Playing the Indian Card

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Has the Revolution Begun?


We seem to be at an inflection point in world history, a moment of general change.

In Canada, the government is collapsing. I said after Jody Wilson-Raybould’s initial testimony to the Commons Justice Committee that this was likely to be the end of Justin Trudeau. It put him in the position of fighting his own constituency, who are going to believe Wilson-Raybould before they believe him. That seems now to be playing out.

Raymond Bourque reported Ottawa insider gossip at the time as envisioning two ways forward for the Liberals: either everyone but the PM resigns, or the PM resigns. They have tried option one now, and it is not working. It has not been enough. The scandal continues to build. That leaves option two: Trudeau resigns. Or, if they do nothing, simply sound defeat at the next election, coming soon. There is, at the same time, no guarantee that a new leader would satisfy the public mind. For what has been exposed seems to be a culture of corruption at the top. Unless, that is, they chose Wilson-Raybould or Jane Philpott as new leader—but then that might look cynical.

In Britain, the government is also collapsing. Brexit is itself a major inflection point. But now the government is apparently disintegrating over their incomprehension of how to go about it. Theresa May is resigning, but it cannot end there. Surely nobody really believes the problem is Theresa May. Her resignation will change nothing. The entire managing elite, commons and bureaucracy, is looking incompetent, panicked, and like a laughing stock.

In France, rioting in the streets continues every weekend. They are at least calling for Macron to resign. Merkel has forestalled similar protests in Germany by already announcing her resignation.

This must all be connected. There is too much happening all at once for it not to be connected.

But then there is the US, where the opposite thing seems to be happening. Elsewhere, the government is collapsing, and the leader is being pressured to resign. In the US, it is the opposition that is collapsing. The Russia collusion bust, the Jussie Smollett case, the Covington smear, the #Metoo hits on Hollywood, the Warren aboriginal fraud, all seem to expose the opposition rather than the government as venal, self-serving, and incompetent. The demands are instead for prominent members of the media to resign.

It seems to me that it is just this American exception that demonstrates that it is indeed all interconnected. It has nothing to do with any one particular leader, and it has nothing to do with leaders in general. The demands for leaders to resign are only because the leader is in each case the public face of the ruling elite. Except in the US. In each case, it is the ruling elite that is being exposed as venal, incompetent, and self-serving. Hence Trump is the significant exception, because he positions himself as in opposition to the ruling elite.

In Canada, many if not everyone probably realizes that Trudeau is a naif in way over his head, that he has always only been the regime’s mascot. It is his “handlers” who have engineered this fiasco, including the upper reaches of the bureaucracy, who have always been the backbone of the Liberal party. And surely it is evident that the confused mess of Brexit is not really Theresa May’s fault. Does anyone seriously believe that her resignation is going to change much and suddenly make it all work? The policies the French demonstrators are protesting are not Macron’s policies in particular, but the same policies they hated under Hollande, or Sarkozy. And so forth and on. It is the ruling elite in general that is in trouble here. We are, frankly, watching a revolution unfold.

This is perhaps caused by the convergence of two factors. First, the general collapse of morality in the upper classes of the developed world. It began in its present form with the “sexual revolution” of the Sixties, albeit building on amoral intellectual currents that go at least as far back as Nietzsche, Darwin, and Marx. With noble but increasingly rare exceptions, the educated classes threw out any commitment to morality as a check on their actions. Hence they have indeed generally grown venal and self-serving.

The second factor is improved communications. The elite maintained their position on the basis of a supposed monopoly of expertise, on special access to protected bodies of knowledge. Thanks to social media and instant web search, they are being revealed in many cases to actually know little or nothing, and to be on average no brighter than average.

No more than a parasitical class.

These two waves have now met and merged, and the revolution is upon us.

As either fate or providence would have it, it looks as though the United States is best positioned to make this transition in relative peace. And even there, things look rocky.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Immigration Shibboleths

Minority religions in India. Over 50 million potential immigrants.

Poland is catching flak for turning down immigrants from Muslim lands, while opening its doors to immigrants from the Ukraine.

But Poland’s policy here is entirely sensible, and ought to be a model for others.

In an overreaction to racism, we have for years pretended that all immigrants are equally desirable, regardless of their prior culture.

This is false, and relies on a pernicious false equivalency of culture with race.

We in Canada have long understood, and accepted, that immigrants who are already fluent in French or English are preferable, because they will most readily fit in and be able to contribute. Surely this is a no-brainer. Language is not based on race. Anyone can learn any language.

Language is a part of culture. The same is true of other parts of culture.

Poland and the Ukraine being Slavic Christian neighbours, with a largely shared history, a huge proportion of the culture will be shared, making Ukrainian integration easy.

Perhaps most valuable, in this regard, is shared religion. This matters for immigration for the same reason it matters in a marriage. If both partners have the same goals in life, they are going to find it easier to work together and support one another. If each is trying to accomplish different and possibly incompatible things, conflict is almost inevitable. Shared religion gives people a shared purpose, shared assumptions and authorities to appeal to in cases of disagreement, and is the traditional glue for social cohesion in all cultures and societies throughout history.

This traditional consideration is amended somewhat for post-enlightenment Europe and North America. In effect, our shared religion, guaranteeing social cohesion, has become liberalism, using that term in the proper sense—human equality and human rights. This makes members of minority religions ideal immigrants in our case. In the lands from whence they came, they will have been second-class citizens. Liberalism now allows them to be fully equal. And they can when they arrive have no presuppositions or expectations of theocracy on the basis of their own creed in their new home.

A rational immigration policy for Canada or the US would give priority to Christian immigrants, since Christianity is overwhelmingly the majority belief in Canada or the US now; ensuring social cohesion on that basis, and ensuring that when they arrive they have a support system in place to help them integrate, just as would an immigrant who already has other family members in the country. And there will be no conflict with their neighbours on essential values.

