Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Lessons of Poetry: Part One - The Crisis of Modern Education

In Mazo de la Roche’s Morning at Jalna, set in 1863, the second generation of the Whiteoaks are still children. Philip, the future heir of the estate and the father of the family’s entire third generation is still a baby, but his older siblings Augusta, the future Lady Buckley, and Nicholas and Ernest, familiar as the old uncles in most of the volumes of the series, are all in their formative years. Plans are made for them to be educated in boarding schools in England but in the mean time they have tutors at Jalna. At the start of the novel an Irishman named Madigan is their tutor but when, after being snared into marrying the daughter of a neighbour he jilts his bride on their honeymoon and disappears, she takes over his position. Shortly after the following ensues:

Lessons began the following morning and Mrs. Madigan declared that never in her life had she met with such ignorance. “Mr. Madigan really taught us nothing but Latin and poetry,” said Augusta.

“It’s what you call a classical education,” added Nicholas.

“And what good will such an education be to you in this country, I’d like to know?” asked Mrs. Madigan, her eyes piercing him like gimlets.

No answer is given to this question, alas, and Ernest then proves himself to be a poor advertisement for the merits of classical education by confusing the date of the year of Columbus’ discovery of America with that of the Battle of Hastings and confidently asserting Charles Lever’s authorship of the works of Shakespeare.

The best answer to those who, like Mrs. Madigan, question the good of classical education is to contrast it with that which has replaced it. Nobody could put that contrast better than the late Joseph Sobran who was fond of saying that “in one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college.” Today in North America and indeed throughout the Western world the law requires that all young people attend school up to a certain age and for most children this means attendance at a taxpayer-funded, bureaucrat-controlled institution. These institutions, which have been laboratories for progressive experimentation for decades now, have become increasingly standardized as more and more control over school curricula and activities has been taken from parents and local trustees who answer to them and placed in the hands of bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education. The more complete the standardization, the more the state schools seem to exist for no purpose other than to churn out the kind of people Nietzsche would have described as “die letzten Menschen”. Those parents who, understandably, want something better than this for their children have the limited options of home or parochial schooling, or, if they have the means, private schooling. Only in these alternatives is classical learning - or at least a near approximation - available today.

That there is a serious problem with the present educational system is widely recognized. As with any illness, however, if it is not properly diagnosed, the proposed treatment may be as bad or worse than the disease. There are many who rightly object to the way the public schools are being used to indoctrinate children with egalitarian dogma and socialize them into the new, hypersensitive, politically correct, multicultural, order who can visualize an alternative only in terms of vocational training. In other words they think that the sole or primary purpose of the schools ought to be to prepare students to get jobs and earn their living or, a variation on this theme, to get better jobs and earn a higher living than they would be able to otherwise. Important as learning a trade or profession undoubtedly is, an educational system that makes this its primary goal is no real alternative to the present system. It, as much as the other, would merely prepare its students to be unthinking cogs in an economic and social machine.

Classical educators had very different goals. They attempted to instil wisdom and not just facts, to train their students to make qualitative and not just quantitative judgements, to develop virtue and good character and not just useful sets of skills. They sought to prepare their students, not for places within a mass society that functions like a machine, but to be free subjects of their Sovereign – or free citizens of the republic if they had the misfortunate to live in a polity of that nature – by forming through its disciplines the habits of mind essential to mature, responsible, freedom. This is why the traditional subjects of a classical education are called the liberal arts. That is “liberal” in the sense of “appropriate for a freeman” not in the sense of “progressive egalitarian democrat”. These were more than just “Latin and poetry”, of course, although “Latin and poetry” can be taken as a fair way of summarizing grammar, the first and most basic of the three elements that comprise the trivium, the foundation of classical education. (1)

The idea that learning dead tongues like Latin and classical Greek and the memorization and recital of poetry ought to be central to the most basic stage of the education of the free subject will strike many today as being quaint and archaic. Let us leave an inquiry into the importance of Greek and Latin for another time, (2) and for now we will consider the importance of the lessons which poetry has for us.

The basic arguments for having children memorize poetry are that it trains the memory, builds vocabulary and syntax, and, in the words of Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mind, through it students “internalize rhythmic, beautiful patterns of English language” which become “part of the student’s ‘language store,’ those wells of language that we all use every day in writing and speaking”. (3) It is also the way in which poets are made. This is true regardless of which side you come down on in the old classical v. romantic debate about whether good poetry is defined by rules and forms or springs up from inspiration within you. Learning poetry by heart is both an excellent way of mastering rules and forms and, if poetry is something that bubbles up from the heart like water from a flowing well, of filling that well in the first place. The irrefutable evidence for this assertion is the dearth of good poetry written since the advent of modern, progressive, technological education. Bilge, like that written by the late Maya Angelou, does not count.

Learning poetry is important for another reason, however, and it is this reason which I wish to emphasize. Tradition, by which I mean the wisdom distilled from the accumulated experience of past generations and passed down to us that we may benefit from it ourselves, hopefully add to it, and pass it on to future generations, is a rich heritage containing many valuable lessons. Poetry is an indispensable vessel for the transmission of this wisdom. Michael Oakeshott pointed out years ago that although the modern rationalism that now permeates all disciplines tries to reduce all knowledge to the technical and living tradition to rigid ideology, the greater part of human wisdom cannot be reduced to either the technical or ideological. In a similar vein it can be said that much wisdom can be communicated in verse which simply cannot be adequately expressed in prose. The ancients knew this which is one of the reasons why from the very beginning of the Great Tradition, its language has so often been that of poetry, from that of the epics of Homer and Virgil to that of the odes of Pindar and Horace, from that of the Psalms of David to that of the tragedies of Sophocles and Seneca.

To say that the greater, more valuable, part of human knowledge and wisdom can only be expressed in the metric language of poetry rather than the technical language of the natural sciences is to expose the vastness of the gulf that exists between the classical and the modern mind. Technically-oriented training produces minds that seem incapable of viewing goodness, truth, or beauty except through the lens of utility or usefulness, something which could hardly have been said of the kind of education that formed the minds of Shakespeare and Jonson, Donne and Herbert, Pope and Johnson, Scott, Coleridge, Southey, and Wordsworth, Hunt and Tennyson, Pound, Yeats and Eliot.

In Part Two we will consider a popular interpretation of an important historical conflict of the last century and the adverse effects this interpretation has had by creating a paradigm into which many have sought to fit subsequent conflicts and we will hold that interpretation up to be judged by the light of the lessons of the poetry of the Great Tradition.

(1) Logic and rhetoric are the other two. The quadrivium, consisting of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, with the trivium, form the seven classical liberal arts.

(2) You can find arguments for the study of classical languages and literature in Victor Davis Hanson’s Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (New York: Encounter Books, 2001) and E. Christian Kopff’s The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition (Wilmington: ISI Books, 1999). Or, if you want it in a nutshell, Dorothy L. Sayers put it this way: “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 labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least fifty percent. It is the key to the vocabulary and 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 civilization, together with all its historical documents.” That is from her “The Lost Tools of Learning” which can be read online here:


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Equality is not Justice and Justice is not Equality

Western civilization in its classical and Christian manifestations saw the Good as being the chief end for which human beings, individually and as a collective whole, were to strive. Goodness, like the closely related ideas of Truth and Beauty, was what it was in itself rather than whatever we decided it to be, and it was something we were to seek after and discover. Justice, the condition and act of being and doing what is right, was the particular aspect of Goodness that was the end for which man organized his societies politically, that is to say under law and government.

Today, Western civilization has passed through its Modern era into what is called the Postmodern age, although Übermodern would probably be a more apt term for it as it takes the traits of the modern and magnifies them to the nth degree. In these eras, Justice has been supplanted by a usurper. The name of this usurper is Equality although it sometimes tries to steal the name of Justice as well as its position. Whenever, for example, you hear “Justice” spoken of with “Social” as a modifier then you can be sure that it is this modern Pretender that is being spoken of and not true and legitimate Justice.

