His book, in the words of Dr. Robert Nisbet, “launched the renaissance of philosophical conservatism in” the United States and “is one of the few authentic classics in the American political tradition”.

In the first sentence of his introduction, Weaver declared his topic to be the “dissolution of the West”. On the same page he tells us “there is ground for declaring that modern man has become a moral idiot”. If that could be written in 1948, think about what that says about man today!

In his introduction, Weaver presents a series of steps, that have taken Western man from the nominalism of William of Occam in the late 14th century and brought him to Nagasaki in the 20th century. This is a lot further back than most conservatives today would trace the decay. There is a tendency among the current generation of conservatives to see the decline of the West as a 20th century problem or, if they are more informed, to trace it back to the “Enlightenment”. When nominalism was born, the Renaissance was just in its infancy stage and the Reformation was a century away. Weaver has done a very good job of showing how the stages he writes about, proceed from the previous ones in a chain, as well as of demonstrating why that chain is a chain of descent rather than the chain of ascent that progressives would identify it as.

Ideas Have Consequences, however, should not be read as an exercise in finger pointing – “it is all Occam’s fault!”. It is a diagnosis of a culture and a civilization and to understand a diagnosis we need to have an idea of what a “healthy” culture and civilization looks like. A healthy civilization is one which is integrated around a center that is illuminated by universals.

What are universals? They are ideas which transcend particulars. The material world consists of particulars. There are particular people, particular objects, particular places, particular things of all sorts, which we experience in everyday life. A universal is something which we cannot see and experience but which is essential to our understanding particulars. If we say “Bob is a man” what are we saying about Bob? To know what that predicate is saying about Bob, we need to have an idea of what “man” is. This means having an idea of something called “man” which is different from a particular man like Bob, but which applies to Bob, Joe, Bill and every other particular of whom “is a man” is a valid predicate.

Plato and Aristotle disagreed as to the nature of universals and their relationship to human knowledge. Plato, asserted that universals were Forms, that existed in the realm of pure thought, and that we obtain knowledge when particulars, which are imperfect representations of universals, awaken within us innate concepts of the universals they represent. Contemplation of those universals is the road to truth. Aristotle argued that knowledge of the universals is not innate, something to be awakened through a process of remembering, but something we arrive at by generalizing from particulars.

Weaver was a Platonist rather than an Aristotelian, and this manifests itself in his book, but a Platonic rather than Aristotelian understanding of universals is not absolutely essential to his main concept. However they may have disagreed on the nature of universals, both Plato and Aristotle insisted that true knowledge is a knowledge of universals (truth) rather than an accumulation of knowledge about particulars (facts). This is the classical perspective which was incorporated into the Christian religion and Christian theology.

It is this perspective that William of Occam, the 14th century Franciscan friar who is best remembered today for his law stating that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”, and the school of nominalism attacked. As Weaver puts it:

The defeat of logical realism in the great medieval debate was the crucial event in the history of Western culture; from this flowed those acts which issue now in modern decadence…It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have a real existence. (p. 3)

The steps, according to Weaver, that brought Western man from nominalism to the Twentieth Century are as follows: From the denial the real existence of universals, came the necessary belief that nature (the physical world) is fully intelligible within itself, from which came the liberal rejection of Original Sin and faith in the fundamental goodness of man. From this came rationalism and modern science which uses knowledge of the physical world as a means to domination. Next came Darwinism which sought to explain man by his environment, and from that social theories which explained human action by economic factors.

To those who object, that these steps represent progress, because modern science and the technology it has created have led to an increase in material blessings, Weaver points out that:

One of the strangest disparities of history lies between the sense of abundance felt by older and simpler societies and the sense of scarcity felt by the ostensibly richer societies of today. (p. 14)

This disparity has only gotten more pronounced in the decades since those words were first written.

What nominalism robbed Western man of , Weaver explains, is the center of his knowledge and civilization, and without a center civilization must inevitably disintegrate. Man cannot rely upon reason alone because the outcome of reason is determined by man’s disposition:

If the disposition is wrong, reason increases maleficence; if it is right, reason orders and furthers the good. (p. 19)

Reason, in other words, is instrumental, it is a means to an end. But what end?

Our everyday thoughts, Weaver tells us, rest upon our beliefs, which in turn are derived from our “metaphysical dream”. Now, upon a first reading of Weaver, one might be tempted to write off Weaver’s rather singular terminology as the kind of rhetorical flourish to be expected from a university English professor, and to read “worldview” wherever Weaver writes “metaphysical dream” or “mass media” wherever he refers to “the Great Stereopticon”. This would be a mistake, however, for Weaver chooses his terminology for its precision rather than for its rhetorical effect. Worldview is a much more general term, referring to any broad outlook upon the world in general. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines questions about the world which cannot be answered through the natural sciences, such as why it exists, and what the purpose of life is. A “metaphysical dream” then, is the level of conscious thought where one’s basic understanding of the answers to such questions lies.

It should be apparent how this level of reflection depends upon universals. For if the sentence “Bob is a man” is unintelligible apart from the universal concept of “man”, in which case the universal is clearly, if imperfectly, reflected in a physical world before our eyes, then ultimate questions of the reason and purpose for existence will require universals to be understood, let alone answered, and these universals will be ones whose manifestation in the world observable through the senses is less immediately apparent than that of “man” – universals like, truth, love, justice, good, etc.

The metaphysical dream is the center which integrates and unites a “metaphysical community” which Weaver describes as being “suffused with a common feeling about the world which enables all vocations to meet without embarrassment and to enjoy the strength that comes of common tendency”. (p. 33) When the center is lost, the culture it holds together begins to fall apart. When men reject the universals, they make the mistake of defining the physical world as the “real world” and they must search for a purpose and meaning for their lives that is contained entirely within this physical world. How often have we heard someone refer to the struggle to obtain the material necessities of life as “the real world”, making the end of that struggle the purpose of existence, and dismissing the civilizing forms, structures, and conventions of culture?

