The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fighting the Invasion in Fiction: A Comparison Between C. S. Lewis and Jean Raspail

C. S. Lewis, the Oxford and Cambridge professor who wrote several works of fiction and non-fiction, is mostly remembered as an author for his novels. These, like his works of non-fiction, articulated and defended Christian truth. The most popular of these are the seven novel fantasy series for young readers in which children from England have adventures in a magical world called Narnia. The BBC adapted the first four of these for television in the 1980s and Walden Media produced the first three of them as big screen films starting with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in 2005. Another company is currently working on the fourth.

Both sets of adaptations followed the order in which the books were originally published. Had the BBC continued the series The Horse and His Boy would have been next. It is highly unlikely that any movie company would be willing to make a movie version of this and if, by chance, one were to do so, the original story would almost certainly be unrecognizable in the film.

In this underrated novel, first published in 1954, the Tisroc, ruler of Calormen, a desert country populated by turban-wearing, scimitar-wielding people of dark complexion plots the conquest of Narnia and Archenland with his heir Prince Rabadash who desires to make Narnia’s Queen Susan his bride by force. Narnia and Archenland, situated to the northwest of Calormen, are free countries, populated by talking animals, magical and mythological creatures of various sorts, and governed by people of light skin and fair complexion. Narnia and Archenland are loyal to Aslan the Lion, while Calormen is an idol worshipping land, the chief idol of which is the demon Tash. The title characters are Bree, a Narnian talking horse, and Shasta, a highborn Archenlander boy. Both were captured and taken to Calormen when very young and are now attempting to flee to the lands of their birth. They join forces with Aravis, a Calormene princess who for reasons of her own is trying to escape her own country, and her talking mare Hwin. When they discover the Tisroc’s plot, their escape attempt becomes a race to keep ahead of Rabadash’s army so as to warn Narnia and Archenland in time.

For obvious reasons The Horse and His Boy is not going to win any awards for political correctness. It is interesting to compare and contrast this book with The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail. The original French edition of this latter volume came out nineteen years after The Horse and His Boy was first published. The largest similarity between the two is that in both, civilized, free lands with light-skinned people are threatened with invasion from lands to their southeast populated by dark-skinned people. There is a major difference in how the story turns out, however. At the risk of giving away the endings to both books, in The Horse and His Boy Shasta succeeds in his mission, the forces of Narnia and Archenland defeat the invaders, and Rabadash receives his comeuppance, but in The Camp of the Saints, Western civilization succumbs to the invasion and disappears.

Some might explain the significance of this difference as being that between an optimistic and a pessimistic outlook, others that it is the difference between an idealistic and a realistic outlook. I suggest that the real significance is that it is a difference in how the real world in which we live is meant to be reflected in the fictional worlds of the two novels. Narnia is a world of the imagination, the France of The Camp of the Saints is a fictional version of the France in our world. This, of course, means that Narnia is a step further removed from our real world, but it is nevertheless the case that Lewis intended for us to see truths about our world through the imaginary world he has portrayed for us. In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, we are obviously intended to see the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in that of the Lion Aslan.

To the extent that the Narnia and Archenland of Lewis’ imaginary world reflect the Western Civilization – or better yet, Christendom – of our world, they are pictures of our past, inspired by history. When the early Islamic Caliphate sought to conquer Europe, and the forces of Abd-er-Rahman were decisively defeated by Charles Martel’s Franks in the Battle of Poitiers in 732 AD and when the Ottoman Turks marched against the Holy Roman Empire to be defeated before the gates of Vienna in 1683 AD – these historical events from our world have an echo in the defeat of Rabadash in the world of Narnia.

It is a different episode of history that is fictionally re-enacted in Raspail’s novel. When, at the end of the story, Western Civilization has been reduced to twenty faithful defenders besieged in a small village overlooking the Riviera, among them are a Constantine Dragasès and a Luke Notaras – the names of the last Byzantine Emperor and his military commander when Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453 AD. The vision of our world that we are presented with in The Camp of the Saints, is not of our past but of what, at the time, was a possible future, one in which all of Western Christendom falls as Constantinople did.

Today, the novel reads not so much as a picture of a possible future but of an all too real present. Much of it is coming true before our very eyes. Minister Jean Orelle’s press conference in chapter seventeen, in which he announces that France is ready and willing to “assume the humanitarian obligations incumbent upon all men of good will in these truly unprecedented times” by taking in the migrants from India, and “asks only one thing…that she not stand alone” has taken on flesh in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s throwing open Germany’s borders to the migrants claiming to be Syrian refugees, while expecting other European countries to help cover the cost of her compassion. The media’s one-sidedness, dishonest coverage, and emotional manipulation have been so close to what Raspail described that one can almost hear Albert Durfort telling us “we are all from Kurdistan now”.

Sadly, the church too has been behaving as if Raspail’s novel were a script to follow. Pope Francis’ lecture to the American Congress last week sounded like it was lifted from the papal Good Friday address in the thirty-third chapter of the book. The Protestant churches are behaving no better. Virtually every official ecclesiastical statement on the “refugee crisis” conveys an attitude of “we are rich and they are poor therefore we need to bend over and take it” that is enough to make one vomit. It comes straight out of the pages of The Camp of the Saints.

