The modern era is the age of progress. “The doctrine of progress is…an open-ended progression in which men will be endlessly free to make the world as they want it”. “The United States is the spearhead of progress”. “The pinnacle of political striving”, in the modern age of progress, is “the universal and homogeneous state”. “This state will be achieved by means of modern science—a science that leads to the conquest of nature”.
These ideas and quotations are taken from George Grant’s Lament For a Nation, (1) which first saw print fifty years ago, but they could as easily have come from his earlier Philosophy in the Mass Age, his last book Technology and Justice, or any of his other writings in between, for this theme, that we live in an age in which man, rejecting the limits imposed upon him by tradition and the eternal unchanging order that men of previous eras believed in, is, through the new science of technology, asserting both his freedom and his rule over himself and nature, was never far from his thoughts. Nor was his scepticism towards the idea of progress.
That we are advancing towards the “universal and homogeneous state”, is a matter upon which both Karl Marx and American political scientist Francis Fukuyama would agree with Grant. Marx and Fukuyama would further agree, despite the radical difference in their visions of what that universal state will look like, that it will be something desirable, something good. Grant, however, sceptically reminds us that “the classical philosophers asserted that a universal and homogeneous state would be a tyranny”. While he does not authoritatively assert that this is so, by taking the position of Socrates and declaring “I do not know the truth about these ultimate matters”, he gives a clear indication of his preference for classical philosophy, the wisdom of the ancients, over modern thought. Modern, progressive, thought, whether that of Marx or that of Fukuyama, asserts that the universal, homogeneous state will be good, because it sees it as being inevitable and necessary, and to modern thought necessity and goodness are one and the same.
This identification of goodness and necessity is a basic assumption underlying the concept of progress. Grant begins the seventh and final chapter of Lament with a rejection of this assumption arising out of a philosophical conservatism rooted in classical philosophy and his Christian faith.
Grant’s conservatism was political as well as philosophical and Lament was the most political of his books. A Canadian patriot, he was a conservative in the classical tradition of Richard Hooker, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson and the mature Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This conservatism, predicated on the conviction that above all human arrangements there is an unchanging, transcendent, order established by the eternal God, is a belief in earthly order, grounded in tradition, and manifested in institutions, especially ones such as monarchy and the Church which predate the modern age. In the context of Canada this has historically meant an emphasis upon our country’s Britishness and our relationship to Great Britain, first in the empire then in the Commonwealth, and a resistance to Americanization. This was Grant’s conservatism, as it is mine.
The subject and subtitle of Lament For a Nation is “The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism”. There has been more than one idea to go by the name of Canadian nationalism and it is important, if we wish to understand Grant’s book, that we do not mistake which of these he was talking about.
That a classical conservative at odds with the modern age would lament the defeat of a nationalism seems paradoxical. While Tories have always been patriots, as patriotism, the love of country, has been recognized as a virtue since ancient times, they have historically been suspicious of nationalism. Nationalism, after all, is a product of the modern age which was generally regarded, in the century of its birth, the nineteenth, as a liberal or radical phenomenon. The specific conservative objection to nationalism was that it demanded that loyalty to the nation-state take priority over all other loyalties, no matter how ancient, whether loyalty to the king and the church, the family and the community, or even, it seemed, to God Himself and was an instrument of demagogues for stirring up hostility towards other nations and therefore wars.
The Canadian nationalism of which Grant wrote, bore little resemblance to this kind of nationalism, otherwise it would have held little attraction to him, yet nationalism seems nonetheless, to be the appropriate word for it as it was more than just the heartfelt attachment to country that is patriotism. It was the effort to keep Canada, a country that shares the same continent as the United States, from being dominated culturally, politically, and economically, by the dynamic power to her south. Even by this definition, however, there was more than one “Canadian nationalism” and the failure to distinguish between these has led to many a misunderstanding of Grant.
Professor Ron Dart, in his recently published reflections upon Lament, (2) observes that “The New Left thought Grant’s form of nationalist Toryism had many an affinity with their agenda”. After a brief discussion of Gad Horowitz’s coining of the expression “Red Toryism”, Grant’s dialogue with Horowitz, suspicions of the label “Red Tory”, and doubts about the secular Left, Dart concludes that Grant “was, in most ways, a High Tory which most in the New Left lacked the historical depth to comprehend”. I agree and would add that they did not comprehend his nationalism either.
Fifty years ago, when Grant’s book was first published, the Liberal Party of Canada had draped itself in the banner of “Canadian nationalism”. This “Canadian nationalism”, however, was an effort to forge a new Canadian identity by throwing Canada’s British traditions and institutions overboard. In the fourth chapter of Lament, Grant considers the Liberals, the “political instrument” of the Canadian establishment, and concludes that it is “absurd to argue that the Liberals have been successful nationalists”. In his second chapter, speaking of an earlier manifestation of the kind of “Canadian nationalism” the Liberal establishment was espousing at the time he wrote Lament, Grant remarks “It is well to remember that the anti-British nationalists of English-speaking Canada in the 1930’s have nearly all shown the emptiness of their early protestations by becoming consistent continentalists later on”. The “Canadian nationalism” of the New Left has largely been of this anti-British type indicating that Grant’s New Left admirers could not have read him that closely.
The book Freedom Wears a Crown (3) had been published eight years previously to Lament. Edited posthumously from the manuscript prepared by its author, John Farthing, Freedom defends Canada’s British traditions, especially our parliamentary monarchy, and lambastes the new nationalism. He calls it “the usurping fallacy” and in the chapter by that title writes that “A very real distinction exists between our present pure-Canada nationalism and a true Canadian nationhood”, the distinction being that the former rejects Canada’s Britishness as being alien to the country, whereas the latter sees the British tradition as being essential to Canadian nationhood. It is significant, that Grant dedicated Lament to two patriots of British Canada, one of which, Toronto journalist Judith Robinson, was the editor of Freedom Wears a Crown.
In Grant’s Lament, the British tradition is as essential to true Canadian nationhood as it is in Farthing’s Freedom. Only by giving the book the most superficial of readings could someone fail to pick up on that. In explaining the defeat of Canadian nationalism Grant points to the facts that the liberalism upon which the American system was built also had its origins in the British tradition and that by middle of the twentieth century Britain herself had come into the orbit of the United States as reasons why that defeat was inevitable. One reading Grant superficially might interpret this as laying the blame for the defeat on Canada’s Britishness if one fails to note that Grant also gives that British tradition, which still retained pre-American Revolution and pre-modern elements, despite its permeation by modern liberalism, as the very reason the project of Canadian nationalism was worthwhile in the first place, and hence worthy of lamentation in its defeat.
There are two threads of thought regarding British Canada that are interwoven throughout the book. In one, the British tradition is a means to the end of Canadian independence from America, which independence stands in the way of the universal homogeneous state. In this thread, the goodness of Canadian independence rests upon the universal homogeneous state being tyrannical rather than good. This thread terminates in the uncertainty of the final chapter, in which, the distinction between goodness and necessity having been drawn, the question of the goodness of the coming universal homogenous state is left open. Grant is doubtful, and has good reasons to doubt that are founded upon the wisdom of the ancients, but since he cannot with certainty proclaim the universal homogeneous state to be bad, he writes:
My lament is not based upon philosophy but on tradition. If one cannot be sure about the answer to the most important question, then tradition is the best basis for the practical life. Those who loved the older traditions of Canada may be allowed to lament what has been lost, even though they do not know whether or not that loss will lead to some greater political good.
