The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Thursday, August 29, 2019

History Repeating Itself

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” said the early twentieth century Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana. There is a popular aphorism that says “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” While the meaning of the high-brow remark is not exactly the same as that of the low-brow saying the two are complementary and both happen to apply to what I am about to discuss.

The Winnipeg Free Press, which some people still think is a real newspaper for some reason, made the same story its front page headline every day from Monday to Friday last week. While the story was presented under the guise of investigative journalism it seems to me that agitprop would be a better term for it. It is all about how a local member of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves has been purportedly recruiting for some neo-Nazi organization called “the Base.” I won’t bore you with the details as I doubt whether a word of them ought to be believed by anyone who isn’t a gullible fool.

Why the extreme skepticism, you may ask?

Speaking for myself, the fact that it was the Winnipeg Free Press that was doing the “reporting” is more than sufficient grounds for skepticism. In my opinion that rag is little more than a Liberal Party disinformation sheet and has been ever since the days – 1901 to 1944 – when it was edited by John Wesley Dafoe. This particular story, however, would have been ringing alarm bells even if a newspaper with an as-of-yet unimpeached record for journalistic integrity could be found somewhere on the planet and had been the one to break the story. Allow me to explain why.

How many of you remember the Heritage Front?

I suspect that name will be familiar to most Canadians who were old enough and attentive enough to have been following the news in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There is a good chance they will also remember the organization’s front man, Wolfgang Droege, a man who was depicted as being pretty much the in-flesh personification of all the images and associations that the words “neo-Nazi” are intended to conjure up. Droege and the Heritage Front received an awful lot of airtime on the news, back then, because the media was trying to scare us into thinking that there was an imminent danger of a Fourth Reich being erected on Canadian soil.

How many of you who remember the Heritage Front also remember the name Grant Bristow?

Here I suspect the number will be far fewer, although he too was in the media spotlight for a brief period of time. Bristow was the man behind Droege – the co-founder, organizer, and security chief of the organization. He was also an undercover agent of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Services or CSIS which, ever since it took over the role from the RCMP in 1984, has aspired to perform for Her Majesty’s government in Ottawa the same services which both MI6 and MI5 perform for Her Majesty’s government in London. Bristow’s activities in the Heritage Front and his involvement with CSIS were both exposed by the Toronto Sun in 1994.

So why was a government spook one of the top officers of what was believed to be a neo-Nazi organization?

The facts can be interpreted one of two ways. The first explanation is that CSIS had infiltrated a burgeoning neo-Nazi movement in order to gather informative and/or neutralize any potential threat that it posed. The second explanation is that Bristow’s mission was to create a realistic looking neo-Nazi menace to frighten the public.

Before you discard the second explanation as a paranoid conspiracy theory, consider the previous neo-Nazi scare that had taken place in the 1960s.

In 1965 a man named John Beattie founded something called the Canadian Nazi Party, and the alarmist wing of the liberal media had a field day. For the next couple of years they kept the spotlight on this tiny group, reporting its every action, and blowing everything way out of proportion like a bunch of Chicken Littles trumpeting the imminent fall of the sky. The progressives demanded that the government step in and do something before this group, whose miniscule rallies they had magnified to the scale of those Hitler held at Nuremberg, took over Canada and imposed its agenda of racial purification on the country. This blitzkrieg of media disinformation culminated in the October 1966 issue of MacLean’s magazine. The cover story was an insider’s report on Beattie’s party by a man named John Garrity. The following is from his first paragraph:

I was more successful than I expected. I became a trusted officer of the party—its local Heinrich Himmler—though I've managed to avoid being linked with the nationwide publicity that has made the name of John Beattie, the unemployed clerk who is the party's leader, familiar to most Canadians.

Garrity’s story was eerily similar to Bristow’s. Each man befriended a would-be Führer, infiltrated his inner circle, and became the behind-the-scenes Himmler to his Hitler. In both cases the liberal media took a tiny molehill and blew it up into a huge mountain, but apart from the efforts of the moles, Garrity and Bristow, it is unlikely that there would have been even a molehill – just a couple of random, lone-wolf, racist fanatics.

There was one notable difference in the two cases. Whereas Bristow was working for the government, Garrity was employed by a private organization, the Canadian Jewish Congress. Not that there were not also government infiltrators. This was two decades before CSIS was formed but the RCMP, arguably a much more competent agency, was handling this sort of thing back then, and it is unthinkable that they would not have also had a mole or two. Given the infinitesimal size of the group, it seems to have resembled nothing so much as the World Council of Anarchists in The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton’s novel in which a Scotland Yard detective infiltrates the anarchist movement and is elected to said Council only to discover that every other member is also an undercover policeman.

At any rate, while the Canadian Jewish Congress was a private organization, it was working very closely with the Liberal Party, which was the governing party in the Dominion at the time, as, unfortunately, it is now. In the same year that Beattie founded the Canadian Nazi Party – indeed, the same month – Prime Minister Lester Pearson appointed a Special Committee to study “hate propaganda” and report back to the Minister of Justice with recommendations as to potential legislation. The Canadian Jewish Congress had been petitioning Parliament to pass such legislation for years prior to this. Maxwell Cohen of McGill University was named chairman and among its seven members were a vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, the then executive editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, and a far left journalist and law professor from Quebec whom Pearson was about to bring onto the front stage of Canadian federal politics. This was not an objective committee that would look into the question of whether or not there should be legislation against hate propaganda, it was a very left-leaning committee that would start from the conclusion that there ought to be legislation against hate propaganda and devise reasonable sounding arguments that the Minister of Justice could use to sell the idea to Parliament.

Do I really need to point out how having an organization called the Canadian Nazi Party all over the news would facilitate that process?

The reasons why the Canadian Jewish Congress wanted hate speech laws passed don’t really need to be explained as they are fairly obvious. The reasons why the Liberal Party leadership was set on passing such laws do require an explanation. Freedom of thought and freedom of speech were, after all, supposed to be among the basic pillars of classical liberal political philosophy. Most people would probably acknowledge that there are reasonable limitations on even these basic freedoms but hate speech laws are not among them. Laws against the incitement of violence and other criminal behaviour were already on the books and were sufficient to cover the incitement of racially motivated violence and crime. Hate speech laws were not necessary, therefore, to deal with such incitement, and would only serve the purpose of suppressing the expressions of thoughts which certain people did not want expressed.

The Liberal Party, historically, was the party that wanted to move Canada away from her British roots and connections into a closer relationship with the United States – or, as the old Tories such as George Grant and Donald Creighton liked to put it, to sell us out to the Americans. This was bad enough, but at the time of which we are speaking, the leadership of the party had fallen into the hands of ideologues of the totalitarian far Left. Lester Pearson, according to the highly credible testimony that Elizabeth Bentley gave to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security in 1951, had been an aware and willing participant in the Soviet spy ring she operated while he served in the Canadian embassy in Washington D. C. during the war. If he kept his far left ties hidden, the so-called “three wise men” that he brought into the Liberal Party for the 1965 election, the aforementioned Pierre Trudeau, Gérard Pelletier and Jean Marchand wore theirs on their sleeves. Under Pearson’s patronage they rapidly rose in the ranks of the Liberal Party and Trudeau was, from his entrance into federal politics, groomed by Pearson to be his hand-picked successor as Party leader and Prime Minister.

The free expression of ideas, which had been so important to classical liberals like J. S. Mill, was of no value or consequence to this kind of leftist, except insomuch as it pertained to the expression of their own ideas. Communists, whenever and wherever they seized control of a state, used its power to brutally suppress all dissent to their new order. In the 1960s, the hard Left was itself undergoing an internal transformation as it shifted its focus from economic class to race, sex, etc. and so “hate speech” laws were particularly appealing to them. So was the idea of dangling a perpetual Nazi threat before the public. What better way to distract people from the perpetual menace of the many-headed hydra that had sprung from the seed planted by Cromwell’s Puritans, grown into Jacobinism, evolved into Bolshevism, and which was rapidly spreading throughout the globe, than by keeping them fixated on the threat of a rival totalitarianism which resembled Communism in almost every way, but which had died, at least insofar as being a real threat to civilization goes, with its Führer in 1945.

