The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Monday, September 17, 2018

Assorted Reflections

- Liberals think that parliament is an acceptable form of government because it is democratic. They have, as usual, got things backwards. Tories know that democracy is a dangerous abstraction that is only tolerable when it is incorporated as an element in an established and time-proven institution like parliament.

- I have been reflecting lately on a number of the valuable insights of John Lukacs. Lukacs, who was raised in Hungary and partially educated in England, lived through the occupation of his home country by the Nazis and when it was about to fall under the oppression of the other form of twentieth-century totalitarianism, Communism, fled to the United States where he had a successful career as a historian, primarily of the Second World War. A Roman Catholic in religion, Lukacs describes his political views as reactionary. He uses this term in much the same way that I use the term Tory, as a designation of what remains of the older, European, Catholic/Anglican royalism, that used to be called conservative before this latter term was co-opted by classical liberals and populist nationalists. A strong Anglophile, Lukacs has much praise for classical, bourgeois, liberalism and much scorn for populism and nationalism. With regards to nationalism, he has frequently reminded us of the distinction between patriotism and nationalism – the former being “defensive”, the latter “aggressive”, the former having as the object of its love “a particular land, with its particular traditions”, the latter loving “the myth of a ‘people.’” Nationalism, he insightfully says, is a “political and ideological substitute for religion.” Patriotism, by contrast, is a natural affection, the love of one’s home writ large. In populism, he sees democracy, liberated from the restraints which classical liberalism placed on it so as to become a threat to civilization. While these points sound like they were written with Donald Trump in mind, Lukacs has been making them for decades – his book, Democracy and Populism: Fear & Hatred, hardly the first time he tackled these subjects, was published in 2005. Furthermore, unlike the vast majority of Trump’s detractors, Lukacs is not an admirer of the liberal immigration that was the target of Trump’s populist rhetoric. As far back as 1986 he wrote a booklet, Immigration and Migration – A Historical Perspective, that concluded by saying “the greatest potential threat to the United States is not that posed by the Soviet Union, but by the so-called Third World.” Perhaps his most important insight, one that ties the previously mentioned ones together, is that which is found on pages 267 to 268 of his The Hitler of History. There, Lukacs traces the history of the exaltation of culture over civilization, from its roots in nineteenth century German philosophy, to the doctrines of Adolf Hitler, to its having become accepted orthodoxy among the intellectuals of the present day. Culture in this sense refers to artistic achievement, civilization to government, law, order, and basically the political or civil structures that allow everyday life to function more or less smoothly. While it is easy to see why those of a romantic bent of mind – Spengler, Nietzsche, Hitler, and most modern intellectuals among them – would value “spiritual and creative” culture over “material and bourgeois” civilization, Lukacs, a witness of the horrors that occur when civilization breaks down, takes the opposite stance that “When civilization is strong and widespread enough, culture will appear and take care of itself.” (Last Rites, p. 58) Nationalist-populism on the one hand and mass Third World immigration on the other both threaten civilization, and it is this more than culture for which we ought to be concerned.

- It is essential for civilization that power – the use of strength to compel obedience – be employed only in the service of authority – leadership by established right – and that authority take precedence over power. Royal monarchy possesses authority, democracy can only ever possess power – the power of numbers. Parliamentary government combines both principles – republicanism, which excludes the royal monarchical principle, is fundamentally uncivilized. Among parliamentarians, it is the Tory, who sees the royal monarchy as the guardian of civilization against the barbarism of unchecked democracy, rather than the Whig, who has the proper perspective.

