Essays in Idleness

DAVID WARREN

The consensus v. the consensual

Don’t tell God anything is impossible. Gentle reader and writer have, and can have, no idea about such things. But we can have a hold on what is possible, or likely, under earthly conditions on an average day. One might call that “knowledge”; or “science,” as some do. Example:

We are no more likely to be rid of the Internet, than of nuclear weapons, in our future. I cannot write about the unforeseeable, because it is unforeseeable. But within my limited purview, I might speculate on how these two nightmares might be moderated. I don’t think either can be made less dangerous. The best one can hope is for some growing appreciation of how much damage they can do, when used gratuitously.

Having no degree in either field, I try not to write what will be contradicted by an expert. On the other hand, “expert” has become a murky concept. Once we had to distinguish only between demonstrated credible experts, and villains. Common sense could usually tell them apart. But with the growth of our “sophistication,” the category of villainy has been much expanded. We have a category of institutionally credentialled experts who aren’t exactly liars, but more like what Harry G. Frankfurt defined as “bullshitters.” They struggle to remain plausible, but are using their expertise to advance interested views. And, having such motives — in opposition to the plain pursuit of truth — they seek publicity, and angle to obtain it.

As Dr Frankfurt hinted, in his short philosophical treatise on this topic (On Bullshit, 2005), these can be, and usually are, more trouble than old-fashioned liars. For a real liar knows he is lying, and can be caught out. By comparison, the modern media expert avoids what is strictly checkable, not only to protect himself, but from indifference for truth. He is, according to me, the intellectual descendant of the mediæval Nominalists, adumbrating words, not realities. While less intelligent than his predecessors, he carries on the tradition of saying that something is true because he says so.

“Consensus science” is of this nature. In it, truth can be negotiated, or imposed. While the weather next Saturday will be known to the living, a prediction for much later in the century has no meaning. From the number of variables in play, I can tell you with certainty, that woke “climatologists” are talking bosh; and every signature on their consensus I may add to my list of persons to ignore. This is elementary stuff: and I do try to stick to what is elementary, and foreseeable.

The success rate, for elaborate predictions, remains, at this point in our history, zero-point-zero. But it is becoming so also for the present, and past. The Batflu, here, is current primary example. Owing to obvious manipulation, we cannot know much about its effects. In rough terms, we can know that they are exaggerated, because almost every expert has a vested interest in getting the numbers up, and those who disagree will be punished. The same is true for all the popular remedies, including such nonsense as mangle-wearing, and obsessive social distancing. No legitimate research lies behind either, so we must assume the purposes for various lockdown orders are not actually the Batflu.

It has spread everywhere, by now, and the fact that almost nothing can be done about that, can be put to the advantage of our social engineers. By pretending that they can control it, they have their excuse for controlling us.

But we can’t know about the past of this epidemic, either. By concealing or confusing the origin of the virus, Red Chinese rulers were acting in their own interest; yet also in the interest of the Western expert class. In this field, as in so many others, origins are vital to the facts going forward. They must cultivate vagueness, even on cause and effect of vaccines. For how can they control people, who know, fairly clearly, what is going on?

Be afraid, be very afraid, is all that they will tell us, for the foreseeable future.

Convenience

Back in the day, when I was trying to build a wee publishing empire, that would offer a few lordly voices to talented people who might otherwise become servants of mediocrity and glibness — nearly two score years ago — I found to my surprise there was enthusiasm for it. But too, opposition from the most surprising quarters. For instance, commercial publishers were instinctively repelled. They weren’t just the (leftwing) “arts councils” that blocked us, whenever opportunity called. Ad agencies were also scandalized.

I once received a memorable, hectoring lecture from an otherwise friendly ad executive, giving me a lift home from a party we had both attended. As I hint, I rather liked this guy, and his decisive, “tough as nails” approach to messy issues. He was not, like other advertising people, an incurable “suck-up.” He would explain, without hogwash, why it was in his customer’s interest to buy something; what the benefits were, and what the drawbacks of a false frugality. But he would also candidly qualify what he said in his sales pitches. He didn’t ask, “What is truth?” — but characteristically told it. Moreover he showed the other qualities of a good and decent salesman. He would not take it personally if he didn’t make the sale. He’d continue to be helpful.

Pontius, as I will call him, was explaining to me why my Idler magazine could never serve a larger market, and why it was certain to fail, even if I struggled heroically for a few years. He, personally, enjoyed the magazine, but that was the kiss of death. All in all, it wasn’t worth doing. He would offer to help, but really, that would be like peddling drugs to a minor. Rather than lead me astray, he said, “Cut your losses.” I had real potential in real publishing, he suggested, and so, it was time for me to “suck up.”

This was advice meant kindly. He was acting in loco parentis to what he perceived to be an orphan boy. He could be my Lord Chesterfield: “the Machiavelli of the minors.” He could point to my path of least resistance. He used the word, “convenience,” brashly.

