On Democracy and Reason: A Warning!

Yesterday, I was reminded by a reader, of this essay on “Democracy and Reason,” which I published in 1996 – 22 years ago! – as a newspaper column, and which this kind reader said “was prescient,” given the mob-like, dictatorial tenor of recent public discourse.

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In one of those unctuous political utterances for which he was notorious, the former British Prime Minister John Major once declared that “fascism and communism lie behind us. The two great enemies of reason have been defeated.” This was astonishing from a nation that spent so much blood fighting these very evils – and dead wrong on three counts.

First, fascism and communism may be napping, but are not comatose. Their roots are far too deep for that. Many Eastern European nations, after having been joyously liberated from the horrors of communism in the 90s, turned right around and freely voted it back into power with only a slight change of make-up. As for the much misunderstood fascism, there are signs of it everywhere, both in Europe and in North America, especially in the schools and Universities, which heavily promote ethnic identitarianism.

Second, the implication of his comment was that communism is a demented expression of the left, and fascism, of the right. As a good pluralist, Major wished to blame them equally. Leftist journalists and undergraduates are always eager to echo this balancing reflex by quickly labeling anyone with non-egalitarian views, a “fascist.”

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How A Constitution Is Turned From a Shield Into A Sword

Here is a fine, clear piece from The National Post (June 30th) in which Professor Bruce Pardy of Queen’s University scolds judges for wandering outside the confines of the law and “reading in” meanings to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) that are not there, and were never intended to be there.

https://www.pressreader.com/canada/national-post-latest-edition/20180630/281801399704581

Professor Pardy explains how this sneaky usurpation of the Will of the People takes place by invoking “Charter Values” that judges either invent from whole cloth, or simply assume were meant to be a part of the Charter, or ought to have been part of the Charter, and so on. But as they are nowhere to be found in the Charter, judges simply invent and invoke them, and rule accordingly. Which means that far too often, we are being ruled by phantom values that exist only in the heads of judges.

Pardy explains how this illegitimate manoeuvre (inventing “Charter Values” that are not in the Charter), in effect “transform the Charter from a roster of liberty rights [intended to protect citizens from illegitimate state power] to a regime of undefined, collectivist values [that enable the state to impose its own values on citizens].

And this, in effect, “turns the protective shield of the Charter into a sword.”

 

A Letter On the Difference Between Culture, and Multiculturalism

Some time ago, I wrote what follows to a friend and Professor of French Literature at York University who, like me, was struggling with the term “multiculturalism.”

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Thank you so much for the nice lunch and the convivial conversation. I have missed that, living, as I do out in the country. I have reflected on the slogan on your new book (in my loose translation of your French), which you float under the label “transculturalism.”

Peace is the genuine meeting with the Other, it is the total acceptance of difference.”

It is a moving dedication to some of the best impulses of the human spirit – to neighbourliness. But I respectfully disagree with this sentiment, and to its “multicultural”  implications.

First, there is hardly anyone I know as pro-culturalist as me. And deeply so. I feel that there are aspects of culture that go so deep we are never actually fully conscious of them, or of their effects in our personal lives, or of their real-world effects on our evolving history, the nature of our particular civil society, and on our way of thinking as a whole.

The official government “multiculturalism” policy that I oppose, however, is something else entirely. It is a fabrication of governments that are attempting to quell intra-cultural tensions by dissolving all deep cultural affiliation, and appealing instead to a shallow, T-shirt conception of culture as something you can put on, or discard, at will.

In other words, official multiculturalism is a concept that dilutes true culture, which, if it is a real culture, must have real-life philosophical, economic, and political consequences. And it attempts to replace or rather, to dislodge that reality with a kind of sentimental cultural tourism. You know: exotic food and travel, dabbling in foreign languages, admiring all other races as beautiful and fascinating people, etc.  But going no deeper. This skimpy notion, however, has little to do with any real, deep culture that has, and as I say, must have, real world consequences. It is just recreational, skin-deep culture.

One effect that government multicultural policy has had in the Western democracies – and a dangerous one, I believe – is a leveling of all deep cultures, as if, in historical, political, or economic terms, all cultures were equally valuable – which is what your slogan suggests. The aim all the modern Western states is to slowly convert all deep cultures into equally ineffectual skin-deep cultures.