- The Oresteia of Aeschylus is a trilogy of plays in which the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus is avenged by Orestes at the prompting of Apollo. Pursued by the Furies, Orestes finds refuge in Athens where Pallas herself presides over the first jury trial, in which Orestes is acquitted of the murder of his mother and the cycle of vengeance ends. The main theme of the trilogy, obviously, is how court administered justice under the rule of law is the foundation for the emergence of civilization from the barbarism of kin-administered blood vengeance. There are many important layers to the edifice of civilization that rests upon that foundation, foremost among them being the principle that it is preferable for the system to err in failing to administer justice to the guilty than by wrongfully punishing the innocent, a principle famously expressed by Socrates as quoted by Plato in the Gorgias. In practical terms, this principle translates into the onus of proof for the accuser and the presumption of innocence for the accused. It shows how little value the Liberal Party of Canada places upon civilization that the present government claims to be taking seriously the demands of aboriginal activists who, angry at the acquittal of a farmer who had shot and killed a native youth in defence of his family and property, have called for radical revisions to the “racist” justice system, insisting that representatives of their group be placed on juries even when this would amount to a jury prejudiced against the defendant. Since one of the proofs native activists most frequently offer of the “racism” of the justice system is the disproportionate number of aboriginals arrested, convicted, and incarcerated, logically they ought to be arguing for the strengthening, rather than the weakening, of the rights of defence. To give in to their foolish demands would be to step away from civilization and justice in the direction of tribal, blood-and-kin-based, vengeance.

- Theological error is at the root of all other errors of the Modern Age. The idea that man’s most fundamental nature is that of a homo economicus, a rational agent whose chief end is material possession, is the common basis of both economic liberalism or capitalism and socialism. At its heart it is a denial of the classical and Christian idea that man has a spiritual as well as a physical nature and that the spiritual ought to rule the animal nature. The idea that most or all of human suffering can be eliminated by reorganizing society economically, socially, and politically is rooted in the ancient heresy of Pelagianism for it is a denial of the fact that since the Fall, human nature itself has been afflicted with the flaw of Original Sin, which is the true source of all human suffering, an affliction for which there is no economic, social, or political cure.

- The spirit of the Modern Age is often characterized as the spirit of progress. By progress, the harnessing of the knowledge made available through reason and science for ongoing social, economic, and political improvement is meant. The true spirit of the Modern Age revealed itself in England in 1642-1649, in the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1775 to 1783, in France in 1789 to 1794, in various European countries in 1848, in Russia in 1917, and in many other countries throughout the world since. It is the spirit of anarchy and revolution, a spirit to which orthodox Christianity assigns a personal name, and which Dr. Johnson correctly identified as the first Whig.

- The faith of the Modern Age in democracy has sometimes been expressed in terms of the majority always being right. This tenet of modern faith comes with a practical application: when a decision needs to be made on behalf of a community, the sound and proper way of making a just and fair choice is to poll the people and go with what the majority wants. There are many flaws with this way of thinking and classical liberalism, despite its avowed belief in democracy, sufficiently recognized the dangers of majority rule to insist that it must operate within the parameters set by guaranteed civil rights and liberties for individuals and minorities. Tories or classical conservatives, who, as previously mentioned, believe in tested and established institutions like parliaments rather than abstractions like democracy, emphasize the need to limit the excesses of democracy by balancing it with the older governing institutions of royal monarchy and aristocracy. Popular opinion is easily manipulated both by those who control the instruments of information distribution, i.e., the media and by strong-willed, charismatic, populists. When both of these are actively at work manipulating public opinion at the same time and in open warfare against each other you get what the United States is currently going through. In reality, the majority can rarely be expected to know what is best, but an important exception to this, it needs to be emphasized, is the issue of immigration. The reason this is an exception is obvious. The kind of liberal elites who prefer unrestricted, large scale, open immigration, live in gated communities where they have sealed themselves and their children off from the consequences of the policies they espouse whereas the majority of ordinary people have to live with those consequences on a daily basis. The majority of ordinary persons, on this subject at least, are better informed than the elites, and their opposition to liberal immigration cannot be simply dismissed as uninformed prejudice or the result of demagogic, populist, fear-mongering.

