The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, August 26, 2022

Why the Woke Can’t Think

This year, in which we are celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I have seen several on what we shall call the red-pilled right, that is to say that part of the right that is still willing to speak the truth and oppose the left on cultural, social, moral, racial, and sexual issues, say that they are monarchists but not royalists.    They make this distinction to express support for the monarchy as an institution but not for the current reigning house.   Their reason for so doing is that the accelerated civilizational decay of the last century has taken place during the reign of the current house.  I think it is silly to blame the royal family for what has gone on under their reign.   We live in a democratic age, and while the ancient institution of monarchy is absolutely fundamental to the legitimacy of government in any age, the manner in which it performs its essential role and function is different in a democratic age than in a non-democratic one.   While I agree with the principle that a good institution and office, such as monarchy, should be supported and defended even if the current officeholder is unworthy – Alexandre Dumas père put an excellent speech explaining this principle in the mouth of Athos in one of his D’Artagnan novels, I think the third one, the Vicomte de Bragellone,  and applied to the church rather than the state, this same principle is the reason why Donatism is a heresy – I don’t think there is need for it at the present moment and so am both a monarchist and a royalist.  Royalism doesn’t mean thinking members of the royal family to be above criticism.   I do not think that it is to His Highness the Prince of Wales’ credit that he has been duped to the extent he has by the lies of the Green movement and am very glad that his dim-witted younger son and his awful American bride are not in the direct line of succession.   Nevertheless, the monarchy is the only state institution of which I can honestly say that the office is a good one and is currently held by someone worthy of it.    Parliament, like the monarchy is a good institution - not because it conforms to the democratic ideal of the age but because it is much older than the age and has weathered the tests of time – but by contrast with the monarchy, and this is true both of the mother Parliament in the UK and of our own here in Canada, is presently filled with despicable, low-life, scum, unworthy of it.    There is an even greater contrast with certain other government offices and institutions, such as the civil service bureaucracy tasked with regulating our everyday lives – one of the evils of the present day is that government relies far too much on regulation rather than legislation to pursue its agendas – and more especially those charged with enforcing laws and regulations, like social services and the police.    These are not good institutions – at best they can be said to be necessary evils – and are frequently staffed by people who make the elected politicians look better by comparison.



All of the trends that the rightists mentioned in the preceding paragraph so rightly decry arise out of the age in which we live, or the one that preceded it if we accept the premise that the Modern Age ended around the time of the Second World War, and out of the democratic spirit of that age.   If blame for the accelerated civilizational decay of recent decades is to be allotted to human agents, therefore, a portion of it must go to the politicians, but the bulk of it belongs to those who mold and shape popular and public opinion.   This can in turn be divided into two portions, one going to the educational system and the other to the media.   In any democratic age, the media will wield far too much power and influence, and this problem is enhanced, perhaps exponentially, when the democratic age is also an age of increasingly advanced technology especially in the area of mass communications.     This combination of conditions has characterized the post-World War II world and is largely responsible for producing the phenomena that Marshall McLuhan so presciently named and discussed decades before they became matters of household conversation, such as the “global village” and, more relevantly, “the medium is the message”.



The technological mass communications media’s contribution to our state of advanced civilizational decline and decay is plain for everyone to see.    While media, the plural of medium, most properly denotes the machines used to convey information to large numbers of people at one time over vast distances, we also use it to refer to the organizations who spread their message through the media proper.   When the term is used in this second sense it is a collective term, in which all such organizations are understood to be included.   There are two - or perhaps three if we include the new category of online social media – recognized general kinds of media, under the larger umbrella.  These are the news media and the entertainment media.     The news media is the fourth estate, no longer dependent upon the one medium of print, but with the expanded platform and amplified soundboard of radio, television, and now the internet.      Even when confined to print, much of the fourth estate leaned towards views that were Modern, whether classical liberal or progressive left, in its editorializing, but since shifting to the new electronic media it has become more heavily slanted towards the Modern, within the Modern to the progressive left rather than to the classical liberal, and within the progressive left to wokeness rather than classical Marxism.   While this is, of course, a matter of a shift of opinion on the part of the people who make up the fourth estate, the electronic media, at the same time that it makes it easier for journalists to communicate to larger numbers of people, seems to make it more difficult to maintain the distinction between reporting and editorializing, a problem that is enhanced by the huge gap between perception and reality with regards to the reliability of visual media, i.e., that people tend to think video footage makes it harder to deceive and to spin, when in reality it makes it easier.



That having been said, arguably the greater contribution to the spread of civilization rotting cultural and moral poison is that of the entertainment media.  Go to almost any movie in the theatres, watch almost any show on television, and especially watch the shows and movies that are made to be viewed through online streaming, and you will find one or more of the messages of wokeness preached at you.   Wokeness, as a cultural phenomenon, resembles what used to be called political correctness taken to the nth degree.  As a phenomenon of the world of ideas it is often called Cultural Marxism by those, such as this writer, who oppose it, but it is probably more accurate to describe it as that which has filled the ideological vacuum that the collapse of Marxism left on the left.   It exists to serve the same end as the original Marxism, which was to provide a theoretical justification for the actions of revolutionaries who hated existing civilization and its political, cultural, religious, and social institutions and who wished to burn it all to the ground and replace it with something else that they naively believed would be better rather than much worse.   The theory by which the Marxists sought to justify such destructive behaviour was based upon the false notion, which the Marxists shared with, and in fact borrowed from, the classical liberals, that everything else, social, political, cultural, religious, can be explained by the economic.   Everything bad in society, Marx taught, can be traced back to private property, to the first distinction between “mine” and “thine”, which divided people into classes of “haves” and “have nots” with the former oppressing the latter until the latter rise up and overthrow the former becoming the new “haves”, a process that, he maintained, would end with the final class of “have nots”, the industrial working class, overthrowing their oppressors, and establishing a society of collective ownership in which there are no “haves” and “have nots”, everyone is a worker who contributes according to his ability and receives according to his need, and everyone is finally happy.   Every attempt to put this theory into practice has produced not the paradise on earth that it promises but the exact opposite, a totalitarian hell achieved at the expense of millions of lives.   The practice having so thoroughly debunked the theory, the civilization-haters needed a new theory to replace it and so wokeness was born.   Wokeness is similar to Marxism in that it claims the oppressed need to rise up against their oppressors and overthrow them to establish a new, better, society.   It differs from Marxism in that the oppressed and oppressors are not defined economically but by race, sex, gender, sexuality, and other such identities.   White people, according to the woke, and not just white people who act in a certain way, but all white people, are racists and all other people are the victims of the oppression of racism.   Males, according to the woke, and not just males who act in a certain way but all males, are sexists and all women are the victims of sexist oppression.   Furthermore, through the doctrine of intersectionality, wokeness teaches that white males are guiltier of oppression than people who are just one or the other and that non-white women are more oppressed than white women or non-white men.   Using words like “racist” and “sexist”, that became household words a few generations ago with the understanding that they refer to variations on the theme of disliking someone for who that person is racially, sexually, etc., wokeness condemns white males for their whiteness and maleness and demands that they denounce themselves.   Although wokeness is even more palpably absurd as a theory than Marxism, and getting more so each day – it now claims that non-white people can be guilty of “whiteness” if they disagree with wokeness – it is promoted as being self-evidently what all right-thinking people must agree with by the mass communications media.     Some try to avoid being bombarded by this indoctrination and propaganda by watching only shows and movies that are sixty years old or older but this is not entirely foolproof.    Those who hate civilization and its structures recognized from the beginning how useful to their cause the new communications technology would be and you can find early antecedents of the woke message in old shows, even some that few people would think of as being political at all, much less as having a progressive slant.



