The 2nd Annual International Free Thinking Film Festival November 11-13, 2011 Ottawa, Ontario “The Free Thinking Film Society is about great films and speakers that you won't find elsewhere. But it's also a statement in itself: that freedom, and dissent, and contrary views, are still alive and well in Canada. When the FTFS stared down the thugs at the Iranian Embassy to show Iranium, it wasn't just the film that mattered. It was the right to see it -- a right strengthened through regular use. Bravo and thanks from all Canadians.” Ezra Levant Celebrating Films on Democracy and Freedom! www.freethinkingfilms.com E-mail: email@example.com Observer C A N A D I A N Vol. 1 No. 1 Summer 2011 Culture, Politics & Public Affairs Future Topics: www.canadianobservermag.ca Feature Article: Rule of Law Family Faith, family and good government 5 Health A primer on faith-based conservatism Agreement 42192028 International –Richard Bastien Publications Mail Economic Development Environment Feminism is dead... only whining remains 14 Government – Barbara Kay Biographies Ideas & Books Christopher Dawson and the Age of Dante 17 Notable Events – Dominic Manganiello Polls & Data How I Discovered my Canadianness 22 Q&A – Andrea Mrozek Letters Islamist Extremists – Is Canada too Smug? 24 Book Reviews in This Issue: –Rory Leishman Conversion Stories 40 Interview 28 By John Gay Man Does Not Live By Reason Alone 28 Book Review: An Interview with Leszek Kolakowski The Emptiness of Plenty 41 Fiction Tells a Greater Truth 35 By Janice Fiamengo –Salim Mansur Book Review: Here and There and Nowhere 56 True Leadership Revealed 44 Politically incorrect observations By Bruce Wilson – Richard Bastien, Observer Editor Book Review: A Man’s Place is Home 62 Why School Children Fail 46 – David Beresford By Jeffrey Asher Book Review: New Applications For An Ancient Art 49 By Jeffrey Asher Book Review: The Christian Invention Of The Human 51 – John Bryson Canadian Centre for Policy Studies Canada’s independent conservative public policy think-tank. For more information or to support the Centre, visit our website at www.policystudies.ca Our guiding principles: ❑ Limited, constitutional government. ❑ Free markets, free enter- prise, private property. ❑ A justice system that holds everyone equally accountable, that pun- ishes criminal offenders and that protects the law- abiding. ❑ A foreign policy that ad- vances and supports freedom and democracy around the world. ❑ Responsible, fact-based stewardship of the envi- ronment. ❑ Respect for the natural family as the essential building blocks of a free, prosperous and demo- cratic society. ❑ Respect for the intrinsic value of all human life, from conception to natural death. Contents The Canadian Observer is a quarterly Faith, family and good government 5 magazine of Canada First Media. A primer on faith-based conservatism FEATURE The Canadian Observer –Richard Bastien P. O. Box 30001 Feminism is dead.. only whining remains 14 Greenbank North RPO Ottawa ON K2H 1A3 – Barbara Kay Tel: 613.800.0837 Photo credits 12 Fax: 613.800.0713 www.canadianobservermag.ca Christopher Dawson and the Age of Dante 17 ISSN 1925-6760 (Print edition) – Dominic Manganiello ISSN 1925-6779 (Online editions) How I Discovered my Canadianness 22 – Andrea Mrozek The purpose of the magazine is to raise the quality of the debate on public Islamist Extremists – Is Canada too Smug? 24 policy, politics and law. We wish to –Rory Leishman present the need for a renewal based on traditional Canadian values. We are Interview open to other rationally-argued views. Man Does Not Live By Reason Alone 28 We encourage free speech and public An Interview with Leszek Kolakowski debate. Therefore the ideas presented in this magazine are those of the writers Fiction Tells a Greater Truth 35 and authors. –Salim Mansur Readers are invited to offer their views Book Review: to the Editor in letters to the editor. Conversion Stories 40 By John Gay We also welcome your support as a subscriber, member, donor and attendee Book Review: at our events. The Emptiness of Plenty 41 www.canadianobservermag.ca/subscribe By Janice Fiamengo Speakers are available from us to cover Book Review: the topics presented. True Leadership Revealed 44 By Bruce Wilson Advertisers are also welcome. Our audience is literate, upper income, Book Review: involved Canadians. Why School Children Fail 46 www.canadianobservermag.ca/advertise By Jeffrey Asher Circulation: Approximately 5000. Book Review: New Applications For An Ancient Art 49 Publisher: Joseph Ben-Ami By Jeffrey Asher firstname.lastname@example.org Book Review: Editor-in-Chief: Richard Bastien The Christian Invention Of The Human 51 email@example.com – John Bryson Managing Editor: Bruce Wilson Here and There and Nowhere 56 firstname.lastname@example.org Politically incorrect observations – Richard Bastien, Observer Editor A Man’s Place is Home 62 – David Beresford Editorial: The Aims and Values behind Canadian Observer In 1950 a relatively unknown group of political larizing’ and thus in violation of the First Principle of thinkers and activists in Quebec led by Pierre Trudeau Political Punditry: Thou Shalt Hug the Middle” which, founded the magazine Cité Libre. The goal was to pro- according to Coyne, leads to the Second Principle, vide a platform for the development and dissemina- Thou Shalt Not Change Things Much, If At All. tion of left-wing ideas that were not in vogue at that Although made in jest, Coyne’s comment has an time in Quebec and that were difficult to get into element of truth to it. Conservatives do have a pen- print due to the political and social climate that ex- chant for doing nothing significantly conservative isted in that province. during their infrequent terms in office, which may Between its inception in 1950 and its (original) help explain why their terms in office have been so closing in 1966, Cité Libre served this purpose well. infrequent. If, after all, conservatives themselves are Never a popular journal in the traditional sense, it unwilling to explain and defend conservative princi- nevertheless quickly became the principal source of ples, why should anyone expect the public to embrace intellectual capital for what became known as the them? Quiet Revolution, playing an important role in both Our aim at Canadian Observer is to show that con- the resurgence of the Quebec Liberal Party and the servatism is a sound and moral political philosophy subsequent conversion of the federal Liberal Party to and to present sensible conservative solutions to the the quasi-socialist policies of Trudeau and his succes- issues of the day. More specifically, we seek to be a sors. source of conservative intellectual capital to be drawn Our goal in creating Canadian Observer magazine upon and spent in pursuit of a better, freer Canada. It is to provide a similar platform for the development is to counter the anesthetizing effect of contemporary and dissemination of conservative ideas in the areas of liberalism and to point to the possibilities and benefits culture, politics and public affairs. of change. The timing of such a project could not be more Although we will, of necessity, touch on matters propitious. of public policy, Canadian Observer is not primarily The recent election of a majority Conservative a policy journal. It is a journal of ideas; a place to dis- federal government presents Canadian conservatives cover and discuss the principles that form the founda- with opportunity and risk – opportunity to demon- tion of a strong and healthy society. To the degree that strate the benefit of applying conservative principles public policy impacts or is impacted by those prin- to government, and risk that they will fail to seize that ciples, we discuss it. opportunity, reverting instead to the “me-too” liberal- We invite you to join in the Canadian Observer ism of past conservative governments. No one who discussions. Send us your comments, letters, articles has followed Canadian politics these past few decades and ideas. Subscribe. Link to our website: www.ca- can be certain which path they will choose. As An- nadianobservermag.ca and ensure that the Canada of drew Coyne put it in a recent column in Maclean’s, our future reflects your values. “…God forbid (the conservatives) should do anything Joseph Ben-Ami is publisher of Canadian Observer and with the power they now possess. That would be ‘po- founder of Canadian Centre for Policy Studies. 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Since 1992 088970-135-9 ❦ Father Falke has been pastor of St. Brigid’s www.commonerspublishing.com Fr. herman Falke Faith, family and good government A primer on faith-based conservatism –Richard Bastien S ome hold that the fundamental division in Ca- are as human beings. The divide reflects a philosophi- nadian society is between French-speaking and cal and religious division which runs through virtually English speaking people, others between well- all Western countries. There is no longer any cultural to-do and poorer people, and others still between unity within individual countries. The current state of males and females. Yet, as real as they may be, these Western culture is perhaps best defined by this fun- divisions pale beside those having arisen in recent de- damental opposition between belief in autonomous cades on matters of morality and religion. reason, which is the essence of liberalism, and belief in Throughout most of the past 150 years, Canadi- the symbiotic relationship between faith and reason, ans have experienced tensions and conflicts of various which is the essence of conservatism. kinds, but somehow always managed to remain unit- This being said, one need not adhere to a particular ed as a result of their Judeo-Christian heritage, which religious faith to be a conservative. All that conser- translated into a generally shared respect vatism requires is acknowledgement of a for the dignity of the human person and natural law founded solely in reason. Nat- a broad sense of fairness. The Christian ural law provides an objective standard of faith was essentially the default position right and wrong for both individuals and of Canadian society. It was the source of governments. It distinguishes the objec- our unity and enabled us to accomplish tive wrongness of an act from the subjec- great things, both politically and eco- tive culpability of its author. It was first nomically, as attested by Canada’s resilient developed, not by Christian scholars, but political stability, its role in the two World by Greek and Roman philosophers several Wars and active involvement in interna- centuries before Jesus Christ. Aristotle tional affairs, its rapid economic growth, noted that “one part of what is politically its ability to integrate vast numbers of im- just is natural, and the other part legal. migrants and its top ranking in the UN’s human de- What is natural has the same validity everywhere velopment index. alike, independent of its seeming so or not.” Cicero All this was made possible because Canadians described “Law” as “the highest reason, implanted in shared Christian beliefs that superseded their linguis- Nature, which commands what ought to be done and tic, economic or political differences. Over the past forbids the opposite.” Not all conservatives are reli- 50 years, however, those beliefs have suffered slow but gious, but all have faith in an objective moral order, constant erosion. As a result, most Canadians can now often called natural law. be classified as being either conservative or liberal, it In this paper, the word conservatism thus refers to being understood that these categories are primarily something akin to the liberalism of Edmund Burke, philosophical and moral and only secondarily politi- Alexis de Tocqueville or G.K. Chesterton, i.e. to clas- cal. sical liberalism. As for the word liberalism, it is under- The words conservatism and liberalism may be de- stood as an ideology, often referred to in common par- fined without reference to political parties. Indeed, lance as modern liberalism, i.e. the political expression each designates primarily a certain world view or, of secular humanism. more specifically, a particular understanding of man and his universe. Both of these world views claim to The culture of modern liberalism be universal and rational. The division between liber- The culture of modern liberalism flows from 18th als and conservatives is based on beliefs about who we and 19th century writers such as David Hume, Jer- Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 5 For the finest portraiture in oils on canvas, and custom created murals call or write us: (613) 523 0279 email@example.com Featuring the art of Elie Benzaquen 6 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 emy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, who consistently mathematical relationships and the material world. argued that the cause of rationality is best served by Today’s liberals define moral reason in terms of the materialist philosophies that must eventually over- maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain. come the fantasies of religion. They draw their inspiration largely from the writ- Materialism is a doctrine according to which each ings of John Stuart Mill who, in a book titled Utili- of us is no more than his body, understood as an ag- tarianism, argued that happiness must be judged “by gregate of chemical particles assembled together by those who in their opportunities of experience, to an evolutionary process. Man is which must be added their habits essentially a biological machine “The word conservatism of self-consciousness and self-ob- devoid of any spiritual nature. ... thus refers to servation, are best furnished with Nothing distinguishes him from something akin to the the means of comparison.” This, other animals except the chemical liberalism of Edmund of course, is simply elaborate ver- complexity of his brain. Burke, Alexis de biage meant to convince people People in the academic world Tocqueville or G.K. that only those with the “right” try to give materialism a scientific Chesterton, i.e. credentials, i.e. utilitarian philoso- spin by calling it positivism, which to classical liberalism” . phers and politicians, are able to says that reality is made up solely judge and rank various pleasures, of what can be measured. Any- and hence determine how society thing that is not measurable is deemed not to exist. might best achieve the greatest happiness. Love may exist, but only because it can be reduced However, given the utilitarian assumption about to some chemical action in the brain. In An Enquiry the absence of moral commands written into nature, Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume put the only way for liberals to judge morally is by the it as follows: actual experience of pleasure and pain. A moral judge will have to compare the delights of marital fidelity If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or and those of adultery, of gluttony and sobriety, of school metaphysics…let us ask, Does it contain any reading philosophy and pornographic novels. Mill abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? himself admitted to this when he wrote: “On a ques- No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning tion which is the best worth having of two pleasures... concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Com- the judgment of those who are qualified by knowledge mit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing of both, or, if they differ, that of the majority among but sophistry and illusion. them, must be admitted as final.” What this means is that any proposition outside And as if this were not already irrational enough, the realm of logic, mathematics and empirical sciences Mill went on to extend the principle of utility “so far should be considered subjective – a matter of opin- as the nature of things admits, to the whole sentient ion. It can never claim to be truthful in the sense we creation,” i.e. to the entire animal kingdom, a posi- generally understand that word. Thus, positivists view tion now upheld by philosopher Peter Singer and ani- faith as utterly irrational and all religions as so many mal rights activists. In taking this view, Mill, Singer superstitions. and their disciples are being both logical and illogical. Positivism denies that we are a unity of body and Logical because, if morality is but a matter of com- soul and that we are endowed with a free will that puting pleasure and pain, any being capable of plea- makes us in some respects unpredictable. It holds sure and pain must enter into the moral computation. that our perception of ourselves as imperfect beings Illogical because, once you add the entire sentient inclined to do well but tempted to do evil is illuso- population of every mosquito, rodent, fish, serpent, ry, as are the categories of good and evil. The basic etc., evaluating and comparing pleasures and pains claim of the positivist /materialist in the management becomes impossible. of human affairs is that a mature humanity must rely But there is more to the irrationality of modern on reason alone, the scope of reason being limited to liberalism. Again in Utilitarianism, Mill writes: “Yet Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 7 To register, please contact Sunworld Tours - Tel: 1-800-461-6854 (Toll free) 8 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.sunworldtours.com Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 no one whose opinion deserves a moment’s consider- dience and devotion in the secular order as Christi- ation can doubt that most of the great positive evils anity does in the religious order. Every ideology is a of the world are in themselves removable, and will, if promise of social salvation in that it seeks a heavenly human affairs continue to improve, be in the end re- kingdom on earth. duced within narrow limits...All the grand sources...of In the case of liberalism, this promise is to be human suffering are in a great degree, many of them achieved by an endless enlargement of the role of the entirely, conquerable by human care and effort.” State, which acts more or less as a new divine Provi- What this implies is that it should be possible to dence. This “divinized” State is meant to usher in a eradicate virtually all forms of evil and suffering. More new order based on science and technology that will importantly, it implies that once people become rich, achieve in this life what Christianity promises for the they will be invariably virtuous, and once diseases afterlife. The new order is to be engineered and man- and illnesses are eliminated through medical progress, aged by an army of “experts” serving an all encom- there will no longer be any risk of people indulging in passing, omnipotent, secular state capable of provid- various abuses or vices. More generally, the chances of ing any and all good and eliminating any and all evil. crimes and wars occurring will necessarily diminish in proportion to the spread and growth of economic The culture of conservatism prosperity and the eradication of various diseases. If Conservatives believe there is no such thing as “rea- Mill had been right, then there would have been fewer son alone” and that there is a necessary relationship crimes and wars in the 20th century than in any previ- between faith and reason. To those who insist on radi- ous century. Yet, the opposite is true. cally separating the two, they point Mill’s utilitarianism, which drives ... most Canadians out, in the words of G.K. Chester- the political thinking of modern lib- can now be classified ton, that “reason is itself a matter of erals, denies that man is inclined to as being either faith. It is an act of faith to assert that selfishness and wickedness. It simply conservative or our thoughts have any relation to re- assumes that, given the proper en- liberal, it being ality at all.” Indeed, even the materi- vironment and education, all men understood that alism of liberals is a matter of faith: will be happy and models of virtue. their deep held belief that there ex- these categories are As every parent and educator knows, ists nothing other than physical and this is a case of utopian thinking run primarily philosophical measurable reality is an improbable amok. and moral and only assumption that is more intellectu- The lesson that we can draw from secondarily political. ally gratuitous than the Christian the past two centuries is that all faith based on the testimony of hun- philosophical systems claiming to be based on reason dreds of people who interacted with Christ before and alone have turned out to be utterly irrational. More- after his Resurrection, i.e. on compelling historical over, they have led to unspeakable misery and carnage, evidence. as attested by the death toll of the French, Russian Reason raises questions that it cannot answer on and Chinese revolutions, the genocides committed in its own and to which faith provides answers that be- their aftermath and the current abortion holocaust. come intelligible only with the help of reason. Thus Over the past 100 years, the liberal dogma of reason faith and reason are, in the words of Tracey Rowland, alone has caused more blood to be shed than all the “symbiotically, and not extrinsically, related.” Accord- religious wars of the past millennium. ing to the Oxford English Dictionary, a symbiosis is What all these systems have in common is a com- “an interaction between two different organisms liv- mitment to judge everything according to some par- ing in close physical association, especially to the ad- ticular abstract idea, i.e. an ideological construct. An vantage of both.” Thus, to say that faith and reason ideology is a secular religion or, more specifically, a are symbiotically related means not only that they are political faith that commands virtually as much obe- essential to one another, but also that they grow or Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 9 perish together. properly the domain of moral reason. But given that This symbiosis can be explained from the point of liberals and conservatives understand the role of rea- view of reason and from that of faith. From the stand- son very differently, they are bound to disagree on point of the former, we know that reason raises ques- what political action is required in particular circum- tions that it cannot answer on its own. There is, for stances. example, the question of where do we come from and Liberals are adverse to any reference to God in the where are we going? This is the question about our public square: they see Him as a kind of rival who origin and our destiny: each of us is bound to raise seeks to deprive people of their autonomy and power. it at some point or other, and rather earlier than later Religion, in their mind, involves a zero sum game be- in life. We cannot help asking it because it has to do tween personal autonomy and divine authority. with the very meaning of our existence. Even young Moreover, liberals believe that empirical sciences children ask it without ever having been prompted to will eventually provide answers to all questions tradi- do so. tionally associated with philosophy. The separation of A philosophy based on reason alone, cannot answer physics and metaphysics achieved by Christian phi- the question and declares it to be irrelevant. But faith losophers many centuries ago is gradually being over- proposes an answer, from which reason can then draw taken by the “physics of man” prophesied by Auguste out some implications. The same may be said about Comte in the 19th century. Darwin’s grand theory of the most radical philosophical question that can ever evolution (not to be confused with the scientifically be asked: why is there something rather than noth- demonstrated biological evolution within species) and ing? This is another question that simply cannot be Stephen Hawking’s “Grand Design” of the physical ignored because, whether we like it or not, the way we universe both claim to explain the origin of life solely live necessarily implies a response. To ignore the ques- through chemical processes and to render the “God tion usually leads to unwittingly adopting the default hypothesis” superfluous. Some of the “new atheists” stance of the time in which one is living. Today, that even claim that science will soon be able to answer stance is materialistic and utilitarian liberalism. questions of good and evil, right and wrong, thus If we take the standpoint of faith rather than rea- opening up the way to an empirical science of moral- son, the necessity of a symbiotic link between the ity. This is consistent with the concept of positivism two appears equally obvious. For example, by affirm- (scientism) according to which the scientific method ing the existence of God, faith automatically adopts is the sole approach to systematic and rational knowl- edge. a philosophical position about what constitutes the Conservatives assume that the concepts of nature, whole of reality and about its origin. By affirming the man, God, ethics and religion are closely intertwined existence of one God who is Logos, Christian faith af- and cannot be reduced to mere objects of empirical firms the existence of a creative Intelligence and of a investigation. Like liberals, they believe that man is a certain understanding of man as a spiritual being ca- rational animal. But unlike liberals, they believe that pable of knowing the truth. he is endowed with free will, which means that he may We may thus conclude that reason is distinct from as often be unreasonable as reasonable. His behaviour faith as is philosophy from theology. However, the ex- is often predictable, but may also be unpredictable, ercise of reason is inseparable from faith. There is no even to himself. such thing as a Christian reason, but there is a Chris- Conservatives also do not view happiness as the ul- tian exercise of reason or, more specifically, an exercise timate objective of life. As American philosopher Rus- of reason enlightened by faith. And if things are so, it sell Kirk wrote more than 50 years ago: is because the great problems to which our minds are Now, the conservative, the thinking conservative, confronted belong both to the order of reason, i.e., never has agreed that happiness, per se, is the object philosophy, and to that of faith, i.e., theology. of human existence.