Had I listened to him, I might have saved myself about half-a-million dollars. Had I ever found a generous investor, I might have cost him a few millions more. In fact, I briefly did, and had he not had some genius for spotting tax deductions, I would have cost him.

While I never met Pontius again (I had met him before), I remember him so vividly, that I hear his echo in the words of other men. A ruthless man, on the surface, yet with a heart of silver, if one were onside. A reliably honest advisor, to those who would be his friends.

The Church, I reflected, was from her beginning, a very bad business proposition; and becoming her “client” (getting baptized) was not a very sensible career move.

To relax my analogy somewhat, there are fools who are drawn to music and art. In this world, most become miserable failures, unrecognized while struggling on the cusp of penury, or below. But a tiny few strike it rich. Paradoxically, great success need not involve compromise. One hits the Zeitgeist at a sweet point, and Bob’s your uncle. (I had an uncle named Bob.) Luck is the great bestower of riches in this world; you have it or you don’t. And while it may be true that some are good at surfing it, there are waves in the ocean you will not survive.

Returning to Pontius, he had an answer to this: a formula for success in business. It was in his word, “convenience.” The market is, consciously and unconsciously, searching at every moment for the easy way out. This pertains even to buying groceries. No one has made a fortune by launching a chain of Inconvenience Stores. Bear that in mind if you want to make a million.

The next morning after my ride with Pontius, when I went into the workplace, I assigned myself first thing a calligraphy task. I composed yet another motto to hang on the wall of the Idler office:

“Always forsake the easy way out.”

Wealth & power

Hypocrisy is often dismissed as a humdrum moral vice; rather as pæderasty, or buggery, or commissioning abortions: things considered very grave in the past, but now quite acceptable among progressive persons. One feels almost cruel, or envious, to criticize the adept hypocrite. How dare we try to withdraw the air in which he lives and breathes? “Zero tolerance” is directed at more serious vices, such as having wrong opinions, or voting Republican.

As Paul Valéry said, “Power without abuse loses its charm,” and when, for instance, a governor who proclaims crippling Batflu restrictions is seen ignoring them, he is outraged. His critics are his opponents, he reasons; they really ought to be investigated first!

A milder, general criticism is sometimes made, about the lifestyles of the rich and famous. How is it that prominent environmentalists burn so much jet fuel in their travels from one conference to another, at the world’s most lavish resorts? Shouldn’t they go about in sackcloth and ashes, as they tell us to do?

This is to misunderstand their hypocrisy. We assume they are motivated by greed, and the love of pleasure, the way we would be. But why must it be piled on so thick? Many a jetsetter hardly uses the jacuzzis. He takes a quick shower, because he has another aeroplane to catch.

Yes, most people are attracted to the sumptuous, but in a fine and private way. They rarely encourage the paparazzi, or wish to be watched over their fences and walls. They hire security, to scare trespassers away. Servants, up to a point, must be endured, but in the past they could be ignored, the way we ignore appliances. I may not have a toaster, but I do have a stove, and could swear that it is staring at me. But it was manufactured in the 1960s, so I needn’t fear it has an Internet connexion. And besides, if it did, it wouldn’t be reporting to the tabloids, but to technical staff. We try to ignore them, at least so long as we can pretend they are equivalent to our maids and butlers.

It is hard for a modern to understand wealth; especially as it is so often distributed among the lowest classes, who rose to prominence through politics or business. In the past we understood why the prince lived well. He was born to that station. He needed the wealth, and to be seen flaunting it, as a mark of his power. His subjects might not take him seriously if he didn’t have a palace. They might laugh at him.

Our misunderstandings come from attributing to unthinking hypocrisy, what is perfectly calculated. For the truth is, human nature never changes, and wealth continues to express power. Hypocrisy, itself, is a signal of high station. I continue to enjoy the excuse of a Canadian Liberal politician, who was “called out” for obscene self-indulgence at the taxpayer’s expense, by a Parliamentary committee. He angrily rejoined, “I am entitled to my entitlements.” Like a Nancy Pelosi showing off the extravagant contents of her refrigerators, he was duly re-elected. Impressing the peasantry is an essential task.

Why don’t “conservatives” understand? The answer is, they are also moderns, and often have the same “born yesterday” quality they attribute to the “liberals.” They don’t understand, for instance, that it is their wealth and fame that entitles the Hollywood stars to mouth off, whether or not they know anything. You’d think we’d get that.

Wealth is a means to display power, much more than vice versa, but as power leads to amassing more wealth, hooo. It is a natural phenomenon, like the water cycle. The pretence of using one’s power to advance the public weal, is no different now than it was in the 15th century; or in the 10th, &c. And there were satirists then, too.