This is the other thread, in which the older traditions of Canada, are loved because they are good in themselves, and the independence of Canada is good because it serves those traditions.
The early chapters of Lament explain why Grant felt that Canadian nationalism had been defeated. The Kennedy administration in the United States wanted the NORAD Bomarc missiles in Canada to be armed with nuclear warheads. The Conservative government of John Diefenbaker said no, on the grounds that Washington should not be allowed to dictate policy to Canada. The Diefenbaker government was then brought down when the Liberals and NDP united against the government in a confidence vote in the House. This demonstrated both that the Americans could bring down a Canadian government that opposed their wishes and that Canada’s elite classes had turned against the idea of a sovereign Canada and set their will towards continental unity.
Grant defends Diefenbaker as a man of patriotic principle against attacks on his character while criticizing what he saw as weaknesses in the Diefenbaker government that undermined their own position, foremost among these being their reliance upon the business class. These criticisms do not imply that had the Diefenbaker government not made these mistakes their defeat could have been avoided. The only alternative courses to becoming a client state of the United States, he argued, were Castroism, a left-wing nationalism that would “establish a rigorous socialist state that turns to the Communist empire for support”, and Gaullism, a right-wing nationalism that would “harness the nationalist spirit to technological planning” and “insist internationally that there are limits to the western ‘alliance’”. Although his preference is clearly for Gaullism, of which he says Sir John A. MacDonald’s “National Policy” was an early form, he argues that neither option was actually available to Canada in the 1960s.
He begins his fifth chapter, however, by asserting that the actions of politicians and businessmen “cannot alone account for Canada’s collapse” and that it “stems from the very character of the modern era”. This launches him into a discussion of the nature of the modern era of progress and the “universal and homogeneous state” the striving towards which “gives content to the rhetoric of both Communists and capitalists” in which he defends his assertion that the United States is “the heart of modernity” and “the spearhead of progress” against the denials of Marxists and American conservatives. Here his reasoning is at both its strongest and its weakest.
The Marxists maintain that the United States is a reactionary rather than a progressive force. This is the logical conclusion of their view of history. Their basic mistake, Grant argues, is to misunderstand the nature of progress. It is not, he says, “the perfectibility of man”, but “an open-ended progression in which men will be endlessly free to make the world as they want it”. Fifty years after Grant wrote this, in a day in which men declare themselves to be women and instead of considering them to be crazy we attempt to reshape reality to fit their delusion, it is apparent that Grant understood far better than Marx where the modern age was headed and what progress looks like in practice.
American conservatives, on the other hand, regard their country as “the chief guardian of Western values” because it retains “certain traditional values that have been lost in Communist societies”. Their argument is based on an interpretation of the history of modern political philosophy – an interpretation that Grant accepts, it should be noted - that separates it into two waves, the first including such thinkers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Smith, and Hume, and the second beginning with Rousseau and including Kant, Hegel, and, of course, Marx. The second wave was much more revolutionary than the first which still retained something of an understanding of human nature, so, the American conservative argument goes, the United States, which was founded on the thinking of the first wave, “should be called a conservative force” and “must be accepted as the guardian of Western values against the perversions of Western revolutionary thought as they have spread into the East”.
Grant’s answer to this is to acknowledge the truth in the argument since American “society does preserve constitutional government and respect for the legal rights of individuals in a way that the eastern tyrannies do not”, but to argue that these traditions are “no longer the heart of American civilization” and that they “become more residual every year.” Such “older aspects of the Western tradition” as “the Church, constitutional government, classical and philosophical studies” are becoming “more like museum pieces, mere survivals on the periphery”. This too, seems to be much more evident in our own day than it was fifty years ago.
Grant contrasts American conservatism with the conservatism of Britain and Canada, noting correctly that American conservatives are actually “old-fashioned liberals” and that the Tory Loyalists who founded English Canada “were Anglicans and knew well that in opposing the revolution they were opposing Locke” and who “appealed to the older political philosophy of Richard Hooker.” “Traditional conservatism”, he writes, “asserts the right of the community to restrain freedom in the name of the common good”. As true as this is, the greatest weakness that I see in Grant’s reasoning in this book, is that he can come across as reducing traditional conservatism to little more than this assertion, which does not exactly make it sound appealing. Traditional conservatism was not based upon the idea that freedom is something bad, dangerous, and scary, and Grant, who in his later book English Speaking Justice says that freedom is good and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a nut did not think that it was, but this is not as clear as it should be in Lament.
Conservatism and liberalism have different understandings of the nature of freedom as a good. It is not enough to point out the flaws in liberalism’s understanding of freedom, the conservative needs to explain his own. King Charles I in his final speech before his martyrdom did just this when he said: “for the people and truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whomsoever, but I must tell you, that their liberty and their freedom consists in having of Government; those laws, by which their life and their goods may be most of their own.” Roger Scruton, in his The Meaning of Conservatism, written on the eve of the Thatcher/Reagan era, explained that conservatism was not about freedom itself but about the order, traditions, and institutions that generate the context in which freedom is possible. George Grant tells us in Lament that liberalism sees freedom as being the essence of man and the emancipation of his passions but he does not tell us where the good that is freedom fits into the conservative order. Indeed, at times he seems to go out of his way to avoid doing so, such as when in discussing the possibility that the universal state will be a tyranny, as the ancients thought, he defines tyranny as “a society destructive of human excellence”, which is not a wrong definition, per se, but one that noticeably avoids the concepts of usurped power and stolen liberty that ordinarily define the term.
This is not the only noticably singular definition to appear in the book. “Yet what is socialism”, Grant asks, “if it is not the use of the government to restrain greed in the name of social good?” That is a question that would have sounded very strange to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the nineteenth century socialist who is credited as being the father of anarchism, i.e., the rejection of the legitimate authority of government. Ordinarily socialism is defined as the idea that the means of production should be collectively owned by the public rather than privately owned. Grant, however, is making an argument that socialism is “appealing to the conservative idea of social order against the liberal idea of freedom” and the rejection of private ownership, while it might appeal to some idea of social order, certainly does not appeal to a conservative one. Just as there is a conservative idea of freedom as well as a liberal one so there are ideas of social order that are not conservative.
Grant’s determination to present a conservative side to socialism, even though Marxists and socialists regard themselves as progressive, would seem to be behind his reluctance to acknowledge a conservative idea of freedom and non-conservative concepts of order. The evils in capitalism were clear to Grant. The pursuit of the economic integration of the North American continent on the part of corporate capitalists was the biggest threat to Canadian cultural and political independence. Capitalism was the instrument of progress, the system that most effectively accomplished technological change, obliterating traditions and what was left of the classical concepts of social order and the common good, in the process. Grant’s indictment of corporate capitalism rings true, for the most part, especially today, fifty years later where in virtually every cultural battle the large corporations can be found lined up against tradition, religion, and morality.