Along with Christians, priority ought to be given to members of religious minorities who are minorities wherever they live: Yazidis, Bahai, and so forth. Logically, they will not only appreciate the religious freedom Canada offers, but will have less lingering commitment to some alternate homeland. They will be more likely to see Canada as their home, and contribute accordingly. Exactly this, I think, has been the Canadian experience, with the Jews, the Sikhs, and other such religious minority groups. They have contributed to the culture and the economy beyond their numbers. At the same time, we are doing a great humanitarian service, in many cases, in saving people at risk of persecution elsewhere, while reducing social tensions in their countries of origin.

Beyond this, priority should be given to immigrants coming from functioning democracies and from areas that follow the British common law tradition. They will be far more likely to understand how things work and what is expected of them when they arrive. More likely to be able to participate, and less likely to break the laws.

Will all this tend to favour people with while skin? On the whole, perhaps, but only coincidentally. For example, Filipinos should score very high on most of these factors: functioning democracy, common law tradition, speak English, Christian. Parsees should as well: functioning democracy, common law tradition, speak English, minority religion everywhere. There are over a billion people in Indian who follow the British common law tradition, and many of them are religious minorities. The world hosts almost 100 million Filipinos. There is no reason to suppose this set of immigration standards will produce a paler populace, if that matters.

On these grounds, it must be frankly admitted, Muslims in general make for bad immigrants. It is not just that they are in most cases accustomed to being the majority religion. It is also that, unlike in Christianity, there is no initial concept of separation of church and state in Islam. Separating church and state is, to Islam, in principle, an abomination. It means an immoral government. Accordingly, in immigrating, they will see the current government and laws of Canada as illegitimate. This does not make for easy integration.

Some, you will argue, are “liberal,” “enlightened,” and will happily accept the concepts of liberal democracy. Indeed, some will. But, in so doing, they are also turning their back on their own religious and ethical tradition. Put in simplest terms, these are bad Muslims. They have made a deal with the devil. They are liable to be immoral in other matters as well.

To a lesser extent, Chinese immigration poses the same problems. Confucianism is a comprehensive rival ethical and social system to liberalism. There is a reason why Chinese immigrants tend to huddle in “Chinatowns,” ghettos, and are slow to integrate. By comparison, Japanese immigrants, although otherwise culturally similar, tend to soon intermarry and integrate. As do Filipinos.

We are foolish not to see the difference, and it is dangerous not to.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The New Mechanics' Institutes

Mechanics' Institute, Toronto

Few seem to understand that a functioning democracy, and a well-functioning civil society in general, including businesses that work, depends crucially on the skills of parliamentary procedure and formal debate. And few seem to understand that these do not come to us spontaneously, but actually go against natural instincts. The natural instinct, after all, is to get upset if anyone disagrees with you.

The English are so good at this. It fits the politeness and decorum of the national character; although which came first is hard to say. Englishmen out for a pint together will debate in these terms; and will deliberately insult one another to harden each other up. Nothing beats the Oxford Union; but watching debate in the British House of Commons, after being used to Ottawa question period on C-Span, is itself a revelation.

We are foolish to suppose that this can be easily and automatically ported to any other culture and society at will. It does not work nearly so well even in Canada or the US. Let alone, say, Vietnam or Iraq. Yet the US government, for one, never seems to get this. It was striking wisdom for the Emir and government of Qatar to understand, and begin the long work of introducing their people to democracy by first setting up debating societies everywhere, hosting the Doha Debates, and sponsoring Al Jazeera. That is the way it must be done, and it will take at least a generation.

More troubling is that, through ignorance or design, the skills of parliamentary procedure and formal debate are rarely taught in the public schools, and never as a core subject, even in Canada or the US. They are, of course, taught rigorously in the British or Canadian private schools. 

Oxford Union.
This is the best way imaginable to create and perpetuate a class system. It means that only the upper classes, who can afford to go to these exclusive schools, learn how to organize and run things. There is also good evidence that it was deliberately done, back in the original “Progressive” era of the 1920s and before. “Progressivism” was always, and still is, about creating and protecting a North American ruling elite. 

And this suppression of essential knowledge, as well as being discriminatory, is destructive to society as a whole. Because there is no way any longer that we can keep the unfashionable masses out of management; we need more managers, and progressively fewer dumb and obedient robot helots, as technology advances. And the general population also has the right, in our system, to decide essential matters for all of us, through the ballot box. For the sake of all, they (we) had better know how to make good decisions.

We are seeing the bill come due now, with Antifa goons rioting in the streets and shouting speakers down. And these Antifa goons, note, are generally the nominally better-educated among us. We let the previously unprepared, after all, go to university, opened those gates wide, and flooded the higher levels of the system with folks who have no idea what the various buttons and levers do.

Well-intentioned, no doubt, itself an attempt to end the class system, but ill-informed.

All of this is brought to mind by a unit I am being asked to teach at the moment, on how to write an opinion essay. Something I think I know something about. I am doing it now. 

Canadian House of Commons.

Good thought; good idea. But the person who wrote the curriculum, the subject expert himself or herself, obviously has no idea how to do so, let alone how to teach it to someone else. Their instructions are incoherent; they cannot seem, in their own mind, to even distinguish claims from counterclaims, pro from con. They do not grasp the actual structure of an argument.

Their assigned essay topic illustrates the problem: “What can be done about China’s pollution problem?” Following, inevitably, a little lecture about China’s pollution problem and its supposed causes.

In other words, rather than getting to form and express an opinion, the student is being told the “correct” opinion in advance. On a topic on which there is essentially no disagreement. Raise hands, everyone: who here is in favour of pollution?

And no, this is not a Chinese thing. This is an American curriculum.

Isn’t this also what has happened to our current politics, and isn’t this a pressing problem?

Over a century ago, wealthy philanthropists launched “Mechanics’ Institutes” in major cities, where the poorer among us could learn skills needed for the new world of industrialization.

We need something like that now again. We need a movement to teach and study debate and parliamentary procedure; how to run a meeting. We need it on the night-school model of the Mechanics’ Institutes, too, because even if the public schools were to instantly reform and introduce the subject, that still sacrifices all the adults who have already completed school. Worse, these same adults are the teachers we have in the schools today. Until they learn it themselves, as we see from my current curriculum, they cannot competently teach it.