Plutarch on envy & hatred

Today, I thought as I was rising (under lockdown conditions), I should be reading Plutarch. Gentle reader may know this author, born into the middle of the first century, chiefly through Shakespeare, born fifteen centuries later. For Plutarch’s voluminous Parallel Lives is primary source material for Shakespeare’s plays set in antiquity, and necessary background for his broader views on history, on public life and politics, civic virtue, and on ethics in a more contemplative sense. But Plutarch was also central to Rabelais, Montaigne, and many other leading figures of the Renaissance and later. Successive translations of Plutarch have been formative within all European literatures. My own reprint of Philemon Holland’s into English (he was the translator-general to the Elizabethan age) is an irreplaceable treasure: accurate in a way our breathless contemporary translations have ceased to be.

The Plutarch I have loved most, from my own formation in grade school, is the Plutarch of the Moralia — that sprawling collection of the miscellaneous essays plausibly attributed to him. So many survived the “fall of Rome” because they remained current in the unfallen Eastern Rome of Byzantium, in Plutarch’s famously transparent, accessible Greek. He was known at least vaguely to our own Middle Ages in the West, and wherever he could be read, was beloved. This was so in his own lifetime, too. More even than the Orwell-like clarity of his language, it was his spirit that was so attractive, so warmly companionable; his genius in expressing a learned and uncontentious authority. Where, for instance, he finds malice in his biographical subjects, he neither condemns nor excuses.

Plutarch draws us in, simultaneously: to the world of mind, and the world of action. This is why he can seem so recent, still. The reader is confident that he is telling the truth about events, in a way blind, like justice. He is chaste, in the non-ribald sense. His freedom from pomposity never strays into the opposite vice, of excessive familiarity. To his contemporaries, exactly as to us, he was the reliable advisor, above party or faction.

Paradoxically, most great writers, in all languages I think, are bad at second languages. Though resident in the city of Rome in his prime, and its, he was a poor Latinist, and rather part of the élite ghetto of Greek-speakers there; but “urbane, cosmopolitan.” He considered himself a Roman, and acquired the citizenship. He apparently thought as a Roman, even in youthful travels to Egypt and perhaps beyond. Returned and retired to his native Chaeronea, a mere village in Boeotia, he is a proud local patriot, and a patriotic Roman; a citizen of the world.

Coming only decades after Christ, he is still pre-Christian pagan in his knowledge. He represents the best of that classical civilization: the very humanity that was finally able to receive Christ. In moments, he seems almost a pagan Augustine in his morally-passionate, unexcitable calm, his immortal kindliness and peaceful, settled courage — in his immovable common sense.

He knows the human condition, and reading, this morning, “over his shoulder” again, I find him truly informative on envy and hatred. If he hates, he hates the former much more than the latter.

For envy undermines all amity of feeling; is the great destroyer of brotherly love. It invades the heart of the self-righteous, whereas our pure prejudicial hatreds are shared with the mindless brute beasts. One might thus say that they are innocent, by comparison. But Envy seeks mischief, and can never be assuaged.

For any one, at any time, Christian or non-Christian, this is an important thing to know; to be on one’s guard against envy building in one’s own soul. It easily masks itself as virtue. We would rather detract from and subvert the accomplishments of others, than benefit ourselves. It is a “hate crime” that worms beyond any hate crime, and there are moments when it is governing the world.

Twice a day

A correspondent has adopted a diet plan I will recommend to others; I am even considering it myself. He wanted to cut down on his Internet consumption, with a view to leaner and meaner; but not to cut it out entirely, just yet. He wasn’t on the Internet at all, in a previous century. Time to move hesitantly backwards. Later, perhaps, he will be more decisive.

Closing his Twitter and Facebook accounts was something he had already done, along with closing several others. He’s also getting into the habit of exiting websites, the moment he’s confronted with “soft pornography,” or garish advertising displays.

“I wanted to detoxify myself on several levels. Why replace Twitter with Parler? The whole idea of social media stinks.”

He did replace his Google search engine, however, with something more frustrating called Bing, that was working less obviously for The Other Side. He won’t order anything through Amazon, thus saving himself a lot of money. Too, in a gloriously joyful moment, he smooshed his Apple handheld thingy (outdated), with an antique sledgehammer (found on Ebay, he admits).

As for Bezos, Gates, Pichai, and that Ho-bearded pothead in San Francisco, he wishes them well. “I pray for their conversion to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”

Gentle reader will guess this man lives in Montana (though originally from New York), and was a Trump voter. His current motto is, “Cancel them before they cancel you.” He likes to hum the old Shaker hymn, “Tis the gift to be simple,” while swinging his sledgehammer, or his glistening axe.

He has retained email, however, after transferring to a less curious, intrusive server. He did not wish to eliminate distant friends, just because they’d forgotten how to moisten postage stamps. But he reminds that sealed, handwritten notes, make it harder for Big Tech to “follow” you.