The superficial similarities between Equality and certain aspects of Justice are such that the differences between the two need to be made absolutely clear so as to avoid confusion. Equality is the idea that in some way or another people either are or ought to be all the same and therefore should be treated the same way. Justice is the idea that all people ought to be treated right.

It is easy to see how the confusion between the two concepts can arise. If we start with Justice’s assertion that all people ought to be treated right we can see that it is saying in a sense that all people ought to be treated the same way, that is to say, rightly. It is when we start with Equality’s assertion that all people ought to be treated the same way that a problem becomes apparent because we cannot from this assertion derive any sense of the idea that all people should be treated right. This is because treating people right and treating people the same are not identical concepts. Often to treat two people right means to treat each differently.

Allow me to illustrate what I mean by this. If you were to come across a stranger in need and welcome him into your home, treating him as if he were a member of your family, your actions would meet with widespread acclamation and you would find yourself toasted for your generosity, liberality, warm-hearted humanity, and countless other virtues. If, however, your own father, who begat you and lovingly raised you, who provided you with everything you need and gave you your start in life, were to come to you and you were to turn him aside and treat him as a perfect stranger, you would find yourself rightly condemned as a cold-blooded ingrate. In the latter instance as in the former you will have treated people the same way whether they were family members or strangers. In the second instance, however, you will not have done right by doing so.

This, by the way, is the difference between the image and the reality of Equality. Equality projects the image of treating strangers like they were family, but its reality is the treating of family members as if they were strangers.

Equality is sometimes confused with the idea that within a country the law should be the same for all people, governors and governed alike. This idea is a fundamental principle of our legal tradition. Although the principle is often spoken of as isonomy or “equality under law” there is an important difference between it and the concept of Equality. The difference is that whereas the latter asserts that all the people under the law are the same, the principle asserts that the law is the same for all people. This is not a matter of semantics. When we say that the law is the same for all people we are saying that the law is one and it is this, the unity of the law, that is the essence of the principle. To assert that it is the people, who are many, that are the same is to assert nonsense.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident”, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the preamble to the American Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal.” No greater statement of utter tripe and poppycock has ever been penned. To say that all men are created equal is to say that all men are created the same. Apart from the most peripheral and trivial of matters – that we are all born and all die, that we all have two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two arms, two legs, ten fingers, ten toes, etc. - this is patently untrue. In matters of ability, both physical and mental, personality, quality, and character human beings are like the proverbial snowflake – no two are identical. Nor would any sane person want them to be.

“We are all equal”, those who have been conditioned to accept without question the doctrine of Equality might object to my reasoning above, “in terms of our worth or value.” While that sounds very nice and may give us warm, fuzzy, tingly feelings inside, it does not bear up under scrutiny. The words “worth” and “value” are marketplace words. They can refer to the amount that you are willing to pay for something if you are a prospective buyer, or the amount that you are willing to receive in exchange for something if you are a prospective seller. They can also refer to the intrinsic qualities of the objects upon which the buyer and seller base their decision as to how much they are willing to pay or accept. (1) To say that all people are of equal value, therefore, is either to reduce all people to the level of commodities for sale in the marketplace, which is hardly in keeping with the humanitarianism professed by most egalitarians who in other contexts would most strenuously object to the objectification of people, or to assert them to be equal in terms of some intrinsic quality that is unobservable to ordinary human beings for in all observable intrinsic qualities people are definitely not equal.

That unobservable intrinsic quality is sometimes further described as being our “worth in God’s eyes”. This is tautological, providing us with no new information about what that quality might be, for if it is unobservable to the human eye, who else can see it but God? More importantly, one would be hard pressed to find evidence for this concept in authoritative divine revelation.

The God Who revealed Himself in the words of the Christian Scriptures and in the Person of Jesus Christ is a God of Justice not of Equality. While He holds men accountable to the single standard which is His Law, He holds them accountable in varying degrees in accordance with whether they have received His Law in full or only partly through their consciences. (2) He has given men One mediator through Whom grace, mercy, and salvation can be received because it is only through the cross of Jesus Christ that He can be “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (3) In the Church which is His body, there is “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female”, not because these distinctions are unimportant or are to be eliminated but because “ye are all one in Christ Jesus”. (4) As with the concept of the “one law for all” in our legal tradition, it is unity – the unity of God’s Law, His Gospel, and His Church and, of course, of the One True and Living God Himself – that is taught in those passages and verses that are sometimes misconstrued as teaching egalitarianism. The God of the Christian Scriptures created people differently, giving each their own abilities, qualities, talents, and gifts, and while He holds all people accountable to one Law, He holds each person accountable for the use made of what was given him in particular. That is the difference between Justice and Equality.

(1) The difference between these two meanings of value is what Oscar Wilde alluded to in his famous quip about the cynic who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
(2) Romans 2
(3) Romans 3:26
(4) Galatians 3:28

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Give Up Freedom To Gain Perpetual War? No Thank You!

In times of conflict, when our country is at war, we are willing to tolerate such inconveniences, burdens, and abridgements of our rights and freedoms as are deemed to be necessary for the war effort. We recognize, in such times, that the good of our whole country must come first and that we must come together in support of those who are fighting on our behalf. Implicit in all of this, however, is the understanding that war is an exceptional circumstance and that the conditions of peace in which our rights and freedoms are not so curtailed are the norm.

This long-standing traditional consensus served us well down through the ages but in the last century it was torn apart by attacks coming from two different directions. While there have always been those who have defected from their society’s collective efforts in wartime in post-World War II conflicts these have occurred on a much larger scale as part of organized movements that have been driven by ideologies such as pacifism. From this direction the tradition that tells us to come together in unity when our country is at war has come under attack. The attack from the other direction is upon the tradition that tells us to make the conditions of peace the norm and it is this attack, and especially one particular form of this attack, that I wish to discuss here.

If the tradition under attack says that the conditions of peace in which the public are not overly burdened with rules and taxes and their customary rights and freedoms are not abridged are to be the norm then to attack this tradition is to say that the conditions appropriate for wartime are to be the norm instead. One way in which this occurred in the last century was that liberalism, the ideology that started in the so-called “Enlightenment” and came to dominate the Western world in the period known as the Modern Age, changed, at least in North America, in the period between the two World Wars. Until the First World War the ideas of John Locke, in which the need to protect the rights and liberties of the individual from the state was stressed, formed the most prominent strain in liberal thought. After the war the ideas of Jeremy Bentham, in which the role of the modern democratic state as the agent and instrument of utilitarian progress was emphasized, eclipsed those of Locke. The basis of this shift in liberal thought was the reasoning on the part of many liberals who served in administrative positions in the First World War that if the government can mobilize and organize society for the sake of the war effort in times of war then surely it can mobilize and organize society to achieve a better, more just, society in times of peace. This has certainly taken the liberty out of liberalism.

Another way in which governments, addicted to wartime powers, have resisted the tradition of reverting to the conditions of peace as the norm, has been to make conflict the norm rather than peace. About the time that liberalism underwent the shift described in the preceding paragraph liberals of the older type, including American historians such as Charles Beard and Harry Elmer Barnes, began to see a tendency in the foreign policy of the liberal American Presidents of the ‘30s and ‘40s towards holding up “freedom”, “democracy”, and “peace” as ideals while constantly mobilizing the country for war on behalf of those ideals. “Perpetual war for perpetual peace” was how Beard described this policy to Barnes, who borrowed the title for a anthology of essays he edited in 1953 that took a hard, critical, look at the policies of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. (1) Another of these older type liberals, who now called themselves libertarians, Murray N. Rothbard, observed that a “welfare-warfare state” had developed that both practiced the policy of perpetual war for perpetual peace and employed high levels of taxation, spending, and regulation for non-belligerent, progressive purposes in the Benthamite manner we have discussed. That a policy of perpetual war for perpetual peace could be used as a cover for collusion between military leaders and arms manufacturers for the sake of war profiteering on a whole new level made possible by the advent of mass production was a danger against which American President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his Farewell Address.