Qatar is way ahead of us on this one.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Pescador de Hombres, Gather Us In

Somewhere recently I read a piece by a Catholic English professor lamenting the weakness of the lyrics to the modern Catholic hymn “Gather Us In.” It is a common complaint among Catholics today. Why is our liturgical music so lame?

Lyrics to popular songs are often awful when you set them down in print. These modern Catholic hymns are not egregious by comparison. Still, as the present author argues, why do we cling so hard to them when we have a 2,000-year tradition of the finest composers and poets in Europe to draw on instead, most of whom wrote religious poetry and music?

Some of his objections to the lyrics of “Gather Us In” seem nitpicky when I read them. Yet I myself am deeply aware that the song is unsatisfying, banal. So I take a closer look.

First line:

“Here in this place new light is streaming.”

Coleridge defined poetry as “The best words in the best order.” Keats advised to “fill every vein with ore.” Every word must work in several ways, as though it and no other simply had to be there. Like the gears of a fine watch.

“Here” and “in this place” are redundant. No reason to use both. Just filling in syllables for the scan. “Place” is vague, and so evokes little. A more precise word is more vivid, obviously fits more precisely. And this song was composed to be sung in a church.

Then there is a theological problem, surely, with the word “new.” In what sense is the light of Christianity, of Jesus, or of the sacrament “new”? Truth is eternal, Jesus is eternal, and the church has been doing this for two millennia. It is hardly le mot just. It looks as though “new” has just been tapped here as an attractive, “happy” word, for the same reason it is so often found on packaging and in consumer ads.

“Now is the darkness vanished away”

The entire line is redundant, since it is hard for new light to steam in without removing darkness at the same time. The grammar is also awkward: the correct English word order would be “Now the darkness is vanished away.” Sometimes mangling of grammar is done in poetry to fit the metre, and is accepted, but here it is not even necessary on those grounds. The correct grammar works fine. Even better, as it still scans while more concise: “”Darkness now is vanished away.” The bad grammar seems introduced only to make the lyric sound more “poetic.” Like throwing in a “prithee” or a “fain.”

And, of course, "away" in “vanished away” is yet again, redundantly, redundant. It is hard to vanish, if you are darkness, while still being there.

“See in this space our fears and our dreamings”

Bad parallel. Surely that should be either “fears and dreams” or “fearings and dreamings.” And the latter, with so little mental effort on the part of the lyricist, actually makes the line scan better:

“See in this space, our fearings and dreamings.”

“See in this space” is also perfectly redundant. We have already plainly established, if it were necessary, that the action is taking place here. Which is after all simply to say that it takes place where it takes place.

And on it goes. Little care seems taken, beyond grabbing the first words and phrasings that make superficial sense, are not heretical, and fit the needs of rhythm and rhyme. The thing feels posted in by regular mail. Bulk mail.

Some will no doubt argue that using classical poetry as lyric instead can give us hymns that are hard for many parishioners to understand. Depends on the poem; depends on the poet. But there is also a vast folk tradition we might draw on, with lyrics that are simplicity itself.

Were you there when they crucified my lord?
Were you there when they crucified my lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my lord?

Not hard to understand, and not a lot of spam.

Here’s a Spanish folk hymn, "Pescador de Hombres," that even when imperfectly translated into English, shows what a hymn can be. Our priest back in Athabasca had it taped into the hymnal at the back. A bit of liturgical rebellion, perhaps, on his part, or that of the music director. I love singing it:

Lord, you have come to the seashore,
neither searching for the rich nor the wise,
desiring only that I should follow.

O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me,
gently smiling, you have spoken my name;
all I longed for I have found by the water,
at your side, I will seek other shores.

Lord, see my goods, my possessions;
in my boat you find no power, no wealth.
Will you accept, then, my nets and labour?

Lord, take my hands and direct them.
Help me spend myself in seeking the lost,
returning love for the love you gave me.

Lord, as I drift on the waters,
be the resting place of my restless heart,
my life’s companion, my friend and refuge.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

May Day! May Day!

The goat

Everybody is blaming Theresa May for the bollix of Brexit. Not fair.

It is indeed a mess. Parliament has voted not to leave without a deal, and has rejected the only deal on offer. They have already voted to leave, and will automatically in seven days. The speaker has ruled that no new vote on the deal can be held. It looks like an insane situation in which all possible options are off the table.

But it seems to me it is not May’s mess. She is being scapegoated. Besides the injustice, this is a needless distraction from the matter at hand.

The logic of the situation seems inevitable. It was never under May’s control. It takes two to tango, and what she can get is simply what the EU will offer. It is intrinsically not in the EU’s interest to offer a deal better than crashing out.

Why would it be? When has a federation ever offered anyone perks for leaving? Did the USA do any special favours for the Confederates when the Southern states wanted to leave that union? Did they get a gold watch? Did the UK give either the US or Ireland an easy and a favourable separation?

Frankileon, Flickr.
Had the EU remained as it started, a trade deal, strictly business, it might be different. But now too much is at stake. The EU ideal is at stake; the ever closer union.

The only bargaining chip the UK has or ever held was the alternative of going with no deal. It seems to follow that that’s the best deal they can ever get.

Once they’re out, things should be different. Then, perhaps after a decent interval, it becomes in the EU’s interest to seek accommodation again.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Confront the Beast

In the period 1880-1920, the art of book illustration had what is generally agreed to be its "Golden Age." Incredibly talented artsts like Arthur Rackham devoted their skills mostly to depicting legendary and mythical subjects.

For my money, this is what art should be all about: guiding us, as with an icon, to imagine more vividly. If I am right, the very act of doing so is healing for those who suffer either depression or anxiety. Confront the beast!

Suitable for meditation, than: Rackham dragons.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Blowing in the Wind

A few days ago, I wrote about the slaughter in Christchurch, and that of course everybody is going to come out and say they are against murder and hate; but they always say that, and it does nothing.

Actually, this time, in Canada, not everyone has done so. And this looks significant.

