Essays in Idleness


Thomas Sowell at four score & ten

A happy birthday to Thomas Sowell, who completes his ninetieth year. For about half that time I have been reading him, and much of my own good sense — the soundness of my reasoning in matters social and economic — can be attributed to him. Still, he has written more than I have read, as it were. His three dozen books are a small part of a volume of work that has touched current events through the years, but only as points of departure towards how things work, and why. Beyond journalism, his academic researches — in many prestigious institutions, going back to when their prestige was deserved — have been outstanding. His calm and gently humorous temperament makes him to this day a voice of sanity in public places. He has graced the world by his humility and honesty; by the good faith that has become so rare.

His “backstory” can inspire persons of any race or class. Born into rural poverty in Carolina backwoods, and raised by an aunt with two grown daughters, his luck was to be taken to Harlem during the northward black migration of the Depression years. Abnormally smart, he won a scholarship to an elite high school, but had to quit when the money ran out. From delivery boy, he found his way to a machine shop; athletic, he tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Drafted to be a grunt, he made the Natted States Marines, who noticed his gift for photography during the Korean War.

By his gift for using libraries he then shone his way to Harvard, graduating magnum cum laude; then to a masters at Columbia and a doctorate at Chicago — where he came in contact with some of the world’s finest economic minds, including that of Milton Friedman. His youthful Marxism was tolerated there, and helped him into the labour department at Washington, DC. There he discovered for himself that the minimum-wage bureaucracy seriously impeded the interests of the poor. Too, that progressive bureaucrats did not care what their policies did to poor people, only for their own comfortable positions. His socialism was cured.

The autobiography (A  Personal Odyssey), written when he was still a young man of seventy, will fill in all the rest. I read it craving information on his religious outlook, finding not for the first time a wonderful soul, who seems to lack a religious sensibility — though plainly he was driven by old-fashioned Christian traits. (Praise be to God.)

Today, the man is a senior fellow in the Hoover, at Stanford. He has nominally retired as pundit, but remains a font of creative energy. His recent books on Intellectuals and Race, and drawn from his fascinating delve into Late-Talking Children, prove him mind alive. Each can blow away the tired clichés of our stultifying ignorance.

Sowell’s views, through the years, have stood in bold, direct contradiction to those clichés; they are built on a foundation of demonstrated fact. He reminds, systematically, that our social catastrophes depend upon the “progressive” vanities by which we have been suckered. In his person, Sowell reminds how much can be achieved when a man focuses upon his craft and calling, rather than on worldly “success.” This came to him as a bonus.

He has not stooped or deviated into the sleaze that is required for electoral politics. There has been no peacock display of pretended virtues. He is the genuine article.

The triumph of Dullness

A platitude, widely circulated in my youth, held that “ideas have consequences.” It is true, after a fashion. It is especially true of stupid ideas. Already, half a century ago, in the universities I was determined to avoid (except their libraries, and interesting professors), it seemed to me that “Dullness” reigned. This is the goddess who presides over The Dunciad, of Alexander Pope. According to my diagnosis at the time, the intellectual life of Canada, at least, was governed by malice, borne of mediocrity, or worse — conveyed in a (sickeningly sweet) syrup medium of affected niceness. But was this ever not so?

Looking back, I see how I overestimated my own intelligence, and underestimated my arrogance. For I was, like many others, a wilful child; just other-willed from most. Nonetheless, I was aware that a generation of American draft dodgers were infiltrating our schools, and linking up with our native “commies,” who likewise had no taste for learning. Rather their ideal of education was agitprop: not the thing itself, but protesting the thing.

At an early age (sixteen) I resolved to quit high school, leave the country, and see the world. Foolishly, I migrated into journalism, especially in Asia where the alternatives were teaching English at the lowest possible level, or selling my blood. In retrospect, I could have done better, had my ambitions themselves been better disciplined by an apprenticeship of some kind, or had I been taught a few elementary things against my will.

Soon, I was discovering that Canada was no special case; and that an Age of Lead was advancing, such as Pope describes — from the east over a darkening Western World. It was the genius of Pope (a wilful Catholic) to associate this encroaching “oriental tyranny” not with any perverse eastern religion, but with the proud Enlightenment we were gathering for ourselves. It was his particular insight that this Dullness, and the Chaos it engendered, was not inspired by malice, but instead by a strange, fatalistic glibness. We were losing our (Christian civilizational) capacity for shame. Skipping several centuries forward, we might observe that we have lost it.

In a generation before Edmund Burke’s, the conservative instinct of resistance to catastrophic Whiggery was being articulated by Queen Anne Tories. But this is an aside.

