The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Question of Style and Substance

When William F. Buckley Jr., having assembled an impressive team of right-of-centre men of letters such as his eccentric Yale mentor Willmoore Kendall, ex-Trotskyist Machiavellian Cold War analyst James Burnham, and Austrian Catholic royalist aristocrat Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, launched his journal National Review in 1955, he declared in its statement of purpose that it “stands athwart history, yelling Stop”. Many, impressed by Buckley’s rhetoric but not by the magazine’s subsequent performance, especially since it has reversed itself on many of the positions it took in the 1950s and 1960s, have suggested that this should read “stands athwart history, yelling ‘slow down’”. Personally, I think that Buckley was somewhat misguided from the beginning and that a nobler purpose would have been to “stand athwart history, yelling ‘turn this sucker around, its heading in the wrong direction.’”

National Review quickly became the flagship publication of the intellectual wing of the American conservative movement which at the time was a loose, “big tent”, coalition of disparate groups and individuals united by their common foes: welfare socialism, International Communism at home and abroad, and the forces of social, moral, cultural, and civilization decay that had begun to manifest themselves in such forms as the sexual revolution and feminism. Many of the elements of this movement were actually liberals in the older, nineteenth century sense of the term, such as the economists of the Chicago and Austrian schools respectively, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises. Others were conservative in the traditional sense of the term, including the aforementioned Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and the other Catholic monarchists who had fled the Nazi and Communist occupations of Europe. There were also American born traditionalists who combined elements of traditional conservatism and classical liberalism. In the eighteenth century, the classical liberal or Whig statesman, Edmund Burke, had borrowed the arguments of the Tories, or classical conservatives, for tradition, order, and prescriptive institutions such as the British monarchy and established church, to defend these against the kind of fanaticism that had spawned the violence and destruction of the French Revolution. Russell Kirk, an American disciple of Burke’s, adapted these arguments into a defence of the liberal, republican, institutions of his own country, the United States.

Realizing that a movement needs to be united around something positive rather than merely a common set of enemies, National Review promoted an idea called fusionism, developed by one of its original editorial staff Frank S. Meyer as a synthesis of classical conservatism and classical liberalism that would defend tradition and freedom at the same time. At this point, lest anyone think that the title of my website is a nod to this idea, I should say that I chose “Throne, Altar, Liberty” as a title to advance a different idea – the idea that it is the traditional institutions of monarchy and established religion which provide the necessary foundation and context for personal freedom and that therefore it is and always has been the Tory, the champion of these institutions, who is the true friend of freedom and that he does not need to borrow from the vain philosophies of John Locke and J. S. Mill in order to be such.

Initially, National Review took bold and daring stands against the progressive liberal consensus that the rest of the media was trying to build on a number of hot button issues. It stood up for the Southern states when everyone else was seeking to pillory them, refused to jump on the Martin Luther King Jr. bandwagon, challenged the wisdom and justice of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, defended scientists and academics who did not doctor the facts about matters such as IQ to conform to the neo-Lysenkoism that had become official dogma, and poured contempt on international efforts to bully Rhodesia and Southern Africa into accepting black majoritarian rule. Over the years however, it seems to have toned down its rhetoric, watered down its message, and even reversed its position on a number of issues. On a number of occasions it has jettisoned writers and editors over controversial positions they have taken – examples include Joe Sobran on Israel and the Middle East in the early 1990s and Peter Brimelow and John O’Sullivan on mass Third World immigration in the late 1990s.

Sometimes the magazine supports a candidate in the primaries for an American presidential election – Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan as examples – and sometimes it does not. This year it has chosen to go the route of waging a campaign of opposition against a candidate, the candidate in question being Donald Trump. Last week it posted to its website an official statement from the magazine’s editors entitled “Against Trump”, giving reasons why they feel that conservatives should not support the Donald, as well as a symposium of several conservative figures, who for one reason or another are not in favour of Donald Trump.

Now, as a patriotic Canadian and a firm royalist who does not approve of republics and presidents, I do not, of course, have a proverbial dog in the fight that is the American presidential election. I do confess, however, to having greatly enjoyed watching from up north as Donald Trump has enraged the feminists, open borders liberals, anti-racists, and all the other more-enlightened-than-thou, politically correct, killjoys who are the bane of post-modern existence. Perhaps it is because of this that I am inclined to see National Review’s anti-Trump campaign as yet another example of the magazine’s lamentable decline from the cutting edge challenger of the progressive zeitgeist that it once was.