Mass communications media of this type would have had a pernicious influence in any democratic age because it is the nature of this media to speak to people when they are at their most gullible and stupid, that is to say, when they form the type of collective that we call the “crowd” or the “herd” or just the “masses”.   While individual human persons vary greatly one from the other in terms of their intelligence, each person as he is in himself, or even as a member of the better sort of collectives, such traditional ones as the family and the community, is far smarter and more rational, than that same person is as a member of a crowd.   The problem is greatly exacerbated, however, by the effect the same Modern Age of democracy and technology has had on education.



Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who laid the foundation upon which the entire edifice of the philosophical tradition of our civilization is built, lived in what was regarded as the gold standard of democracy in the ancient world, Athens, during and just after, the days of Pericles.  Unimpressed, they regarded democracy as the worst of the three basic forms of government, as being basically an empowered mob, and as being the mother of tyranny, the corrupt counterpart of true kingship, which they correctly regarded as the best of the basic forms of government.   The Modern Age rejected that judgement, reversed it, and made democracy its ideal.    An ideal is an abstract mental construct held by its believers to be a pattern to which real people and institutions ought to conform.   An inclination to prefer these abstract constructions over existing institutions, and to evaluate the latter on the basis of the former rather than by how they have endured, adapted, and proven themselves through history, is one of the most basic flaws of the thinking of the Modern Age.   Rejecting the wisdom of the ancients and making democracy into such an ideal is another such flaw, one which compounds the first one.  Note that democracy, the abstract political ideal of the Modern Age, must be distinguished from parliament, the pre-Modern, concrete institution.   Parliament is an institution that is a mixed constitution, and as such includes democracy as an element or aspect and so can be said to be democratic.    By including elements other than democracy, however, it is also more than democratic, which contributes to the worth it has demonstrated through the long periods of history over which it has evolved, been tried and tested, and proved itself.    It is folly – and bad arithmetic – on the part of Modern liberal and republican thought, to think that inclusion of elements other than democracy in Parliament, such the ancient institution of hereditary monarchy, makes it less than democratic, a bad thing, rather than more than democratic, a good thing. Being a castle in the air, Modern democracy takes whatever shape the thinker who makes it his ideal chooses to give it and it has been given many different shapes, some better than others.   One form of the democratic ideal – what is usually called liberal democracy – is the idea of a society, in which each individual, as a rational being who can think for himself, has the power of decision over the affairs which are strictly his own, and a voice in the government that has that power over affairs which belong to the collective society.   This is probably the best form of the ideal.   Another form of the democratic ideal, is that of a society the government of which is the expression of the sovereign general will of the people, from which no dissent is tolerated.   In this, the worst form of the ideal, democracy and totalitarianism are one and the same.   The former version of the ideal, is similar to the democracy that is a traditional element of our parliamentary system and is the form of the ideal that is usually associated with the United States.   The latter version of the ideal is that which is found in the writings of Rousseau and which has inspired every totalitarian terror state since 1789.    While the American and the Rousseauian forms of the ideal are radically different from each other, what they have in common that make them both versions of a democratic ideal that is distinctly Modern is that in both democracy is tied to another ideal, that of  equality.   Americans and Communists alike, think of democracy as the government of an egalitarian society.  In this too, Modern thought departs from ancient thought in a direction that is bad.   Equality is an idol of sorts, a counterfeit of the good that has been known as justice since ancient times.   Justice means treating everybody rightly, equality means treating everybody the same.   Equality sells itself to people as the ideal of treating perfect strangers as if they were brethren, but when it is translated into practice it means treating your brothers as if they were perfect strangers.



Over the last couple of centuries the Modern ideal of democratic equality has been increasingly applied to education.   Beginning in the nineteenth century, universal, compulsory education, provided by the state, the tenth of the “ten planks” of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, (1) was introduced in every country of the Western world in the name of liberal, democratic, equality.   This immediately led to the rise of educational reformers who demanded a new curriculum dumbed down to the level of the least bright and capable,   This speaks volumes about the true nature of this ideal of equality.   The idea that all children between certain ages should be given formal schooling whether they or their parents want it or not is derived from the ideal of equality.     In theory, this ideal applied in this way could mean that all the children for whom universal, compulsory, education opened the doors of the schools had as much aptitude and capability for learning the rigorous, older, curriculum as any student for whom such schooling had been available in older, more restrictive, eras.   Clearly, however, the progressive educational reformers who demanded that the schools change their curriculum and indeed their entire method of teaching, did not believe any such thing.



Of course, the progressive education reformers did not word their proposals in terms of dumbing down the curriculum.   That is, however, what theories that de-emphasized the importance of teaching and learning facts and which stressed adding all sorts of other activities to the classroom, ultimately boiled down to.   In the old days, in arithmetic class the teacher was expected to instruct the pupils on how to add, subtract, multiply and divide and the pupils were expected to learn how to do these basic mathematical tasks.   If, at the end of the term, a pupil could not put two and two together and come up with four, he was deemed to have failed the class and would be held back from advancement to repeat the course.   If, at the end of the term, none of the pupils could arrive at that sum, the teacher was deemed to have failed, and was sacked.   Similarly, in history class, the teacher was expected to drill into his pupils’ heads that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC, sent a letter to the Senate saying “Veni, vidi, vici” after defeating Pharnaces of Pontus two years later, and was assassinated by a conspiracy of Senators including his friends Brutus and Cassius on the Ides of March in 44 BC.   If, in the evaluation at the end of the class, a pupil thought that Julius Caesar became Emperor of France in 1804 AD, invaded Russia in 1812 AD, and was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 AD, he would suffer the same fate as the arithmetic student who put two and two together and came up with five.   If all the pupils thought this, it would be again evident that it was the teacher who had failed in his task.   The same thing, mutatis mutandis, was the case with all academic subjects.   While it would be a caricature, of course, to say that the progressive reformers were okay with students coming out of class thinking two plus two makes seven and confusing Caesar with Napoleon, in their theories they argued that imparting knowledge such as history and math ought not to be the primary purpose of schools, but rather socializing children to live as adults in an egalitarian democratic society.   Schools that serve that purpose, however, are institutions of indoctrination rather than education.



That compulsory, universal, education would inevitably lead to schools becoming indoctrination camps rather than places where the essentials of the body of knowledge that our civilization in particular and mankind in general have accumulated are imparted to children along with the mental tools that provide access to that body of knowledge as a whole and training in the mental disciplines necessary for each to think for himself was entirely, logically, predictable.   If the government passes a law requiring all children between such and such an age to go to school, it will have to provide schools for families that cannot afford private schools and for which there is no other alternative such as parochial or other religious schools.   A government that provides schooling will control the schools it provides.   Since the purpose of compulsory, universal, education is to ensure that the same basic level of education is provided to all children, the government will want to extend the control it already exercises over the schools it provides itself, to all other schools.   Such control requires a ministry of education, and a ministry of education, staffed by bureaucrats, the odious sort of people who think that their own college or university degrees qualifies them to make other people’s decisions for them and entitles them to boss and control those other people, will treat the schools under its control as indoctrination centres. 



