The barbarians are at the gates of Western civilization, mounted on their steeds of oppressive isms with their dogs of grievance baying cacophonously for the blood of enlightenment to feed their voracious appetite for power. As Hillaire Belloc wrote,
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 has he 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 them 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 he cannot sustain.
And Isaiah Berlin,
Only barbarians are not curious about where they come from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so, why, and if not, why not.
A deadly combination, that—a lust for power and lack of curiousity.
Virtue missing in action
Virtue is an adult whereas virtue signaling is forever a juvenile. A striking example of this is Jack Kerouac, the American novelist and poet of the Beat generation in the 1950s. He and his ilk were a harbinger of the celebration of immaturity that characterized the 1960s and is one of the foundation stones of today’s radical Left in the West. Contrary to his acolytes’ assessment, Kerouac’s writings have sociological significance, rather than literary, because they describe his embrace of perpetual youth and rejection of adulthood. He popularized rebellion against the adults while benefiting hugely by all the riches of Western enlightenment created by adults.
Fairness beats sharing
In contrast to our mantra of fairness, the progressives’ mantra is, “You have to share!” Growing up in a family of 11 in the 1940s and ‘50s, I along with 9 of my siblings were quick to protest to Mom, “That’s not fair!” when she blatantly favoured the youngest. We were less concerned with WHAT the youngest got than with the concept that goods were unequally divided among us. And we carried that value into adulthood. But like all good little lefties, the progressives’ concern is that all goods must be shared equally no matter who created the wealth.
A striking example of unfairness happened with Mom’s choice of the children taken to a sister’s wedding. The event was a small affair in Moose Jaw in the middle of winter. The car could accommodate Mom, Dad, the youngest plus three more for the trip of a couple hundred miles from the farm. (Needless to say, 7 people in a car could fit because today’s arduous regulations were hidden in the misty future.) That year another sister, upon being invited by a teacher to live with her for the school year, had accepted; that left an older-child gap we younger siblings had to fill to run our house in town before school, at noon, and after school.
We grumbled, but reluctantly accepted our greater household burdens while resenting R for abandoning us for the much easier life with Mrs. N.
Then the choice came for the exciting trip to Moose Jaw to attend the wedding, a glamourous affair in our small world. And Mom chose the prodigal sister. It was unfair: Mom knew it, the rest of us knew it, R knew it. But she went anyway, and we learned that life isn’t fair.
But we also learned that striving for fairness has value. Certainly, one must adapt to circumstances beyond one’s control, working to change what one can and to accept what one can’t. Throughout, though, if the guiding principle is fairness, the journey is honourable, making for a stronger, more resilient adult life.
Speaking our minds
Far from being forgotten or suppressed, this episode became one of the family’s stories. Each of us told it from her/his vantage point with persuasive powers used to the full extent of her/his ability. Naturally, there was exaggeration, we being human with our humanity exacerbated by youth, but never coercion to not explore the value of fairness. As I became an adult and a parent, I began to realize the nuances of fairness in raising a child, and gained sympathy for Mom’s challenge with 11 children. And my admiration grew at my parents’ support of their children speaking their minds…
…in total contrast with what the Left does. Beginning with Lenin and continuing in Stalin’s bloody regime of terror, the Bolsheviks allowed only consent—insisting it be loud and rapidly adaptable—to their policy du jour, sometimes de l’heure. They allowed neither opposition nor silence in the masses’—and they were the masses, not citizens—reaction to all diktats. Mao drank deeply of this deadly cup of communism, perfecting Stalin’s 5-Year Plans with the Great Leap Forward (1958-62) and Cultural Revolution (1966-76) with its very own millions added to the pile of communism’s murdered victims.
Freedom of speech is nonnegotiable
Another deadly scourge came in the form of Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers’ Party. The Nazis wreaked havoc across Europe from 1933 when it became the German government until its total defeat in 1945 by the Allies in WWII. The leadup to Hitler gaining absolute power has eerie echoes in today’s Woke demands across the West. The good German did nothing in the 1930s, thinking this, too, shall pass and Germans will come to their senses—after all, they were the flower of Enlightened civilization in philosophy (e.g., Kant), in literature (e.g., Goethe) and in music (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven). By the time they awoke to Hitler’s menace, they either acquiesced and became good Nazis or were sent to the death camps.
The good American/Canadian keeps saying conservatives are overreacting as Biden/Trudeau take us further & further down the Green Global Road. We aren’t being sent to death camps—at least not yet. But the radical Left’s wish for death to deplorables (Hillary’s quaint name for conservatives) has been caught on camera more than once.
And we are being fired/canceled, denying many the ability to earn a living—witness Trudeau’s freezing the bank accounts of the Freedom Convoy’s participants because he pronounced them a fringe minority with unacceptable views.
The media of the day served their Nazi overlords, just like the legacy media of today are the mouthpiece of the Woke. With the internet opening up the public square to everyone, the Woke, who dominate all the big tech platforms, are frantically trying to shut down alternative views—that is, any view that deviates from the Gospel According to Wokedom.