We have lost not so much belief in God, as an informed belief; or if my gentle reader will, the awe or even the fear of God, which had once prevented some of our excesses, but also quickened us in mind and spirit. This faith a-draining, we became by increments more cocky in our dullness.

Ideas have consequences, it is said, and the current riots, lootings, shootings and so forth, are the consequence of the rot that has been taught, to the children in our schools and universities; touched off by restlessness from the Batflu lockdowns. That an idea as criminally obtuse as “defund the police” could be entertained, tells us much; but beyond this we might look through other demands of that most recent ideological movement, Black Lives Matter (with sixty affiliated organizations). For instance, we are instructed to disrupt the “white” nuclear family structure; to decarcerate prison convicts; to apply laws according to skin colour, &c.

That every proposition of this “BLM” will, and will obviously, worsen the plight of any disadvantaged “blacks and browns,” is among topics now forbidden. Unthinking, ruthless mobs will “cancel” the discussion, often violently. Yet the chaos they engender is not the intention — of any but the hardest, psychopathic Dullards.

The Chaos follows from the Dullness, rather than vice versa. The ancient Oriental Tyranny then follows from that.

Enforcing whiteness

“Bye, bye, Eskimo Pie,” declares a blog headline that I earnestly wish I had got to, first. One year short of its centenary, this popular ice cream product must be removed from the supermarkets, as part of the insane racist campaign to remove all reference to minorities from their shelves. First they came for Aunt Jemima (an American black woman who rose from slave to millionaire), and now they are coming for the rest. The scheme of the race baiters, of course, spreads much wider than to commercial brand names. As Donald Trump predicted, they are now even toppling the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; and naturally, those of Abraham Lincoln, “who freed the slaves.”

That the “social justice warriors” are doing exactly what the Ku Klux Klan did, right down to lynching black people who don’t know their place on the Democrat plantation, is a proof that the world does not necessarily change for the better. Once upon a time the men in white bedsheets (American version) were only after Catholics; then they went after the coloured people; today, their targets apparently include the innocent denizens of Canada’s far north; and according to polls, half the voters in Natted States Merica support them.

Finally, my gentle Yankee readers will understand why my Loyalist ancestors fled to Canada. They had property down there, but it was getting too crazy.

General Washington was an admirable man, in many respects; a great believer in British freedom. (“Which to the open sea / Of the world’s praise from dark antiquity / Hath flowed, ‘with pomp of waters, unwithstood’.”) Everyone has flaws, though everyone has excuses, if you read your history books long enough. Some of these excuses are not very good, but history’s like that. If we are to concede to the Democrat Party belief that people can be property — especially black people; voting fodder, if they cannot be aborted — some incidents of history don’t look so bad. Only a sane person would be repelled.

(Oddly, when I first heard the name “Black Lives Matter,” I thought it must be a pro-life group.)

When the Royal Navy was collecting refugees from New York, back there in 1783, the dispossessed included many thousand slaves, who had won their freedom by fighting in the British colonial ranks. They were to be carried off to freedom in other colonies.

Sir Guy Carleton (1st Baron Dorchester) was negotiating with this Washington gentleman over who would be allowed to leave. To the credit of the latter, he didn’t butcher everyone, as he was then nearly in a position to do. But he did throw a hissy fit on Carleton. This was because a number of Washington’s personal slaves were among the runaways who had, by then, retreated to New York. They were his personal property, and dammit, he wanted them back. (Carleton told him that he could do something with himself: these blacks were unalienated British subjects.)

If I were the prime minister of Canada, instead of Pierre Trudeau’s pathetic child, I would be reminding my fellow Canadians now, in my characteristically mischievous manner, of some historical reasons to gloat. We have, it is true, committed a few of our own enormities; but the good thing about being the smaller country, is that they were on a smaller scale. I’d be introducing a Bill in Parliament right away, defending the honour of our most northern peoples, and if it passed, handing out Eskimo Pies.


LYING DOGGO. I have decided to get off this Internet thingy for a week or so. While I am a Reactionary in my preferred sense, I am at risk of becoming a reactionary in another: a person who merely reacts to the news headlines. This is all very well, to fill space sometimes, but if one doesn’t watch oneself, one will degenerate into a pundit. (Been there; done that.) Whereas, I aspire to be something more effete. These Essays in Idleness will resume, however, by Dominion Day I should think, always provided that I am still alive. … Parting thought from B-16: “The truth always has a future.”

A note on sternutation

Should some sort of post-mortem ever be conducted on the catastrophic failure of all computer models, it will be done with the help of a computer model, that will cost billions in whatever currency to assemble. It will show the need for more computer studies. And therefore, it will be catastrophically wrong.

But note: for 100 dollars or negotiable, I will produce a minority report that will explain everything, infallibly. I will not preview the report in this Idlepost, however, because it might be worth money to me.