The evils of capitalism do not prove socialism to be good, however, nor does showing capitalism to be progressive thereby prove socialism to be conservative. The idea that rejecting capitalism means embracing socialism to some degree or another reflects the assumptions that capitalism and socialism are the only possibilities and that they are polar opposites of each other. These assumptions were widely held in the Cold War era in which Lament was written but have since been discredited by history. With the end of the arms race, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the break-up of the Soviet Union, American capitalism was triumphant and socialist parties around the world from Tony Blair’s New Labour to the Communist Party of Red China began to accept neo-liberal market economics. If socialists were now adopting the market policies of their conqueror, capitalism, that capitalism had already adopted most of the policies of socialism. It has been noted that the ten measures advocated by Marx and Engels in the second chapter of the Communist Manifesto, such as “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax” and the “centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly” have almost all been implemented in the United States and the other Western democracies. Dr. Tomislav Sunic has remarked that “Some European authors observed that communism died in the East because it had already been implemented in the West” (4) Capitalism and socialism have clearly converged and, I would argue, that this indicates they were never truly polar opposites to begin with, but two sides to the same coin.
Grant was not oblivious to the fact of this convergence. Note that he rests his case that the United Sates is “a dynamic empire spearheading the age of progress” on the defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 Presidential election. Goldwater, who stood for the older small town, small business version of American liberal capitalism, with the backing of the besieged regional culture in the South, was defeated, Grant argued, by the same forces that defeated Diefenbaker in 1963, the capitalist corporations behind the new liberalism of Kennedy and Johnson. The newer liberalism of Kennedy and Johnson, incorporated a much greater degree of socialism into its capitalism than the older classical liberalism of Goldwater, and it was this newer liberalism that had the corporate power behind it.
Today, this corporate-backed synthesis of capitalism and socialism is, even more so than it was fifty years ago, the dominant power in the world, and the extent to which it has rolled over local cultures, ancient traditions, and venerable institutions in Canada and the United States alike is much more advanced than it was then. Some might say that this makes Grant’s book irrelevant and out-of-date. I would suggest, however, that it is even more reason for us to contemplate the distinction he makes between what is necessary in the sense of being unavoidable due to the forces of history and what is good, to question the assumed goodness of the dynamic changes going on all around us, and to look back to the classical pre-modern, ideas that Grant loved and which were embodied in the older traditions of our country, to find a truer vision of goodness.
Happy Dominion Day!
God save the Queen!
(1) George Parkin Grant, Lament For a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism, (Toronto: Carleton University Press, 1965, 1978, 1989).
(2) Ron Dart, Lament For a Nation: Then and Now, (New York: American Anglican Press, 2015).
(3) John C. Farthing, Judith Robinson (ed), Freedom Wears a Crown, (Toronto: Kingswood House, 1957).
(4) Tomislav Sunic, Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age, (Book Surge Publishing, 2007), p. 34.
As a Canadian I am frequently amused at the way our neighbours across the 49th Parallel often accuse us of having an inferiority complex towards them and their country. What’s there to feel inferior about? We have a parliamentary monarchy, a form of government that has class if you ignore the parliamentary part, whereas all they have is a lousy republic. A century and a half ago they went to war with themselves to drive into subjugation a regional culture that had far more class than the rest of their country and are currently capitalizing on the suffering of those whose loved ones fell victim to a psychopathic killer in Charleston, S. C., to eliminate the last vestiges of that regional culture by ending the public display of symbols of its heritage such as its familiar battle flag.
Having said that, there is nothing classy in being smug and we have little cause to be smug towards the Americans with regards to their Supreme Court’s predictable ruling in the Obergefell case. They, at least, can blame a panel of lunatic judges for something which we did to ourselves a decade earlier by electing the Liberal Party to write the Queen’s laws for us in Parliament.
What SCUSA’s Obergefell ruling has done in the United States and which the Liberal Party’s Civil Marriage Act did in Canada in 2005 was to make same-sex “marriage” legal countrywide. Or, to translate that into the language of the sane person, it declared that the country must now pretend that something that is false is true. It is like the scene in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew in which Petruchio, having broken Katharina’s spirit, makes her affirm that the sun is the moon. Marriage is what it is, the union of man and woman through solemn vows, and it cannot be changed into something else by judicial ruling or parliamentary decree any more than the government can, by declaring it to be so, make two plus two equal to five.
“Love wins” is the meme that is spreading through the tweets and Facebook pages of celebrities, activists, and others who see the Obergefell decision as cause for rejoicing, but it would be more accurate to say that hatred has won. Hatred of the constraints and limitations imposed upon our wishes and wills by our human nature and the nature of the world we live in, hatred of truth and order, and hatred of the God Who is the Author of truth and order and the Creator of our nature. Hatred, certainly, of the faith that for two thousand years has offered love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, hope and renewal to sinful human beings, heterosexual and homosexual alike, because of that faith’s refusal to compromise the truth. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that as governments in Europe, Canada, the UK, and the various American states to do so prior to the ruling, have declared the creation of same-sex marriage by legislative fiat it has not resulted in lesbians and gays swarming the altars and courthouses of these nations to get hitched so much as in activists, strategically seeking out Christian florists, bakeries, printers, caterers, and anyone whose business is remotely connected to weddings and marriage, suing them, and winning large rulings if they stood true to the principles of their faith. A direct attack on churches is next in the revolutionary agenda.
Another way of putting it would be to say that truth has lost and that we have collectively descended into a world of insanity. Today we are expected to believe on the one hand that same-sex attraction is innate and unchangeable, as the LGBTTQ* movement insists, but on the other, that heterosexuality is socially constructed and imposed upon women by an oppressive and evil male power structure called the patriarchy, as the feminist movement teaches in its Women’s Studies programs in universities. (1) We are expected to simultaneously accept that sexual orientation, for homosexuals at least, is fixed in stone, but that sex itself, whether we are male or female, is not, that our “gender” is something we determine for ourselves regardless of our biology and that our sex can be changed to conform to our gender. When the Church reaches out to gays and lesbians, like anyone else for whom Christ died, offering them peace and reconciliation with God through the blood of His cross, telling them that in Him they can be made whole and set free from their passions, she, we are told, is being harmful and hateful, but we are supposed to accept as sincere and wholesome, the motivation of feminist and LGBTTQ* groups that put pressure on governments to introduce sexual education into schools at younger and younger ages. If we are unable to buy into all of this hogwash we are declared to be unloving, hate-filled, bigots. To a sane person, surely the most harmful, unkind, and hateful attitude possible towards gays and lesbians is that of the LGBTTQ* movement itself, which tells them to find their identity, purpose, and self-validation in the peculiarities of their libido. We are living in an age of madness, however, and the judgement of bigotry is pronounced on us even regardless of our sexual orientation. The judgement is even harsher on gays who go against the narrative, as Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana discovered to their discomfort earlier this year.