- For decades, the concepts of “left” and “right” that have prevailed in mainstream North American thought have been primarily economical with the left being associated with socialism and the right with capitalism. Students of history, who know of the origins of the political connotations of “right” and “left” in the French Revolution, will recognize the irony in this. The original “right” were the defenders of the Bourbon monarchy, the Roman Catholic establishment, and the nobility – essentially the equivalents of the English Royalist-Cavalier-Tories. The “left” were the members of the Jacobin Club who, for various, often conflicting reasons, promoted the Revolution. It was certainly not theoretical economics over which the original “left” and “right” fought. The Jacobins accused the Bourbons of hoarding the food supply after a bumper harvest, causing unnecessary want and hunger, accusations to which there was no substance as the Jacobins knew full well for it was their own ringleader, the king’s cousin Philippe d’Orleans, who later renamed himself Égalité, who had secretly bought up the grain supply in order to stir up dissatisfaction and strife. That was about the extent to which economics – practical, rather than theoretical – figured into the Revolution and it was a mere pretext. Of course, those who make the North American “left” and “right” all about economics are kind of sloppy with their definitions of “capitalism” and “socialism” as well. These are envisioned as the two poles of a spectrum having to do with the extent of government involvement in the economy. Total government ownership and control of the economy, pure socialism, is the left pole and zero government involvement in the economy, pure anarcho-capitalism, is the right pole. By this simplistic reasoning any move away from zero government involvement is a move towards the left and towards socialism. The folly of that is demonstrable by a single example – Sunday shopping restrictions. Until very recently, within living memory, laws that predated the economic theories of both Adam Smith and Karl Marx, strictly limited commercial activity on Sundays. The removal of most of these restrictions is a consequence of the secularization of society. The logic of the left/socialist-right/capitalist spectrum requires the conclusion that this was a move to the right. Yet this conclusion is clearly absurd – secularization is favoured by the left, and opposition to it exists almost entirely on the right. As for capitalism and socialism, while it is not wrong to say that the liberalization of Sunday laws served the purposes of capitalism it does not follow, and indeed sounds utterly ridiculous, to say that the retention of those laws would have been socialistic. Socialism, correctly defined, is the idea that the collective ownership or control of farms, factories, and other means of production is necessary for a fair distribution of resources. This foolish notion has no relationship whatsoever with the idea that one day in seven should be set aside, as much as possible, from commercial activity and kept holy. Since collective ownership or control translates, in practice, into government ownership or control, socialism does involve much more economic involvement on the part of the government than capitalism, but it does not follow that all forms of government involvement are a step towards socialism. The nature of the government involvement has to be taken into consideration as well.

- Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toronto Sun editor Lorrie Goldstein have recently argued that left-wing anti-Zionism is simply a mask for anti-Semitism. The reason the anti-Zionist left singles Israel out for condemnation for acts that other governments, including ones the left coddles, engage in, so this reasoning goes, is because Israel is Jewish. It would have been far more refreshing had Harper and Goldstein been bold enough to speak the real truth – the left’s rabid anti-Zionism has nothing to do with Israel being Jewish, and everything to do with Israel being Western, European and white. While today the condemnation that the left heaps on Israel for her determination to preserve her own existence, even in the face of global, liberal, disapproval, against the enemies on all sides who desire her destruction, seems unique, it is no different from the way the left had behaved towards South Africa in the 1980s and Southern Rhodesia in the 1970s. Neither South Africa nor Southern Rhodesia was a Jewish country. What these countries had in common with Israel was that they were countries established by European settlers – the Jews who made Aliyah to Palestine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries came from Europe – with Western parliamentary institutions, and thriving Western economies and civilization. In each case, the country was surrounded by hostile countries dedicated to its destruction and had – or, in Israel’s case, has – a large mass of enemies within its own borders. To preserve their own existence, these countries simply could not behave in the way that liberals living in countries that until recently – the “Camp of the Saints” scenario that liberal immigration and the so-called “refugee” crisis has been producing is rapidly changing this – were not faced with similar existential threats, demanded. So the liberals condemned each of them as “racist.” In the cases of Rhodesia and South Africa they wore down the country’s will to survive and the consequences of liberalism getting its way has been the breakdown of law and order in both countries, the devastation of their economies, the collapse of their civilization, and the mass murder of their white farmers. The real hatred behind the left’s anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, the hatred of Jews qua Jews, but the hatred of white, European, Western civilization. Harper and Goldstein know this as well as I do. It would be nice if they would grow a pair, come out and say it, and denounce this type of race hatred as being just as bad as anti-Semitism if not worse. I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