In The Camp of the Saints, Raspail depicts a church that is walking around after it is already dead. Corrupted by liberalism and leftism, her clergy have abandoned her old ways, traditions, and faith and her people have abandoned their churches. When the Ganges fleet approaches the Suez canal the Muslim world take to their mosques and call upon Allah. Raspail’s narrator muses about what would have happened if the people of Europe had returned to their churches and begun to call upon God in earnest once more. Only twelve Benedictine monks are faithful to the old ways and march to the sea carrying the Blessed Sacrament in the hope that it will repel the invaders. These are all that remain of the religion that moved men like Charles Martel and Jan Sobieski to take up arms and fight off the invaders of Christendom in the past.

The spirit of that religion, or at least of its fictional otherworldly counterpart, is alive and well in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia which is why, when Shasta arrives in the nick of time, King Lune of Archenland does not then sit down with Lord Darrin to discuss the ways in which they can make Rabadash and the Calormenes welcome, but instead sets about defending his castle and fighting off the invading army.

In Lewis’ novel, the invaders come on horseback armed with swords. In Raspail’s novel, and in real life today, they come armed with their own poverty and seemingly desperate conditions, which are much harder weapons to fight against as they are effectively designed to penetrate our defences and hit us where we are weak. We will never be able to fight such a weapon unless we recover the old-fashioned Christianity of C. S. Lewis, with its fighting spirit and will to live and abandon the sappy, liberalism that has taken its place, that apologizes for the Crusades, and embraces the cultural and ethnic death of the peoples of the West and their civilization.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Abounding Ironies

When the image of the drowned body of three year old Alan Kurdi was broadcast around the world to feed the eyes of voyeurs of compassion everywhere, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, who as leaders of the NDP and Liberals respectively were already competing against each other for the Canadian premiership in this fall’s federal election, immediately started up a second contest as to who could shed the most tears, point the most fingers of blame at the present Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Immigration Minister Christopher Alexander, and promise to bring in the largest number of people claiming to be refugees from the Syrian civil war.

As comforting as it is to know that the men who want to be trusted with the job of leading Her Majesty’s next government in Ottawa hold the lives of young children so close to their hearts and are so visibly upset at the untimely death of one of them, this must surely leave many of us with a sense of puzzlement. For while Kurdi’s death, an accident caused primarily by the actions of his own father, could in no way have been prevented by the Canadian government there are almost 100, 000 deaths of children even younger that take place in Canada each year which are both deliberate and preventable, yet which Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau have both insisted they will neither prevent nor allow anyone else to prevent.

In 2013, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there were 82, 869 induced abortions in Canada. The year before that there had been 83, 708, and the number had been in the ninety thousands for the five preceding years. These statistics, while official, are acknowledged to be low, because some kinds of abortions are omitted. Canada has had no laws restricting abortion since the Supreme Court’s 1988 ruling in R v. Morgantaler to strike down all existing abortion laws.

This absence of laws prohibiting or even restricting a procedure that deliberately terminates the lives of the next generation before they are even born is an indefensible and, indeed, reprehensible, state of affairs and yet, Mr. Trudeau last spring declared that those who wish to run as candidates for the Liberal Party in future federal elections must agree with the party line on abortion. Pro-life Liberal MPs already seated, he added, would be grandfathered in and allowed to run again, provided they supported the party’s position when it came to voting. Even this was regarded as a horrible compromise by Thomas Mulcair, who declared in response that no NDP candidate now or in the future “will ever vote against a woman's right to choose.” Indeed, the staunchly anti-life Mulcair insisted that “No one will be allowed to run for the NDP if they don’t believe that it is a right in our society for women to make their own choices on their reproductive health. Period.”

So the accidental death of a three year half a world away that could not have been prevented by our government is cause to wring our hands, put on sackcloth, and heap ashes on our heads as we loudly lament our hardheartedness which had nothing to do with the boy’s death, and throw caution to the winds in opening our borders to tens of thousands of people claiming asylum, regardless of whether they are actual refugees or the jihadists who are turning their own countrymen into refugees in the first place, but the deliberate termination of the lives of our next generation is a woman’s “right” which must be treated as sacred and not interfered with? It is a sad symptom of the spiritual illness that is devastating our country that these two ding-a-lings are electable even as representatives of their own constituencies, let alone potential Prime Ministers.

Earlier this year, when it was reported that pro-life groups were distributing fliers that put Justin Trudeau’s face next to that of an aborted fetus, Liberal health critic Hedy Fry was quoted as saying:

These flyers are incredibly graphic in nature, and regardless of individual positions on abortion, many Canadians are understandably upset that this group has exposed their children to these disturbing images.

You know what other disturbing image is incredibly graphic in nature? The image of Alan Kurdi lying dead on a beach. I wonder if the Vancouver Centre representative who as Chretien’s Minister of Multiculturalism was forced to apologize fourteen years ago for having stuck her foot in her mouth with a ludicrously absurd remark about how in Prince George “crosses are being burned on lawns as we speak” would have the same objection to the much wider distribution of that image.

