he·ret·i·cal – Holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.
bar·bar·i·an 1. A member of a people considered by those of another nation or group to have a primitive civilization. 2. A fierce, brutal, or cruel person.
American Heritage Dictionary
They infiltrated Western democracies. Alas, the barbarians have breached the walls and are among us. They not only have infiltrated all our institutions—academia, government, entertainment, sport, business, even religion—but are the dominant voice in them. They are tearing down the virtues of Western civilization, and replacing them with the vices of cynicism and nihilism. They destroy. They do not create.
The Barbarian hopes—and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed does he have a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marveling that civilization should have offended him with priests and soldiers… In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly this has been true.
Hillaire Belloc, Comments on cultural appropriation & multiculturalism, City Journal, January 4, 2020
The parasites feed off the body politic. Why, just the other day I read a review of the book by a couple of bien pensants who lived off the fat of the American land while they tried to tear it down. As a leader of Occupy Wall Street, David Graeber was the usual ingrate who had benefited hugely as a university student & professor in the American system. His fellow author, David Wengrow, is another privileged rebel, this one a Brit feeding off Oxford University’s largess. Their thesis is that it would have been better for the human race to stay as ‘hunter-gatherers in loincloths’ rather than live in our Enlightenment societies. Yet, these back-to-primitive-glory proponents are the same people who vociferously demand that our remote First Nation communities should have modern water & wastewater facilities, state-of-the-art hospitals & medical personnel, etc., etc. Back to nature, indeed!
So when Graeber finally became persona non grata at US universities, a remote, primitive community would be his logical destination, n’est-ce pas? But of course not because logic & reason—the fundamentals of Enlightenment—have no place in an anarchist’s playbook. He moved to Britain and in 2013 became a full professor at the London School of Economics. What relation anarchist utopias have to economics eludes me, but then I’m not a member of the elite who like to play at rebellion while being cossetted in academic redoubts.
The utter rot Graeber & Wengrow propose in their book—cities governed by neighbourhood councils; women holding the preponderance of authority position, i.e., power; future land management based on caretaking rather than ownership & extraction—is the same old Marxist crap dressed up in the rags of primitivism. But the saddest part of all this is that their book was reviewed by The Spectator, a magazine on the centre-right side of the political spectrum. Space for book reviews in The Spectator is limited, so why give this one even one column inch?
The mainstream media have gone woke. For at least the past 5 years, I have avoided the mainstream media—the CBC for longer than that as it rapidly evolved into a Liberal/progressive propaganda machine with not even a pretense of presenting a balanced news report—because of the Left, often extreme Left, lens through which they filter the news. Fortunately, there are still a few newspapers, magazines—The Spectator being one, so I am deeply disappointed when it bends left—and online news sites that present a more balanced view of our current turmoil, including conservative opinions. And of course, there are always books—but we must be vigilant because the SJWs are into banning & burning the books that don’t preach their view of the world—first among banned books being those by the writers of the ages whose wisdom enlightens our life.
her·e·tic A person who holds controversial opinions, especially one who dissents from the official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church Left.
American Heritage Dictionary
With the barbarians infiltrating our western civilization, it is imperative we listen to the heretics of the barbaric woke religion. It is time to fight their priests with historical and numerate literacy—like Christians holding up the crucifix to stop the devil as its evil seeps into our culture. So let’s begin.
Drawing on his forbears in the conservative cause, foremost among them G.K. Chesterton & C.S. Lewis, Scruton distils his wisdom in a lovely little book, Confessions of a Heretic. In 185 pages, he powerfully—and in beautiful prose—demolishes “the dogmas of the day”, a day that started when mine did in 1944, and sadly ended in early 2020. I mourn the loss of his insight for my personal journey in life, but even moreso for his guidance of young people just beginning their journey into what it is to be human.
As Douglas Murray writes in its introduction:
But an equal amount of his time at least was spent doing what so few people do—which was after the deconstruction to go on to construct again, and to rekindle….Scruton showed his readers not just what they should reject, but what they should nurture and love.
