Essays in Idleness

DAVID WARREN

Progressive woke & profitable

Among the strange things uttered in these Idleposts, are my reservations about “economic liberalism.” Much of this seems the stranger, because much of the argument is uttered off-post. It is in rambling emails with, for instance, old capitalist friends, who are much “cooler” about present social trends. Yet they are outraged by my slights against holy free trade, and “concerned” that Orange Man Bad is jeopardizing global trade deals. They are “progressive” by instinct, celebrate technology, and are eager to inform me that we’ve never had it so good. Until recently, they have argued that medical conditions have improved since the Dark Ages. For the moment, perhaps, they are less sure.

They are nice people, willing to tolerate any Church of Nice, or even a Church of Nasty if there are business opportunities, such as vast new markets in Araby or China. Without reading Locke they imagine that we should tolerate tolerance, except for people who are in their way; and tolerate intolerance, too. The important thing is “evolution” — not necessarily in the strict Darwinian sense, but in the spirit with which the artful Clinton (the one with the male member) welcomed Red China into the WTO. For, according to the theory, once they get used to making cartloads of money, they’ll buy into “democracy” and all that. They’d never jeopardize global trade.

And well, it worked, as far as making the Maoists rich. By discarding our “value judgements,” real changes are possible in the world. That they are “unexpected” is something we must live with, in the “creative destruction” of our debt-leveraged investments.

Details are the things that often bother me. Abortions and “euthanasia” may seem old debates. That a whole industry is created selling the body parts of the aborted babies, strikes me as, at the minimum, in poor taste. But then, so does selling disabling opiates to “losers,” who missed out on the last plant relocation; or even promoting an addiction to lottery tickets, as a way to tax the poor.

On the other hand, that Black Lives Matter is comfortable with the genocide of black babies in Planned Parenthood clinics, points to a convergence of views. (It’s an “intersectional” thing.) Margaret Sanger was the ultimate liberal, and her commitment to a Nazi-style eugenics programme against inconvenient minorities remains unvisited by the cool. Better to take down the statues of Washington and Lincoln: whose notions of “progress” are now out-of-date.

Forget abortion, it could be argued. In Chinese Turkestan an industry has been founded among the Muslim (current) slaves. Many are lucky, and have jobs assembling products for multinationals in China and abroad. They may be sterilized, and cheated of the fruits of their labour, but they are allowed to live.

Unlike those marked with the right characteristics — who are healthy and at a physical peak, in their late twenties. These may be selected to supply organs, that are needed by older wealthy people in China, and also in a neighbourhood near you. Our best estimates are 25,000 per year at the moment, “donating” organs that may fetch half a million dollars each. These are extracted while the “donors” are still alive, by state-of-the-art surgical methods, to keep those innards fresh and clean. Multiple organs can be extracted from each. Their hair can even make wigs for the fashionable.

Gentle reader is invited to look into this.

Who says there isn’t a market for Uygher body parts? Or those of dissident Christians, for that matter. Who says there aren’t markets for slaves, and haven’t always been where slavery was permitted? Such as West Africa when Western traders came to deal, until the Royal Navy put an end to the export part of the business? But you can still buy Sudanese slaves in Jeddah.

My point is, sometimes capitalism should be restrained. Call me a “social conservative,” for I entertain moral qualms, as opposed to searching for moral equivalents. For in my judgement there are absolutes, and I say this in defiance of all progressive thinking, present and past.

That the capitalists are now queueing to pay off BLM doesn’t surprise me. They could damage the market for Nike shoes. It’s not just that they are panty-wet cowards. At a deeper level, they have sold out their souls. They are naturally sympathetic to the Peking politburo, for instance, and given the opportunity, to organ-harvesting, because that’s where the profits are. If the price is right, they will pay any extortionist’s fee into the bargain. They’re for cutting through red tape, and making the deal. For if they don’t make it, someone else will.

Unless, they are willing to forego business, and risk becoming “losers” themselves. But meanwhile, public attitudes change, and they are perfectly adaptable. In the words of a Canadian folk singer: “God damn them all.”

Apocalyptic aside

“The devil will seem to win in the last days,” said a certain Sister Amadeus to one of my gentle readers, a long time ago. This is a reasonable inference upon the Christian teaching, which does — really, truly — contain an apocalyptic element. (An “element” is irreducible, at least in abstract algebra.)