In the last decade and a half events have transpired that our governments have exploited to take the policy of perpetual war for perpetual peace to a whole new level.

Since the end of the Second World War the acknowledged leading country of the Western world has, for better or worse, been the United States of America. After the Cold War came to an end America and the West have become increasingly entangled in the conflicts of the Middle East. When, on September 11, 2001, the United States found herself the victim of a terrorist attack the American President at the time declared a “War on Terror”. As part of this “War on Terror” the American government created a powerful new agency, the Department of Homeland Security, charged with the task of preventing terrorist attacks on American soil, and the USA PATRIOT Act, which enhanced the investigatory powers of law enforcement and security agencies by removing such impediments as the need for a court order to search records, was rushed through Congress. Here in Canada Jean Chretien’s Liberals rushed similar legislation through Parliament in the form of the Anti-Terrorism Act of the fall of 2001.

The supporters of bills like these argued that they were necessary to remove obstructions that got in the way of security agencies and hindered them from doing their job of protecting us from the violence of terrorism. Critics and opponents of the same bills argued that these so-called obstructions were actually safeguards that protected Canadians and Americans against the misuse of government power and that to get rid of these safeguards is to abandon centuries of tradition, stretching back to before the founding of either the United States or Canada, in which these safeguards evolved to protect our rights and liberties, lives and persons. These critics were, of course, right. If we were to interpret every crisis that occurs as indicating a need for either enhanced government powers or a loosening of constitutional, prescriptive, and legal restraints on the use of government powers, very soon we would have an omnipotent state and no rights and freedoms worth speaking of.

Nobody made this case better than the late paleoconservative columnist Sam Francis, who in column after column took the administration of George W. Bush to task for such things as trying terrorism suspects before military tribunals rather than real courts, eavesdropping on confidential communications and issuing national id cards, creating the Department of Homeland Security, and putting police surveillance cameras throughout federal buildings in Washington D. C., as creating a slippery slope, whereby Americans would become accustomed to less rights, liberties, and constitutional protections and to being spied on by their government. Noting that the powers granted to the American government by the Patriot Act “are far larger than the government of any free people should have and that whatever powers this administration doesn’t use could still be used by future ones”, he pointed out that this “is how free peoples typically lose their freedom—not by a dictator like Saddam Hussein suddenly grabbing power in the night and seizing all the library records but by the slow erosion of the habits and mentality that enables freedom to exist at all” and concluded that the Bush administration was writing the last chapters in the story of American liberty.

Chretien’s Anti-Terrorism Act was no better. This Act utterly abandoned our country’s traditions of liberty and justice and allowed for people to be arrested and detained without charges, denied basic legal protections, and tried in secret without being guaranteed the opportunity to hear and respond to all the evidence against them, if the government were to determine them to be a threat to national security. This Act expired several years ago – legislation of this nature can only be enacted for five year periods – but, contrary to Kelly McParland’s claim in the National Post on February 2nd of this year, it did not expire without having been used. Among its other provisions was an amendment to the national security certificate provision of the Immigration Act that made possible an incident that was a shameful disgrace to our country.

An elderly man, who immigrated to Canada from Germany in the 1950s, who had never committed any violent crime here or elsewhere although he was the victim of terrorist attacks on the part of the followers of Rabbi Kahane, but who was repeatedly dragged through our courts for the “crime” of trying to spread the idea that accounts of atrocities committed by the other side in the Second World War still need to be revised to less resemble wartime propaganda, moved to the United States in order to escape this persecution. He married a woman there, applied for citizenship, and was arrested by United States Immigration who handed him over to our authorities, who issued a national security certificate against him. He was placed in solitary confinement and tried behind closed doors by a judge who refused to recuse himself, despite his obvious bias, and found guilty on the basis of evidence he was not allowed to hear in full, and was then sent to Germany, with our government knowing full well that the German government would arrest him upon landing, and sentence him to five years in prison for mere words that he said. This man, Ernst Zündel, was a noted admirer of a rather odious historical regime, but that did not make him a terrorist any more than Pierre Trudeau’s admiration for the even more odious Maoist regime in China, which, as was not the case with Zündel, was still around when Trudeau was doing the admiring, made the former Prime Minister a terrorist. It is certainly no excuse for treating the man with such blatant injustice.

Chretien’s Anti-Terrorism Act has, as we have noted, expired but our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, wishes to pass another one. Bill C-51, which has passed its second reading and been referred to the Standing Committee in the House, has several parts to it. The first, and the one most emphasized by the bill’s advocates and defenders, is the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act which tells other government agencies to share their information with those charged with protecting national security. This sounds reasonable at first, until you think about why government agencies were prevented from doing this in the first place. The fourth part is the one the bill’s detractors prefer to emphasize because it greatly enhances the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The bill’s supporters say this is to reduce threats to Canadian security, its detractors say that it is to enable CSIS to better spy on Canadians. Other parts of the bill include the Secure Air Travel Act, which authorizes the creation of a no-fly list and otherwise ensures that airport security will be even more of an obnoxious pain in the buttocks than it already is, and various amendments to the Criminal Code including one that makes mincemeat out of the traditional right to confront and challenge your accuser in court in the euphemistic name of the “protection of witnesses”.

This bill is an abomination and the vote on it should be a pretty good litmus test as to how much respect for Canadians and their traditional rights and freedoms our Members of Parliament and Senators possess. The present government was elected by supporters who were sick and tired of the way the Liberal Party was overtaxing and overregulating Canadians while showing complete disregard for our traditions, rights, and freedoms. Why then is it determined to establish a surveillance state? It is rather ironic that the most active opposition to this bill in the House seems to be coming from the party whose members can never speak about freedom without sounding like a Cold War era apparatchik spouting off about “the freedom loving people of the Soviet Union”.

The fact of the matter is that the “war on terrorism” is the ultimate form of “perpetual war for perpetual peace”. The enemy in this war is not a foreign government, with its own territory, that can be decisively conquered, defeated, or destroyed. No matter how many Cato the Elders we may find to punctuate their speeches with “terrorismo delenda est”, we will never be able to produce a single Scipio Africanus to conclusively defeat terrorism, or an Aemilianus to raze its stronghold to the ground, and sow its fields with salt, that it may never rise again. It is not that kind of an enemy. Terrorism can pop up anywhere at any time. A war against terrorism is a war that can never end. A government that wishes to constantly retain its wartime powers and abandon the traditional understanding that peace is to be the norm, not war, could find no better means of accomplishing this end, than by declaring a war on terrorism, and passing bills like C-51.

(1) The title was reused by the late, left-libertarian novelist and essayist Gore Vidal, for a collection of essays similarly criticizing the policies of more recent administrations in 2002.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mr. Harper, Tear Down This Wall!

Far too many Canadians today accept the myth that freedom is a demarcation point between our country and that of our neighbours to the south. Americans, we are told, believe in and place a high value upon freedom, whereas Canadians don’t. Liberals, who prove themselves most unworthy of their name by only believing in the kind of freedoms available in the society depicted in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and socialists, regard this as a point in our country’s favour. Neoconservatives, who believe strongly in individual liberty and the principle of democracy, regard this as our country’s shame. The premise which both the liberal/socialist left and the neoconservative right accept, however, is that freedom is an idea that is somehow inherently American and therefore foreign to Canada.