In “Faking It”, Scruton unravels the ‘fake’ foundation of so much of our current culture. People who lie do not believe what they say, but people who fake it say what they believe, “but only for the time being and for the purpose at hand”. The mainstream media is rife with one day’s truth is tomorrow’s heresy, with Covid being the best example of ‘following the science’ that twists & turns to ‘follow the political need of the day’.
Faking it has led to the proliferation of kitsch.
Kitsch, in other words, is not about the thing observed but about the observer…. All sentimentality is like this: it redirects emotion from the object to the subject, so as to create a fantasy of emotion without the real cost of feeling.
In other words, it’s Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House deeply caring for all the poor children in Africa while neglecting her own children and ignoring the needy in the neighbourhood. In other words, it’s virtue-signaling—no cattle, all hat, as we say in ranching country—a particular skill that has flourished in progressive milieux.
“Loving Animals” explores the current trend of having pets, not children, with a major reason being the former is easy, the latter difficult.
From a dog, therefore, we can enjoy the kind of endorsement that requires no moral labour to earn it. And this is what we see all around us: the dwindling of human affection, which is always conditional and always dependent on moral work, and its replacement with the cost-free love of pets.
Pope Francis has enraged progressives by admonishing young people for being selfish by replacing children with animals. Well, all hell broke loose in the progressive-sphere that such apostasy could be committed by one of their own, who, sure, was the head of the Roman Catholic Church, but really knew that the climate-change religion must take precedence in all life’s decisions. Our birthrate is plummeting across the Western world, but hey, that’s better for the planet, eh?
In “Building to Last”, Scruton takes issue with the ugliness of so much that is built in our modern world, damning such architectural stars as Richard Rogers and Norman Foster. These two “are responsible for some of the worst acts of destruction in our European cities” while—quelle surprise—living in elegant old houses in charming neighbourhoods. Good design stems from “artisan styles, traditional materials and humane scales”, and creates beauty. Buildings that have no relation to their surroundings destroy rather than enhance their neighbourhood; he cites as an example Richard Rogers’ Centre Pompidou in Paris, and I concur that it is a truly ugly blob inside & out.
He ends with two subjects close to a conservative’s heart, “Conserving Nature” and “Defending the West”. In the first, he turns environmentalism on its head.
Indeed, environmentalism is the quintessential conservative cause, the most vivid instance in the world as we know it, of that partnership between the dead, the living and the unborn, which Burke defended as the conservative archetype.
This is in direct contradiction of the “burning desire of leftist movements in every age and clime” to tear things down or blow things up. Witness the BLM & Antifa riots in the summer of 2020.
In the second, Scruton describes how law, a bottom-up system created by citizens, guarantees our freedom by insisting that justice, not power, will prevail. In contrast, law in Islam comes from God and is immutable. It is ironic that the Left, which is the most godless, denigrates Christianity and defends Islam.
And turning teetotalers on their heads, Scruton attributes the success of the West’s way of life to drink—the “necessary lubricant of the Western dynamo”! His argument is persuasive.
This way of quickly coming to the point (in the West) depends on many aspects of our culture besides drink: but drink is critical, and those who have studied the phenomenon are largely persuaded that, for all the cost that our civilization has paid in terms of alcoholism, accidents and broken homes, it is thanks to drink that we have been, in the long run, so successful.
I’ll drink to that!
Victor Davis Hanson
Another valiant defender of our Western civilization, this time jousting at windmills in the American cultural landscape, VDH chronicles The Dying Citizen—a species that is mandatory for all free societies. “Citizenship came late to civilization,” he writes, emerging about 2500 years ago “most prominently in Athens”, with its dominant characteristic “constant self-critique and reassessment”. When that ceases, citizenship ceases.