The same issue of MacLean’s that featured Garrity’s story also contained an article by Blair Fraser entitled “Hate”, which told about the Cohen Committee, its report which had been submitted to the Minister of Justice in November of 1965 and brought before Parliament early the following year, and Pearson’s promise at a press conference that hate speech legislation was on its way. The article was filled with specious arguments designed to allay the Canadian public’s fears that such legislation would be a threat to freedom of speech. Fraser was wrong in his prediction that such laws would be passed by the following year but he was only off by three years. Pierre Trudeau succeeded Lester Pearson as Liberal leader and Prime Minister in 1969 and the following year acted on his own recommendations as a member of the Cohen Committee and introduced the legislation that added Sections 318 to 320 to the Criminal Code.

Let us recap: the leadership of the Liberal Party was determined to pass “hate speech” laws, it appointed a Special Committee to come up with a report to persuade Parliament to approve such laws, while selling the Canadian public on these laws was left to the media, which for the most part serves as a propaganda arm of the Liberal Party. Conveniently, the jobs of both the Special Committee and the media were made easier by the appearance on the scene of the Canadian Nazi Party, whose leader was propped up behind the scenes by a private investigator working for the Canadian Jewish Congress, which had long wanted hate speech legislation and was working closely with the Liberal Party towards achieving that end. It is difficult, for anyone capable of adding two and two together and coming up with four, to avoid the conclusion that the Nazi scare of the 1960s was a fake scare, created to make hate propaganda legislation an easy sell.

The uncanny resemblance of Bristow’s story to Garrity’s strongly suggests that the second Nazi scare was a fake scare too. The motive is not as obvious as with the first scare but consider the following facts. During Pierre Trudeau’s long premiership, the Liberal Party had shifted government policy drastically to the left on immigration, abortion, homosexuality, preferential treatment for victims of “discrimination” in employment, and a myriad of other social, cultural, and moral issues. The Grits had never had to take these policies to the polls because the New Democrats were even further to the left and the Progressive Conservatives, under Robert Stanfield, Joe Clark, and Brian Mulroney were completely dominated by the wets and easily intimidated by accusations of racial, religious, sexual, and cultural bigotry. Then, in 1987, the protest movement that had been growing in the West in response to the Liberals’ heavy-handed imposition of their leftist agenda, the non-opposition to that agenda provided by the Progressive Conservatives, and Ottawa’s arrogance in general, formed the populist Reform Party of Canada. For a time, at least, the Reform Party was willing to take relatively right-of-centre positions on some of these issues, and that frightened both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives. The Liberals were terrified of having to take their radical agenda to the polls and find out what Canadians actually thought of it. The Progressive Conservatives were – with good cause, as events proved – afraid that their voting base would defect to the Reform Party. (1) The Heritage Front was formed in 1989 and the liberal media immediately tried to tie it to the Reform Party. The plot of Liberal Party strategist and anti-racist activist Warren Kinsella’s 1997 Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network revolves around such supposed connections.

The question, then, of who exactly CSIS was serving, when its agent Grant Bristow helped found the Heritage Front, is rather moot. The Progressive Conservatives, who were in power in Parliament at the time, had a motive for creating a new fake Nazi threat. The Liberal Party which had created CSIS – the Act forming the new intelligence agency passed Parliament one week before Pierre Trudeau stepped down as Prime Minister – and to which civil servants have an obnoxious tendency to be loyal regardless of who the governing party in Parliament happens to be, also had a motive. Both parties had the same motive – to smear the right-populist Reform Party by association. If I had to bet on who was ultimately responsible, however, my money would be on the Liberals.

Under its present leadership the Liberal Party is the furthest to the left it has ever been. It is in power in Parliament at the moment, but the next Dominion election is in October and the wave of popularity that swept this government into office four years ago has been ebbing fast, due to its own overweening arrogance, gross incompetence, and a huge scandal in which it’s unethical and perhaps criminal behaviour has been exposed. It has resorted to accusing the leadership of the Conservative Party of links to “white supremacy” and “white nationalism.” It has also expressed its desire to bring back something similar to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act which was repealed by Parliament six years ago. Section 13 defined it as an act of discrimination to communicate via telephone or internet anything “likely” to expose someone to “hatred or contempt” on the grounds of membership in a group protected against discrimination. Worded that broadly, it covered virtually any negative criticism of such groups, and unlike the hate speech provision of the Criminal Code, did not come with a presumption of innocence for the accused or the right to any sort of real defense. It was a terrible law, far more in keeping with the totalitarian mindset of actual National Socialism than with the principles of justice and freedom enshrined in our traditional Common Law. Earlier this year, the government instructed the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to conduct a study of the dissemination of hate on the internet – in other words, to come up with arguments for bringing back Section 13, or even something worse, if that is conceivable.

Now, a newspaper that served the Liberal Party faithfully for over a century, just happens to have discovered a neo-Nazi organization that nobody has heard of before but which is supposed to have embedded itself in the Canadian Armed Forces. Yeah right. Sometime, probably years down the road, it will be revealed that this “Base” is as much a phony set-up as the Canadian Nazi Party and the Heritage Front were – mark my words.

If we fail to remember the past and allow ourselves to be fooled by this nonsense for yet a third time, then shame, shame, triple shame on us.

(1) I was one of the defectors. I eventually grew disgusted with the Reform Party and allowed my membership to lapse – on the verge of its final merger with what was left of the Progressive Conservative Party. This disgust had nothing to do with the Reform Party’s right-of-centre positions, real or imagined, which if anything I would have preferred more of, but with its hostility to our Loyalist heritage which it illogically blamed for the country’s slide into far-leftism, its indifference to the monarchy, and its barely concealed, anti-patriotic, preference for the constitution, institutions, and traditions of the United States over our own.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Gnostics, Puritans, and the Left

Professor Bruce Charlton, whose writings I very much value and respect, took exception the other day to the meme that identifies the Left with Puritanism. Here is his opening paragraph:

I think it was perhaps Mencius Moldbug who originated the stupid idea - which I have seen repeated in hundreds of different versions - that the current, mainstream, politically correct Left are puritans.

This meme, it would appear to me, is an extreme oversimplification of a concept that can be found in Eric Voegelin’s The New Science of Politics: An Introduction, which was first published by the University of Chicago Press in 1952. I note, in passing, that this was twenty-one years prior to the birth of the man who writes under the nom de plume Mencius Moldbug.

In the fourth chapter of The New Science of Politics, Voegelin traced the origins of the secular millennialism of modern mass political movements, i.e., the idea of ushering in a new Golden Age, back to an earlier revival of millennialist eschatology in the teachings of the twelfth century Italian theologian and monk, Joachim of Flora. He set this departure from Augustinianism in the context of a revival of Gnosticism, the largest family of heresies against which the orthodox contended in the early centuries of Christianity. Gnosticism was so named because it maintained that those initiated into its mysteries comprised a spiritual elite who possessed gnosis – detailed special knowledge about matters that are not spelled out in the Scriptures and orthodox Christian tradition. Since this “knowledge” often contradicted orthodox doctrine, Gnosticism was rejected as heresy by the orthodox. In the following chapter, Voegelin examined Puritanism as both an example case of revived Gnosticism and as the first revolutionary modern mass movement.

A very abridged version of Voegelin’s thesis is that sixteenth-seventeenth century Puritanism and twentieth century mass movements such as liberalism and Communism are all modern versions of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism. The meme that Professor Charlton dislikes so much seems to be this same thesis simplified further and to the point of extreme inaccuracy.