We have been many times before apparently at the end of days, but not actually there; which is why the Christian must keep his spiritual bags packed, but also continue drinking tea. The world is full of tricks and misapprehensions. The cleverest often get it most wrong, and it is a point of principle, up here in the High Doganate, to distrust the worldly. To reduce the Revelation to a political tussle would be, for instance, quite certainly too clever.

Yet what is not an apocalypse, could still be pretty bad. I have noticed the tenor of reports, lately, from both sides. The expectation of catastrophe is common to them; indeed, the demonic Left is trying to achieve it. All of their efforts are bent on destruction; whereas, only some of the efforts are indisputably evil on the other side. But this was so in 1789, and 1917. We needn’t be surprised.

Appearances are deceptive, but not always so. That the Devil has rolled up “the media, academia, the bureaucracy, most of the armed services, charitable foundations, most of the corporations, and most of the metaphysical speculations that pass for religion,” can be demonstrated, according to my correspondent.

“Good point,” as my cool-headed son would say.

But in the end, both French revolutionists and Bolsheviks were defeated; and eventually even the Batflu successors of Mao, will be disarmed; after another hundred million casualties, or with luck, a lesser count. The moral stench of them lingers to the present day, but it is mixed by now with so many other effluents from the discharge of post-Catholic modernity, that the streams are sometimes hard to distinguish. The great majority of those processed through our “education” systems espouse “Marxism” in some form, today, but the kids are hardly Bolshevik. Their ideology is so diluted by ignorance and stupidity, that they may freely drink the Kool-Aid. (“A rainbow of flavours,” as their advertisements boast.) For the moment, it doesn’t kill them; it just makes them mentally ill.

The good news, even down here in the stew of the news, is that a “backlash” is coming. It takes some time to gather force, but I see many signs that it is growing. People tire of being ordered about by malicious clowns; and one by one, decent people detach themselves from the Movement.

That does not mean the backlash wins, however; or even that, if it won, it would lead us to a better place. I, at least, am too world-weary to embrace a smiley-face optimism. But as I’ve been writing, in the cause of Hope — Truth, Goodness, and Beauty will survive. In the end these prevail, on Earth as in Heaven, even when it appears that all is badly lost.

Anarchia

It is a sign of age, I fear, but I seem to be the last person to lament the declining quality of our Anarchists. Those of more than a century ago were rugged individualists, to a fault. With one well-placed bomb, they could do what takes the contemporary anarchist a cumbersome bureaucratic organization. They were men of action; and some of the women, too. No one could confuse them with party hacks. You could not coerce them into a party line.

When I was younger and, perhaps, more spunky, I used to read Proudhon and Kropotkin. These were all very well, but the systemizing tendency had infected both. Utopianism also muddled their thinking. Without going back to Zeno of Cilium, let me just say that the posterior tradition in recommending anarchy was more subtle and arch. (Read the Antigone, for instance. Today it’s just the brand name for a Givenchy bag.) Anarchy was an inheritance from Greece and even Rome. It could never have been reduced to an election manifesto.

It is interesting that the first English use of the term, anarchisme, dates back to Henry VIII. Those resisting his Divorce and Reformation were taken to be anarchists. Nobly they defended the ancient liturgical order, in such spontaneous actions as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Prominent anarchists of our modern age have, at their best (or worst, depending on one’s point-of-view), had dodgy ideological affiliations, but a real appreciation for economy of means. One thinks of e.g. Gavrilo Princip, the ingenious Serbian, able to ignite a Great War with a few gunshots, and bring down the Austro-Hungarian Empire almost as an aside. Or a certain Osama bin Laden, able to drag a superpower into pointless foreign wars, with very limited means. I do not approve of either gentleman, please note, but their efficiency was astounding.

On the other hand, there was the case of “Sir Herbert Read, the Anarchist.” Or his Canadian disciple, George Woodcock, the polite traveller and essayist. Anarchists who could take tea with the Queen.

All great artists tend to be anarchists. They also tend to be extremely rightwing. Verily, leftwing anarchists need to be watched closely — even though they are usually talentless, and watching them is boring. That is what the police are for.

I like to put in a good word for Trump, if only to induce apoplexy in my more style-conscious readers. The high point of his campaign for the Natted States Presidency, back in ’16, was, to my mind, when he performed an exquisitely tasteless attack on the late John McCain, respected Vietnam hero. I thought, “Ah, there is a man.” In one stroke, he altered the voting intentions of ten million souls — albeit randomly. But he made his reputation as an anarchist, and in the four years since, he has confirmed his implicit promise.