The editors’ argument against Trump could be summarized in the complaint that he is a populist rather than a conservative. This is true in itself, and the distinction is an important one, but it does not follow from this that conservatives ought not to support Trump. Conservatism seeks to preserve, protect, and pass on the valuable institutions and traditions that have been passed on from the past, whereas populism seeks to mobilize and harness discontent on the part of the populace with the powers that be. It is difficult to reconcile these two projects, and historically the conservative has wisely viewed populism with suspicion because of the great destructive potential of the forces it wishes to unleash. Nevertheless, the reconciliation of the protection of heritage with the giving voice to popular outrage is not impossible, and National Review need look no further than their late former publisher, William Rusher, for a man who successfully combined traditionalism and populist activism. Up here, the last decent man to serve as Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, was another example. He was on the one hand a prairie populist, who spoke out on behalf of rural, small town and farming, communities and regions against the arrogance of the money and business interests in central Canada and on the other hand a Tory firmly committed to Canada and her traditional institutions, such as Parliament and the monarchy. Indeed, when a powerful elite makes itself the enemy of the traditions and institutions the conservative cherishes, he is forced into the position where he must join forces to some extent with populism.

Interestingly, the editors of National Review themselves provide, albeit unintentionally, evidence that this is in fact the present situation. They refer, in one paragraph, to the “permanent things”, an expression from T. S. Eliot’s The Idea of a Christian Society that Russell Kirk had borrowed to indicate the things which the conservative cherishes and guards. As examples of the permanent things they give “constitutional government, marriage and the right to life.” Leaving aside the fact that in recent years National Review has often seemed to treat these things as expendable rather than permanent, having posted less than a year ago a screed arguing for capitulation to liberalism on a major point touching the second of them, is there any serious doubt that the predominate elites in the United States and the rest of the Western world have aligned themselves against marriage and the right to life?

Now to the preceding argument it may be objected that Donald Trump is not campaigning on a pro-life, pro-marriage platform but on a nativist, anti-immigration, platform. This is true, but in answer to this objection I would respond, first of all, by observing that it is the same elites who have set themselves against marriage and the right to life who are the ones who believe in a world without borders, in exporting jobs to the Third World and importing workers from the Third World, and who cannot stand the thought of closing the borders to any group of people even if doing so is an eminently sensible and obvious thing to do from the perspective of national security. Secondly, I would argue that immigration is obviously another matter on which conservatives should join forces with populism.

As recently as one hundred years ago, there was broad agreement across the political spectrum that it was countries who let immigrants in rather than deciding after the fact what to do with immigrants who let themselves in and however many immigrants a country let in to meet her needs at the time immigration should not fundamentally change the character of the country. A little over half a century ago, when liberals across the Western world began to push for more relaxed immigration policies, they still gave lip service to the old consensus, arguing that their policies would not drastically change the character of their countries, while conservatives, most notably those who were the farthest thing from populist rabble-rousers such as classical scholar-turned-High Tory statesman Enoch Powell in the UK and award-winning Catholic legitimist novelist Jean Raspail in France, argued that it would, and that it should not be allowed to happen. Now that liberal immigration is so changing the character of our countries that it is too obvious to pretend that it is not taking place, the new liberal line of argument is “so what, you are a racist if you have a problem with it.”

That conservatives, of all people, should be opposed to policies that are radically changing the character of our countries, is something of which the present editors of National Review are clearly aware. They therefore do not argue for an outright open-borders position but instead complain that Donald Trump’s proposals are unworkable, his position irresponsible, and his rhetoric vulgar. Whether his proposals would work or not are a matter for discussion and debate, although I think the arguments that they would not are incredibly weak.

The question that remains is do the editors of National Review, agree in substance with the old consensus that it is countries who will decide who they let in, that they will decide according to their own needs, and however many they decide they will not allow the fundamental character of their countries to be changed by immigration, and merely object to the vulgarity of Donald Trump’s populist style? Or is it rather that they disagree with the old consensus, and are really open-borders, one-world, liberals who are using Trump’s vulgar style as a pretext in a desperate campaign against the first man in decades who seems capable of shattering the new, liberal, consensus?