When man turns away God, the Good, and the universals, he loses his sense of higher purpose. When he loses this, he loses his vocation, i.e. the sense of higher calling which makes his activity meaningful and fulfilling. He also loses his sense of having a shared purpose with all other members of his community from the highest to the lowest. In the second through fourth chapters of his book, Weaver explores how this loss manifests itself politically, socially, and economically in ways which are harmful to the community and to society.

When a shared sense of a higher purpose is lost to a community or a society it loses its fraternity which has been replaced, in Western societies, with the notion of equality. Weaver writes:

The ancient feeling of brotherhood carries obligations of which equality knows nothing. It calls for respect and protection, for brotherhood is status in family, and family is by nature hierarchical. It demands patience with little brother, and it may sterns exact duty of big brother. (pp. 41-42).

Fraternity binds a community together, equality, other than equality before the law, tears it apart. Equality is the rejection of distinctions and hierarchy, both of which are essential to the structure of society. Modern democracy, Weaver informs us, is a lie and a contradiction. It is a lie because:

If it promises equality before the law, it does no more than empires and monarchies have done…If it promises equality of condition, it promises injustice, because one law for the ox and for the lion is tyranny. (p. 44)

It is a contradiction because it purports to be the most effective means of placing the people best suited to leadership in governing positions. This contradicts egalitarian democracy’s own rhetoric, for if one man is as good as another, there can be no people who are better suited for leadership than others, let alone any that are best suited. If egalitarian democrats truly believed what they preach they would demand that governors be chosen at random rather than through elections.

If we want our society to be led by the people best suited to be leaders, we must believe in a distinction between best, better, good, bad, worse, and worst. This distinction forms a hierarchy and the leadership of the best, is by definition, aristocracy. “Democracy” Weaver writes, “cannot exist without aristocracy.” (p. 49)

In this context that Weaver, talking about modern democracy’s celebration of the common, the mediocre, and the average and denigration of the excellent, made the following interesting remark:

The democrats well sense that, if they allow people to divide according to abilities and preferences, soon structure will impose itself upon the mass. Hence the adulation of the regular fellow, the political seduction of the common man, and the deep distrust of intellectuals, whose grasp of principle gives them superior insight. (p. 46)

Many would probably balk at Weaver’s description of intellectuals as people “whose grasp of principle gives them superior insight”. Contemporary “intellectuals” tend to be supporters of every progressive fad, revolutionary cause, and left-wing notion no matter how utterly stupid it is. Why on earth, then, would Weaver describe such people in such adulatory terms?

The answer is that he is not talking about that kind of intellectual. In his book, Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky, historian Paul Johnson describes people who believe that because of their intellectual accomplishments, they form a class that better deserves than the clergy to fill the clergy’s old role as the spiritual and moral leaders of society and the world. Professing their love for mankind, they are brutal to people in particular, and Johnson describes their personal tyrannies towards the people closest to them in their own lives, in great detail, to make the point that these are the people who are least suited to spiritual and moral leadership.

Author Tom Wolfe made an interesting point about such people in his commencement address to Boston University in 2000. He said:

Now, we must be careful to make a distinction between the intellectual and the person of intellectual achievement. The two are very very different animals. There are people of intellectual achievement, who increase the sum of human knowledge, the powers of human insight, and analysis. And then there are the intellectuals. An intellectual is a person knowledgeable in one field who speaks out only in others.

As an example of this, Wolfe pointed to Noam Chomsky, the brilliant linguist. After describing Chomsky’s contributions to our understanding of grammar and our psychological ability to learn, Wolfe said:

Did anyone call him an intellectual merely because he was one of the most brilliant people in the United States? No. When did he become an intellectual? When he finally spoke out concerning something he knew absolutely nothing about: the war in Vietnam.

Chomsky was, in other words, a specialist who was speaking outside his field.

Weaver, in the third chapter of his book, explains the phenomenon of this kind of intellectual to us. His explanation is similar to Wolfe’s but also very different. For Weaver, the problem is not that a specialist is speaking outside his field of expertise, the problem is rather specialization itself.

In the Middle Ages, Weaver tells us, “the possessor of highest learning was the philosophic doctor”. (p. 52). This was not someone who had earned the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in a university, but someone who “had mastered principles”, i.e. the universals of metaphysics and theology. Such a person ranked far above “those who had acquired only facts and skills”.

In the initial stage of modernism the philosophic doctor was replaced by a secular equivalent – the gentleman, Castiglione’s courtier, the “renaissance man”. The gentleman was in some ways similar to what we would call a polymath today but there is also a key difference. A polymath is someone with expertise in several areas, Weaver’s gentleman is characterized by “a general view of the relationship of things”. The original meaning of “liberal education” was education designed to impart such a general (“broad” or “liberal”) view to a person.

The philosophic doctor, the renaissance gentleman, and their North American descendant the antebellum Southern gentleman raised in the “Ciceronian tradition of eloquent wisdom” (p. 55) are the intellectuals Weaver spoke of “whose grasp of principle gives them superior insight”. What happened to them? When nominalism rejected universals, it started a process whereby truth, which is at the center of knowledge and was the subject of the learning of the philosophic doctor and gentleman, was replaced with facts, the subject matter of the specialist. The modern scientist is a specialist. He spends his life amassing a huge amount of information about the aspect of the physical world that he has chosen as his subject of expertise. This may lead to amazing breakthroughs within the context of his own field. In the broader view of human knowledge, however, he has focused on the peripherals (facts) and ignored the center (truth).

When the importance of truth and fact are inverted, in this way, Weaver tells us, the result is the fragmentation of human knowledge, and the specialist “ceases to be a doctor of philosophy since he is no longer capable of philosophy” (p. 57) He focuses on the kind of knowledge that increases man’s power, man’s domination of the world, but neglects the knowledge that essential to man’s relationship with other men and with God. This focus on physical facts and neglect of the more important areas of human knowledge is an obsession and “Civilization must be saved from some who profess to be its chief lights and glories” (p. 62).

The example that Weaver points to, of what this process of elevating the study of the physical world for the purpose of dominating nature over knowledge of God and truth, was the development of the atomic bomb in World War II. From a scientific point of view it was an amazing development. From a moral perspective it was a disaster.