… Not that conservatives be- Because politics is geared primarily to the achieve- lieve men ought to be unhappy; conservatives seek ment of moral objectives like peace and justice, it is with all their power to alleviate the injustice and 10 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 misery of this world; but they know that, in plain cost, produces greater inner joy than would have been fact, man is a creature fallen from grace, and that possible without it. The family is the school where we he never will be perfectly happy here below, and that learn that we have obligations we never anticipated, if we pursue happiness directly, we never will find and needs that cannot always be satisfied. It is where it. Happiness comes only as a by-product of duty we experience that life is bigger than ourselves and done and higher ends sought, in odd moments, most learn to put the interests of others ahead of our own. often in retrospect. The conservative knows that the That’s why conservatives believe the family has prior- object of life, and of society, is something else alto- ity over society and the state. gether. The conservative does not believe that the As a result, conservatives believe in a natural, moral end or aim of life is competition; or success; or en- order inherent in human nature. We want to do good, joyment; or longevity; or power; or possessions. He but because of our inclination to wickedness – what believes, instead, that the object of life is Love. … Christians call original sin – we do not always act in a Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, moral manner. There is thus a need for moral educa- to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their tion. However, far from filling an inner moral void, neighbours and in themselves, and to aspire toward moral education is meant to make us more aware triumph of Love. of what we vaguely discern in our Conservatives believe heart. The reason conservatives view Liberalism argues that the words love rather than happiness as the ob- there is no such thing as “reason alone” “good” and “evil” are merely expres- ject of human existence is based on and that there is a sions of our own personal preferenc- their belief that man was created to es or desires. Being a mere product of love God and his neighbours, a belief necessary relationship evolution, man has no fundamental that is confirmed naturally by their between faith and nature – there is nothing permanent humble experience of life. They see reason. To those who about him. His nature is to be unde- themselves as having been born into insist on separating termined, open to various forms of a network of intimate relationships, radically the two, they biological, psychological or cultural groomed and protected by consid- erations which they never chose nor point out, in the words engineering. He is malleable – like of G.K. Chesterton, clay or plastic. Consequently, the even intended. Far from perceiving idea that there is a moral truth writ- themselves as autonomous beings that “reason is itself a ten on the heart of man makes little free to roam over the earth as they matter of faith. It is an sense to the liberal mind, which sim- please, they sense that they carry a act of faith to assert ply assumes that truth must evolve debt of love and gratitude that en- that our thoughts have over time, as everything else. Moral tails certain duties and obligations any relation to reality truth must be made to correspond towards family, immediate commu- at all.” to whatever values are supposedly nity and country – in that particular embodied in the ever evolving social order. They understand by instinct contract. Thus, there are no absolute values and every- as well as by intellect that human bonds are integral thing is a priori negotiable. to human development and that living up to those This is what underlies moral relativism. If human bonds trumps everything else. nature is but a by-product of evolution, then there This explains the importance conservatives attach can be nothing to prevent liberalism from leading us to the family. As they see it, the family is an institution to a technological utopia managed by a centralized where each person is treated “as an end and never as a government bureaucracy. Political power can then be means.” The purpose of the family is not only to beget used as a means to transform the world and human children, it is to give a moral and spiritual formation nature according to the preferences of those in posi- that will maintain and enrich the intellectual and cul- tions of power. tural capital of civilization. Raising a family requires This is precisely what C.S. Lewis sought to alert us that parents sacrifice some of their own personal de- to in a small book titled The Abolition of Man. “The sires or preferences for the sake of their children and final stage,” says Lewis, “is come when Man by eu- such self-sacrifice, although not without some real genics, by prenatal conditioning, and by an education Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 11 and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychol- above the crowd; it does not break wills but it soft- ogy, has obtained full control over himself. Human ens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to forces men to act, but it constantly opposes itself to Man.” The winners will be “the man-moulders of the men’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things new age…armed with the powers of an omnicompe- from coming into being; it does not tyrannize, it tent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we hinders, it presses down upon men, it enervates, it shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can extinguishes, it stupefies, and it finally reduces each cut out all posterity in what shape they please.” nation to no longer being anything but a herd of Our anxious and aging society has embraced ad- timid and industrious animals, whose shepherd is vances in science, technology, and especially biotech- the government. nology—from abortion and embryonic stem cell re- search to psychopharmacology, cosmetic surgery and The role of conservatives in a neurology, genetic manipulation, and the detachment of sex from reproduction. Anything that is doable is society saturated by liberalism deemed legitimate. Yet, all these technical advances Because liberalism pervades modern culture and entail a loss of man’s natural dignity. most of our educational and political institutions, We are told that all bioethical conflicts can be re- now is not a particularly good time to be a conserva- solved by consensus amongst scientific experts. Yet, tive, if ever there was one. Conservatives are often de- there can be no scientific consensus about what is hu- picted as reactionaries or traditionally-minded people. man nature, let alone on human dignity. And if there “The Stupid Party” is how John Stuart Mill described is no agreement about what human dignity signifies, them. Today’s liberal thinkers claim that conservatism there can be no true agreement about human rights, is best defined in terms of authoritarianism and con- or more generally, on what philosophers and pastors ventionalism. of an earlier age used to call the natural law. In the words of Roger Scruton, conservatism essen- Ironically, the idea that we should move beyond tially involves “loving the world as it is,” being sensi- our traditional moral norms was first put forth explic- tive to what has been handed over by our forefathers. itly by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche It is based on a sense of amity towards the community, who, in the late 19th century, wrote a book titled Be- rather than a desire to remake it according to purely yond Good and Evil, in which he argued that the real intellectual constructs. This attitude of receptivity to- implications of atheism were a world without good wards the experience of earlier generations reflects the and evil, based solely on the will to power. In his last view that there is a “hard core” human nature that letters, he spoke of the launching of the “greatest deci- cannot be tampered with and by which cultures, in sive war in history” where “we shall have convulsions spite of their diversity and constant evolution, can on the earth such as have never been seen,” announc- be judged. While recognizing that our common un- ing that “the old god is abolished, and that I myself derstanding of human nature evolves over time, con- will henceforth rule the world,” and signing himself servatives thus acknowledge that there is something “Nietzsche Caesar.” Nietzsche was also the philosopher unchanging in that nature. which German Nazis revered most. The role of conservatives today is to challenge the The absence of consensus on the true nature of man prevailing culture of liberalism. It is to proclaim that leads to a gradual erosion of human rights and the there are moral limits that are natural in that they are emergence of an all-encompassing paternalistic state. written on our heart. These limits must be preserved This is what we are witnessing today. Ironically it was so as to prevent the manipulation, degradation and foreseen more than 150 years ago by Alexis de Toc- destruction of human nature. Conservatives must de- queville who, in Democracy in America, warned about nounce the attempts of liberals to go beyond natural the risk of “democratic despotism”: human limits, beyond good and evil, and redefine our traditional moral standards on the basis of whatever The sovereign extends his arms over the whole so- recent technological innovations makes possible. It ciety; he covers its surface with a web of small, must promote and defend what is sustainable and hu- complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through man against what is fashionable and subhuman. 3 which the most original minds and the most vig- orous souls are unable to emerge in order to rise Richard Bastien is the Editor of the Canadian Observer 12 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Feminism is dead... only whining remains – Barbara Kay The following text is a lightly-edited version of a talk given by Barbara Kay last February 10th at a reception held in Ottawa to celebrate the fifth Anni- versary of the foundation of the Insti- tute of Marriage and Family Canada. We thank the IMFC for permission to reproduce the text. W hen I began my weekly sojourn with the National Post in 2003, I had no particular niche subjects. My general curiosity lay in social trends, and the factors that contribute to building and maintaining a healthy, stable society. But so many of the negative cultural trends I was drawn to for column fod- der kept leading me back to the same source. The Marxist political theorist Antonio Gramsci famously spoke of “the long march through the institu- tions” as the path to cultural hegemony. ences live on. Fault-free divorce, transient, common As I began to look at the institutions that instruct our law partnership accorded the same respect and ben- children, mould our lawyers and social workers and efits as marriage, gay unions anointed as marriage, the psychologists, sensitize our judiciary, shape the views exaltation of single motherhood and the discrediting of our journalists and inspire our future politicians, of fatherhood, guilt-free and convenience-motivated it became clear to me that the custodians of these in- abortion on a mass scale, transgressive sexuality cel- stitutions were all drinking from the same ideological ebrated for its own sake, and the early sexualization of well: Marxism-imbued feminism. children: all this can in part or in whole be attributed Feminism was the best organized and militant of to feminism which, like most ideologies, is essentially the new “isms” that were considered de rigeur amongst a conspiracy theory meant to inspire militancy in its the culture’s bien pensants, but it has been powerless to recruits by scapegoating (heterosexual) men. Indeed, compensate for the unhappiness it has been the pri- it is the only conspiracy theory that is accorded re- mary culprit in creating. As the respected gender wars spectable status in our society. critic Christina Hoff Summers argues in an essay on In the last 10 or 15 years we have seen downward feminism in a new book titled Liberty and Civiliza- rates of divorce, illegitimacy, drug and alcohol abuse tion: the Western heritage and edited by Roger Scruton, and early sexual activity. Our culture has shifted nota- radical feminists produced a form of women’s libera- bly rightward. Bourgeois values are in vogue and fami- tion that has “little to do with liberty” since “it aims lies have once again become the centre of our cultural not to free women to pursue their own interests and focus. People sense that too many babies were thrown inclinations, but rather to reeducate them to attitudes out with the bath water of women’s real grievances. The often profoundly contrary to their natures.” yearning for a collaborative union and children is in- The revolution is over, but its effects and influ- herent to our nature. No theory on earth can suppress Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 13 it for long. As longtime Commentary Magazine editor pair the damage that has been done to them by elites Norman Podhoretz once wrote to his son: “There can who believed that theory can trump human nature. In be no more radical refusal of self-acceptance than the 1965, 25% of African-American babies were born to repudiation of one’s own biological nature.” unwed mothers. Today it is 70%. But amongst highly So there is reason for optimism. Today, forty years educated people, only 6% of babies are born to unwed on, even though our institutions are dominated by mothers. There is also reason to worry about a mid- their graduates, Women’s Studies classes are empty- dle group – somewhat educated people who used to ing out. Few women today identify be conservative in their marrying themselves as feminists. Educated, “People sense that habits; their commitment, statisti- middle-class women, once the too many babies were cally, is wavering. Only the cultur- mainstay of the feminist move- thrown out with the bath al elites can be said to be rock solid ment, realize that they have been water of women’s real on the “life script.”) somewhat bamboozled: they actu- As to the West’s famously de- grievances. The yearning ally want husbands and children, clining birth rate, it is thanks to and don’t want to feel guilty about for a collaborative union feminism that infertility clinics are it. And as a recent survey makes and children is inherent doing such a landslide business. I crystal clear, women, given the to our nature.” gave a talk a few years ago to the choice, would stay home with their McGill Women’s Alumnae Associ- children in their earliest years. As the ecologists like to ation on feminism and its effects. Some young women say, “nature bats last.” were in the audience, and I noticed that one was vis- I see the re-bourgeoisification in my own milieu. ibly startled when I mentioned the statistics around My own daughter works for the federal government. the optimal breeding years for women. I said that She could easily have moved up to a higher echelon, women are most fertile between the ages of 15-25, but it would have meant giving up her coveted clas- that the odds of a successful pregnancy and uncompli- sification of tele-worker, which permits her to work cated birth declined markedly after the age of 30 and out of her Montreal home office. The nanny looks af- that, by 35, one was really gambling. By 40 the chanc- ter her two young children, but knowing that she is es of an easy conception and healthy full-term birth available when necessary is far more important to her are the gestational equivalent of Russian roulette. But than more money or higher status – at least while the this young woman told me that, although she was in kids are young. I think a generation ago women like Women’s Studies, where theoretically one learns a lot her would have felt very guilty for stepping off the about, you know, women, nobody had ever told her treadmill. that she might have trouble having children if she de- According to Kay Hymowitz, North America’s pre- layed in starting a family. Teachers don’t tell them and mier observer of mores and cultural values around the doctors are afraid to do so lest they appear sexist. Con- institution of marriage, this is “a moment of tremen- sequently, young women have come to believe that dous promise” for Americans. Or at least for those getting pregnant at a late stage may simply require a with the cultural memory to benefit from following little technological help – but hey, look at all the Hol- what she calls the “life script” that leads out of poverty lywood stars getting pregnant at 40, so no big deal! and into mature, successful adulthood: finish school, Except of course it is, because even IVF has less get a job that leads somewhere, and only then marry, than a 30% chance of success. I have seen enough an- and only after that have children. guish amongst my children’s friends’ late onset first (Unfortunately there is a whole underclass so many pregnancy: the failure to conceive, the failure to car- generations removed from the formula that they have ry, the dependence on drugs and technical aids, the lost even the memory, let alone the motivation, to re- years of obsession that strip the joy from life in their 14 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 best years, to know that a whole generation of young It doesn’t bode well for the future. You can’t go women have been sold a bill of goods that can be home again. Even if the ideology of feminism were traced directly to one ideological source. to disappear tomorrow, our culture has been irrevers- Feminism’s great triumph is the trickle-down ef- ibly changed, and not altogether for the bad. Still, our fect of its most damaging notions. The entire liberal concern today is marriage and family. A few months establishment, notably the media, treat feminism’s ago, I was speaking to a group of Catholic students antisocial nostrums as received wisdom. A year or so at Ryerson University. Afterward a young woman ap- ago, I wrote a column castigating Katrina Onstad, at proached me seeking advice. She is a devout Catho- the time a columnist for Chatelaine, the most read lic who has high career ambitions but is also eager to Women’s magazine in Canada, because she blithely marry and have a large family. She is already 25 years informed us in one of her monthly op-eds that she old. As I wrote in a column, this conversation sparked: wanted her daughter to taste life to the full before set- tling down and, therefore, would advise her not to What advice can I give [Andrea]? Stop studying, even think of getting pregnant (no mention of mar- find Mr. Right and start procreating? After all, riage) before she was 35. (Thanks mom. Glad you Canada needs lots more loved children, and her had kids? How about ensuring we get children will be blessed. On the other hand this our best shot at it too.) Never before young woman is a winner and I want historically have we lived in a society to see her succeed. Unusually for me, I where not only women’s best interests, have no advice to offer Andrea. Gal- but women’s physical pleasures have lup Research has been polling Ameri- been privileged over the interests of cans for decades on their “aspirational children and family. fertility”– how many kids people say The failure of ideologues to pay they want – because it is the best pre- nature its due, to recognize that bi- dictor of how many children they will ology is to a great extent destiny, has have. The bright line between want- entrenched fear and suspicion of men ing three kids maximum and want- in many young women, and has alien- ing more than three is active religious ated men. As conservative writer Midge Decter wrote participation, i.e. regular church attendance. An- at the height of the feminist revolution: “...relations drea validates that profile. Her aspirational fertility between men and women are ghastly...the men feel is five children and she is a committed Catholic. downgraded and sapped and rendered impotent by the women. Young women today are suffering very But how many Andreas are out there? I look back much from the absence of men who have faith in at my own choices, made a half-century ago when themselves.” women were beginning to be highly educated, and I Men’s faith in themselves has been further un- concede that no rational, collective argument could dermined by a family law system that systematically have persuaded me not to have any children, and downgrades their importance to children, and reflex- no rational, collective argument could have per- ively privileges, sometimes demonstrably, unfit moth- suaded me to have many children. ers’ rights to their children as inherent, but regards Autocratic governments can make people have few- fathers’ rights to their children as contingent on their er children, but they can’t make people have more. worthiness to be parent, such worthiness to be deter- Singapore tried. While modernizing in the 1960s after mined by the state. As former justice minister Martin gaining independence from the British, Singapore’s Cauchon once said: “Men have no rights, only re- newly minted Family Planning and Population Board sponsibilities.” launched a billboard campaign, messaging “Stop at Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 15 Two” and “Small Families Brighter Future.” Abortion fertility rate in 1960 was 5.45. Today it is 1.1. and sterilization were encouraged at the government’s Canada’s total fertility rate is presently 1.6, far be- expense. Maternity leave was denied after two chil- low replacement. I have a feeling Andrea will realize dren. her difficult hybrid goal, whatever the obstacles, but It worked. Singapore reached its fertility rate target in our secularized society Andreas are few and far be- of 2.1 in 1976, a 53% plunge over a decade. But it tween these days. So it seems mass immigration from didn’t stop declining, as women’s education rates went countries where women are not yet highly educated up. A reverse strategy was implemented. Abortion must be our portion for the foreseeable future. And wasn’t banned, but pre-op counseling is now required when they are educated, what then? 3 for women with three or fewer children. The billboard and media messaging was changed to “Have Three or Barbara Kay is a columnist with the National Post. More Children If You Can.” But no dice. Singapore’s Subscribe to: Credits: Graphics and Photographics: “Parliament Buildings” Bigstock, page 2 “Roadside crucifix” (in the style of Clarence Ga- gnon, painted on tree slice) by Herman Falke, page 5 “Parental Guidance” Bigstock, page 15 Four issues (1 year) only $29. “Dante”, Museum of Florence, Italy, page 17 (includes tax and postage) “Women of Oman”, by laurid, page 24 Name: _____________________________ “Religion Sign”, Bigstock, page 29 Address: ___________________________ “Palace of Samarkand” Andrushko Galyna, page City: _______________ Province:_______ 34 Postal code: __________ “Peace Tower”, Bigstock, page 57 Credit card: ________________________ “Inukshuk”, by Hannamariah, page 59 Expiry date: ______/_____ “Village Life” after the style of Claude Langevin, Signature: ____________________ by Herman Falke, page 62 Or call: 1-613.800.0837 . P O. Box 30001 Greenbank North RPO The various cover images of books reviewed are Ottawa ON K2H 1A3 courtesy the respective publishers. To manage or order a subscription: www.canadianobservermag.ca/subscribe 16 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Christopher Dawson and the Age of Dante – Dominic Manganiello D ante represents a centerpiece in Christopher uted instead to the integrity of his historical vision. Dawson’s project of restoring Christian cul- He set out, in the first place, to “exorcise the ghost ture. The historian’s keen, lifelong interest in of...