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.