In the decades since Ideas Have Consequences was first written the triumph of science over morality has continued unabated. Today, scientists are able to help infertile couples conceive artificially. In and of itself that would be considered a blessing, but to do so they must create human lives that the know beforehand will never be able to grow into human adults. That should be a major ethical roadblock in the way of such processes. Modern man has abandoned true ethics for utilitarianism, pragmatism, and consequentialism, however, and the solution the scientist offers is to put the “unused” embryos created by this process to the service of mankind by doing research on the development of stem cells in such embryos. “Modern man” as Richard Weaver wrote “has become a moral idiot”.

Weaver’s book was written in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These same years saw the beginning of the Cold War and this also is reflected in many of the themes Weaver chose for this book. The Cold War would come to be seen by many as a conflict between two sides that embodied opposite ideas, those of capitalism and socialism. Weaver’s perspective is quite different. He writes that socialism is “itself the materialist offspring of bourgeois capitalism” (p. 37). This is an insight that Weaver derives from the Vanderbilt Agrarians, some of whom were his mentors, and within whose tradition he writes. Weaver is very critical of capitalism, attributing the growth of commercialism to the loss of heroism and saying that “the man of commerce is by nature of things a relativist”.

This might seem odd to someone who thinks of conservatism primarily as “neoconservatism”, which in the last decades of the Cold War preached capitalism and democracy as the source of all blessings in the Western world and which in the decades since the Cold War has elevated capitalism and democracy into universals themselves, insisting that for the good of the world the United States should militarily bring these things to all countries. Weaver’s is the more authentic conservative tradition and there are many parallels between his critique of capitalism and technology and that made by his fellow Platonist and conservative, George P. Grant. Weaver, however, understood the nature of socialism better than Grant and points out how it makes all the same mistakes of capitalism because it is itself an outgrowth of capitalism.

Ultimately, the error that both capitalists and socialists have bought into, is one of materialism, the substitution of material ends for a higher calling as the goal and motivation of human activity. Men have lost their sense of vocation – the sense that the work they do they are called to do, and that there is meaning and purpose to it, other than as an unpleasant necessity in order to obtain a paycheck. They have also lost their spirit of heroism whereby they are willing to endure hardships to achieve ends that are not motivated by mercantile factors. They have developed the mentality of a spoiled child, who rejects all authority on the part of his superiors and sees no higher goal than the fulfillment of his every material whim.

If Richard Weaver could write such a diagnosis in 1948 – imagine what he would say if he were living today.


George P. Grant, Technology and Justice, Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1991. (originally published in 1986)

C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001 (originally published in 1943).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This and That No. 3

First a couple of notes on the preceding two essays.

I intend to follow up "The Suicide Cult" with an essay which addresses the same topic from a theological perspective. The essay will be more or less a sermon on the text Acts 17:26: "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation". This verse declares that both the common humanity, shared by all peoples of the world, and their national particularity are authored by God. There can be no Christian justification then, for political movements aimed at eliminating the latter. In the Old Testament God scattered the nations at Babel. In the New Testament, Christ's Church, when standing before God in glory, singing the new song, declares that Christ the Lamb "hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation". The spiritual undoing of Babel in the Church began at Pentecost when people, gathered in Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire heard St. Peter preach in their own tongue. Christ's Kingdom, however, is not of this world, and the Church's mandate is to bring the Gospel to every nation not to support political efforts to dissolve the nations into a united world.

"Justice and Vengeance" is one of three essays on the topic of justice planned for this year. One of the other two will address the topic of "social justice" and will examine both the truth and the great deal of error that is embodied in that concept. The other essay, which I allude to in "Justice and Vengeance" will look at justice, the classical and cardinal virtue.

My essays for this year will loosely follow a schedule in which political topics are addressed for the first two months, then from the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday falls on March 9th this year) through to Trinity Sunday theological topics will be emphasized, and for the remainder of the year cultural and artistic topics will be highlighted. Philosophical and moral topics will be discussed throughout the whole year and, of course, I reserve the right to deviate from the schedule at any time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Justice and Vengeance

Justice was a favorite topic of the ancient Greeks.

The question of “what is justice” was a question which the Athenian philosophers of the 5th and 4th centuries BC grappled with. It is the subject of Plato’s most famous dialogue The Republic where he deals with it at much greater length than he does discussions of the nature of temperance, courage, friendship, and love in the Charmides, Laches, Lysis, and Symposium respectively. Aristotle introduces it as one of a series of virtues in his Nicomachean Ethics, but gives it a far more extensive analysis in Book V than he does courage, temperance, generosity and the other virtues introduced in earlier books.

The philosophers were not the first Greeks to talk about justice, however. Aeschylus, the first of the famous 5th Century BC trio of tragedians, who was born roughly a century before Plato and died when Socrates was in his teens, addressed the topic of justice in his great trilogy of plays the Oresteia.

The first play of the trilogy is Agamemnon. The title character is the king who led the expedition against Troy to recover Helen, the wife of his brother Menelaus king of Sparta, after she had been abducted by Paris. The plays tells the story of his return to Argos where he was murdered by his Queen Clytemnestra and her lover a cousin of the king named Aegisthus.

In the second play, The Libation Bearers, Agamemnon’s son Orestes, upon the orders of the god Apollo, returns to Argos with his friend Pylades and, upon the urging of both the god and his sister Electra, avenged his father by killing his mother. His vengeance, however, does not close the matter. The blood of his mother, spilled in matricide, summon the Furies, the spirits of vengeance, who drive Orestes mad..

Finally, in the third play, The Euminides, the situation is resolved when Orestes arrives at Athens, with the Furies hot on his trail. He cries out to Athena for help, and she responds by holding a jury trial. Apollo speaks for the defence and the Furies for the prosecution. The trial ends with a tie which is broken by Pallas’ own vote in Orestes’ favour.

The theme of the Oresteia is justice, specifically the difference between justice and vengeance. Vengeance is a cycle which perpetuates itself. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus murdered Agamemnon for revenge. Clytemnestra hated her husband for the loss of their daughter Iphigenia. Aegisthus believed that his father Thyestes had been wronged by his brother, Agamemnon’s father Atreus, and so sought to avenge his father by killing Agamemnon. This did not end the cycle however. Orestes and Electra, the children of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, avenged their father by killing his murderers.