That is why I must modify your slogan, above, to read as follows”

“Peace is understanding the Other, and  the acceptance of differences that do not threaten or diminish the strength and value of one’s own deep culture.

Here are just a few reasons why this is a better slogan …

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“Intersectionality” and the Envy-Game

Here is is solid and sobering short video on so-called “intersectionality,” by Ben Shapiro, done for Prager U.

Ben is like a lawyer for the Prosecution in everything he does. A Sharp mind, and a fearless tongue. Here is the video, and my remarks on this whole envy-based mess follow it:

https://www.prageru.com/videos/what-intersectionality

The thought that springs to mind after watching this video is that so much of what we are seeing today (in so-called “postmodernism,” in what Foucault labelled “transgressive behaviours,” and in the pathetic modern revolt against hierarchies of all kinds) is just a dumbed-down version of the “systemic victim-hood” that began, or at least was massively accelerated, in the 19th century by Marx and Engels.

That was the first major international movement (via the communist manifesto/Das Kapital, and continued in our own time by such as the Frankfurt School, postmodernism, etc) to persuade the whole world that all human beings are victims; in this case (which is ongoing and supported by a lot of modern leftist media) victims of capitalist oppression.

This was the first time in modern history that entire publics were persuaded that their condition in life is a consequence of a systemic evil in the world, of something evil outside themselves, rather than a consequence of their own behaviour.

When we recall that for so much of our history, Christianity has rested on the contrary notion – that evil/sin is something internal to the person, and not something outside ourselves, then we are tempted to say that what we are witnessing is an almost world-wide revolt against the Christian notion of internal sin and evil, and its replacement by a contrary notion of external sin and evil.

Whenever this psychology becomes regnant, one’s condition in life comes to be seen as a consequence of “the system” (capitalism, male hierarchy, racism, sexism, ageism, privilege of others, etc., etc.,) and the genius of this pitiable initiative is that it feeds on the bottomless capacity of all human beings to blame someone else, or some force, or moral evil, or system outside themselves, for their condition in life. It’s a modern form of Manichean dualism: the tendency to divide reality into the forces of good vs. evil. We are the good. The “other” and the external systems supporting the other, are the evil. But is this true?

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Conrad Black On Trump’s “Animal Cunning”

“Animal Cunning”: that is the most apt phrase I have seen to describe President Trump’s style. It was coined after the 2016 election by the American Classics Scholar and political commentator, Victor Davis Hanson, of Stanford University, and this piece in National Review Online by Conrad Black evinces that very characteristic.

Trump does not approach his prey with reason, flattery, dominance, or submission. He relies on them all. Like an animal that lies passively; purrs a little; rolls on his back; then growls or strikes with a fanged paw; then walks alongside his prey; or walks around him; circling, watching, hissing a little, at the right time.

Okay, I don’t want to overreach. But that is the sense he gives, and that Conrad captures here: always keeping his enemies – and even his friends – a little off-guard. Enjoy …

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/06/donald-trumps-north-korean-policy-succeeding/

Balancing Historical Guilt Over the Aboriginal File

Here is a shortened version of an essay entitled “Another Look At Apologies” published on The Frontier Centre for Public Policy website on June 2, 2018, by my colleague Rodney Clifton and his associate Gerry Bowler.

Rodney is the gentleman who told me years ago, long before the present public moral flagellations over the treatment of aboriginal people took centre stage, that when he worked in a far northern Residential School for a year, many Indian children, often hungry and sick,  were brought to his school by their own parents, who begged the school to take them in.

And in a past blog on this topic I cited the Comment of “skeptical” who said “in truth, Indigenous children were very seldom sent to residential schools ‘forcibly’, unless it was their parents doing the forcing. As a researcher who has worked in the area for many years, I have seen literally hundreds of documents indicating that Indigenous parents were often eager to send their children to residential schools, many of which had waiting lists.”

While feeling the same public shame and upset over the treatment by some school officials, of some children, over the more than a century that these schools existed, I have felt the public “shame record” needs balance. This essay is basically arguing that if we are going to demand public apologies and reparations today from individuals who did no wrong, and render them to individuals who suffered no wrong, shouldn’t all sides be required to face their historical acts of cruelty?

Read on to see what you think …. (more…)

What Is Religion?