Andrew Scheer’s initial statement seemed to avoid saying that the victims were Muslim.

“Freedom has come under attack in New Zealand as peaceful worshippers are targeted in a despicable act of evil. All people must be able to practice their faith freely and without fear.”

He was quickly criticized for this omission, and sent out a second statement that was more explicit. 

Maxime Bernier

Maxime Bernier did not. He first said nothing about the incident, and then, when challenged, responded that there was no call to issue a statement. He did not automatically issue statements whenever Christians or others were attacked either.

“Some journalists have no decency. Did this one harass me or anybody else when dozens of Christians were massacred in Nigeria and the Philippines weeks ago? Why not? As a rule I don’t comment on these horrible tragedies in other countries. Period.”

Bernier has a point. Islam has been given more consideration in Canada in recent years than Christianity or Judaism. Witness House of Commons resolutions consciously and deliberately condemning “Islamophobia,” without referring to other religions—religions that suffer more actual hate crimes.

But this reaction, by Scheer and Bernier, suggests that politicians are now no longer certain they gain politically by defending Muslims. Even at a time when one might expect natural sympathy. That’s chilling. They are making a careful calculation instead; fingers are to the wind. And the direction of the wind may be shifting.

Important moral for any minority in a democracy: do not trust government to protect you from a lynch mob. The same lynch mob elected them. 

There is a reason for the blindfold.

This is one of the great overlooked advantages of Empire. The authorities in London, and those they sent out to administer, were divorced from local factions and prejudices. They could view disputes with a disinterested eye, and so would dispense justice. Good news for minorities everywhere: Sikhs in India, Ibo in Nigeria, Hakka in Malaysia, French in Canada. This is always less probable in either a democracy or a local oligarchy.

Witness the very different experience of aboriginal people in Canada, under the Empire, and in the US. Thomas Darcy McGee found the same to be true for the Irish: Montreal treated them more fairly than Boston, where the signs went up that “no Irish need apply.” Witness the disparate treatment of Africans in the two countries. 

It was real.

In theory, liberal democracies also have checks and balances built in to restrain the mob. This is the point of the Senate, in either Canada or the US. This is the point of a constitution and a separate judiciary. To some extent, this is the point of a federation.

Unfortunately, we have increasingly politicized them.

While all the talk has been, for the past forty years or, about celebrating minorities, do not be misled. Our system is not set up for this, and this was never true. It looked true only so long as so-called “minorities” constituted a majority voting bloc, and some disliked minority—such as “cisgendered Anglo straight white males”—could be falsely presented as the majority. But the focus of the mob can just as easily, and abruptly, swing to another victim: the Jews, or white women, or the Muslims, and so forth. We are beginning to see this.

First they came for the cisgendered Anglo straight white males, and I said nothing, for I was not a cisgendered Anglo straight white male. Then they came for the Jews, and I said nothing, for I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Muslims …

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The War between the Conways

Just who does he think he is?

Poor Kellyanne Conway. Her husband is making a spectacle of himself. He is publicly declaring her boss to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Behaviour Disorder. Aside from the visible attempt to destroy her career, he is subjecting her to huge public embarrassment.

Why do you suppose he would do that?

You hear often from other quarters too, of course, that Donald Trump is a narcissist. As it happens, however, George Conway was unreflective enough to actually post the symptoms of narcissism and antisocial personality disorder as listed in the DSM:

1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people

2. Fixation on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.

3. Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions

4. Need for continual admiration from others

5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others

6. Exploitation of others to achieve personal gain

7. Unwillingness to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people

8. Intense envy of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them

9. Pompous and arrogant demeanor

Leave aside for the moment the question of whether this properly describes a mental illness, as opposed to illegitimately psychologizing someone who simply does not follow the Golden Rule—a bad person, a person who indulges their vices. Someone guilty of what the pagan Greeks called hubris, taking themselves as their own idol. Leave aside the charge that Trump also has antisocial personality disorder, which is too patently absurd to be worth bothering with. Leave aside as well the real possibility that the current criteria given by the DSM do not do a good job of isolating or defining the underlying issue; after all, these diagnostic criteria change significantly with each new edition of the DSM. They still serve as an objective check on Conway’s assertion, one he has himself proposed.

And Trump simply does not fit the diagnosis. He conceivably might---who can say?--had he never been either President of the US, a billionaire CEO, or a TV celebrity. But if your situation in life is genuinely grand, it is impossible to charge you with delusions of grandeur for acting accordingly. You are not mad to imagine you are Napoleon, if you are Napoleon.


1. As president of the United States, and previously as a CEO, Trump has a right to expect superior treatment; it would be odd and probably a dereliction of duty if he did not.

2. Trump is in reality the most powerful man in the world. He has also been extremely financially successful. He is also very good-looking, or was in his youth; look at his children. It is not a fantasy.

3. Trump seems to demonstrate the opposite of this trait. Although born into the Manhattan upper class, he seems not to identify with them, but takes delight in violating their norms and associating with the working class. Laying on a White House banquet of Big Macs and pizza, for example.

4. Again, Trump’s personality seems to be the opposite of this. A narcissist is vitally concerned with how he appears to others: he oozes charm in public, then curses everyone in private. Trump does not seem to care, speaks his mind regardless of who is listening, and is remarkably thick-skinned.

He also seems quick to forgive those who have insulted him, Ted Cruz or Mitt Romney or Kim Jong Un. He does not take criticism personally or tend to fold under it. It seems to roll off. Narcissists tend to collapse into self-pity and feigned or imagined victimhood if challenged.

5. As president of the US, as a CEO, and as star of The Apprentice, Trump has a right and a duty to expect to be obeyed, and would not be doing his job if he did not demand it.

6. Given that narcissists do not as a rule have legitimate authority over their victims, how do they exploit? There are only a few options available to them, short of risking criminal charges: lying, backstabbing, calumniating, and making promises do not keep.

Trump is indeed often accused of lying. But if he does lie, it is plainly not in an attempt to manipulate. Because everyone knows he is yanking legs when he does. It is the sort of lie told by P.T. Barnum, not to deceive or control, but to entertain or show mettle. It is the American tradition of the tall tale.