I don’t accept that premise. When the American Revolution divided the rebellious American colonies from the United Empire Loyalists it was not, no matter how much American propaganda tried to make it out to be, over freedom itself. King George III was no tyrant, nor was Parliament oppressing the thirteen colonies. Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great eighteenth century lexicographer, poet, essayist, and conversationalist, and a true blue Tory, ridiculed the talk about liberty coming from men who were themselves “drivers of slaves”. What divided the Americans from the Canadians, was not that the former believed in freedom and the latter did not, but different concepts of what freedom was and where it was to be found. The Americans were enamoured of the ideas that freedom is vested, first and foremost, in the individual, that only democratic, republican forms of government can safeguard individual liberty, and that such forms of government should be obtained through revolution if necessary. The Canadians believed that the conditions in which liberty can thrive and grow, are generated by the stability and order of a rooted society, whose civil and social institutions are grounded in prescription and tradition. Americans believed in rebellion, Canadians in loyalty, but both believed in freedom.

The United States of America, in other words, was founded upon liberal republicanism, the Dominion of Canada upon conservative Toryism. What is called neoconservatism today is a version of the former rather than the latter. Canadian neoconsevatives like to think that they introduced the concept of freedom or liberty into Canada, that it was foreign to the older Tory tradition, but this is not the case. As the greatest living proponent of conservative Toryism, Dr. Roger Scruton explained in his The Meaning of Conservatism three and a half decades ago, while traditional Tory conservatism is not about freedom per se, those things which Toryism does stand for – tradition, established authority, lasting institutions – provide the necessary context for a healthy form of freedom to develop and flourish.

Canada’s traditional Tories, while opposed to liberal republicanism, were not hostile to freedom. George Grant, Canada’s greatest conservative philosopher, in his brilliant treatise exposing the failure of modern liberalism to provide the justice it promises, English Speaking Justice, said that “liberalism in its generic form” is accepted by all decent men including conservatives, defining this generic form of liberalism as “the belief that political liberty is a central human good”. John Farthing, in his classic Tory defence of traditional Canada, Freedom Wears a Crown, treated freedom as being just that – a central human good – and argued that the foundation of freedom in Canada is her traditional order under the Crown-in-Parliament, and that attempts to replace that order with republicanism or majoritarian democracy were therefore as great of threats to the freedoms of Canadians as Soviet-style revolutionary dictatorship. Similarly, the Rt. Hon. John G. Diefenbaker, the last Prime Minister who was unmistakably a true, blue, classical Canadian Tory, in his 1972 collection of speeches, Those Things We Treasure, warned of how Canadian freedom was being endangered by the Trudeau government’s actions which undermined both Parliament and the monarchy.

“The Trudeau Government clearly does not believe in freedom”, Diefenbaker said in a speech entitled “A Time to Speak Out”, found in the second chapter “The Twilight of Liberty”. To support this claim, he points to a number of examples of authoritarian legislation, such as “an Act to establish a National Farm Products Marketing Council which will make farmers across Canada the pawns of bureaucrats.” There is one particular example I wish to focus on, however, and so will quote the former Premier at length:

The Trudeau Government seems to be dedicated to controlling the thinking of Canadians. Through the power being exerted by Pierre Juneau, as Chairman of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, private radio and T. V. station proprietors in Canada are frightened to speak, fearful of being subject to the cancellation of their licences. One such station was CKPM in Ottawa, which dared to have an open line program critical of the Government. Pierre Juneau did come before a Committee of the House and he uttered lachrymose words in reply to the criticism levelled at him that he wishes to determine what Canadians shall hear, and to deny them the right to listen to what they will. His attitude was different when he spoke to the Association of Private Broadcasting Companies and in effect stated: “When I ope my lips, let no dog bark.” Under him the broadcasting network owned by the people of Canada is allowed to broadcast what he permits.

The CRTC was a new agency at the time Diefenbaker spoke these words. It had been created by the Broadcasting Act passed by the Liberal government in 1968. Previous Canadian broadcasting legislation was moderate, pertaining primarily to the establishment of a public broadcaster (the CBC) in the 1930s and an agency to oversee that broadcaster. The CRTC, however, was created as a body that would have regulatory oversight over all radio and television broadcasting in Canada, private and public. The creation of the CRTC was very much part of a major twentieth century trend of creating large bureaucratic agencies with vast regulatory powers, overseen by Cabinet Ministers who answer to the Prime Minister, whose own accountability to the Crown-in-Parliament has been greatly diminished, thus in effect, transferring most of the powers of government away from the Parliamentary assembly that passes legislation with the authority of the Queen and into the hands of both the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and the bureaucratic agencies that extend their tentacles into every aspect of the everyday lives of Canadians. Men like Farthing and Diefenbaker were right in warning against the threat to Canada’s heritage of freedom posed by this trend.

As dangerous to traditional Canadian liberties as the growth of bureaucratic agencies, the government’s increasing reliance upon the multiplication of regulations rather than legislation, and the shift in power from the Crown and Parliament to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet at the head of the expansive bureaucracy, all are, the CRTC in particular poses a special threat due to the nature of the area over which it has been given regulatory powers. A fundamental principle of the Canadian political tradition and the British tradition in which the Canadian has its roots is that while behaviour conducted in public is appropriately subject to restriction by the Queen’s laws passed in Parliament, private thoughts and feelings are not. It is not the place of government to tell people what to think and feel. When the Parliament of Queen Elizabeth I passed laws requiring attendance at the services of the Church of England, they did not also require subscription to the tenets of the Anglican faith upon the part of anyone other than the clergy, and these were given considerable latitude in their interpretation of the 39 Articles. This is because church attendance was a matter of religion, and hence a public matter, subject to legislation, but questions of personal belief were matters of conscience, and hence private, outside of the jurisdiction of government.

Through the CRTC, Diefenbaker maintained, the Liberal government was violating this tradition by trying to control what Canadians thought. It was not the kind of overt thought control that takes place in totalitarian societies where you are in danger of being captured by the secret police and put in prison or worse if you dare express contraband opinions. It was a more subtle kind of thought control in which the agency would control the thoughts of Canadians by controlling the channels through which they gain access to the information necessary to form their thoughts. It was given power to regulate the new radio and television media, which were rapidly replacing the print media as the primary and often sole sources to which Canadians turned for information. That the new electronic media were replacing the traditional print media is itself cause for lamentation but that is a subject for another time. In 1976 the Telecommunications Act extended their jurisdiction over other telecommunications, such as telephone services, and changed the agency’s name to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, keeping the old initials.

The CRTC answers to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and its mandate is to oversee and regulate radio and television broadcasting in Canada (including satellite and cable) to ensure that the policy defined in Section 3(1) of the Broadcasting Act is followed. Most of this policy can be summed up in the concept of cultural protectionism. The first subsection calls for Canadian ownership and control of the Canadian broadcasting system, the sixth for maximum use of Canadian creative talent and resources. While cultural protectionism is not a concept I find objectionable – indeed, I would argue that it is necessary up to the point where it starts to generate provincialism and that it is particularly necessary for a country like ours whose only neighbour shares the same language – I would also argue that the CRTC has failed to achieve any of the legitimate goals of cultural protectionism and has failed to protect any Canadian culture worth protecting. If you read the novels of L. M. Montgomery, set in rural P.E.I. and telling the story of Anne Shirley of Green Gables from just before Confederation until the end of the First World War, the Chronicles of the Whiteoaks of Jalna by Mazo de la Roche, a saga set in rural Ontario from the 1850s to the 1950s, the humorous short stories of Stephen Leacock and Robertson Davies’ three trilogies of novels (especially the first two) you will find, whether the communities depicted be Presbyterian, Anglican, or a mixture of the two, a distinct, North American adaptation of British culture, that was at one time recognizable as the culture of English Canada. Today, apart from remnant traces in rural Canada, this culture has largely disappeared. It disappeared in the period in which the CRTC has had jurisdiction over the airwaves. Nor can the CRTC be viewed as a success if we consider the matter from the angle of what we most needed protection from, i.e., the flood of cultural sewage flowing from the film and music studios of Los Angeles, California that has swept away most of what was good and decent in the cultures of both the United States and Canada.