It should not surprise us, therefore, to find that in Canada and the United States, the reforms of the most influential of North American progressive educational reformers, American philosopher John Dewey, were imposed from the top down by education bureaucrats.   It would have been very unlikely that Dewey, a disciple of every sort of wrong-headed idea – William James’ philosophy of pragmatism, secular humanism, i.e., the atheist variety, not the Renaissance humanism that gave new life to the classical system of education, Fabian socialism, which, as its name indicates (2), was a form of socialism that sought to achieve its ends through a long-term strategy of gradual change rather than revolution, to name just three – would have been able to spread his educational snake oil to the extent he did if he had to convince each local school board, answerable to the parents in their own community, separately.  



What might seem surprising about this, is that the predictable disastrous consequences of both the bureaucratization of education resulting from compulsory, universal, public schooling and the collapse of rigorous standards of learning due to the implementation of progressive reforms, was not more widely foreseen when these things were first introduced by those who had the advantage of having been educated prior to all of this.   It is helpful, therefore, to take note of the fact that education had been corrupted by the Modern Age long before this.    In a short essay entitled “Modern Education and the Classics” that first appeared  in print in his 1936 Essays Ancient and Modern, later moved to the 1950 expanded edition of his 1932 Selected Essays, T. S. Eliot distinguished between three attitudes towards education, which he dubbed the liberal, radical, and, the orthodox.   Although he named three such attitudes, he wrote “There are two and only two finally tenable hypotheses about life: the Catholic and the materialist.”   By Catholic, the Anglican Eliot did not mean the dogmas particular to the Church of Rome, but the orthodox Christian faith of the Church Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils, and the ancient Creeds.   Immediately after this he wrote “The defence of the study of the classical languages must ultimately rest upon their association with the former, as must the defence of the primacy of the contemplative over the active life”.   This is the orthodox attitude for which he argued – that education must ultimately be based on religion, that orthodox Christianity should be that religion rather than the materialism that is the religion of radicalism such as that of Communism, and the study of the classics, beginning with the ancient Latin and Greek languages, is the best subject material for the training of the mind.   What he calls the liberal attitude, is the attitude that regards one subject as being just as good as the other and holds that the student should follow his own inclination, and study what interests him.   While this would seem to be very different to how the word “liberal” is ordinarily used with regards to education, i.e., as denoting the study of specific subjects, the liberal arts, note that Eliot dismissed the defending of the study of the classics “by a philosophy of humanism” as a “tardy rearguard action which attempts to arrest the progress of liberalism just before the end of its march: an action, besides, which is being fought by troops which are already half-liberalized themselves”.   Radicalism, which Eliot correctly notes is “the offspring of liberalism”, he contrasts with liberalism in that its attitude towards education is not one of indifference to subject matter, but one in which the subjects of traditional education are devalued and “scientific knowledge” is exalted.   Radicalism openly embraces the materialist worldview in which direction liberalism pointed without going all the way.   As Eliot aptly put it “while liberalism did not know what it wanted of education, radicalism does know; and it wants the wrong thing.”   Note the shift in tense.   Liberalism had already done most of its damage in the past by this point in time, now it was radicalism’s turn.



Nine years after Eliot’s essay first appeared in print, and seven before the death of John Dewey, an event took place that illustrated how Modern thought had placed Western education on the wrong track long before the progressive reforms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.   This event was the one that ushered in the atomic age – the development of bombs that unleashed tremendous, unprecedented, destructive power through the splitting of atoms and their deployment in the annihilation of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War.    What makes this such a perfect illustration is that it shows both sides of the ledger clearly.   On the one hand, having unleashed the power contained in the bonds of the atom and bent it to the purposes of man, can be seen as the ultimate achievement of the end of four and a half centuries of Modern science, the harnessing of nature to serve the will of man, or as Sir Francis Bacon put it in his unfinished novella New Atlantis “the knowledge of Causes, and the secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the affecting of all things possible”.   On the other hand, the invention of a weapon which cannot possibly be employed in a just manner, an invention that would give man the ability to eradicate himself and everything else in the world in which he lives, and the actual use of such a weapon, shows that something was lost or given up in exchange for this achievement.    George Grant was fond of quoting J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physics professor from Berkeley who headed the Manhattan Project’s Los Alamos Laboratory, as having said “If you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it.”   In this quotation, Grant saw the ethical attitude – or lack thereof – of Modern technological science summed up in a nutshell.   It does not recognize any limits, other than those imposed by his capability at any given moment, on what man does with the tools and techniques it provides him.  If Modern man, through Modern science, gained the knowledge that enabled him to build the atomic bomb, he in exchange gave up the knowledge that belonged to him in pre-Modern ages that he himself is accountable to such unchanging external standards as Goodness, which tell him what he ought and ought not to do.   The result of such an exchange is a net loss.   The knowledge given up, is far greater and more important, than the knowledge gained.   Oswald Spengler knew what he was talking about when he characterized Modern Western civilization as Faustian after the sixteenth century German magician (3) who according to legend and literature sold his soul to Mephistopheles.  Although Spengler’s pessimism might suggest Christopher Marlowe’s tragic interpretation of the legend which ends with the death and damnation of Dr. Faustus, he actually had Goethe’s Romantic interpretation of the legend in mind.   In this version of the story unlimited knowledge is what the scholar gives up in exchange for his soul.     Note, however, that if the ability to harness the atom to his own destruction is the product of the knowledge that Modern man has gained through his Faustian bargain, his story may very well play out along the lines of Marlowe’s play rather than Goethe’s.



Three years after the end of World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb, two short works were published.   One of these was a book published by the University of Chicago which gave it the title Ideas Have Consequences.   The author was Richard M. Weaver, a scholar who taught in the university’s English department.   I mention this here because it provides a detailed account of how Western Civilization got to the point discussed in the previous paragraph.    Interestingly, another symptom that Weaver gave of the intellectual decline and decay of Western Civilization was what he called “The Great Stereopticon”, which is what we would call the mass media.   The only other thing I will note here about this book, which I reviewed at length a few years ago, is that one of the aspects of the downward spiral he traces all the way from Ockham’s nominalism to Hiroshima, is the gradual shift of education away from general knowledge to specialized knowledge, a natural enough concomitant to the abandonment of the idea of knowledge as an organic whole, with a structured, hierarchical, order to it in which knowledge of that whole (the general) ranks far above knowledge of the constituent parts (the specialized) in importance.  



That knowledge is properly regarded as an organic whole rather than an assortment of unrelated subjects was also an important theme of the second work published in 1948, by the London publishing firm of Methuen and Company.   This was a booklet by the title The Lost Tools of Learning that had been presented by its author as a paper at a summer course on education at Oxford the year previously.  Its author was Dorothy L. Sayers, a scholar, translator, Christian apologist, poet and novelist, who is probably most widely remembered today as the author of the series of mystery novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.   In this essay Sayers criticized Modern education for succeeding in teaching students subjects – specialized fields of knowledge - while failing in the more important task of teaching them how to think.    The very first of the questions she asked at the beginning of the essay to show that there is a problem is the following:



Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that to-day, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass-propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard-of and unimagined?