All politicians are guilty of not keeping campaign promises, but Trump seems to have tried unusually hard to keep his. Witness the shutdown over a border wall. He actually seems better than par at keeping promises. A trait that many say is crucial to success in business as well, which he has had.

However one might feel about the boorishness of insulting your opponents to their face, or publicly, this is the opposite of calumniating or backstabbing; this is frontstabbing. This is Trump’s approach, and it actually waives any attempt at manipulation. It is again the very opposite of a narcissist’s approach. Nor does Trump ever seem to attack suddenly or without warning; his insults always seem to be reactive, defensive rather than aggressive.

7. Trump does seem cruel to underlings, firing people with abandon. But this too is surely a case of keeping campaign promises. This is the persona he presented on The Apprentice, and this is what people therefore implicitly elected him to do. To be tough on apprentices and to drain the swamp.

8. Envy? Does Trump show any envy of others?

Someone else obviously does.

George Conway. It could not be clearer that he is himself acting out of envy. And an envy that is pathological in scope.

He evidently envies Trump. He envies the latter’s greater success, and masks this by rebranding success itself as narcissism. Like blaming someone for being proud because they have achieved.

This is typical narcissism: Conway is the real narcissist. Typical again in scapegoating his victim, charging him with the very sin he is guilty of. A textbook narcissist move.

The wronged wife.

Conway is also obviously envy of his own wife’s public attention. This is why he must make a scene. Being a narcissist, he cannot bear that she is getting noticed instead of him. He is like a spoiled child shouting Look at me! Look at me!

In doing so he is showing an extreme unwillingness to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people. His own poor wife, with whom you would expect some natural empathy. He will destroy her if possible to satisfy his own ego.

And, of course, he is trying to pull rank on the President of the United States.

George Conway shows us what narcissism really looks like.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Tucker Carlson the Witch

Tucker Carlson

Fox host Tucker Carlson is under attack for comments he made on the “Bubba the Love Sponge” radio show some years ago. Advertisers are reportedly pulling out, despite his show’s high ratings.

I’ve spoken about this sort of thing before, with reference to the (Virginia governor Ralph) Northam yearbook controversy. Such witch hunts must stop. Doesn’t anyone see that this is McCarthyism? Worse, in fact, than McCarthyism was. We used to all agree that this was wrong.

Whether or not what Carlson said was somehow erroneous, or upset somebody, he has the right to say it. Not that his comments were themselves egregious, but that does not matter. And in this case it was not even anything said on his show. To try to hound him off the air because of it, therefore, is extreme sharkvaulting blacklisting. Logically, the intent is to prevent him from ever again practicing his profession, anywhere, from making a living--because you disagree with something he said. This is not honourable or decent behavior now any more than it would have been in Hollywood in the 1950s. But it is beyond anything seen in Hollywood in the 1950s. 

Although literally about the Salem witch hunts, Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" was also a thinly-veiled criticism of McCarthyism,

Whatever he said is properly irrelevant, unless it involved slander or calls for violence. But the accusations against him are ludicrously trivial in comparison to any McCarthy or the House Committee on Un-American Activities ever levelled. The charge in those days was belonging to or supporting a political organization, the Communist Party, that sought in principle the violent overthrow of the US government; at a time when Communism was a clear and present geopolitical danger. All Carlson is accused of is opinions that are unfashionable in some circles, although demonstrably acceptable in others--as witness the gratifying ratings enjoyed by Mr. Love Sponge.

If the harpies and inquisitors keep getting away with this, nobody is safe. What is permissible to say in these same witchfinder circles changes so quickly and unpredictably year to year and even month by month that anyone could be professionally destroyed at any time for something they said several years ago. Who could have predicted just a few years ago, for example, that it would soon become a “hate crime” to oppose gay marriage? Yet people have lost their jobs over that one. 

Senator Joseph McCarthy

Freedom of speech is an inalienable right. It is also essential for a democracy to function; because it is essential to make it possible to discuss the issues. Which is precisely what Carlson was doing, and precisely what the blacklist bullies seek to prevent. It must never matter what Carlson said, or whether either you or I agree with it. It should not matter even had he said it on his own show yesterday. If you don’t want to hear it, you don’t watch.

But the attack on Carlson does matter, and must concern us all. Our basic freedoms are under assault, as is the very fabric of our society.

Some will insist this is not a free speech issue, because government is not involved. That is so in terms of the US Constitution. But in terms of the Lockean theory on which it is founded, the very purpose of having a government is to protect our rights and freedoms from each other. Granted that here it is not government that is infringing on freedom of speech, but a mostly faceless mob. Government exists to protect us from such things, just as, and for the same reason, we expect it to protect us from lynch mobs. 

Families and friends of victims of the 1950s Hollywood blacklist protesting.

The puzzle is how to do this here. Sponsors have their own freedom of speech, and therefore a perfect right not to sponsor some program with which they disagree. Consumers have the perfect right not to buy a product, and so to boycott. Networks have the right to cancel a program if it is no longer profitable. And on the whole, government in a democracy is not a reliable protection against mob rule; essentially, the same mob elects them. Relying on government to help here may be asking the fox to mind the henhouse.

Voluntary action may do the trick: organize to boycott in turn any business that pulls their ads. Make a point of buying from those who do not. 

Matthew Hopkins, intrepid witchfinder general; the Media Matters of his day.

Sadly, in the meantime, however, even if this works, a good many lives may be destroyed.

Another possibility, it seems to me, would be a law making it illegal to advocate either “deplatforming,” discrimination in employment, or boycotting on grounds of speech, given that the speech itself is legal. Unfortunately, this too would be an infringement on freedom of speech; but one that can perhaps be justified by genuine public need. In the words of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this restriction, like those against slander or fraud, could be “demonstrably justified.”