Both Trudeau and Mulcair express the indefensible position of their parties on abortion in terms of “women’s right to choose.” The matter of abortion, they have declared, should not be reopened. It is easy to see why they think so. If the issue were reopened they would have to explain why women should have the right to choose to pervert their natural, maternal instincts by having innocent human lives that are utterly dependent upon them terminated. A healthy society allows for the deliberate taking of human life only when it is done in self-defence, when it is imposed as a penalty by a lawfully constituted court for a capital offence, and when done to the enemies of queen and country, nation and homeland, in time of war. Otherwise it is murder. If a man were to come home, find his wife in bed with someone else, and kill the both of them in a fit of passionate rage, his act of murder would be more understandable and defensible than that of a mother, who against her natural instinct to love, protect, and nurture the life growing in her, decides in cold blood to terminate her pregnancy. We would, nevertheless, still arrest that man, convict him of murder, and lock him up in prison. If we do not, shame on us. An even greater shame on us if we do not put a stop to this holocaust in which our unborn future generations are being offered up as sacrifices to the Moloch of sex equality.

The thousands of abortions that take place in Canada every year, along with the effective new contraceptive technology that sparked the second wave of the sexual egalitarian movement about six decades ago, have contributed significantly to the extended period of low fertility that we have experienced in recent decades which our government has used to justify an equally extended period of high immigration. The government’s rationale is economic, based upon the need to keep the tax-paying population from shrinking too drastically, but from the point of view of the national good it is suicidal, for no country can survive that sacrifices its continuity of identity by replacing rather than reproducing its population. That it has been going on so long makes it all the more reckless to consider taking in this new wave of migrants by the tens of thousands.

The ultimate irony, in all of this, is that Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau, if they manage to flood the country with tens of thousands of migrants, may very well end up slaying the pagan goddess of sex equality or women’s rights for whom they have abandoned and betrayed the true and living God of their nominal Catholic faith. Or perhaps, since it was worship at her altar that brought about the low fertility that started the chain of events that has brought us to the place where we might be overwhelmed by these migrants, it might be more appropriate to adapt a line of Hamlet's and say she will be hoist with her own petard. For these migrants are mostly Muslims, and if we let them in in such numbers and so indiscriminately that we end up adapting to them rather than the other way around, her temple will soon fall.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pictures and Words

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and, like most familiar adages, there is much truth in this statement. A single picture is capable of conveying, instantly and powerfully, what it might take a long time and many words to get across verbally. Furthermore, pictures have the ability to speak to the emotions with a voice which drowns out that of the rational argument which speaks only to the intellect.

Pictures, therefore, are dangerous weapons in the wrong hands, for, like words, they can convey falsehoods as well as truths. Moreover, a lie spoken through a picture can have a lasting impact even after it has been exposed and that impact can be stronger than the words through which the truth is revealed.

The media recently treated us to an example of this as they splashed across our television and computer screens and the front pages of our newspapers the image of the body of a drowned, three year old boy, lying dead on a Turkish beach. Virtually every detail of the story that accompanied this image, even down to the name of the boy as initially reported, has subsequently been demonstrated to be at least partially false, yet its emotional impact continues to linger on, exerting a baleful influence on the Western world’s response to the flood of migration from the Middle East and Africa. Due to the sheer numbers involved, the situation calls for realism, cool heads, and long-term thinking, but instead, thanks to this picture, we are getting grandstanding gestures, reeking of sentimentality.

The death of a three year old is a terrible thing, of course, but it is not ordinarily world news, much less world changing news. The purpose of the highlighting of this story by the world media was to present a message, not about the boy himself, but about the wave of migration that is being called a refugee crisis. That message is that thousands of people, displaced by the war in Syria, will die like this young toddler, unless taken in by the countries of the West, as the victims both of the war and of Western heartlessness.

That is the message carried by the first stories that accompanied the image and which, due to the law of first impressions, is the message that endures, regardless of the countless subsequent retractions of the details of the initial reporting. This is a media technique that Professor Bruce Charlton calls “first-strike framing” in his recent book Addicted to Distraction.

There has been plenty the media have had to retract, or at the very least, redact, about this story. Whatever else Alan Kurdi might be a victim of, he is not a victim of either the war in Syria or Western heartlessness. His family had fled ISIS in Syria, yes, but they were already living in safety in Turkey. Nor, as it turns out, had they been turned away by the Canadian Ministry of Immigration, for, contrary to the initial claims of the father and aunt of the boy, the only application that had been filed had been for the boy’s uncle, Mohammed. Yet even if such an application had been filed and rejected, it could scarcely have contributed to the death of the boy, whose destination on this ill-fated boat trip was not Canada, but the Greek island of Kos. Indeed, from the testimony of the other survivors, it is apparent that the responsibility for the boy’s death falls squarely on his father, Abdullah, who has been using the soapbox the world media gave him to point fingers at everyone but himself. According to these other survivors he is a people smuggler and was driving the boat himself when it capsized.

Just as the story about the Kurdi family does not bear up under scrutiny, neither does the larger narrative about the so-called refugee crisis. While undoubtedly many genuine refugees have been created as people have been dispossessed and displaced by the war between the rebels and the Assad government in Syria, especially after the creation of ISIS and the wave of religious persecution that ensued, there is a world of difference between those who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey to escape immediate danger and persecution, and the hundreds of thousands, soon to be millions, flooding into Europe across the Mediterranean. To accept these indiscriminately, as the media, humanitarian organizations, leftist politicians, and bleeding heart clergymen demand, without making the vital distinctions between a true refugee and a migrant, and between a migrant and an invader, could only destroy our own countries while doing no good for real refugees as we would be letting in the kind of people they are fleeing from along with them and potentially recreating the conditions from which they are trying to escape in our own countries.