- There are two groups of people who one constantly hears harping about “racism. White liberals, who hate people of their own skin colour, and consider themselves to be morally superior beings for doing so, are the first group. The most ethno-centric representatives of other races, who can barely utter a sentence without expressing their own race-based hatred, are the other.

- Throughout North America, and indeed, the Western world as a whole, but especially here in the Dominion of Canada, left-wing ideology has long held the institutions of higher learning in its totalitarian grasp. The atmosphere on campus, to say the least, has not been conducive to the formation and expressions of thoughts outside of the progressive box. In his run for the Conservative Party's leadership, Andrew Scheer vowed to cut off government funding for schools that did not allow freedom of speech for non-progressive views. More recently, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has given all the colleges and universities of Upper Canada until the next New Year's Day to adopt such free speech policies. What Ford gives with one hand, however, he takes away with the other for he has also insisted that these schools adopt anti-hate speech policies. Classifying the expression of non-progressive opinion as "hate speech" has long been the left's main weapon for suppressing freedom of thought and speech. As long as "hate speech" is forbidden and the left gets to decide what is "hate speech" - and note that in their definition "I hate you, you dirty, rotten, SOB" is NOT "hate speech" but "studies show that group X has on average a higher percentage of undesirable trait Y than does the general populace" is "hate speech" regardless of whether or not it is true - no affirmation of freedom of speech can possibly be effective. Of course, even an effective free speech policy would only be the first step towards clearing the atmosphere in the halls of higher education. Cutting off all public funding for gender studies, ethnic studies, and other such courses, insisting that institutions that offer these pay for them solely out of private funds, and that they be entirely elective, would be the necessary next step. The neoconservative solution of a STEM-centred curriculum would not work because it is based on a false premise - that the hard sciences and mathematics are impervious to being taken over by those wishing to promote a progressive agenda. Those who believe this premise would do well to research the history of the left-wing activist group Science For the People and the careers of such prominent members as Richard C. Lewonkin (geneticist and biologist) and the late Stephen Jay Gould (paleontologist and biologist) who both taught at Harvard University from the early 1970s to around the turn of the millennium. Another problem with the STEM-based approach is the underlying assumption that the purpose of education is to give people the tools they need to earn a living and advance in a career. That confuses training with education. What is sorely needed in Canada is a full reformation of the humanities, so that liberal education once again means education that provides Canadians with all that they need to fully participate in society as Her Majesty’s free citizen-subjects and no longer means indoctrination in the latest tenets of left-wing ideology.