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

.. and in case you think this is a matter of multiculturalism, ethnic exclusivity, not so. By long tradition, everyone who wants to be is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Christchurch Massacre

John Locke

Everyone is deeply shaken by the miniature holocaust that just happened in Christchurch, New Zealand. In part, no doubt, because this is a little bit like “man bites dog”; not the first time it has happened, but we are more accustomed to hearing of some Muslim shooting up Westerners than of some Westerner shooting up Muslims. This seems to take things to another, and an ominous, level. And the second shocking element is that it happened in little, peaceful, New Zealand. Middle Earth. Is nowhere safe any longer?

Nowhere is.

Now we get the inevitable rote expressions of disgust and horror from all quarters. But what does it all accomplish? We have heard it all now so many times before. Very well; so everyone is publicly against murder. Everyone is against hate. What does it do to say so? Is this going to make these incidents stop? Why would it this time?

Some will of course call for practical measures. But we have heard these all before as well. Some will call for tougher gun laws in New Zealand. We know this will do nothing. These events have taken place everywhere, regardless of very different laws on gun ownership. They have been done using bombs or airplanes or boxcutters or kitchen knives.

Others will of course call for more mental health treatment. We know this will do nothing. These events have taken place everywhere, regardless too of very different mental health systems. Often, the perpetrators have already been under psychiatric treatment; obviously, it made no difference.

The problem is instead quite simply the complex of postmodernism and multiculturalism. As we have warned previously in this space, this carnage is their inevitable result. Unless we do something more than mouth platitudes, things are going to get much worse.

Postmodernism holds that there is no shared truth. Truth is constructed by each one of us, either alone or in our group. It is “our truth.” That means we have no shared notion of right and wrong, no ethical values. If we disagree, if our chosen “realities” collide, there is no basis on which to settle our differences but gunfire. And we have that intrinsic right. It is “our truth.”

Multiculturalism holds that people are defined by their culture. There is, moreover, no objective truth by which any culture can be judged right or wrong, better or worse. Cultures cannot, in principle, change or develop, because there is no reality outside themselves. They ought moreover not to mix—that’s “appropriation.” They are each self-contained, hermetically sealed, each with “their truths.”

Suttee: a colourful bit of traditional South Asian culture.

It follows inevitably from these two principles, if accepted, that all cultures are an intrinsic threat to all others. And the only intelligent response to immigration is violence. You have to kill them before they take over and kill you.

A few people have figured this out. More will over time.

The way, and the only way, to end the killing is to drive a stake through the heart of postmodernism and multiculturalism.

Before the Enlightenment, social cohesion depended on shared religion; this was the shared set of truths on which disagreements could be resolved fairly and amicably. This, and not blind prejudice, was why everyone was required in those days to hold to the same faith, and religious minorities were considered a danger to the state. The Enlightenment substituted the principles of liberalism. We held certain truths to be sacred and inviolable: that all man were created equal, and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, including but not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; Locke had this last as “the enjoyment of property.”

Given this set of shared truths, religious liberty was now possible. And on them, America was able to build a thriving society assimilating people from diverse backgrounds.

Postmodernism and multiculturalism now directly oppose these liberal principles and seek to destroy them. Without either them, or their religious precursors, all is lost. We are beginning to see just what Enoch Powell predicted many years ago: rivers of blood in our streets. Only a fool should be surprised.

The unjustly much-maligned Enoch Powell.

If we want to end the slaughter, a first step would be to require, as many have recently called for, a values test for all new immigrants. The values to be tested for must be those in the US Declaration of Independence or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Everyone new must sign on to this social contract.

The curriculum in all public schools and all publicly funded universities must then be overtly based on these core principles. Including mandatory courses in civics. Demonstrated failure to support and promote liberal principles like free speech and freedom of conscience should result in immediate loss of funding.

Nor is this in itself any infringement on free speech. There is a vital public interest involved here, and anyone would still be free to set up their own private school or university on any other basis, sans public funding.

Note that this means multiculturalism and postmodernism must be officially rejected. No courses in them; cited only to be dismissed.

There are yet more controversial issues involved: this is a big reason why we have strayed so far into postmodernism and multiculturalism in the first place. It has been to avoid a few big controversies.

Most notably, liberalism requires an acceptance of the right to life. That means abortion cannot be legal, and cannot be advocated in the school or university system.

Properly, too, all “affirmative action” measures are in direct violation of the principle of human equality.

And notice that reference in the Declaration of Independence to a Creator. The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, similarly, is the phrase “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”

There is a reason for this. Locke relies on it as well. Without the assumption of a Creator, human equality and human rights are not, in fact, self-evident or sacred. Without God, everything, as Nietzsche rightly realized, is then permissible. Any liberal social and educational regime which permits Canada or civilization to survive must be based on bedrock theism. Atheism might be tolerated, but it must receive no official recognition or sanction. It is not morally neutral.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Silencing the Guns of August

A lesser breed.

What would have happened if the First World War had not?

A fascinating speculation, because the First World War seems to have wrecked so much. All the magical princesses and dukes in their satin finery; Yeats’s “ceremony of innocence.” One can imagine that all was well in Western civ until it happened, and Western civ has never recovered. Beauty itself seems to have died then. Our confidence in the good and the true.

Fascinating as well because there is a general sense that it was far from inevitable, that it broke out more or less by blunder.

So what would have happened?

I find that in the end I cannot imagine anything being much different. Or rather, I really cannot imagine it never happening. It actually was, I suspect, no blunder, no mistake, and  not evitable. The problem began with Charles Darwin, back in 1859.

The war was started by Germany, make no mistake, and if it had not come to war this time, Germany was going to make a war within a few years somehow. I see no peaceful trajectory for a prewar Germany; barring what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah. Germany had done very well for itself with a series of European wars in the later nineteenth century, with Denmark, then Austria, then France, and they were cocked and ready to try for the big one: hegemony. They had rattled sabres to the verge of general war several times in the years leading up to 1914. They were going to keep doing so until it came to that.

It is fashionable these days to insist that it was all started blindly by the system of rival alliances. Nobody wanted it, but nobody could stop it once this machinery was set in motion.