Aw, heck. Since I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice, let me just go ahead and blow all the beans. Let me recklessly tell gentle reader why computer models are always mistaken.

It is because their makers decide the result, before they design the model.

This does not mean they are self-interested phanatics, consciously preying on the gullibility of a drooling, ignorant public; although usually it does. For even if, by disposition, they are lofty, objective types, they will need, objectively, a lofty budget to perform a “credible” study. This means they must beg huge sums of money, and this will only be available from a source with an unhealthy interest in the result.

You see, the problem has nothing to do with computers. Even among humans, the phenomenon of “garbage in, garbage out” is well attested. The intention of following the evidence where it leads, is transient. I should think only a saint could sustain it, for longer than he could hold his breath under water.

By the way, I have “seen” a computer model that incorporates all facts about Roman Palestine, in order to predict the resurrection of Jesus. I put the word “seen” in goof quotes, because, in fact, I “saw” it in the dream, from which I woke this morning. Many of my dreams are satirical; this one would take a cupcake, at least. I was turning page after page of print-out, from computer-generated numbers. Many of my satirical dreams are nightmares.

“Scientists” tell us, that in order to arrive at a secure result, we must know everything that will, or even might, contribute to it. Only then can we predict with confidence.

But supposing, for the sake of having an argument, that everything could be known, about anything, the prediction will still be wrong. That is because, “everything being equal,” everything won’t be equal. Statisticians have gone some way to proving, repeatedly, that there will be disparities between any two groups, no matter how identical they are. What they call “randomness” will sneak into some tiny movement, and tamper with everything that succeeds it, growing until the result is overawed. (Actually, it is worse than they think, but I am trying to keep this simple.)

The “butterfly sneeze” principle attempts to account for this. A butterfly sneezes in north-western Uganda, and there goes the history of the world. One thing leads to another. “For want of a nail, … the kingdom was lost,” according to a pre-scientific proverb I learnt as a child.

But here I am temporarily with the Hegelians. Butterfly sneezes do not determine the history of the world, or even the weather in Brazil. I can know this even without knowing how butterflies sneeze (presumably through their spiracles). For complex events are necessarily too complicated for human comprehension — given the time remaining in the universe. We cannot even know what we mean by “determined.”

A sneeze may however change the course of a computer model. That is why the modeller must insert however many sneezes it takes, until he gets the result he was paid for.


SEE ALSO, my Thing column for today (here). It also reflects on public statuary.

Answering to a “need”

The Batflu virus isn’t much use to society, according to unspoken consensus. In pragmatic terms, it doesn’t do anything productive. Rather it prevents us from doing things; such as breathing, in extreme cases. But then I don’t think Pragmatism has much use, either. It isn’t good at accounting for paradox, whereas, the use of things is often paradoxical. A contagion might kill off what “needed killin’,” in that fine old Texas phrase. One thinks of the tourist industry, for example. Yet having only very partial views, we may not know what most needs killin’, and often we jump to unfortunate conclusions.

A parallel case may be found in the “civil” services, regulating authorities, non-profits, &c. Jobs in these areas, which command high salaries and pensions, and present delicious opportunities for graft, are outwardly the opposite of productive. They parasitically consume, on a colossal scale,  the resources of the productive.

Look into almost any kind of “charitable” activity, such as social work, and one will find that only a tiny proportion of the cash “trickles down” to the characteristically desperate “clients.” And when it does, they use it to buy not only drugs and licker, but truly useless things, such as lottery tickets.

“Education” systems, in the modern West, exist chiefly to enrich semi-literate, unionized schoolteachers. In many parts of Ontario, for instance, a teacher will make at least double what the average parents make, and therefore feel justified in sneering. The teachers naturally consider that the little ones belong to them, for they are the necessary source of their income. What rights should parents have to interfere in their upbringing?

My best argument for the parasite class (always granting that some may be sincere), is that they protect society from gathering excessive wealth, or living lives of too much ease. Without them, we might easily suffer from the vices associated with too much freedom.

How I preferred the deadbeat, layabout, very English London of the Labour Party, when I lived there in the ‘seventies — to the cosmopolitan, rich, over-swept London of the Thatcher years. There are some advantages to socialism.

And there are other arguments, too, for putting depraved Leftists in power, though on examination they reveal special pleading. For instance, teachers may claim to offer child-minding services, so that mothers, especially, can go to work. But it is because heavy taxation requires the dual income, or women to do horrible and demeaning paid work when their husbands run away, that these services were ever made necessary.