The cycle of vengeance and blood-shed only ended when the matter was brought before Athena’s court of justice and there resolved once and for all. The title of the last play is significant. “Eumenides” means “Kindly Ones” and this is the name which Athena gives the Furies at the end of the play when they agree to abide by the verdict and release Orestes from their claim. The spirits of vengeance had been transformed into the spirits of kindness by the intervention of justice into the cycle of vengeance bringing closure and resolution.

The justice that Plato and Aristotle sought to define was an attribute of people, a character trait, a virtue. Justice would also be considered a character trait in Christian theology where it was identified as one of the four cardinal virtues. The justice which is the theme of Aeschylus’ trilogy, however, is a social good that society and its members receive from laws and the government which administers the law. Indeed, this kind of justice, is the primary social good for which government exists.

Today we would tend to consider those meanings of justice as being distinct from each other, and we would expect to find them as separate definitions under the heading “justice” in a dictionary. This would not necessarily have been the case in ancient Athens.

Take Plato’s Republic for example. Early in the dialogue, Socrates enters into a debate with a 5th Century BC precursor to Nietzsche named Thrasymachus. Thrasymachus maintains that justice is the invention of the strong to rule the weak, that the strong do not practice it themselves, and are all the happier for not doing so. Socrates rebuts this claim but is challenged by Plato’s brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon to himself provide a definition of justice and to prove his claim that the just man is happier than the unjust. The remainder of the dialogue is his attempt to do so which involves the exercise of creating a hypothetical city in which ideal justice is to be found.

Thus, to Plato, the attempt to define justice the character trait must involve a description of justice the social good provided by government.

I will examine justice the virtue more fully in a later essay. For now, let us briefly define it by saying that justice presupposes the existence of right and wrong and is the virtue of thinking, judging, and acting rightly. For this reason Aristotle was right to say that justice in a sense, encompasses all of virtue, in addition to being a particular virtue in its own right.

How is this virtue related to the justice which people seek from their laws and government?

The justice which we seek from law and government can be defined simply as “right and fair judgment”. When we have serious disagreements with our neighbors which we cannot settle ourselves we go to a court of law to get the matter judged rightly. If someone is criminally wronged we expect the police to find and arrest the person who committed the wrong, a prosecutor to establish the culprit’s guilt in a court of law, and a judge to determine what penalty the culprit owes his victims including first and foremost society whose laws he has broken, and finally, we expect that the guilty culprit will be forced to pay that penalty.

Right judgment, in civil and criminal cases, is the justice we expect our laws and government to provide us. Thinking, judging, and behaving rightly is justice the virtue. Clearly the two are intimately connected and the cultivation of the virtue of justice on the part of a society’s rulers is necessary for obtaining justice from government. This was understood by Plato and Aristotle. It was also understood by the Hebrew prophets. The messages they brought to the kings of ancient Israel and Judah from the Lord contained threats of divine justice that would come because of unjust practices (idolatry, adultery, bloodshed foremost among them) and because Israel’s governors were not providing the people with justice.

Having established the relationship between justice the virtue and justice the social good, let us now turn to the relationship and difference between justice and vengeance which was the theme of Aeschylus’ famous trilogy.

Aeschylus, writing from the perspective of a poet and a playwright, illustrated the difference between justice and revenge with the purpose of establishing that the former is superior to the latter. Justice is superior to revenge because it provides people with that for which they are seeking when they pursue revenge without establishing a cycle that perpetuates itself. It limits and contains wrongdoing. This is one of the key differences between civilization and barbarism.

There is a subtle implication of that, however, which is often overlooked. As we shall see, overlooking that implication has had serious consequences for us as a society. For justice to be superior to revenge it must do a better job of achieving the end for which vengeance was a means. This means that justice, while different from vengeance, must also be similar to it.

What is the similarity between justice and vengeance?

Justice and vengeance are both responses to wrongdoing. Vengeance is when the person wronged personally attempts to extract retribution from the person who has wronged him. Justice is when the authorities within a society judge the wrongdoer and extract retribution from him. Both are ways of providing satisfaction for the party that has been wronged. Justice, however recognizes society’s law as the first victim of criminal wrongdoing, and therefore the right of going after the wrongdoer and demanding retribution and restitution belongs to society.

For this reason, in a civilized society under law, we are not to seek restitution and retribution on our own. That is to take the law into our own hands, usurp its authority, and undermine that very thing which makes our society civilized. (1)

Why is it important that we recognize the similarity between justice and revenge?

The justice system can fail in two different ways. The first way is by committing a positive injustice against someone. The obvious examples of this include the conviction and punishment of a man for a crime he did not commit, imposing a penalty which is too severe to fit the crime, and punishing someone for something which should not be criminalized in the first place.

The second way is when the justice system fails to provide justice. The obvious examples of this is when a guilty person is acquitted or given a sentence that trivializes the law and his crime by being too light.

In the English-speaking world, we have long considered the first form of injustice to be far worse than the second. This is an application of a principle Socrates’ expressed millennia ago in Plato’s Gorgias where he says that doing injustice is the greatest of all evils, and that he would therefore rather suffer an injustice than to commit one. As Sir William Blackstone, the eighteenth century English jurist put it in his Commentaries on the Laws of England it is “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”.

This is as it should be and this principle finds its concrete expression in the long-established prescriptive rights of English common law which exist to guard against this kind of injustice. Among these are the right to be informed of whatever charges you are arrested for, the right to have a magistrate quickly hear your case after you have been arrested to determine whether you were lawfully detained, the right to a speedy trial before a jury of your peers, and a right to appeal to a higher court if you are convicted. (2)

The second kind of injustice may be the lesser injustice, but that does not mean that it should be treated lightly. If the justice system fails to provide people who have been criminally wronged with satisfaction often enough, they will turn to vigilante justice, which is a form of revenge. The problem with revenge is that it is not self-limiting the way justice is. The standards of justice place a limit on the payment that can be demanded from a person who has wronged someone. A person seeking revenge is not so limited and is likely to demand and take too much from the person he is avenging himself on. That person, or his relatives, will then seek revenge in turn. The violence escalates and cannot be contained. This threatens the survival of society itself.