Below is the text of an eight-page lecture delivered by the public intellectual David Cayley, on May 11, 2015, to a legal symposium on “Religion: A Public and Social Good,” convened at the University of Toronto.

I think it is a profound piece that offers a very rich treatment of the question posed by the title, while touching on a wide variety of ancillary questions in the process.

For all those who cherish the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge, such pieces cannot simply be read. They must be studied deeply. (more…)

Balancing the biased “Genocide” Story About Residential Schools

I have been waiting a long time to hear a more balanced “truth” about Canada’s Residential schools for Indian/Native/Aboriginal/First-Nations (etc., etc) children. Someday, I thought, voices will be raised in defence of the efforts those schools made to educate, feed, and shelter Indian children in need and help them transition to the realities of the European civilization that had become the dominant force in their lives.

Surely, it was not true that most native children had abusive experiences? Surely, many of them learned to read and write English or French, and math, and more, and then learned trades and some, at least, went on to learn professions?

I found it odd that in so many photos of Indian students in these schools, almost all look like clean, well-dressed, well-fed, happy kids. How come? Well, maybe just because many of them were?

In my previous post on Jonathan Kay’s article I included a couple of “Comments”, one by a fellow with in-depth experience on the Indian file who told us that the typical “genocide” narrative is simply wrong. So don’t believe it. And he directed us to documented proof of this – from our own government!

Now, thanks to an article “Letters to Senator Beyak .. Uncensored,” in C2C Journal  (April 16, 2018) by Toronto Journalist and author Robert MacBain, we learn that Senator Lynn Beyak has been vilified and demonized for collecting letters of praise for Canada’s residential schools from Native people who loved, and clearly benefited from, their school experience. Mr. MacBain is writing a book about all this, and it’s about time someone made this effort to correct the public record.  No one should ignore the need to call out abuses in human life, wherever found. But we should not withhold well-deserved praise and gratitude, either.

You can read more below to see some of these letters. They are a much-needed corrective.

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A Useful Analysis of the Prevalent Victim-hood Culture

Visitors may find that this article on our present victim-hood culture makes useful distinctions between dignity, honour, and victim-hood that help us understand our present confusions.

None of these confusions would exist, of course, in a world of real crisis. Which is only to say that the concept of “a crisis,” whether personal or global, is itself always relative to the next worst possibility. Recall the man who fretted that he had no shoes, until he saw a man who had no feet.

I just finished reading a short, harrowing account by an English sailor who was on a ship that entered a bay populated by Nootka Indians on the Northwest coast of Canada in the early 1800s.

Dues to some earlier grievance against the Whiteman, the Chief ordered the immediate slaughter and beheading of the entire crew except for this fellow and his buddy, whom as blacksmiths, the Chief thought might be useful to the tribe for making metal weapons. Within an hour of his arrival, our sailor saw the severed and bloodied heads of his fellows – all 35 of them – lined up in a row on the deck of his ship.

Now that is a crisis!

At any rate, if we must arrange our thoughts surrounding our present petty grievances about each other, this article is helpful.

http://quillette.com/2018/05/17/understanding-victimhood-culture-interview-bradley-campbell-jason-manning/

New Study Reveals 1,500+ Gene-based Gender Differences

Below is a link to a recent study that is going to help sink the egalitarian ship.

In the century and  half it has taken for Western liberalism to mutate from its original, eighteenth-century foundation in liberty, to its subsequent foundation in equality, to its present foundation in Libertarian-Socialism, there has been a persistent drum-beat announcing the “equality of the sexes.”

Egalitarian radicals have stridently insisted that human gender has no biological basis, and is simply “constructed” by individuals, according to how they feel and choose. This is an expression of what I have described elsewhere as the Triumph of the Will over Nature (see my article, “Getting Used to Fascism,” in The New Criterion, October, 2011).

Well, Nature continues to assert herself, as readers will discover in this study. Expect more of this science-based repudiation of egalitarian ideology. None of this is a surprise to any sensible person, of course.

I recall a statement from a researcher on biologically-based differences, long before the DNA revolution, stating that “Anyone who has raised both boys and girls and still thinks there is no difference between the genders has already withstood more evidence to the contrary than any scientific study could ever provide”

It will be interesting to see how/if the left has any response to this study.

https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-017-0352-z