Witness Justin Trudeau & Rachel Notley denying access to journalists who do not toe the Woke line, the former Rebel News and the latter The Counter Signal.
It takes courage to confront evil, and since only some 2% of people are courageous, I begin to understand how ordinary Germans descended into Hitler’s Nazi circle of Hell.
So it behooves the American & Canadian adults in the room to daily counter the shrieking Left’s demands.
One easy way to do this is to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER—following Churchill’s excellent advice—vote for a socialist, including anyone in the deceptive guise of caring & compassion, perfectly captured by Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter—from head of the class to head of the country.
Solzhenitsyn’s criticism of the West
After being expelled from the Soviet Union in February 1974 for his exposure of its gulag system of torture & imprisonment, Solzhenitsyn traveled to the US and settled on a secluded estate in Cavendish, Vermont. From his 20 years in the West—in 1990 his Soviet citizenship was restored, and in 1994 he returned to Russia—he noted the West’s imbalance between freedom & rights and personal obligations & responsibilities—the emphasis on the former and a notable decline of the latter.
It is interesting to note that the latter are not specifically mentioned in the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms because they were taken for granted. Citizens’ obligations & responsibilities were very much a part of my childhood & youth in the 1940s and ‘50s. My education, at home and at school, lauded self-restraint, self-reliance, truthfulness, honour and integrity. Then the ‘60s came along, and the riots of exploding rights accompanied by few or no responsibilities battered the banks of civilized conduct. The erosion of our liberal-democratic societies continued for the rest of the century, and the banks burst at the turn of the century, flooding every institution with the bilge of socialist dreck.
Solzhenitsyn traces the West’s weakness in the face of the Woke onslaught to our roots in man as the centre of the universe:
Faith in God has been gradually displaced by a Faith in Man as a materialistic entity… Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism; radicalism had to surrender to socialism; and socialism can never resist communism.
(“Reflections of Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address”, Sergiu Klainerman, Quillette, October 24, 2020)
Faith gives purpose to life, and reason keeps faith in check. AND faith reminds one of his/her human fallibility, and exposes one’s thinking he/she is god as an illusion. Solzhenitsyn thinks we are at a crossroads in history as important as the turn of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. I agree.
Milton Friedman’s criticism of communism
The rot of Wokedom started in academia, the domain of intellectuals who fancy themselves the bespoke leaders of the lumpen proletariat/deplorables/ordinary people like you & me. Friedman punctures their balloon of emotional self-regard, and I cheer as the wind whistles out and reveals their empty reasoning.
The argument of collectivism is simple if false; it is an immediate emotional argument. The argument for individualism is subtle and sophisticated; it is an indirect rational argument. And the emotional facilities are more highly developed in most men than the rational, paradoxically or especially even those who regard themselves as intellectuals.
(“Milton Friedman: The Intellectuals and Collectivism”, John Phelan, American Enterprise, August 17, 2018)
The Left’s nation of toddlers
And this emotionalism is borne out in the infantilization of our culture. Everything the Left promotes works toward a Parent State with Citizen Children who do what they’re told while having mindless fun. This nation of toddlers:
- throws tantrums when they don’t get their way
- dresses in loose, pyjama-type clothing, eschewing the style & tailored attire of adults
- eats all foods mashed together from a bowl with a spoon, not individual foods aesthetically arranged on a plate with a knife & fork
- talks with a limited vocabulary heavily laced with ‘like’ and repetitive profanity
But real toddlers work hard at learning civilized ways and can’t wait to grow up. Leftie toddlers form mobs to destroy civilized ways and hate what they envy: Creation takes virtue and they know they only have its simulacrum—virtue signaling.
In contrast, I longed to become an adult when I was growing up. This toddler:
- realized early that a tantrum wouldn’t get me my way, but would get me punished for my horrid behaviour
- loved to dress up in pretty outfits, looking forward to Sunday when we dressed up for Mass—and wore our dress-up, white shoes!
- set the table as nicely as possible with our mix of plates & cutlery, and then ate with the grownups
- had civilized conversations & lively arguments using the rich English language, adding new words as fast as I learned them, creating stronger & more complex sentences, and avoiding profanity in peril of punishment (and in peril of its dulling influence on the sparkle of convervation)
The West’s nations of adults
At this crossroads in our history, the adults must tame the destructive toddlers to preserve and build on our Enlightened heritage.
Having the ability to recognize what is good and beautiful is central to a culture, and we are in danger of losing that completely. Everywhere one looks at what is celebrated in art, literature, music, fashion, architecture and even in home décor in our modern world, one sees ugliness and dirtiness.
We cannot allow the radical Left to tear down what our ancestors have built at great cost of blood & treasure, and replace it with the evil of tyranny and the ugliness of graffiti as art, critical race theory as truth, climate-change catastrophism as religion, and multiple genders as the human equation.
We cannot descend into the Orwellian hell of:
- “Freedom is slavery.
- War is peace.
- Ignorance is strength.”
where “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”—the mantra of the radical Left.
We adults must take the right road at this crossroads in the history of our admirable Western civilization.