How do we know when the failure of the justice system is reaching the critical point where vigilantism will break out?

When a man, cuts off another man’s head in front of a busload of witnesses, is arrested, and then placed in a mental hospital where he will walk free the moment his doctor decides he is cured, and the media berate the public who are appalled at this breakdown in justice for their insensitivity towards the sufferings of the mentally ill, this is a pretty good clue that we are rapidly approaching that point.

How did we come to the point where such an occurrence was possible?

We have arrived where we are, by allowing progressives to convince us, that traditional ideas of justice, in which the lawbreaker is regarded as owing a debt to society which must be paid, are archaic, cruel and barbaric and must be replaced with more enlightened, modern views of justice which are about rehabilitating the lawbreaker, making him whole, and reintegrating him into society. Progressives, in their theories of justice, are not content to distinguish between justice and vengeance. They seek to eliminate from justice any and all resemblance to vengeance.

When all resemblance between justice and vengeance has been eliminated, however, justice no longer provides people who have been wronged with the sense of satisfaction that can only come from justice or revenge. If they are not getting that satisfaction from the justice system they will turn to revenge.

One of the most ancient concepts of justice is the notion that the punishment must fit the crime. This is the lex talionis – most commonly expressed as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” This principle is as old as Hammurabi’s Code in the 18th Century BC. It was the standard of justice in ancient Israel, recorded in the Torah itself in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.

Some regard the lex talionis as being a harsh and cruel standard. Such people overlook the fact that the “eye for an eye” principle is the very definition of fairness. They also overlook the fact that it’s primary purpose is to limit what penalties are considered just to those which are reasonable. If the standard of justice is that you cannot demand retribution in excess of that which you have lost through the wrongdoing of another then it would be unjust to demand more.

Others object to this principle on the grounds that Jesus was supposedly against it. That conclusion can only be reached by taking Jesus words’ in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter 5 verses 38 to 42, out of context, and then ignoring most of what is actually said. These verses, form one of six parallel passages in that chapter, in which Jesus’ introduces a quotation from the Torah with “ye have heard that it was said”, then gives His own instructions beginning with “but I say unto you” While He might appear at first glance to be contradicting the Torah, He warned against that conclusion in His words immediately prior to these passages where He says “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” The common theme of all of these passages is that in each Jesus’ requires more righteousness of people than the Torah required.

In the first two, He quotes the commandments against murder and adultery, and tells His disciples that it is not enough to obey these commandments outwardly – they must not be violated internally by anger or lust either. In the second two He quotes civil law provisions from the Torah for divorce and taking oaths. He tells His disciples that they should be so righteous and truthful as to have no need for these provisions. The quotation of the lex talionis is found in the first of the final two passages which have the common theme that true righteousness involves selfless love. In this context, it is absolutely clear, that Jesus is not seeking to replace “an eye for an eye” as the standard of justice, but is rather forbidding personal vengeance.

Which brings us right back to Aeschylus. How are justice and vengeance alike? In both, the person who has been wronged by another, seeks satisfaction. True justice, provides that satisfaction in a way which brings the matter to a close. Vengeance invites retaliation from the other side and cannot be contained by the limits which are inherent in law and justice. Laws and justice are essential for a civilized society but they break down when they fail to provide satisfaction. People will then turn again to vengeance and it will consume a society.

(1) A careful distinction must be made here between “taking the law into one’s own hands” and action taken in defense of one’s person, family, and property. The phrase “taking the law into one’s own hands” properly applies only to vengeance. Defensive action against criminal aggression is right and laws which would seek to prohibit such action are inherently unjust. This is a distinction, which some judges and policemen have unfortunately lost sight of, in our Canadian society today.

(2) These safeguards are not foolproof, of course. Here in Canada there have been a number of famous cases of wrongful conviction, that of David Milgaard being probably the most noted. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence Stratton in their The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice discuss how the traditional safeguards against wrongful conviction and punishment are being deliberately undermined in the United States in the name of being “tough on crime”. The second, paperback edition of this book was published in 2008 by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing in New York.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Suicide Cult

On November 17, 1978 members of an American religious cult known as the “People’s Temple” who a year previously had followed their leader, Jim Jones, to a commune in Guyana committed suicide en masse after members of their group murdered an American congressman. In the decades since the incident it has come to take on cultural significance as a symbol of the dangers of uncritical groupthink. Variations of the now familiar phrase “don’t drink the Kool-Aid”, used to urge people not to blindly follow the crowd or some charismatic leader, are a reference to the poisoned communion which brought the sect and the lives of its members to an end.

Communities and societies, like individual persons, are alive, and like all living things in creation, can die. To remain alive, an organism must be constantly regenerating itself, growing new cells to replace the old ones that are dying. This is true of a society as well. The cells that make up a society, its people, are constantly aging and dying. For the organism that is a society to survive it must replenish those cells. It must be constantly reproducing itself.

Note that I said “reproducing” not “replacing”. Today, through modern science, we can extend the lives of people by replacing entire organs with transplants or prosthetics. Our ability to do so is not unlimited, however. Suppose we were to develop prosthetic equivalents of every organ in the human body. We would still not be able to keep a man alive indefinitely by replacing all of his organs. If we were to attempt to do so, then at some point, we would actually kill the man rather than extending his life. Where the line is to be drawn is difficult to say, exactly, but if we keep replacing organs, until no natural organs are left, and it is just 100% prosthetics, even if they are working perfectly, you will have a robot and not the man you started with. That man will be dead.

This is true of a society as well. For a society to be a real, living society, it must reproduce itself. The present generation must be descended from all previous generations and all future generations must be descended from the present generation. This is true generally speaking. A society can survive having some of its members leave and join other societies. Likewise, a society can bring in new members from other societies and incorporate them into itself without losing its identity and dying.

At some point, however, a line exists. On one side of the line, a society is alive and healthy, and reproducing itself. Some people leave, some people move in, but the general sense that the society today consists of the descendents of past generations of the society and the ancestors of future generations of the society is not compromised. On the other side of the line, the society has ceased to reproduce itself and is relying entirely upon immigrants to replace its aging and dying members. This is a society that is dying. It is dying because it is replacing itself rather than reproducing itself.