The question then becomes one of whether this thesis is right or wrong. Professor Charlton goes on to say:

Of course there is a grain of truth, else the idea would have gone nowhere. The grain is that New Left is a descendant of the New England Puritans who emigrated from (mostly) East Anglia, became the Boston Brahmins, founded Harvard etc.

And this class, via various mutations including the Transcendentalists and their circle of radicals Unitarians, abolitionists, feminists etc) evolved into the post Civil War US ruling class; who were the fount of post-middle-1960s New Leftism.

This is true, but there is one glaring omission. For there to be a New Left there had to have first been an Old Left. When we bring that Old Left into the equation we find that there is a lot more than just a “grain” of truth to the identification of Puritanism with the Left. There is a sentence in Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand’s Memoirs From Beyond the Grave that expresses this perfectly. Here it is in the recent English translation by Alex Andriesse of the first twelve books of the Memoirs, published last year by the New York Review of Books:

“The Jacobins were plagiarists; they even plagiarized the sacrifice of Louis XVI from the execution of Charles I” (p. 363 in the edition mentioned, this is found in the second paragraph of the fourth chapter of Book Nine).

The French Revolution was the well-spring of the Old Left. The revolutionary socialist movements of the nineteenth century all looked back to the French Revolution as their inspiration, the Communist League for which Karl Marx wrote his notorious manifesto began as a splinter group of the Jacobin Club that had perpetrated the French Revolution, and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, which introduced the plague of Communism to the world and became the pattern for all subsequent Communist revolutions, was itself patterned on the French Revolution. The French Revolution, in turn, was, as Chateaubriand said, an imitation of the Puritan rebellion against Charles I in the previous century.

The Puritan rebellion against King Charles inspired the Jacobin revolution against King Louis XVI, which in turn inspired all subsequent revolutions. This makes Puritanism the prototype of the revolutionary Left, just as Cromwell’s tyranny was the prototype of the French Reign of Terror and the Soviet and other Communist totalitarian regimes. While it was Puritan actions that the Jacobins and later leftists were imitating, theology similar to that of the Puritans also played a role in the French Revolution, if not as large of a one as in the rebellion in England. William Palmer observed that Jansenism, a heretical movement within the Roman Catholic Church that had a similar predestinarian theology to Calvinism, had become so strong in pre-Revolutionary eighteenth century France, that it was able to resist Rome’s attempts to suppress it, and, indeed, that it had successfully used the French Parliament to thwart the king’s efforts to uphold orthodoxy. (A Treatise on the Church of Christ, Vol I, London, J. G. & F. Rivington, 1838, pp. 324-328) Granted, this happened in the reign of Louis XV fifty years prior to the Revolution but Puritan efforts to turn the English Parliament against their king had also begun long before the accession of Charles I. It is also worth noting that Jean-Paul Marat, the Jacobin pamphleteer whose bloodthirsty words incited the September Massacres, the mass murder of prisoners in which the non-juring Roman Catholic priests were especially targeted and which can be regarded as either the precursor to or the first stage of the Reign of Terror, was raised in a family that had a very similar theology to that of the Puritans. His mother was a Huguenot and his father was a convert to Calvinism.

Not only is it an indisputable historical fact that Puritanism was the root of the tree of leftism, from which the trunk of Jacobinism sprung, which in turn produced the branches of socialism, Communism, etc. it is also true that political correctness, the element of the New Left that is most often said to be Puritanical, is derived from a Bolshevik practice with a Jacobin antecedent based upon a Puritan precedent. Political correctness as we know it today began on Western academic campuses in the 1960s and spread from there throughout the rest of Western culture. It began as the insistence upon the use of racially sensitive language but quickly expanded to include demands for language that is sensitive in other areas as well. There were, of course, a host of other demands which accompanied these, but the defining essence of political correctness is the insistence upon the use of language that has been stripped of anything that might be perceived as offensive on racial, sexual, etc. grounds. In this the New Left was, consciously, I would argue, imitating the Soviet phenomenon that was the basis of the "Newspeak" depicted in George Orwell's 1984. The Jacobin antecedent of Bolshevik Newspeak, can be seen in the date of the Great Reaction when the Reign of Terror ended and its architect Robespierre was condemned to die by his own guillotine. This date on our calendar is the 27th of July but we remember it historically as the Ninth of Thermidor. Why? Because the Jacobins imposed a completely new calendar upon France, in which years were counted from the deposing of King Louis XVI, and consisted of twelve months which, since they also started from that date did not correspond to the ones on our calendar and were given funny sounding names like Messidor, Thermidor, and Fructidor. The Puritan precedent for this was their insistence on referring to the days of the week as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. rather than by their usual names, which the Puritans objected to on the grounds of their pagan origins. Orthodox Christians can understand and to varying degrees sympathize with the Puritans' reasons for doing this - less so, with their abolition of Christian holy days - but this was the seed from which the Jacobin calendar which grew into Bolshevik Newspeak and has gone to seed in the New Left's political correctness sprang.

Now let us consider what Professor Charlton finds specifically objectionable in the “Left are Puritans” meme. Here is his explanation:

OK. But to call the New Left puritans is something only a non-Christian could do, for at least two very obvious reasons.

1. A puritan is very religiously Christian, and believes that this should permeate every aspect of social and personal life.

2. A puritan advocates that sex be confined to (a single, permanent) marriage. In other words, a puritan rejects the entirety of the post-sixties sexual revolution.

Since Leftists are not Christian, and since they are (in theory and in practice) sexual revolutionaries; the idea that Leftists are puritans is wrong.

The first thing to be observed in response to this is that the meme which equates leftism with Puritanism is clearly not meant to be understood as saying that Leftists are like Puritans in every detail. Nobody is suggesting that today’s politically correct, woke, social justice warriors walk around in seventeenth century costume with flat topped hats, ruffed doublets, and buckle shoes, speaking Shakespearean English. It is rather a lazy, shorthand, way of saying “the present day left resembles its ideological ancestor Puritanism in such and such specific characteristics.” All that is being asserted is that in some aspect(s) of today's Left, traits of its distant Puritan ancestors have reasserted themselves in an identifiable manner. This cannot be negated merely by pointing out other areas in which the New Left and Puritanism do not resemble each other or even are the exact opposite of each other.

It could be argued that the differences so outweigh the similarities as to make any focus on the latter unwarranted. This could lead to an interesting discussion on essence and distinction. If the things Professor Charlton states here about the Puritans are of the essence of Puritanism, its sine qua non, without which there can be no Puritanism, as the Professor seems to think, this would, of course, be a strong argument in his favour. I would point out, however, that neither of these things is distinctive of Puritanism. Both could also be said, with equal truth, about orthodox Anglicans and Roman Catholics who were the Puritans' opponents in the conflicts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The meme that compares Leftism to Puritanism must be based upon something that is distinctive to Puritanism as opposed to Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism otherwise it would make no sense and indeed would likely never have existed – a meme would have compared Leftists to Christians in general instead. Can something that is not distinctive of Puritanism be said to be essential to it>

It seems to me that Professor Charlton is operating under a fundamental misunderstanding of Puritanism's reputation. When the present day Left with its political correctness and its zeal for banning such things as guns, single-use plastics, furs and fox-hunting, soft drinks, etc. is described as being Puritanical the comparison is based upon the Puritans' legendary reputation for being dour, gloomy, repressive, Mrs. Grundy-type busybodies, with sticks stuck permanently up their backsides, perpetually nagging and harassing people with a never-ending list of does and don'ts and basically sucking all the happiness out of life like joy-killing vampires. It would appear from Professor Charlton's arguments that he is under the impression that this reputation arose out of their sexual ethics. It is, perhaps, inevitable that this impression would arise and become the natural assumption in our post-Sexual Revolution permissive age but it is without historical basis. The ethic that says that sex, meaning sexual intercourse, should be confined to a single, permanent, marriage was not distinctive of Puritanism but was held and taught by orthodox Anglicans and Roman Catholics as well. Indeed, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, on this matter “the Old Religion was the more austere.” It cannot, therefore, be the source of the Puritans’ reputation.