Monday, January 18, 2016

What Good Did He Do?

There is an episode in the popular television sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, in which Jim Parsons’ character, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, watches The Raiders of the Lost Ark, one of his favourite movies, with his, for lack of a better word, girlfriend, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. Reflecting on the movie after, Dr. Fowler makes the observation that the movie’s main character, Indiana Jones, contributed nothing to the outcome of the plot. At the end of the movie the Nazis are destroyed by the shekinah glory that emerges from the Ark of the Covenant. This would have happened once they opened it one way or another and possibly a lot sooner had Indiana Jones not hindered their efforts to obtain the Ark. Needless to say, Dr. Cooper, a man who would make Narcissus look humble by comparison, and who considers himself to be the intellectual superior of the other scientists in his circle of übernerds, had completely overlooked this and was flabbergasted to have it pointed out to him.

At the risk of offending people I feel that it is incumbent upon me to point out that what Amy Farrah Fowler had observed about Indiana Jones' role in Raiders can also be said about the man who our American friends and neighbours are celebrating today.

Whenever someone questions the wisdom of the American government’s having decided, back in the 1980s, to award a day of honour to “Dr.” Martin Luther King Jr., even though they had decided to economize on national holidays by rolling the birthday of the father of their country into a generic “Presidents Day” in which Washington must share the honour with the likes of FDR, LBJ, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, the standard answer one receives is “look at all the good he accomplished”.

If you point out that MLK Jr. plagiarized his doctoral dissertation for Boston University from a previous dissertation by another student at the same university, Jack Boozer, the answer you will receive will be "So what? Look at all the good he did".

If you point out that MLK Jr., while an ordained Baptist minister, did not believe in such basic truths of Christianity as the deity, Virgin Birth, and bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the answer again will be "look at all the good he did".

If you point out that he surrounded himself with men like Stanley Levison, an advisor, speech-writer, and organizer of his, and Jack or Hunter Pitts O'Dell, an executive assistant of King's and director of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference, both of whom had been high-ranking members of the Soviet-sponsored Communist Party USA in the 1950s, that he privately confessed to holding to the tenets of Marxist-Leninism, and was associated with a number of Communist fronts such as the Highlander Folk School, the answer that will come back to you as if from a stuck LP record will be "look at all the good he did!"

Well, all right then, what good did he do?

He was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s whose foremost achievement was the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the United States that would become the model for legislation such as the Race Relations Bill passed in the UK in 1968 and the Canadian Human Rights Act passed here in Canada in 1977. He is credited, in the popular imagination and in many a classroom, with having almost single-handedly slain the dragon of de jure racial segregation in the southern United States. Temporarily setting aside the question of the inherent goodness of integration and badness of segregation, let us look first at the matter of whether MLK Jr. actually deserves this credit.

De jure segregation in the southern United States began when the former Confederate States regained control of their domestic affairs after the post-1865 military occupation known as Reconstruction. The idea of "separate but equal" public facilities for blacks and whites was challenged in the American Supreme Court in 1896 on the grounds of the equality clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, the passing of which was one of the objectives of the Republicans in power in Congress in Reconstruction. SCUSA, in its ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, upheld the constitutionality and legality of "separate but equal" in a 7 to 1 vote. This decision stood until the matter was revisited in 1954 in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which SCUSA reversed its earlier ruling and declared segregation to be unconstitutional and illegal.

The decision in Brown v. Board is susceptible to a number of criticisms, such as that it relied more upon the theories of social scientists than on constitutional law and that it set a dangerous precedent for subsequent judicial activism and intrusion into local decisions such as that in Roe v. Wade and for an excellent overview of its negative impact even on race relations, I recommend The New Color Line by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton. In the story of the fall of Jim Crow, however, it is Brown v. Board which fills the role of the Ark of the Covenant and MLK Jr. that of Indiana Jones. In Brown v. Board, SCUSA had already declared de jure segregation unconstitutional the year prior to that in which MLK Jr. was launched into celebrity and notoriety for the first time during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Segregation had already been dealt its death blow before MLK Jr.'s career in the media spotlight had even begun.