According to statistics gathered by the European Union, only about a fifth of those pouring into Europe are actually from Syria. Even more significantly, almost three quarters of these are men. Whatever their country of origin, it is from safe locations to which they have already arrived that they are flooding into Europe. All the evidence points to the conclusion that, contrary to the media narrative, what we are seeing is not the kind of emergency situation that demands a humanitarian response of immediate and unconditional acceptance of any and all claiming asylum but an invasion that must be repelled if Western civilization is to survive.

If progressives in the West are loathe to accept this conclusion, others elsewhere clearly see this invasion for what it is. How else can we explain Saudi Arabia’s offer to pay for the construction of 200 mosques for the migrants in Germany? Refugees are people forced out of their homes, looking for temporary asylum until it is safe to return. This project tells us that in the eyes of the Saudi Arabians, who have not offered to take in their fellow Muslims themselves, this is something much more permanent.

Those who are unwilling to accept this conclusion, inevitable as it is to those with the proverbial eyes to see, hurl against those who bravely speak the forbidden truth, such words as “racist” and “xenophobic” or “inhumane” and “heartless”. These are among the few words in our language that have a power comparable to that of pictures because they too speak to the emotions in a way that the words of a rational argument cannot. It is a power that is abused every time these words are spoken, for they cannot be used in good faith being accusatory words that pronounce their verdict upon the heart, known only to God, while denying the accused what in our legal and judicial tradition is a basic right, that of the presumption of innocence.

These words are weapons in the arsenal of the invaders for this is not a force armed with horses and bowmen, swords and spears, tanks, aircraft, guns and bombs. No, it has much more effective weapons than all of those. It is an invasion force like that described in Jean Raspail’s prophetic novel The Camp of the Saints, armed with our own liberalism and humanitarianism. Its chief offensive weapons, the swords against which we must quickly develop shields or perish, are our self-accusations of racism, and the picture of a drowned three year old boy.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sinking Our Lifeboats

Imagine that you are on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic. Your pilot is a historical re-enactment fanatic who, in a moment of drunken insanity, decides that the time is ripe for re-creating the sinking of the Titanic and rams the ship into an iceberg. Like everyone else on board you head to the lifeboats. You wait in line, they put you on board a lifeboat, and when it is full lower it onto the sea.

From the safety of your lifeboat you watch the ship go down and realize, to your horror, that something has gone wrong with the evacuation process. A panic has broken out and in the irrational frenzy of that panic several of the remaining lifeboats have been damaged and rendered useless. There are no longer sufficient lifeboats to carry everyone on the ship and people are jumping into the ocean and desperately swimming towards the ones already afloat, including yours.

You are now faced with a dilemma. You know that your lifeboat has a limited carrying capacity. If you let more people onto the lifeboat you risk running out of the lifeboat's resources before being rescued or, worse, capsizing the lifeboat. If that happens, you will have not only have failed to save the people you pulled from the ocean, but will have needlessly killed yourselves in the process.

American biologist and ecologist Garrett Hardin first posed this dilemma in an article for the September 1974 edition of Psychology Today entitled “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor,” the awful subtitle of which, added by the editor without the author's approval, misses the point completely. Wealthy countries, Hardin argued, like lifeboats have limited carrying capacities and therefore taking in masses of immigrants from poorer countries will not solve the problems of poor countries but will only sink our lifeboats, metaphorically speaking.

Hardin’s article is timelier today than when it was first published forty-one years ago. For weeks now the most important international news item has been the horde of migrants evacuating Syria and flooding into Europe claiming to be refugees from the war that has ravaged that country and from the terrorism and tyranny of ISIS. The better informed among us know that this is only part of a much larger wave of migration from Africa and the Middle East into Europe that has been accelerating over the last year or so. The television and newspaper media have manipulated this story in such a way as to make us feel that Western countries are morally obliged to take in these refugees and they have been aided and abetted in this by irresponsible clergymen like the present Pope and by most of our politicians who seem to be competing with each other as to who will sink their country’s lifeboat the fastest. It is as if they were all acting out roles in a script written for them by Jean Raspail forty-two years ago.

In Raspail’s apocalyptic novel, The Camp of the Saints, an armada of one hundred ships carrying a cargo of a million of India’s poorest and most wretched, sets sail from Calcutta en route to the French Riviera. While many in France, including her president, can see the handwriting on the wall and know that if their country and civilization are to survive they must turn these invaders, armed only with their own plight, away, they lack the moral courage to do it, being paralysed by guilt induced by decades of liberalism. With the exception of a small handful of heroes in which the spirit of the old West lingers on, France succumbs to an invasion that is cheered on by her own media, politicians, and church.

When Hardin first used the lifeboat metaphor his concern was a country’s limited supply of material resources. What Raspail’s novel illustrates is that there are more important things at stake in keeping our lifeboats afloat. Our customs, way of life, beliefs, laws, traditions, history, and our very identity are all more important than physical resources. Indeed, it is these things which make possible the conditions that are attracting all of these migrants from other parts of the world.

Laws which protect and secure our persons and property, a respect for personal liberty that allows us to thrive and prosper balanced with a sense of fairness and justice that demands that we collectively look after the weaker and less successful among us, with recognized, established, and, for the most part respected, civil rights do not just come about on their own. Whether these things draw immigrants for their own sake or for the sake of the abundance of material goods that these make widely available in our countries, we tend to think of them as being based upon universal, abstract, principles available through reason to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This liberal assumption, however, does not bear the scrutiny of history in which these things developed slowly within the context of national cultures that claimed the heritage of classical Greco-Roman antiquity and of Christendom as their own. Should those cultures go down with our lifeboats, there is not the slightest shred of evidence that these things would survive, and there is plenty of evidence that they will not do so in the failed states that were once thriving colonies of European empires.