The current dominance of the radical Left and its cancel culture and suppression of anyone in disagreement—even in the tiniest degree—is replacing citizens with lickspittles at a brisk pace. The pace has accelerated in the 21st century to divide the US into modern masters and peasants. With a middle class—in other words, the bourgeoisie, that endlessly maligned group by the wannabe rebels who live in the basements of their bourgeois parents—mandatory for a liberal democracy, the return to feudalism threatens.
With much blood and treasure spent to desegregate and approach Martin Luther King’s wish of judging a person by his character, NOT the colour of his skin, the ‘progressives’ are pushing hard to re-segregate the community. Sadly, some to the universities are leading the cause of “separate-but-equal” residences, separate orientation programs and then going onto separate graduation ceremonies. “Yet an Orwellian barrier of sorts prevents and use of the word ‘segregation’” VDH observes, which just adds pusillanimity to progressives’ long list of sins.
Individualism is anathema to the Left. It’s tribes they want and they will be ruthless in this pursuit.
The ultimate end of tribalism is an odious reductionism, in which all art, music, literature, and history is distilled down to the issue of race. And as we learned from twentieth-century communism, when such ideologies destroy all other considerations, opportunists and mediocrities fill the void, substituting their political purity and correctness for want of merit and competitive talent.
Wow, just look at our leaders—Trudeau, Guilbeault, Joly, Hajdu in Canada; Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, Milley in the US—to see the definition of mediocrity in action.
In modern feudalism, the aristocracy is replaced by the elites.
It is a natural and loose alliance of those who see themselves as permanent custodians of US power, morality, and influence. The hierarchy is an anointed class, self-defined by its members’ educations, resumes, incestuousness, and contacts.
And its soldiers are the bureaucrats, so entrenched that any attempt by an elected representative who tries to enact the voters’ wishes is resisted if it doesn’t jibe with their philosophy. Their philosophy? Why, progressive, of course! So citizens are faced with the vicious circle of the deep state circumventing their wishes no matter how they vote. The more centralized the decisions are, the less power the citizen has, a state that Alexis de Tocqueville identified in Democracy in America. The drive for centralization is a characteristic of all collectivists—from the Canadian NDP to the American Bernie Sanders socialists to culminate in Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping—and localism is a characteristic of all conservatives.
When you add the media to this cabal of unelected ruling class, citizens become disenfranchised because the media’s very raison d’être is to report the news without fear or favour. With the mainstream media & Big Tech reeking partisanship, the good news is that the internet has enabled citizens to bypass their propaganda and get information from many & varied sources. As is common knowledge, the CBC has a miniscule viewership; maddeningly, Canadians’ taxes support it, with no opt-out option. But with its influence dropping to match its viewership, it’s becoming just an itch, not a major wound.
From 2017 to 2019, under the presidency of Trump, there was “progress in restoring the sanctity of American citizenship”, but the pandemic has seen much of that progress reversed under the presidency of Biden. The good news I see is the pushback beginning against the tyrannies of governments & medical professionals at all levels, more powerfully in the US, but emerging in Canada, too. Instead of fixing it, Canadians have been throwing more money at our medicare system to save it since forever. Finally, more and more stories are appearing that question this one-track system and advocate a two-track, public-private model proven to result in a better universal healthcare system at a more reasonable percentage of the GDP.
Taking heart from C.S. Lewis
Lewis saw the war behind the fighting war of World War II, the erosion of the values that undergirded Western civilization, making inroads into academia. Two of his fellow academicians, A.J. Ayer and I.A. Richards, were proponents of logical positivism, an attempt to reconfigure moral philosophy and eliminate metaphysics. His combat included a series of lectures on the BBC, The Abolition of Man, in which he argued that universal values, such as courage and honour, were mandatory to preserve our free Western societies. ‘Men with chests’ is his definition of this necessary quality.
The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment—these are the indispensable liaison between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.
Perversely, the tearing down of the West accelerated in the ivory towers after our victory in World War II. Lewis’s conclusion in The Abolition of Man rings as true today as it did in 1944.
It is no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.
—a beautiful description of the cynicism and nihilism undergirding all ‘progressive’ philosophy.