Notes on cancellation

Was the Cancel Culture worse in the past? It depends where you landed, after your drop through the Wormhole. My impression is that, even today, the Cancel Culture is worse in Red China than over here.

But it is not getting worse as quickly.

Consider events in Belarus, or “White Russia,” where it has been unwise to be a Cossack since 1917. It remains so, with Alexander Lukashenko still in power, but nominal opposition nominally permitted. So long as you’re not a Cossack. Is opposition to the state ideology — called “Stalinism” by our own politically correct — banned? Only according to the people who live there.

What has Belarus to do with Cancel Culture, gentle reader might ask. From what I can make out from this distance, Lukashenko may actually command a majority. But his electoral opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya — widely admired in the West because she is a woman and speaks English well — is also “one of them,” according to my Chief Belorussian Correspondent. That her husband, the previous presidential candidate, was in gaol, seemed to argue for her political sanctity: but there are squabbles among that elite, as there are squabbles over here among the proponents of “Me Too” and Antifa. This provides some entertaining theatre sometimes, but what interests me is the attitudes in common between the people who are angrily cancelling each other.

This morning, for reasons I won’t disclose, I was thinking of the Cancel Culture under the Whig Junto, that ruled England (if we may use these terms broadly) through most of the 18th century, after the death of beloved Queen Anne, and even before. To a United Empire Loyalist like myself, their curious judgements eventually led to the loss of our Thirteen Colonies. But as early as the 1720s, Ben Franklin was trying to form a Whig Junto for America: one of many things that have disappeared down the Memory Hole, over here. Indeed, we might need Wormholes to get them back again.

I am not thinking specifically of the political careers of Lord Somers, the Earl of Halifax, Sunderlands, Shrewsburies, or others whom the beloved Queen despised. I think of them more as the beneficiaries of the Inglorious Revolution of 1688, that put William and Mary on the throne, thus eventually Anne herself, to say nothing of our beloved Elizabeth II.

We have had a form of Cancel Culture since then, starting perhaps in London, but by now spread throughout the English-speaking world, and more dilutely through its mental colonies. While the word is sometimes cancelled, the epithet “progressive” describes this attitude; and I remember “liberal.” Anything inconsistent with its “givens” has been subject to censorship, in academia and elsewhere, for more than three centuries now. A party might call itself “Conservative,” but will be quick to deny that it is unprogressive. Indeed, in Ontario here, we have had to suffer the indignity of a party called “Progressive Conservative” to the present day, although the more progressive people are always trying to cancel it.

Much of the anti-Catholic bigotry, mostly latent since the Catholic Church herself embraced “progress,” but now re-blossoming, dates back to the deposition of James II (in that Inglorious Revolution), and long before him to the Reformation in which the Middle Ages, generally, were cancelled. The smearing of all previous accomplishments was, as it is always, necessary to the preservation of power through subsequent revolutionary regimes.

The attitudes in question — the great kaleidoscope of them — have appeared to vary over the years. But it is only the re-scattering of tinsels in a mirror. What today seems somewhat abhorrent to what were once “liberal” people, is only the latest pattern. True, the cancellers of our Cancel Culture may seem drooling violent thugs, and insane, but their principles are as “enlightened” and “humane” as those of their predecessors — who also cancelled their predecessors, in turn.

All along there has been an underground, too, resisting but never entirely surfacing: a Counter Culture underneath, or on the other side. I, for instance, belong to it (call me a Proud Boy if you will), and got used to being cancelled from about the age of twenty-three.