She proposed reforms along very different lines to those of progressive reformers such as Dewey.   At the outset she said that it was “highly improbable” that her proposals would be “carried into effect” because nobody in a position to implement them “would countenance them for a moment” because:



they amount to this: that if we are to produce a society of educated people, fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some four or five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object, towards the end of the Middle Ages.


While Modern education teaches children far more subjects than ever before, Sayers argued, Medieval education actually taught them more by teaching them less, because the Medieval system began by giving them the tools alluded to in her title, the tools with which they could learn any subject.   Eliot, in the earlier essay discussed above, said that the liberal “is apt to maintain the apparently unobjectionable view that education is not a mere acquisition of facts, but a training of the mind as an instrument, to deal with any class of facts, to reason, and to apply the training obtained in one department in dealing with new ones” but infers from this that “one subject is as good, for education, as another”.   Sayers, no liberal, argued that three specific subjects comprised the tools needed to educate the mind to think and to learn other subjects.  These are what was called the Trivium in the Middle Ages although they go back much further.    These are Grammar, Logic – Sayers called it Dialectic – and Rhetoric, which have been considered the foundation of all other education since classical antiquity.   These are the first three of what prior to the Modern Age were considered the seven liberal arts.   (4)  They were called that, not because they had anything to do with liberalism in the Modern political sense, but because they were regarded as the education essential for a freeman, the Latin word for which is liber. (5)   They were regarded as the education essential for a freeman because it was these which trained the mind to think.   Note that each of Trivium subjects trains the mind in an aspect of language and its uses.   Language is the essential construction material from which thoughts are built.   In grammar, language qua language, is what is studied and learned – words, the different kinds of words, the different uses of the different kinds of words, how they are inflected and how they combine to form clauses, sentences and paragraphs.   Logic builds on grammar, by training the mind to use the language skills learned in grammar, to form arguments and how to tell good arguments from bad arguments.   Rhetoric is the next step – the art of taking your arguments and expressing them in a way that is persuasive to others.  (6)


There are several interesting and striking contrasts between Sayers’ proposal to revive that which as the foundation of education from classical antiquity through the end of the Middle Ages demonstrated that it worked and worked well on the one hand and the theories of the progressive education experts on the other.   Dewey, et al. insisted that their theories were based on the latest in the dubious social pseudo-sciences, especially psychology.   Sayers, by contrast, dismissed her own views on “child-psychology” as “neither orthodox nor enlightened”.  She said that, however, by way of introducing three stages of development that she observed in her remembrance of her own childhood which she dubbed the Poll-Parrot, Pert, and Poetic stages.   The first stage is characterized by remembering and reciting, the second by questioning and contradicting, and the third by independence seeking and self-expression.   This seems accurate enough, as does her observation that “the lay-out of the Trivium adopts itself with a singular appropriateness to these three ages.”   Indeed.   It is almost as if the Ancients and Medievals didn’t need to wait for Modern psychologists to tell them how a child’s mind develops and designed their curriculum to meet the needs of the mind at the stages they could easily observe for themselves. 


Even people who are only vaguely familiar with Dewey’s progressive education theories usually know that he was down on rote memorization.   This, he maintained, just filled children’s heads with facts that they did not understand.   Sayers, by contrast, drew the appropriate conclusion from the fact that in the earliest stage of the mind’s development memory is the most prominent mental faculty and memorizing comes easiest – nobody would be able to learn to speak their native tongue were it otherwise – namely, that education for children at this stage should make maximum use of the memory.   Grammar, the first of the Trivium, mostly involves memorization.   Like Eliot, Sayers thought Latin to be the best language for this.   I wholly agree and will quote her explanation in toto because it can hardly be improved on:


I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this, not because Latin is traditional and mediaeval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labour and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least fifty per cent. It is the key to the vocabulary and structure of all the Romance languages and to the structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilisation, together with all its historical documents.


If you have ever studied Latin – or ancient Greek – you will know how much memorization is involved.   There is vocabulary, of course – agricola means farmer, femina means woman, amicus means friend, bellum means war, gladius means sword, vir means man, tempus means time, arcus means arch,  genu means knee, res means thing, amo means “I love”, habeo means “I have”, lego means “I read”, audio means “I hear”, etc. (et cetera – and others) –  and for each of these words, you need to memorize at least one other form – four in total for the verbs – in order to inflect them properly.   You also need to learn the declensions of the nouns and the conjugations of the verbs.  There are five of the former, each with singular and plural forms for six cases.  (7)  There are four verbal conjugations, with six tenses, three moods, and two voices.  (8)  Other things that need to be memorized include the different uses of the different forms of these words, and a host of rules about how to put different kinds of words together to form various kinds of clauses.   That is a lot of memorization. (9)


On top of that, Sayers said that this stage, when the child is learning Latin Grammar, is the best time for him to begin learning a contemporary language other than his own, and that he should be learning English verse and prose by heart, and memorizing such things as the dates of historical events and persons, the names of places in geography, the multiplication table in mathematics, and basically everything that Dewey and his acolytes pooh-poohed, including what she called the “Grammar of Theology” – “the story of God and Man in outline, i.e., the Old and New Testament presented as parts of a single narrative of Creation, Rebellion, and Redemption – and also with ‘the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments’”.


Sayers’ concluded her paragraph about Theology by saying “At this stage, it does not matter nearly so much that these things should be fully understood as that they should be known and remembered. Remember, it is material that we are collecting.”   This expresses a view of memorization that is the polar opposite of John Dewey’s.   A moment’s reflection should lead to the realization that Sayers was right and Dewey was wrong.   Factual knowledge is not contrary to understanding, but rather the essential prerequisite of it.   Or perhaps it would be better to say that it is the first step in understanding.   Either way, it is obvious that one cannot begin to understand what one does not know.


Take the event that is central to the Christian faith – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.   One of the two basic facts with which St. Paul summarized the Gospel, the essential Christian kerygma, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, it includes the other (one cannot rise from the dead unless one has first died), and so a full unfolding of the meaning of the Resurrection must also include the meaning of Christ’s death.   The significance of the Resurrection is multifaceted – it has significance for mankind as a whole, and for his world, his history, and his telos, as well as significance for the salvation of the individual believer in each of its aspects of justification, sanctification, and glorification, and for the Church, the faith society that Christ founded through His Apostles, to list but a few of the most important.   To come to a full understanding of the meaning contained in a single one of these facets, let alone the Resurrection in all of its facets, is beyond the capacity of mortal achievement    My point, however, is that one cannot begin to understand the Resurrection even to the extent for which the mortal mind has capacity, if he does not first know that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.


This holds true for all facts.