The Puritans earned their reputation, not by being sticklers for the basic rules of Christian ethics, but for adding and multiplying other rules, ones which often pertained to small, petty, matters, and which had no basis in the Holy Scriptures and were mostly foreign to the Christian tradition. Take their extremely rigid approach to Sunday keeping for example. Christians, since Apostolic times, have met on Sunday, the first day of the week, in commemoration of the Resurrection, for prayer, teaching, and the Eucharist. This tradition is based upon the precedent set by the practice of the Apostolic Church as recorded in the Book of Acts rather than by Scriptural ordinance in the way keeping the Sabbath, Saturday, had been enjoined upon Israel in the Old Testament. This is in keeping with the doctrine of Christian liberty on such matters that was determined at the Jerusalem Council and emphasized by St. Paul throughout his epistles. Early in Christian history it became common to speak of Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath” and to apply the concept of a “day of rest” to it, but orthodox Christianity wanted to avoid repeating the mistake of the Pharisees, the post-Maccabean Revolt sect within the laity of Second Temple Judaism that tried to promote holiness in national Israel by creating a hedge of auxiliary commandments around the Torah which they interpreted so rigidly that they condemned our Lord for performing healing miracles on the Sabbath. The Puritans, however, went much further than the Pharisees for while the Pharisees’ extra rules were at least extrapolated from the actual prohibition in the Fourth Commandment – “thou shalt do no work” - the Puritans’ rules for Sunday were based on the non-Scriptural “thou shalt have no fun.” They forbade all recreational activities on Sundays and wanted the law to enforce this ban. How can this be an example of believing that Christianity “should permeate every aspect of social and personal life” when it is difficult if not impossible to conceive of an attitude further removed from the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles regarding the Sabbath than this?

In this one example we have seen how the Puritans a) imposed a new prohibition that did not belong to ancient Christian tradition and had no basis in Scripture which it completely contradicted in spirit, b) specifically targeted people’s engaging in harmless recreational activities and enjoying themselves, and c) demanded that their new rule be backed by the power of the state. That is the Puritans’ bad reputation in a nutshell. Sexual ethics had nothing to do with it.

Nor was this the only example of this sort of thing. For those who still think it a stretch to compare the politically correct New Left to the Puritans let us not forget that it was Cromwell’s Puritans who launched the original War on Christmas – and on Easter and every other Christian high holy day as well. It is difficult to reconcile a ban on the holy days which make each year a commemorative and celebratory journey through the events of Christ’s earthly ministry from His Incarnation through His Ascension with a desire for Christianity to “permeate every aspect of social and personal life.” Richard Hooker, who thoroughly refuted the shallow theological justification they gave for taking this position decades before they were in a position to enforce it saw their true motives as being economical – less holy days meant more days to make money – although one cannot help but notice that the holy days the Puritans especially objected to were the seasons of celebration that bring joy and mirth into people’s lives.

Nowhere in the world, outside of England during the brief period of Cromwell’s dictatorship, was Puritanism’s influence greater than in colonial English-speaking North America, especially New England, and that influence has been lasting. From the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century, itinerant preachers travelled across North America holding special revival services. The preaching in these services was evangelistic and revivalistic, meaning that it called upon unbelievers to become Christians and upon lukewarm or backslidden Christians to repent and practice their faith more seriously and more fervently. Such preaching was also very moralistic and the revivalists in their sermons targeted a long list of sins that one would have a difficult time identifying as such from the Scriptures – playing card games, smoking tobacco, dancing, attending theatrical plays, etc. While other movements, such as the Wesleyan holiness movement, contributed to all of this, its Puritan roots can hardly be denied. Puritan preachers played a leading role in the first wave of revivalism, the Great Awakening, and the non-conformist and dissenting sects that the Puritans had founded were the primary denominations, other than the Methodists, involved in the revivals. The preaching against dancing and the theatre certainly goes back to the Puritans – who infamously shut down London’s theatres, including William Shakespeare’s old Globe Theatre, in 1642 – and while the same cannot be said for every one of these extra-Scriptural “sins,” the general idea behind them all, that something that brings earthly pleasure to people should be suspected of being sinful and probably outright banned, is clearly derived from the same assumptions that led to the original Puritan ban on Sunday recreational activities which, as King James and King Charles both noted in their royal proclamations opposing such bans, amounted to complete bans on recreational activities for the majority of the people.

The revivalist movement often combined its moralism with support for social reform causes that would have been considered progressive in their own day. There is one example of this that is particularly interesting in light of what we are discussing. In the nineteenth century, revivalists became the driving force behind the mislabelled Temperance Movement – mislabelled because “temperance” is the name for the virtue of self-control and implies moderation – by preaching that all consumption of alcoholic beverages in inherently sinful. This is the traditional view of Islam not of Christianity. Indeed, not only does this create a new “sin” not identified as such in the Scriptures it flatly contradicts the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, including the teachings, commandments, and example of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. The original Puritans had not gone this far – to quote C. S. Lewis “they were not teetotallers; bishops, not beer, were their special aversion” - but there is obviously a reason why within Christendom this movement only ever caught on among the non-conformist sects of North America. After a century of activism, the Temperance Movement succeeded in getting Prohibition – a ban on the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol - passed in both the United States and the Dominion of Canada. As an experiment in moral and social engineering it was a notorious failure.

The Temperance Movement was inseparably intertwined with the suffragette movement, the first wave of feminism that was lobbying to extend the voting franchise to women, and both movements achieved their goals almost simultaneously. The victory of the suffragettes proved more lasting than that of the Temperance Movement and it laid the foundation for the second wave of feminism a few decades and another World War later. The second wave of feminism was as intertwined with the Sexual Revolution as the first wave was with the Temperance Movement. Had Puritanism not laid the foundation for the kind of revivalism that spawned the Temperance Movement, the suffragette movement would never have had the latter to join forces with and may have been less successful in its own goal, and thus failed to pave the way for second wave feminism and the Sexual Revolution.

I have belaboured this point long enough. The people who once locked a man in the stocks for kissing his own wife on his own threshold when he returned from a long sea voyage on Sunday earned their well-deserved reputation for being legalistic killjoys and the fact that they claimed religious motives for doing so in no way invalidates a comparison with the secular ban-happy left-wing control freaks of our own day. Especially when we remember that these schismatic enthusiasts, who objected to the liturgical affirmation of the Nicene Creed but demanded that clergy be made to subscribe to every iota of Theodore Beza’s interpretation of Calvin’s Institutes, who started with a Korah-like rebellion against the Apostolic ministry of the Church and ended by stretching forth their hand against God’s anointed king and shedding his blood, were the original inspiration for the Jacobins and Bolsheviks.

Perhaps we should dust off our copies of Eric Voegelin and give him another read. Anyone who has studied early Church history knows that some of the Gnostics were ascetics who preached and practiced a very austere morality whereas others were hedonistic libertines. These opposite extremes in ethics and behaviour were both derived from the same heretical starting point. It is not so surprising, if Puritanism is revived form of Gnosticism, that it would evolve into a movement with both a permissive and a censorious streak. I will close with C. S. Lewis’ amusing description of progressives who combine both of these traits from a book that came out the same year as The New Science of Politics. In the very first paragraph of the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader we are introduced to Eustace Scrubb and his parents. The latter, whom Eustace addresses by their first names presumably at their own encouragement and whom we find out in the next book in the series send their son to an extremely progressive school called Experiment House that is co-educational, discourages reading the Bible, and is not in any way conducive to any real learning, are the progressives in view:

They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotallers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on the beds and the windows were always open.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Bring Back Bron!