For that, and for “essential services” such as Idleposts, he has his new diet plan: “twice a day at nine o’clock.” That’s when he connects, for up to half an hour, thus restricting his buzz to an hour a day in total. He uses a loud, slightly rusting, pre-digital cooking timer to signal when this period is up.

Never having subscribed to most of these services, I have less emulative work to do. Even these Idleposts are first drafted by hand, although I mess with them in pixels. I was raised in graphite technology, albeit with an advanced, mechanical pencil (gift of my father, for my ninth birthday). I find it is still useful, to avoid lateral thinking, or wandering unintentionally “outside the box.”

“Reduce your electronic footprint,” Mike suggests. “Sure, The Enemy can find you and arrest you, but why make it convenient for him?”

____________

OBSERVATION. — A gentle reader in Arizona writes, regarding pencils, that he grew up with one in his hand, and through his subsequent career in architecture, “planning,” and art. His brain has been connected, through his hand, to pencil, pen, or brush, for some time now; rather than to a keyboard. Too, his brain reaches through other simple tools; and there is an internal connection between brain and heart. “It is rather difficult,” he writes, “and almost always painful, to caress the ones you love with a keyboard.”

The missing link

From the Devil’s point of view, things have been going well, lately. How better to lead us into a one-party state, than with the Batflu? For an important part of any tyranny, is to accustom a people to grimness; to make them hopeless, and certain they have lost; to “prep” them with an invisible fear.

The claustrophobia should not be overdone, however; at least not at first. There have been actual slave revolts in history, that weren’t always possible to put down. The taunting of one’s enemies, while some still remain at liberty, should stay within bounds. More: the oppression of one’s subjects should be moderated, lest they be left with nothing to lose. The good demonic leader will know some history; the downfall of so many was that they knew none. He must lead downhill gradually. He will need a five-year plan.

What if joy and good faith should break out, unpredictably? And at a time when he doesn’t have his troops in place?

Apparently, there is no risk of this at the Inauguration this week. Twenty-five thousand guardsmen have Washington boxed in. Special forces are disposed in state capitals across the country.

Forsooth, the program for demonizing the enemy has gone fairly smoothly. That was, in effect, the first five-year plan, and now we start the second. By now all the most powerful media of communication are on the One Party side. Some reliable information is still getting out, but as the weeks go by, more and more will be “cancelled.”

We’re in classical coup territory. Building a false “narrative” is essential preparation for the seizure of power. As Lincoln said, you can’t fool all the people all the time; but you must keep large numbers with their heads buzzing. Fraudulently overturning an election would never be enough; for the vote must be close enough to steal. As a rule of thumb, you need nearly one-third of an electorate psychically committed to your asinine socialist/fascist agenda; victory comes by attaching the abnormally stupid.

(This is where the urban vote comes in, for in modern, degenerated cities, there is a plentiful supply. Getting them to vote is your only real problem.)

But enough of numbers. They can only lead us into some sort of “conspiracy theory” — which one accuses dissenters of spreading, whether they have one or not. But I don’t believe for a moment that a conspiracy is possible for long, with more than a small handful of co-conspirators. In fact, it is hard to keep a secret between two people, unless one of them is dead.

I wouldn’t bother to allege a conspiracy, like “Q-anon” or whomever. I rank them with card sharks and other masters of prestidigitation. I could easily believe that most of our leaders are pædophiles. But they stretch my credulity to snapping when they say that these clowns could organize anything.

No: for the authorship of what looks so much like a conspiracy, I cannot credit any human being; least of all Joe Biden. He is just “riding the tiger,” as the Chinese proverb has it. The rider himself is afraid, to dismount. Even Lenin was inordinately dependent, on lady luck.

I believe in the Devil. He’s the only agent capable of pulling a big conspiracy off. Indeed, it is our loss of belief in the Devil, that makes us believe in human conspiracies. Atheism only gets us half way there; it is disbelief, in the Devil, that gets us the rest of the way to the Finland Station.

And yet, as one of my best-informed correspondents told me, yesterday:

“One, everything God permits is a gift, even if difficult to recognize as such.

“Two, history is the war of the world against the Church, death versus life.

“Three, the Church is going to get very small, perhaps very close to invisible. But there will be friends and the truth always has a future.”

One last harrumph for Trumph

Perhaps I haven’t tried hard enough, to make my peace with Immanuel Kant, and a few others who were trying to restore human dignity in a world descending into “transhumanism” (the latest term for what comes after “humanism”) — back during “The Enlightenment,” there. I should at least acknowledge they were trying, to tack back onto the side of God; to aim for a safe port, as it were. Even while conceding “godless” to the default position.

Humans cannot be reduced to objects, as Kant proclaimed. Or, more exactly, they should not be. Still, as I approach the man, I slip on a patch of black ice, named David Hume.