It is difficult to say exactly where this line is, but it is also not necessary that we identify its exact location. A healthy, thriving, living society, is not interested in getting as close to the line as possible without crossing it.

Western societies today are not healthy societies. Western countries experienced a huge drop in fertility and birth rates over the course of the twentieth century. This was briefly interrupted, by a baby boom which began immediately after World War II and which extended into the mid-60’s in most Western countries, and in some as far as the mid’70’s. Following this boom, however, fertility and birth rates dropped below the levels needed to sustain a population and have remained dangerously low ever since.

In this same period the governments of Western countries have implemented liberal immigration policies. A country with a liberal immigration policy accepts considerably larger numbers of immigrants than a country without a liberal immigration policy would. A country with a liberal immigration policy will also accept far more immigrants from cultures and populations radically different from its core culture and population than a country without a liberal immigration policy. Indeed, a government with a liberal immigration policy, although it will nominally be a non-discriminatory policy, may actually encourage immigration from cultures and populations that are further removed from its core culture and population over immigration from cultures and populations that are closer to its core culture and population.

When a government implements a liberal immigration policy in a period of dangerously low fertility this indicates that a society has moved away from reproducing itself and towards replacing itself. It has started to commit suicide.

During this period of low fertility and high immigration, several movements and ideologies have sprung up encouraging Western societies to embrace aspects of this culture of death. The sexual revolutionaries sought to separate sexual intercourse from any and all sense of social responsibility and place it entirely within the self-enclosed sphere of personal physical pleasure. They were encouraged by the development of new and more efficient contraceptive technology. Then the feminists attacked society’s promotion of the wife/mother role for women as “patriarchal oppression” and demanded that society eliminate gender roles. This went hand-in-glove with the promotion of abortion on demand, for if women were not able to terminate pregnancy at will, all talk of eliminating gender differences and producing either an purely individualistic or an egalitarian society was meaningless. Then the gay rights movement came along and demanded that society affirm rather than discourage same-sex eroticism.

What all of these ideologies and movements have in common is that they place the physical pleasure or the emotional “fulfillment” (or some such nebulous concept), of the individual or a group within society, over the good and even the survival of society itself. They are all also manifestations of the general ideology known as liberalism.

Liberalism’s orientation towards death can be illustrated by comparing its positions on capital punishment and abortion. Liberalism tends to produce minds that are opposed to capital punishment but which favour abortion being readily available and even paid for by the state. Now, liberals come to each of these positions from separate chains of arguments which to them appear to have no connection with each other. A connection is there nonetheless which is plain to see.

Capital punishment upholds the sanctity of human life. It is reserved, or should be reserved, for crimes on the level of first degree murder – the deliberate taking of human life in defiance of social and moral law. By imposing the death penalty upon someone who has cold-bloodedly, in a calculating fashion, taken the life of another human being in defiance of law, society is saying that human life is so precious, that only the life of the murderer is acceptable as just payment for the crime of taking it. (1)

Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy. It results in the death of the fetus. The fetus is unquestionably a human life. The moment it’s father’s sperm and mother’s egg united to form a single cell, it possessed a complete set of human chromosomes making it fully human. Immediately, the process of growth through cell-division was started. It was fully human and fully alive. The fetus has not committed a crime that demands societal retribution in the form of death. Nor is the fetus an aggressor the killing of whom can be justified by self-defense. In the majority of cases abortions are committed because pregnancy imposes either a hardship or an inconvenience upon the parents of the fetus.

Allowing human life to be terminated for those reasons cheapens human life. So does the abolition of capital punishment. Liberalism is consistent in its low regard for human life which goes hand-in-glove with its embracing of societal and civilizational death.

The connection between liberalism and the death of the societies that make up Western civilization has been discussed in the past. The best treatment of the subject was probably James Burnham’s Suicide of the West which was originally published in 1964. (2) In this book Burnham described liberalism as the “ideology of Western suicide”. He did not mean by that that liberalism was an ideology created with the goal of bringing about the death of Western civilization. Rather he meant that liberalism served to rationalize after the fact the self-inflicted mortal wounds of Western societies.

Our focus for the rest of this essay will be narrower than liberalism in general. We will be looking at a specific ideology and movement within liberalism which has provided the other liberal ideologies and movements mentioned above with the rhetorical weapons and conceptual framework with which to make their arguments and which has also long served as a shield to protect the replacement-over-reproduction trend within our societies from criticism. This ideology/movement is the suicide cult of Western society.

The ideology/movement in question is anti-racism.

Before proceeding to examine anti-racism’s relationship to Western societal suicide we will first have to carefully define what is meant by anti-racism. To avoid confusion the first step in defining anti-racism will be to make clear what we do not mean by the term anti-racism.

The first distinction to be made is between anti-racism and non-racism. Anti-racism is not the same thing as non-racism. Anti-racism and non-racism are both terms which are defined negatively in reference to “racism”. Non-racism, however, is neither an ideology nor a movement. A person who is a “non-racist” is just someone who is not a racist. To be an anti-racist requires more than that, it requires active opposition to racism.

There is a sense in which everyone who is opposed to racism is an anti-racist. For the purposes of this essay however, we will be using a narrower definition of anti-racism. Another distinction needs to be made and that is between the person legitimately opposed to or even outraged at actual racial injustice and racial violence and the person we are calling an anti-racist.

There are two main differences between the two. The first, is that the “racism” an anti-racist actively opposes is a much broader category than actual racial injustice and racial violence. The second is that someone legitimately opposed to racial injustice and racial violence is opposed to these things no matter who the perpetrators are and who the victims are. Anti-racists, on the other hand, consistently oppose any expression of group solidarity on the part of one racial group no matter how benign while overlooking significant racially-motivated violence directed against members of that same group. The racial group in question consists of people groups descended from those who in classical antiquity were the Greeks, Romans, Germans and Celts, that are European in origin and who are most often just called “white” people.

So anti-racism is not just non-racism nor is it to be equated with opposition to actual racial injustice/violence. What is it then?