There has been an awful lot of finger pointing going on in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident in Texas a couple of weekends ago. The question “who is to blame” has been on everyone’s minds. Nobody is much interested in the obvious answer, i.e., that the shooter himself is to blame, as that answer, however truthful, is lame and boring. So the blame has been shifted onto virtually everybody else. I use the qualifier “virtually” because I have yet to hear anyone blame country and western singer/songwriter and NASCAR speed demon Marty Robbins for the shooting. Yet the case against him is as sound and logical as the case which progressives, liberals, and other left-wing kooks and weirdos have been pressing against Donald the Orange.

The song that established Robbins’ country and western career and won him his first Grammy award was “El Paso”, written and recorded for his 1959 album “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.” The song is a first person narrative in which the character of the narrator sings about falling in love with a Mexican girl named Feleena, a singer at Rosa’s Cantina in the “west Texas town of El Paso.” When another cowboy comes to town and he sees the two of them together in the saloon he jealously challenges the newcomer to a duel and shoots him dead. He steals a horse and flees to New Mexico, but is unable to resist the urge to see Feleena again. On his return he encounters several mounted cowboys who are out looking for him and runs the gauntlet to get into town, being severely wounded in the process. He makes it to the backdoor of Rosa’s, only to be shot down, and dies in Feleena’s arms moments later.

Here we find the inspiration for the unhappy turn of events that has been all over the news as of late. Clearly, Whatever-the-heck-his-name-is, was listening to this song one day and the idea popped into his head “Hey, this song is saying that in El Paso, the thing to do when you are mad is to go around shooting people” and the massacre ensued.

What’s that you say? “Preposterous!” “Absurd!” “Nonsense!”

Of course it is. No more so, however, than the ridiculous claim that Donald the Orange’s supposedly “racist” rhetoric is to blame.

The accusations against the American president utilize the same sort of illogic that progressives here in Canada, as well as in the UK and Europe, have used for decades to justify laws against so-called “hate speech.” According to their way of thinking, hate speech, which does not mean expressions of literal hatred such as “I hate you” so much as statements which reflect negatively on an identifiable group of people leads to violent actions and so should be treated as a violent act itself and prohibited and punished by law. This sort of thinking is very similar to the basic concept that underlies the practice of magic, the non-sleight-of-hand-type of magic that is, - the idea that you can produce effects in the physical world simply by uttering the right word or combination of words. A lot of progressive thinking is like this. Note how they seem to believe that governments have the ability to alter reality by passing laws and that an individual is whatever sex or made-up gender he, she, it or whatever declares himself, herself, itself, or whatever to be. Given the way the left-wing mind seems to operate, perhaps, if you ever find yourself in the situation of being afflicted with unrequited love for a person of the progressive persuasion you should follow the advice of David Seville’s shaman and try uttering the words or syllables or whatever they are: “oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang” – it might actually work.

It is at times like this that we really feel the loss of the late, great Auberon Waugh, who knew no equal – with the exception of Michael Wharton aka Peter Simple – in his ability to poke fun at this sort of thing. Mercifully, an article he wrote many years ago can be applied to the situation at hand. It appeared first in the July 10th, 1976 issue of The Spectator and was later included in the anthology Brideshead Benighted, published by Little, Brown and Company in 1986, where it can be found on pages 153 to 156. The title is “Che Guevara in the West Midlands.”

In the article, Waugh begins by talking about an interview, which had just been published, with John Tyndall, the leader of the National Front, and goes on to discuss Robert Relf, whose difficulties with the Race Relations Board were highly-publicized at the time and who is the “Che Guevara” alluded to in the title. “I don’t know why it is that race relations should attract so much foolishness and pomposity on both sides of the fence”, Waugh began one paragraph and in the next added “For myself, I see nothing to choose between the National Front and the Race Relations Board. Both are a collection of bores and busybodies and both are harmful to the extent they are taken seriously.” In his concluding paragraph he wrote that “I feel certain that the only thing which gives the National Front glamour or popular appeal at the present time is the attempt by foolish, well-meaning people to suppress its views and treat its language as unfit for publication” and of the Race Relations Board “The kindest and wisest thing to do is to laugh at them.”

This, for those who have forgotten, which is probably most people since there is so much of the opposite floating around these days, is what sanity looks like. The part of the article that is most relevant and which is what brought it to mind is the following excerpt:

They [the National Front] may well be a nasty, boring and humourless collection of fanatics, but I have never seen that there was anything more wicked about race hatred than there is about class hatred or religious hatred or the peculiarly intense and inexplicable hatred which my dear wife feels for Jimmy Connors, the tennis player. They are all part of the rich panorama of life. If I forbade my wife to express her true feelings for Jimmy Connors, I have no doubt they would fester inside her, creating little black eddies of resentment and paranoia which would eventually burst out in some hideous drama on the Centre Court at Wimbledon when Connors would expire, coughing blood, in front of the television cameras, with a lady’s parasol sticking between his ribs; public subscriptions would create a Jimmy Connors Memorial Trust and we would be stuck with a hideous modern statue of the young man somewhere on those green and pleasant lawns. So, wisely, I let her have her say.

The insight this shows is truly profound. The verbal expression of hatred is not the cause of violence but a safety vent that helps prevent it. I am persuaded that Waugh was on to something here and that if civilization ends up being consumed in a race war it will be progressive anti-racists who demand that the law be used to force those they disagree with to shut up who will be to blame for it.

In addition to saying that the current American president’s rhetoric inspired the El Paso shooter, progressives also maintain that he has been promoting “white nationalism.” “White nationalism” is an expression which has been used to mean anything from white people engaging in the kind of racial identity politics that the progressive Left promotes for every other race to the violent ideology of National Socialism but it is the latter end of that spectrum that progressives have in mind when they make this accusation against Trump. They are as wrong in the one accusation as they are in the other and for the same reason. Their own promotion of identity politics for all other groups together with their vilification of whites as a race makes white identity politics legitimate as a defensive, response. Their denial of that legitimacy, is what creates the risk of white racial identity politics turning radical, revolutionary, and violent. Someone like Trump, who provides a voice within the system whereby whites can air their legitimate racial grievances, is the best safeguard against that outcome. Only a total moron could fail to realize that.

Of course progressives are wrong about this just as they are wrong about everything else that has to do with race. Eleven years ago Barack Obama ran on a platform that basically amounted to “vote for me because I am black, you have to vote for me because I am black, oh, and by the way, did I mention that I am black.” This proved to be a winning strategy and American voters responded by electing their first president chosen on the basis of the colour of his skin. When this happened, progressives hilariously declared that his election signified that the United States had entered into a post-racial era. In reality, it was Obama, not Trump, who ushered in a new era of highly racialized politics. Progressives are pointing to El Paso and Christchurch as proof that a wave of white supremacist terrorism is upon us when in reality these incidents completely disprove their argument. Since every time a white person anywhere in the world commits a violent act which can possibly be attributed to racial motives the media makes it the top story for weeks if not months on end we can be certain that we have heard of every such incident that has ever occurred and they are a miniscule fraction of a fraction of the violent incidents that occur on a daily basis. Neither the Christchurch nor the El Paso killer was part of any organized movement. Both incidents were carried out by deranged loners and in both cases in order to create the narrative spin they desired the liberal media had to cherrypick the killer’s manifesto. By contrast, the anti-racist terrorism that the liberal media and progressive political leaders refuse to condemn even while they demand that all right-of-centre political leaders disavow and condemn white advocacy whether violent or not is systematic, organized and widespread.

Yes, this sort of insanity is crying out for the return of Auberon Waugh to once again satirize the unsatirizable. While raising him from the dead is beyond my abilities, Naim Attallah of Quartet Books has done the next best thing by publishing a new anthology of his writings entitled A Scribbler in Soho. For any sane person looking to lighten his spirits in these dark and gloomy days I highly recommend it.