A large part of the power tussle everywhere, might be captioned, “The victory of transhumanism.”

Or, to put it in more preposterous form: “The Final Solution of HR.”

For departments of human resources state the transhumanist position baldly. They declare that humans are resources, like oil and gas, or pork bellies. Or, robots. Humans can be used — or discarded — by a cost-benefit analysis. If a human can do something cheaper than a robot, then very well, we’ll continue to pay him. But if the robot can do it cheaper, then the human has to go.

There is a practical problem, getting rid of him, but they have a plan for that in Human Resources.

Trump, who won’t be president next week, struck me as human. He made mistakes. He had embarrassing emotions. He was instinctual, to a fault. He was also biased: pro-human, even fanatical at times. Well fair enough, he reached his sell-by date. (At birth?)

Though perhaps not in the best repair, Biden struck me as more of a robot. He has computer glitches. But he is easy to program. And has a cool, progressive team behind him. He is bringing in technocrats from all over, including quite a few from Big Tech. They cannot make mistakes, because they are the mistake, embodied.

We may come to think of Mister Trump, as the last human being to occupy the White House.

The machine seems undefeatable, today, because it is global. The well-trained progressive in any country — Communist China, for instance — can understand that progress requires organization; that it doesn’t just happen by itself. There must be centralization, for technocracy to work. We can’t just leave people to make their own decisions, for that would be messy. If we did, we might get another Trump. A good organization will make that quite impossible.

That transhumanism is essentially violent — not generally, but specifically towards the humans — is easily demonstrable, but hardly understood.

Consider a little city, like Minneapolis, and what’s left of its downtown; of all the little businesses burnt out, up and down its “opportunity zone.” The George Floyd riots, whatever else one can say about them, were a profitable real estate investment. There is now a strip of very cheap properties, to be bought up by multinational investors. They get mortgages at close to zero percent. And they buy at this distress sale from people who are wildly overdrawn, on credit cards, at 16 percent or more.

This is progress. Regardless of their politics, the humans have all lost. The transhuman abstraction has won.

Today’s little piece of Minnesota insight came from Catherine Austin Fitts. A credible senior bureaucrat in the old days, she was nevertheless one who saw the “housing bubble” swelling, and knew that it must pop. She continues to think and analyze things — even now that she has been “cancelled.” Big Tech has surmised that she is crazy-tunes now (human, all too human). It was time to shut her communicating down. People mustn’t be exposed to the shocking things she lays out — about who benefits, how and why; about who will be the designated losers. But no one can see anything anyway, while they are rolling their eyeballs. On top of everything else, she turns out to be a believing Christian. Case closed; as closed as a church, in Canada.

In every thing that fell out of the Batflu, and the summer riots for that matter, innumerable little guys were wiped out; and a very few big guys — pretty much Democrats to a man — marched around the Monopoly Board. A horrible human mess was created, while they were getting more fabulously rich.

But that’s where transhumanism comes in: to clean up. It is the Devil’s own HR department. For the problem of messy humans can be solved, by contraception and abortions, euthanasia and suicides.

Excuses, excuses

“The goat ate my homework.” I remember this, from high school. I was trying to make the conventional excuse, that the dog had eaten my homework, but wanted something more plausible. For dogs, according to my information, did not often eat paper. Goats, alternatively, often did.

I’d been reading Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World — a book so good it must be banned by the commies before every boy has read it — where an unwanted goat is slipped aboard Slocum’s little sloop, the Spray. This was done by a well-intentioned American at St Helena, in the South Atlantic. Mr Slocum was stuck with this animal, along with a big bag of the Royal Mail, to Ascension, his next British-ruled island.

Now, our marine literature contains many proofs, to the effect that goats make poor sailors. I used to share an office with a very amusing photograph of a goat leaping an improbable distance ashore, from a dhow landing somewhere in the Persian Gulf. They (the goats) may be sure of their footing on high mountain precipices, but on a ship the deck keeps moving, and they don’t like that.

Slocum neglected to tie his goat to the mast. He confesses as much. Once inside the cabin, and feeling peckish, the goat began eating Slocum’s navigation charts. This was the more inconvenient, because one was the map for a difficult upcoming landfall.

Alas, I was born too late to give him my recipe for meemee saag (a delicious Punjabi goat stew); and anyway it requires a lot of spinach, and spinach does not grow in the South Atlantic. Too, Slocum, though not a vegetarian, had a moral objection to eating his shipmates. He thought this carried a scent of cannibalism.

What happened to the goat, after it was offloaded on Ascension (it took the lead in disembarking), history does not tell.

The need for some variation upon “the dog ate my homework,” was felt in Rome recently, as the blog, Rorate Caeli, pointed out. The Vatican’s update was “computer coding error.” This to explain the suspicious transfer of millions of dollars to suspicious recipients, in Australia.