Those for whom SCUSA’s decision is a victory are currently engaged in a round of orgiastic, self-congratulatory, backslapping in which they are congratulating each other for their “courage”. It does not take courage, however, to ride the tide of history. Those who wish to see the virtue of courage on display would do better to look at those who have dared to oppose this juggernaut, especially those who will continue to do so now.
Fifty years ago, Canadian philosopher and conservative George Grant (2) observed that the tide of history was moving towards a “universal and homogeneous state” that would be achieved by a “modern science” that “leads to the conquest of nature…not only non-human nature, but human nature itself”. The “heart of the age of progress”, i.e., the age that is being swept by that tide, is “the definition of man as freedom”, which, Grant noted, meant emancipating the human passions from their traditional constraints and reshaping our nature in pursuit of perfection and defiance of the eternal order. While the masses embrace the spirit of these changes and see, in accordance with the doctrine of progress, the end to which they are moving as being inevitably good, Grant, in the tradition of Plato and Simone Weil, cautioned against the confusion of goodness on the one hand and necessity or inevitability on the other.
In today’s insistence that marriage be changed from the union of man with woman and that the biological reality of sex be altered through medicine to reflect self-determined gender, surely we see the conquest of “human nature itself” and “the definition of man as freedom” taken to the extreme of madness. When we are condemned by the masses as hateful, foolish, and out of step with the times for not going along with this flow it is important that we remember that just because something is unavoidable and has the force of the movement of history on its side, that does not make it right or good.
In Tom Wolfe’s novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, New York District Attorney Abe Weiss and his assistants, such as Larry Kramer, faced with the constant howling of the wolves of racial grievance stirred up by demagogues like Reverend Bacon, are in a desperate, Captain Ahabesque, search for “the great white defendant”, thinking that they have found him in the book’s protagonist, a Wall Street trader named Sherman McCoy whose adultery has landed him in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Well, it now appears that the “great white defendant” has finally made an appearance in the person of Dylann Roof, the twenty-one year old drug and video game addict charged with the mass shooting in the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina last week. Assuming that what we are being told about Roof is accurate, he appears to be everything the progressive Left could have hoped for in a mass murderer: a white, Southern, male who posed with the Confederate battle flag and wrote a lengthy manifesto declaring his intention to start a race war in response to all the black-on-white crime in America. You would almost think the Left had invented him.
Let’s get the ceremonial statement of the obvious over and done with. The shooting of innocent people in a church is a heinous and horrendous crime for which this punk ought to be convicted and executed. There, now that we have gotten that out of the way, we can move on to discuss the larger issues surrounding this incident.
Roof, it has been widely reported, began his descent into homicidal madness, when, following the Trayvon Martin shooting, he searched for black-on-white crime online, was led to the website of the Council of Conservative Citizens, and found countless examples of rapes and other violent crimes committed by blacks against whites which have gone under-reported in the mainstream media. Progressives in the media, with the help of organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Centre which capitalize on the fear of white racism that they spread to raise funds while masquerading as experts on hate, have jumped all over this and concluded, in what passes for logic in the progressive mind, that the Council of Conservative Citizens must therefore be blamed for the Roof’s actions.
Let’s think about that for a moment. Progressives “reason” that the Council of Conservative Citizens by reporting on black-on-white crime is trying to stir up race hatred against blacks among whites. If that is the case, what then are progressives in the media trying to do when they make every single racially-motivated crime committed by a white person a front page headline and breaking news story and then ceaselessly talk about it for months on end while saying virtually nothing about racially-motivated crimes against whites? Are they trying to stir up race hatred against whites among non-whites and/or self-loathing among whites? Stories about racially-motived crimes committed by whites always seem to be interpreted in such a way as into suggest that they are the tip of the iceberg, that many, if not most, white people secretly harbour racism that could easily turn into the kind of violent racial hatred manifested in people like Roof, and that something must be done therefore to re-educate white people. A better case can be made that the mainstream media seeks to make whites the targets of racial hatred, than that organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens, in countering the narrative of the mainstream media, seek to make non-whites the targets of racial hatred.
One statistic the group [the Council of Conservative Citizens]often cites is that there are 20,000 rapes against white women by black men annually.
Immediately thereafter he goes on to write:
What is not mentioned is that the 2008 U.S. justice department report upon which that number is based shows the vast majority of sexual crimes against white women that year — more than 88,000 cases — were committed by white men.
In other words, according to Quan, the Council of Conservative Citizens has misrepresented the facts through partial reporting, presumably to generate fear of black rapists on the part of whites. Quan himself, however, has neglected to mention all of the relevant statistics. The report in question does indeed say that more white-on-white sexual crimes occurred than black-on-white. It also says that more black-on-black sexual crimes occurred than white-on-black. It consistently shows that crimes in which the offender and victim are of the same race, white-on-white or black-on-black, far outnumber either black-on-white, or white-on-black crimes. One more statistic needs to be considered to get the full picture, and that is that of white-on-black crime. The report gives the percentage of sexual crimes committed against black victims in 2008 in which the offender was perceived to be white as 0.0%. Indeed, in the vast majority of categories of crime, the report finds black-on-white crime to be a larger percentage of crimes committed against whites than white-on-black crime is of crimes committed against blacks.
What does this information tell us?
The fact that crime is more likely to take place within a race, by blacks against blacks or whites against whites, than by members of either race against the other, is an excellent argument against racist fearmongering. The fact that interracial crime is far more often black-on-white than white-on-black, however, tells us who the real racist fearmongers are. If white women are far more likely to be raped by white men than by black men, blacks are far more likely to be murdered by other blacks than by whites, much less by deranged racist lunatics like Dylann Roof. One would never know that from listening to the narrative of the mainstream media.
In that narrative animosity towards other races is treated as being an affliction almost exclusively of white people. This narrative is clearly not supported by the facts, as the higher likelihood of interracial crime being committed against whites than by whites indicates a higher level of racial animosity towards whites among blacks than towards blacks among whites, but it contributes to those facts by promoting fear of whites among blacks and other non-whites, which in turn generates racial animosity towards whites. That animosity manifests itself in the black-on-white crime rate that the media ignores on its best days and attempts to hide and deny on its worst. When the facts about black-on-white crime and the media’s mendacious handling of them become known to a diseased mind like Roof’s, mercifully rare incidents like this one can ensue. None of this excuses the crime, of course. My point is that the media figures who are pointing the finger at organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens that exist to counter their dishonest narrative, should look to the proverbial three or four fingers pointing back at them.
The percentage of crimes committed by blacks in the United States is disproportionately high when compared to their percentage in the population. While progressives accuse anyone who notices this of being racist, think about the significance of this fact in light of the statistics we have already considered. If intraracial crime is committed at a much higher frequency than interracial crime then a disproportionately high rate of commission of crimes among blacks means that they are also victimized at a higher rate. If those who sanctimoniously preach that “black lives matter” truly believed their own words they would realize there is a problem that needs to be addressed here and attempt to deal with it rather than scream “racist” at anyone who points out these facts while pretending that the biggest threats to black people are racist cops and Dylann Roofs.