[an] ancient error” that had haunted historical the medieval poet, his first hero, began in the family scholarship for centuries. This longstanding cultural library. There, as a young boy, he pored over the three prejudice had originated in the idealization of classi- big volumes of Botticelli’s illustrations to The Divine cal antiquity by Renaissance humanists, was passed on Comedy, encouraged to do so by his Anglican father’s to the Enlightenment philosophers, and from them catholic literary tastes: “My father’s admiration for gradually filtered into modern secularist ideologies. Dante knew no limit, he rated him far above Shake- The immense influence this prejudice exerted on speare and Milton as the world’s one perfect poet”. the popular imagination fostered a negative attitude This unbounded enthusiasm reflected the over- towards the European past that has prevented a proper whelming Victorian response to historical appreciation of the Middle the Italian genius. John Ruskin, Ages. PostRenaissance scholars, Daw- for example, had celebrated son noted, tended to ignore even the Dante as “the central man of all existence of a Christian culture, let the world,” while Thomas Carlyle alone its positive accomplishments. had declared him to be the chief They had coined the term “Middle “spokesman of the Middle Ages”. Ages” to mean originally a kind of The full force of Dante’s impact “cultural vacuum” between two ages on the modern literary imagina- of progress –the ancient civilization tion could still be felt even at the of Greece and Rome and the civili- close of the twentieth century. zation of modern Europe. Voltaire’s Jorge Luis Borges perhaps said curt dismissal of the medieval period it best when he eulogized “those as “a thousand years of stupidity and maligned and complex Middle barbarism” was a notorious case in Ages...that gave us, above all, the point. Commedia, which we continue to Dawson provided the necessary read, and which continues to as- corrective to this gravely erroneous tonish us; which will last beyond view of cultural history. While indi- our lives; far beyond our waking lives, and will be en- cating clearly that Christian culture cannot be simply riched by each generation of readers”. equated with medieval culture, since it existed before Christopher Dawson’s own tribute was equally the Middle Ages began and flourished well after they glowing: “The greatest literary genius of the Middle had come to a close, he nevertheless insisted on view- Ages,” he wrote, produced a masterpiece that symbol- ing Christian culture as an “intelligible historical uni- ized the most “perfect expression of the power and the ty” that gave rise to the actual sociological entity we glory of the medieval cultural achievement”. If West- now call Europe: ern civilization reached the peak of its formative pro- cess in the Middle Ages, then reading Dante, Dawson “If, as I believe, religion is the key of history and believed, provided a key to understanding the main it is impossible to understand a culture unless we stream of Christian culture. understand its religious roots, then the Middle Ages Dawson’s return to the Middle Ages was not are not a kind of waitingroom between two differ- prompted by nostalgia for the old order of Western ent worlds, but the age which made a new world, Christendom. His advocacy of Dante must be attrib- the world from which we come and to which in a Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 17 sense we still belong.” phy, and Christian mysticism in The Divine Comedy. In that “great synthesis”, Virgil replaces the lady of the A knowledge of the great cultural traditions that are Convivio as the representative of human reason and epitomized in the work of Dante, and of those Chris- the classical tradition, while Beatrice becomes a genu- tian elements that still abide in Western culture enable ine figure of Christian charity which impels the poet an educated person of today to interpret to others the to gaze upon the Trinitarian Love that moves the sun relevance of this rich heritage for understanding who and the other stars. Though Paolo and Francesca, the we are and where we are headed. lovers of romance, find themselves in Hell, the Trou- A turning point in the rediscovery of the Middle badour tradition is purified and transformed through Ages occurred in the nineteenth century. Dawson de- the beautiful words of the Provençal tongue Arnaut scribed it as “an event of no less importance in the Daniel utters to lament his past folly in canto 26 of history of European thought than the rediscovery of Purgatory. Dawson claimed that the final reconcilia- Hellenism by the Humanists.” The Romantics, who tion of “the two great currents of European literature, were responsible for this fresh impetus, widened our the Troubadour with the classical and Christian, be- intellectual horizon considerably because they did not fore they had even attained to selfconsciousness” see the Middle Ages simply as a gap in the history of constitutes one of Dante’s greatest culture, but found in them “some- achievements. thing utterly different from the ... medieval man lived If The Divine Comedy synthesizes world that they knew – the revela- precariously between all the vital features of medieval cul- tion of a new kind of beauty.” They two abysses with hell ture, it also paradoxically mirrors the located the quintessence of the me- beneath his feet and developing crisis that later destroyed dieval spirit in the age of the Trouba- the heavens filled with the unity of Western Christendom. dours from Provence, such as Arnaut the mysteries of a Dante’s great poem not only assimi- Daniel, who fashioned the new ide- succession of spiritual lates Christian theology and mysti- als of courtesy, chivalry, and roman- tic love that were later transmitted worlds above his head. cism, the science and philosophy of the Arabs, the knightly ideals of the to the other countries of Western troubadours and the classical tradi- Europe, and eventually inspired the tion of Virgil, but also finds place in its organic struc- French chivalric romances as well as the dolce stil nu- ture for the Franciscan reform movement, the Roman ovo (“sweet new style”) of Dante and the Italian poets order, Italian nationalism and Christian universalism. of the thirteenth century. The integrative power of the poet’s imagination reveals Nothing in the previous history of medieval soci- that in its greatest period, medieval Christendom, un- ety, Dawson argued, could explain the Provençal cult like the civilizations of the ancient East, was not a of woman and the service of the beloved. The sources static, hierarchic order. Modern readers often fail to of this new development existed in Arabic literature notice its dynamic quality, according to Dawson, be- and Spanish Moslem culture. Dante absorbed these cause they focus solely on the logical completeness of disparate influences in his youthful writing, especially the Comedy. Bertrand Russell typifies this tendency in his depiction of the lady of the Convivio on whom by describing Dante’s universe as “tidy and small”: “every supernal intelligence gazes” and her “beauty “Everything is contrived in relation to man: to pun- rains down flames of fire, made living by a gentle spirit ish sin and reward virtue. There are no mysteries, no which is the creator of every good thought.” abysses, no secrets; the whole thing is like a child’s Such a conception betrayed the fundamental in- dolls’ house, with people as the dolls. But although consistency of the romantic ideal. Dante overcame the people were dolls they were important, because this unsuccessful attempt to combine the dissimilar they interested the Owner of the dolls’ house.” elements of Troubadour love poetry, Oriental philoso- 18 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 In response Dawson emphasizes instead the range in the Papacy, which had compromised itself in his and depth of the medieval world captured in Dante’s eyes by its secularism and by its political ties to the verses: “In reality medieval man lived precariously French monarchy. His call for a messianic prince who between two abysses with hell beneath his feet and would save Italy and reform the increasingly corrupt the heavens filled with the mysteries of a succession of human face of the Church fell on deaf ears. This imag- spiritual worlds above his head. And in the same way inary apocalyptic figure bore no relation to historical medieval civilization itself was a precarious achieve- reality. The Prince who actually did come carried with ment like a great arch thrown over the abyss of barba- him a very different profile from the one Dante had rism.” By the fourteenth century, this balance proved sketched: his name was Machiavelli. The drive for raw to be so fragile that the arch finally broke. The Divine political power, along with the conflicts of opposing Comedy incorporates both the traditions that held the religious traditions, ultimately proved too strong for medieval synthesis together and those which led to its the center of Christian unity to hold. eventual collapse. In effect, Dante looked both ways, Although Dante’s thought contains “the religious back to the perfection of the old culture and forward world view of the Middle Ages and the humanist to the beginning of the new. structure of the Renaissance”, the first element in How does The Divine Comedy dramatize the cen- The Divine Comedy alone has stood the test of time. trifugal forces that ruptured the cultural unity of the The secular element, with its scientific and political Middle Ages? The answer lies in Dante’s philosophy dimensions, is responsible for the main difficulties of history, which was based on the medieval apoca- the ordinary modern reader encounters in trying to lyptism of Joachim of Flora and the Franciscans, on understand and appreciate the medieval masterpiece. Thomistic ethics, and on the political ideals of Ar- Dante’s view of the Empire, for example, though in istotle and Virgil. These building blocks – above all keeping with messianic expectations that were com- St. Thomas’s demonstration of “the independent and mon in the fourteenth century, opposes the more fa- autonomous existence of the natural order, of the dis- miliar portrait of the institution painted by St. Au- tinction between reason and faith, nature and grace, gustine, another of Dawson’s heroes. This might be yet of their harmony in difference” – rendered pos- because Augustine failed, as far as Dante was con- sible Dante’s conception of a mysterious parallelism cerned, to take the world of immanence seriously. By between the worlds of Christianity and pagan antiq- exercising justice and establishing peace, the Empire, uity, between the Church and the Roman Empire. His on this account, would enable citizens and their rulers vision of the political unification of humanity in a sin- to discern at least the tower of the true city. Or per- gle worldgovernment marks the first time in Christian haps, as Dawson would have it, Dante did not carry thought that the earthly and temporal city is regarded Thomistic principles far enough to serve as the basis as having its own supreme end. of his interpretation of history, for if he had “it might This new yet old interpretation of history recalls the well have developed with the growth of historical medieval tradition of the Holy Roman Empire and knowledge into a really catholic philosophy of history the Augustinian concept of the City of God, but, at in which the different national traditions were shown, the same time, it anticipates the humanism of the Re- on the analogy of that of Rome, as contributing to naissance and “the modern liberal ideal of universal its own mission and its natural aptitudes towards the peace as well as the modern nationalist ideal of the building up of a Christian civilization”. historical mission of a particular people and state”. As a result, Dante’s philosophy constituted an idio- Although Dante still embraces the ideal of Christian syncratic witness to Christian universalism. However, universalism against the territorial and ecclesiastical the “distinctively Christian character” of his secular- ambitions of the new national monarchies, he places ism and his humanism set them utterly apart from his hope in the Empire for its realization rather than those of classical antiquity. The enduring legacy of The Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 19 Divine Comedy remains its spiritual realism: “There is tion with the Middle Ages shows no sign of abating. nothing subjective or ideal in his world, everything As Umberto Eco points out, “modern ages have revis- has its profound ontological basis in an objective spiri- ited the Middle Ages from the moment when, accord- tual order. The intelligible and the real are one”. The ing to historical handbooks, they came to an end”. religious element in his poem, therefore, represents This phenomenon of a continuous return has taken not simply an allegory, but the fundamental structure various forms. However, most returnees refer to the of reality. Middle Ages as the site of an “ironical revisitation,” of Despite the major political and religious upheavals barbarism, of decadence, or of the so-called Tradition that would punctuate European history from the four- of occult philosophy. These have dominated contem- teenth to the sixteenth centuries, the inheritance be- porary neo-medievalism. The picture Dawson draws queathed by the great age of medieval culture Dante’s of the period restores its full historical context and work exemplifies was still preserved. rectifies misrepresentations based on The new national cultures that “The great cultural unhistorical attitudes. He alerts the emerged from the universities and traditions that are openminded reader, for example, the cities were built on the ruins epitomized in the work to the literary excesses of the Ro- of the old, especially the quest for of Dante, and of those mantics, even while acknowledging spiritual perfection and the spirit their genuine attempt to revive the of Church reform. William Lang- Christian elements medieval spirit in art. It’s a pity, in land captured the conflicting forces that still abide in Dawson’s view, that Dante found no that operated in the later Middle Western culture enable worthy successors to carry on his feat Ages in his profound vision of Piers an educated person of of reconciling diverse literary tradi- Plowman. Whereas Dante expressed today to interpret to tions, for otherwise “we might have “the last forlorn hope” of universal others the relevance of been saved alike from the narrow imperialism and Geoffrey Chaucer this rich heritage.” rationalism of eighteenth-century took heart in the rise of a common classicism and from the emotional national kingdom, Langland acted as debauches of nineteenth-century “the spokesman of the people as the ultimate social Romanticism”. Dawson’s balanced analysis of The reality”. His poem focuses the historian’s gaze on the Divine Comedy offers an antidote to neo-Romantic, daily life of the common people and on the success- Gnostic readings of Dante’s poem. Those who wish ful fusion of the new vernacular culture with medieval to engage in the present “culture wars,” then, in an religion. Because of this emphasis on the grass roots informed and charitable manner will find in Dawson’s level of existence, there is no room for social dualism work an indispensable guide for doing so. or political opposition between Church and State in Especially instructive is Dawson’s view of the thir- Piers Plowman. Langland upholds the medieval no- teenth century as a unique period in European his- tion of the One Society “whose members are differen- tory: “Europe has seen no greater Christian hero than tiated by rank and authority, but are all alike children St. Francis, no greater Christian philosopher than St. of one father and servant of one master.” Thomas, no greater Christian poet than Dante, per- The Church is the community of love, the “House haps even no greater Christian ruler than St. Louis”. Unity,” into which the spiritual labours of each person Christianity had attained its most complete cultural are gathered. In Piers Plowman, the humble figure of expression in the Middle Ages. T.S. Eliot, another the new spiritual humanity, Langland affirms the pe- great admirer of Dante, agreed. A fruitful examina- rennial vitality of Christian culture. tion of medieval traditions of art, philosophy, theol- Why are Dawson’s observations about the Age of ogy, and of social organization offered, in his view, the Dante still relevant today? First, the current fascina- best possible training for the contemporary mind. The 20 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 history of the 14th century contained valuable “les- dark wood that leads to hell; gradually he learns that sons for the present time”. Among these one in par- the whole of Western civilization finds itself there too. ticular may be of decisive importance for the cultural From the outset, then, Dante realizes that he must survival of the West: change himself before he can change the world. The divine agent of this transformation alone can lead It is against a background of Christianity that all fallen humanity out of the darkness and into the light our thought has significance. An individual Euro- of paradise. Dante’s recourse to the community of the pean may not believe that the Christian Faith is blessed corroborates a central insight of Dawson: “The true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does, relation between faith and life is completely realized will all spring out of his heritage of Christian cul- only in the life of the saint”. That is why Beatrice de- ture and depend upon that culture for its meaning. clares that the Church on earth has no son more “full Only a Christian culture could have produced a of hope” than Dante. Despite his sharp critique of hu- Voltaire or a Nietzsche... If Christianity goes, the man corruption within the Church, Dante remained whole of our culture goes. convinced that the Church was the only true spiritual The iconoclast necessarily depends on the Chris- and moral guide. tian cultural tradition he seeks to demolish in order to The call to seek personal holiness remains as urgent make sense of his own act of rebellion. Like Dawson, as it was at the time of the first Christians and in the Eliot believed that the future of our culture depends age of Dante. In the words of Dawson, “Christian cul- on preserving its Christian roots. ture is the periphery of the circle which has its center Becoming conversant with the mindset of the in the Incarnation and the faith of the Church and the Middle Ages, however, will not, by itself, get rid of lives of the saints”. 3 our present cultural preoccupations in the West. Dominic Manganiello is professor of English literature at Dawson reminds his readers “the Christian ideal most the University of Ottawa of all tends to transcend all cultural forms”. Medi- eval Christendom is worthy of study not merely as an intellectual exercise for the detached observer, but Get on our events list for free* because it offers “the outstanding example of the ap- plication of Faith to Life”. We can learn both from Sign up for your invitation... its achievements as well as from its failures. Medieval • Interested in politics? culture does not belong to some golden age long since • Public policy? dead, but is always alive for the Christian who believes that “the past and present are united in the one Body • Want to meet with similar minded of the Church and that the Christians of the past are people? still present as witnesses and helpers in the life of the • Meet influential Canadians? Church today”. This great “host of witnesses” testifies *fees for some events that it is possible for each successive generation to re- Tel: 613.695.2176 deem the time in which it lives. Dante understood this truth very well. In the midst Fax: 613.800.0713 of local and world crises that signalled the waning www.policystudies.ca of the Middle Ages, he turned to the saints – Peter, Or contact us: James, John, Dominic, Francis, Thomas Aquinas, Bo- Canadian Centre for Policy Studies naventure, and Bernard – to help him make a per- sonal examination of conscience. At the beginning .O. P Box 1318, Station B of the Comedy the pilgrim-poet finds himself in the Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5R4 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 21 How I Discovered my Canadianness – Andrea Mrozek I t was the summer of 1989 when my family would lines when, on rare occasions my parents would call visit Poland for the first time since my parents left our grandparents at the cost of four dollars a minute. Czechoslovakia in 1969. The thawing of Com- The line would fail and my parents would call back, munist regimes at that time meant my parents could asking again and again if they could be heard. Some- travel to Poland, but not Czechoslovakia, their home. times the line would hold and we would shout sto lat Going there would have meant arrest. into the phone, the Polish version of Happy Birthday. This was my first physical encounter with Commu- My dad told us how, as a little boy, he was taken nism. I saw the heavily guarded Czech/Polish border, before a commission with his parents for whispering two apparently allied Warsaw Pact countries. When I something negative under his breath when Commu- approached the border too closely on a hike we took nist propaganda played prior to a feature movie in a (I actually sat on a border marker for a break) I re- movie theatre. He was so young that he cried in the member an armed soldier approaching me; he did not interrogation room. As a young adult, my dad was need to tell me to move. I saw empty told he had to do physical labour shelves in grocery stores, ancient Every immigrant is at a steel foundry, to overcome Trabants and Ladas and grey, tired caught between two nabožensky zatižen. Directly trans- stucco in various stages of disrepair. worlds, and in some lated this meant my dad was “reli- I was left with an impression of grey respects, neither is giously burdened,” which work in a streets, grey buildings, grey cars. steel foundry would apparently rec- fully home. When I This may have been my first time tify before going to university. My would later live in mom told us about how her dad’s in a Communist country; it was not by a long shot my first experience Czech Republic after business was seized and nationalized. with Communism. Growing up, my university, it did not When my mom’s beloved grand- sister and I were well aware of why feel like home and I mother passed away, she was not al- my parents left their homes, fami- was glad to come back lowed to go to her funeral. Both my lies, and country. The word “Com- to Canada. parents were branded as traitors for munist” loomed large and was on leaving and were tried and sentenced par with “Nazi.” in absentia. My dad is ethnically Polish but grew up within We would send packages. Dried apricots and vita- the Czechoslovak state, in Silesia. His town is divided mins and medicines my grandparents couldn’t get. I through the middle by the Czech/Polish border. My sent over my entire Smurf collection to my cousin at mom is Czech (Bohemian) and grew up in a small one point, a generous gesture, which as an eight-year- town called Hronov, north east of Prague. old I later deeply regretted. I could have played with One simple experience – the result of their emigra- the Smurfs. I’d never see my cousin. tion – is that I grew up without any extended family. My grandparents sent packages too. One standout We didn’t really know our grandparents, in spite of to this very day is a marionette theatre, complete with short visits on intervals throughout the years. None of curtains and different stage backdrops and beautiful our aunts or uncles emigrated. little puppets: A princess, a prince, a witch, the devil, Though I don’t speak Czech, the one phrase I will among others. Another was a stuffed “Vodnik” (wa- always remember is slyšiš mĕ. It means “can you hear ter monster) from the old tale meant to scare children me?” This was the refrain, shouted over the phone away from swimming when parents aren’t watching. 22 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 My Vodnik was friendly, however, with a big felt smile Canada. and dapper top hat sewn on. These are some of the experiences of a daughter of I was already 13 when Communism fell. I had parents who fled Communism —a second hand ex- prayed for it to end in my bed as a girl. My parents perience from a very comfortable life growing up in did not tell me to pray for this. But Communism rep- midtown Toronto. I am proud of my parents. I am resented oppression and distance and in my little soul, grateful that I don’t actually have any firsthand experi- it seemed like something to take to God. ence with Communism. My parents left so I didn’t When it was clear the Berlin Wall would not be have to. 3 rebuilt, there were many more visits to Czech Repub- lic. The intent of these visits was that my sister and I Andrea Mrozek is a first generation Canadian, born to a would become familiar with our roots and know our Polish father and a Czech mother who left Czechoslova- family. But the feeling we had as visiting teenagers, kia in 1969, arriving in Canada in 1970. She works at and even later as adults, was one of being far away, a public policy think tank in Ottawa. even while standing in our grandparent’s living room. I remember going for a jog once in my father’s small town. (Incidentally, there is no better way to identify yourself as an outsider, than by going jogging in small town Czech Republic.) I decided on my way home Are we riding the don- Political Thoughts of an Ordinary Canadian Political Are we riding the donkey of Can- BERNARD EMILE POIRIER, a ada’s constitution backwards? native Ottawan, was born into the military and raised in the shadows of that I would drop in to see my grandfather, with Are élites, politicians and activist judges building us a constitutional Québec City’s historic Citadel. He holds degrees in the liberal arts, politi- key of Canada’s consti- Thoughts of an jackass based on Trudeau’s vision cal science and law as well as a com- whom I communicated in German. I rang the bell; he tution backwards? Are of centralized, big government mission in the military. control, while ordinary Canadians He applied logistics and legal re- want to ride the path search serving two Minis- ters of the Federal Crown answered the door. He looked at me and said “Your Ordinary élites, politicians and to smaller, more lo- as Executive Assistant and cal governments, re- then as Special Advisor on gionalism and social Privacy and Special Inves- dad isn’t here.” I know, I told him. “Your cousin isn’t activist judges building union? Where did tigations with the Solicitor Canadian our constitutional General’s Office. impasse come from? Bernard spent twelve us a constitutional jack- years with the Canadian Where is Canada here either,” he said. What he could not understand going? Will Canada break-up? Construction Association as Legal Advisor and was the first Executive Direc- ass based on Trudeau’s In this insightful tor of the Canadian Asso- was that I had come to see him. His granddaughter muse on Canada’s problems, “distinct society” is deftly ciation of Chiefs of Police. He provided training logistics to the vision of centralized, Canadian Astronaut Program and con- skewered, the Charlottetown and had never dropped in for a visit before and it was too cluded his active career as Emergency Meech Lake accords are explained, Preparedness Officer for the National Bernard Poirier warts and all, and politicians from Research Council. late to start now. Diefenbaker to Trudeau and Mul- roney get richly deserved drubbings. Many Canadians are fed up with Spare time during those forty-two years was devoted to the pursuit of fine arts, more academic degrees, teaching big government control, while ordinary Canadi- sailing and coastal piloting as well as elitist “experts” and politicians who writing. He has published articles on The distance created by emigration cannot be over- have less and less in common with ordinary Canadians. It is time to legal matters related to his various oc- cupations. hear from ordinary Canadians. A semi-retired “professional” vol- ans want to ride the path come; particularly if you don’t speak the same lan- unteer in the fields of aquatics and Canadian Politics Commoners’/Men’s Press emergency preparedness, he now con- to smaller, more local Men’s History and Issues centrates his efforts with the Canadian Red Cross. He and his wife Carmen guage. My grandfather on my mother’s side always live in Ottawa as do their three children Bernard Poirier governments, regional- and their families. He is the author of “Boating Emergencies”, also by Com- wanted to speak to my sister and me. He’d try and moners’. ism and social union? try and keep trying in different ways, sometimes get- Where did our constitu- ting frustrated when we didn’t understand. Still, there tional impasse come from? are some good memories too. We toured the Sudeten- Where is Canada going? Will Canada break-up? land World War II defenses with him; bunkers hid- In this insightful muse on Canada’s problems, “dis- den in the Czech landscape, meant to defend against tinct society” is deftly skewered, the Charlottetown the Germans. My grandfather had helped build them; and Meech Lake accords are explained, warts and they were never used. Without him there to point all, and politicians from Diefenbaker to Trudeau them out, you would not have been able to see them. and Mulroney get richly deserved drubbings. Many I remember him standing atop one, telling us about it, Canadians are fed up with elitist “experts” and through my mom’s translation. politicians who have less and less in common with Every immigrant is caught between two worlds, ordinary Canadians. It is time to hear from ordi- and in some respects, neither is fully home. When I nary Canadians. would later live in Czech Republic after university, it Paperback from