This is because the CRTC has been engaged in a completely different kind of cultural protectionism. If you look at the Broadcasting Policy set forth in the Broadcasting Act you will see that declares that private, community, and public broadcasting (the CBC) are all to be part of an integrated, unified, “Canadian broadcasting system” that will offer “information and analysis concerning Canada and other countries from a Canadian point of view”. Since it also talks in more than one place about promoting such things as “equal rights”, “linguistic duality”, and “multiculturalism” it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to say that when the Broadcasting Act speaks of “a Canadian point of view” what it really means is “the left-wing point of view of the Pearson and Trudeau Liberals”. What the CRTC, charged with the task of enforcing this policy, in which private and community broadcasters are to be in sync with the CBC in an integrated system, is really protecting, then, is not the culture of Canada, or even Canada’s traditional cultural plurality, but the left-wing cultural policies introduced by the Trudeau government. It protects these policies, by interfering with the spread of information that might cast those policies in an unfavourable light, and by discouraging and hindering dissent from those policies, by treating them as a fundamental, not-to-be questioned, element of the “Canadian point of view”, although they would have been unrecognizable to Canadians only a few years before they were introduced.

Almost forty years ago, the Trudeau government passed the Canadian Human Rights Act, and while the event made the news, for four decades the radio and television media maintained silence about the bill truly meant and what its consequences were. The bill forbade discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion, and a slew of other things, which, translated into the language of ancient and traditional rights and liberties, meant that it told Canadians they were no longer free to associate with or refuse to associate with whoever they wanted, do business or refuse to do business with whoever they wanted, and worst of all, thanks to the notorious Section 13, express their thoughts if those thoughts happened to reflect negatively on people protected by their race, religion, sex, etc. This was a major abridgement of basic Canadian prescriptive liberties done in the name of the Trudeau doctrine of multiculturalism. The bill established an agency to investigate complaints, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and a tribunal to hear complains, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The former conducted its investigations at the taxpayers’ expense, those brought before the latter were subject to stiff penalties yet had none of the basic protections available to defendants in ordinary courts. Provincial governments followed the Trudeau government’s example and established their own equivalents. These Stalinist kangaroo courts were and are a grotesque mockery of our country’s tradition of justice and freedom. Yet one would never have known that any of this was going on if one turned only to the CBC or its various privately owned clones, for one’s information. The traditional print media, not subject to CRTC oversight, would sometimes report these things, particularly the Alberta Report magazine. The average Canadian, however, was clueless about what was going on.

In many cases the information that was blacked out by the radio and television news media would have greatly altered the way a story that was prominent in the news was received and perceived. I will give one example of this. In the late 1990s, when Jean Chretien was promoting proposed legislation that would change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and a private member’s bill introduced by Svend Robinson that would add “sexual orientation” to the list of categories over which the Canadian Human Rights Act forbids discrimination, he promised out of the side of his mouth, that the rights of those whose faith teaches that sexual relations between members of the same sex is a sin would not be infringed upon, because religious rights are guaranteed in the Charter and religion is already a protected category in the CHRA. These promises received airtime all over the radio and television media. What was not covered was the fact that even as Chretien was speaking those words, Christians were being hauled before Human Rights Tribunals all over Canada and charged with discrimination for such things as refusing to help promote a cause contrary to their faith (Scott Brockie, Ontario), refusing to rent a single room to two men in the bed and breakfast they ran out of their own home (Dagmar and Arnost Cepica, PEI) or even purchasing ad space in a newspaper and filling it with references to Bible verses that condemned homosexuality (Hugh Owen, Saskatchewan).

For most of the last four years, an alternative to the CBC and its doppelgangers was available to cable and satellite subscribers in the Sun News Network. Affiliated with the Sun Media newspaper chain, Sun News offered a neoconservative perspective which, while perhaps not entirely to my Old Tory tastes, was a refreshing breathe of fresh air compared to stale views and stories available on the other networks. At least they believed in other freedoms than the freedom to screw and smoke whoever and whatever you wanted. Any number of stories, from the RCMP gun grab at High River to the attempts of activists in the Law Societies to force Trinity Western University to abandon her faith-based community covenant if she wished to open her new law school, received better coverage because Sun News was there both to investigate and report the facts about these stories herself and to keep the other stations accountable. It was also nice to have one station that did not bow down and worship everytime Justin Trudeau opens his mouth to say something vapid.

Sun News ceased broadcasting earlier this month because it had been losing money and its parent company, Quebecor Media, was unable to find a purchaser for it. Many believe that this is due to the CRTC’s decision not to grant them Category-1, mandatory carry, status when they applied for it in 2013, and that that decision was made by the CRTC to deliberately kill the station. Whether or not that is the case, I will leave it to others to say, although it would not surprise me as Sun News certainly did not fit in to the unified and uniform “Canadian broadcasting system”, that the CRTC seeks to protect. What I will say about it is that Sun News showed, in its four years of broadcasting, why it is important that points of view other than those offered by the CBC and approved by the CRTC be available. Now that Sun News is gone it is imperative that the CRTC’s stranglehold over the channels of information available to Canadians be broken.

The present Prime Minister has claimed all his political life to be a believer in freedom. Since becoming Prime Minister he has restored some of the symbols of the older Canadian tradition, the foundation upon which traditional Canadian freedoms rested. His current efforts to meet the threat of terrorism by expanding the powers of CSIS rather than deal with the Trudeau-era immigration and multiculturalism policies that render us vulnerable provide us with good reason to question his commitment to Canadian tradition and freedom. If he truly believes in freedom he must prove it by doing something substantial towards restoring the freedom we have lost. The CRTC, far from being a protective barrier preserving Canadian culture from being swamped by foreign and especially American culture, has failed to preserve the best of Canadian culture while allowing the worst filth from Hollywood in. It has instead become a wall between Canadians and the information they need about what has been done to their culture, traditions, and freedoms, in order to protect what is left and restore what is lost. To borrow and adapt some famous words from the last decent man to hold the office of American President, Mr. Harper, tear down this wall!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Remembering a Philosopher-King

It has long been recognized that there are two ways in which civilization can break down into barbaric conditions. The rule of law can collapse altogether leaving ordinary citizens powerless against the criminal elements that now call the shots. This is called anarchy. Or the state can become intrusive and controlling, curtailing its people’s freedoms, dictating their everyday decisions, and ruling by sheer force in an atmosphere of fear. This is called tyranny. It has also long been recognized that there is a cyclical pattern to the rise and fall of civilizations in which after civilization breaks down into one of these conditions for a period, the other emerges in response, and eventually a new civilization is born out of the rubble.

What if, however, civilization were to break down in both ways simultaneously and the same state was to fail in providing the basic protection of the law on the one hand, while tyrannically harassing and abusing its people on the other? Twenty years ago one of the greatest American political thinkers of the last half of the twentieth century saw this happening in the United States and all around the Western world and coined a term to describe it – anarchotyranny, the synthesis of anarchy and tyranny. On February 15th, ten years ago, he passed away due to complications following heart surgery at the age of 57. His name was Sam Francis.

Sam Francis was far more than just the man who thought up a clever name for this phenomenon – he was also its chief chronicler, analyst, and critic. In his twice-weekly column, syndicated by Creators but carried by far fewer newspapers than it ought to have been for reasons we will shortly get into, he provided a bold, uncompromising, commentary, expressed in a dry, sardonic wit that was perfectly complemented by the way he seemed to look out at you with amused disdain through his heavy glasses in the publicity photo attached to his column, on the news and issues of the day and the narrative beneath the news and issues – the ongoing war being waged by those presently in power in the West and particularly in the United States on the traditions, cultures, symbols, and ways of life of Western peoples. Nor did he shy away from addressing the taboo aspect of this subject, the racial element.