We are all at sea with the Vatican, these days. Often, we feel like the goat.

As a nice Catholic boy, I could not wish to say anything uncharitable towards them. But I’m reminded of what Thomas More said, in a polemic against Martin Luther. It was about some production of a dog, that he esteemed more highly. But I mustn’t quote it in a family Idlepost.

How to make a scene

An acquaintance, and former friend, says that I’ve been mixing with “controversial” people. By this I think he means, others in need of cancelling, as the revolution proceeds. It is true: I am partial to intelligent people, although also to my saltier Parkdale neighbours, fewer of whom smoke pipes. I hang out disproportionately with the perfesser types, even though I hate universities; but then, so do they. Every one wears socks and shoes, and some wear ties, on the Zoom cameras. A couple of lawyers, too, and miscellaneous other vocations; but what we have in common is, that we’re all more-or-less reactionaries, or what is just as good, capable of coping with views we disagree with, without melting down. (A John-Stuart-Mill liberal counts as a deep reactionary, today.)

But, you should meet their wives.

For none of my buddies is married to a feminist, or anything close. Rather, it seems, they all coincidentally married anti-feminists; and all, by whatever chance, learned, impressively independent women. These ladies are of a tribe who contemptuously refuse office jobs. They’re too busy as the principals of their little home schools. They are producing the sort of offspring that Leftists dream of putting in re-education camps with the Uighers; but some are already old enough to bear arms. Nevertheless, gentle and peaceful and very well-behaved, until they are threatened.

It is true, there is something weird about these women. They all strike me as unusually beautiful, and seem to grow younger after each new child. Too, they dress conservatively, not like the models in lingerie ads. Perhaps Margaret Atwood could write a novel about them.

I love to see Mother Hen at work, training her little chicks by example.

One, for instance, was shopping by necessity in a “big box” store. She found that all the cashiers had been replaced by machines. By the Helpful Person attending them, the new regime was explained. She asked if they’d fired all the cashiers, and he — lying with a smile — said no. There was no effect on employment, he recited. So she left the Helpful Person with her basket of goods, and walked out the door, back to the family SUV, after mentioning that she would never return. Her husband, with the children, walked out meekly behind her.

For Mother Hen knows you make a scene, only for the sake of entertainment. Much better to just dump the goods, and exit. The police still can’t force you to buy stuff. Only the gummint can do that; and then, only on the days when the gummint can find you.

Unfortunately it has been shutting down all the little family stores, in honour of the Red Chinese Batflu. And it is winter, and so, hard to grow things this far north. But the family has a plan, for “back to the land,” and it is well advanced. Classical scholarship goads them on.

A majority still complain that the gummint hasn’t locked them down harder. The polls show this, and the meejah are constantly on the case. But as these people have few children, the cities may soon clear. This will solve a lot of environmental problems.

There has been some moaning about Big Tech, gratuitously closing “social media” accounts. They think it is their duty to silence Trump supporters and the like, or at least to taunt them. But they make the need for an alternative infrastructure wonderfully apparent, instead. And no one much suffers by cutting out them.

Moreover, thanks to such as Amazon and company, the cashiers already will have lost their jobs. All the warehouses will have been mechanized. Their discarded staff will have nowhere else to look for paid employment. This will solve the problem of union wages, which slows agricultural renewal.

Things are looking up.

Five feet of fury

On the topic of transformations, my own “evolution,” into a “backward racist redneck freak from Jesusland” (thanks to whoever said this first), continues passim. An old pro in the art of being abrogated, I’ve been on some sort of “no fly” list for æons now, and from a recurrence of jackhammers in Castle Maynard (the building in which the High Doganate is housed), I suspect the NKVD is everywhere. As the author of a prize essay on, “The Use and Abuse of Paranoia,” a long time ago, I have learnt to turn my persecution mania to advantage, and as I write, have hatched a scheme to fetch more milk for my tea — and tea bags, if necessary — even under Batflu conditions.

Let me take this moment to honour Kathy Shaidle, my fellow Canadian Catholic paranoid — now beyond the reach of the cancel culture. She died of ovarian cancer on Sunday. She is going back to a family plot in her native (and despised) Hamilton, Ontario; and under a stone that she had inscribed with her motto. It is, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

I met Kathy around September 11th, 2001, when I was still a “mainstream” in the birdcage liners, but “reaching out” to the new world of bloggers, of whom most of my fellow journalists had not yet heard. That was also about the time Kathy was transforming, from an “anarcho-peacenik,” into a “Relapse” — to Christian faith, Western Civ, and cultural antideconstruction.

We were defenders, in those days, of “Bushitler” and other unpopular causes; until less popular came along. Another of her self-descriptions was, “Five Feet of Fury.” A graduate, too, of Lupus Erythematosus, she was a very merry little person, with a delightfully sharp, can-opening tongue. By now, among the legends of our Arctic Right, she was rounded up with Ezra (“The Rebel”) Levant, Kate (“Small Dead Animals”) McMillan, and Mark (“Global Content Provider”) Steyn, in pioneering lawsuits by Canada’s Human Rights Gestapo.