Commoners $16.95 did not feel like home and I was glad to come back to www.commonerspublishing.com Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 23 Islamist Extremists – Is Canada too Smug? –Rory Leishman I n recent months, the leaders of Britain, France, terrorism here in the United States. For a long time, Germany and several other European countries many in the U.S. thought that our unique melting have spoken out about the urgent need to combat pot meant we were immune from this threat – this homebased, Islamist extremism. In the United States, despite the history of violent extremists of all kinds in the issue has also become a topic of lively political de- the United States. That was false hope, and false com- bate as a result of hearings by the House Committee fort. This threat is real, and it is serious.” As evidence on Homeland Security into the extent of radicalization of this threat, McDonough noted that, over the past in the American Muslim Community. While some on two years, dozens of American citizens had been ar- the left have denounced the hearings as comparable rested and charged with terrorism counts. “to overly zealous investigations of communism in Meanwhile, on 16 October 2010, German Chan- the 1950s that led to false accusations that destroyed cellor Angela Merkel addressed the dangers posed careers,” others have defended the by unassimilated Muslims in her inquiry as vital to combating the country. Speaking to the youth escalating threat of homegrown Is- wing of her party, the centre-right lamist terrorism. Christian Democratic Union Peter King, the Republican (CDU), she derided “multikilti” Chairman of the Committee on as a failure. Alluding to the mil- Homeland Security, expressed his lions of Muslims who have emi- determination in opening the hear- grated to Germany over the past ings to continue the investigation, 50 years, she said: “Of course, the despite “the paroxysms of rage and tendency had been to say, ‘let’s hysteria” from special interest groups and the media. adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side He said: “To back down would be a craven surrender by side, and be happy to be living with each other. But to political correctness and an abdication of what I this concept has failed, and failed utterly.” believe to be the main responsibility of this committee To enthusiastic applause from her young audience, to protect America from a terrorist attack.” Merkel insisted that immigrants must be made to un- King recalled that last December, United States derstand that alien practices like forced marriages will Attorney General Eric Holder confided in a televi- not be tolerated in Germany. “We feel bound to the sion interview that the danger of homegrown terror Christian image of humanity,” she said. “That is what “keeps me up at night.” Holder added: “The threat defines us. Those who do not accept this are in the has changed from simply worrying about foreigners wrong place here.” coming here, to worrying about people in the United In an address to the Munich Security Conference States, American citizens raised here, born here, and on February 5, British Prime Minister David Cam- who for whatever reason, have decided that they are eron focused on the growing threat of homegrown Is- going to become radicalized and take up arms against lamist terrorism. He noted: “Some young men find it the nation in which they were born.” hard to identify with the traditional Islam practiced at In an address on 6 March 2011, Denis Mc- home by their parents, whose customs can seem staid Donough, Deputy National Security Advisor to the when transplanted to modern Western countries. But President, likewise warned that “al Qaeda and its ad- these young men also find it hard to identify with herents have increasingly turned to another troubling Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening tactic: attempting to recruit and radicalize people to of our collective identity. Under the doctrine of state 24 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cul- sis, which may be revoked in the event of a conviction tures to live separate lives, apart from each other and for a serious offence.” apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a Rutte acknowledged that the package of immigra- vision of society to which they feel they want to be- tion reforms proposed by his government “will lead long. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communi- to a very substantial decline in the number of immi- ties behaving in ways that run completely counter to grants entering the Netherlands.” He added: “This our values.” will enable us to ensure full participation in society by Cameron observed that a “passively tolerant soci- the people who have come lawfully to this country.” ety” leaves people alone so long as they obey the law, In Sweden, a hitherto marginal faction, the Swe- but “a genuinely liberal country does much more; it den Democrats, shocked many Swedes by winning 20 believes in certain values and actively promotes them: seats in a general election last September. Party leader freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, Jimmie Akesson has described growth in Sweden’s the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or Muslim population as the greatest threat to the coun- sexuality. It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as try since the Second World War. During the election a society: To belong here is to believe in these things. campaign, he called for a 90 per cent cut in immigra- Now, each of us in our own countries, tion for family reunification. I believe, must be unambiguous and “al Qaeda and its In Denmark, the ruling Liberal- hard-nosed about this defense of our adherents have Conservative coalition has already liberty.” increasingly turned imposed tough restrictions on fam- Five days later, French President to another troubling ily reunification. Included in a set Nicolas Sarkozy joined the chorus tactic: attempting to of new regulations that came into of European leaders in declaring that recruit and radicalize effect on 15 November 2010 is an multiculturalism has failed. Speaking outright ban on the immigration of people to terrorism on national television, he said: “In all spouses in forced marriages. Dan- democracies, we have been too pre- here.” ish residents who wish to sponsor occupied with the identity of every- the immigration of a lawful spouse one who arrives and not enough with the identity of must now pass an “immigration test (testing your the welcoming country. We do not want a society in Danish language skills and your knowledge about which communities coexist side by side. If you come Denmark and Danish society).” In addition, immi- to France, you integrate into one community, the na- grating spouses must post 63,413 Kronors (about tional community. If that is not acceptable, then don’t $11,430) of bank-backed collateral to cover the cost come to France. If we accept everyone, our immigra- of any public assistance they might receive after relo- tion system will explode.” cating to Denmark. Correspondingly, in a policy statement on 26 Oc- While leading politicians in Europe and the United tober 2010, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of The Neth- States have spoken out about the urgent need to ad- erlands stated his government’s belief that “people dress the failures of multiculturalism and the grow- who choose to become Dutch citizens can be expected ing dangers of homegrown Islamist terrorism, their to adapt to Dutch society. After all, Dutch nationality counterparts in Canada have remained silent. What entails responsibilities.” accounts for such complacency? Specifically, Rutte made clear that immigrants to Some Canadian might suppose that there is little The Netherlands will have to learn Dutch and “pay cause for concern in Canada, because Canada’s Mus- for their own civic integration courses.” He pledged: lim population is relatively small. But that supposi- “We will set higher requirements for naturalization, tion is not altogether true. Currently, there are about and introduce Dutch nationality on a provisional ba- 940,000 Muslims residing in Canada. That is more Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 25 than there are in The Netherlands (914,000); twice multiculturalism in Germany, the Montreal Gazette as many as in Sweden (451,000); and more than four published a smug editorial headlined: “Multicultural- times as many as in Denmark (226,000). While the ism hasn’t failed here.” That’s typical of both elite and proportion of Muslims in the total population is much popular opinion in Canada. But is it warranted? Do lower in Canada (just 2.8 per cent) than in France (7.5 Canadians really have no reasons for concern about per cent), The Netherlands (5.5 per cent) or Britain the prospect that within 20 years, Metropolitan To- (4.6 per cent), the Canadian ratio is far higher than ronto could include 1.5 million Muslims? the proportion in the United States, where there are That, to say the least, is debatable. In a poll con- 2,595,000 Muslims constituting only 0.8 per cent of ducted for the Policy Research Initiative of the Gov- the entire population. ernment of Canada in 2007, the Environics Research Moreover, for the past 20 years, Canada’s Muslim Group found that 75 per cent of a representative population has been growing with extraordinary ra- national sample of Canadian Muslims claimed to be pidity. The present total of close to 940,000 is up from aware that 18 Muslim men and boys in Metropolitan 579,640 in 2001 and just 253,265 in 1991. Accord- Toronto had been arrested the year before on terror- ing to a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion ism charges. Within this Muslim sub-sample, no few- and Public Life, Canada’s Muslim population will er than 13 per cent (that works out to 10 per cent of continue to grow much more rapidly over the next all Muslim respondents) said the attacks would have 20 years than the Muslim populations of France, Ger- been either completely or at least somewhat justified. many, Britain and the United States. In a report to the Government of Angela Merkel: “We Statistics Canada projects that Canada, Michael Adams, President by 2031, Canada could have 2.5 to feel bound to the of the Environics Research Group, 3.3 million Muslims comprising 6.8 Christian image of observed: “10 per cent of a represen- to 7.3 per cent of the total popula- humanity,” she said. tative national sample of Canadian tion. That is remarkable. These fig- “That is what defines Muslims said the Islamist terrorists ures indicate that in 2031, Canada us. Those who do not among the Toronto 18 who were ar- will have a larger number of Mus- accept this are in the rested in the spring of 2006 were at lims relative to total population than wrong place here.” least somewhat justified in planning now exists in any Western European to set off three massive, death-deal- country, except France. ing bombs.” The projected growth in the Muslim population Surely, that finding is alarming. It suggests that of Canada’s major metropolitan areas is even more close to 94,000 Canadian Muslims believed there was striking. For Metropolitan Toronto, Statistics Canada some justification for a potentially catastrophic Is- estimates that in 2031, the region will have 1.1 to lamist attack on Canada. One can only wonder how 1.5 million Muslims. That is far higher than the esti- many more Muslims agreed, but did not dare to admit mated present number of Muslims in Berlin (around as much to a pollster. 200,000), the Amsterdam region (190,500) and the Clearly, Canada has a serious problem with im- Rotterdam region (138,000). ported and homegrown Islamist extremism. For years, Even if all Canadians were aware of the exception- David Harris, the Ottawa-based security consultant ally rapid growth projected for Canada’s Muslim pop- and former Director of Strategic Planning for CISIS, ulation, many, if not most, Canadians would probably has been warning of the danger. In an appearance be- remain little, if at all, concerned. There is a deep root- fore a subcommittee of the United States Congress on ed conviction in this country that Canada can suc- immigration and border security in 2006, he recalled ceed, where the United States and Europe have failed, that the deputy director of CSIS had testified to a in integrating vast numbers of Muslim immigrants. committee of the Canadian Senate that numerous Ca- After Angela Merkel pronounced the utter failure of nadian citizens and residents have been implicated in 26 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 terrorist plots directed at targets not only in Canada, screening for extremist views? but also in the United States, Britain, Lebanon, Saudi Harris has advanced a compelling explanation: Arabia, Israel, Pakistan and other countries. “Sober minds regard the [Canadian] immigration sys- Harris said: “Canada’s immigration and refugee sys- tem as largely a corrupt vote importing scheme.” 3 tem has been a big part of the problem. In per capita (Editor’s Note: Endnotes supporting assertions terms, Canada takes in double the number of immi- made by the author in this article are with the ecopy grants and three or four times the number of refugees at the website: www.policystudies.ca ) as the United States. Canada cannot effectively, in my Rory Leishman is a Policy Fellow with the respectful view, screen and integrate such numbers, Canadian Center for Policy Studies (CCPS). and we have seen the proof.” James Bissett, former Executive Director of the Ca- nadian Immigration Service, agrees. Writing earlier this year in C2C: Canada’s Journal of Ideas, he main- tained that, in dealing with applicants from Muslim countries, Canada’s visa officers make “no attempt to find out if the prospective Canadian citizen will be comfortable and happy living in a secular society. Start a REAL discussion... There are no questions asked about women’s rights, about the applicant’s views about freedom of expres- Get an Observer author as speaker... sion or tolerance of other religions. In other words, we have not the slightest idea if the Muslim we are invit- ing into our country is an extremist or a moderate or • Interesting writers something in between.” In 2009, Canada admitted close to 50,000 more • Provocative points of view Muslim immigrants. Last year, the estimated inflow • Pundits, politicians of Muslim immigrants was 22,000 to Germany, just 3,000 to The Netherlands and less than 1,000 to Den- mark. Tel: 613.695.2176 No one doubts that most, if not the great majority, of Muslims in Canada, the United States and Europe, Fax: 613.800.0713 are peaceful. They would never aid or abet a terror- ist attack. But it is also true that Europe and North America are menaced by a substantial minority of Is- www.policystudies.ca lamist terrorists and sympathizers lurking within their Or contact us: borders. To deal with this threat, Denmark and the Neth- Canadian Centre for Policy Studies erlands have slashed the inflow of all Muslim immi- grants. Why will the Parliament of Canada not dis- .O. P Box 1318, Station B cuss, let alone adopt, effective measures to stem the Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5R4 flow of Islamist extremists into Canada? Why will none of our leading politicians in Canada undertake to safeguard the peace, order and good government of Canadians, by insisting that all applicants for a resi- dency permit in Canada at least undergo a thorough Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 27 Interview Man Does Not Live By Reason Alone An Interview with Leszek Kolakowski Leszek Kolakowski, who died in 2009, was professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago and a fel- low of All Souls College at Oxford University. His critical, magisterial study of the history of Marxism and his perpetual doubt and self-questioning, which led to a preoccupation with “the revenge of the sacred” in secular life, earned him a reputation as modern Europe’s Erasmus. Just after he published Modernity on Endless Trial in 1991, Kolakowski sat down with Nathan Gardels, editor of the New Perspectives Quarterly (NPQ), in his study at All Souls College. The following conversation, initially published in Kolakowski’s last book, My Correct Views on Everything, also appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of NPQ. We thank the NPQ for authorizing us to reproduce the interview. Interviewer: | The title of your recent book is Modernity of religion or the death of God. Secularization hasn’t on Endless Trial. But isn’t the trial over, the verdict in? eradicated religious needs. With the resurgence of religious fundamentalism and Of course, it is true that secularization spread with ethnic strife across the globe—in effect the revenge of the the process of rural uprootedness and urbanization, sacred and the soil against modernity—aren’t we living general education and technological advance. But out the waning days of the last modern century? there is no strict connection. After all, the most mo- Leszek Kolakowski | We are living through the real- bile, technologically developed country in the world, ization that many rationally constructed predictions the United States, is by no means the most secular- made in the 19th century are more wrong than the ized. Not only is the traditional Christian church alive so-called illusions they were trying to dispel. and very well there—more than half the American Both secular liberals and socialists expected that na- people go to church very regularly—but there is also tional, or tribal, passions would gradually disappear, a flowering of Oriental cults, sects and so-called “New while improved means of communication and a better Age spirituality.” scientific understanding of the universe would take its To be sure, Christianity has been enfeebled. But as place. But it turned out not to be so. it adjusts to the civilization of the next millennium, it The need to belong to a tribe, so to speak, is as might experience a renewal. However wrenching the strong as ever. National conflicts don’t appear to be process might be, as we can witness today on the is- disappearing. Indeed, in the Soviet Union and some sue of abortion, conflict and adjustment of just this countries recently liberated from communism, the nature has occurred several times over the centuries. “return of the repressed” may take a particularly nasty After confrontations such as that with Galileo, form. Christianity accepted the autonomy of reason and There is, of course, always a potential for conflicts gave up trying to control science. Hostile to the no- to erupt into bloody wars of global consequence, or tion of human rights after the French Revolution, massacres, as has happened time and again in the Christianity now accepts and promotes them. Theo- course of European history. But, in principle, there cratic pretensions have been given up altogether in is nothing wrong with people trying to define them- Christianity. selves or identify themselves with a particular culture. So, far from secularization inexorably leading to For Europeans, it is almost impossible to be a cosmo- the death of religion, it has instead given birth to the pole in good faith. Each of us belongs to a national search for new forms of religious life. The imminent community. victory of the Kingdom of Reason has never material- Moreover, the rationalist predictions about religion ized. also turned out to be wrong. I don’t expect the death As a whole, mankind can never get rid of the need 28 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 for religious self-identification: who am I, where did come from history and religion, any attempt to limit I come from, where do I fit in, why am I responsible, our wants will result in terrible frustration and aggres- what does my life mean, how will I face death? Reli- sion that could take on catastrophic proportions. The gion is a paramount aspect of human culture. Reli- amount of frustration and aggression doesn’t depend gious need cannot be excommunicated from culture on the absolute level of satisfaction, but on the gap by rationalist incantation. Man does not live by reason between wants and their effective satisfaction. alone. Religious tradition has taught us to limit ourselves, Interviewer: | Speaking about the collapse of communism to place a distance between our needs and our wants. in Europe last year, your compatriot, the Polish poet Cz- All the great religious traditions have taught us for eslaw Milosz, said: “What is surprising in the present centuries not to become solely bound up in one di- moment are those beautiful and deeply moving words mension—the accumulation of wealth and the exclu- spoken in Prague and Warsaw, words which pertain to sive preoccupation with our present material life. the old repertoire of honesty of the dignity of the person. I It will be a cultural catastrophe if we lose the abil- wonder at this phenomenon because maybe underneath ity to maintain this distance between our wants and there is an abyss. After all, those ideas have their foun- needs. The survival of our religious heritage is the con- dation in religion. And I am not over-optimistic about dition for the survival of civilization. the survival of religion in a scientific- Interviewer: | The cultural catastro- technological civilization. How long phe being that without a set of rules can such notions stay afloat if the bot- that comes from religious tradition tom is taken out?” there are no moral brakes on man, Kolakowski | I hope Milosz is particularly on the gluttony of homo wrong, but I can’t be sure. If we consumptus? imagine a technologically advanced Kolakowski | Yes, no moral brakes. Brave New World in which man- When culture loses its sacred sense, kind has forgotten his religious it loses all sense. With the disap- heritage and historical tradition—and therefore has pearance of the sacred, which imposes limits on the no basis for interpreting his own life in moral terms— perfection that can be attained by secular society, one that would be the end of mankind. It is most unlikely of the most dangerous illusions of our civilization aris- that mankind, deprived of its historical consciousness es—the illusion that there are no limits to the changes and religious tradition because they are technologi- we can undergo, that society is an endlessly flexible cally useless, would be able to live peacefully, satisfied thing subject to the arbitrary whims of our creative with his achievements. capacities. In fact, I would expect the opposite, since it is in In the end, as I have written in the essay “The Re- the very constitution of humanity that our wants have venge of the Sacred in Secular Culture,” this illusion no definite limits. They can grow indefinitely in an sows disastrous despair. The modern chimera, which endless spiral of greed. would grant man total freedom from tradition or all During the last few decades of rapid economic preexisting sense, far from opening before him the growth, we got used to the idea that all of us moderns perspective of divine self-creation, suspends him in a could have everything and, indeed, that we deserved darkness where all things are regarded with equal in- everything. difference. But that is simply not true. Since there are natu- To be totally free from religious heritage or histori- ral limits on our planet—ecological and demographic cal tradition is to situate oneself in a void and thus to limits—we will be compelled to limit our wants. disintegrate. The utopian faith in man’s self-inventive Without a consciousness of limits, which can only capabilities, the utopian hope of unlimited perfection, Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 29 may be the most efficient instrument of suicide hu- it. Such meaning can only be established by historical man culture has ever invented. explanation, by paying homage to origins and founda- To reject the sacred, which means also to reject sin, tional events. In this sense, there can be no such thing imperfection and evil, is to reject our own limits. To as a religion that is not conservative. say that evil is contingent, as Sartre did, is to say that Thus, no religion can survive without a certain there is no evil, and therefore that we have no need of wealth of tradition, which inevitably brings it into a sense given to us by tradition, fixed and imposed on conflict with the trend of civilization toward constant us whether we will it or not. change—everything casting off origins and over- As you put it, there are thus no moral brakes on the throwing all form and structure. will to power. In the end, the ideal of total liberation The tension between past and future is bound to is the sanctioning of greed, force and violence, and be with us. Life is tension and suffering. That is the thus of despotism, the destruction of culture and the human condition and mankind cannot be liberated degradation of the earth. from it. The only way to ensure the endurance of civili- Interviewer: | Can’t the religious imagination not only be zation is to ensure that there are always people who rooted in origins but in hope and belief in a destination; think of the price paid for every step of what we call for example, in a world that survives ecologically? “progress.” The order of the sacred is also a sensitivity Kolakowski | Certainly, religious belief can limit to evil—the only system of reference that allows us to human ambition and conserve the future. But one contemplate that price and forces us to ask whether it should be as careful about believing in a green utopia is exorbitant. as in a red one. The values whose vigor is so vital to culture can- It is obvious that some elements of the German not survive without being rooted in the realm of the Green Party, for example, are hostile to freedom and sacred. This is true not only of the values of which are totalitarian in nature. As with the communist Milosz spoke —honesty and personal dignity— but movement, there is a danger in some of the more ab- others as well. surd and grotesque forms of the environmental move- Interviewer: | This emphasis on pre-existing sense, or tra- ment which would sacrifice everything now for some dition, has led you to ask whether society can survive in distant salvation. the absence of the conservative forces that resist the up- In any event, we don’t need religion to worry about heaval of endlessly changing modernity that perpetually ecological catastrophe. Religion cannot replace what undermines its foundations. science and technology can cope with; it can only give Without conservative structures, unbounded develop- us the belief that the world is not self-explanatory, that ment explodes; yet without dynamic development, society there is a meaning that cannot be directly perceived stagnates and dies. Each alone entails destruction; the