The court's ruling was resisted by the states with "separate but equal" laws, of course, but the American federal government was prepared to back the decision with force and so Brown v. Board rendered the abolition of the Jim Crow type of segregation a fait accompli. MLK Jr.'s greatest actual achievement, the passing in Congress of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 owed as much to the death of JFK the preceding fall as it did to King's efforts, but, more importantly, this bill was designed, not to get rid of segregation laws but rather to impose integration.

Laws which require the separation of the races were widely perceived to be unjust for a number of reasons. From a classical liberal or libertarian point of view they would be considered an unjust infringement upon the freedom of association. This, however, is also true of the imposed integration of the US Civil Rights Act for this bill forbade private acts of discrimination and true freedom of association includes the freedom not to associate. It further, seems quite self-evident that forcing ethnic groups with a mutual distrust of each other into each other's company is hardly conducive to promoting the kind of harmony between groups within a society that is necessary for a peaceful civil order. That imposed integration did not prove to be satisfactory to those it was supposed to help is evident in the way blacks and other racial minorities,or at least progressives purporting to speak on their behalf, have been calling for the return of segregation in recent years. They do not call it segregation, of course, they prefer politically correct euphemisms like "safe spaces", but the concept is essentially that of racial segregation, albeit designed to benefit racial minorities rather than whites.

Martin Luther King Jr. did not accomplish the good that he is credited with, the abolition of Jim Crow, and what he actually accomplished, the forced integration of the American Civil Rights Act and imitation legislation in Canada and the UK, is no more just than segregation itself and is a generator of racial strife and discord. Perhaps our American neighbours ought to reconsider keeping the third Monday in January in remembrance of this man every year.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Stench of Cologne

In the fall of 1798, a young Samuel Taylor Coleridge, accompanied by his friend and poetic collaborator William Wordsworth, paid a visit to Germany, where he came under the influence of German philosophers and poets such as Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schiller, which influence he brought back to England with him where he, along with Wordsworth and Robert Southey, launched the Romantic movement in nineteenth century English poetry. On a later visit to Germany, what he brought back with him, was a negative impression of the city of Cologne. In July of 1828 he wrote the following lines which were published a few years later:

In Köhln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fang'd with murderous stones
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine
Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?

One of the things that stands out about this poem today is the irony of this malodorous accusation being leveled against the city whose name has become synonymous with that of perfumes bottled for and marketed to men. The irony may be intentional – the original Eau de Cologne had been around for almost a century by the time the future Lake Poet visited Germany - although it was the city’s extremely poor sewage drainage system that the poet was directly talking about. This may go a long way towards explaining why Johann Maria Farina felt the need to create the famous scent in the first place.

Farina, as you may have surmised from his name, was not German born. An immigrant from Italy, he created the perfume which bolstered the reputation of his adopted city in the very year in which he made Cologne his home. That was 1709. Much has changed, unfortunately, between 1709 and 2015, and as the latter year drew to a close, on the eve of the New Year, a very different class of immigrants introduced a new stench to the city, a stench so strong that it turned the area around the city’s famous Cathedral, housing the Shrine of the Three Kings, into a no-go zone right before Epiphany, the Feast commemorating the Visit of the Magi whose relics are supposedly contained in that shrine.

It is in the city’s central square, located between the railway station and the aforementioned Cathedral, that the inhabitants of Cologne customarily gather together to ring in the New Year. Among those assembled this time around, were large numbers of young, drunken, hooligans, described by their victims as being recent immigrants who were “Arab or North African” in appearance and origin. These threw firecrackers into the crowd to create confusion and then, in the midst of that confusion, isolated young women, surrounded them in large numbers, and groped, robbed, and, in some cases, raped them. The number of victims who have come forward with complaints is now in the hundreds.

Similar happenings, it should be noted, took place in other German cities such as Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hamburg and in other northern European countries such as Austria and Finland.

If the stench of these crimes was not bad enough in itself, to it must be added that of the response on the part of the German civil authorities and the establishment media. I do not mean merely the failure of the Cologne police on the night in question to contain the incidents, capture the perpetrators, protect the public and restore order. These attacks were well organized and the police were overwhelmed. I refer rather to the way in which the authorities, from the Cologne police administration up to the German Chancellor’s office, and the media, made it their highest priority to protect the very foolishness that left German cities vulnerable to this kind of attack in the first place.