Anti-racism is the idea that injustice and violence towards people of other races is the inevitable result of believing mankind to be divided into races and treating race as being more than just a trivial difference between people. To see oneself as being a member of a race and other people as not being members of that race is the racism which anti-racists oppose. They insist that we see ourselves as individuals who are members of the human race and to attach no importance to groups intermediary between the individual and the species. To attach importance to such groups, the anti-racist declares, creates divisions which lead to injustice and threaten the future of humanity. Therefore, racism, is an evil which must be eliminated through extensive measures including the use of government power aimed at eradicating all sense of racial identity.

At least if you are white. Anti-racists have no objection to racial consciousness, identity, and solidarity on the part of other racial groups. When was the last time you heard of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People being denounced as a racist organization?

Anti-racism is one of many errors that arise out of liberalism’s root error. The core of liberalism is the idea that human beings are basically and essentially good therefore the evils which are manifest everywhere in the real world must be caused by something outside of human nature. If we can only identify the causes of evil and eliminate them, the liberal believes, we will achieve a just society, a paradise on earth.

In World War II racial violence was escalated to an extreme level. The horrors that Allied soldiers discovered in the concentration camps of the Third Reich as they liberated occupied Europe were photographed and filmed for the world to see and as the story came out of what had occurred there people were shocked, appalled and disgusted.

The liberal mind, presented with such glaring evidence of the falsehood of its most foundational belief, the goodness of mankind, desperately searched for an origin outside human nature. It latched on to the concept of “racism” as its explanation. Hitler had been famous for his theories of Aryan racial superiority. They were foundational to the ideology of the Third Reich. Therefore, the liberal mind concluded, racism is the cause of atrocities like those committed by Hitler and will always lead the racist to commit atrocities like Hitler’s. Racism must therefore be eliminated for society at all costs.

There are several problems with this idea.

First of all, its basic presuppositions are false. Evil does have its origins in human nature. Attempts to eliminate evil by political and social solutions aimed at the elimination of “causes” of evil that are external to human nature will always fail. The only way to eliminate human evil through such means is to eliminate human beings.

Secondly, the theory does not fit the facts it seeks to explain. Hitler believed in white supremacy – but so did Sir Winston Churchill, and indeed most, if not all, of the leaders of the Allies. Before, during, and after the time period in which Hitler was committing his atrocities, Joseph Stalin was committing even greater atrocities.

Finally, the anti-racist theory itself becomes a justification for injustice against two different groups of people.

First, it is a justification for injustice against those who are labeled “racists” by the anti-racists. People generally do not apply the label “racist” to themselves. It must therefore be attached to them by others, by the anti-racists. The label itself creates a stigma resulting in a presumption of guilt against the person labeled a “racist”. If the person denies being a racist, the anti-racist replies “all racists deny being racist, therefore you must be a racist”. People who have been accused of racism in Canada alone have been charged with violating “hate speech” laws, subjected to long inquisitorial trials before the Human Rights Tribunal, issued life-time gag orders, fined thousands of dollars, had their homes and property vandalized, had their persons’ violated, had their children taken away from them, been subjected to harassment, stripped of their jobs and careers, and turned into social pariahs. The treatment a “racist” receives at the hands of the anti-racists shows some remarkable resemblances to the treatment Jews, gypsies, and others received at the hands of Nazi Germany.

Secondly, it is a justification for injustice against the various ethnic groups that are collectively referred to as “white people” and particularly against specific groups within that broader category that are particularly associated with “racism” in the mind of the anti-racist – groups such as Southern whites in the United States, Germans, and Afrikaners (South African whites). Countless examples of such injustices could be discussed but there is one major injustice that overshadows all others. Namely that anti-racism requires that people groups within the category “white” commit collective suicide and disappear from the earth by replacing themselves with immigrants rather than reproducing themselves.

To restate our definition of anti-racism it is the idea that racism is the recognition of the existence of races within humanity and the attributing of significance to the category of race, that racism leads inevitably to horrible racial injustice, and that therefore racism is an evil to be eliminated through repressive government measures if necessary. Anti-racism also refers to the movements and organizations which act upon that idea.

To say that anti-racism, as described above, is the suicide cult of Western civilization is not to say that anti-racism is the cause of the factors contributing to Western suicide. It would be absurd, for example, to argue that anti-racism is the cause of low birth rates and low fertility among Western societies. It is, however, foundational to several of the ideas which serve to justify, if they are not themselves the cause of, anti-natal behavior. Feminism, which encouraged women to place careers ahead of motherhood, is an anti-natal movement which borrowed many of its concepts from anti-racism.

While anti-racism is not the cause of low birth-rates and may not be the primary cause of Western governments having adopted policies of multiculturalism and liberal immigration, it is certainly a justification invoked for the latter policies. More importantly, it prevents those policies from being abandoned.

How does anti-racism do so?

One way is by providing officials who don’t want to change those policies for whatever reasons with an easy means of justifying their actions and smearing their critics. “You don’t like what we are doing? You must be a racist!”

Another way, related to the last one is by stifling political discussion and marginalizing people and organizations that seek immigration reform and an end to multiculturalism. Even if the spokesmen for an organization seeking a more restrictive immigration policy and an end to multiculturalism express themselves in irenic tones and try to make a positive case for their people that does not reflect negatively on other people groups, the anti-racists will seek to marginalize the organization. The organization that is trying to argue its case positively will be condemned as a “hate group” by anti-racists who certainly do not disguise the loathing they feel for the organization, its leaders, and members, and anyone who happens to agree with it.

The anti-racists will justify this by explaining to us that “racists” speak in code language. For this reason, they must be marginalized, and their words banned from public forums where everybody has easy access to them, such as the internet. Otherwise uninformed people might be misled by them. People should only have access to the thought of “racists” as carefully filtered through anti-racist “experts” who understand the code language. Otherwise we might hear a “racist” say something like “white people have rights too” and think that that is a reasonable position without realizing that it is an “old canard” that really means that all other people should be enslaved or slaughtered.