From my own encounters with Press Councils and the like, and being successively driven out of seventeen newspapers, I could appreciate the suspects’ patience. For, “the process is the punishment” in each case; and soon as one suit is disposed of, another one sails in from Left Field.

God bless and keep Kathy. I’m sure He has already been told that she is politically incorrect, and independently minded. Also, both funny and sincere. I’m just trying to imagine her, dressed as a little angel.

A world of promise

“By our age, all of our thrills are vicarious,” said Dic Doyle, editor of the Globe & Mail (a once-respected Toronto daily). Or, Mop & Pail, to its inmates. This was more than half-a-century ago.

Mr Doyle was then not quite fifty, himself; but speaking to me, then barely sixteen. For I was once a copy boy at the Mop, and a very successful one. They’d leave me in charge of the telegraph room when dear old Vern was having trouble with a bottle. They’d let me read out-of-town papers, on behalf of the Exchange Editor. I’d even reported a Rochdale drug-bust story, that found its way onto the front page. (It was just over two inches in length; but I got a five-dollar bonus because it contained a fatality.)

I had written a long memo to Mr Doyle, which I naughtily cc’d to a Mr Davey — some thirteen pages as I recall — arguing for the already-discarded system of journalistic apprenticeships. It opposed the Mop‘s fresh newsroom policy, of hiring only graduates of “J-schools.” I expected to be fired for having any opinion, but no, Mr Doyle said my memo was well-written. Too, that he would be vicariously thrilled, to watch my career advancing.

Upon learning that I had lined up a job at the Bangkok World, he said, “Ah, youthful enterprise! I was going to suggest the Chatham Daily News.”

By now, Doyle has been dead for nearly eighteen years. Gentle reader will guess he was one of my heroes. He could match me in education: we had both completed Grade Ten. The last chief editor of the Mop who was capable of loyalties — he would not have a word said against Christ, or the Queen — he promised to hire me back when I had acquired some experience.

He was, as ever, as good as his word. But I declined his kind offer of a desk job, more than a decade later, after chatting with several potential colleagues. I observed that they were all commies.

“Ah, you noticed. In the old days we used to have a token Marxist on the editorial horseshoe. These days we just have a token journalist.”

Doyle was now approaching retirement.

I am afflicted with these distant memories, in Toronto again, under lockdown. My mind often flies down pneumatic tubes of nostalgia. It is illegal for me to visit, or be visited by, another human being. After my son dropped by to fix my computer, recently, a neighbour — one of nature’s more enthusiastic snitchers — promised that if she suspected I had another visitor in my flat, she would call the police. A diligent researcher, she told me that the fine could be “up to $100,000,” plus “up to one year in gaol.”

Rather than argue, I quietly smiled. I was reflecting that it would also be illegal to tie her up with a telephone cord, and slide her off the balcony.

A lot of things are illegal today: after all, Canada is no longer a free country. We still have newspapers, however, which are unlike Pravda, because Pravda didn’t carry supermarket flyers. Whoever that token journalist was, at the Mop & Pail, circa 1982, I daresay he has expired.

But no one yet has tried to stop me from reading all day, and for the moment these Idleposts seem to be still appearing.

Upstream & down

Among students of our Canadian rivers, there is (or was) a scientific consensus that the waters they contain run generally downhill. Crawfish and some other creatures may resist this tendency, but among scientists, “downward wettening” prevailed. And as we are informed, every day in our meejah, we must “follow the science.” As a sometime canoeist in earlier life, I know I did.

Thanks to such discoveries of modern science, we spoke confidently of things that were “upstream” and “downstream,” not only at the frontiers of riparian studies, but also by analogy in many other fields. That, for instance, politics are downstream of culture, was something I seemed to admit, Saturday; although the discerning reader may have noticed that I attributed this view to Breitbart and Gramsci. Myself, I’m not sure anything is downstream from anything any more, in the popular mind; and antiquated concepts such as “up” and “down” may be associated with white supremacy. One might be thrown off Facebook and Twitter, although in my case, as I am not on them, they will have to come for something else.

For really, we are now in the post-scientific age, where our worship of science has become selective. Indeed, from what I can make out, our “science” is only acceptable if it has been made up. Evidence-based researches are quickly banned as “fascist” and “racist.”

Hence, questions about which way the rivers are running. And even the theological authorities in the Vatican, who believe that two plus two may equal five, challenge other things formerly taken for granted. They are on the verge of discovering what are now commonplaces in “secular” society, for instance that men and women are purely cultural constructions, and that if God exists, or used to, He made at least 57 other sexes.