The government does, arguably, “create” employment. Among the most farcical examples are the tax lawyers and consultants. Taxpayers need these to navigate incredibly elaborate tax codes, for their own protection. Only a professional can find the loopholes. Whereas, a comprehensible, flat tax system would put all these “experts” out of business. It would shrink revenue departments spectacularly, and by extension, threaten to shrink taxes. To a professional politician, this would never do. It would shrink his power.

I have come to think of the Batflu lockdowns, and the race riots, as two heads upon a single revolutionary beast, the object of whom is to gain state power. The lockdowns were and are based on fraudulent, scientistic claims; they are by now too obviously a power trip by increasingly demented control freaks, not only at the governor level, but throughout the bureaucracies. Wild efforts must be made to sustain them. Somehow they must, with the help of the media trolls, keep the general public scared — lest they think for themselves, and become disobedient. But the panic of governments is overdone. So long as “the peeple” are still wearing masks, their message is working.

Meanwhile, the majority of those who populate the Black-Lives-Matter “peaceful demonstrations” (i.e. race riots with looting, arson, and gunplay), are young and lily white. They, and their political patrons, can hardly be demonstrating for the black people, whose economic and social interests are being intentionally hurt. The young, and radicalized in our universities, look forward to paying off their crippling student debts with careers in a much expanded nomenklatura, that will enforce the rioters’ demands. For the moment all they have to do is terrorize and demoralize an electorate that stands in their way — and hope that their riots don’t backfire.

Think of all the jobs to be created, simply for censoring the comments in rightwing blogs.

To hell with liberals & conservatives

At different angles, from Tocqueville to Schumpeter to a thousand reporters on the ground, it has been observed that liberalism defeats itself. I mean by this real liberalism, not the poison candy version that is offered to children by our academic Left. The real thing celebrates liberty as the central political good; and equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of result. It frees up economies and societies, by cancelling hidebound rules and regulations.

When much younger and under the influence of my father and his war-veteran generation (his was World War II), I considered myself a “liberal,” for views that activist mobs would now consider to be “conservative,” or as they label them, “fascist,” “racist,” “white supremacist,” and with other smears, both filthy and consistently vicious.

Opposition to totalitarianism was a key to that elder generation. They weren’t shy about using arms. A true liberal was an enthusiast for the War in Vietnam, and other global initiatives. Liberals were “open society” in an explicitly anti-communist, 1950s way. They loved “civil rights,” and opposed the Nanny State, although incoherently. They wished to accommodate the women’s movement. Their instinctive suspicion of social programmes, and revulsion for “ideology,” were slipping away; or had already slipped, to a longer historical view.

To be tediously economic, they were intoxicated by the view that, “now we are rich we can afford to have some fun.” They had long been bored with the absolute moral judgements that their ancestors (to whom neither divorce nor contraception were thinkable) took for granted — based on a Protestant Christianity that had been abandoned by sophisticated intellectuals a century before. “Church versus State” was no longer an issue, and because it wasn’t, morality became a statist “construct,” even without action from the Marxists.

When Ross Douthat writes a book on “decadence,” he is treating it as a temporal trend: something that comes and goes through the decades. His arguments are themselves decadent: something for the chattering classes to play, in the spirit of badminton. It is a topic for upmarket wit; no horror lurks beneath it. The old Gibbonesque “decline and fall” narrative has evaporated with classical culture, and been replaced by a dry happyface from which the wrinkles of serious history are botoxed. The “whig view of history” survives, but only by cliché.

(In private life, Douthat is a timid but not nominal Catholic.)

What isn’t defended, is soon killed off, in nature but also in metaphysics. Leftism flourishes today, not because it has won any argument, but by eating everything on the liberal side. Even the word, “liberal,” went down with a soft burp. It now represents the denial, or reversal, of everything that liberals once stood for. Gentle reader may prove this to himself, by reading old magazines.

Today, conservatism is disappearing, too, into the belly of the beast. It has been reduced to a few defunct liberal principles, such as “freedom of religion” (whatever that means). The conservative defends the last round of revolution against the next round, in a mush of moderations. He draws the line, at a moderate death wish. It is why I came to call myself not a conservative but a Tory, and now call myself a Reactionary to be clearer. We do not, as it were, “stand athwart history, yelling Stop,” but are the knights who say, “Backwards!”

And not to any particular point in time, such as the American Constitution or Magna Carta, but to the “originalist” salvific, Christological manifesto, in all its love and defiance. It is an absolutist, cosmological conception, of a relation between God and man, unrevised and unrepented. Evil must be opposed because it is evil, good must be advanced because it is good, and the wise can know the difference. There can be no glib, superficial “progress”; only a way to Heaven, and a way to Hell. “We walk to heaven backwards.” (Newman.)

Is this position unpopular at the moment?

Who effing cares?