Instead, they prefer, like the prosecutors in Wolfe’s book, to pin their hopes on validating their delusions by finding that “great white defendant”. Of course, unlike the fictional Sherman McCoy, the real Dylann Roof seems to be guilty of the crime of which he is accused. If the murder itself was not proof enough of Roof’s insanity, his handing the progressive Left exactly what they wanted would surely suffice.
I had never thought of Thomas Mulcair, federal leader of the New Democratic Party, as a particularly humorous individual. He is a progressive, after all, and progressives are generally noted for their lack of a sense of humour. Mulcair, whose visage is as constantly plastered with a scowl as his predecessor’s was with a cheap grin, gives off a particularly strong vibe of being allergic to anything funny that would bring a smile to a normal man’s lips and fill his heart with cheer.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, to discover that the joke of the century had been uttered last Tuesday, in the unlikely setting of the Economic Club of Canada, by none other than the present Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, which title, as applied to the leader of a party that is full of outspoken, severe-our-ties-to-the-monarchy, republicans, is itself a pretty good joke.
Addressing his audience of businessmen, he said, apparently with a straight face, that “The federal department of finance’s own reports show that NDP governments are the best at balancing the books when in office”.
Upon first hearing of this, I thought that perhaps Mulcair was referring to the old etiquette class exercise of balancing books upon the top of one’s head to learn poise. Perhaps, in an effort to improve himself and obtain a little culture, he had been watching My Fair Lady, the musical film version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, in which Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle is made to do this by Rex Harrison’s Professor Henry Higgins. I hoped this was the case because the NDP could use some of the class and culture that their British counterparts, like the Fabian Mr. Shaw, far more frequently possess than socialists on this side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, he was talking about the budget.
Now boasting is generally considered to be rather gauche but if you absolutely must play the braggart there are some basic guidelines as to how to do it without ending up looking like post-metamorphosis Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The most basic guideline is to actually have the qualities of which you crow. If that is not possible, the next guideline is that your boast should at least be believable. If Mr. Mulcair wanted to boast of his party’s strengths, perhaps he should have chosen something more credible than budget balancing. He could have said that NDP governments are the best at killing rural economies, shutting down rural hospital services, and forcing consolidation upon rural municipalities. Or he could have said that the NDP are the best at increasing people’s tax burdens, killing businesses, and transferring employment from the private to the public sector. All of that would have been believable. But balancing budgets?
To be fair, Mulcair did not just pull this astonishing boast out of thin air. He pointed to the examples of Tommy Douglas and Roy Romanow in Saskatchewan and Gary Doer here in Manitoba to back up his claim. With regards to the rather obvious counter-example of Bob Rae in Ontario, he said “There was one exception — but he turned out to be a Liberal.” Rae, as provincial NDP leader, was premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995. Upon taking over from a Liberal government that had been running over their budget, he ran Ontario’s deficit from the millions into the billions. In his first budget, despite raising taxes he set a record breaking deficit of over nine billions dollars. No wonder Mulcair tried to explain away Rae by saying that he was really a Liberal, i.e., that when he re-entered politics at the federal level, he did so as a member of the party in which Mulcair had spent his years in Quebec provincial politics.
Mulcair is mistaken, however, in thinking of Rae as the exception. The exception is the provincial NDP in Saskatchewan. They have indeed, been exceptionally fiscally responsible, despite their other failings, and we will consider the significance of that shortly. Countrywide, the NDP’s budgeting record has far more often resembled that of Bob Rae than that of Roy Romanow.
Outside of Saskatchewan, the NDP has formed governments in BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon Territory. It has never formed governments in Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, or Prince Edward Island and only formed a government in Alberta for the first time earlier this year, obviously too soon to be considered in any kind of comparison.
They seem to have been fairly fiscally responsible in the Yukon. Darrell Dexter’s NDP governed Nova Scotia for a single term from 2009 to 2013 in which their first and last budgets were balanced but the two inbetween had large deficits. In BC the NDP governed for three years in the 1970s, then again from 1991 to 2001. Dave Barrett inherited a surplus in 1972 and turned it into a deficit. In the ‘90s under Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark, the NDP produced Rae-style budgets with billion dollar deficits. It was only in their last year and a half in office, after scandal forced Clark to resign, that his successors managed to get their books into balance..
This brings us to my own province of Manitoba where the NDP has governed longer than anywhere excepct Saskatchewan. In the 1970s Ed Schreyer balanced most of his budgets going into deficit in his last year. His cousin-in-law, Howard Pawley, reversed that pattern in the 1980s, balancing the budget only at the end of a string of deficits. It is the more recent NDP governments that are particularly relevent, however, because Mulcair gave Gary Doer as an example of fiscal prudence in his speech and has repeatedly held Greg Selinger up as an example for other premiers, even going so far as to say that a federal NDP government would follow Selinger’s example.
The NDP have governed Manitoba since 1999, when Gary Doer inherited a balanced budget from the Progressive Conservative government of Gary Filmon which had passed legislation requiring the government to balance the budget every year and to call a referendum before any major tax increase. Doer declared that this legislation would stand, and accordingly his Finance Minister Greg Selinger announced every year that he had balanced the books. There are a few things peculiar about this seemingly laudable display of financial prudence, however.
Selinger took over the leadership of the NDP and the premiership of Manitoba in the fall of 2009. Since then, his government has run deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars, each year, despite raising the Provincial Sales Tax by a percentage point in 2013 without holding the referendum they were legally required to call. If Selinger’s handling of the budget as premier seems to be an rather drastic contrast with the way he handled it as Doer’s Finance Minister, realize that the provincial debt has more than doubled since the NDP took power in 1999. Even the large deficits of the last six years cannot acount for that debt, much of which had to have been acquired while Doer was premier. Selinger has gone through four Finance Ministers since becoming premier, whereas Doer had been able to make do with one. It looks like Selinger has been unable to find a Finance Minister as capable of making a deficit look like a surplus as he was.
So, no Mr. Mulcair, Bob Rae is not the exception. In Nova Scotia and BC, the NDP were more like Rae, as the NDP has been in Manitoba under Selinger and earlier was under Pawley. The NDP claimed to have balanced the budget under Doer but this claim is highly questionable in light of the way the debt has skyrocketed since 1999.
The real exception, therefore, is the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party. It was in Saskatchewan, that the NDP’s predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, first formed a government under the leadership of Tommy Douglas in 1944. Douglas governed Saskatchewan for sixteen years, never running a deficit. After this, he moved into federal politics as first leader of the NDP, which was formed in 1961 when the CCF merged with the Canadian Labour Congress. Under the new name, the Saskatchewan NDP formed governments under Allan Blakeney from 1971 to 1982, then again under Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert from 1991 to 2007. These leaders all followed Douglas’ example and the NDP almost never ran a deficit in Saskatchewan.
This is to the credit of the provincial NDP in Saskatchewan but is it to the credit of the party as a whole? Mulcair seems to think so, and in the 2011 Ontario provincial election Andrea Horwath made this “the NDP are the best at balancing books” part of her campaign. The problem is that this is asking people to believe that because the Saskatchewan NDP have been fiscally responsible, other NDP parties will be fiscally responsible elsewhere. This kind of claim cannot be based on just the percentage of years in which an NDP government has balanced the budget because the province in which the NDP has been extremely good at avoiding deficits is also the province in which they were in office far longer than anywhere else, and their record there is radically different from their record elsewhere.