Make no mistake – the sinking of our national lifeboats, and our entire civilization along with them, is the doom that we choose for ourselves if we continue to base our response to the refugee crisis on sentiment and emotion rather than facts and reason. It is not as if the refugees were pouring into a healthy Europe of countries confident in their traditions and identities. They are pouring into a Europe which has experienced decades of low fertility in which governments have relied upon large scale immigration to keep their population levels up, a pattern encouraged by the European Union that has developed over the same period of time. While a healthy country can take in and absorb a certain number of immigrants without harm to itself for a country to rely upon large numbers of immigrants to make up for low fertility as a long-term policy is to adopt a policy of population replacement over reproduction which is to embrace its own death as a nation.

After several decades of this, what Western countries need is a break from immigration, but what our politicians are offering us instead is to inundate us yet further with thousands of migrants who claim to be refugees but are clearly behaving more like a mob of invaders. The British government has offered to resettle 20, 000 Syrian refugees by 2020, with the opposition party and its supporters complaining that this is not enough. The governments of Germany and Austria have opened their borders wide to any and all claiming asylum. Even here in Canada, an ocean and half a world removed from the Middle East, each of the two largest opposition parties are vying to outdo the other in accusing the present government of culpability in the death of the three year old boy whom the media have been dishonestly presenting as a victim of Western heartlessness and in the tens of thousands of refugees they are promising to resettle should they win the upcoming election.

There are those, of course, who will insist that to think about preserving our national identities, cultures, and ways of life while other people are fleeing persecution and war is to show a lack of perspective and wrong priorities. They might further insist that the idea that we should not think only of ourselves but of others as well is the highest ethical principle of the faith at the heart of our traditional cultures and that to abandon that principle is also, in a sense, to lose who we are. While these objections should not be lightly dismissed, we must distinguish between moral principles themselves and the sentimental way in which some would apply them.

The Golden Rule tells us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” but as none of us in our right mind would want another country to take us in if it did so in such numbers that it lost everything that made us want to move there in the first place, this clearly does not contradict the logic of lifeboat ethics, whatever the current pretender to St. Peter's throne has to say about it. Christianity calls upon us to follow the example of Christ, and that example is one of self-sacrifice for the sake of others, but a cross is something that can only be taken up individually, not collectively. It is one thing to throw yourself in front of a bullet to save another person. It is quite another thing to put your child in the way of the bullet and then later try to claim the laurels of a hero. To insist that out of humanitarianism and compassion we resettle this growing flood of migrants in Western countries is to be like the latter person, not the former.

Worse, as is the whole point of the lifeboat metaphor, it is to be like the man who credits himself for heroism for sacrificing his child but failing to stop the bullet.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Monarchy is More Important Now Than Ever Before

Her Majesty Elizabeth II reigns over the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and her other Commonwealth realms and that reign has now surpassed that of Queen Victoria as the longest in our line of monarchs. This is reason to celebrate and to wish Her Majesty many more years upon the throne.

Unfortunately there are those who insist on spoiling occasions like this. One such person is Anthony Furey, former comment editor of the Ottawa Sun and columnist for the Sunmedia chain of newspapers. We are living in days of great confusion about our identities, as was evident in the recent media circus surrounding Bruce Jenner's apogynosis, and Mr. Furey is a confused individual of an all too common type - a liberal who thinks he's a conservative.

I don't mean he is a liberal in the contemporary North American sense of a progressive who believes in the nanny state, coddling criminals, and the soft tyranny of sensitivity classes and human rights tribunals. He is a classical liberal, a true believer, in Eric Hoffer's sense of that term, in capitalism, individual liberty, and democracy. That is better than the other kind of liberal, but it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, and his Toronto Sun column of Sunday, September 6th, is one of those times. He choose this time in which we are rejoicing in Her Majesty's long reign to suggest that Canada severe our ties to her successors and become a republic.

That shows the kind of lack of class one would expect from a Grit or an NDP supporter. Perhaps not a Green supporter, as, while I would say that their leader, Elizabeth May, is wrong about many things, perhaps most things, she at least is a monarchist who understands the importance of the institution. It is most unbecoming, however, in a supporter of the party that calls itself Conservative, and is so to the extent at least that it takes seriously the eighth of their Founding Principles.

Furey begins his screed the way most republicans do, by talking about newcomers to Canada and projecting onto them puzzlement over why the "democracy" to which they have come to flee "tyranny, instability, or religious fervour" is a monarchy and not a republic "like our neighbours to the south". This is the updated version of an old liberal trick. It used to be, when the Liberals would attack our country's British heritage and institutions, they would do so in the name of French Canadians, not because French Canadians had told them these things were offensive to them, but because they assumed they would be. It was a dirty trick, for the Liberals wished to replace our country's British institutions and, not coincidentally, secure their hold on power in the country, by turning French and English Canadians against one another. They came very close to tearing the country apart. More recently, progressive opponents of the monarchy, usually from the NDP, have expressed this opposition in the name of New Canadians but this is the same old dirty trick - trying to turn Old Canadians and New Canadians against each other for political gain. One would think that no one who has moved to Canada in the last forty years bothered to find out any basic information, such as that it is a Commonwealth country and a constitutional monarchy, before coming here.