The monied & gated

First, let me assure gentle reader of my qualifications, when writing on this topic. Let me declare my interest, candidly, for I have been accused of bias. I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice, especially since my old-age pension cut in; so wealthy, in material terms, that I am often able to pay my rent sharply the moment it is due, and keep in cigarettes besides. I must have bought twenty thousand books in the course of my life, and through salvage and repurchase have reacquired, say, one in every five. And this is not to mention attractive ceramic pots, and four French copper utensils, and a few hundred classical CDs, with a player. My landlord has supplied a working refrigerator and electric stove. Wires lead to half a dozen light sockets; and there are wall plugs scattered generously about. I have more than I need.

Moreover, I retain my position as Otiosus Otiosorum, Lord Denizen of the High Doganate, and Scrivener-General of the Idleblog. Lots of ugly mail, though.

While there are persons who are wealthier, in worldly terms, I knock Diogenes into a cocked hat, and until the recent Batflu regulations were imposed, went on long walks in my splendour. For did I mention that I am also the proud owner of multiple shirts, more than one pair of trousers, and not only a venerable tweed jacket but a heavy winter coat. Too, I have a hat, infused with waterproofing duck oil, for when it is raining.

So I have no reason to envy or resent those who might seem excessively monied, and live in gated estates with security guards; even those who give us lectures on our racism, and add their voices to demands that we defund the police, or call us stupid when we take what they say at face value. “They have their reward,” as Our Saviour explained. I am not even tempted to pick their pockets and (perhaps here I am getting a little smug myself), would never do acts of violence against them. I haven’t murdered a single one. These days, my pleasure is to avoid them.

I used to mix more freely with the much-monied classes, when I was younger and even richer. Quite frankly, I found them often lacking in elegance, some quite depraved, and all-round, as base as the poor. But it is up to them to make their selection between Heaven and Hell; they were anyway not listening to advice when I gave it. (Always on small points.)

Ruskin spoke well of royalty, both real and affected, when he noticed that they live behind walls. He said he was not curious what they did behind them. There were few paparazzi in his day, though many socialists already. Morbid curiosity they spread like a disease. But ho: if the rich have no business telling us how to live, surely we have no business telling them, either. Myself, I try to give only the most general instructions.

Nor have we any business instructing the poor, although it is a Victorian hobby that is still growing. If they will agree not to riot or set fires, I see no reason to pummel them with clubs or lathi sticks, or shoot those whom we find most annoying. The old-fashioned principle of “live and let live” can be applied to those of all social classes, and impartially with regard to race and gender.

It is not “social distancing” — merely a question of proper hygiene — but a spiritual aloofness that we need most urgently in these troubled times.

At sea

Can a society function within a surge of violent crime? Of course it can; even the societies within Auschwitz or the Gulag were “functioning,” from day to day. Indeed, the destruction of their members was part of the functioning. But were they “functioning well”? Under the dictatorship of relativism that Pope Benedict spoke of, who are we to say how “well” is to be interpreted?

Many are the progressive media hacks and politicians who now argue that our civilization is functioning quite well, by violently destroying itself; or as they would say, by encouraging “peaceful protests” where only a few policemen happen to be maimed or killed, and the looting and arson have nothing to do with it. And where “free speech” may be offered against the premisses of these “protesters,” at the speaker’s personal risk.

At one level, we have begun to cede ownership of that old “Civ” to a new generation, whom we call “millennials.” Some of us oldies remember what a mess we made of what was inherited from our own fathers, but we did continue to observe some ancient customs, such as the recognition of free speech. Only now do we notice that it is passing away, among our own children.

To us oldies, this idea of free, unpunished speech, came naturally, because we heard it being exercised all around us. Some of the millennials still carry this from their homes; especially those who had fathers in them. But for the contemporary college kid, whom I think of as an orphan, there are just two points of view — an “objective” one, taught by their postmodern professors; and “Nazis.”

We might dispute what is “objective.” But the children of our social revolution don’t disagree with anything we say. They tune us out, and can’t hear a thing, until suddenly they get triggered, and form a numerous punishment mob on Twitter. That is their equivalent to a “debate.”

How long will it last?


Father Hunwicke has a post especially worth reading today (here), that asks the question, “How long does ‘now’ last?” He is asking it in the light and obscurity of Gaudium et Spes, the grand Vatican II document, which itself spoke, in its own words, de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis. Was it projecting beyond the Beatles generation? And if so, how long, O Lord?