It is complained, by the Nevertrumpers out there, that he runs a chaotic government, in defiance of “the way things are done” in the District of Columbia. For instance, he wakes of a morning, and decides to shut down the economy, just when it is going fairly well; then of another, tells his whole cabinet to delete a few thousand economic regulations, without specifying any, or giving tedious hints. This is heroic. Annoyed with statue-topplers, he announces ten-year gaol terms. Having endured years of abuse from his adversaries, he rises bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to fling a few more tweets at them. He should be giving exercise tips to that drudge, Biden.

As I (tried to) explain to several of my “liberal” friends, back in the day when he wasn’t president yet, he is a Constructive Anarchist. I haven’t yet decided what that means, but it is positive. The last one we had in the English-speaking West was Winston Churchill. Just the man you need when you find yourself in a swamp, and the alligators have begun to disturb you.

Lives matter

Your death is only something that happens in the lives of others. This, according to Sherlock Holmes, but I am remembering it over a breach in time. As I recall, it led to an argument against suicide, by way of a neat leap into the supernatural. You “take your life,” but from whom?

My distant memory of this, came recently, when I was told that an old friend had killed himself. He swam out to sea from a beach in Thailand, my informant explained; and kept swimming.

Once upon a time he was a good Catholic boy, indeed lovable and inspiring in both his humility and his courage; reliably honest and conscientious. He left no note. The possibility that my informant got it wrong, I still entertain. That it was suicide, was something he assumed; but so did some coroner.

There are no more events in this Rob’s earthly life, but he continues to be an event in mine. My happy memories are dimmed, even “cancelled”; yet they could be revived. I know of many other puzzling deaths, on which the worst construction is placed — the poet, Randall Jarrell; the philosopher, Jean Daniélou SJ — who died leaving questions. Not all were suicides. Some died by accident, in unedifying circumstances.

The prevailing view, is that death doesn’t matter, except as a misfortune to be avoided. We should remember the happy times for themselves. But if death doesn’t matter, then life doesn’t matter. It is reduced to fragments; like a beetle, crushed. The whole person, when he “ceased to exist,” ceased ever to have existed. He was a biological epiphenomenon. His story was that of a bad novelist.

Whereas, Catholics (for instance) pray for “a good death.” On the concept itself, we are invited to meditate. Unlike those who adopt the prevailing view, we do not long for “closure.” That is a deletion; a suicide of mind. In thinking on this, we revisit a fissure that dates from the Reformation. Catholics continue to pray for the dead. Protestants were taught that this is a vanity: the fate of the dead is out of our hands. Think deeply on this, and light is cast upon the Catholic doctrine of “transubstantiation”; the difference between a little wafer being the body and blood of Christ, or being instead just a symbol.

A reason to believe that Rob — who in his time saved at least one human life, from a beach — never intended to kill himself, is that he understood the Catholic teaching. He came from a fine Catholic home; received a fine education at Notre Dame. He was not a “symbolist.” He had also endured much worse than the bad luck that had been recently afflicting him (involving a betrayal).

But who am I to guess the content of another human soul? Perhaps, he was medically depressed; and if so, he was probably inclined to hide it. Who knows, who knows? Perhaps he never committed the sin of Selbstmord (the candid German term), but was in effect murdered by psychotropic drugs? Perhaps he had “simply” lost his faith: in which case his lost faith also cost him his life. Perhaps it was an unexpected ocean current, that dragged him out of sight. I cannot know the answer, yet can know that the answer is important.

What we can do is pray. In the Catholic view, this makes a difference.

On making noise

Both in Communist China, and here in Canada, the Catholic Church is under tight control by a government that does not understand or like it. While in Canada we do not yet have to read homilies in praise of Justin Trudeau, sing hymns to celebrate his shoe polish, or watch when unheralded contractors come, to demolish our churches and monuments anyway — the Batflu regulations are much the same. Our statues are under unpredictable threat, and we must tolerate spray paint on Our Lady, &c.

But so far, the exponents of our Cultural Revolution are satisfied if we just keep the chapels bolted, and stained glass politely boarded where it could accommodate graffitoes. If we open a church for an hour or two, we promise to be discreet about it; to rope off pews and wear state-mandated batmasks. The regulations were not designed to prevent us from singing the Mass; only from singing anything.

In Quebec, the state pioneers stricter measures, against people who display a religious affiliation in their apparel, but generally the authorities can count on our docility. Our own bishops help to enforce their strictures.

None of the above can count as sarcastic, so long as sarcasm requires hyperbole.