- Karl Marx’s “ideas” have been so thoroughly debunked by the events of the last century that it is only academics and intellectuals who are stupid and idiotic enough to still take them seriously. I do not refer merely to the fact that the movement he inspired enslaved one sixth of the world, murdered one hundred million people, and made Hitler’s totalitarian tyranny look amateur in comparison. I also refer to the fact that his predictions spectacularly failed to come true – life for industrial workers did not become unbearably hard under capitalism, quite the opposite, and when the general war came – twice – the workers fought for their country rather than their class. Even in the Soviet Union, Stalin had to appeal to good old fashioned Russian patriotism to marshal the troops against Hitler. The foundational premise of the labour theory of value that Marx borrowed from Adam Smith has also been debunked. It is quite evident that the expanded productivity that has led to such a rise in the standard of living has been due to the improvement of capital and not to an increase in labour. As nauseating and disgusting as most other aspects of her world view are, it is the premise behind the main plot device of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the Galt strike, that has been confirmed and verified, and not Marx’s inane drivel. The debunking of Marxist theory has in no way prevented it from wreaking havoc, death, and destruction around the globe. This is because Marxism as a revolutionary movement did not arise out of Marxism as a political and economic theory but rather Marxism as a political and economic theory was devised as a rationalization and justification for Marxism as a revolutionary movement. This is why the response of Marxists to the falsification of Marx’s predictions, as far back as the interwar period, was not to abandon the revolutionary cause in disillusionment but to devise new theories to perpetuate it. When these new theories were in turn debunked – the first ones borrowed ideas from Freudianism which is now universally regarded as quackery – this too, was no big deal to the revolutionaries, they simply came up with yet newer ones. Unlike real philosophers, Marxists see their ideas as tools for promoting revolutionary violence rather than steps in a journey towards the truth. Since the Second World War neo-Marxists have used their new theories to expand their list of enemies to be destroyed. No longer does their sedition target only their old class enemy, the bourgeoisie, but now also the racial, sexual, and gender enemies of white Caucasians, males, heterosexuals, and most recently the cisgendered. Indeed, through the idea of “intersectionality” they now attack all of these targets simultaneously. Eventually, of course, these ideas will be as dead and debunked as classical Marxism, but since their utility for the Marxists’ revolutionary purposes is completely independent of their truth claims, this will not defeat Marxism. Only by abandoning liberalism, with its foolish insistence on interacting with Marxism in its various guises as if it were a legitimate philosophical contribution, will we be able to recognize it for what it is, a seditious movement of pure violent hatred, and respond to it accordingly.

- The vision of the Fathers of Confederation was simple – the provinces of British North America, would come together to form a nation, which would retain its monarchical, parliamentarian, and Common Law institutions and preserve its existence against the threat of the economic, cultural, social, and political domination of the American republic by maintaining its connection to Britain and the rest of the Empire. The federal system would accommodate the cultural differences between English speaking Protestants and French speaking Catholics, while a strong, central, government would preserve the unity of the country and prevent the kind of fracturing that had led to the conflict of 1861-1865 in the United States. The broader Empire would evolve into a strong alliance of self-governing associated kingdoms under the common Crown (Stephen Leacock’s “Greater Canada – An Appeal” articulates this vision of the Commonwealth and Canada’s role in it). When we compare this vision with what has become of our country in the century and a half since we cannot help but weep. At the time the United States, confident in its Manifest Destiny to rule North America, resentful of the continued presence on the continent of the Empire it had rebelled against, and scornful of monarchical government, was the biggest threat to the Dominion. The United States ridiculed Confederation, tried to prevent Canada from obtaining Rupert’s Land and the North-West Territory, cheered on the Red River and North-West Rebellions, tried to derail the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad necessary for building the Canadian national economy, and poured money into the election coffers of the Liberals when they campaigned for unconditional trade reciprocity, regarded on both sides of the Forty-Ninth Parallel in those days as a step that would lead inevitably to annexation. Ultimately, however, it was the enemy within, the Liberal Party of Canada, which proved to be more dangerous than any external threat. Mackenzie King’s actions in 1926 so undermined the accountability of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to the king-in-parliament that it turned the Prime Minister’s office into a virtual dictatorship. Trudeau’s Charter undermined the Common Law and established a judicial tyranny similar to that in the United States. In between were a number of cosmetic changes in which meaningful symbols of the Canada of Confederation, such as the flag under which we fought two world wars and our original national holiday which honoured the day we became a “Dominion”, the designation the Fathers of Confederation had chosen to give the kind of self-governing, associate, kingdom they had created, were replaced with lame substitutes. While our national emblems are a lesser concern than our queen-in-parliament system of government and the prescriptive rights, personal freedom, and accumulated-precedent-based-justice of our Common Law, the Liberal Party’s changes to the former reflect their assault upon the latter basic institutions of Canadian civilization.