There will be a "crisis of confidence" in the monarchy at the next succession, Furey argues, which may very well be the case but it will not be due to any fault in the institution, but rather to republicans bent on stirring up trouble. Failing to grasp the distinction between the regality and dignity attached to the office of monarch with that of the person who holds the office, which latter is due in part to personal traits of character and in part to having absorbed it from the office during a long and successful reign, he states that neither Prince Charles nor Prince William carry the same "heft" as the queen, which could not reasonably be expected of them until they have reigned as long and as well as she has. He brings up the cost of converting all of our currency over to the name and image of the new monarch, ignoring the fact that this would have to be done if we converted the country into a republic as well, but with the additional cost of opening up the constitution again, which, the last time it happened, created a crisis that for the good part of two decades threatened to split the country.

Furey shows no understanding of either the country or the institution of which he writes. "Time to set us free", he says, but this is nonsense. The idea that to be free one must be a citizen of a republic rather than a subject of a monarch belongs to the country south of our border and was adopted by that country at a time when they were the largest slave-owning country in the world. One of the reasons the Americans rebelled against the Crown was that it had guaranteed the French Canadians the right to the practice of their Roman Catholic religion after the Seven Years War and they wanted all of North America to be Protestant.

Does this sound like their republic was a more free system of government?

We are free subjects of Her Majesty and if we are less free today than we once were it is entirely due to acts of our elected officials. Furthermore, much of the legislation that has lessened our freedom has been done by our politicians in imitation of laws first passed by the American Republic. Income tax, which takes far more out of our pockets than any other tax, which requires us to hand over our records of employment to the government, and for the government to maintain a large tax collecting agency, was introduced by the Americans temporarily in the 1860s, then permanently in 1913. We introduced it in 1917, the year the Americans entered the war we had already been fighting for three years. The expansive social security network that we call the Welfare or Provider State was introduced in North America in two big leaps, the 1930s and 1960s. In both cases the Canadian government followed the example of an American President, FDR and his New Deal and LBJ with his Great Society. In 1964 the Americans passed the Civil Rights Act, which was unnecessary to end de jure segregation in the South as it had already been ruled unconstitutional by the American Supreme Court in 1955, but which interfered with the freedom of association of all Americans by telling them they could not privately discriminate as individuals in certain situations. In 1977 our country followed their example by passing the Canadian Human Rights Act. This went further than the American bill because it included a section, mercifully recently removed, that told us what we could and could not say on the telephone and on the internet, but we would never have passed this Act at all without the American example. More recently, both the Liberal government of Jean Chretien and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper followed the example of the second Bush administration in the United States by passing laws, in the name of fighting terrorism, that weakened the ancient constitutional safeguard of our freedoms that requires police agencies to get a judicial warrant before investigating and arresting us.

Clearly it is not the monarchy which is to blame for the erosion of our liberties and following the example of the American republic has not made us any freer.

Indeed, in Canada, the monarchy is the basis of our freedom, as two real conservatives, John Farthing and John G. Diefenbaker, explained in their books Freedom Wears a Crown and Those Things We Treasure, both sadly out of print. Diefenbaker explained how the erosion of our basic rights and freedoms under the Trudeau premiership went hand-in-glove with that government's attack on the institution of monarchy, and Farthing explained how the attack on the Crown's reserve powers and reduction of its role to the purely ceremonial, under Liberal governments going back to Mackenzie King's, undermined the accountability of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to both Crown above and Parliament below, paving the way for Prime Ministerial dictatorship.

The Americans, when they put together their federal republic after the Treaty of Paris, relied heavily on Montesquieu for their idea of the separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial. What they did not want to admit was that Montesquieu had gotten the idea by observing this same division of powers in the British Parliament. Nor did they want to admit that not only did the British Parliament, and later our own in Canada, already contain this division into the executive powers of the Crown ministers led by the Prime Minister, the legislative powers of the whole of Parliament, and the judicial powers of the courts, Montesquieu saw that it also embodied Aristotle's idea of the most stable constitution - one that combined the elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy in a mixed constitution that would avoid the destructive cycle of constitutions that he had observed in the ancient Mediterranean city states. We, having inherited this mixed constitution from the UK, would be fools to give it up, which we would be doing if we ceased to be a monarchy.

The fact of the matter is that democracy is not the source of freedom that Furey thinks it is. The ancients believed it to be the worst of the three simple forms of government, each of which could be good or bad, depending on whether the one, the few, or the many, ruled for the common good or their own interest only. They regarded democracy as the worst because its good form was closest to its bad form and it contained no internal brakes on adopting its bad form. This is all the more true of modern democracy, which is based on the idea of the collective sovereignty of the people. When sovereignty belongs to the people, and the people are the government, everything the government does is the action of the people to themselves. Anything and everything can be justified.

The American founders recognized this, which is why they set up their republic the way they did. It was not to be a simple democracy - even the president would be elected only indirectly by the general populace, through the Electoral College. Indeed, what is truly praiseworthy about modern Western governments is not that they are democracies but that so many of them have kept democracy's worst tendencies in check. This is a basic characteristic of the English-speaking world but it was not true of the French Republic of the 1790s, of Russia after the Tsar was deposed, or Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. What made the difference was that English-speaking countries were liberal in the best sense of the word - holding to the idea that individuals had rights and freedoms which all governments, even democratic ones, must respect, and if they are to be violated in the name of the common good, it must be under extraordinary circumstances, and under clearly defined limits.