Thomas Mulcair has said that he thinks Greg Selinger is doing a great job as Manitoba’s premier and that he would govern the same way federally. That tells us all we need to know about what kind of budget to expect from a federal NDP government and is what makes Mulcair’s claim that his party is fiscally responsible such an excellent joke. Unfortunately, judging from Mulcair’s rising popularity in the polls, the joke may end up being on us.
I never thought former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was as smart as his journalist and academic groupies made him out to be. There is a huge difference between an intellectual and being intelligent and Trudeau was the former rather than the latter. Compared to his son, however, Trudeau the Elder was a genius, albeit an evil one.
Since taking over his father’s old role as leader of the Liberal Party Justin Trudeau has had a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth and otherwise talking and acting like a complete moron. This week, however, he outdid himself with his 32 point plan to “restore democracy” in Canada. While some of the points have merit, most, like the goal of greater gender parity are utter foolishness, and the one which we will be concentrating on here is absolute insanity.
Before turning to that point, however, it must be said that it is not democracy that needs to be restored in Canada so much as freedom. Democracy and freedom are not the same thing nor do they necessarily go together. The idea that democracy and freedom go together like a knife and fork is an idea that has strong roots in the American tradition but which Canadians have traditionally rejected since the days of the American Revolution when the Loyalists chose to remain loyal to the Crown rather than jump on the republican bandwagon. Alexis de Tocqueville warned our American friends, after his visit to the United States in the nineteenth century, that democracy can potentially be the basis of the greatest tyranny of all, the “tyranny of the majority” as the history of his own country’s democratic revolution, begun fifteen years after that of the Americans ended, so well illustrates. Far superior to the modern ideal of democracy, is the classical ideal of the mixed constitution, as explained by Aristotle and Polybius, in which the three basic simple forms of government – monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy – are combined and balanced. That, of course, is exactly what our traditional form of government, the Westminster system consisting of the monarchy, Senate, and elected House of Commons embodies, and it is this system that historically and traditionally went together with and safeguarded freedom and justice in Canada.
The point of Trudeau’s plan to “restore democracy” that has attracted the most attention is his announced intention to abolish “first past the post” by the next election. It is this point to which we will now turn to show that when Ezra Levant dubbed Justin Trudeau the “shiny pony” a few years ago, it was an unfair slur on ponies everywhere.
First past the post is an expression borrowed from horse racing for our traditional way of determining the outcome of elections. The House of Commons is made up of the representatives of constituencies or ridings. In each constituency when the general election is called – or if for some reason there is a by-election for that particular riding – many candidates are allowed to run against each other for the right to sit in the House as that area’s representative. They may run as representatives of a party or independents. Sometimes the outcome of the election is a majority in which one candidate receives over half of the votes. Other times the outcome of the election is a plurality in which the vote is so divided that no one candidate receives over half. In this case, the candidate who receives the highest number of votes, wins the election.
So what are the objections to this?
Well, one common objection is that by awarding the election to the person with the highest number of votes the system is going against the wishes of the majority of voters who voted for someone other than the winner. While this objection seems to have merit upon first hearing it, you must realize that in a plurality election this would be the case regardless of which of the candidates is determined to be the winner. Proposed alternatives, such as multiple round elections until a clear majority is achieved or ranking the candidates on the ballot in order of preference rather than picking one would have the effect of making elections more expensive, more complicated, and with more factors for the unscrupulous to manipulate, without really eliminating the objection seeing as the person who wins the final round will still be someone the majority voted against in the first round and a ranked preference ballot can still return a winner who did not receive a majority of first preference votes and who therefore is still technically someone the majority voted against, all in order to fix a system that isn’t really broke, on the grounds of an objection that ultimately reduces to the idea that an election should be determined by its negative outcome, the most votes against, rather than its positive outcome, the most votes for.
Another common objection is that under this system the percentage of seats awarded to a party in the House of Commons is not the same as the percentage of the popular vote that party received. The popular vote is the accumulated vote of all voters in all ridings across the country. A small party, with voters scattered across the country, may win one or no seats, while receiving a comparably larger percentage of the popular vote. The Green Party, for example, won only the seat of its leader Elizabeth May in the 2011 election, although it received just under four percent of the popular vote. In the previous election it won no seats although it received just under seven percent of the popular vote. Supporters of the Green Party and other fringe parties regard this as being unfair and call for a system of proportional representation, in which the makeup of the assembly by party percentage is representative of the popular vote. That proportional representation would have the obvious effect of making the House of Commons even more ideological and partisan than it already is, and that this would not be a good thing, never seems to occur to such people.
What all of this shows is that while we are hardly in need of having the democratic element of our government fixed by a man who like his father is an admirer of Chinese Communist dictatorship, we are in urgent need of having our educational system, especially when it comes to the teaching of civics, repaired. The popular vote is a meaningless abstraction. When an election is called, it is not the ideological or partisan make up of the House of Commons for which people are supposed to be voting. They are supposed to be voting for the representative of their constituency. Thus, it makes no sense for a person to say “I’m not represented in Parliament because my party didn’t win a seat”. You are represented in the House of Commons as someone living in a constituency and not as a supporter of a party or a subscriber to an ideology – and this is a good thing. Your representative is the Member for your riding, whether you voted for him or not. Even though I can’t stand the jackass and his bloody socialist party, I know full well that Pat Martin is my representative in the House of Commons, because he is the Member for the constituency in which I live, as much as I find that fact intolerable.
Our Members of Parliament need this basic civics lesson as well. When a party puts forward a candidate in an election, he is running for the right to represent his constituency in Parliament on behalf of his party. This means that he is supposed to represent his party to his constituency in the election, but his constituency in the House if he wins. In other words, when campaigning for the votes of a riding, he is supposed to explain that he belongs to such and such a party which stands for such and such a platform. When sitting in the House as a Member, he is supposed to speak on behalf of the people who live in his constituency, including those who did not vote for him, work on their behalf, and protect their interests.
Of course the way the system works in practice does not always or perhaps even often resemble the way it is supposed to work but it would be no improvement to remove the reminder, once every so many years, that our politicians are supposed to be working on behalf of their constituency and tell them that they will now be sitting in Parliament only as representatives of their party and ideology. It is sheer madness to think otherwise.
Justin Trudeau, you can stick that in your joint and smoke it.