and established as a scientific fact. Religion is of an- tension between the two creates balance. other dimension that enables us to cope with an exis- Trying to maintain this appropriate tension is the per- tence of frustration, failure, suffering and death. spective, you say, of a “conditional conservative.” In this sense, religion is not about survival, but With the ecological imperative so pressing, why can’t about NOT surviving. It is man’s way of accepting a new set of conserving values, which seek to preserve the inevitable defeat. For mankind, there is no such thing future, instead of conservative values, which preserve the as ultimate victory. In the end, we die. past, constitute a new realm of the sacred? Interviewer: | We’ve talked about the illusions of moder- Why not look toward the greening of religious heritage nity. But the Reformation and the Enlightenment have instead of looking back toward orthodoxy? also brought modern acquisitions of civilization to the Kolakowski | Religion is about the meaning of being, West that we don’t want to discard—individual con- about the meaning of the universe and our place in science and freedom, human rights, the autonomy of rea- 30 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 son, the separation of church and state, pluralism and panies the tolerance of contradiction—a mentality that tolerance. Yet, as we’ve discussed, the West not only has lacks absolute notions of good and evil and that does not weakened itself through the loss of tradition, moral indif- make room for the sacred; what we call nihilism in the ference and bad faith; but also it has engendered a reac- West—has been the Japanese condition for millennia. It tion to the inadequacies of modernity that now threatens is perhaps rooted in the polytheism of Shinto, which has many of its positive contributions. its origins in the ancient forest culture of Jomon. As the modern West weakens, it faces two challenges in Kolakowski | I have been told that if you tally the the next century: the absolutism of Islamic fundamen- membership of the Japanese in the various religious talism and the absolute relativism some say characterizes groups in Japan, you end up with a number greater polytheistic Japan. than the entire population of the country. It is not Kolakowski | I quite agree. The West faces these two unusual for the same people to go to a Shinto shrine, challenges in the future and, as you say, it challenges a Buddhist temple and a Christian church, depend- itself. ing on the need and the circumstance. Of course, this One has the feeling that Japan is really an alien phenomenon is very different from the monotheistic civilization. The Japanese way of seeing reality is very cultures, where exclusivity is the basis of any religion different from ours. We can feel this or sect. strangeness in the films of Akira Ku- In principle, there is Interviewer: | In the 16th century, rosawa, for example. His film Ran nothing wrong with the writer Fukian Fabian polemi- is an aesthetic masterpiece, visually people trying to define cized against what was already then a beautiful and technically exquisite. themselves or identify secularized Buddhism, asking “where So much so, in fact, that one greets is the lord who punishes the evil and with indifference the bloody battles themselves with a thus preserves morality?” That seems to where heads are being chopped off particular culture. For be your question about modernity at and bodies mangled. Europeans, it is almost the end of the 20th century. While Japan’s way of seeing the impossible to be a What is the difference between the world certainly is a challenge to ours, cosmopole in good tolerance of contradiction, or religious it at the same time lacks the menac- faith. Each of us inclusivity, in Japan and the indiffer- ing messianic impulse of America or belongs to a ence you so scorn in the West? Russia. national community. Kolakowski | Of course, indifference When visiting Tokyo, I once is the main form of tolerance in the asked a Japanese intellectual, “Aren’t West. Our tolerant attitude is often you destined to conquer the world? After all, you are little more than lack of interest or disbelief; we are as the only industrial society in existence that has kept indifferent to our own beliefs as to those of others. its social hierarchy and social structures intact. You But the intolerance of the church is not the only are quickly able to assimilate scientific knowledge and alternative to such a nihilistic attitude in the West. technical skills, you are relatively healthy, and you are After the religious wars of the 16th century a certain terribly crowded on your islands.” tolerance, combined with commitment to a set of be- He was not astonished at my question. “No, I don’t liefs, took root in Christian culture. think so,” he said, “because we Japanese don’t feel that Individuals and groups can be strongly committed we have a cultural mission to impose our ways on the to their religious values and at the same time prac- rest of the world. Our imperialist adventures, both tice tolerance toward others. The Catholic Church is in the Middle Ages and in this century, ended disas- preaching something like this now. trously.” Interviewer: | For example, in Pope John Paul II’s en- Interviewer: | The mentality of indifference that accom- cyclical Redemptoris Missio, he claims the superiority of Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 31 Christianity. is a renaissance of religious fanaticism and aggressiv- One might say then that Redemptoris Missio is an at- ity, is not clear. It may be more related to the rise of tempt by Pope John Paul II to distinguish between “plu- petro-power, and the resultant economic imbalances ralistic tolerance” and what we might call “indifferent and resentments in the Islamic world, than to reli- tolerance.” gious invigoration. Kolakowski | Yes, I think so. Christianity cannot re- In any event, this occult fundamentalism has prov- nounce its claims to superiority, of course. It is bound en an efficient device to channel the frustration and to make claims to truth, but there is no reason in prin- aggressivity of nationalism. ciple why Christianity cannot accept a plurality of re- The central point of conflict with Western civiliza- ligions without renouncing its own claims to truth. tion, the point of departure between our two cultures, One cannot say with consistency that this is my reli- is the institutional separation of the secular and the gion, and it is as good as any other. That is absurd. In sacred. Theocratic nationalism confronts the secular what sense, then, is it mine? states of the West in international relations. As long as Despite the miserable record of repressions and there are theocratic states, there will be conflict with persecutions, there is in Christianity a history of tol- the West. That is inevitable. eration that was preached for the sake of preserving Interviewer: | If these two civilizations must battle it out Christian values. in one interdependent world, where will that lead? Interviewer: | Islam, the other evangelizing monotheis- Kolakowski | We cannot predict how the so-called tic religion besides Christianity, hasn’t accommodated modernization of Islamic countries will affect religious to the European experiences of the Reformation and the life. In Iran, modernization engendered the theocratic Enlightenment. Islamic culture thus lacks the modern in- counterrevolution of Khomeini and led to his desper- difference characteristic of the West, leading the French ate attempt to medievalize the country. Although he social critic Jean Baudrillard to remark that Islam offers once said that all traditional religions—Islam, Juda- the only resistance to the radical indifference sweeping the ism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity—should be tol- world. As a result, might not the renaissance of religion erated, he ruthlessly persecuted and killed Bahais. worldwide also mean the renaissance of religious conflict, But since the rest of the world doesn’t live in the of conflict between civilizations? 12th century, such religious totalitarianism must Kolakowski | Medieval Islamic culture produced great sooner or later be exhausted. Indeed, the clash with achievements in the history of civilization, in philoso- the demands of technical modernization will lead to a phy, poetry, architecture, mathematics and medicine. loosening of rigid theocracy. To be sure, there were pogroms against the Jews Islamic theocracy can no more ultimately resist the and genocide during the First World War in the Otto- autonomy of reason required by technological prog- man Empire. But it is wrong to think that the history ress than could Christian theocracy. Islam cannot have of Islam, whether in the Ottoman period or earlier both. A medieval religious regime will mean medieval in Spain to take two examples, is the history of the material and technical conditions; economic modern- systematic persecution and extermination of religious ization means the end of theocracy. minorities. One cannot say with any certainty that it For now, oil resources cushion the clash. But when is the destiny of Islam to be bellicose, aggressive and the wells run dry, so too, I suspect, will this kind of repressive. fanaticism. Nonetheless, for reasons I cannot explain, at a cer- Still, of this we can’t be sure. The only certainty in tain moment Islamic civilization fell into a slumber. history is its utter unpredictability and incoherence. Culturally speaking, Islam has not been very fertile in Interviewer: | At the end of the last modern century, can recent times. secular man reintroduce the sacred? Can we base ethical The meaning of today’s Islamic renaissance, which values on reason instead of revolution? Must personal re- 32 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 sponsibility be rooted in transcendent beliefs? Thus, we need instruments of human solidarity Kolakowski | It is obviously possible for individuals to that are not based on our own instincts, self-interest keep high moral standards and be irreligious. I strong- or on force. The communist attempt to institutional- ly doubt whether it is possible for civilizations. Absent ize solidarity ended in disaster. religious tradition, what reason is there for a society to respect human rights and the dignity of man? What is human dignity, scientifically speaking? A superstition? Empirically, men are demonstrably unequal. How can we justify equality? Human rights is an unscien- tific idea. As Milosz says, these values are rooted in a You can become a supporter of: transcendent dimension. Interviewer: | It strikes me that totalitarianism of a dif- Canadian Centre for ferent kind could emerge from the new global capitalist order—a totalitarianism of immediate gratification in Policy Studies which reason is conditional to self-interest. Do you believe in Canada’s founding What is to defend dignity and human rights from total values? our donation can help us commercialization? Kolakowski | The absence of a transcendent dimen- renew those values in public policy sion in secular society weakens this social contract in which each supposedly limits his or her freedom in and in law. order to live in peace with others. Target your donation: Such universalism of interest is another aspect of the modern illusion. There is no such thing as scien- • Research & Publish Policy Papers tifically based human solidarity. • Support Political Action To be sure, I can convince myself that it is in my interest not to rob other people, not to rape and mur- • Mount Seminars & Events der, because I can convince myself that the risk is too • Send Observer to influential great. This is the Hobbesian model of solidarity: greed moderated by fear. Canadians But social chaos stands in the shadows of such mor- al anarchy. When a society adheres to moral norms for Tel: 613.695.2176 no other reason than prudence, it is extremely weak Fax: 613.800.0713 and its fabric tears at the slightest crisis. In such a soci- ety, there is no basis for personal responsibility, charity To make a credit card donation: or compassion. www.policystudies.ca Now, with the ecological imperative, a new ethos of species self-preservation is being discussed. To some Or send a cheque by mail: extent, it may be true that we are instinctively pro- Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, grammed for self-preservation of the species. But the history of this last modern century has certainly dem- .O. P Box 1318, Station B, Ottawa, onstrated that we can destroy members of our own species without great inhibitions. If there is species Ontario, K1P 5R4 solidarity at some deep biological level, it hasn’t saved us from civil destruction. Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 33 Fiction Tells a Greater Truth –Salim Mansur I n Xanadu, wrote the English poet Samuel Tay- Today Samarkand in contemporary Uzbekistan is a lor Coleridge (1772-1834), “Kubla Khan” built UNESCO World Heritage site rescued from obscurity a grandiose palace for himself. Coleridge’s cele- into which it had fallen. I visited Timur’s capital sev- brated poem about Kublai Khan’s pleasure dome was eral years ago, spent an afternoon at his ornate mauso- an act of poetic imagination taking flight on his read- leum where the great conqueror lies buried at the foot ing some references made to the grandson of Geng- of his Sufi master, and was moved as strongly by the his Khan, the greatest Mongol sight of beautiful buildings that warrior-king and empire builder still retain some of the original from the twelfth century. But lustre as were Marlowe and Poe Samarkand, unlike the fictional on hearing stories about Samar- Xanadu, was a great capital built kand. Amin Maalouf, the bril- by Timur, or Tamerlane, the four- liantly imaginative and graceful teenth century warrior-king and storyteller of Lebanese-Catholic empire builder from Central Asia. origin – and author of such splen- Christopher Marlowe (1564-93), did novels as Leo The African, The Shakespeare’s contemporary and Gardens of Light, Balthasar’s Odys- rival, celebrated the builder of sey, and The Rock of Tanios which Samarkand in his dramatic play won the 1993 Prix Goncourt, the Tamburlaine the Great in two prestigious French literary award parts. Marlowe’s hero in speaking – made Timur’s beloved city the of his capital glowingly declaims, setting for his 1989 novel Samar- Then shall my native city, Samarcanda... kand. Be famous through the furthest continents, Poetry and novels, especially great ones we treasure For there my palace-royal shall be placed, are beautiful and give us endless joy generation after Whose shining turrets shall dismay the heavens, generation. They take us into the ringside of events as And cast the fame of lion’s tower to hell. in the struggle of the old fisherman to bring home the Much later the American poet Edgar Allan Poe biggest catch of his life in Hemingway’s The Old Man (1809-49) wrote an epic poem in praise of “Tamer- and the Sea, or feel the anguish of losing a beloved and lane.” In recalling the famed city located on the an- heroic leader as in Whitman’s “O Captain! My Cap- cient Silk Road to China, Poe eulogized, tain!” This power of great art to inspire and instruct Look ‘round thee now on Samarcand, through telling of stories about heroes from long ago, Is she not queen of earth? her pride such as Kublai Khan and Tamerlane, or imagined Above all cities? in her hand events in distant Samarkand, has been discussed in a Their destinies? with all beside recent book of much merit. In Grand Strategies: Litera- Of glory, which the world hath known? ture, Statecraft, and World Order (Yale, 2010), Charles Stands she not proudly and alone? Hill set out to illustrate how great works of fiction And who her sovereign? Timur he provide a richer understanding of politics than the Whom th’ astonish’d earth has seen, arid tomes of social sciences, in particular political sci- With victory, on victory, ence. “The great matters of high politics,” Hill writes, Redoubling age! “statecraft, and grand strategy are essential to the hu- man condition and so necessarily are within the pur- 34 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 view of great literature. Tolstoy’s War and Peace treats cluded the works of Salman Rushdie. Rushdie’s Mid- them directly. What has not been much recognized is night’s Children earned him the 1981 Booker Prize. that many literary works read and praised for insights His novel The Satanic Verses published in 1988 pro- on personal feelings, such as Jane Austen’s Emma, pos- voked a furor among Muslims worldwide and brought sess a dimension wholly apt for statecraft – in Emma’s upon Rushdie a death sentence pronounced by Iran’s case, the gathering and misanalysis of intelligence.” Ayatollah Khomeini. V.S. Naipaul, the winner of the Hill’s own rich experience in politics, intelligence, 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature, sardonically observed and diplomacy as a Foreign Service professional in the Khomeini’s pronouncement was “an extreme form of U.S. State Department and in the office of the U.N. literary criticism.” secretary-general, combined with his long love affair Midnight’s Children is about the birth of modern with literature, makes Grand Strategies a rare kind of India, narrated through the lives of two boys born book. It is also one of those books that should be a at the midnight hour when the moment of indepen- required reading in our time, that could well be de- dence from British rule occurred, as well as the parti- scribed as the age of cultural conflicts or The Clash of tion of the subcontinent into the two successor states Civilizations – the title of the much discussed 1996 of India and Pakistan. In Rushdie’s storytelling about book by the late Samuel Huntington. Hill’s career the main character named Saleem Sinai – born at the exposed him to the diversity of cul- midnight hour with the vagaries of tures and, through travel and study, “The great matters of his life linked to the high and low he found that the most penetrating high politics, statecraft, dramas of his country –, the whole and worthy insights into the human and grand strategy are panorama of India’s diverse cultural condition were to be found in the essential to the human and religious traditions is laid bare. classics of world literature. Thucy- condition and so Similarly, in The Satanic Verses Rush- dides account of the Peloponnesian necessarily are within die deconstructs the mythic history War of 431-404 B.C. is a classic text the purview of great of early Islam, exposing the vulner- monarchs, statesmen, diplomats, abilities of Muslims in the modern military commanders and students literature.” world of globalization and, as Hill of statecraft have studied over the comments, “of migration, rootless- centuries to learn about politics and ness, multiple identities and frac- players involved in times of war and in securing of tured entities, of post-modernity’s shattering effect on peace. But Thucydides account of that ancient war traditional cultures and national bonds.” is not a rigorous and documented piece of historical Rushdie’s writings, as that of V.S. Naipaul, explore writing in the modern sense. Instead, as Hill points the broken realities and existential despair in post- out, Thucydides narrative “is literature, and literature colonial societies of Asia, Africa and Latin America. does not restrict itself. It can say anything that needs The promise of independence for people in these con- to be said.” tinents turned sour, and migration offered an exit for Among the many authors and books Hill discusses the ambitious, and the bitterly disappointed, to move for their relevance to decoding the subtleties of high from former colonies in the southern hemisphere politics of state – from Homer’s Iliad, Shakespeare’s or the tropics to the northern climates and richer plays, Machiavelli’s epistles, Cervantes Don Quixote, economies of former imperial powers. Both Rushdie Swift’s satire, Gibbon’s history, Kant’s philosophy, and Naipaul have plumbed the highly unstable and Rousseau’s Confessions, poetry of Milton, Whitman, volatile cultural reality of Muslim societies contend- Tennyson and Eliot, novels by Dickens, Dostoevsky, ing with a modernization that has undermined their Conrad, Kafka, Mann, Malraux and Kipling, to the traditional values. The public burning of The Satanic memoirs of Lawrence and Lee Kuan Yew –, he in- Verses in Bradford, England, by Muslim immigrants Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 35 from South Asia – ahead of Khomeini demanding was well expressed in a rubaiyaat that Maalouf places Rushdie be killed and made an example of what is to at the beginning of his story: be expected should anyone violate Muslim sensibilities Pray tell, who has not transgressed Your Law? by insulting Islam and its prophet – was a foretelling Pray tell the purpose of a sinless life of events to come. Their works have offered a much If with evil You punish the evil I have done richer, intricate and layered understanding of Islam Pray tell, what is the difference between You and me? and the Muslim world than all of the stolid output In Samarkand Khayyam found bliss as a young from most academic experts, thinktank gurus, media man. Here he worked as an astronomer-mathemati- pundits, and policy wizards in government bureaucra- cian during the day and went home to recline in the cies or non-governmental organizations in the West. evenings with his beloved wife, drink wine, listen to This brings me back to Amin Maalouf and his nov- music and write poetry. Into this blissful world arrived el Samarkand. The English translation of the original one day unannounced Hassan Sabbah, a marked man in French was first published in 1992, some nine years wanted by the authorities for his threats against Nizam before Arab-Muslim terrorists of al Qaeda struck New al-Mulk, the vizier or chief minister to the Seljuk Turk York and Washington on September 11, 2001. It was ruler. In Maalouf ’s historical fiction, the three men as if through this work of historical fiction the au- were known to each other from the time they were thor subconsciously was sending out a warning signal students together. Later they would go their different to his alert readers that the quarrels of the eleventh ways until fate brought them together again in a world century Muslim world were not so remote, and that of strife and sectarian violence. But Khayyam’s bliss- understanding the nature of those quarrels would be ful life was torn apart when he discovered Hassan was helpful in contending with the effects of the deeply the secret and disguised leader of a band of assassins unsettling changes in the lands of Islam. that had spread fear, and his intended prey was Nizam Maalouf in Samarkand, as Rushdie in The Satanic al-Mulk. Verses, gives full flight to his literary imagination in The kernel of the story from which Maalouf spun spinning a tale of love, rivalry, intrigue, betrayal, mur- his tale was discussed briefly by Bernard Lewis in The der and loss among erstwhile friends turned enemies. Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam. Lewis’s history of Maalouf ’s three principal characters – Omar Khayy- Hassan Sabbah and his men, based on documented am, Hassan Sabbah, and Nizam al-Mulk – brought to- sources, was first published in 1967. A second edi- gether in eleventh century Samarkand are real histori- tion was released in 2001, in the aftermath of the ter- cal personalities. Omar Khayyam is the best known in rorist attacks in New York and Washington. Here is the West of the three, his Persian quatrains or Rubai- the passage from Lewis about the three personalities yaat translated into English by Edward Fitzgerald and in Maalouf ’s novel: it begins with reference to Has- first published in 1859. Fitzgerald is most responsible san Sabah leaving for Cairo to present himself at the for rescuing Khayyam’s name from anonymity, and court of the Fatimid Ismaili rulers of Egypt, who were making the Persian’s verses as rendered by him into a rivals of the Seljuk Turk rulers of Syria and Persia, and treasured possession for any home library in the Eng- defenders of orthodox Sunni Islam: lish-speaking world where poetry is loved. Khayyam is the hero of Maalouf ’s Samarkand. He A story related by several Persian authors, and in- is the astronomer and mathematician who calculates a troduced to European readers by Edward Fitzger- new calendar for the Seljuk Turk ruler in whose realm ald in the preface to his translation of the Rubaiyat, Samarkand is located. But in an age when politics was purports to give an account of the events leading shaped by religion and religious strife was an expres- to [Sabbah’s] departure. According to this tale, sion of politics, Khayyam was a skeptic, if not entirely Hasan-i-Sabbah, the poet Omar Khayyam, and a committed agnostic. His view of God and religion the vizier Nizam al-Mulk, had all been fellow- 36 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 students of the same teacher. The three made a pact en and his band of terrorists taking shelter in the high that whichever of them first achieved success and mountains of the Hindu Kush between Afghanistan fortune in the world would help the other two. and Pakistan is most interesting. Nizam al-Mulk in due course became the vizier of Eventually, however, Hassan Sabah and his fol- the Sultan, and his schoolmates put forward their lowers were routed. Similarly, Osama bin Laden was claims. Both were offered governorships, which they bombed out of his mountain retreats and recently both refused, though for different reasons. Omar killed by U.S. navy Seals. Of the earlier episode, Lewis Khayyam shunned the responsibilities of office, and writes, preferred a pension and the enjoyment of leisure; Considering the place of the Assassins in the history Hasan refused to be fobbed off with a provincial of Islam, four things may be said with reasonable post, and sought high office at court. Given his assurance. The first is that their movement, what- wish, he soon became a candidate for the vizierate ever its driving force may have been, was regarded and a dangerous rival to Nizam al-Mulk himself. as a profound threat to the existing order, politi- The vizier therefore plotted against him, and by a cal, social and religious; the second is that they are trick managed to disgrace him in the eyes of the Sul- no isolated phenomenon, but one of a long series of tan. Shamed and resentful, Hasan-i-Sabbah fled to messianic movements, at once popular and obscure, Egypt, where he prepared his revenge. impelled by deep-rooted anxieties, and from time Lewis points out that the story Edward Fitzgerald to time exploding in outbreaks of revolutionary reports is improbable, since Nizam al-Mulk was at a violence; the third is that Hasan-i-Sabbah and his minimum thirty years older than both Omar Khayy- followers succeeded in reshaping and redirecting the am and Hassan Sabbah. Given this discrepancy in the vague desires, wild beliefs and aimless rage of the respective ages of the three men in Maalouf ’s novel, discontented into an ideology and an organization they could not have been friends from an early age at school. Yet the three men were contemporaries and Nizam al-Mulk was assassinated in 1092, as Lewis dis- Get a friend a gift subscription to: cusses in his study, by an assassin disguised as a Sufi and sent by Hassan Sabbah for the purpose. Maalouf, however, fully exploits the literary license of a fiction writer and pulls together in Samarkand a gripping story that has lessons for our time, when the West finds itself drawn into a war against terrorism Four issues (1 year) only $29. waged by religious fanatics of the Muslim world. In (includes tax and postage) the fictional Hassan Sabbah of Maalouf ’s novel, there Name: _____________________________ is to be found an uncanny resemblance to the wealthy Address: ___________________________ Saudi businessman, Osama bin Laden, who turns into City: _______________ Province:_______ a fanatical organizer and leader of the al Qaeda net- Postal code: __________ work of Arab-Muslim terrorists. Hassan Sabbah ruled from the mountain fortress Alamut, located in the Credit card: ________________________ high peaks of the Elburz Mountains, along the south- Expiry date: ______/_____ ern shores of the Caspian Sea in Iran. He came to be Signature: ____________________ known as “The Old Man of the Mountain” and he Or call: 1-613.800.0837 struck terror in the hearts of his opponents, primarily To manage or order a subscription: Muslims, from his almost inaccessible mountain re- www.canadianobservermag.ca/subscribe treat. Again, the similarity here with Osama bin Lad- Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 37 which, in cohesion, discipline and purposive vio- erwise it would be as a place of oppressive boredom lence, have no parallel in earlier or later times. The resulting from an absence of diversity. fourth, and perhaps ultimately the most significant Amin Maalouf ’s novels, as those of Salman Rush- point, is their final and total failure. They did not die and others that Hill draws upon in his study of overthrow the existing order; they did not even suc- literature and politics, were not written for pedagogi- ceed in holding a single city of any size. Even their cal purposes. They tell perennial stories about us as castle domains became no more than petty princi- men and women. Their novels, when held up as mir- palities, which in time were overwhelmed by con- rors for us to gaze into, lead to the discovery that we quest, and their followers have become small and remain behind our masks much the same, despite the peaceful communities of peasants and merchants – changes of seasons and years, as characters from the one sectarian minority among many. past. This is the marvel of classics, as Hill explains, that “each generation reads in its own way to fill its It might be hoped that the current crop of Muslims particular need, each finds something new in it.” And terrorists, be they Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis, Somalis so did Marlowe, then Poe, and lastly Maalouf find in or any other ethnicity belonging to the widely diverse the tales of Samarkand the thread to spin their stories world of Islam, is similarly routed and crushed for the that connect us so vividly to a past revealing so much sake of civilization’s order and amity among cultures more about our present world. 