Be careful, however, about the messages you soak in while listening to 1950’s era country and western music. I would hate to hear that any of you had shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Bishop Bartholomew B. Battybabbler and his Big Bad Bash

The Right Reverend Bartholomew B. Battybabbler had been very self-satisfied on the day he was consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Neo-Soho. Ever since he graduated seminary with his Doctor of Untraditional Ministry Backed by Advancements in Sacred Science degree, he had been looking forward to the day when he would finally be in a position to enact all the exciting new ideas that had been implanted in his brain. As, upon his enthronement, he took his episcopal vows with fingers firmly crossed behind his back, Barty, as he insisted that everyone, whether friend, family or foe, call him, thought back upon his seminary career and remembered his professors with fondness and gratitude.

Barty recalled how naïve he had been during his undergraduate days before he entered the Wellhausen-Schleiermacher Seminary of Theology. At the time he still held to a literal understanding of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds that he had been taught as a child and to an outmoded view of morality based on the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. When, towards the completion of his BA, he had settled upon the ministry as his vocation, he at first considered enrolling in the traditionalist Seminary of Hooker-Andrewes-Laud. Then he met Lucy. (1)

He was sitting in the university library, filling out his application to HAL, when a man who had been sitting at the next table came up to him. He had a pony tail and a goatee and was fashionably and immaculately dressed and groomed, although he wore his hat tilted very low so as to cover up his entire forehead. He introduced himself as Lucy. Barty wondered at the name, but out of politeness neither laughed nor asked questions.

“I see you are filling out a seminary application” Lucy observed. “Is it your wish to become a clergyman?”

Again, politeness prevented Barty from saying “no, I am entering seminary in order to become a travelling vacuum cleaner salesman” so he simply said “yes”.

“I commend you. It is a career that will enable you to do a lot of good – as long as you don’t become one of those reactionary, fascist, type priests who do nothing but perpetuate those old superstitions and myths that are holding the world back from achieving progress.”

Barty was not sure what exactly Lucy was talking about but it didn’t sound good so he said “No, I don’t want to be anything like that.”

“I didn’t think so. In which case, have you considered Wellhausen-Schleiermacher? They are a very progressive theological institution. All of the best sort of right-thinking priests come from there.”

Lucy pulled a brochure out of his jacket and gave it to Barty.

Barty took and read the brochure, threw away his application to HAL, and entered Wellhausen-Schleiermacher instead. He would be forever grateful to Lucy for his guidance. His professors had taught him that it was rank superstition to believe the Creeds literally, that the Bible should be valued as a literary work rather than an authoritative text, that the stories it contains of supernatural intervention by God in the affairs of people must be regarded as belonging to the same genre in which Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm wrote, that enlightened and advanced ethics had moved far beyond the Ten Commandments or even the Sermon on the Mount, and that the real essence of the Christian message was the revolutionary social change that would bring about the radically egalitarian society that Jesus meant by the “Kingdom of God.” To promote that change, Barty had been taught, was the Church’s true mission, from which it had long been sidetracked by all this talk about the Trinity, Original Sin, Redemption, the Final Judgment, Heaven, and Hell, and it was the job of progressive young clergymen like himself to finally get the Church back on track.

Enthroned as Bishop of Neo-Soho, Barty proceeded to do just that. In his visitations to the parishes of his diocese he preached sermons that promoted social justice, wealth redistribution, and environmental awareness and condemned the sins of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Above all else he condemned fundamentalism, by which he meant all traditional, orthodox, theology, mentioning it negatively in every sermon, even if it had no apparent bearing on his main topic.

He encouraged his clergy, who had quickly gotten the picture that liberals would receive the full support of their new bishop whereas traditionalists would be ostracized and shunned, to discontinue traditional catechism and Sunday School and to hold sensitivity training workshops instead.

Barty knew, however, that to make his mark for the cause of progress, he would have do much more than this for any other liberal bishop would have done the same in his place. So he began a series of his own innovations, determined that the Diocese of Neo-Soho would be the most forward-thinking, progressive, denomination in the entire Church.

First, he set out to eliminate agism in the ordination of clergy. Taking Isaiah 11:6, “and a little child shall lead them”, as his motto, he declared that he would accept candidates for ordination without any artificial and discriminatory limitations based on age. So it came about that when the rectorship of the parish Church of SS. Peter, Paul, and Mary opened up he ordained and installed Tommy the Toddler as the new incumbent.

“This is the wave of the future”, an extremely proud Barty told reporters at the press conference after the ordination. The following Sunday, the new rector preached his first sermon with the title “You’re a Doody Head.” When his parish broke out laughing shortly after the title was announced, he sat down in his pulpit and began to wail, after which he took his toys and went home to his mommy. One of the reporters who had been at the press conference was in attendance and tried to contact Barty but was told that no further comment was available at this time.

Barty’s next ordination was of Melinda Meangirl, the queen bee of the most exclusive high school in the city. Barty was particularly pleased with this ordination because he felt it was a blow that struck against both agism and sexism. He held off on holding a press conference after appointing her to her first parish, however, and this proved to be a prudent move for, although Melinda’s social organizing skills were a boon for the first few months, rumors began to filter back to Barty that she had established a clique in the parish, with rather strict appearance based criteria for inclusion, and that those who didn’t make the cut were being branded as losers. Then, when the time came to renew the parish directory, she had the bright idea of creating a slam book and while Barty praised this as innovative, it proved extremely divisive.

Having eliminated agism, Barty next set out to combat discrimination in the administration of Holy Matrimony. “It is unacceptable”, he told his clergy, “that in this advanced day and age, the Church is still violating the principles of fairness, equality, and social justice by reserving Holy Matrimony to human beings. If we continue to practice this sin of speciesism we are no better than Donald the Orange.”

Donald the Orange, since his rise to power, had become as much the focus of Barty’s rage as fundamentalism.

To set an example for his clergy, Barty held a wedding ceremony at his Cathedral in which he married a bull terrier to a shih tzu. Throughout the ritual the sound of barely suppressed laughter could be heard arising from the congregation as the inevitable joke about the progeny of such a match made the rounds. As a precedent-setter, however, it appeared to be successful, for Barty started receiving calls from people asking him to marry their own pets. Then the zoo summoned him and asked him to marry their lions and tigers and bears. “Oh my” was Barty’s response. Soon, people stopped calling in advance and just showed up at the Cathedral with their pets. There were cats and rats and elephants and, sure as you are born, well, okay, there were no real unicorns, although someone did try to make a couple by gluing horns to the heads of his ponies.

As elated as Barty was to see his exciting vision become reality it could not escape his notice for long that church attendance and revenues were dwindling. It was apparent that unless there was a turnaround soon the diocese would be in severe financial difficulties. Barty couldn’t understand it. With all of his fresh new ideas every pew in every parish in the diocese ought to be packed and overflowing every Sunday. Instead they seemed to be leaving in droves. Even when he introduced his third major innovation, “hash hosts”, that is to say, communion wafers containing a strong dosage of tetrahydrocannabinol which was now legal thanks to Captain Airhead, for whom Barty thanked his higher power every day, this only slowed the exodus rather than halting it altogether.

“The Diocese of Paleo-Middlesex does not seem to have this problem”, Barty noted with some bitterness, for the bishop of Paleo-Middlesex, the Right Reverend John Keble Waterland, was a traditionalist, the kind whom Barty always called a “fundamentalist”, and whom he suspected of having a less than completely negative opinion of Donald the Orange.

“Their church attendance and donations are both way up and they will be ending the year in the black. This year I had to advise all of my clergy to cut three quarters of the funding to their music programs. Waterland had enough funds at his disposal to commission Danny Elfman, the Chuck Norris of composers, to write a brand new Mass setting which will be premiering at their Cathedral this fall. How do those reactionaries do it? What is their secret?”