There is one more way which we will consider in which anti-racism prevents the suicidal policies of western societies from being reversed. That is through instilling in us, from our earliest childhood, the idea that “race is only skin deep” and that is a great evil, if not the greatest of all evils, to treat people differently because of something like race. This is what makes anti-racism’s marginalization technique so effective and it is carried out with the full cooperation of the government, media and educational system.

If all the public schools, and public service announcements, and diversity and sensitivity seminars, were doing was telling us that we need to treat everybody fairly and justly, regardless of their race, there would be no problem with it. Instead, however, they are telling us that treating people justly means treating them the same and they are telling us that race is only a matter of skin color. Both of these things are falsehoods.

Note carefully that there is a difference between the idea that we should treat all people fairly and justly and the idea that we should treat all people the same. A person should be fair and just to both his father and to a complete stranger. That does not mean that he should treat his father and a complete stranger in the same way. Indeed, because of a man’s relationship with his father, justice demands that he treat his father differently than he would treat a complete stranger. Thus the idea that treating people justly means treating them the same is a falsehood.

So is the idea that race is only a matter of skin color. In fact, not only is race more than skin color, skin color is not even essential to the meaning of the word race.

The English term “race”, when applied to human beings and not used to mean the sport of competitive running or an election campaign, comes through a French derivative, from the Old Italian word “razza”, which refers to lineage, ancestry, or stock. Race, when applied to people, refers to a line of biological descent. We use it this way in a number of sense. Sometimes we speak of the entire human species as “the human race”. What this expression means is that if we go back far enough, all human beings are descended from the same original stock.

Another use, one which is now rather archaic, is to refer to a particular family’s ancestors as it’s race. “The race of the Smiths” or “The race of the Joneses” would be examples.

The use however, that is most relevant to discussions of racism and anti-racism, is to refer to large human populations whose descent from a common ancestral stock is indicated by a set of shared physical characteristics which is common to the members of the population and which distinguishes them from other people. Two things should be noted about this use of the word race.

First, it is a set of characteristics, and not one particular trait like skin color that distinguishes one race from another. A dark-skinned Australian aborigine might share the same skin color with a man from a sub-Saharan African tribe. They are not of the same race, however, nor would the albino son of either of them be of the same race as an Englishman or a German.

Secondly, even here, it is common ancestry that is the essential meaning of the word race. The physical traits associated with race are only racial insomuch as they indicate common ancestry.

It is important that we grasp this. The groups of people that we call races, are races because they are descended from a common ancestral group, not because they have distinct physical characteristics. The reason members of a race have distinct physical characteristics in common is because they are of a common stock. It is ancestry that is the most important part of the meaning of the word race.

Ancestry, however, is not something trivial like skin color. Anti-racists wish to trivialize. Hence their reducing race to its most trivial accident and speaking of it only in terms of skin color. They wish to eliminate any sense of loyalty to a group that is grounded in that group’s shared ancestry. Such loyalties stand in the way of their vision of a world where the individual’s only loyalty is to mankind. Therefore, they tell us from an early age that race is inconsequential that it is not important because it is only about skin color. We believe them because we recognize that group loyalty based upon something as shallow as skin color would be incredibly silly.

Our acceptance of their doctrine, however, hinders our forming a proper, natural attachment to our own people, even though such an attachment would not be based upon skin color but upon something far deeper. The anti-racist switch-and-bait has proven to be a remarkably effective brainwashing tool. We have drunk deep from the poisoned chalice containing their Kool-Aid.

Ordinarily, when he does not have something like liberal, anti-racist ideology being shoved down his throat since he was in diapers to hinder him, a man will form an attachment to his people. This attachment, this sense of loyalty, develops out of his first natural affections which arise out of relationships. He grows to love his parents and his siblings, to form bonds with his friends, to develop various relationships with his neighbors, and all of thee relationships form the basis of his loyalty to his community as a group. From this loyalty to his community his patriotic affection gradually spreads to encompass his country and his people. It is only out of such love for his own that any real love for mankind as a whole can arise, as Edmund Burke pointed out years ago.

The people, for whom a man develops this patriotic attachment, is not his “race” in the sense in which I have defined the term above. That meaning of the word “race” is only really useful for scientists and political ideologues. It would be more accurate, perhaps, to call the people which is the object of a man’s patriotic affections his “nation”. A “nation”, like a race, is a people group with a common ancestral identity. A nation, however, is smaller than a race, which is a continental population, and a nation is distinguished from other nations by cultural distinctives – a common language, usually a common religion, common customs, habits, manners, dress etc.

This kind of patriotic affection for one’s people, for one’s nation, rooted in one’s first affections for ones family, friends, neighbors and community, built upon a foundation of blood, relationship, and shared experiences is the lifeblood of an organic society.

The racialist and nationalist ideologies and political movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries committed the fatal error and the deadly sin of ignoring the source of patriotic affection and demanding that race and/or nation replace family, home, friends, kin, neighbors, community and even God in people’s hearts and affections. Human loyalty and affection have to start with the small and grow towards the big. When you put the nation or race ahead of the family and community in the chain of affection you develop unnatural affections which breed fanaticism.

Liberalism in its anti-racist manifestation commits the same error and sin on a much larger scale. It demands that our first loyalty be to all of Humanity. All other loyalties are regarded as threats and hindrances to the goal of eliminating hatred and injustice and finding salvation for mankind through the establishment of a unified, just, peaceful, new world order. This sort of fanaticism demands a sacrifice – the sacrifice, through suicide, of the white peoples and Western societies in this world.

Perhaps it is time we put the Kool-Aid down.

(1) Having said that, I shudder to think of the power of life and death being in the hands of modern liberal governments composed of democratically elected politicians and administered by self-righteous bureaucrats. On principle, capital punishment is necessary for justice. Modern governments are the wrong kind of governments to administer justice. This is a subject for another essay however.

(2) James Burnham. Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism. The John Day Company: New York, 1964. Although this book stands on its own it can also be read as part of a series that began with the author’s The Managerial Revolution and continued in his The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom. A good profile of the author and overview of his thought can be found in James Burnham by Samuel T. Francis, published as part of the “Thinkers of Our Time” series in 1999 by The Claridge Press in London.