By the nineteenth century, the errors of the Modern Age had already so permeated institutions of learning that even many of those that remained nominally Christian were teaching as if they were secular materialists.   Western civilization was already in the grip of the sort of thinking that worshipped science and technology, boasting of all that it could achieve through these instruments, and turning its back on the older wisdom that told him to strive for certain ends, which were Good, and to turn from those which were not.   Then, in the nineteenth century, in the name of liberalism, every Western country adopted the Marxist idea that the state should provide compulsory education to all children.   Then, in the early twentieth century, the newly state-controlled and bureaucratized educational systems, implemented the reforms proposed by idiots who thought that they could discard every time-tested and proven method and tool of pedagogy, and somehow pull a superior method of learning out of their rear ends, by “following the science” of psychology.    Since these twits lacked the common sense to realize that knowledge preceded understanding, and that therefore an education that trains the mind to reason and understand well must start by filling the mind with as many facts as possible in the early years when memory is the most pronounced faculty, they dismissed the teaching of facts, and rote memorization, and so produced a system that starved the mind of the very food it needs to grow properly.   The title that University of Saskatchewan history professor Hilda Neatby borrowed from Cardinal Newman’s remark about the superiority of auto didacticism to systems that promise wonderful results but really do “so little for the mind” was very appropriate therefore to her scathing indictment of Canadian education as it was after the provinces had adopted the progressive reforms.   By the end of the century, institutions of higher learning had either had to introduce remedial courses to provide their incoming students with skills, including the three r’s, that they should have learned long prior to college or university, or to otherwise accommodate themselves to the situation by abandoning the rigorous curriculum for which their new students were no longer prepared and replacing it with worse-than-useless drivel courses that do little other than encourage their students to hate whites, Christians, males, heterosexuals, cis-gendered people, and Western Civilization.


Is it any wonder that so many supposedly “educated” people today accept – and, worse, demand that others accept – the idea that a girl who thinks she is a boy is right rather than in a similar state of confusion to the man who thinks he is a chicken or the American president who thinks he is a jelly donut, fail to recognize that the applying of possessive pronouns like “my”, “your”, “his” and “her” to universals like truth strips the latter of their meaning, think that the solution to the social problem of people looking at groups and individuals and seeing only the colour of their skin rather than a myriad of far more important qualities is for people, except those of a designated “villain” skin colour, to have role models that “look like them”, subscribe to the whole host of “woke” notions each as stupid as these, and think that the appropriate response to anyone who asks tough, penetrating, questions that challenge their ideas is to scream “denier” and call the police?


It is about time we started following Dorothy Sayers’ advice!


Vivat Regina!


(1)   The idea is older than Marx and Engels, of course, having been promoted by various sorts of Modern reformers, John Amos Comenius, the Moravian theologian who is called the “father of modern education” among them, going back at least to the sixteenth century.

(2)   The Fabian Society took its name from Fabius Maximus the Roman dictator who through  a strategy of delay kept Rome from falling to Carthaginian General Hannibal the Barcid in the Second Punic War

(3)   The historical Johann Faust achieved a level of fame in Germany in the early 1500s as an alchemist, astrologer, performing magician, and dabbler in every sort of occult art, and later attained a more respectable reputation as a physician and scholar, before blowing himself up in a hotel in Staufen in 1541.   The nasty nature of his death revived all the stories about his league with the devil that had circulated in his earlier career.   Pamphlets telling these stories, usually as a moral admonition, began to appear in Germany shortly thereafter, one of which came into the hands of Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan playwright, who made it the basis of his The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, which ensured that the legend would live on.   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s two-part play that appeared in the early nineteenth century, turned Faust into a Romantic hero and radically changed the ending of the story both from history (Goethe’s Faust becomes a powerful official who just drops dead rather than ending up in a million scattered pieces) and Marlowe (Goethe’s Faust is ultimately redeemed). 

(4)   The last four of the pre-Modern liberal arts were the Quadrivium – Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.   The Trivium was the basic foundational education.   The Quadrivium was the secondary education built on the Trivium.   Each of the Trivium – Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric – pertains to words and language in one way or another.   Each of the Quadrivium pertains to numbers in one way or another (if you don’t see this with regards to Music and Astronomy, reading about Pythagoras’ theories on these subjects will make it plain).    Like the Trivium, the Quadrivium and the entire concept of the liberal arts goes back to ancient times – they appear in the writings of Plato – although the names for them, from the Latin words for “three ways” and “four ways” respectively, date to the Middle Ages.

(5)   If the first vowel is long, that is.   Liber with a short i is the word for book, from which our “library” is derived.  

(6)  This is rhetoric in the best sense of the word.   In the dialogues of Plato, another kind of rhetoric appears, that taught by the Sophists – Gorgias, Protagoras, etc. – who specialized in teaching people how to speak convincingly, even if what they were arguing for wasn’t true.   Socrates, as he is depicted by his disciple Plato, challenged the Sophists and this practice.   Interestingly, in the alternative version of Socrates found in Aristophanes’ The Clouds, Socrates himself was depicted as the chief Sophist who runs a school in which he teaches bums and losers how to speak so as to make a weaker argument seem to be the stronger, so they can sue their neighbours in court.   Keep in mind, however, that Aristophanes wrote satire and his depiction of Socrates was obviously a caricature and not intended to be taken seriously.   The point is that the kind of rhetoric taught by the Sophists in Plato, and by Socrates himself in the Clouds, the deceptive use of oratory to make bad arguments seem good, is not the rhetoric of the classical Trivium.

(7)   Nouns also have genders, of which there are three masculine, feminine, and neuter.  The neuter in every declension that has one, always declines differently from the masculine and feminine.   This is also true of the masculine and feminine in general, but not within a declension.   The first and fifth declensions, the only ones without a neuter, are mostly feminine nouns (there is only one masculine fifth declension noun, dies – day, although it has many compounds), with the few masculine being identical in form to the feminine.   The first declension is the standard paradigm for the feminine for other kinds of words – adjectives, pronouns, etc., that decline like nouns.   The second declension has two paradigms, masculine and neuter, which are the standard paradigms for the masculine and neuter of other declining words.   The few second declension feminine nouns take the masculine form.   In the other declensions, there is generally one paradigm that does double duty for masculine and feminine, and another for the neuter.   In the examples of vocabulary given, the ten nouns are masculine and feminine examples of the first declension, then the standard masculine and neuters of the second declension, with gladius being one slight variation on the second declension masculine as is liber referred to earlier in the essay, followed by a masculine and neuter example from the very irregular third declension, then masculine and neuter examples of the fourth, and a feminine example of the fifth.

(8)   The four verbs in the examples of vocabulary given are examples of the four conjugations in order.   There is a variation of the third conjugation in which the lexical form of the verb – the first person present singular indicative – ends in io, and for the most part conjugates like the fourth conjugation, although it shows itself to be third conjugation in the second principal part, the present active infinitive. Facio, facere, the verb for making or doing is an example of this.   Our word “fact” comes from the fourth principal part of this verb, which is the perfect passive participle which has the meaning “having been made” or “having been done”.

(9)  While the point of the last two notes and the paragraph to which they and this are appended is to emphasize how much memorization is involved in learning Latin grammar, they also illustrate a point that supports Sayers’ argument that Latin is the best language for the Grammar stage of the Trivium.   Latin is the language of grammar.   All of the technical terms of grammar come from Latin.   Noun, like the name of the first of the cases in a declension, the nominative case used for the subject, which is the dictionary form of the word, comes from nomen, the Latin word for “name”.   The same is true of the names of the other cases, with case itself coming from the Latin casus, which means “a fall”.   The cases form a declension which comes from the Latin declinare “to bend or slope downward”, just as the verbal (verb from verbum the Latin word for word) paradigm, conjunction, comes from a Latin compound formed from cum – "with" – and iungere – “to join or unite” (fourth principal part = iunctum).   The structure of the Greek language is very similar to that of Latin, and in my case, I studied Greek formally in college, before studying Latin.   Having studied Greek made studying Latin easier, but it seems clear that it would have been easier still to have studies the languages in the other order.