Barty was turning green with envy.

Nevertheless, he still had an ace up his sleeve to play, when it came to balancing the diocesan books. Every summer he hosted a fundraiser party on board his yacht on Lake Wootiewappy. This year he would crank it up a notch and throw the biggest, most fabulous, party of all time. His friend Saucy Sam of Saucy Sam’s Salad Bar and All You Can Eat Barbeque Buffet had agreed to donate the catering and all of his friends in the local arts, music, and theatre community had agreed to contribute their talent to what promised to be a very entertaining program. Everybody who was wealthy and important in his diocese had received an invitation and they had all RSVP’d. Bishop Waterland had also been sent an invitation and lo and behold he was the first to show up.

“Thanks for the invite, Barty. It looks like you have a great evening planned for us.”

“Thanks, John.”

“Do you think you will raise enough to get your diocese out of the red?”

“I hope so. We had to make some pretty painful cuts this year.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. It is always difficult to know what to let go, when you are in strap, financially. What did you decide upon, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Well, we had to cut our music programs down to a quarter of what they were.”

“Oh, oh!”

“Why are you giving me that look?”

“Are you sure that was a wise thing to do?”

“We had to cut something. Why not music?”

“I take it you haven’t been following the latest research in behavioural genetics.”

“No, and I am rather surprised that you have.”
“Then you haven’t heard about the Kappa Rho Alpha Zeta Upsilon chromosome?”

“Um, no. I’ve heard of the X and Y chromosomes.”

“Those are the chromosomes that determine sex.”

“What is this crazy chromosome that you are talking about and what on earth does it have to do with my music program.”

“There is a genetic component to our talents, abilities, and behavioural dispositions. Not that these are entirely genetically, determined, mind you, but genes play a role. Scientists have isolated the genes that predispose someone to become a church musician, especially an organist and choir director. These are located on the Kappa Rho Alpha Zeta Upsilon chromosome.”

“Fascinating, but I still don’t see what the problem is.”

“Well, the genes that predispose someone towards piracy are located on the same chromosome.”


“It would appear that the church musician genes are the stronger of the two sets on the chrosome. What this means is that an individual with the Kappa Rho Alpha Zeta Upsilon chromosome will be most strongly inclined to become a church musician, but if that opportunity is taken away from him, he will be inclined to fall back upon piracy as his second choice.”

“That has got to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.”

“I’ll send you a copy of the scientific journal in which the research was published. It is quite fascinating. At any rate, you can see why I bring it up. Drastic cuts to your music program will mean a lot of church organists will either be let go or forced to moonlight in order to survive. Piracy will be the first thing that pops into their head.”

At this point, other guests started to arrive and Barty turned to greet them. He thought it over and chuckled over it a little latter.

“I hadn’t realized how much stress Waterland must be under. He must be on the verge of snapping, buying in to silly theories like that.”

Much later that evening, after everyone was well fed, the first half of the entertainment program was over and they had entered into an intermission. During the break everyone came up to Barty to congratulate him on the success of his event. While this was going on a loud boom was heard.

“What was that?” several people asked.

“Do you have fireworks planned for us, Barty?” asked the dean of his Cathedral.

“No”, answered Barty. “At least I don’t think so.”

All of a sudden a second boom could be heard. This time something came flying towards the yacht and smashed into the deck making a big hole.

“That was a cannon ball!”

Everybody on board the yacht turned in the direction from which the ball had come. There they could see another boat approaching. It was armed with cannons and was flying a flag, a black flag with a grinning skull and crossbones.

“That’s the Jolly Roger! We’re under attack by pirates!”

The pirate ship pulled up next to Barty’s yacht, and every organist and choir director in his diocese began to board the yacht. Some swung over on ropes. Others came across on planks they placed down from deck to deck. On the yacht, some of them went from guest to guest, demanding that they hand over their wallets and jewelry at cutlass-point, others cornered Saucy Sam and absconded with all of his delicious food. Needless to say, the yacht’s ample supply of liquor was taken, the rum going first.

“Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you, Barty!” the Right Reverend Waterland said to his host as the cathedral’s own organist put a pistol to his head and ordered him to hand over his episcopal ring and all other valuables.

“Oh shut up” said Barty.

Once they had stripped the yacht of everything worth taking, the organist pirates ordered everybody to the far side of the deck, and made them walk the plank. Barty was the last to go.

As he walked the plank and plunged into the water, Barty was extremely thankful that Lake Wootiewappy is no more than five feet deep at its deepest.

(1) Lucy first appears in Lucy's Day In Court.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Adventures of Reaction Man: Episode II

Reaction Man versus the Marxist Zombie Army

Three times every year Aberhart Manning University in Brown Moose, Alberta hosts a series of debates on important and timely issues. The student body is expected to attend these debates but they are open to the public as well. Unlike most universities, AMU loves the most controversial topics and has a firm, long-standing, policy of making sure that both sides are fairly represented in the debate. The more controversial the topic, the more important this policy is.

Admirable as the university’s stand is, it has made them enemies. Foremost among these is the supervillain known as the Woke Millennial. Lurking in his secret lair, otherwise known as his parents’ basement, one day, he plotted and schemed about how he would make the university grovel before him.

“In exchange for my soul”, the Woke Millennial said, “Lucy has given me the power to generate a force bubble around me within which no intelligent thought can take place and so no ideas to which I object can be expressed. I call this my safe space.”

At this point a classical supervillain would have given off a deep, maniacal, laugh. The Woke Millennial instead gave a high-pitched, shrill, something that was half-way between a giggle and a cackle. As with everything else, they just don’t make supervillains the way they used to.

“The problem is that my power is limited. On my own I can only generate a safe space of a few meters in diameter around me. That is not near large enough, certainly not large enough to encompass the university, let alone the world. Lucy told me, however, that there was a way to make my safe space larger. I need to create an army of mindless zombies. The vacuums between their ears form echo chambers which augment my safe space generating rays. Fortunately for me, it is the nature of zombies to feed off the brains of those around them, creating even more zombies. It is also working in my favour, that university students are the easiest people in the world to turn into zombies, and that the perfect tool for doing so already exists and is in my possession.”

The Woke Millennial looked at his collection of The Complete Works of Karl Marx Annotated and Interpreted by the Frankfurt School.

“The average university student cannot read more than a sentence of this without turning into a mindless zombie. AMU is no ordinary university, however. There is a strong reactionary element there. I will need some protection while my zombie army is being created and while my safe space is still vulnerable. I know, I will call my Aunty Fa!”

The following day was scheduled to be the opening of the first of that year’s series of debates at AMU. The topic for the first debate was Donald the Orange: Good, Bad, or Ugly? The Good position was to be represented by right-wing author, columnist, and media personality, Angela Coltrane. Invited to speak for the Bad position was retired CBC commentator Paul Ladysditch. The Ugly side of things was to be taken up by the anti-racist activist and general left-wing loudmouth, “Borin’” Tinsel.

As the debate was about to begin the dean of AMU began to make his way to the podium to introduce the controversialists. He found his way barred by the Woke Millennial.

“What is your problem, young man?” the dean asked.

“First of all, I object to the terms “young” and “man.” You have imposed these age and gender labels on me. Secondly, I cannot allow this debate to take place. It is unacceptable.”

“It is a three-way debate, and two of the three are on your side! How can you find that objectionable?”

“Because Angela Coltrane is the other debater. Her views have no place in an academic setting. The vulnerable students of this university must not be exposed to any positive depiction of Donald the Orange.”

“This university thinks it best to allow its students to hear all sides and to trust them to evaluate them intelligently and come to their own conclusions.”

A lock of shock came over the Woke Millennial’s face.

“But the students are vulnerable. That is so irresponsible of you. Where is your compassion?”