Effective as liberalism has been in holding democracy's excesses in check, it does not have an infinite capacity to do so. It is not a naturally stable check on what Tocqueville called "the tyranny of the majority" because it sees itself as being based upon principles of abstract reason that are universally applicable and available, and does not recognize that it could only have developed and can only operate in certain contexts, under certain conditions. It functions best in the British parliamentary monarchy system in which it first developed for this system contains additional checks on the excesses both of democracy and of liberalism itself.

One of the negative aspects of democracy is that it places power in the hands of politicians, who are by definition ambitious people who seek power. Lord Acton was not entirely correct when he said that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but it is true to say that power is very dangerous in the hands of those who seek it for themselves. Our system divides the ownership from the exercise of power. The sovereign ownership of the powers of government belongs to the monarch, but they are exercised in her name by the Crown Ministers, the Parliamentary assembly, and the courts. The House of Commons is filled with politicians including the Crown Ministers but the fact that they are in the position of servants, exercising the Queen's powers in her name, injects a degree of humility that would not be present if they were merely representatives of the people. Governments that speak in the name of the people - like the 1790s French Republic, the Third Reich, and every Communist "People's Republic" the world has ever known, are the most arrogant and cruel governments possible.

Canadians made the right choice in choosing loyalty to the Crown and the British model of government. The French Canadians, who had only just come under the British Crown after the Seven Years War, chose to remain loyal when the Americans rebelled. The English-speaking Loyalists chose to come up here and live under the Crown over persecution and dispossession in the United States. When the Americans tried to "liberate" us from the Crown in the War of 1812 we fought back, and when we confederated as a nation in 1867, English and French Canadians alike agreed to a federation of provinces, with our own federal parliament under the shared Crown. A great many Canadians would still look upon the moment when, no longer automatically at war when Britain was, we declared war on Nazi Germany and fought side by side with Britain, for our separate countries and common king, as our country's finest moment. To describe our monarchy as foreign is to be out of touch completely with our country, its nature, and its history.

No, Mr. Furey, we still need the monarchy. Indeed, we need it more now than ever, to keep our increasingly arrogant politicians humble, to give our government a touch of class and dignity that is above the demeaning circus of democratic electoral politics, and in these turbulent, ever-changing times, to provide us with a link to our past, history, and heritage, that has withstood the test of time.

God Save the Queen,
Long May She Reign

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Tory and Patriotism

One of the most familiar remarks of Samuel Johnson, as recorded by his biographer James Boswell, is that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Lest anyone think that his remarkable subject was impugning the virtue of patriotism, Boswell explained that it was false rather than true patriotism, of which Dr. Johnson was speaking. This clarification would have been unnecessary for anyone who had read “The Patriot”, a tract addressed to the electorate of Great Britain that had been written and published by the famous lexicographer and wit in 1774, an election year, and the year before he made his famous remark. In that pamphlet, Dr. Johnson explained what true patriotism was and how it could be distinguished from patriotism falsely professed to cover up baser qualities, motivations, and actions. He defined a patriot as “he whose publick conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country; who, as an agent in parliament, has, for himself, neither hope nor fear, neither kindness nor resentment, but refers every thing to the common interest” and declared that “no man can deserve a seat in parliament, who is not a patriot,“ for “no other man will protect our rights: no other man can merit our confidence.” (1)

Dr. Johnson was a Tory – a classical conservative who supported traditional royal and ecclesiastical authority against radical, revolutionary, and modernizing forces – and two years after his pamphlet was published, thirteen of Britain’s colonies in North America declared their independence from the Crown and Parliament, launching the war in which the revolting colonists, fighting against the Tories who remained loyal to their king, would take upon themselves the name of patriots. This revolution grew and developed out of the kind of patriotism Dr. Johnson had dismissed as false and so “The Patriot” can be read as a judgement on the American Revolutionaries as well as the Parliamentary Whigs. It stands to this day as the best worded statement of the Tory view of patriotism in the English language.

Such a statement is more needed now than when it was first written. For while Dr. Johnson wrote against politicians who cloaked themselves in patriotism to hide their unworthy motives and goals, the two and a half centuries since have seen the rise of far greater threats that call for a strong dose of true patriotism as their antidote. Six years after the Treaty of Paris brought the American Revolutionary War to an end another revolution broke out in France, the first of the revolutionary movements that would target royalty, the nobility, and the established Church in the name of “the people” in nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe and which would ultimately produce the terror states of Nazism and Communism, foreshadowed in the Reign of Terror in the French Republic of the mid-1790s. These movements were inspired by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau who in his call for a revolution that would establish a state in which the will of the people would be sovereign and all opposition to that will would be brutally supressed became at once the father of modern democracy and of totalitarianism. He also became the father of what in the nineteenth century would be dubbed nationalism.

Although many confuse the two, nationalism is not patriotism. Nor, for that matter, is it right-wing in the historic and traditional sense of this term although it is widely thought to be so today. The historic right is identical with Toryism and stood for royalty, nobility, the established church, organic community, tradition, and a concept of the common good that encompassed all of these things. Nationalism, from the French Revolution through to the Third Reich, was opposed to all of these things and allied with democracy, revolution, totalitarianism, and in the case of the Third Reich, socialism. It is the inevitable product of Rousseau’s doctrine of popular sovereignty when the idea of the people is equated with that of the volk, the nation, or the ethnic group, as it was almost universally so equated until 1945.