Not believable. The intent and value of alliances was to prevent war, to make it less likely, not to make it more likely. Even the Triple Alliance, the stronger of the two, was purely defensive in nature.

Literally, treaty obligations did not cause the war. There was nothing mechanical about it. Russia had no treaty obligation to defend Serbia in case of war. Even if they had, Germany declared war on Russia, not the other way around. Treaty obligations did not require Germany to do this. Russia had not attacked Austria-Hungary, and had not declared war.

Once Germany and Austria had declared war on Russia, treaty obligations still did not oblige France to go to war on Russia’s behalf. The Entente between them was not a formal defensive treaty. Even had it secretly required action by the French, this was a moot point--since it was Germany who declared war on France, not vice versa. And this was obviously not required by any treaty signed by Germany with anyone. This was a conscious strategic decision.

Germany did, on the other hand, go to war with Belgium in open violation of treaty obligations.

The only major power that actually did declare war because of treaty obligations was Great Britain, based on the old (1839) defensive treaty with Belgium. The same one Germany had violated.

In other words, the system of mutual defense treaties did not cause the war. Instead, a stronger set of public alliances before the war, a clearer deterrent, might have prevented it. Would Austria have gone in to Serbia had they known this would draw in Russia and France? Almost surely not. Would Germany have invaded Belgium if they knew this would bring in the UK?

When Austria-Hungary sent its ultimatum after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Serbia, far from being belligerent, acceded to all but one of a set of outrageous demands. They went as far as they could this side of surrendering their sovereignty. Austria was plainly set on war regardless. Given how militarily shaky Austria was on its own, this demonstrates the powerful influence of Germany in the background.

Kaiser Wilhelm reputedly expressed disappointment at Serbia's response to t he Austrian ultimatum. “A great moral victory for Vienna," he wrote. "But with it every pretext for war falls to the ground.” Austria got what they wanted; he did not. He wanted a big war. 

By his own evaluation, moreover, this means Austria and Germany went to war without a decent pretext. One might want to put the blame on Austria—but Austria might have expected only a local war. And Austria had what it wanted without war. It was still Germany that made it general, by declaring war on Russia.

And this seems to have been preordained. When the German ambassador visited the Russian Foreign Ministry to present the declaration of war, he actually gave two separate written memos. The first declared war because Russia had not responded to the German ultimatum to immediately demobilize. The second declared war because the Russian response was deemed inadequate.

In other words, the declaration of war seems to have been decided in advance, regardless of the Russian response.

"The Crucified Canadian"; a famous German war atrocity of the time, now often disputed. Here features in a poster from the Philippines.

Social Darwinism was no doubt a factor across Europe. But this was especially so in Germany. This was pointed to by Rudyard Kipling in 1897. In his poem “The Recessional.” He wrote:

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget! 
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
Kipling was apparently referring to the Germans, and their atheistic pseudo-scientific “master race” ideology. “Reeking tube and iron shard” as resident idols rules out just about anyone else. It was probably generally understood at the time. Hitler and the Nazis did not suddenly invent this stuff in the 1930s. How could they? It goes back clearly at least to Nietzsche and his ideas about a “master morality” and a “slave morality.”

When war began, there was considerable popular resistance in the UK to getting involved. Witness later events in Ireland. This was also obviously true of the US. Notoriously in Canadian terms, this was so in Quebec. No jingoism, no militarism, no notions of a master race, no Social Darwinism, among the democracies.

In France, it was the same story. As the Serbian crisis unfolded, pacifist demonstrations against war easily outnumbered nationalist demonstrations against Austria or Germany.

Visible support for war was stronger in the monarchies of Austria and Russia. This might only have had to do with a relative lack of free speech and of the right to protest. But neither could match Germany here. In Germany, contemporary witnesses reported real popular enthusiasm for a fight. Hermann Hesse, from Switzerland, wrote in the German press expressing alarm over the warmongering and anti-foreign attitude that he witnessed: “Friends, not in these tones!” 

German execution of leading civilians of Blegny, Belgium.

There were many reports of German atrocities in Belgium at the start of the war. These are often now dismissed as mostly British propaganda. But Vernon Kellogg, neutral American present during the German invasion—presumably a detached observer—was alarmed by the Social Darwinist philosophy he heard espoused by Germans he encountered.

“Initially a pacifist, Kellogg dined with the officers of the German Supreme Command. He became shocked by the grotesque Social Darwinist motivation for the German war machine - the creed of survival of the fittest based on violent and fatal competitive struggle is the Gospel of the German intellectuals.” (Wikipedia).

Kellogg sounded the general alarm in his book Headquarters Nights.

It is commonly said that the Treaty of Versailles assigned full war guilt to Germany; and that this was a major cause of the Second World War in turn. This is not quite true. The treaty spoke of German “aggression,” but not war guilt per se. And this was diplomatic boilerplate. Almost identical phrasing was put in the peace treaties with Austria or the Ottomans or Bulgaria. It was required to justify reparations.

Interestingly, in no other nation did the general population make much of it, or read it as assigning overall guilt. Everyone else indeed took it as boilerplate. Why the difference in Germany?

A clear case of “methinks the lady doth protest too much.” The extreme German reaction betrayed awareness of being in the wrong. This is typical of someone with a guilty conscience, when they are not prepared to reform. They tend to react hysterically when someone points out their guilt.

Italy had an alliance with both Germany and Austria, requiring them to come to their aid if they were attacked by Russia. Italy did not come to their aid. In taking this position, Italy declared their opinion that Germany and Austria were the aggressors.

Britain and the US, both neutrals at the start of the war, both also separately concluded that Germany was the aggressor, and chose sides accordingly. 

US enlistment poster

That looks close to a consensus by neutral parties.

One can be cynical and suppose that this charge of German aggression was a cover for simply acting in their own best interest. But Britain, the US, and Italy were all functioning democracies, to a far greater extent than Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. There was a limit to the amount of deceit they could get away with; they needed to worry about public opinion. Their general public had to buy it as well.

Why, in the face of the evidence, does everybody seem so keen to deny German war guilt?