A civil war has been underway in Syria since the so-called “Arab Spring” of 2011, in which rebel forces, with heavy foreign support, have sought to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. In the course of the war the eastern part of the country came under the control of the same hard-core Islamic groups that had seized power in western Iraq, creating what is now known as ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic State that has declared itself to be the restored and revived caliphate. Since the war began a large number of Syrians have fled, whether from ISIS, Assad, or just the destruction of the war itself, to such neighboring countries as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

A little over a year ago another phenomenon began to attract attention as thousands of people had begun pouring into Europe through Turkey claiming to be refugees from the Syrian conflict. This flood shows no signs of abating and has grown to the millions, the overwhelming majority of whom are young Muslim men of military age, and of whom only a minority are actually from Syria. It was obvious to those who had eyes to see that this horde of young men, who showed a great deal of disregard for the law, customs, and authorities of the countries they were entering, were not a genuine wave of refugees seeking asylum from threats to life and limb at home, but an invasion.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, chose instead to accept the deceitful media narrative about a crisis of humanity and some moral obligation we supposedly have to open our hearts and borders to those who at the time were striving to endear themselves to the countries they wished to enter by swarming over fences, chanting obscenities, and hurling rocks and bottles at the police. She declared that Germany would take in any Syrian refugee who wanted to come – by the end of the year, a million had taken her up on that offer – and began pressuring other European governments to do the same.

Merkel is now calling for Germany to implement new laws which would make it easier to deport asylum-seekers who commit crimes but has not acknowledged that her effort to win a reputation for compassion at the expense of her country and people was, to put it mildly, mistaken. Indeed, the Cologne police and the German federal government initially denied, what they have now been forced to admit, that those who committed this wave of sexual assaults and robberies were mostly newcomers to Germany, from the Middle East, who entered as asylum-claimants and they continue to be more concerned that those on the right who oppose open borders and mass immigration will gain support because of incidents like these than they are for the well-being of their countrymen, or in this case, countrywomen. The German media, which did not seriously report on these events until the eve of Epiphany, five days later, seems to share this attitude, the stink of which is greater than any of the two and seventy, noted by Coleridge in the nineteenth century, and which would require a sea of Eau de Cologne to drown it out.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Contra Spiritum Saeculi

It is the first of January, the Octave Day of Christmas which is the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord and also New Years Day. This means that it is once again time for my annual “full disclosure” essay, a tradition I have borrowed from one of my favourite opinion columnists, the late Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel. In this essay I talk about myself and outline my basic convictions such as underlie all my writings.

I am a male Canadian, who grew up on a farm in Western Manitoba, studied theology for five years after high school, and has lived and worked in Winnipeg, the provincial capital ever since.

I am a life-long Canadian patriot. I say patriot rather than nationalist, because a patriot is someone who feels towards his country, its traditions and institutions, and people the same kind of affection he feels towards his home and family, whereas a nationalist is a zealot for an ideal vision of what his country ought to be, which may or may not have any anything to do with his country as it is and historically has been, and who may do terrible damage to his country in the name of that ideal. In Canada, the Liberal Party identifies itself as the party of Canadian nationalism, and their nationalism is the toxic cancer that has been killing the country I love for over half a century. My Canada is the Dominion of Canada, a British country built on a foundation of Loyalism, governed by a British parliamentary monarchy, with the British Common Law and all its prescriptive rights and freedoms and, in the English-speaking part of the country, British culture as adapted to the northern part of North America. The vestiges of this Canada lingered on in the farms, villages, and small towns of the rural area in which I grew up and while some of the responsibility for the erosion of this Canada belongs to Americanization, the Liberal Party deliberately targeted the old Canada for disappearance with its nationalism project. Renny Whiteoak, the hero of Mazo de la Roche’s epic Canadian Jalna saga, expressed his and his creator’s contempt for this project by dismissing all the talk of nationality with the question of what exactly was wrong with being a colony anyway. While the Dominion of Canada had been much more than a colony since Confederation in 1867, what de la Roche was getting at through her mouthpiece Renny, was that there was nothing wrong with Canada as she was before the Liberal nationalist project, a sentiment I certainly share as I share her cynical contempt for a project that had as its aim the rejection and replacement of everything that had traditionally and historically been Canada.