Friday, August 5, 2022

The Chinese Dilemma and its Solution

 If you have been following the news at all for the last couple of weeks – a practice I would advise against, as “the news” consists almost entirely of brain-rotting disinformation peddled by the corrupt corporations and even more corrupt government bureaucracies that control all but a fraction of a percentage of the main media organs – you are likely aware that the travel itinerary of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker in the lower house of the congress of the American republic has generated a bit of a brouhaha.   Included in that itinerary was a trip to the Republic of China on the island of Formosa.   When the People’s Republic of China on the Asian mainland learned about this they raised a stink about it and began issuing all sorts of warnings, threats and ultimatums, telling the American republic that they would be “playing with fire” if the trip were not cancelled, and even talking about shooting her plane down.   By doing so they accomplished something that few others have been able to do, especially in the last decade or so.  They brought the Democrats and the Republicans in the American republic together and united them on an issue.   Both took the position that the Chinese government must not be allowed to bully American officials and tell them where they can and cannot go.     I had rather expected her to pull a Captain Airhead or a Joe Whatshisname and come down with a sudden case of the bat flu but on the evening of Tuesday 2 September she arrived in Taipei.


While I have nothing but loathing for Communism and Communists, I admit that I can see the point of the brutal Chinese despots on this matter.  I don’t care for the fact that for most of the year Nancy Pelosi is across the 49th Parallel from the Dominion of Canada and would prefer her to be much further away on the other side of the world.    There is little I can do about that, alas, but it makes it easier to understand what must have been going through Xi Jingping’s head when he learned that soon there would be nothing but a 110 mile strait separating him from this creature.    I assume that apart from the whole “nobody tells us what to do” attitude of the Americans, the reason for the bipartisan consensus of indignation towards the People’s Republic’s threats was that Democrats and Republicans alike did not want her trip and thus their time free of her to be cut short.


Since China and not Pelosi is my subject here, the only thing I will say about the person who looks and acts like she is auditioning for the role of a female or transgender Skeletor in a cheesy woke remake of the Masters of the Universe in which the protagonist He-Man would likely be dressed in his twin-sister She-Ra’s outfit and calling himself She-Man and who managed through trading that many see as just a tad suspicious to amass a fortune of about $120 million dollars in her career of almost forty years as a politician is to note that back in May she was excommunicated by the Church of Rome’s Archbishop in San Francisco over her using her elected position to support a special privilege for her own sex, the gruesome and unconscionable special privilege of having the legal right to murder unborn children.   I mention this only because the Archbishop in question, Salvatore Cordileone, deserves commendation for his courage, rare in this day and age, by contrast with the clownishness of the current Pretender to St. Peter’s throne in Rome who ignored the excommunication and administered the Sacrament to her anyway, if it can still be called a Sacrament coming from the hand of a man better suited to be a contortionist than a prelate judging from the performance he recently put on here in Canada, in which he bent over backwards to stick his head, pointy mitre and all, up his own rear end, by issuing a groveling “apology” for his Church’s past humanitarian and missionary educational outreach endeavours. 


This whole controversy has undoubtedly been confusing to those who are only slightly familiar – or not at all – with the situation in East Asia.   This is not like some bizarre scenario where Mexico objects to the point of threatening military action to an official from France visiting the United States.  It is not even like Russia objecting to Western politicians visiting the Ukraine at some point prior to the current war, although this is a little closer.   The island of Formosa, although it has been claimed politically, in whole or in part, by various empires over the last millennium, has ethnically and culturally long been part of China.   Ceded to the Japanese Empire late in the nineteenth century, after Japan’s defeat in World War II it returned to Chinese governance, specifically that of the Republic of China then based on the mainland.   At the same time, however, the Chinese Civil War, which had been officially on hold for World War II, restarted and in 1949 the Chinese Communists led by Mao Tse-Tung had driven the Nationalist government led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek out of the mainland.   The Nationalists, and the Republic of China which they governed, retreated to Formosa which has been governed by the Republic ever since.   The Communists have remained in control of mainland China, governing their People’s Republic from Beijing.   Now, obviously there has been a de facto political separation of Formosa from mainland China ever since 1949.  However, unlike the situation with the Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed and she declared her independence from Russia in 1991, the independence has not been formally recognized by both sides.  Indeed, it has not been recognized by either.   The People’s Republic of China claims Formosa to belong to China and itself to be the sole legitimate government of all of China.   The Republic of China agrees with the People’s Republic of China that the island and the mainland are one country.   She, however, although this rhetoric has been toned down in recent decades, has insisted since 1949 that she, rather than the Communists in Beijing, is the legitimate government of all of China.    


Therefore, when the People’s Republic of China says that she does not want Nancy Pelosi going to Formosa, her objection is to the American politician going to what she regards neither as another country nor a territory in conventional secession whose independence she refuses to recognize, but to part of the country over which she claims to be the sole legitimate government.   Leaving aside for the moment the question of the truth or falsity of her claim to legitimacy, her objection to Pelosi’s visit would be simply hot air if she was the only party that regarded Formosa as part of China.   The matter is complicated greatly by the fact that the government of the Republic of China on Formosa agrees with her and so does the third party to this dispute.


That third party is the United States.   The United States has, ever since she decided in the Nixon administration to take advantage of the split in the Communist world between Moscow and Beijing by opening up diplomatic and trade relations to Red China, taken a “One China” policy in which she agrees with Beijing and Taipei where they agree – that there is only one China and Formosa is part of it – while remaining ambiguous on the rather stickier point on which they disagree.   Due to her taking this position and opening up relations with Red China, the United States dishonourably withdrew her previous recognition of the Republic of China, but she tried to make it up to the latter by promising to supply them with enough arms to deter the Communists from attacking.   Thus, her “One China” policy contradicts both that of the People’s Republic and that of the Republic of China in that her commitment is, above all else, to preserving the status quo.


This is understandable, perhaps, in that the United States bears a great deal of responsibility for creating that status quo in the first place.


The Communist takeover of mainland China began with the overthrow of the Chinese monarchy and the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911.   This led to several years of turmoil as attempts were made to fill the power vacuum left by the abolition of the legitimate government.   The second president of the Republic attempted unsuccessfully to seize the monarchical power for himself, then the country was torn apart as military factions headed by warlords took control of the various regions of the large empire.   Then Sun Yat-Sen, the leader of the 1911 Revolution who had been briefly the first president of the Republic, formed the Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party, which fought against the warlords to re-unite the country.   These efforts ultimately succeeded in 1926, by which time the Kuomintang was headed by Sun Yat-Sen’s successor, Chiang Kai-Shek.   The success war short-lived however.   Sun Yat-Sen had made a foolish and naïve decision to co-operate with the Chinese Communist Party, backed by the Bolsheviks in Russia.   As was the case with Kerensky in Russia in 1917, this provided the Communists with an opening they were able to exploit to seize power for themselves.  As a consequence his successor was soon embroiled in a Civil War against Mao’s Communists.