My thought has heretofore been that “temporal conditioning” is in itself an anti-Catholic concept; which the Council of Trent was trying to resist, but which that of Vatican II embraced “in its spirit,” and by default. It causes the Church to float free of her Foundation, so that phenomena like Bergoglio become inevitable. He tries to “steer” her, as it were, while she drags at her anchor. I’ve thought of her recently as the “Houseboat Church,” the loyalty of all her passengers disturbed by the waves. A mere typhoon or “batflu” becomes extremely disruptive.

Here in Parkdale, after having been set ashore “for our safety,” we will now be allowed back on board in small groups, clutching numbered fairground tickets, following ropes to keep our social distancing, and being asked politely to leave if we stay too long. This new regime starts locally, today.

The long & winding snake

You can get a cat into a bag twice, as someone said (I think it was me); but the second time it has to be dead. This would be the reasoning behind my prediction that a second general lockdown will not even be attempted; but it must be qualified. For many of the people who imposed the first one were demonstrably insane, and they haven’t yet been removed from public office.

The same could be said about our impending “summer of love,” or hot season of race riots, already endured a half-century ago. That cat has been put into that bag before. This time is bound to be a different story.

It is fairly strictly a party question, now. The “theory” behind the lockdowns — to avoid overloading the hospitals in Manhattan — proved a crock, but there is a more cogent alternative theory. The Democrats in Natted States Merica guessed that destroying the “Trump economy,” and encouraging “peaceful” riots in the cities, was the only way they could defeat Trump, having tried other methods to remove him. And for a party of convinced abortionists, defeating Trump takes priority over mere human lives. We’ll see in November whether their Caracas strategy is the final winner.

To be fair, as they say at Instapundit, the Repubs have historically played along with this, and agreed to take responsibility and blame for almost purely Democrat measures. A good example is race, where the party of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, eugenic birth control to reduce the black population, and Jim Crow laws, presents itself to captive media as the champion of the black man against “systemic racism”; while the party of Lincoln apologizes for itself. That the devil is at large in American politics is, to my mind, an irresistible hypothesis.

The refusal of this Trump fellow to play this game, as his predecessors did, drives Democrats berserk. He actually fights back, to their consternation. It didn’t help that they were so proximate to berserk already.

But I would not wish to miss a kick at the “Republicants” in their old country clubs, either. For generations they were the models of complacency, to their own cost. They weren’t even interested in the black man’s plight, and forfeited the “negro” vote (I used the same term as Martin Luther King), while the Democrats absconded with it. This they did by means of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” whose nanny-state provisions were instrumental in wrecking black families, as well as the families of “white trash,” in Ozarkia and elsewhere. The poor were locked into Pringle-eating, drug abusing, fatherless despair. Systemic “entitlements” (i.e. pogey) preserve this status quo.

On the other hand, I have heard earnest discussions of what “systemic” might mean, among the Republicant factions. With a hat tip to perhaps half of the civil rights legislation (which was supported by a much higher proportion of “Reds” than “Blues” in the legislatures of the time), the Americans have heroically dismantled the genuinely “systemic” racism of the southern Democrat tradition, through the generations since the last World War; so that now it survives only in the leftist imagination.

That individual acts of bigotry continue, even by the occasional rogue cop, cannot be denied. That all tribes are “racist” against all other tribes in the state of nature, is an observation available to the sane. A few anthropological footnotes to Hobbes could confirm this nicely. But in the Western Civ which “multiculti” radicals seek to overthrow, tribal propensities used to be resisted.

In the big fat book that I have never been tempted to write, for fear of terminal boredom, every statement above could be vindicated. For the moment I am only trying to provide some forgotten context. We came to our unpretty pass by a route much different from what the slogans of left demagogues suggest.

The more subtle strategy

My unimaginative “mow them down to marmalade” solution for street demonstrations, and similar public events, might not work smoothly in all instances. I’d hate to create martyrs for ungodly causes. And so, occasionally, we might try subtle variations, such as “let them mow themselves down.”

Seattle is a city I have not visited in forty years. It seemed fairly crazy then, but the “new crazy,” often still wearing suits and neckties. Having only a couple of days at my disposal, I may not have penetrated very deeply into the heart and soul of the Seattle experience. I didn’t even go up the Space Needle. The city’s bourgeois, gentrified districts struck me then as bourgeois and gentrified; other districts as less so.

The Pike Place Market, built on mudflats beneath a bluff beside the tablecloth of Elliott Bay, was a disappointment. At the time, I was visiting from Asia, so my standards for funkiness may have been too high. Already an “urbanist,” I was an enthusiast for small autonomous neighbourhoods in cities, but this one was being tarted up in a way that I dismissed as unspontaneous.

I should have liked to visit it in the days before Pearl Harbor. I gather it was a Japanese district then, and the market stalls were occupied mostly by Japanese farmers. Things happen in the world, and when an American president decided to intern Japanese-Americans generally, the market went into decline. The external world is notorious for intruding on small urban spaces.