I think it is a typical case of a general human tendency to deny the existence of evil. We want, absurdly, to insist that, if Hitler was evil, he was uniquely evil, and single-handedly responsible for everything in Nazi Germany. He was, we are told, a “madman.”

That is obviously ridiculous. Were he at any point clearly mad, those around him would have stopped obeying his orders. Nor did the vast majority of what happened in Nazi Germany depend on any kind of explicit orders from Hitler.

Perhaps it is too frightening for us to admit that a large proportion of any population, even a majority, can indeed choose to be evil. Perhaps it is frightening because it requires us to examine our own motives and acts—might we, too, be doing evil? Much safer to keep whistling past that graveyard.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Andrew Coyne in my Dreams

Last night I had a vivid nightmare.

I dreamt that Andrew Coyne had died.

It was so vivid that, as soon as I awoke, I actually had to go online and check.

I do not usually remember my dreams. That I did this time suggests this one was important.

The death of Andrew Coyne would be the death of rational political discourse in Canada.

Coyne, after all, is the only one left doing it.

Everyone else is shouting at one another. Notably in parliamentary question period. It is all talking points, rhetoric, and insult. Half of us are completely out of touch with basic realities, and do not want to be in touch. Coyne is the only guy who actually analyses an issue, on its merits.

Although he may live on, the dream that Coyne represents may indeed have died.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Lac Ste. Anne

The old Lac Ste. Anne mission.

Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta, 70 km west of Edmonton, is a major pilgrimage site for Canadian Indians and Alberta Catholics generally. An estimated 30,000, of all ethnicities, come in July each year. But why?

Part of the story is that it is the site of the first Catholic mission in Alberta, and the first successfully established west of St. Boniface. But that is only part of the story. In other places, the first Catholic mission has not inspired such a pilgrimage. And why, after all, was the first mission established here, and not at some location more easily reached by river transit, like Fort Edmonton?

Because Lac Ste. Anne was, in 1844, called “Devil’s Lake,” in the area’s various languages. It was known as Devil’s Lake because of a longstanding local belief that it was cursed, and the home of a great sea monster.

You will sometimes read that the Indian name was “Spirit Lake” or even “God’s Lake.” This is a misunderstanding of the Cree word “Manito” (Manitou). The Cree and other Indians understood these beings very much as we would understand “demon.” They were not moral beings and were hostile to man. And the one inhabiting the lake was understood to be a voracious man-eater. 

The shrine today.

Where better, then, to build a church and a mission, to rescue the local people from the devil?

Soon after the first missionary, Father Thibault, arrived, on September 8, 1884, he strode to the lakeshore, and, in a public ceremony, pronounced these words:

“All you evil spirits, I command you, in the name of the Blessed Trinity to leave the waters of this lake. Spirit of God, cover this lake with your power. Bless these waters, ….”

He thus not only exorcised the Lake, but consecrated it all as Holy Water, a Catholic sacramental, in the name of Ste. Anne. Since then, far from fearing the lake, innumerable Indians have reported miraculous cures from immersing in its water.

There is at the shrine today a display of discarded crutches and hearing aids.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Canadian Versus American Culture

American (US) and Canadian culture are similar in their democratic and popular attitude. Yet they are also very different, almost opposite. Here's the difference in two aphorisms:

America: "Every man a king!"

Canada: "Every king a man."

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Rose Prince

If you do not know about Rose Prince, you should. Canada has few enough saints, and few enough miracles.

As, no doubt, does the rest of the world.

Her life was rather unremarkable. She lived most of it at the Lejac Residential School, near Fraser Lake in Northern BC. She entered at age 6. After she graduated, for whatever reason, she chose not to leave. She joined the school staff, and spent her days quietly at the work of her hands: cleaning, sewing, embroidering, and mentoring the students. She suffered from curvature of the spine. And she died of tuberculosis in 1949, at the age of 33.

Those present at her deathbed claim that her body remained warm.

In 1951, her grave was exhumed to allow for new construction, and her corpse was found to be uncorrupted. She looked as though she had only fallen asleep, but with a slight smile. Those present say there was a scent of flowers when the coffin was opened.

Since then, her grave in Fraser Lake has become the destination for an annual pilgrimage. Some go every year. Some say there is still a floral scent around her tomb. And many have reported miraculous cures.

I know what you are thinking.

You are thinking there must be some divine mistake, or just human imagination. This must all be some coincidence. Why, after all, would God single out this particular person for such special attention? Rose Prince did not go to Calcutta to rescue street children. She did not get beheaded for the faith. She did not write some inspiring book. She did not even take any religious vows. Nor did she have a widespread reputation for holiness in life, like a Brother Andre or Kateri Tekakwitha. She was just Rose.

Surely, though, God is making a point.

Recently, on a Facebook feed, we subscribers were asked which religious order seemed to speak least to us—not most, but least. Most chose the Jesuits, and so did I.

What the early Jesuits did was superhuman. I visited St. Francis Xavier’s uncorrupted body in Goa. He is credited with converting and baptizing 300,000 people in India alone, before he set off for Malaysia, and Japan, to die trying to enter China.

In Canada, Jean de Brebeuf was tortured, disabled, and enslaved by the Mohawks, then ransomed by a Dutch Protestant minister. He found his way back to France, and, once recovered, he headed back to Canada, volunteered for the Mohawk mission, and they finished the job.

All incredibly admirable. Yet there is also something excessive here.

Did God need St. Francis or St. Jean de Brebeuf to do these things? Obviously not. He is God. Weren’t they being a bit presumptuous to suppose so much depended on them? It smacks of spiritual pride.

I have felt the same way reading St. John of the Cross, the great hero of the Carmelites. All very admirable, his turning away completely from the world of the senses. He says, at some point, that one should live as though there are only two persons in the universe: oneself, and God.

Yet I had to put the book down then. Isn’t that also presumptuous? Doesn’t that assume for yourself some special place and privilege with God? What about other people?

To my mind, Rose Prince may have gotten it right. You do what is set before you, and you do it with a full and open heart.

The pilgrims.

The goal.

Lejac Residential School