The Woke Millennial began to cry and as his crocodile tears hit the floor they turned into a cloud of toxic gas from which the dean backed away in fear.

“Now Aunty Fa!”

The Woke Millennial’s Aunty Fa entered the auditorium dressed in a dark paramilitary uniform with her face hidden beneath a hood. Among the powers for which she had traded her soul to Lucy the gender confused devil was the ability to duplicate herself, which she promptly did. Her duplicates formed a barrier between the three invited to participate in the debate and the audience and then began to surround the auditorium. As they did so the Woke Millennial opened up his copy of the Frankfurt School annotated edition of Das Kapital and began to read aloud. As such inane lines as “In reality, the labourer belongs to capital before he has sold himself to capital” and “the value of a commodity represents human labour” fell on the ears of the students in the audience their brains began to evaporate and they became mindless zombies. The first zombies started repeating Marx’s banal tripe to the nearest non-turned students they could find, sucking their brains out and transforming them into zombies as well.

Before Aunty Fa had completely cut off the auditorium, however, preventing anyone from getting in or out, one student managed to slip out and get away. He was a member of the small traditionalist student group Christians United for Royalism and Monarchy Under God and against Egalitarianism and Other Nonsense. Members of this group wear its acronym as a badge of honour, observing that in an age that has gone mad through its obsession with progress the only sane response is to complain loudly about all the new-fangled ways and pine for the good old days. Their response to those who point out that the acronym is misspelled is to say, accurately enough, that their spelling is a centuries old alternative spelling which they deliberately chose because it was archaic. If pressed further, they will say “fine, the d is the d in the middle of Under.” This particular member’s name was Ritz Cracker. He was the youngest son of the youngest brother of Brother Moonpie the head monk of the holy and ancient Order of St. Michael of Marshmallow. (1)

“I need to contact my uncle Graham”, Ritz said as he fled the auditorium. “He will want to know about this and may know what to do about it.”

A short time later, after a very long distance call to a remote monastery in the Carpathian Mountains, followed by another very long distance call from that monastery back to Canada, Brother Whippet, who had decided to remain in Canada for a few weeks after administering the oath of knighthood to Evelyn Disraeli Dryden Bonald Burke Carey Filmer Eliot Hyde Maistre Salisbury Johnson and bestowing upon him the superhero name of Reaction Man, (2) contacted Eddy and let him know what was going down in Brown Moose.

“This is a job for Reaction Man! It will be your first battle, Eddy. Are you ready for this?”

“I don’t know. First I will have to defeat Aunty Fa before I can tackle the Woke Millennial and his zombie army. How am I going to do that?”

“I sent you a parcel. Surely you have received it by now?”

“Yes, it arrived yesterday. But all it contains is a mirror. How is that going to help?”

“It is the Mirror of Truth. Unmask Aunty Fa – the real Aunty Fa, not one of her duplicates – and make her gaze into it. She will see her true spirit reflected in it. Her spirit that is, not her soul, for she has none, having sold hers to Lucy. This will destroy her.”

“Then I guess I am ready.”

Eddy pointed at his cellphone and activated his superhero ability to turn back the clock. The phone transformed into an old-fashioned phone booth. Eddy then entered the booth to change into his Reaction Man costume. Emerging from the booth, he took off into the air, and faster than any airplane, flew to Brown Moose.

Reaction Man landed in front of the AMU auditorium which was now completely surrounded by Aunty Fa and her duplicates. They immediately began to throw epithets at him.





“Holocaust Denier!”


Reaction Man looked around at them all and wondered how he would ever be able to tell the real Aunty Fa apart from her duplicates. Then he noticed that one of them was talking to herself and that she was saying something that was more than just the one or two word examples of tiresome progressive billingsgate that otherwise seemed to be the limit to the Aunty Fa vocabulary.

“History is on our side! Reaction Man will never be able to defeat us. We will crush him and leave him on the trash heap of history”

“Aunty Fa! You have given yourself away!”

As quick as lightning, Reaction Man moved to Aunty Fa and, separating her from her duplicates, ripped off her mask to reveal the face of a notorious lobbyist and activist.

“Fernie Barber! I should have known that you were the one hiding behind that mask. So you are the Woke Millennial’s Aunty Fa!”

“Yes, Nazi, you have learned my identity, but you shall never tell anyone else. Woke’s zombies shall swallow your brains before you ever get the opportunity.”

“You sure like to throw that N word around Fernie! One would almost think you were projecting. Shall we find out?”

Reaction Man pulled out the Mirror of Truth and made Aunty Fa look into it. Reflected back at her was the infamous face of a man with a postage-stamp moustache, untidily parted hair, and a gaze that could either hypnotize or send you running away screaming in terror. Aunty Fa shrieked in agony!

“I’m literally Hitler!”

Confronted with the truth about herself, that in spirit it was she, not her enemies, who was the fascist, she melted away like the Wicked Witch of the West and all of her duplicates disappeared with her.

Reaction Man stepped in to the university auditorium. The Woke Millennial, seeing him, said:

“I don’t know how you defeated my Aunty, Reaction Man, but you will never defeat my Marxist zombies.”

The zombified students, with arms stretched out before them, began slowly moving towards Reaction Man, and uttering brain-dissolving phrases like:

“Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument” and “The essential difference between the various economic forms of society, between, for instance, a society based on slave-labour, and one based on wage-labour, lies only in the mode in which this surplus-labour is in each case extracted from the actual producer, the labourer.”

Reaction Man laughed.

“You will need to come up with something better than that mindless drivel if you want to steal my brain.”

Ritz Cracker, who had just arrived back on the scene, witnessed this.

“Is there any way of turning them back Reaction Man?”

“Fortunately, Ritz, I happen to know the cure for Marxism.”

“What is it, Reaction Man?”

“More Marxism!”


“Only from a better Marx!”

Reaction Man pointed at the projection screen at the end of the auditorium and once again activated his ability to turn back the clock. A man appeared on the screen. He had very bushy eyebrows and a moustache, and was smoking a huge cigar. He had eyeglasses perched on a very large nose and his entire face looked like it was the inspiration for those fake nose/moustache/glasses combos that novelty shops used to sell – as, in fact, it was. He started to talk.

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

The zombies had turned to watch the screen. Signs of returning life began to flicker across their eyes. On the screen, Groucho continued to speak

“I’m not feeling very well. I need a doctor immediately. Ring the nearest golf course.”

A snicker or two could be heard arising from the zombie army.

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Several more chuckles broke out among the zombies.

“I sent that club a wire stating, ‘Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will have me as a member.’”

A wave of laughter swept across the room, as Groucho’s humourous nonsense drove out Karl’s serious nonsense and restored the former zombies to life.

“Nooooooo” screamed the Woke Millennial! “Those jokes are offensive. They hurt my feelings. They must be silenc….”

The Woke Millennial never completed that word or that sentence for his safe space, which had grown to gargantuan proportions when it was augmented through the echo chambers of the zombies' empty heads, had contracted once the students’ brains had returned and the force of the shrinking safe space had knocked him into a coma.

“What happened to him, Reaction Man?” asked Ritz Cracker.

“The Woke Millennial has been put to sleep.”

“How did you think to use Groucho Marx to counter Karl Marx. A lot of people would have tried to answer those quotes with other quotes from Smith, Ricardo, Bastiat, Friedman, or Mises.”

“True, but that would not have served the purpose. I needed to cure the zombies, not turn them into a different kind of zombie.”

As the auditorium broke out in applause, Reaction Man announced “My work here is done” and turned to the dean and said “Now, you should probably get started on that debate which everyone is here for.” Then, he stepped out the door, took off, and flew home.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode in The Adventures of Reaction Man

(1) Brother Moonpie and the Order of St. Michael of Marshmallow first appear in Brother Moonpie and the Devil’s Apocalypse.
(2) See The Adventures of Reaction Man: Episode I – The Origin.