3 in our highly shrunken world of instant global com- munications. It might also be hoped that the cultural Salim Mansur is an associate professor of Political Science strains of our time eventually get relieved as we come at the University of Western Ontario and a columnist for to understand and respect each other for our com- the London Free Press. monalities while acknowledging differences in faiths and languages, which save our world from what oth- Invenire Books Cities as Crucibles is full of case studies and illustrations that make the “urban agenda” come to life. Drawing from his experience in both the municipal and federal government sectors, François Lapointe argues convincingly for new models of collaboration, better decision-making within and between governments, and above all, for re-designing the platforms for citizen engagement. Like a good urban planner, Lapointe forces us to think long-term and beyond the boundaries of our individual urban realities, while at the same time, grounding us in issues that are both François Lapointe is Vice President, Capital immediate and local.” –Marni Cappe, MCIP, Planning at the National Capital Commission RPP in Ottawa. His practice in urbanism spans three ISBN: 978-0-9813931-8-6 $49.95 11.0 X 8.5” decades, both in Ontario and Quebec. 280 pp also available as an e-book (pdf) Order from www.commonerspublishing.com or your local bookstore 38 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Book Review: Conversion Stories By John Gay Canadian Converts – are able to express themselves in manageable; she succumbed to the written English is quite another plea that her story would do much The Path to Rome, matter, consequent upon the melt- good. And so it has: at least two Justin Press, Ottawa down in Canadian educational people have been led toward the 2009 standards, so that the winnowing Church through reading it. S All of that notwithstanding, the idney Smith, the founder of stories in this book are well, some the Edinburgh Review, once superbly well, written and bear said: “I never read a book be- comparison with anything in the fore reviewing it; it prejudices one literature of their kind. Many of so.” This being irrefutably true, I them are haunted by a powerful am constrained to confess that I sense of the supernatural just be- am prejudiced in favour of “Cana- low, and occasionally piercing, the dian Converts,” not only because veil of the ordinary. I have read it, but because I have At the same time, many manage helped to publish it. to be funny; Ian Hunter’s abortive Collections of conversion stories encounters with an RCIA course are common in the English-speak- given by a fatuous laywoman with ing world, and particularly, in re- the vocabulary of an early adoles- cent years, in the United States, cent and modeled on a prekin- where Joseph Pearce’s excellent dergarten class are comedy of a “Literary Converts” and a host of high order. The reaction of David other works have described, so far Warren’s agnostic mother to his as human language can, the var- process was quite extensive. announced intention to become ied steps that lead to the Catholic Canadian political correctness, Catholic, “But they eat protestant Church. “Canadian Converts” is which is the liturgical expression of babies!” is instantly trumped by the first book to attempt this for our secular state, was another ob- “Only at Easter, mama.” Englishspeaking Canadian con- stacle. A judge who initially agreed Common to all of them is the verts; it was also one of the first to contribute her story withdrew sense that the apparently ordinary three books published by Justin after she was advised by a colleague occurrences of our daily lives are in Press. that to do so would end her chanc- fact nothing of the kind; rather, as There are eleven conversion sto- es of career advancement. Those Francis Thompson put it, “’tis you, ries in “Canadian Converts,” all who did contribute were either ’tis your estranged faces that miss of them written by living Cana- courageous or past caring: Con- the manysplendored thing: turn dians except that by Richard John rad Black, for example wrote from but a stone and start a wing.” 3 Neuhaus, who died just before the book was published. Recruitment his prison cell, while some others of these authors was an illuminat- were safely retired. The mother of a John Gay is President of Justin Press, ing experience. Converts to the large family excused herself on the an Ottawa-based publishing house Catholic Church are, thank God, very reasonable ground that the dedicated to the publication of works easy to find. Finding eleven who time and energy demands were not of Catholic culture and apologetics. Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 39 Book Review: The Emptiness of Plenty – Janice Fiamengo Theodore Dalrymple, preoccupation with the cultural zation is worth preserving. Though decline of Britain: family break- smug about its high standard of The New Vichy down, welfare dependency, and an living and social security, it is yet Syndrome: Why attitude of self-pitying entitlement anxious about its inability to keep European Intellectuals come under his acerbic gaze. Here pace with more robust and creative he has measured and deplored the economies. Competitors such as Surrender to loss of the self-restraint and per- China and India increasingly out- Barbarism. sonal responsibility that character- strip its production levels and inge- ized the generation of British who nuity. A profound aversion to war New York: Encounter defeated Hitler. In The New Vichy has left it unable to defend itself Books, 2010. while dependent on the energy re- My only reservation about this serves of unstable or hostile foreign book is that the catastrophizing powers. Drastically declining birth title seems overstated: there is less rates paired with increasing life ex- here about barbarism per se than pectancy imperil the security of the about Europe’s muddy slide into elderly while mass immigration has weakness and decadence, with bar- made foreigners likely to dominate barism a real possibility but not yet the cultures they have little incen- a reality. One might even say that in tive to join or understand. this book, the notoriously cranky It is on this last point, about the Theodore Dalrymple is somewhat potential threat of Islamism in Eu- less pessimistic than usual about rope, that Dalrymple is less alarm- current affairs. The title quibble ist than his title might lead one to aside, The New Vichy Syndrome expect. While never prone to sac- is a gripping and rewarding book charine pieties, he gives full weight that should strengthen Dalrymple’s to the likelihood that Muslim im- reputation as one of the most pun- migrants’ disproportionately high gent conservative commentators of Syndrome, Dalrymple extends his birthrate and tolerance for reli- our time. scope to consider the malaise grip- gious extremism will moderate in Theodore Dalrymple is the ping Europe as a whole, analyz- the European context; predictions pseudonym, suggestive of his as- ing the European Union as both of racial and religious takeover, he tringent British viewpoint, of a a symptom and a futile attempt believes, are far from certain. The retired physician and psychiatrist to assuage the continent’s collapse problems with Islam, he avers, who has published a series of essay into moral lethargy and self-be- “are as much to do with ourselves collections with such downbeat ti- trayal. It is a bracing analysis. as with Islam itself, which is not tles as Our Culture, What’s Left of In Dalrymple’s reading, Europe to say that there are no problems It (2005) and Not with a Bang But has come to a condition of lassi- with Islam”. The problem has been a Whimper (2008). His subjects tude in which it has lost the abil- that when Muslim girls in Britain have been diverse, ranging from ity to defend itself from internal or are kept away from school by fun- literary criticism to social analy- external threats, unable even to ar- damentalist parents, the response sis, but they are unified by their ticulate to its citizens why its civili- of the school authorities is not to 40 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Even decent self-regard came to be felt to be a form of complic- ity. In the decades since the war, European intellectuals increas- ingly interpreted their history as one of unmitigated slaughter and oppression; even the British, who had behaved admirably in the fight against Hitler and should have had grounds for satisfaction, were mor- ally defeated by the messy after- math of empire and a vigorous his- toriographic emphasis on colonial guilt. The European Union, that vast superstate formed to protect peace and prosperity amongst for- merly hostile nation states, prom- ised in response a new form of col- lective identity and power. More intervene. When, after the Danish about the equality of cultures, has importantly, perhaps, it promised cartoon affair, the Danish embassy been exacerbated by the policy and escape from a past that many had was attacked with the blessing of lived experience of multicultural- come to believe contained “noth- the Syrian government, Europe ism. Real cultural diversity is on ing worth preserving”, little more could not muster a response. “The the rise at the same time that criti- than a record of “crime and folly”. quiet life was clearly preferred to cism of non-European cultures has The question of why any coun- the costs of securing a free one”. become deeply unfashionable and try, let alone an entire continent, Europe’s fundamental failure is its skepticism about western culture would choose to construct such a lack of belief in itself, in the value often a badge of righteousness. The history for itself forms one of the of the culture it developed over result is that “Choice as a good in most fascinating aspects of Dal- the centuries, and even in the pos- itself, even as the only good in it- rymple’s analysis. The disillusion- sibility of there being any values self, is now almost an unthinking ment and loss of moral confidence worth preserving and defending. orthodoxy in the West”. that followed the Second World How Europe, which for centuries The problems of moral discern- War were significant challenges to flourished as the cradle of science ment fostered by epistemological Europe, but their end result was and art, arrived at such an impasse skepticism have been coupled to not inevitable. Dalrymple empha- is the central process Dalrymple the European response to its past. sizes the forms of satisfaction and seeks to trace. The Second World War dealt to strategic opportunism to be found The answers, he believes, are European self-confidence a crip- in the “miserabilist history” Euro- rooted in both European philoso- pling blow from which succeed- peans embraced. Limitless guilt, phy and Europe’s response to its ing generations failed to recover. after all, creates its own mode of history. A widespread epistemolog- Revelations of German atrocities righteousness, even its own “form ical skepticism, influenced by at- and of other countries’ willing col- of grandiosity”. A country that tacks on the truth claims of science laboration led to a general disillu- can no longer take credit for great and anthropological assertions sionment and refusal of patriotism. achievement can take credit for Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 41 great evil, which explains why, in process by which its peoples came triguingly drawn. As a teacher who a few decades, “we can go from to give up on themselves touches has long felt uneasy about Canada’s believing that everything we have upon many interrelated issues, in- own version of historical miserabi- done and do is the best, that we are cluding the loss of the transcen- lism, I was compelled by Dalrym- civilizing the world, to the belief dent, the self-indulgence of mod- ple’s warning. that we have ruined the world and ern life, and the effects of moral Dalrymple’s prose is always lu- that everything that is bad in it is relativism. One of the most inter- cid, witty, and incisive. Because ultimately traceable to us”. Such esting is Dalrymple’s emphasis on the discussion here is necessarily a miserabilist history is also use- the role of miserabilist historiog- sweeping and impressionistic, it ful to those seeking to consolidate raphy (his coinage, I believe) in is more striking for its clarity and power. It provides a rationale for Europe’s decline. He shows how acuteness than for a step-by-step the urgency of their claims and for the now widely accepted view of marshalling of evidence, and thus the sweeping transformations they the First World War as a meaning- unlikely to convince someone not propose, even a powerful warrant less slaughter was an interpretation already inclined to Dalrymple’s for messianic promises of hope and imposed retrospectively by elites way of thinking. It may be that the change. rather than the felt experience of subject is too large for the sketchy, The result is that few Europeans, the majority who lived through at times almost aphoristic, ap- at present, believe in themselves the war, and how self-loathing af- proach. Still, it is hard not to be or in their ability to contribute ter the Second World War came to impressed by the penetrating intel- to their society. Even expressions be accepted even by nations such ligence everywhere evident, and a of affection for or pride in one’s as Britain that had cause for pride. reader will find much to ponder on country are liable to be taken as The link between “nothing but- every page. 3 evidence of incipient xenophobia. ism” (the conviction that one’s his- The only thing to be prized is peace tory is nothing but atrocity), loss Janice Fiamengo is professor of Eng- and material comfort: a social se- of cultural identity, and the rise of lish literature at the University of curity based on fear of the future ever-larger state bureaucracy is in- Ottawa and a commitment to collective ease above all, even when the com- Invenire mitment saps worthy initiative and Books necessary risk. Nothing—not prin- ciples, truth, or even the bearing “Gilles Paquet is the Marshall of children—is worth jeopardizing McLuhan of governance.” one’s present security, which seems “Scheming virtuously is an invitation to subversion, but unlikely to last long given the eco- also a somewhat personal account of the displacement nomic burdens of the welfare state. of the dominant governing regime (Big-G centralized One must enjoy oneself and take government) by small-g collaborative governance, in a world where power & resources are shared. In this as much as one can in the present. new world, the citizen’s burden of office is clear: to Thus do once-great nations collude be a producer of governance. Scheming virtuously is in their own decline. Dalrymple the order of the day – active engagement, imaginative ends by considering the factors problem-reframing, astute organizational design, and that might, but likely will not, save effective action Quality paperback, America from the same fate. 300 pp, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9813931-0-0 $27.95 Dalrymple’s discussion of the current state of Europe and the Order from www.commonerspublishing.com or your local bookstore 42 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Book Review: True Leadership Revealed – Bruce Wilson The author adds magnanimity and aspiring to leadership. humility, and goes on to explain The very worthiness of these vir- Virtuous Leadership how these six virtues are mutually tues makes one wonder why they interdependent in the formation of are not at the center of debate more An Agenda for true leaders. often. There is little discussion of Personal Excellence Havard’s book convinced this ethics or prudence when the media considers proposals from our lead- By Alexandre Havard, ers. But perhaps this is inevitable Scepter Publishers, because leadership virtues are not mentioned in business school or 2007, 174 pgs. journalism and political science class either. Instead, organizations T he opening pages of this attempt to be purely “empirical”; book declares “leadership applying market analysis, polling, is character”, and that focus group research and other leaders need to be “virtuous”. Most tools to target voters or consum- readers would surely consider these ers. This essentially manipulative to be old-fashioned ideas irrelevant approach filters out real truth and to how our modern society actu- understanding. Surely, it is the ally works. Instead, Alexandre Ha- leader with a magnanimous vision vard gives us a powerful explana- that we would rather follow. tion about how leadership should The organizational sciences be understood, learned and prac- taught today cannot easily inte- ticed today. His explanation helps grate the leadership virtue of hu- us understand the financial and mility because humility requires political turbulence of these times, reader that mastering these six vir- science to acknowledge we are wrought by our supposed leaders. tues are essential to achieving per- creatio ex nihilo, or created out of It also provides some tools we can sonal excellence. He argues that nothing. The virtue of humility use to measure our leaders and our- prudence helps leaders make the helps leaders in their struggle with selves. right decisions; courage resists in- self-importance. Though the con- Remarkably, Alexandre Havard appropriate pressures of all kinds; cept of our origin ‘out of nothing’ turns to an eclectic mix of Plato, self-control subordinates one’s pas- can be inferred by natural reason, it Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, the sions to the mission; justice gives is also a gift of the Judeo-Christian Book of Wisdom and others – an- everyone their due; magnanimity tradition. Havard says strong lead- cient and contemporary – to offer strives for great and worthy things; ers are “aware of the gap between principles to guide our behaviour. and humility overcomes selfishness the grandeur of their vision (mag- Plato and the Old Testament speak in order to serve others. Clearly, nanimity) and their own inability of prudence, justice, courage and this is a formidable prescription to bring it about (humility)”. Such self-control as marks of leadership. worthy of consideration by anyone leaders become the productive ser- Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 43 vant of the team and the mission. women we become. If we choose The maturity gained is threefold: Havard then leads us to con- virtue, we will be men and wom- maturity of judgment, emotional sider whether a leader’s vision is en of character, if we choose vice, maturity, and behavioural matu- prudent – the third virtue. He we will lead lives of sin; if we split rity. Along this path, Havard ex- explains how prudent decision- the difference, as many do, we will plains such matters as the meaning making is composed of three steps: simply be mediocre”. We must also of happiness, and the pitfalls of deliberation, judgement, and mak- bear in mind that “we are free to ethics based solely on rules. ing a decision. He emphasizes the decide the extent to which we will Part V offers a methodology to importance to leaders of avoiding allow the culture to affect us”. achieve the interior growth that rationalizations and prejudices in Thomas Aquinas said that vir- busy professionals may employ order to fully understand a situa- tues grow together like the five to become leaders. It emphasizes tion. He astutely points out the ne- fingers of the hand. They are all Christian principles, but may be cessity of distinguishing between connected. Havard also points out adapted to non-Christian ways of what we are and what we see, to that virtue abhors individualism. thinking and being. We leave it to find what is the truth of a situa- There is not much to courage if the reader to uncover and follow tion. True leaders are able to see it is practiced alone. This explains Harvard’s approach. what really is, not what they want why there is no separation between Virtuous Leadership – An Agenda something to be. public and private virtue. Confus- for Personal Excellence is recom- An examination of the three ing public and private life seems to mended reading for us all. How- remaining leadership virtues of be an occupational hazard of poli- ever, it may be especially useful to justice, courage and self-control ticians. our society if we can get young pro- continues in a similarly convincing The next lesson in Havard’s fessionals with aspirations to lead- manner. leadership training concerns how ership to read it. If they embrace Part III of Havard’s book can give reason, will and the heart blend the virtues eloquently described by encouragement to all who aspire to seamlessly in the human person. It Havard, the world will be a better leadership. It asserts that leaders are is another convincing chapter. place. 