Evelyn Waugh, English novelist, satirist, Roman Catholic convert, and High Tory anarchist, stopped voting around the time of the Second World War. Christopher Sykes, his friend and biographer, wrote that he did so “on grounds of conscientious objection”. Waugh, according to Sykes, “maintained that it was disloyal presumption for a subject to advise the sovereign, even in the most indirect way, on the choice of ministers.” (1) In “Aspirations of a Mugwump”, his contribution to a symposium of election comments published by the Spectator in its October 2, 1959 issue, Waugh published this sentiment himself, expressing his hope “to see the Conservative Party return with a substantial majority” but saying that he himself “shall never vote unless a moral or religious issue is involved”. “In the last 300 years” he wrote “the Crown has adopted what seems to me a very hazardous process of choosing advisers: popular election” adding that by “usurping sovereignty the peoples of many civilized nations have incurred a restless and frustrated sense of responsibility which interferes with their proper work of earning their living and educating their children”. Ultimately he concludes that if he voted for the Conservative Party he would feel “morally inculpated in their follies” if they won and that he had “made submission to socialist oppression by admitting the validity of popular election if they lost” and so declared that “I do not aspire to advise my sovereign in her choice of subjects”. (2)
As a lifelong royalist Tory, my sentiments are largely in accordance with these but I have long been reluctant to follow Waugh’s example in practice. This year, however, Stephen Harper has finally decided the matter for me. Without denying the good accomplished on his watch – such as the restoration of “Royal” to the air force and navy and the scrapping of the long gun registry – the most important good accomplished in Parliament under the present government, the abolition of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, was accomplished through a private member’s bill without the help of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and, I must say, they gave every impression that it was against their wishes. Now that the Prime Minister has had his way, and Bill C-51, authorizing CSIS to invade the privacy of Canadians has passed the House and Senate, the evil this government has accomplished has so outweighed the good that I cannot in good conscience ever vote for them again.
This means that, barring a Libertarian or Christian Heritage candidate running in my riding – and neither party has run a candidate here in the last twenty years – I will never vote again. The Liberal Party will never, ever, ever have my vote. Founded as the party of free trade and continentalism – which the Conservative Party have adopted to their shame – it is the party of the so-called “Canadian nationalism” that would have our country turn its back on and forget its Loyalist heritage, its British traditions, institutions, and connections. It is the party that made an admirer of Communist dictator Mao Tse-Tung – Pierre Trudeau – its leader and then introduced political correctness to Canada when he and his sycophants in the media began accusing everyone of “racism”, “sexism”, and all other sorts of nasty-sounding “isms” for opposing his policies. While it calls itself by a name that suggests a belief in freedom, it launched a war against the basic freedom of Canadians to think and say what they want, and associate and do business with whom they want, when it passed the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1977. It partially legalized abortion in 1969, introduced same-sex marriage in 2005, and the present leader of the party, Justin Trudeau, son of the aforementioned Pierre, cracked the whip on his members last year declaring support for abortion to be mandatory for Liberal Members of Parliament. No, this party will never receive my vote, especially with a Trudeau at the helm.
As for the NDP – no thank you! Everything I most object to in the Liberal Party including its disrespect for Canada’s Loyalist heritage and British institutions and its political correctness is magnified to the nth degree in this party. Its supporters keep telling me that it speaks for “the working class”. If that is the case, why is it even more dead set against traditional morality and social arrangements, which have their strongest support in the working class, than the Liberals? When Justin Trudeau announced that nobody who is opposed to abortion would be allowed to run for the Liberals he made an exception for MPs already seated, and the creepy leader of the NDP condemned him for making this exception, saying that no NDP MP would ever vote against abortion. If the NDP speaks for Canadian workers why is it even more determined to replace them with immigrants than the other parties? Its platform calls for a quicker immigration process, with less hurdles, and with increased financial support for settlement, to be paid for from the taxes of those workers who the NDP supposedly speak for, and the NDP would like to see any worker who vocally objects to this charged with a hate crime. No, I would sooner die a terrible, excruciating, death from some horrible lingering disease than cast a vote for the NDP.
No, I think the time has come to follow Evelyn Waugh’s example and refrain from voting. As P. J. O’Rourke, adapting an old anarchist slogan put it in the title of a book a few years back, “don’t vote, it just encourages the bastards.” I will remain, as always, a loyal subject of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, but the ministers who abuse the powers they exercise in her name in Ottawa will never again be able to say they do so with my vote and approval.
(1) Christopher Sykes, Evelyn Waugh: A Biography, (New York: Penguin Books, 1977), p. 365.
(2) “Aspirations of a Mugwump”, reprinted in Donat Gallagher, ed., The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh, (New York: Penguin Books, 1983, 1986) p. 537.
The doctrine of creation is a non-negotiable element of the Christian faith. By the doctrine of creation, I mean that which is asserted in the first section of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
In the Creed, as in the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, the doctrine is properly formulated as a statement about God. It is not, whatever its implications for these matters might be, a statement about the age of the earth, the pre-history of mankind, or the interpretation of the fossil record. God is the subject, and what is predicated of Him is that He made everything else that exists.
The Creed asserts this of God the Father. Jesus Christ, as God the Son, is not part of the “all things visible and invisible” made by God the Father, but as the “only-begotten Son of God” shares the Father’s eternal nature and existence, thus the Creed asserts of Him that He is “begotten of the Father before all worlds” and that He is “begotten, not made”. It moreover identifies His role in Creation by saying of Him, in accordance with the third verse of the Gospel according to St. John and the sixteenth verse of St. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians “by whom all things were made”. So all things were made by God the Father, by or through, Jesus Christ the Son.
God the Holy Ghost, like Jesus Christ the Son, is not created but rather shares the eternal nature and being of God the Father from Whom He “proceedeth”, and therefore is “worshipped and glorified” with the Father and the Son.
The Nicene Creed is the most truly authoritative and “catholic” in the sense of belonging to the whole Church, of the ancient creeds or any other Christian confessions of faith. It is accepted by all the churches who can claim organic and organizational descent from the early undivided Church that formulated it, who traditionally recite it as part of the liturgy in the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and it is also accepted by the most orthodox of the sects and denominations of more recent founding. It was drawn up by the early, orthodox, Church to be a definitive statement of the faith taught by Christ’s Apostles, made in response to the myriad of heretical challenges to that faith that had sprung up in the first three centuries of Christian history. At the heart of these controversies was the Apostolic doctrine of Christ. The Docetists denied Christ’s humanity, the Arians denied His deity, and in one way or another each of these heresies denied what the Apostles had taught about Who Jesus Christ is. In these early heretical movements false teachings, of one sort or another, regarding creation, went hand in glove with their false teachings about the Person and Nature of Christ.
In 325 AD, the first ecumenical council of the Church since the council of Jerusalem recorded in the Book of Acts was convened at Nicaea in what is now Turkey, to address the controversy surrounding the teachings of Arius. Arius, a theologian in Alexandria, Egypt had taught that the Son of God was neither of the same substance as the Father, nor eternal. This had been condemned as heresy locally, at a regional council called by the Alexandrian Patriarch Alexander four years previously. By this time the heresy could not be contained regionally and so with the assistance of the deacon, Athanasius, who would later become his successor, Alexander made the case against Arianism at Nicaea. The council also condemned Arianism, and affirmed that the Son was “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father”. The confession of faith drafted and adopted at this council was the original version of the Nicene Creed, which was revised and expanded into the form still used in the East today, at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD and then into the form used in the West by the Third Council of Toledo in 589 AD.