Dr. Samuel Todd Francis was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 29, 1947, and it was in Chattanooga that he was raised and where as a young prodigy his literary talents and brilliant mind first gained attention. It was also in the Scenic City, under the Appalachian mountains, that he was finally laid to rest in 2005. He studied English literature at John Hopkins University in Baltimore before taking his Ph.D in history from the University of North Carolina.

It was at Chapel Hill that he became acquainted with two of his fellow students, the classicist Thomas Fleming and the historian Clyde Wilson. These men would become his lifelong colleagues. They worked together on the Southern Partisan, a conservative quarterly that was started up in the late 1970s in the spirit of the Vanderbilt Agrarians. Each contributed to The New Right Papers, a 1982 anthology put together by Robert W. Whitaker. Their most significant collaboration however was in Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, founded by Leopold Tyrmand in 1976 and published by the Rockford Institute of Rockford, Illinois. Thomas Fleming became the editor of Chronicles following Tyrmand’s death in 1985. Clyde Wilson is an associate editor, and until his passing Sam Francis was the magazine’s Washington or political editor. Under the direction of these men Chronicles became the flagship publication of paleoconservatism which, in opposition to the neoconservatives who were calling for a Pax Americana, a new world order in which the United States would use its military might to export liberal, capitalist, democracy to the farthest parts of the globe, called American conservatism back to its roots in the Burkean traditionalism of Russell Kirk and the small-r republicanism of the American Old Right that had opposed the New Deal, American entanglement in foreign conflicts, and the development of the “welfare-warfare state”. This was very much bucking the trend in the larger American conservative movement. As the neoconservative viewpoint came to increasingly dominate the movement, conservative writers who having opposed mass, demographics-altering, immigration, both legal and illegal, criticized Israel and objected to America’s being drawn into wars in the Middle East on her behalf, called for a rollback of the American federal government to its constitutional limits, refused to concede the victories of liberalism in the culture wars, and otherwise offended the neoconservatives, found themselves exiled from the pages of National Review and other mainstream conservative publications. Chronicles became a place of sanctuary for these writers. By the middle of the 1990s it was a sanctuary Dr. Francis was himself in need of.

Up to that point his career as a thinker within the American conservative movement had been quite successful. It had three basic stages. In 1977 he joined the Heritage Foundation, a Washington D. C. think tank that had been founded four years earlier by New Right activist Paul Weyrich and Edwin Feulner with money put up by beer baron Joseph Coors. Dr. Francis was hired as a policy analyst in the fields of intelligence and security, particularly with regards to the threat of terrorism as a strategy employed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

In 1981, following the publication of his The Soviet Strategy of Terror, he left the Heritage Foundation to take a position as legislative assistant to Senator John P. East, R-North Carolina. It was as an expert on national security matters that he was hired to this position but, interestingly, in the course of his work for East he was called upon to write a document that both required this expertise yet also had to do with the cultural and racial concerns on which his later, and lasting, fame rests. In 1983, US President Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill that made the third Monday in January into an American national holiday in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. The bill had been hotly debated, and leading the opposition to the holiday was the other Republican Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms. Senator East worked closely with his colleague and mentor in the campaign against this ridiculous holiday and on October 3, 1983, Helms read out in Congress a paper written by Dr. Francis that documented King’s collaboration with Soviet agents and Communist fronts.

Dr. Francis worked for Senator East until the latter’s death in 1986 at which point he joined the staff of the Washington Times. He served the newspaper as an editorial writer, opinion columnist, and editor and it was here that his career started to really take off. His column was nationally syndicated, and his articles won him the Distinguished Writing Award in 1989 and 1990. He was runner up for another award both those years as well. Then, in 1995 all of that came to an end.

It started with his column for June 27, 1995, entitled “All Those Things to Apologize For”. Written one week after the Southern Baptist Convention issued a grovelling apology for the stance they had taken 150 years previously in the controversy over slavery that divided them from the Northern Baptists, this column pointed out that the Baptists were making a big deal about repenting for something never condemned as a sin by the Bible. “Neither Jesus nor the apostles nor the early church condemned slavery,” he wrote, “despite countless opportunities to do so, and there is no indication that slavery is contrary to Christian ethics or that any serious theologian before modern times ever thought it was”. All of this is true. Unfortunately, it is the kind of truth that people in this era cannot bear to hear.

Dr. Francis was not arguing for slavery. He was arguing against what he called a “bastardized version of Christian ethics”, that had appeared in the 18th Century and had so permeated the churches that they “now spend more time preaching against apartheid and colonialism than they do against real sins such as pinching secretaries and pilfering from the office coffee-pool.” He observed, correctly, that to read the abolitionist message into the New Testament and dismiss the passages that tell bond-servants to obey their masters as irrelevant is to undermine the authority of passages that “enjoin other social responsibilities.” These truths were especially embarrassing to the kind of Christians who, on the one hand pride themselves on the Christian roots of abolitionism, while on the other hand trying to defend what remains of traditional authority and order against the modernizing influences of those who see the abolitionist movement as the first stage in their perpetual revolution against the “slavery” of marriage, family, and traditional morality.

This embarrassment proved too much for Wesley Pruden, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief. He rebuked and demoted Dr. Francis, cut his salary, and began censoring his columns. In September of that same year, he fired Dr. Francis outright. This time it was not over something he had written in a column but something he had said in a speech the year previously.

In May of 1994, American Renaissance, a monthly periodical devoted to matters of race, intelligence, and immigration hosted its first conference and Dr. Francis was invited to speak. He gave a message entitled “Why Race Matters”, the text of which was later published as an article in the September 1994 issue of American Renaissance. In this speech, he talked about how the culture of Western countries, especially the United States and in particular the South had come under attack, with traditional symbols being attacked, demonized, and replaced, how anti-racism was an effective strategy in a campaign being waged against the white race, how whites themselves were digging “their own racial and civilization grave” through liberalism and leftism, and that a merely cultural strategy in defence of Western civilization would not be sufficient – there needs to be conscious racial element to Western identity as well. He said:

The civilization that we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people, nor is there any reason to believe that the civilization can be successfully transmitted to a different people.

This is so obviously true that one wonders that it needs to be stated. Nevertheless, it was the last straw for Wesley Pruden. The way in which Pruden learned of the remark did not help matters. Dinesh D’Souza, who had attended the conference, wrote a book, The End of Racism, which was published in 1995. D’Souza’s book discussed many of the same issues American Renaissance specializes in, and often took positions similar to theirs. D’Souza was, however, a firm believer in propositional nationalism and the ideal of the United States as a “universal nation”, who objected very much to the idea of defending Western civilization in explicitly racial terms. The chapter in which he talked about the conference contained many distortions – even after D’Souza was force to rewrite the chapter when Jared Taylor and Lawrence Auster, along with Dr. Francis, wrote to the publisher to complain of the many ways in which D’Souza had twisted their words. In September of 1995, at the time the book finally saw print and reviews were beginning to appear, an article by D’Souza about the American Renaissance conference appeared in the Washington Post. D’Souza selectively quoted from Dr. Francis’ speech and presented the quotes in a very unfavourable light. And so, Dr. Francis lost his job at the Washington Times.