3 not born, they are trained. Again, Part IV describes how our train- Havard reaches back to the Greeks ing in virtues leads not merely to Bruce Wilson is Managing Editor who founded aretology – the sci- self-improvement, but rather to of The Canadian Observer and a ence of virtue. These philosophers our maturity and self-realization. CCPS Policy Fellow and Director. spoke of intellectual virtues related to human knowledge, and of ethi- The story of the woman who, as deputy cal virtues (prudence, justice, cour- minister at Canada Revenue, implemented age, self-control) related to human Canada’s Goods & Services Tax (the GST). behaviour. This book sets out a former deputy minister’s take With this understanding, lead- on the “burden of office” of the role and on the ers can begin their training. Aris- difficulties of staying out of one ditch – excessive concern with safeguarding a few key principles – totle said that virtue comes about without sliding into another – being too anxious to as the result of habit – and Havard please or too tempted to put personal interests first. says we are what we habitually do. The story emphasizes the constructive contribution “If we repeatedly act courageously, of experience and imagination, especially when it is we will eventually do so habitu- enriched by on-the-job reflection., 6x9, 138pp, ISBN ally.” He goes on to say “we freely 978-0-88970-130-4 • $17.95 choose to be the kind of men and Order from www.commonerspublishing.com or your local bookstore 44 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Book Review: Why School Children Fail – Jeffrey Asher Bad Students Not an instructional format which Linda S. Gottfredson in The Gen- makes the material accessible to eral Intelligence Factor (Scientific Bad Schools, by their ability and teachers properly American, Winter 1998) as fol- Robert Weissberg, explicate lessons.” lows: Transaction Publishers, The statistical truism that half of New Brunswick, New the population is below the mean [Intelligence] also predicts also applies to education. Like eye many … aspects of well-being, Jersey, 2010 colour or height, IQ is largely in- including a person’s chances of T his book begins with a la- herited and unalterable. Therefore, divorcing, dropping out of high ment for our age: “Schools education is very unlikely to trans- school, being unemployed or are filled with millions of form the half of the population be- having illegitimate children. youngsters … many struggling with … Although subsequent ex- English… of mediocre intellectual perience shapes this potential, ability disdaining academic achieve- no amount of social engineer- ment.” Its thesis is that the below- ing can make individuals with average intellectual performance widely divergent mental apti- of these children is caused by their tudes into intellectual equals. inadequate mental aptitudes and that, consequently, attempts at (…) People are born with dif- improving it through reform pre- ferent hereditary potentials for scriptions is utterly useless. intelligence and these genetic Weissberg offers a formula for endowments are responsible for educational progress: Achievement much of the variation in men- = 8 x Intelligence x 4 Motivation tal ability among individuals. x 1 Resources x 1 Pedagogy x 1 … in school settings, the ratio Instruction, where the coefficients of learning rates between “fast” 8, 4 and 1 represent the relative and “slow” students is typically weight of each term. The formula five to one … no other single coefficients are multiplied so that low the mean into achievers, or el- trait or circumstance yet stud- if the value of any term is “0,” the evate students who cannot master ied is so deeply implicated in final result is “0.” For example, if basic grammar or arithmetic into the nexus of bad social out- intelligence, or cognitive capacity college graduates. comes– poverty, welfare, ille- – roughly measured as IQ scores The views expressed by Weiss- gitimacy and educational fail- (or SAT, etc.) – falls well below the berg are consistent with those of ure– that entraps many low-IQ norm, then any expected educa- some scholars who have tried to individuals and families. tion result is limited. make certain generalizations about “Students achieve academically the distribution of intelligence (…) The differences in mental if they are sufficiently smart, moti- across various populations. For ex- ability among individuals re- vated, possess decent work habits, ample, the pervasive lifetime conse- main, and the conflict between have books or whatever else is re- quences of intelligence – measured equal opportunity and politics quired for mastering the subjects, as IQ – have been summarized by advocating equal outcomes per- Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 45 sists. Only by accepting these lars squandered on a technological nist politics by drawing from the hard truths about intelligence school palace.” findings of Linda Gottfredson and will society find humane solu- Weissberg notes that the Marx- Helmuth Nyborg. tions to the problems posed by ist-lite thinking of educational re- For example, Linda Gottfredson the variations in general men- formists is best summarized in the estimates that a minimum of IQ tal ability. following sentence: “Children can- 120 is needed to be competitive not learn in a bad school… make in high-level jobs. Furthermore, According to Weissberg, “most schools good and youngsters will blos- Helmuth Nyborg has shown that of America’s educational woes would som.” He views this as “counterpro- only 37% of the workforce at that vanish if these indifferent, trouble- ductive anthropomorphic thinking, level will be female. At IQ 130 some students left when they had ab- as if tables and chairs or the street, (+2SD), males comprise 82% of sorbed as much as they were going to not students, flunk tests.” the workforce; at IQ 145 (+3SD), learn and were replaced with learn- In education the great taboos are males comprise 88% of the work- ing-hungry students from Korea, Ja- sex and racial differences in cogni- force, and at IQ 160 (+4SD), asso- pan, Vietnam, India, Russia, Africa tive ability. The race taboo forbids ciated with genius, the percentage and the Caribbean. In an instant, mention that Asians are generally is 97%. (See: Nyborg, “Sex-Re- all the clamour for … smaller classes, slightly smarter than whites, and lated Differences in general in- … social services, teaching the test, those two groups, smarter than telligence g, brain size and social innovative pedagogy, recruiting bet- US blacks, who typically score one status - http://eugenik.dk/static/ ter teachers, accountability and all standard deviation (15 IQ points) bilag009.pdf ) the rest, would seem antiquated, below the mean. Male Ashkenazi Weissberg does not flinch from perhaps akin to the once popular la- Jews typically score at IQ 109. revealing painful truths about stu- ment over America’s youngsters being Weissberg explains that “all at- dents enrolling in teachers colleg- undernourished.” The near certain- tempts to equalize those intellectu- es: “It is an open secret in today’s ty that failing students find most al scores have failed. Even IQ tests research-oriented universities that school lessons beyond their com- that do not rely on vocabulary or their Schools of Education attract prehension and that their aversion culture uncover the overall racial the least talented faculty, the least to schooling is beyond remediation pattern … Differences across racial proficient students… Among edu- remains politically unacceptable. groups are ubiquitous and inequal- cators, shoddy science is not only Weissberg also argues that what- ity across demographic groups is tolerated, it is often venerated… ever current education bureaucra- just a fact of life.” This is consis- Absolutely nothing can impede cies advocate, it is not education. tent with the views expressed by the deplorable proliferation of The explanation for the persistence Thomas Sowell in a recent article education nonsense…Add to the of so-called educational reforms is titled “Race, IQ, black crime, and confusing mayhem economic self- that educational failure is generally facts liberals ignore” (available at interest.” more profitable, financially and http://www.sullivan-county.com/ Weissberg offers sixteen pages otherwise, than success. “Failing id5/sowell.htm). of works cited, in addition to a test scores only beget more money, While Weissberg does examine considerable number of research, more jobs, and more lucrative fool- the depressing effect on academic government and media reports. ishness to keep the failed educational and professional standards of femi- He states clearly: “Bad schools are complex afloat. If junior can’t read, nist politics, he does not provide as blameless.” Absolving students, somebody else is to blame, the gov- much documentation on this issue complicit teachers and education ernment should fix the problem. The as he does for race. He could have managers may sustain widespread typical result is yet another education substantiated his point about femi- employment, but will not result in gimmick, or tens of millions of dol- 46 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Johnny or Jane learning grammar or fractions. Quoting Weissberg again: “Something else is the problem in the official orthodoxy and it is so per- vasive that opinion polls on curing educational woes avoid citing stu- dents themselves …To be blunt, it’s the stupid, stupid.” As for how to motivate students, Weissberg explains: “Family life, as stereotypically exemplified by hard- nosed, education-obsessed Jewish and Asian parents, undoubtedly far out- ranks schools and not even teachers belittling knowledge can subvert this home-based pressure.” Weissberg also condemns “the feminization of motivational psy- chology, the aversion towards aggres- sion and competition, the emphasis on sharing and all else striking boys as girlie. The next generation of en- gineers, scientists, researchers and all of the leading edge of technological advance will derive, almost entirely, from motivated boys.” ing to close race-related gaps and pro- maintains the social peace. “Para- Weissberg offers a telling com- moting academic excellence are ad- doxically, expensive ‘reform as peace- parison between high school and ministratively incompatible and… keeping’ may be wealth-producing, college sports teams, where train- serve no useful purpose other than to fiscal waste aside. ‘Excess’ school em- ing is ruthless, failure leads to ex- placate a few egalitarian ideologues.” ployees are also avid consumers.” pulsion and performance standards Weissberg encourages paren- In his concluding chapter, are pushed ever higher. tal free choice, including char- Weissberg emphasizes the need for For the state and parents, cogni- ter schools, vouchers and home “An Honest Political Platform.” For tive talent and motivation are the schooling, which all work to those concerned about their chil- places to invest. Politics aimed at “insulate instruction from the dren’s realizable potential in educa- eliminating race-related gaps in liberal (if not radical) ideological tion and the fate of our nation in education attainment cannot suc- domination imposed by today’s left- an increasingly competitive world, ceed. Such gaps are “ubiquitous and leaning education establishment.” Bad Students, Not Bad Schools is re- enduring,…have resisted countless He encourages breaking the gov- quired reading. 3 expensive remediation efforts, … ernment’s education monopoly. dumb down learning and corrupt ef- Weissberg concedes that trans- Jeffrey Asher is a retired professor of forts to find genuine solutions.” The forming schools into social wel- sociology time has come to realize that “try- fare is not necessarily mistaken – it Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 47 Book Review: New Applications For An Ancient Art By Jeffrey Asher A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Irvine suggests many Stoic in- someday be lost to us. (…) Stoic Joy, by William tellectual techniques to eventually More generally, we should keep attain tranquility. Readers are ad- in mind that any human ac- B. Irvine, Oxford vised to avoid the enticements of tivity that cannot be carried on University Press, New fame and fortune; to use negative indefinitely must have a final York, 2009 visualization – imagining how your occurrence. (…) There will be a W illiam B. Irvine’s book last time you hear the sound of resuscitates Stoicism snow falling, watch the moon from abandonment rise, feel the warmth of a child over 2000 years ago. The book falling asleep in your arms, or is intended for non-philosophic make love … thereafter your readers, who will likely be grateful. last breath.” He writes clearly, including a lively Irvine encourages readers to be- wit. Irvine offers ancient guides for come thoughtful observers of their a life inspired by tolerance, dignity, own life, so they can better identify tranquility, virtue and possibly joy. the sources of distress and eventu- The engulfing mass media dis- ally avoid many sources of pain. tract our reason, warning of un- If we could see ourselves as others controllable imminent disasters, see us, we might never leave home. local and global. We are beset with The Stoics hope that, through ra- offers of illusory rescue, with con- tional perspective and restraint, we sumption, pop psychology, con- can attain a fulfilling life. spiracy theories and unfocused Citing Marcus Aurelius, Irvine life could be worse; to accept fatal- rage. As ever, a functional philoso- talks of the importance of prizing ism about the past and present, but phy of life is welcome. only things of true value. From not the future; to put off pleasure Stoicism offers a direction to Epictetus, he draws guidance on so as to appreciate it more; to en- life based on tranquility and ful- how to be more content with what gage usefully with others and ful- fillment. “The Stoics’ interest in we have, to prepare for loss of trea- fill the responsibilities we owe; to logic is a natural consequence of sure, comforts, health, affection dismiss insults; to rise above anger, their belief that man’s distinguish- and to plan in dignity for the end preferably with humour; to mini- ing feature is his rationality.” Irvine of life. mize worry, to focus effort on the explains ancient Stoic wisdom as Irvine concedes that some peo- problems that can be controlled; to a valuable tool to deal with mod- ple seem ‘congenital’ Stoics. Some adapt to the increasing disabilities ern life’s problems, crises and trag- readers may find that they intuited of old age and to rise above over- edies. He warns that a life lacking Stoic principles by which they al- whelming grief. a coherent philosophy will be be- ready direct their lives. As a high deviled with daily dissatisfactions, “We need to keep firmly in school student, this reviewer wel- which may amount, in retrospect, mind that everything we value comed Bertrand Russell’s recom- to a misguided life. and the people we love may mendation to vanquish fear: “Ask 48 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 yourself the worst outcome from a practice abandonment of our Insults, On Putting Up With Put – crisis, plan for the worst, then any- goods, to experience poverty. Sure- Downs. The best response to an in- thing less – even still alive - may be ly that is a self-serving illusion, sult is not vindictive repartee, but welcomed as a partial rescue.” Hu- since the game is temporary. The self-deprecating humour. “We im- mility, praised by Jewish sages, also imaginer knows he may determine ply that we don’t take the insulter prevents the pride that precedes a when he should return to a pleas- and his insults seriously. Nor do we fall. ant home, food and comforts. The take ourselves too seriously.” Stoicism provides an explana- billions of people who have noth- Irvine credits Stoic discipline tion for almost all the ills that may ing to offer but their bodies do not for allowing “fewer negative emo- befall your life: yourself. The Stoic need Stoicism to imagine depriva- tions… We will find that we enjoy will look “for all benefit and harm tion. For them, too often, death is things as they are … we will ex- to come from himself. … We have a welcome release from misery. perience a degree of tranquility… it entirely within our power to A few contradictions seem evad- The reward for doing one’s duty is prevent viciousness and cupidity ed: Seneca advised the psychopath a good life.” from finding a home in our soul. Nero, who ordered Seneca’s death For those guides alone, Irvine’s (…) We will blame ourselves, not at age 65. What virtue could Sen- “The Good Life” is well worth external circumstances, when our eca have seen in serving Nero? Per- reading. 3 desires are thwarted.” If we had haps not even a Stoic could evade chosen wisely, acted prudently, a tyrant. Jeffrey Asher is a retired professor of reconsidered, life might be better. Irvine offers a chapter titled On sociology. The Stoic day for transformation by virtue is today. “What Stoics discover … is Invenire Selected ideas from Who do we that willpower is like muscle Books think we are? – What accounts for power … Stoics can transform Canada’s apparent success at peaceful themselves into individuals re- co-existence in this country of markable for their courage and such remarkable human diversity? self-control.” Is there a unique Canadian modus There are some sections of the vivendi which keeps us talking and book that appear unconvincing. accommodating rather than ruling, Irvine frequently claims that evo- deciding and excluding? And lutionary analysis confirms Sto- what about social cohesion? Is the icism. Such retrospective pseudo- Canadian model sustainable? Can we science typically imposes current keep it all together when there is so politics on the past. Half a century little to bind citizens of such diverse ago, early humans were claimed as backgrounds and interests? Is it even primitive communists, reinterpret- a good idea to talk about it? Quality ed later as nascent entrepreneurs, paperback, 162 pp, 2009, subsequently claimed as directed ISBN 978-0-9813931-1-7 $19.95 by wise women and goddesses. Such ‘scientific’ justification claims Also as an e-book: www.commonerspublishing.com/ebooks inevitably amount to humbug. Irvine recommends that we Order from www.commonerspublishing.com or your local bookstore Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 49 Book Review: The Christian Invention Of The Human – John Bryson Atheist Delusions: The Roman culture, “[t]his massive talism, the most splendid achieve- Christian Revolution and epochal revision of humanity’s ments of which were infused by vision of reality was so improbable what Hart calls a “glorious sad- and its Fashionable as to strain the limits of our under- ness.” The early imperial age was Enemies, by David standing of historical causality.” also marked by the flourishing of Bentley Hart, Yale For Hart, this revolution, at its Gnostic philosophies and cults most fundamental, was no less than of escape from the conditions of University Press, 2009 earthly life, “a twilit world of per- T he title of this book is mis- vasive spiritual despondency and leading. Hart deals only religious yearning.” It was into this tangentially with the “new tenebrous world that Christianity atheists” whom he dismisses as suddenly appeared “like a meteor theologically ignorant lightweights in a clear sky.” and examples of a secular “funda- Christianity’s ultimate triumph mentalism” which, like its religious was by no means inevitable, at counterpart, makes no effort to least from a historico-critical per- understand the beliefs and tradi- spective. Given the intellectual, so- tions that it so savagely dismisses. cial and political norms of the day, The real value of this book lies Christian claims that all the gods, in Hart’s rendering of what he spirits and lesser beings of pagan calls the “Christian Revolution,” cosmology were somehow subject an arresting term normally associ- to a crucified criminal from Pal- ated with rapid, usually violent, estine was considered outrageous. change. In this case, it is intended Indeed, under Roman law, Christ to emphasize the radical nature of was accorded the status of a slave, the enormous transformation of the “Christian invention of the hu- that is to say, a non-person, with “thought, sensibility, culture, mo- man.” The pagan world, for all its no charter rights whatsoever. The rality and spiritual imagination” cultural accomplishments, reflect- fact that early Christians delighted that Christianity wrought within a ed most strikingly in the “Greek in this designation ( Phillipians pagan world dominated by Rome. miracle,” was a self-enclosed sacral 2:7) while extending full humanity Christian beliefs and values, order based on a hierarchy of pow- to persons of every class and con- whether celebrated or deplored, are er, atop which sat, impervious, im- dition was viewed by the Roman now so much a part of our intellec- perturbable, a “Great God” served authorities as subversive. And they tual baggage that Christianity’s rise by lesser, often capricious and bru- were right. in the middle centuries of the Ro- tal gods and spirits. Below them The theological disputes of the man Empire is accepted with a cer- were the kings, nobles, priests and early Church are frequently dis- tain degree of inevitability. Hart, a prophets to whom the mass of so- missed by contemporary critics as classicist by training and philoso- ciety was in thrall. incomprehensible, not to say bi- pher/ theologian by profession, It was a culture governed, as the zarre. And it is true that they are argues on the contrary that, from great 19th century historian Jacob certainly foreign to modern preoc- the perspective of pre-Christian Burkhardt showed, by a sense of fa- cupations. But as Hart points out, 50 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 they were central to the develop- antique culture from its “glorious survive the waning of Christian be- ment of the Christian concept not sadness” while positing a theology liefs and culture. only of God but of the human per- of salvation centered on individual This brings us to Hart’s second son. The Council of Nicea (326), personality, which is both the im- major theme, what he calls the over which the Emperor Constan- age of God and the place where “ideology of modernism” and its tine presided, served to define the God meets us. No other Western centuries-long counter offensive nature of Christ’s divinity, while vision of the human person re- against the Christian Revolution. the Council of Chalcedon (451) motely resembles this one, and it Central to his argument is what he clarified his human nature. Hart opened the way to the most search- calls the “myth of the Enlighten- notes that it is impossible to exag- ing metaphysics of the self ever un- ment,” the modern age’s grand nar- gerate the cultural significance of dertaken to that point in Western rative about itself, “the triumph of these doctrines which, indirectly, thought. As Hart notes, “what it is critical reason over irrational faith, confirmed the indwelling of the di- to be human had been irrevocably of the progress of social morality vine image in each living soul and altered.” towards greater justice and free- elevated each human person to a Christianity’s effects were trans- dom, of the tolerance of the secular heretofore unimaginable dignity. formational, both individually and state and of the unquestioned ethi- Likewise, the doctrine of cre- socially. Christian communities cal primacy of either individualism ation ex nihilo (pagan culture as- exhibited a hitherto unseen opti- or collectivism (as the case might sumed the material universe to be mism despite the cruel treatment be).” Note the drollery. infinite in time) raised the princi- meted out to them in periodic Under such chapter headings ple of divine transcendence to an persecutions. Secondly, it led to as The Night of Reason, Destruction insurmountable height. “It pro- the creation of a vast and unprece- of the Past, The Death and Rebirth duced a vision of this world as the dented network of charitable insti- of Science, Intolerance and Persecu- gratuitous gift of divine love, good tutions, particularly hospitals and tion, Hart meticulously dismantles in itself, not merely, (as Plato held) shelters for the poor and orphaned. the components of the modernist the defective reflection of a higher, Indeed, the Emperor Julian the case against Christian culture. For truer world. History now acquired Apostate (331-363) sought, unsuc- example, progress in science was not only meaning but absolute cessfully, to revive pagan culture stalled prior to the 16th century significance, as it was within time by imitating the philanthropy of not by religious obscurantism, as that the entire drama of the fall, the “Galileans.” The new religion modern critics claim, but by the incarnation and salvation had been was also particularly attractive to enormous sway that Greek natural and was being worked out. The ab- women, in part for the enhanced philosophy continued to have over solute partition between temporal dignity it accorded them. scientific thinking in both East and and eternal truth (characteristic More broadly, this radical vision West. Indeed, it was Christian phi- of paganism) had been not only of man born free to choose or re- losophers, mostly clerics, who laid breached but annihilated.” Or in ject the good, of the great value and the theoretical and mathemati- a phrase favored by the Fathers of equal worth of every person regard- cal groundwork for Copernicus’ the early Church, “God became less of social or physical condition theory of a heliocentric universe man so that man might become or sex, continues to form the intel- and for Newton’s laws of motion. God.” lectual and spiritual substratum of Their cosmology, based as it was on This vision of things made an Western political and social life. the premise that the universe, be- enormous difference at a purely However, Hart questions whether ing created, had a beginning, and personal and psychological level. the secular values and ideals which developed through a rigorous log- It freed the spiritual longing of have their roots in Christianity can ic, were not so removed from the Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 51 modern scientific method as critics dispersed many such fabrications, because it was good; rather it was would have us believe. they still maintain a strong hold on good because he willed it. Taken Hart acknowledges that the the popular imagination and pro- to its logical conclusion, this line Church’s role in the Inquisition, vide useful weapons for the propo- of thinking implies that God’s es- which, along with the Crusades nents of a rigorous secularism. One sence is not his goodness but his and the treatment of Galileo, such figure is former French Presi- will. And if the will to power is form a trinity of secularist charges dent Valery Giscard d’Estaing who, what freedom is for God, then it against Christianity, was not al- in 2002, headed up the committee must be the same for us. ways as astute as it might have designated to draft the Constitu- This concept of freedom was been. That said, the more egregious tion of the European Union which, highly compatible with the devel- expressions of the Inquisition were in recounting the historical roots opments and spirit of the times – largely, as in Spain, the work of of modern Europe’s political and the rise of the middle class, early secular rulers for purposes of their social values, skipped directly from capitalism, the advent of a new own, in this case, the enforcement the Greeks and Roman experience “individualism” – which in turn of national unity following the to the Enlightenment, completely helped to inform the theological expulsion of the Moors. Recent ignoring the central role of Chris- concept of voluntarism. Filtered scholarship has shredded much tianity. One cannot blame such a through Descartes, father of mod- of the “black legend” mounted in travesty on ignorance, even cul- ern philosophy, this idea of free- the 16th century by anti-Catholic pable ignorance, but rather on a dom blossomed in the 18th and forces in England and the Nether- view of Europe’s future that leaves 19th centuries, putting Christian- lands regarding the Church’s role no place for religion other than as a ity on the defensive. in that operation. private and personal interest. Hart is particularly caustic in Similarly, the so-called “wars of Hart launches his own counter his treatment of the “myth of the religion” in 16th and 17th century attack in the concluding section Enlightenment,” that grand narra- France and Germany were largely of his book entitled Reaction and tive whereby an Age of Faith was dynastic conflicts with no doc- Retreat: Modernity and the Eclipse displaced by an Age of Reason. Its trinal motivations, wars in which of the Human. According to him, first and most blatant misrepresen- Catholic kings and princes allied the seeds of modernism’s eventual tation was the claim that there is themselves with Protestant kings triumph were planted in 14th cen- some sort of inherent opposition and princes against other Catho- tury scholasticism and founded in between faith and reason, and that lic kings and princes. Hart ob- the idea of “voluntarism,” which the modern period is distinguished serves that the Peace of Westphalia undermined the traditional con- by a unique devotion to reason. (1648) which brought an end to cept of freedom, a concept rooted This claim is based on the assertion the Thirty Years War, the last and in rational virtue, in choosing the that faith is mere credulous assent most devastating of the “wars of good. While fallen man could, by to unfounded premises, while rea- religion,” ushered in a new age of choosing evil, abuse his God-giv- son consists of obedience to em- terrestrial and eventually ideologi- en freedom, God, being perfectly pirical fact. cal wars, the brutality and destruc- good, was, by his nature, bound One need only point to the long tiveness of which were never before in principle to choose the good. tradition of Christian philosophy seen, certainly not in pre-modern Philosophers of the day suggested to refute the first claim. As for the Europe that this idea of freedom infringed second, it is obvious to anyone Thus has history been abused to another quality of God – his om- with experience of disinterested support the ideology of modern- nipotence. They went on to argue rational thought that it is based ism. While scholarship may have that God did not will something on a considerable element of faith. 