The Arian controversy was primarily Christological, about the Person and Nature of Jesus Christ, but it also concerned the doctrine of creation in that by denying that Christ was eternal Arius made Him part of creation rather than Creator. This is why the Creed affirms that it is by Christ that all things were made and makes the distinction “begotten not made”. (1)
In the century prior to the Arian controversy another challenge to Apostolic orthodoxy had come from Marcion of Sinope. Marcion believed that the Old and New Testaments spoke of different Gods. The God of the New Testament, he taught, was the Supreme God, loving and God, whereas the God of the Old Testament was the lesser deity of wrath and vengeance, the Demiurge. The latter, he taught, created the physical world, which was entirely corrupt and evil, whereas the true God belonged to the higher, spiritual world. Christ, he taught, was pure spirit who took on the mere appearance of a man. This denial of the Incarnation, identical to the spirit of the antichrist of which St. John had written in the New Testament (2) was therefore inseparably connected to a denial of the doctrine of creation. These heretical teachings, to which the affirmation that God the Father is the “Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible” was orthodoxy’s response, were shared by the various sects and movements that are collectively referred to as “Gnosticism”.
This name given to these early foes of Apostolic orthodoxy is significant. It is derived from gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge. In Gnostic doctrine, salvation was usually conceived of as a process of enlightenment whereby the “divine spark” in man was liberated from its prison of corrupt matter through the achievement of gnosis or knowledge. In orthodox Christianity, salvation is equated with knowledge as well. In orthodox Christianity, this knowledge is the knowledge of God, through Jesus Christ, (3) to be proclaimed to the world in the Gospel and received through faith and the prison from which it ultimately liberates us is both spiritual and physical, the prison of sin and death. This saving knowledge is available to man precisely through that which the Gnostics denied, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. (4) The secret “knowledge” claimed by the Gnostics, the orthodox Church Fathers declared to be the “false knowledge” of which St. Paul wrote to Timothy. (5)
What makes this significant is that once again today it is widely denied, in the name of “knowledge”, that God, the Father Almighty, is “Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible”. We use the Latin equivalent to speak of this new “gnosis” and so call it “science”.
The new Gnostics are in many ways the mirror image of their predecessors. They do not demonize the physical world the way the Gnostics of old did, on the contrary they make it out to be the only world that exists, or at any rate the only world which can be known or is worth knowing. Salvation, to the new Gnostics, lies not in our liberation from the physical world but in our control over it.
Evolution is the name of the Demiurge to whom the new Gnostics ascribe the creation of the physical world - or at least the living things in it – rather than the true and living God. Just as the Christian doctrine of creation can only be properly understood as a statement about God – that God the Father, created everything that exists, through Jesus Christ the Son – rather than a statement about the age of the earth or the fossil record, so the Gnostic doctrine of evolution must be understood as a denial of the Christian doctrine - as the assertion that we, through the process of natural selection “made ourselves” in a world where order arises out of chaos by chance - rather than merely a set of observations, such as those made by Charles Darwin, about how species have adapted in order to survive.
The Church’s response to this challenge has been disappointing. Some theologians have reinterpreted the Christian teaching on creation to accommodate evolution – examples of this include theistic evolution, the Day-Age theory, and progressive creationism. Others have rejected evolution but in its place have accepted what they ironically call a “literal” understanding of the book of Genesis that includes interpretations that would never have occurred to anyone prior to the last 150 years, such as the idea that the “waters above the firmament” were some kind of vapour canopy that made the entire planet a tropical region prior to the Deluge. What the accommodationists and the “scientific creationists” have in common is that both have bowed their knees to the modern pagan idol of Science, accepted that false god’s claims to be the ultimate arbiter of what is true, and interpreted the words of the true and living God accordingly.
Science, however, in the modern sense of the word, has neither the right nor the ability to determine what is true and what is false. It is not about truth at all. Modern science, stripped of its exalted status, is merely the process of accumulating observations about the physical world, postulating theories on the basis of those observations, and conducting experiments to test those theories. The purpose of this process is not to arrive at truth. In the nineteenth century it was thought that to be scientific a theory had to be verifiable, that is to say, that it had to be able to be demonstrated true through experimentation. In the twentieth century, however, it came to be accepted, through the arguments of Sir Karl Popper, that to be scientific a theory must be falsifiable which means that it must be vulnerable to being shown to be false by further experimentation. This new understanding of what makes a theory scientific was intended to safeguard the integrity of the experimentation process against the formulation of theories that could not be overthrown regardless of the outcome of the experiment. Nevertheless it demonstrates that science is no reliable standard by which to judge truth, for by the standards of logic that which is falsifiable must also be false..
This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the history of modern science, the end of which has never been truth but power. “Knowledge is power”, Sir Francis Bacon said, and while he was speaking of the knowledge and power of God, he extended it to human knowledge by saying that it is by examining the world around us and learning about causes and effects that we will be able to bend nature to our will and produce the effects we desire. This is the true nature of what we have called “science” ever since. The true litmus test of whether a theory is scientific is not whether it is verifiable or falsifiable, but its utility. If science can produce a vehicle that can transport us through the air from one side of the world to the other in a fraction of the time it would have previously taken us then science has fulfilled its purpose and been of use to us regardless of whether the hypotheses with which it was working to produce the vehicle are later debunked.
Modern man in his neo-Gnosticism tends to equate utility with truth and justice. He looks at all that modern science has given us and concludes that since it has in so many ways enhanced our lives therefore everything it tells us is true and everything it does is right. This is a dangerous error. Truth and justice are immutable standards, external and transcendent, that impose limits upon man’s will and hold him accountable. Utilitarian science, however, recognizes no external limits upon man’s will in its endless search for newer ways to bend the world to that will. It is the duty of orthodox Christianity to insist upon these limits and to remind man that he is but a creature, a part of creation, subject to and accountable to the Creator in Whose image he was made.
This means re-affirming our faith in “one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible” against the new Gnosticism, that equates the utility of modern science with truth and justice, and declares that we through the process of natural selection (6), created ourselves, a theory which, like others of its era, (7) is merely man’s self-justification of his attempt to seat himself upon the throne of his Creator.
(1) The verb beget means to sire, to carry out a father’s role in reproduction. A father begets, a mother conceives and gives birth. Ordinarily, the word begotten suggests a point in time, a beginning. Fathers and mothers, however, in begetting and conceiving children, pass on their own nature to them. Eternity, having neither a beginning nor an end, is part of the nature of God, which Christ shares with His Father. Therefore when the Creed speaks of Christ as being begotten, this denotes an eternal relationship rather than an event in time.
(2) “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3)
(3) John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
(4) John 1:18, John 14: 8-9
(5) 1 Tim. 6:20
(6) The basic idea of natural selection, that a species adapts to a changing environment through the spread of traits that enhance its ability to fit in and survive and the disappearance of traits that hinder such, is merely an observation about the nature of life in the world. It is when it is expanded into an all-sufficient explanation of how we got here, with life supposedly developing from non-living material then gradually evolving into higher life forms, and ultimately us, that is becomes patently absurd.
(7) Such theories include positivism, the idea of progress, and the Whig theory of history.
A Protestant Christian, patriotic Canadian, and a reactionary High Tory with a libertarian streak, at the same time a monarchist, indeed a royal absolutist, and a minarchist.
You can e-mail me at gerrytneal(at)hotmail(dot)ca