In both cases — the Red Chinese, and that of the People’s Republic of Canada — we are assured that religion may be practised in the privacy of our own silent hearts. If we recognize the powers of our provincial and national overlords, meekly submit to their micromanaging instructions, and pay our taxes obediently on time, it is possible that their SWAT teams will not visit us at all. Individually, the secret Catholic may be left alone.

Okay, now I am beginning to get sarcastic. And, oh dear, I have used the term, “okay,” which according to the latest ukaz from the revolutionary mobs, is now racist — along with many, formerly innocuous, common words and phrases. When dealing with the insane, and psychotic, no term can remain innocuous, for long. Their paranoia is, like the Batflu, contagious. (Perhaps I should be wearing a mask against it.)

There’s some “pushback” (racist?) in the Natted States, according to rumour; but no sign of any here. Even friends advise to be careful what I say, and one who now disavows my acquaintance, recommended that I “just shut up.”

But as there is nothing that a faithful Catholic can say, that will not contradict the demons, I think that we are under a special obligation to speak up.

Malign fiesta

I do not suppose it makes any practical difference what I have to say about a public health problem that invades the lives of billions; nor that readers will take me for a reliable epidemiologist when I say that the worst danger of that Batflu has now passed. (Infection rates spike, but the power of the virus to torture and kill has relented. The death rates continue downward.)

Nevertheless, I think there is some value in stating, even restating, the obvious — when what is obvious is in conflict with sensational reports, and the aggressive distortions of mass media, profiting from panic.

This Batflu became — more than any previous epidemic — a political issue, instantaneously. This is evident in the way it was spread, quite intentionally, by the Communist Party of China. (They shut down everything in Wuhan, except flights to Europe and America.) In all countries with democratic institutions, the disease became the centre of political attention, and unprecedented lockdowns were ordered. Likewise, unprecedented schemes of surveillance have significantly changed the relation between governments and governed, entirely for the worse. By means of current technology, the former will be able to perpetuate these changes, leaving those who wish to recover old liberties nowhere to hide.

Moreover, this is done with public support. “The peeple” are easy to manipulate, once they have been frightened. The great majority of men, now and through the past, never cared about freedom. It has always been a minority concern, “for the intellectuals.” The “silent majority” will take their freedom, but only after their comfort and safety have been assured. The right to choose among consumer products is enough for them.

There are revolutions, such as the “cultural revolution” that is now being attempted by the Left, but these never last. Either they are extinguished, under the wet blanket of public apathy, where law and order are able to prevail, or the revolutionists succeed in installing a truly monstrous regime. Only thus, can they prolong their evil. Two generations of the Left-indoctrinated — half-educated university grads and students — favour a doctrinal dictatorship. Their powers grow as they age. Those still young are full of malign energy.

The riots that have been engendered in cities around the world, are a natural consequence of the lockdowns. The anger and suffering directly caused by them, even more than by the Batflu, have been exploited, almost brilliantly, by the force now organized by the platitude, “Black Lives Matter.” This was the “sales pitch” that animated huge numbers of coddled children to revolt, in the globe’s least racist societies — including those who haven’t even demonstrated, yet. They are prepared to believe things that are ridiculous, and they demand radical action on a massive scale.

None of this has anything to do with “Trump,” or any other demonized politician “of the right,” with dreams of restoring the status quo ante. By an agreement among the media and progressive elites, any appeal to “mom and apple pie” is now condemned as dark, very dark. Such appeals are only heard in the boondocks, by the hicks who do the “essential labour,” while being actively disenfranchised, by the fundamentally inessential who “work from home.”

Our whole world is now demographically urban. Not small cities, limited by their finite hinterlands, as of old, but vast inescapable world-trading conurbations. Those dwelling within are artificially isolated from the facts of nature, and from the fact of nature’s God. They become confused even about their own comfort and safety, and eagerly appease disruptive agents. The politicians use their tax money to buy radicals off.

I do not think any of these background conditions will change, short of disaster. And I do not think disaster is something to hope for. Rather, the very scale of our “problem” is, paradoxically, the best reason to hope — that we might retrieve such truth and justice as this world can afford.

For in the last analysis, we can turn to God. Our “problem” is very clearly “in his court,” and the God that we have worshipped through the centuries is not complacent. As Christians know, He showed this by His judicially murdered Son. Our light still shines in His Resurrection.