The Chinese Civil War began about a little over a decade before the Second World War started and had that latter conflict not broken out it might have ended differently.   World War II forced the Nationalists and the Communists in China to put their conflict on hold, for the most part, to fight against their common enemy in the Japanese Empire.   This, however, placed China in alliance with the other countries fighting against Japan and the Axis.   More specifically it placed her in alliance with the Soviet Union and the United States.   Due to this alliance, when the hostilities in the Chinese Civil War resumed after World War II, the balance had already shifted to the Communists.


That an alliance with the Soviet Union, the sponsors of Mao’s Communists, would tip the scales in the Chinese internal conflict to the latter, hardly needs explanation.   That an alliance with the United States would have the same effect will sound strange to those used to looking at the United States and the Soviet Union through the interpretive lens of the Cold War in which they are portrayed not just as hostile powers in an ordinary conflict but as polar opposites representing capitalism and communism.   It is nevertheless the case.   World War II began in the second of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms as American president.   FDR was so horrible that only a few years after his death the Americans passed the twenty-second amendment to their constitution limiting a president to two terms.    Had they not revolted against their legitimate Sovereign in the eighteenth century, they would have had no need to create the office of president and would never have had to impose a term limit on it to prevent another rotten politician from clinging to elected power as long as FDR did.   One of the things that made FDR so bad was his attitude towards Communism in general, and Stalin in particular.   Later, in the Cold War era, liberals talked and acted pro-Soviet for a number of reasons.  Sometimes they were actually Soviet agents.  Most often it was simply a case of their liberalism being that of the squishy sentimentality that Robert Frost so appropriately captured when he defined a liberal as “a man too open-minded to take his own side in a quarrel”, the quarrel at the time being with the Soviets.   FDR, however, was the kind of liberal who saw the Communists as fellow progressives, sharing the same ideals and working towards the same ends as American liberals, who were just a little misguided about the means.   The first year of his first term as president, he sent the first American ambassador to Stalin’s Soviet Union, right at the time the Holodomor – the artificially induced famine that killed millions in the Ukraine – was going on.   He recalled that ambassador when he sent back truthful reports of just how awful the USSR was, and in his place sent Joseph E. Davies, who arrived just in time for the Great Purge, i.e., the show trials through which Stalin eliminated his rivals, and sent back to FDR just what he wanted to hear, glowing reports about how wonderful Stalin and Communism and the USSR were, complete with an account of the Great Purge that depicted the victims as guilty and justice as having been served.   FDR would later personally request that the Warner Brothers turn Davies’ pro-Stalin memoir Mission to Moscow into a pro-Stalin propaganda film, with which request, much to the discredit of the company that gave us Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester and Tweety, they complied.    Had this been all, FDR would merely have gone down as the biggest moron in history.   Unfortunately, however, his attitude towards Communism and Stalin also manifested itself in his World War II policies, and in his meetings with Churchill and Stalin from the first at Tehran (1943) to the last at Yalta (1945), convinced that he had some kind of power of persuasion over Stalin – see Robert Nisbet’s Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship (1988) - he made concession after concession to the Soviet dictator that ensured that after the war about a third of the world would end up under Communist tyranny.   Unfortunately Churchill, who understood Communism much better than FDR, had been scraping to the American president since even before Pearl Harbour – see Robert Shogan’s Hard Bargain: How FDR Twisted Churchill’s Arm, Evaded the Law, and Changed the Role of the American Presidency (1995), an account of how FDR swindled Churchill with the destroyers in 1940 – and so was in no position to do anything about it.


While Eastern Europe – including Poland, to protect which from the Nazis who had agreed with the Soviets to divide her between themselves, was the original reason for the war in the first place – is the most discussed of Soviet territorial gains due to World War II, the USSR also took over several regions in Asia that had been controlled by Japan.    This included a number of regions to the north of China that had, for much of the past millennium, been part of the Chinese Empire and which were of strategic importance to the Soviets in their designs to help Mao’s Communists take over China.  Mongolia, which had declared its independence from China when the last dynasty was overthrown, had been taken over by Soviet-allied Communists in the early 1920s, and while the Soviets had refrained from recognizing Mongolian independence in this early period, at the end of World War II during which they had repelled the Japanese invasion of Mongolia and used Mongolia as a base from which to launch their own attack on Japan, which FDR had “persuaded” Stalin to do at Yalta, they convinced China to recognize the independence of the Mongolian People’s Republic.  This was part of a treaty the Soviets signed with China in August 1945, the terms of which Nationalist China abided with – recognizing Mongolian independence following a plebiscite in October that had obviously been rigged by the Communists – but which the Soviets were covertly violating before the ink was even dry on it.  Bordering Mongolia was Manchuria, the region that had been home to the last ruling dynasty of China.   This had been taken over by the Japanese Empire in 1932 and on the day the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, the Soviets, armed with weapons provided by the United States, invaded and took it from Japan.   When the Soviets withdrew from Manchuria the following year, nominally turning it over to the Republic of China, it was actually Mao’s army that took control of the region and turned it into a base to attack the Nationalists.


By this time FDR was dead and the remainder of his fourth term as president was being filled by Harry S. Truman.   That Truman was little better than FDR when it came to Communism, he would later demonstrate in his refusal to let General MacArthur win the Korean War.   At the time in question, however, the last half of the 1940s, the problem was not so much the American president but the Communists and Communist sympathizers who had become entrenched in the American Department of State with the previous president’s blessing.   Also problematic was another American World War II general with a decidedly different attitude towards Communism than that of the Pacific commander.   General George C. Marshall, whom FDR had made Chief of Staff of the US Army, was sent to China as a special envoy late in 1945 tasked with trying to resolve the Chinese Civil War.  The only solution that he was capable of thinking of was that the Nationalists needed to accept the Communists who were actively waging revolutionary war against them into a coalition government.   This was an obvious recipe for total Communist takeover.  Marshall threatened to withhold American financial assistance to China if the Nationalists refused to cooperate.   As it happened, the Communists were not interested in such a coalition either but, when Marshall’s mission ended in failure, he returned to the United States blaming the failure on Chiang Kai-Shek.  When, soon after, he was appointed Secretary of State by Truman, he used the position to fight against American assistance to the Chinese Nationalists.   Indeed, through the entire period that he served as special envoy to China and American Secretary of State and even earlier during World War II, Marshall worked to prepare public opinion to accept a Communist takeover of China by whitewashing Mao and his forces, claiming that they were merely “agrarian reformers” rather than Soviet style Bolsheviks.   Marshall died in 1959, one year into the “Great Leap Forward”, the Maoist version of a Stalinist five-year plan that generated a famine that killed more people in China than the Holodomor had done in the Ukraine.   It would have been interesting, had he lived to the end of the “Great Leap Forward”, to see whether he would have finally admitted just how much of a fool he had been about Mao in the 1940s.   He was hardly the only one, however.   His deputy and successor as Secretary of State, Dean Acheson was just as bad or worse, writing a thousand page White Paper at the time Mao was driving the Nationalists off the mainland, justifying the Truman administration’s policies towards the Republic of China and arguing that had they done anything differently it would not have prevented the Communist takeover, a laughable obscenity considering that what they had done was insist that the Republic of China clasp the viper of revolutionary Communism to its breast.  Aiding and abetting Marshall and Acheson in this, were the dolts working for the Institute of Pacific Relations, an international think tank funded by the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations, that published the academically acclaimed journals Pacific Affairs and Far Eastern Survey that had become heavily infested with Communists and Communist sympathizers, a great many of whom also served in the State Department and other bureaucratic and diplomatic offices in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.   This was the basis of the charges of Communist infiltration made against the State Department by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.   Although the newsmedia and academic institutions made his name synonymous with witch-hunting over this, William F. Buckley Jr. and his brother-in-law L. Brent Bozell Jr made a convincing case as early as 1954 in McCarthy and his Enemies that there were witches indeed to be found in the State Department, cackling around their cauldron as if they were acting out the first scene of the fourth Act of Macbeth.   The mid-1990s public release of the files of the Venona Project, along with the opening of the Soviet archives after the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of the Cold War, established the point beyond a reasonable doubt, although the progressive nitwits in the media and academe, including or especially all those who accepted without question the unsubstantiated claims of Hilary Clinton that her failure to win a third term in the White House in 2016 was due to interference by the current Russian government, are unlikely to acknowledge this any time soon.  For the whole sordid tale of the IPR, which shared board members, staff, and a building with Amerasia the journal caught with almost 2000 classified documents stolen from the OSS and other American and British military intelligence agencies after it had rather stupidly published one in 1945, and the FDR-Truman policies that helped the Communists take over so much of Asia, see John T. Flynn While You Slept: Our Tragedy in Asia and Who Made It (1951).