He remained on the editorial staff of Chronicles, of course, to which he contributed each month, either his “Principalities and Powers” column or a book review or feature article. The Creators Syndicate continued to distribute his column. In the latter he offered his commentary on the news of the day and, while immigration was the issue that he most frequently addressed, he covered a broad gamut of topics, including free trade and globalization, gun control, and the erosion of civil liberties. He supported the presidential candidacies of his friend Patrick Buchanan and kept a watchful eye on the doings of those who actually made it to the White House. Scathing as his criticism of the Clinton administration was, he was no less severe in his assessment of George W. Bush. He contrasted the way in which the Bush administration had expanded its policing powers, undermining the civil liberties of Americans in the process, by means of antiterrorist legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act, with the way in which it refused to use its existing, lawful, powers to control immigration, this contrast being a classic example of anarchotyranny. In 2002 he wrote several columns against the Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq and when that invasion took place saw his arguments more than justified. His arguments against the war were far more sane, sensible, and interesting than either the neocon arguments for the war or the blithering banalities uttered against it by the left-wing peaceniks. His final column was about George W. Bush’s second inaugural speech and it concluded by saying that Bush had “confirmed once and for all that the neo-conservatism to which he has delivered his administration and the country is fundamentally indistinguishable from the liberalism many conservatives imagine he has renounced and defeated.”

In his Chronicles column, where he had more space to work with, he discussed the same topics at a deeper level. From James Burnham, about whose ideas he had written a book, he had learned much about the nature of power and the elites who inevitably hold it, including the present elite of technocratic managers who preside over the dismantling of the traditions, culture, and civilization of Western societies and rationalize their actions with the universalistic ideology of liberalism. From liberal sociologist Donald Warren he had gleaned insights into how the alliance of the uppermost and lowermost classes in the welfare state was putting the squeeze on the middle class, radicalizing what is ordinarily the most stable of classes, and thus generating a support base that a populist movement could use against the elites. From these insights, Dr. Francis framed his argument for such a populist “revolt from the middle”, bending the cold, hard, theory of Machiavellian power politics to serve ends that were anything but cold and hard – those of the cause of white, middle class Americans, who were seeing everything they held dear, their culture and religion, traditions and way of life, on every level from the regional to the national, including the constitution of their republic and their habits and institutions of freedom, being mercilessly swept away by elites they seemed powerless to stop. First in the New Right that brought Ronald Reagan into power, and later in the movement that failed to deliver the presidency to Pat Buchanan, he had found movements that could potentially achieve his ends. The dilemma for which he was seeking a solution to the very end of his life, as can be seen in his last “Principalities and Powers” article entitled “Towards a Hard Right”, was how such a movement could gain success without being sidetracked from its goals by corporate globalists dangling the carrot of the free market before its eyes.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day of Infamy

“A date which will live in infamy” is what United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously declared of December 7, 1941. That, as I am sure you are all aware, was the day that Imperial Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. What you may not be aware is that even while FDR was expressing his outrage in the only words he ever spoke in which his rhetoric approached the eloquence of that of Sir Winston Churchill – the creepy, grinning, invalid never came remotely close to approaching the class of the scion of Marlborough – inwardly, he was rejoicing. He had spent the good part of a year trying to manoeuvre Japan into attacking the United States so that he could use war with Japan as a backdoor to enter the war with Germany. He believed it was his destiny to lead his country into a war that sweep away not only the fascist regimes in Germany and Italy, but the reactionary empires of Britain and France as well, paving the way for a new world that would be led by the progressive, young, forward-looking countries, namely his own and the Soviet Union. Knowing that his own people objected to the idea of becoming involved in yet another European war he settled upon this devious method to attain his ambitions. In doing so he achieved a whole new level of chicanery, albeit one that he would shortly surpass when he promised the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, having secured his agreement not to make this known before the next Presidential election (he did not want to alienate Polish voters), that the USSR could keep the country, for whose freedom Britain and France had gone to war with Germany, after the war was over. (1)

Today there is much celebration going on in Canada over the fiftieth anniversary of a date which truly deserves to live in infamy. February 15, 1965 was the day that the present Maple Leaf flag replaced the Canadian Red Ensign as the official flag of Canada through the actions of a politician who was no less of a scoundrel than FDR, our Prime Minister at the time, Lester Bowles (“Mike”) Pearson.

This change was completely unnecessary. As a true Canadian patriot, the man who led the opposition to the change in Parliament when it occurred, former Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader John G. Diefenbaker explained:

Canada had a flag. It flew over the Headquarters of the Canadian Corps in France in 1918. A meeting of the Mackenzie King Cabinet on 27 October 1943 decided that our army should fly the Canadian red ensign wherever Canadian forces were serving with the forces of other nations. It was officially recognized as Canada’s flag by Order-in-Council in 1945. On 12 November 1951 Mr. St. Laurent in reply to the question: “What steps are being taken by the government with respect to the adopting of a distinctive national flag?” answered: “See Order-in-Council P.C. 5888 of September 5, 1945.” Canada had a flag, a flag ennobled by heroes’ blood. (2)

The flag Diefenbaker was talking about was a solid red flag that contained a Union Jack in the canton and the Canadian Shield of Arms in the fly. The Shield is divided into five parts, the top left containing the three golden lions of England, the top right containing the red lion of Scotland, beneath these are the harp of Ireland on the left and the fleur-de-lis on the right, with the fifth section at the bottom containing three maple leaves branching off from a single stem. The leaves were initially green with black veins but this was later changed to red with gold veins. The province of Ontario and my own province of Manitoba have similar flags with the provincial shields substituted for the national one. When talk of changing the flag began proposals included variations on the Red Ensign theme in which the shield would be replaced by a large gold maple leaf or a large fleur-de-lis. The latter was put forward by Diefenbaker. None of these proposals was acceptable to Pearson, however, who wanted the Union Jack eliminated from the flag altogether.

Pearson, you see, although he claimed to be motivated by patriotism and nationalism – we are our own country and should have our own flag that does not borrow from those of other countries – showed that he had no real respect for the country he was governing, its traditions, heritage, and institutions. The rebellion of the thirteen American colonies in the eighteenth century eventually produced two countries because it divided English speaking North America between those who wished to cut off ties to the mother country through violent revolution and to build an entirely new country on a model they would draw up for themselves based upon liberal, republican, principles and those who wished to remain loyal to the mother country, not to participate in this revolution, and to build their own country in North America within the old tradition, adapting the British model to suit their own needs. The former built the federal republic of the United States of America. The latter built the Dominion of Canada. It too is a federation, albeit of provinces rather than states, with its own parliament under the monarch it shares with Britain. As Prime Minister Diefenbaker wonderfully put it in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 1960:

We were the first country which evolved, over a hundred years ago, by constitutional processes from colonial status to independence without severing the family connection. (3)

Pearson never really understood or respected this. He believed that for Canada to truly be its own nation it would have to throw off its Britishness and remake itself entirely on its own. This, of course, was very similar to the attitude of the Americans which had originally divided them from the Canadians. Ever since the Pearson Liberals – and the Trudeau Liberals after them – set out on this course of reshaping the country, Canadians have been trying to define what makes us different from Americans and many have opted for stupid and unworthy things. In the Cold War, which pitted the United States as the avatar of capitalism against the Soviet Union as the avatar of socialism, many latched on to socialism as the distinguishing characteristic, despite the fact that the Conservative and Liberal parties, the only two parties ever to have formed the federal government in Canada, were both firmly opposed to socialism until well into the 20th Century, that such socialist measures as progressive income taxation and the “New Deal” were both introduced in the United States before their equivalent was introduced in Canada, and that the Canadian government of R. B. Bennett was actively engaged in combating the Red Menace in the 1930s at a time when the American President was recognizing the Bolshevik government in Moscow and recalling ambassadors that did not portray Stalin and his show trials in a positive light in their reports. Before Pearson changed the flag, Canadians understood what made them Canadian rather than American and it was something positive – loyalty, being true to heritage, tradition, roots, and “the family connection” rather than engaging in ideological revolution, and an adapted version of common law and parliamentary monarchy – rather than something vile like socialism.