I prefer the word Tory over the word conservative to describe my convictions. Both words can refer to the members and supporters of the Conservative Party but this is not what I mean when I apply either word to myself. Conservative, when used today in North America in a sense other than the partisan, suggests an old-fashioned liberal – someone who believes in individual rights and liberties, limited government by elected representatives, low taxes and free markets. While this older kind of liberalism has its good points, unlike today’s liberalism of egalitarian social engineering, wealth redistribution, and soft totalitarianism masked with a smiling face and compassionate words, which has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, I mean something more than this when I call myself a conservative.

I use the word Tory in Samuel Johnson and T. S. Eliot’s sense of the term – someone who is a royalist, a high churchman, and a classicist.

We live in a depraved age and it is in keeping with the degenerate spirit of the times that democracy, the rule of the people, is now ubiquitously thought of as being synonymous with freedom and legitimate government. Monarchy is regarded by those who think this way as an outdated and archaic holdover from the past that, if its survival is to be tolerated, must be confined to a merely ceremonial role. As someone who has been a royalist for as long as I can remember, I can see all of this for the malarkey it is. Democratically elected governments intrude into every corner and aspect of their citizens lives in ways kings and queens never dreamed of doing and historically people have been much freer under royal rule than under the dominion of a government which being of the people can do whatever it likes to the people, for it is the people doing it to themselves. Furthermore, democracy places power in the hands of those who can be trusted with it the least – ambitious, power-seeking, politicians. The only way to make government by elected politicians tolerable to those under it is by placing those politicians in the humbling position of being servants or ministers of a royal master, which is why monarchy is even more important in an era of democracy than ever before. Politicians can govern only as representatives of whose who elected them – those who live and can vote in the present day. It is kings and queens, whose position does not depend on popular election but is rooted in tradition, prescription and historical continuity, who represent the whole of their society, including past and future generations and so, it is monarchy and not democracy, that makes all the other elements of government legitimate. As usual, the spirit of the age gets everything completely backwards.

I grew up in a family that, when it attended church, attended the United Church, but had an evangelical “born again” conversion experience when I was fifteen, and was baptized as a teenager in a Baptist church. I was later confirmed an Anglican. When I say that I am a high churchman I mean this in the original sense of that expression, someone who believes in the Church as an organized institution, its institutional authority, and the importance of its organic and organizational continuity with the Church founded by Jesus Christ through His Apostles. In this too, my convictions run contrary to the spirit of our age, which values a vague and undefined spirituality but despises organized religion.

Which is not to say that there is nothing valid in the condemnation and criticism of the institutional Church one often hears. Fundamentalists frequently accuse the ecclesiastical leadership of the mainstream churches of abandoning the theological and moral truths that Christianity has taught for two thousand years and more often than not these accusations are correct. To give up on and withdraw from the institutional Church, however, in the fundamentalist manner, is to depart from the truth in another way, by falling into sectarianism and Donatism. There are many contemporary trends in the Church I deplore. The unbelief, masquerading as theology under the name liberalism, which rejects or reinterprets beyond recognition any traditional Christian doctrines that the liberal considers himself too enlightened to believe in today and replaces them with progressive political, social, and environmental activism is one of these. The abandonment of reverence and a sense of the sacred and a holy for a familiarity that comes close to blasphemy in much of the “personal relationship with Jesus” kind of evangelicalism is another. I would insist, however, that these are problems to be confronted and dealt with in the Church, rather than reasons to withdraw from it.

I derive this view of the institutional Church, from both an anthropological argument, that religion as an institution is fundamental to all true community, and, more importantly, the theological argument, that Jesus Christ Himself founded the Church as an institution which, collectively indwelt by the Holy Spirit, would continue His Incarnational Presence on earth as His Body after His Ascension, and which He promised the gates of hell would never prevail against.

I am a Protestant high churchman, like those prior to the Oxford Movement of the 1830s such as Dr. Johnson, and as such I do not regret the Reformation, with its necessary clarification of the Pauline doctrines of grace and justification and its recover of the position of highest authority for the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God, but I do lament the tendencies that later developed in Protestantism of making the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures a private and personal matter between the individual believer and God, contrary to the inspired words of St. Peter, to make the talk where someone gives his interpretation of the Scriptures the central element of communal worship rather than the sacrament of Holy Communion, to neglect the writings whose canonicity was less firmly established than the sixty-six books recognized by all Protestants but which were nevertheless read as Holy Scriptures throughout the Church from the first century onward, and to neglect a fifteen hundred year tradition of Scriptural interpretation, from the Church Fathers through the medieval doctors, apart from which no man can hope to understand the Holy Scriptures, the sources of the truth into which Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would guide His disciples, for that promise was made to the Church collectively, and not to the individual believer.