Up here in the High Doganate, however, where we are notoriously reactionary, post-science is rejected. We (let me use the “royal”) still hold that water wanders, of its own accord, from the higher to the lower locations. Obstinately, we affirm “upstream” and “downstream,” even in analogies.

Whereas, the world now holds, and is willing to enforce, that rivers run uphill. Even Breitbart and Gramsci may be dismissed as passé, for politics are now located upstream from culture. The “dictatorship of relativism,” as Pope Benedict called it, which previously agreed to the cultural priority, now seems hopelessly dated. The dictatorship now determines what culture should be.

But not in the High Doganate, my little bubble of backwardness. We (meaning, I) do not paddle upstream, from politics, to culture, to religion — taking this last as a kind of afterthought. Rather, I shoot the rapids, downward, in my little barque without sails.

This was the ancestral order of precedence. Religion came first, in all previous cultures; and is still originative, even now when it takes satanic forms. But God is, or was, the first spring. By the time we’ve passed through culture, down to politics, a lot of mud has accumulated.

Where is Reason, in this diagram? Curiously, I also locate it at the top. Indeed, because it is a universal (in my quaint way of thinking), I am capable of using “faith” and “reason” almost interchangeably. For a clean faith in God is like a clean faith in Arithmetic; and I am fanatic, in my belief that two plus two make four. Too, that murder is always wrong, &c. These are things that, in my retrograde view, simply utter from the spring.

Not that I would insist upon them. For I see that many, perhaps most of the worldlings around me have, thanks to politics and the culture, gone batshit insane. And it doesn’t make sense to argue with them.

The week in review

There are two principal political parties in modern America (in which I include up here). In the Natted States, the population is divided roughly equally between those of “progressive” and “regressive” habits of mind; in the Canadas, the former have come to dominate.

The tipping point was reached much earlier up here, and the new “metapower” (Foucault’s term) was seized, politically, from within the Liberal Party. The strategy was to disenfranchise the “conservative” half of the electorate, by undermining all national institutions, and hosing down Canada’s previous identity. I’d count, say, 1982, as the point of no return. That identity was replaced, definitively, under a revised Trudeau constitution, with a new “multicultural” identity, in which citizens were themselves redefined, from free persons whose rights were inalienable, to interchangeable clients of an omnipotent State, which could dispense rights whenever it was in the mood — and withdraw them whenever the mood changed; however frequently.

This is the Democrat strategy in the larger, and still less amenable, country next door. As Andrew Breitbart and Antonio Gramsci might agree, this is an essentially cultural process. Politics are visible at the tip of the iceberg, but “progress” requires a more thorough “cleansing,” of old cultural norms. The cancer metastasized more from Hollywood, than from Washington DC. The takeover of the Democratic Party as the vanguard “agent of change” was only part of the institutional takeover of America. As important was the takeover of the mass media, and even corporate boardrooms. Those who weren’t “progressive” would now be “cancelled”: must cease to be.

All cultural change has a religious dimension. The Democrat representatives of the “powers and principalities” mentioned by Saint Paul, are characteristically godless, themselves. But they depend on a massive, core constituency of low-information, low-intelligence, easily manipulated urban voters.

Those who can still see the stars at night tend to remain in the ancient, God-fearing default. In the cities, where the masses may not grasp that milk comes from cows, let alone that someone must milk them, the belief that the economy is based on government cheques is more common. That is the god of the populous cities, and for most city-dwellers, not voting for their “godless god” of progress, seems a kind of heresy.

The idea that such heretics should be deprived of their freedom, starting with freedom of speech, does not appeal to the “rural” voter, including people like me — a “country hick” type who paradoxically lives in the city. The idea that laws and constitutions should be flexible, to accommodate the latest schemes of a progressive technocratic élite, doesn’t flourish among us country bumpkins. But to the efficiency experts in the city, what is our problem?

For the city folk are tolerant. It wouldn’t be a problem if the bumpkin constituency would just stop trying to express itself; if people who voted Trump would keep it to themselves, and stop wearing red baseball caps. (They should wear Batflu muzzles instead.) But they won’t cut it out. They exhibit appallingly bad taste, and that is why they must be suppressed. “Unity” requires “diversity” — i.e. strict conformity, and unwavering obedience to ideological commands.

The means used were hardly legitimate, in the old-fashioned sense of consistently legal, but these Democrats now control all the levers of national political power in America. Moreover, election rules have been, and will be, systematically “reformed,” to remove the risk that they will ever be defeated again. They now have the votes in Congress to alter whatever they please.

While I have long been opposed to mobs — an urban phenomenon — I can understand the frustration of some Republican voters. Even kittens object, to being sewn into pillowcases, and may not appreciate the argument that they are being dipped in the river for their own good. Perhaps that is why, somewhat feline myself, I am less outraged than most city folk when they are accused of using their claws.