The rockin’ chronicles

Perhaps there is a “culture clash,” between the hippies and me. I am thinking of Mr Neil Young at the moment, but he could stand in for the rest. Mr Donald Trump used his song, “Keep on rockin’ in the free world,” at his (Mr Trump’s) patriotic rally last night, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The commies were slashing the tires of trucks on the road leading in, to prevent the audience from getting to the show by Mount Rushmore; but from what I could see, enough made it through. They also couldn’t stop the jets flying over. It was “summer of love” in suits, with firecrackers. (Many waited in their seats for hours, while the temperature topped out at 125 degrees of F.) … Mr Young wasn’t there.

But look what they did to his song. They played it. And not for the first time at a Trump rally. You see, the campaign paid for the privilege. Mr Young was happy to take the money, through his agents. Now he is Twittering his Rage that the Trumpistas actually used what they paid for.

Mr Young is a Canadian citizen, incidentally; and also a Natted States citizen, since January, when the authorities there finally agreed to overlook his drug offences. He does like to have things both ways. He even sounds like a girl. But Mr Trump loves him, even if they are differently politicked, according to a response from the other side. Do we care? Of course not.

I wish they could choose some other music at these Trumpfests. Something more Baroque. Handel would be nice. Or some Samuel Barber, and some N’Orlins jazz. At seventy-four, I don’t think Mr Young is old enough.

But meanwhile, I favour good old-fashioned contractual law. (I wish it applied to everything it used to, such as marriage, for instance.) I’m gung-ho for property rights. I’d even grant them to millionaires.

The hippies only understand money, unfortunately. They’re not up to principles. Things like, “One nation under God,” tend to go over their heads. Or even, “God bless America.”

Greetings to my Natted States readers, by the way, on this Fourth of July. And thanks — for housing Mr Young in Los Angeles these last fifty-something years. (There seem to be a lot of Canadian hippies in that town.) Though if I were you, I would have kept him moving on to Mexico.

Cue, the “Adagio for strings.”

Blue skies

It depends what you mean by an “activist,” gentle reader. I would hope that all Catholics (and uncatholic Christians, too) were activists, as each was called to be, in the Sacrament of Baptism. Each was fortified for his fight — it can be quite a rumble — against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. It would be a sad, distressing thing were any declared Christian to become instead a wuss, and desert us. He should see the battle through. For like old age, being a Christian is not for cissies.

Yet I am reliably informed that many are under-instructed, and even among those of adequate education, there are some hard cases — of Christians who have, apparently, given up on the holy cause. If not to say, betrayed it.

There are other kinds of activists, too, as I might read in the papers, were there any plausible papers left to read. They are militant supporters of the other side, and very fiends, in my view. Let me exempt some members of the Monarchist League, and others I find usually harmless. (I don’t think the Monarchist League has been taken over by the commies yet.) But an activist who imagines that any other cause could be, while nice enough in itself, unsubsidiary to The Faith, would be an unreliable ally.

That all “allies” are unreliable, is a point worth pointing on the fly. A friend is a friend, and will prove it to you, with his life should it come to that.

Having allies is just a tactical matter. They come and go. They will consult their own passing interests, and remain by your side only for as long as those interests coincide with yours. Don’t count on them. I’ve known men actually to marry their allies! (Big mistake.) Or form other partnerships.

Being a stiff, grizzled, unimaginative northerner, I am almost allergic to people who address me as, “My friend.” Perhaps had I spent more time in the Mediterranean I’d be more tolerant of this. But I found it too deep and salty, and too many of the fish had venomous spines.

It is almost amusing, but not quite, to see men treat allies as if they were friends, right up to the moment when they abandon each other. Believe me, I speak from personal experience. There is plenty to be had, for the World is like that.

Which leaves us with the Flesh, and the Devil. Neither are friends.

How to defeat leftists

The opinions expressed in these Idleposts may be freely disputed, as they are freely expressed; I will even change them if I come to think they’re wrong. The threats I sometimes receive — as anyone not a leftist thug is now receiving — are and should be casually ignored. Or, “honey-badgered” when they are repeated. My papa taught me to “stand my ground,” and I hope gentle reader will not call me a Lutheran when “here I stand” is my theatrical response.

At the moment the people I would characterize as “leftist filth” (or sometimes, “Gadarene swine”) are in the full bluster of intimidation, and those they confront are in cowardly retreat. Whether from the Left, or arguably from the Right (a label assigned to socialists long-since defeated), political ideologues and fanatics are “progressing,” along with their criminal friends. They now feel no further need to argue. Rather they wish to legislate, from the streets.