It is easier to understand how the American leadership of the 1930s and 1940s could have been so naive at best and collaborative at worst towards Communism if we grasp that in a sense FDR was right about the relationship between American liberalism and Communism.   The two are cousins of a sort.   Both are the children of the Modern Age, and the philosophical spirit of that Age which spirit can be summed up in the idea that human beings need to abandon tradition, time-proven established institutions, religion and the like and pursue maximum freedom and equality through reason and science, movement towards which goal is what is meant by the word “progress” in its political-philosophical sense.   American liberalism is the direct descendent of the earliest manifestation of this spirit in the sixteenth-seventeenth century English movement that began as Calvinist Puritanism and secularized into Whiggery.   Communism is descended, through Karl Marx as interpreted by V. I. Lenin, from the Jacobin movement responsible for the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror (the revolutionary movement with which Marx aligned himself and for which he wrote began as a faction of the Jacobins).   Jacobinism, like American liberalism, was descended from Puritanism-Whiggery, but through the intermediary of continental philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and especially Jean-Jacques Rousseau.    So FDR was right that American liberalism and Communism have the same goal – a society in which freedom and equality are both maximized – but with different ideas about the means to achieve it.   Where he was wrong was in thinking that this was a worthy goal.   It is not.     Progress is not desirable but evil.  The end of the Modern Age is based upon a contradiction.   Freedom and equality, in their purest forms, are utterly incompatible with each other.   Freedom is compatible with justice but not with equality.   Freedom and justice were considered to be goods in the pre-Modern tradition, that is to say, desirable ends that were what they were as part of the transcendent order.   Freedom and equality are considered to be values in the Modern Age.  Equality is a perversion of justice.   It is to justice what a $3 bill is to real currency.   When idealists make equality their goal rather than justice – and when modifiers such as “social”, “racial”, “sexual” are added to the word “justice” it is actually equality that is meant – they think they are working towards a better society, but are actually making it worse.   Gresham’s Law states that bad money drives out good. Similarly, equality, the counterfeit of justice, drives out justice – and freedom along with it.  The ancients understood this – it is the point, or one of the points at least, of the myth of Procrustes, the giant with the “one size fits all” policy regarding beds, whom Theseus encountered on his way to Athens.   Just as Modern thought errs in thinking that freedom and equality are compatible, so it errs in thinking of pre-Modern thought and tradition as something to be dismissed and discarded except in that it can be interpreted, ala the Whig Interpretation of History, as leading to the Modern Age and its goals.   See Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s writings, especially Liberty or Equality (1952) and The Menace of the Herd (1943) for a fuller explanation of the incompatibility of equality and freedom.  For an illustration look to the French Revolution and all the Communist Revolutions that took their inspiration from the French.   While the Jacobins who founded the first French Republic, the Bolsheviks, the Maoists, the Khmer Rouge, etc. all saw themselves as “liberators” and claimed “liberty” or “freedom” as an ideal as much as the Americans do – the motto of the French Revolution, remember, was “liberty, equality, fraternity” - the French Republic and all the People’s Republics were terror states, life within which could hardly be described as freedom.   That the American Revolution did not immediately produce a similar state is due to a number of reasons, the foremost being that while the leaders of the Revolution were liberals with the same contradictory program of freedom and equality as the Jacobins and Bolsheviks, the Revolution they led was a secession movement rather than the seizing of a central state and furthermore, a secession movement on the part of a coalition of political entities which, once secession was achieved, initially established a much weaker central government than what it eventually grew into because they wished to preserve their own powers in the new federation, and thus the liberals were not able at first to impose their agenda like a Procrustean bed on all Americans from the top down, which meant that much of the freedom of the pre-Revolution tradition was able to survive.


While nobody in their right mind wants to see the inhabitants of Formosa fall under the totalitarian rule of Beijing – the recent example of what happened to the inhabitants of Hong Kong when it was transferred to the People’s Republic should suffice to convince anyone not yet persuaded that life under Red Chinese rule is not desirable – it is a mistake to look to the United States to preserve their freedom.   It is not just that American liberalism is cousin to Communism and that the United States failed to prevent the Communist takeover of mainland China and arguably abetted it.   It is America’s self-contradictory policy with regards to China.   By agreeing with both Beijing and Taipei that there is only “One China” including both the mainland and Formosa, they take a position that keeps them from supporting Formosan independence qua independence and requires them to support one of the governments as the sole legitimate government of all of China.   They cannot support the government in Taipei as the legitimate government of all of China and retain their relations and trade with the Peoples’ Republic.   Therefore, they logically have to support the People’s Republic as the legitimate government.   So far their commitment to keep Formosa from falling into Communist hands has prevented them from doing so in an unambiguous manner.   This does not seem to be a sustainable position in the long run however.   The current incident that is the occasion of this essay demonstrates that among other things.


I will conclude by saying that in my view neither the Republic of China in Formosa nor the People’s Republic of China on the mainland is legitimate.   My views lean towards Jacobitism rather than Jacobinism, albeit Dr. Johnson’s brand of Jacobitism in which loyalty is to the current reigning house, and accordingly I regard no republic as legitimate.   I therefore take a legitimist position with regards to China.   The legitimate heir of one of the ancient dynasties – I will leave it to the Chinese to determine which one – should be found, and restored to his throne over all of China, and both the Republic and the People’s Republic ought to be dissolved into the restored Chinese monarchy.   That is the proper resolution to the situation.   Since the Americans are not likely to get on board with it any time this side of the Second Coming, when they will have to repent of their republicanism and democracy and bow the knee to the King of Kings if they don’t want to share the fate of the first Whig, the devil, the Chinese will just have to do it themselves.