Similarly with Seattle’s new “People’s Republic of Chaz,” or whatever they are calling it this morning. While those few city blocks are autonomous for the moment, I do not expect this arrangement to last. In the name of “defunding the police” it is guarded by hippiesque gunmen with AK-47s, under a leftist warlord. “Peace, peace” — they are all peaceful protesters, they say. And in the cause of open borders, barricades have been set across all entrances. Poetry readings and other cultural events are reported, and these are funded in a unique way, by armed local extortion. There is also a welfare system, with veggie food donated for the local homeless. Unfortunately, a gang of them stole all the packages, but what good intentions!

Rather than do something terribly uncool, such as sending in riot squads, or the Army, on my “mow them down” bromide; or follow the more pacific FDR “relocation” approach, to prison camps; I think this little experiment in neighbourhood autonomy should be allowed. Indeed, the mayor of Seattle has compared Chaz to a block party, and now looks forward to “a summer of love.” Who am I to claim being better informed?

After we stop such nasty monopoly services as water, electricity, gas; oppressive fire departments; and global capitalist food supplies; the Chazians will have an opportunity to display their economic innovations. I, for one, will be watching with interest. Verily, my liberalism extends to letting the larger municipalities in the “Blue States” make their own arrangements. I am curious to see what comes after Defunding the Police.

The only security needed, by the “Red State” types in the rest of America, is to prevent the inmates from getting out. Minneapolis, New York City, Baltimore and so forth, could simply be surrounded by the sort of walls now rising along the Mexican border. (Maybe the inmates would like to pay for them.) We could use drones and satellite photography to follow the “progress of progress” within. And if the people inside tire of their confederate status, they could eventually be readmitted to the Union; though under some sort of quarantine. (Mind they don’t get out through the airports, the way they did in Wuhan.)

“Freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom,” as they used to sing at Woodstock, back when the Hong Kong Flu was claiming more (and younger) lives than the Batflu, though hardly anyone noticed. (“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child / a long way / from my home.”)

But like Woodstock, many of these “new democracies” will be on what was, at least formerly, prime agricultural land, and could revert to the primal human condition, as envisioned by Rousseau, and Cain.

Chronicles of scientism

The author of these Idleposts is a psycho. This I deduce from the latest “study,” which claims to reveal the motivation behind all those not in lockstep with the latest therapeutic doctrines. (Here.) Specifically, while I outwardly obey the Six Foot Rule of social distancing (known in Canada as the Two Metre Rule) — for this is always wise in Parkdale where I live — I am inwardly rebellious. And this, although I have no therapeutic excuse. For as we are now told by the epidemiological authorities, one may utterly discard the Rule, but only while acting as rioter, arsonist, looter, race hustler, or “peaceful protester.”

“Ooh, a study!” as Sarah Hoyt says. “That’s almost as good as a computer model!”

Some of my remarks on scientism might perhaps be recalled. We had a “renaissance” of science in the 12th century (see the standard work by Charles Homer Haskins), arguably in the 17th, and some respect for science as late as the early 20th until the Great War, but have sunk back today into scientistic tyranny. The one exception is in applied technology where, because there’s money to be made selling high-end products, and competitive military goods, small corners of the economy are devoted to inventing them. We have scientific “gamers,” as it were. But these people are inclined to go mad, as we see for instance in Silicon Valley — whose genuine, apolitical nerds are under constant pressure to sign on to every left-progressive “talking point.”

This is one of several ways in which, to my view, the “masters of technology” are actually the slaves of it, whether here in the West or in Red China. But well fed, in both places.

As an old Cold Warrior, and once “science kid,” whose childhood developed through the 1960s, there is nothing that ought to surprise me. We have Antifa today; we had the Weather Underground then. We have parallels to every event I witnessed through the idiot box of adolescence, and vice versa. Even the destruction of American cities by riots and crime isn’t new; nor the supine response of our liberal leaders. The obvious left bias of news and entertainment was the same then as now, only less shrieking. The replacement of flatfoot journalists, with malicious ideological clowns from the universities, then a work in progress, was by the end of the last century, complete. The poison spread, through all media of information. We’ve reached an Age of Unreason to match Robespierre’s, and seem now to be waiting for a Napoleon.

Charlatans are the handmaids of paganry. That the charlatans slide into violent insurrection, even against the better pagan customs, is not something historically new.

The alternative is improbable: another Age of Faith. This would necessarily include a subsidiary restoration of faith in science — in the modest belief that if we follow the facts where they lead, as opposed to where we want them to go, a lost perception of cosmological order will also be, willy-nilly, restored. “Modern science” — an unambiguously Christian construct — depends entirely on one assumption. It is, that a universe God created will make sense. Logic, or the principle of non-contradiction, will hold up, and where it doesn’t seem to be doing so, it is not God, but we, who have got it wrong.