They were fuelled, from the beginning, by the Big Lie. It is buttressed in a cloud of lesser lies. It comes as no surprise to me, that almost every leftward cause célèbre turns out to be a hoax. George Orwell gave as good an account of this, as any soi-disant “conservative.” At his best, he was not criticizing specific acts of communist subversion, but a habit of mind, common to the ungodly.

What is this Big Lie? To my mind, it is the godlessness itself. It is the denial of God, and by extension therefore, of all the truths that follow from this acknowledgement. The “reasoning” of atheism is, by necessity, a series of negations. Eventually, everything must be deleted, to what can only be a nihilistic end. The “progress” is inevitably from the caterwaul of lies, to the general censorship, and physical silencing, of all who might resist. It ends in the self-destruction even of the nihilist State, after the innumerable casualties it has caused. Only then does the bloodletting cease.

The “cancel culture” of our current Left reveals a transition. It now overlooks every constructive proposal it once entertained, in passing. Its new singular demand is to shut up all the voices — even those that might be expressed by statues; and including any of its own that it now finds too mild. Its slogans alone may be tolerated, under ruthless supervision. It seeks power for the sake of power: it demands that the subjected fall on their knees.

My suggested response to its enfeebled victims would be, to “grow some.” Rather than attempt compromise with the latest demand, we should reverse it sharply. For each outrage with which we are presented, let us withdraw some concession granted in the past. At best, perhaps, this could be a frank policy, although I see some merit in letting it gradually sink in.

Roll back the history of “progressive reform,” patiently and thoroughly, until the Left is pleading for the status quo.

He shall have Dominion

It is our national day once again, up here in the Great White North, unless it has been rebranded. In the past I might have added, “it cannot be avoided,” but this year there is something new. We may start by thanking the Red Chinese Xi Jinpeng CCP Batflu (also known as the Wuhan Kung Flu). But then we must nod to the Americans, whose lockdowns and riots we mindlessly copied. This includes the current trend to national self-abasement. We are told to express our shame for every misdeed of a Canadian in the past; especially those of which we were naturally proud. And we are shown examples of how to piss on our flag. The media have all joined in, or rather they lead the infernal, racialist din. We’re damned if we’ll let the Yankees out white-guilt us, and had we more energy we’d pull all our statues down.

For fifty-something years I have declared that the new Canadian flag is not the embarrassment so many took it for, but a superior example of Liberal Party ad-agency graphics from the ‘sixties. Dated it may be, but perhaps this will be the first year I wave it around. On second thought, stick to the Red Ensign.

As I have also long observed, Canadians as a class are very, very stupid, and while those who vote Liberal may be beyond hope, the retardation isn’t limited to them. The same could be said for all the other Western democracies, though I take no satisfaction from it, because I am not a relativist. By now, there is little left to celebrate (which does not stop the punks with fireworks), and what there is happened only in the past.

It isn’t even called Dominion Day, any more, except, I do things voluntarily. I propose that others act voluntarily, too, to commemorate that Canada which used to be strong and free. Let us revive the term. And let it stand, once more, for what it once did:

Et dominatibur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae.

Canada was incidentally a Christian country — unashamedly — whose loyalty extended beyond our earthly monarch to God most high. Those who are Christian, along with those at peace with them, are in their dignity entitled to retain this heritage. Those who aren’t, can only covet it. The country seems to be populated by pagan savages today, but the land remains in the warmth of hindsight.

____________

APPENDED, from Edward William Thomson (Old Man Savarin Stories, 1917):

When the croon of a rapid is heard on the breeze
With the scent of a pine-forest gloom,
Or the edge of the sky is of steeple-top trees,
Set in hazes of blueberry bloom,
Or a song-sparrow sudden from quietness trills
His delicate anthem to me,
Then my heart hurries home to the Ottawa hills,
Wherever I happen to be.

When the veils of a shining lake vista unfold,
Or the mist towers dim from a fall,
Or a woodland is blazing in crimson and gold,
Or a snow-shroud is covering all,
Or there’s honking of geese in the darkening sky
When the spring sets hepatica free,
Then my heart’s winging north as they never can fly,
Wherever I happen to be.

When the swallows slant curves of bewildering joy
As the cool of the twilight descends,
And rosy-cheek maiden and hazel-hue boy
Listen grave while the Angelus ends
In a tremulous flow from the bell of a shrine,
Then a faraway mountain I see,
And my soul is in Canada’s evening shine,
Wherever my body may be.

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.

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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.”