In classicism, as in royalism and high churchmanship, I set myself against the Zeitgeist. By classicism, I mean the idea that music, literature, and the visual arts exist with beauty as their end, and that beauty like truth and goodness is not whatever we decide it to be, but rather has real existence in itself as part of the established order of things as they are, and that therefore there are non-subjective standards whereby music, literature, and the visual arts can be and ought to be judged. This is not a very popular idea today, especially among artists and, counter-intuitive as this might seem, among art critics. This is because the opposite of classicism, romanticism, which is the belief that an inner well within the artist is the source of all true art and that the artist must follow his inner light rather than external, established order, came to dominate the arts in the nineteenth century, and was taken to the nth degree in the modernism and postmodernism of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In identifying with classicism, therefore, I am not merely expressing a preference for Titian and Poussin, Haydn and Mozart, Dante and Shakespeare over Picasso, Schoenberg and Maya Angelou, I am saying that there is something fundamentally wrong and depraved with the latter.

In going, as a Tory, against the spirit of our forward thinking age in all of these things – royalism, high church traditional Christianity, and classicism – I am a reactionary, a term which is used as a label of abuse by those who believe in the false doctrine of progress, i.e., the doctrine that man has an infinite capacity to reshape and improve the world so as to create Paradise for himself on earth, but which I wear as a badge of honour, a habit I picked up from one of my favourite historical writers, John Lukacs.

As a reactionary, a man of the right – indeed, the far right in the truest sense of that expression, one which does not include Hitlerism which, properly understood, was an ideology of the left – I see most contemporary trends as being for the worse rather than the better. This is most evident in the realm of morality where all the old commandments and taboos, which served constructive social and civil purposes are being jettisoned in favour of a set of petty, banal, obnoxious, and increasingly ridiculous rules, designed to micromanage our personal relationships and communications with others so as to prevent us from hurting the feelings of a growing list of groups of people whose feelings are officially protected.

All of this nonsense comes from the idea of equality, one of the chief demons of the age. In the United States, right-liberals, i.e., conservatives, and left-liberals or progressives, argue over “equality of opportunity”, favoured by the former, versus “equality of outcome”, favoured by the latter. In the Tory tradition of Dr. Johnson and Evelyn Waugh, I reject both concepts, and all forms of the idea of equality, as a sick, evil, and depraved perversion of true justice. Justice, being rooted in the order of things as they are, is, like that order, hierarchical rather than egalitarian. I hope that it is not arrogant boasting to word it this way, but I have more sense than to believe in the equality of individuals, much less such drivel as the equality of classes, the sexes, religions, cultures, and the races, either as a description of the way things are or of the way things ought to be made to be. One does not have to subscribe to some crackpot ideology about how one’s own race or sex is superior to the others – which, by the way, is a fair description of the nominally egalitarian feminist and black advocacy movements – to recognize the folly of egalitarianism. Few things get my dander up more than the way these stupid and patently false ideas are shoved down all our throats by educators, clergyman, the media both news and entertainment – not that there is much of a difference anymore – and the government. None of these really believe this nonsense, however much they might lie to themselves and others, as is evidenced by the way they will not allow anyone to disagree with them but seek to utterly ruin the lives, careers, and reputations of anyone who in even the mildest way points out that their emperor has no clothes.

The only other absurd notion as protected against the observation of reality as egalitarianism is liberal individualism taken to its ultimate extreme in which reality itself is declared to be for each of us what we decide it to be for ourselves. If Bruce Jenner decides he is a woman, who are you or I to disagree? All the rest of us are expected to agree that he is a woman, just as if we were living out George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in which the inhabitants of Oceania, at war with one rival power one day, declare that they have always been at war with the other the next.

That this new morality represents some kind of quantum leap forward in human enlightenment is a proposition that no truly sane and intelligent person could entertain for a second. Give me back the old Victorian morality, I say.

It is a time-honoured New Years tradition to make resolutions of self-improvement on this day and so I make it my resolution for 2016, to grow even more out of step with the times in which we live, and I encourage all of you to do the same.

Happy New Year,
God Save the Queen!