By the inversion of “values,” at the present day, the sane views are labelled as “psycho.” The truth is not the true, but what we (or our masters) want to call true. This “truth” is “settled,” from one moment to another; and is not to be discovered, but imposed.

Karens & their kind

When I first saw the name “Karen,” used in the plural, apparently for a whole class of women, I did not look it up. Context told me that I wouldn’t have to; that a Karen was simply the updated term for what I formerly knew as a Becky. There are related, more focused terms, such as “Trixie” for a Karen from upscale white Chicago, and so forth. It is one of many reasons to celebrate the black urban lexical culture from which it emerged. The image of a passive-aggressive blonde, with a pony tail, disputing her order at Starbucks, comes quickly to mind. She will be married to a “Chad” whom she met in law school.

I love stereotypes. They help us understand what the Greeks called syndromes, carrying them beyond the narrow world of medical jargon. “Karen” began as the stereotype for the woman who “wants to see the manager,” but was soon extended through a gallery of related traits. One thinks affectionately through a shortlist of the Karens one has known. For the Christian, it can impact one’s prayer life. (I found myself once praying for a certain Karen Surname, then spontaneously extending it to “Karens everywhere,” with a memorial for the Beckies. I noticed as I searched my memory that many of these Karens were biologically male.)

And today I wonder, as I have often done, at the genius of colloquial language, and the unerring way with which it uncovers fresh stereotypes, that enhance our perception of reality, in a way like painting and the other fine arts. (In a lost portrait, Leonardo depicted a Karen of the Renaissance.)

When, for instance, a Hurricane Karen tracked through wherever, a few years ago, “Karen” passed into meteorological science, then back into sociology. We could now speak of “the path of Karen,” knowingly. Though called a hurricane, it was really just a tropical storm; yet nevertheless, intensely annoying.

In politics, we might observe that progressive, female politicians, especially governors and mayors, are always Karens, and we need a companion term for the male ones. During the recent crisis with the Xi Jinping Batflu, they’ve been in our faces almost full time. To this day their oppression continues, as they regroup with new social distancing requirements — then demand that we ignore these to “peacefully protest” their natural enemies in the hair salons. The replacement of policemen with an Army of Karens is among current demands of the “congresswomen.” (An “AOC” is a kind of super-Karen; the Antifa are their quasi-military scolds.)

But again, this is not the full typhoon (such as might batter China), only an incredibly vexatious, essentially North American, summer holiday storm. I’m sure President Nixon’s “silent majority” will clear them all away in November.

Aside on skulls & crossbones

Under a Conservative government, in England, tens or hundreds of thousands may meet to protest against “Trump,” for a police murder in an American city and state that have been in the hands of Democrat politicians since time out of mind. More or less all the race-hustling, anti-Trump riots, west across the Atlantic, have been in cities and states under progressive Democrat rule, for generations. Even their cops belong to Democrat-controlled unions. The false “black lives matter” attribution of blame is so insane as to be funny.

But back to England. While the hordes of leftists amuse themselves, by for instance despoiling the statues of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square — without fear of punishment — a gathering of seven Christians in one place must risk arrest under the Batflu regulations. This is beyond funny, and not merely insane.

A hat tip to the beloved Father Hunwicke, who points to this state of affairs in his Mutual Enrichment blog this morning. He is mild on the Church hierarchy. They have been abjectly begging for permission to reopen their churches — in England, as here in Ontario for that matter. I’m not sure the supposedly Conservative politicians are even answering their phones.

Father Hunwicke proposes roughly what I would propose. It is to open all churches in defiance, and declare:

“We already have our own ancestral memories of being banned from worshipping by your predecessors; of being arrested; and even of worse. Non possumus sine Dominico.”

Unfortunately, our Church is in a sorry state. Our leaders who are not, for instance, Peronist Marxists, are caitiffs, more often that not, vying with each other to overpay their jizyahs to the spirit of the age. Some may have the excuse of senility, but many are younger and do not.

The Road to Hell is Paved with the Skulls of Bishops, to cite an old adage. The bones of priests and monks are also mentioned in the fuller quote, recklessly assigned to the third homily on the Book of Acts by Saint John Chrysostom. What that great 4th-century Father of the Church actually said was, more modestly, οὐκ οῖμαι εῖναι πόλλους ἐν τοῖς ἰερευσι τοὺς σωζομένους, ἀλλὰ πολλῳ πλείους τοὺς ἀπολλυμένους. This has been embellished.

Still, we know what he meant.