The difference between nationalism and patriotism was best explained by two Catholic, monarchists, from central Europe who taught in the United States, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and John Lukacs. (2) Just as the French Revolutionaries had joined mutually exclusive concepts when they included both liberty and equality in their motto, Kuehnelt-Leddihn explained, so have those who speak of “blood and soil”. Blood, nationalism, and equality, go together he argued, for “blood is an equalizing and generalizing factor”, as do soil, patriotism, and freedom because “the soil makes free men (the peasant and the landed nobleman are free)”, but the two sets do not mix well with each other. (3) Furthermore, nationalism is argumentative, he maintains, for the nationalist is always trying to prove his nation to be superior, whereas patriotism is not for:

Just as an intelligent man would never try to argue that his parents were the “best in the world,” so the patriot considers his attachment to his country a matter of loyalty. (4)

Lukacs put it this way:

Patriotism is defensive; nationalism is aggressive. Patriotism is the love of a particular land, with its particular traditions; nationalism is the love of something less tangible, of the myth of a “people,” justifying many things, a political and ideological substitute for religion. Patriotism is old-fashioned (and, at times and in some places, aristocratic); nationalism is modern and populist. (5)

Patriotism is the feeling of attachment and loyalty one has to one’s home as extended to his country. Edmund Burke, a friend of Dr. Johnson’s although, ironically, almost certainly one of those he had in mind when he spoke of the false patriotism that is the “last refuge of a scoundrel”, notably remarked that:

To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind. (6)

This affection for home that, taken to a larger scale, becomes patriotism, is one that we naturally develop unless something happens to prevent its development and it is inseparably tied to another natural affection, our love for our family. It is the fact that our family, our loved ones, live there, that makes a place our home, for apart from this it would be merely a house, a building. Therefore, while Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Lukacs are right to say that the focus of patriotism is on soil rather than blood, the true love of country cannot exclude one’s countrymen any more than love of home can exclude one’s family.

It is vital that we recognize this because a much greater threat than nationalism has developed in Western civilization. Since 1945, liberalism and the left have held up Adolf Hitler’s example as having permanently discredited the idea of volk or nation, i.e., a group connected by ties of blood, language, culture, and history, at least for Western countries. At the same time they continue to affirm the basic idea that was the foundation of both Hitler’s nationalism and his socialism – Rousseau’s concept of popular sovereignty, despite the fact that this concept is far more closely tied to the form of despotism Hitler practiced than the idea of nationality and that this concept, divorced from that of the volk or nation, produced despotism on an even larger scale in the Communist countries. (7) The result has been the permeation of Western civilization by a perverse ethnomasochism. If nationalists insist on the superiority of their own race, culture, and nation over all others, this ethnomasochism insists on the superiority of all other peoples and cultures to their own and expresses a death wish for its own people and culture. This is far more morally reprehensible than even the most jingoist of nationalisms, but, like the envy at the heart of socialism, it hides behind the mask of virtue - or at least what modern minds mistake for virtue in the empty concept of tolerance. Roger Scruton has described this ethnomasochism as oikophobia, giving this word the meaning of “the repudiation of inheritance and home”. (8)

From the Scylla of nationalism, which sacrificed millions in war to its idols of race and nation, we would appear to have escaped only to fall into the gaping maw of the Charybdis of ethnomasochistic oikophobia, (9) which would sacrifice all Western peoples and cultures to its own far deadlier Moloch.

Faced with these modern alternatives, the Tory looks to the ancient virtue of patriotism, the natural love for home extended to take in one's country, complete with people, customs, and institutions, as the antidote to both these poisons.

(1) It can be read online here:
(2) Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was Austrian, John Lukacs is Hungarian. In addition to being Roman Catholic monarchists, with a respect for bourgeois liberalism and a contempt for democratic populism who were refugees from totalitarian regimes in their home countries, both men were professors of history at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Lukacs being picked by Kuehnelt-Leddihn as his successor, when he returned to Europe in 1947.
(3) Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd: Or Procustes at Large, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1943) p. 196. Kuehnelt-Leddihn originally had this book published under the penname Francis Stuart Campbell. That liberty and equality are mutually exclusive is, of course, the theme of his Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of our Times (Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers Ltd., 1952).
(4) Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism Revisited: From De Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot, (Washington D. C.: Regnery Gateway, 1990) p. 199.
(5) John Lukacs, Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred, (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2005), p. 36.
(6) Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, in The Works of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke, Vol. 1, (Paternoster Row, London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1834), pp. 398-399. Reflections was originally published in 1790.
(7) Modern despots like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, practiced tyranny on a larger scale than history has ever known before. These dictators saw themselves as the embodiments of Rousseau’s “general will” and in Hitler’s case, his power was derived from his demagogic ability to mesmerize the masses and rally them behind him.
(8) Roger Scruton, A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism, (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006), p. 24.
(9) Several movements that call themselves "nationalisms" today are defensive responses to ethnomasochistic oikophobia. The negative portrayal of nationalism in this essay should not be taken as applying to these except in cases where they unmistakably join the concept of the nation with that of Rousseau's "sovereign people" as in nineteenth to early twentieth century nationalisms.