Pearson’s supposed patriotism and nationalism was, therefore, nothing of the sort. It was rather what John Farthing called “the pure Canada cult”. Farthing, writing a decade before Pearson changed the flag, described the emergence of this cult which sought to define Canada purely by geography rather than history and tradition, and to exclude from the new Canada traditions which had been imported from elsewhere. Inconsistently, however:

[A]ccording to the peculiar logic of the new pure Canada cult it is only British traditions which are in any sense un-Canadian, whereas a tradition coming to us from another part or parts of Europe is a tradition affirmed to be not only 100 per cent Canadian, but even to be the only tradition not distinctively un-Canadian. The one tradition that must be jettisoned, as something quite distinct from the country that gives us our existence, turns out to be the British tradition. (4)

Freedom, Farthing had pointed out, does not come from geography, it does not grow on trees, it arise out of traditions. In Canada’s case, our freedom is grounded in the tradition we received from Britain, and both Farthing and Diefenbaker foresaw that the consequence of the attack on British traditions and institutions in Canada that the Liberal Party waged in the name of the pure Canada cult in the premierships of Pearson and Trudeau would undermine our freedom. This was prescient for it is out of that era that the stifling atmosphere of bureaucratic arrogance, over-regulation, and above all political correctness that has been poisoning the Canadian spirit for decades has its origin.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Canadian Red Ensign. It was Canada’s flag. Note the date of the Order-in-Council that made that official. September 5, 1945. That was three days after the Second World War ended. This was the first war Canada had entered by her own Declaration of War. Since the Statute of Westminster of 1931, we were no longer automatically at war whenever Britain was. Unlike the United States, however, we entered the war from the beginning and did not have to be deceived by our leaders into doing so. Our parliament declared war on Germany on the tenth of September, one week after Great Britain did. The week’s delay was to show our independence, the declaration to show our loyalty. It was a war in which forty-five and a half thousand Canadians had died, fighting bravely under the Red Ensign. Diefenbaker had been right to say it had been ennobled by the blood of heroes. Nothing could have been more appropriate than the Order-in-Council making the Red Ensign’s status as our national flag official. Nothing could have been more disrespectful to the Canadian heroes who fought in the war, both the thousands who died and the thousands who came home as veterans, then Pearson’s deceitful and self-aggrandizing campaign to replace that flag.

For Canada, therefore, today is the day that ought to live in infamy forever.

(1) For evidence of these claims see Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, (New York: Touchstone, 2001) and Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers’ War: FDR and the War Within World War II, (New York: Basic Books, 2001).
(2) John G. Diefenbaker, One Canada, Memoirs of the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, Volume III, The Tumultuous Years 1962-1967 (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1977), p. 223
(3) John G. Diefenbaker, Those Things We Treasure, (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1972), p. 124.
(4) John Farthing, Freedom Wears a Crown (Toronto: Kingswood House, 1957), p. 32.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

And So The World Is Saved Yet Again

“Superman”, according to the Canadian folk-rock group the Crash Test Dummies, “never made any money saving the world from Solomon Grundy”. Morris Dees Jr., whatever he might think himself to be in his heart of hearts, is no Superman. For while he has not saved the world, or even part of the world, from either Solomon Grundy or his own arch-nemesis the Ku Klux Klan, he has certainly made a lot of money. Part of this money he made by winning large judgements against the various Klan and neo-Nazi groups that he has taken to court over the years. Part of this money he has made by convincing American liberals with a lot of money and very few brains that only by regularly sending big fat cheques to his organization can an imminent takeover of the United States by Aryan supremacist groups and establishment of the Fourth Reich in North America be prevented.

The Social Justice League of America which this Not-So-Superman co-founded with his law partner Joseph Levin forty-two years ago is called the Southern Poverty Law Center. It more commonly called by its initials the SPLC or, as Peter Brimelow and company over at Vdare aptly and amusingly spell it, the $PLC. Few if any would question their expertise in the fields of suing people and raising money. They claim, however, to be experts on extremists and “hate groups” and this claim, although you will occasionally still find television stations and newspapers who accept it and cite them as authorities, has been seriously called into question in recent years.

Most recently it was called into question when, last October, this band of hero wannabees added a new name to their ever growing list of extremists and haters to watch out for. Was it the name of a heavily tattooed skinhead thug? Was it somebody who in his over ample supply of spare time throws a bedsheet over himself and goes around intimidating and lynching black people (or more likely goes to a rally of others like himself, has some barbecue, gets drunk and then goes home)? Was it some terrible insensitive villain who has caused untold anguish and emotional suffering to the remaining survivors of Auschwitz by having the nerve, the gall, the chutzpah to actually suggest that only 5 million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine and a half Jews died in the Holocaust rather than six million?

No, it was far worse than that. The man in question, outed as the new Napoleon of hate crime, is Dr. Ben Carson, the sixty-four year old neurosurgeon who achieved worldwide fame in the late 1980s for conducting the first successful operation separating Siamese twins who had been joined at the head, one of many accomplishments in his long and successful career at John Hopkins Hospital. You may recall that he was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 2009 movie based upon his 1992 autobiography Gifted Hands. Clearly this is a dangerous figure of whom we all ought to be very wary indeed and we should be thanking whatever supernatural entity lurks behind the $PLC that they were there to foil his nefarious schemes and save us all.

So what exactly did Dr. Carson do to get on the $PLC’s naughty list?

Well, the fact that he is a successful, black American professional who is conservative politically, has spoken out against Obamacare, and is a potential Republican candidate for the 2016 American Presidential election has probably not endeared him to these leftwing, professional antiracists. Left-of-centre, progressive thinking, forward minded types in general, and antiracists especially, tend to assume that all black Americans will automatically support their causes and vote Democrat out of gratitude to white liberals for rescuing them from slavery and segregation and are shocked and offended when they find that this is not the case. “How dare he think for himself and support conservative causes! After all we did for him!”

The $PLC’s specific complaint against Dr. Carson, however, is that he is a supporter of traditional marriage and therefore, by their left-of-centre reasoning, a promoter of hatred against gays and lesbians. Dr. Carson is a faithful, practicing, Seventh Day Adventist, who credits God for the talents and abilities that made him a successful neurosurgeon (hence the title of his autobiography) and he believes in accordance with the teachings of his faith – and, it might be added, common sense – that marriage is something that exists between a man and a woman and that nobody has the right to change its basic meaning. To the kind of people who are looking for a frothing-at-the-mouth, hateful, extremist under every rock and behind every bush, this is a clear indication of an irrational, dangerous, prejudice and hatred against people who are attracted to their own sex.

It shows just how seriously the $PLC is taken these days that their “extremist file” on Dr. Carson was published in October but it took until last week for it to really spark controversy. It took that long for anybody to either notice or care about it. When somebody finally did get around to noticing the organization received so much bad publicity and other flack over it that on Wednesday they actually removed the profile from their website and issued an apology to Dr. Carson. Well, an apology of sorts. In the apology they said that he “has in fact, made a number of statements that express views that we believe most people would conclude are extreme.” The first three examples they give are of statements to the effect that marriage has traditionally been between a man and a woman and that this should not be changed. This is an extreme viewpoint? One often gets the impression that for the Southern Poverty Law Center an “extreme” viewpoint simply means any viewpoint that the $PLC doesn’t like and disagrees with.

Backhanded as this apology was, it at least was an apology, which is more than most people who are smeared by the $PLC ever get. Indeed, off the top of my head I don’t remember a time when this has ever happened before.

I am wondering, though, whether or not it would not have been better for Dr. Carson had they left his profile up. Their extremist file is so full of Christians, patriots, conservatives, family activists, and libertarians that to be labelled an extremist by the $PLC is almost like winning a badge of honour. It would probably have enhanced his reputation and, if he does run for President next year, improved his results at the polls.