52 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 What distinguishes the modern It should therefore not be sur- time that the Church was being age from the age of Christendom is prising that “religion,” which pos- officially recognized by the Roman that rationality serves different pri- its a quite different concept of state. It was, he argues, a reminder mary commitments, for example, freedom, is coming under such that the Kingdom of God is not of material and scientific progress, intense pressure. Nor should it be this world, and a call for the pres- versus knowledge of God and the surprising that modern society ap- ervation of the Church’s spiritual soul’s eternal salvation. pears impermeable to any counter aspirations in the face of tempta- Hart argues that, far from be- claims based on rational, moral tions arising from newly acquired ing an “Age of Reason,” our times and historical arguments, since its temporal power. This suggestion reflect in many ways “the eclipse position is based not on reason, calls to mind earlier musings by of reason’s authority as a cultural but rather on a collective “cultural then Cardinal Ratzinger (Salt of value. The modern age is notable, will.” The noted American politi- the Earth, 1996) that, perhaps, in large measure, for the triumph cal philosopher, Fr James Schall, the future of Christianity will be of inflexible and unthinking dog- has long argued that, while the characterized by small, seemingly matism in every sphere of human Church’s intellectual position in insignificant, groups that live in an endeavor, including the sciences, society has never been stronger, its intensive struggle against evil and and for a flight from rationality to cultural position has never been bring good – that is to say, God – any number of fundamentalisms, weaker. Hart’s account of modern- to the world. religious and secular.” Indeed, for ism helps to explain why. What is one to make of this ex- Hart, the 18th century apotheosis Modern popular culture appears traordinarily learned, highly enter- of reason was au fond a way of plac- increasingly to reflect Nietzsche’s taining and occasionally provoca- ing an attractive “frame” around gravest concern about what “god- tive polemic? Napoleon is said to the idea of freedom, so as to por- less man” would in fact be like, have expressed great admiration tray it as the rational autonomy not the heroic Ubermensch of his for Islam, since it was able to con- and moral independence that lay dreams, but his antithesis, the “last quer a good part of Asia and the beyond the intellectual infancy of man” (letzte Mensch) of his fears, a Mediterranean world in less than “irrational” belief, an idea that has pusillanimous individual, tired of a century. By comparison, it took achieved full public expression two life, who takes no risks and seeks almost 300 years for Christian- centuries later. only comfort and security, and for ity to secure official recognition. Hart links this modern concept whom nothing great is possible. It By Hart’s account, Christianity’s of freedom to Nietzsche’s “will to is difficult to see the Christian call hard won achievement was by far power.” As that most prescient of to heroic virtue making much of the more impressive since it first 19th century thinker anticipated, an impression on such a creature. involved a cultural transformation having passed beyond good and What of the future? Can Chris- of Roman society, a transformation evil, modern philosophy has ele- tianity make a comeback, experi- that affected all aspects of life and vated choice itself to greatest good, ence a second spring? Hart is not one that proved irreversible. Hart whether it be choice in entertain- particularly encouraging. The is, therefore, fully justified in call- ment or lifestyle or the termination prospect of a general revival in the ing it a Revolution. of innocent life in the womb. With West appears at best remote. He Hart’s attack on the “ideology no external points of moral refer- points instead to a possible mod- of modernism” is somewhat more ence, principles, or beliefs, modern ern equivalent of the third century tendentious – although he is quick man lives in a world void of mean- desert fathers whose movement of to point out that he does not in- ing or value, save what he wishes to cultivating charity through prayer clude modern medicine and other bring to it himself. and fasting took root just at the scientific achievements, nor even Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 53 modern philosophical method, so- damentalism.” of being, the modern mind seems cial ideology or political thought. The validity of any theory, determined to ignore the collective His account of how the current whether scientific or social, rests wisdom of the species as reflected “dictatorship of relativism” arose on its explanatory power. Hart’s in our cultural and intellectual inexorably from the Enlighten- account of how the modern idea of heritage. King Oedipus, on learn- ment concept of freedom is too freedom came to be grounded on a ing the truth about his past, put Hegelian for my taste, but it is wholly subjective notion of choice out his own eyes. Modern society instructive that the greatest cham- has a number of points in its fa- seems to have blinded itself for fear pion of reason in our so-called Age vor, notably modernity’s refusal to of learning the truth about itself. of Reason has been the head of the acknowledge certain self-evident 3 Roman Catholic Church, that bas- truths, such as the personhood John Bryson is a retired diplomat tion of so-called “irrational” faith of the child in the womb and the who divides his time between his li- – this at a time when most of our centrality of a virtuous life to the brary and his garden. institutions of higher learning have pursuit of happiness. In its search become centers of a mindless intel- for more practical, not to say more lectual conformity, not to say “fun- technical fixes, to the “problem” “The notion of less litigation and more direct in- volvement of mother and dad in finding a work- able solution is a refreshingly novel and workable concept. Mr Fanaian clearly understands that resolution of child rearing issues is a human, not a gender issue. ...this book is a welcome primer for divorce laws based upon love of children...” —Roger Gallaway, co-chair, Joint Senate- Commons Committee on Child Custody and Access. “Loving Law” is a book about reform of family law. Author Lagha Fananian, Ph.D. is an Ottawa family law lawyer and a former professor of law. Some of the content of his book is based on his spiritual beliefs and some is based on his experiences in family law courts. He is separated and has two adult children. Paperback: ISBN 978-0-88970-118-0 128 pages, 51/2x81/2” $16.95 Also available as an ebook. Order from www.commonerspublishing.com or your local bookstore 54 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 Here and There and Nowhere Politically incorrect observations – Richard Bastien, Observer Editor OBSERVATION: About the Middle Ages I Locke and Thomas Jefferson, but n an essay titled Culture and of the Protestant Reformation, from the Catholic legal tradition. The Light of Faith, published the Enlightenment, 19th century And while some will concede that in the February issue of First liberalism and 20th century secu- medieval monks copied books and Things, Robert Louis Wilken peers larism. While there are some dif- preserved literacy, very few know into how Christianity embraced ferences of views between these they taught medieval Europeans and transformed classical culture. various movements, they all share agriculture, metallurgy, the brew- He begins by noting that, thanks to in the belief that the Middle Ages ing of beer, and much more be- the Enlightenment, it has become were dominated by the Catholic sides. fashionable to sneer at Christians Church and that the latter acted as History is written by the victors for debasing the legacy of classi- a major impediment to truth, free- and the victors often succeed in cal culture. He quotes in particular dom and progress in the West. controlling popular language. 18th century British historian Ed- Fortunately, modern scholar- ward Gibbon who, in his History of ship, often the result of secular OBSERVATION: the Decline and Fall of the Roman historians like Edward Peters, Jon- Empire, disparaged Christians for The Cheerfulness of athan Riley-Smith and Jeffrey Bur- having “vitiated the faculties of ton Russell, has exposed many of Chesterton the mind” and “extinguished the these distortions and lies for what G.K. Chesterton had many vir- hostile light of philosophy and sci- they are. However, this revisionist tues and cheerfulness was perhaps ence” that shone in the Greco-Ro- state of mind has not filtered down the most prominent. It transpires man world. Wilken then dutifully into popular culture, the result be- from several passages of his work, notes that, had it not been for the ing that most college students are but in none more than in his Au- work of medieval monks who cop- still being thought that the Middle tobiography, where he recounts an ied and transmitted to later genera- Ages were an age of “darkness” and unexpected encounter between his tions the works of the Greeks and priestly wickedness. Indeed, very friend Hilaire Belloc – a French Romans, “thereby preserving the few university professors are even born Catholic British subject and wisdom and learning of antique aware that it was “Dark Age” Eu- Member of Parliament – on the culture largely intact,” Gibbon rope that gave the West the univer- one hand, and another very fa- would never have had a basis for sity system – a system developed mous and distinguished author on his attacks on Christendom. by the Catholic Church under the the other. The encounter, described Foolish as it is, Gibbon’s view has patronage of the papacy –, or that as a “rather ridiculous private inci- become the conventional wisdom Western law itself is very largely a dent,” took place in Rye, on the about the Middle Ages, at least in gift of the Church – derived from Sussex coast, where Chesterton the English-speaking world. The Canon Law, the first modern legal was vacationing. The other author Oxford English Dictionary gives system in Europe. Similarly, very was the novelist and literary critic two meanings for the word medi- few people with university educa- Henry James, an American who eval: “relating to the Middle Ages” tion are aware that we owe it to “had reacted against America and and “resembling or likened to the Catholic churchmen to have in- steeped his sensitive psychology in Middle Ages, especially in being troduced rational trial procedures everything that seemed most anti- cruel, uncivilized or primitive.” and sophisticated legal concepts quatedly and aristocratically Eng- While in French, in Italian and in place of the superstition-based lish.” in Spanish, the word is used only trials by ordeal that had character- James lived next door and, hav- in the former sense, in English it ized the Germanic legal order, or ing learned of Chesterton’s arrival, is used more often than not in the that the ideal of universal human decided to pay him a visit. Ches- latter, due mainly to the influence “rights” comes, not from John terton notes that he “was in point Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 55 of fact a very stately and courteous try, the gallantry, the tradition and Baring were a rather riotous old gentleman...But in all relations of lineage and locality, the life trio. One evening in 1907, Belloc of life he erred, if he erred, on the that had been lived beneath and Chesterton attended a party side of solemnity and slowness.” old portraits in oak-panelled in Soho, organized by the Liberal Having introduced themselves to rooms. And there, on the other MP Charles Masterman. Accord- each other, the two began talking side of the tea-table, was Eu- ing to Ward’s account, “at dinner “about the best literature of the rope, was the old thing that they all abandoned themselves to day,” when their conversation was made France and England, the childish enjoyment…They wore suddenly shattered by a “loud bel- posterity of the English squires paper caps. They romped round lowing noise resembling that of an and the French soldiers; ragged, the table. At midnight they were impatient foghorn.” It was Belloc unshaven, shouting for beer, thrown out. Then up rose Belloc “shouting for bacon and beer.” His shameless above all shades of with the remark: ‘I have antici- arrival came as a total surprise to poverty and wealth; sprawling, pated this moment and am ready Chesterton because he had reason indifferent, secure. And what for it.’” At his instigation, the wild to believe that Belloc was in France looked across at it was still the bunch took off to Maurice Baring’s “walking with a friend of his in the Puritan refinement of Boston; home “where a stupendous supper Foreign Office, a co-religionist of and the space it looked across awaited them.” In the early hours one of the old Catholic families.” was wider than the Atlantic. of the morning, Belloc and Ches- The two travellers had, however, terton were each standing on a “by some miscalculation…found It is only fair to say that my two chair, passionately debating in the themselves in the middle of their friends were at the moment so mock-manner of soapbox speak- travels entirely without money.” disreputable that even an Eng- ers in Hyde Park, while the rest of lish innkeeper was faintly at the crowd shouted or applauded to Their clothes collapsed and their hearts’ delight. fault in his unfailing nose for they managed to get into some Perhaps the greatest testimony gentlemen. He knew they were workmen’s slops. They had no to Chesterton’s heroic virtues came not tramps; but he had to rally razors and could not afford a from Belloc, who wrote the follow- his powers of belief to become shave. They must have saved ing: “All men one may say, or very completely convinced that they their last penny to recross the nearly all men, have one leading were a Member of Parliament sea…they arrived roaring for moral defect. Few have one leading and an official at the Foreign food and drink and derisively Christian virtue. That of Gilbert Office. But, though he was a accusing each other of having Chesterton was unmistakably the simple and even stupid man, secretly washed, in violation of virtue of Christian charity: a virtue I am not sure that he did not an implied contract between especially rare in writing men, and know more about it than Hen- tramps. In this fashion they rarest of all in such of them as have ry James. The fact that one of burst in upon the balanced tea- a pursuing appetite for controversy my friends insisted on having cup and tentative sentence of – that is, for bolting out the truth.” a bottle of port decanted and Mr Henry James. Faith, friendship and laughter carrying it through the streets of Rye, like a part of a religious somehow bind together in some Henry James had a name for unfathomable way. A few years procession, completely restored being subtle; but I think that ago, there was some talk about his confidence in the class to situation was too subtle for initiating a procedure to have the which such lunatics belonged. him. I doubt to this day wheth- Catholic Church proclaim Ches- er he, of all men, did not miss The official of the Foreign Of- terton a Saint. If this were ever the irony of the best comedy in fice was Maurice Baring, of the to happen, he could rightly be which he ever played a part. He Baring banking family and also called the “cheerful Saint” or, bet- left America because he loved a distinguished man of letters. In ter still, the “apostle of cheerful- Europe, and all that was meant Return to Chesterton, Maisie Ward ness.” This would make eminent by England or France; the gen- explains that Chesterton, Belloc sense as many saints are known to 56 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 have been generally joyful, even in did. Obviously, a society where re- the population. quite painful circumstances. The ligiosity is widespread will display • Almost half of all Americans say best example is undoubtedly Saint a greater sense of community and grace before meals, while the Thomas More who, on the day of solidarity than one where secular- other half almost never does. his execution, as he was mounting ism pervades the culture. Saying grace is a strong predic- the steps to the scaffold, declared tor of political and social views, to the officials: “I pray you, I pray The data from the authors’ 2006 including how people vote. you, Mr. Lieutenant, see me safe and 2007 surveys are truly myth- • Compared to their secular up and for my coming down, I shattering. For example: counterparts, religious Ameri- can shift for myself.” While on the • While there is a “God gap” in cans volunteer at much higher scaffold, he commented to the ex- American politics between the rates for both religious and ecutioner that his beard was com- devout, who generally support secular causes, give more money pletely innocent of any crime, and the Republican Party, and the to religious and secular chari- did not deserve the axe. He then less devout, who generally sup- ties, and are roughly twice as positioned his beard so that it not port the Democrats, there is engaged in their communities. be harmed. Chesterton was not ex- relatively little explicit politick- They are also more likely to do- ecuted for his faith, but he testified ing in American congregations. nate blood, help someone find a both in his life and in his writings Moreover, to the extent that the job and give money to a home- to the joy that inhabits the faithful. pulpit is politically involved, the less person. The reason for this His wit was nourished by his faith. involvement is more common is not their theology, but the friendship they make through OBSERVATION: their congregations. Religion in American Perhaps the most worrying part and Canadian society of Putnam and Campbell’s find- A book titled American Grace, ings is the emergence of religious co-written by Harvard’s Robert polarization in American culture. Putnam and Notre Dame’s Da- As the backgrounder issued by vid Campbell, has recently been the publisher (Simon & Schuster) getting quite a bit of attention, notes, “Americans are increasingly and for good reasons. Its thesis is concentrated at two opposite ends in liberal congregations than in of the religious spectrum – the that religion procures substantial conservative ones. net benefits to American society. highly religious of many faiths at • Americans are switching their one pole, and the avowedly secular Churchgoing makes Americans religion to match their poli- more sensitive to their neighbours’ at the other. The moderate, essen- tics, rather than the other way tially non-political religious middle needs, more engaged with their around. Among the politically communities and more generous that dominated America’s religious committed, the conservatives landscape in the decades following towards secular and religious chari- have rallied the most religious- ties than they would otherwise be. World War II is shrinking.” This ly conservative congregations, being said, there does not seem As evidence for this, Putnam and while liberals have become less Campbell report on a survey where to be any immediate prospect of a religious and more secular. religious war, as only a small per- people were asked whether they • The third largest “religious” agreed with the following state- centage of those who claim no re- group in the U.S. is now made ligious affiliation define themselves ment: “These days, people need to up of the 17% of the population look after themselves and not over- as atheists, all others considering that has no religious affiliation themselves “spiritual.” ly worry about others.” Surprising- at all. The “no religion” types are ly, 48% of secular people agreed, The extent to which these vari- ahead of mainline Protestants, ous trends are replicated in Canada whereas only 26% of people with a who now represent only 14% of high degree of religious conviction is difficult to gage. Canadians are Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 57 58 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 generally considered as being more cultural, social and political terms These were not just words, but secular than their neighbours to the remains to be seen. But one can’t a real test case of manhood: men South, a view supported by studies help wondering about the impli- were effectively called upon to step showing that 43% of Americans at- cations this trend might have on aside so as to allow women and tend a religious service at least once the expansion of Islam. Secularists children to board lifeboats first. a week whereas only about 20% of would have us believe that their It was also a testimony to the Canadians do so. In the case of agnosticism/atheism is the way of fact that a person’s beliefs and teenagers, the difference is starker: the future. They will even claim worldview matter – and a testimo- while 50% of American teens at- that secularization reflects a “com- ny to the cultural and moral impli- tend church on a weekly basis, only ing of age” of the human spirit and cations of the Christian faith. 21% of their Canadian equivalent a freeing from all religious myths The Japanese Ambassador in does so. And there are other sig- and superstitious dogmas. In do- Washington at the time is said nificant differences. According to ing so, they deny that the “desire to have written to the American Reginald Bibby, a University of Le- for God is written in the human President and to have told him thbridge sociologist and author of heart.” While grudgingly admit- that, had the Titanic been a Japa- a soon-to-be published Beyond the ting that man has behaved as a nese ship, the gender composition Gods and Back, while one third of religious being throughout history of those who survived would likely the U.S. population identifies itself down to the present, they associ- have been quite different. Why? with evangelical Christianity, only ate such behaviour to an immature Because, explained the Ambassa- 8% does so in Canada. dor, in Japanese culture, men are Yet there are also some similari- most important, followed by chil- ties between U.S. and Canadian dren, and then women. trends, the most important be- One can’t help wondering what ing the growth in the number of an ambassador from a Muslim Canadians who “don’t believe in country would have said. One also God or a higher power,” a category has to wonder what contemporary which, presumably, approximates radical feminist would have to say the 17% of the American popula- on the subject. tion characterized by Putnam and stage of humanity, a stage from Whether the Japanese Ambas- Campbell as having “no religious which it must now emancipate sador actually wrote such a letter affiliation at all.” According to Bib- itself. What these new atheist mis- probably will never be ascertained. by’s surveys, the percentage of the sionaries fail to recognize is that But at least one thing is clear: Canadian adult population who they are creating a “spiritual void” Christian faith and the Christian don’t believe in God or a higher which Islamists stand ready to fill religion entail unique real-world power grew from 16% in 1985 to and may well succeed in filling. In consequences for justice and other 18% in 2005. More importantly, the language of old-style Marxism, virtues. the percentage of Canadian teen- one could say that the new athe- agers who think likewise grew from ists are “objective” allies of the Is- OBSERVATION: 15% in 1984 to 33% in 2008. Bib- lamists. Yikes! Secular Humanism by also released a survey in 2007 vs. Christianity that found believers more likely OBSERVATION: than atheists to place a higher value Sinking of the Titanic An old friend, who is a disciple on “love, patience and friendship,” of Christopher Hitchens, Richard April 14th is the anniversary of Dawkins & Co., recently sent me a finding consistent with those of the sinking of the Titanic. Putnam and Campbell. the following e-mail: As most people who have seen The upshot of all this seems to the movie Titanic (1997) will re- Dear Richard, be that atheism/secularism is the member, one of the most well- As events all over the world in- trendiest and fastest-growing “be- known phrases associated with the dicate, love of God is the root of lief system,” at least in the Western event is “Women and Children all evil. And that’s why secular “village.” How that will play out in First”. humanism is Homo Sapiens’ only Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 59 AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER June 2011 Dear Prime Minister Harper, with you have been given a majority Canadian voters have made a clear choice in this election and a strong mandate to govern. has the National Citizens Coalition ctive government – something Canadians want a stable produ championed for over 40 years. to voters. ure and to keep your promises Now it is time to look to the fut tax cuts create jobs. s. The country needs jobs and Do not ba ck down from planned tax cut should cessary government programs soaring out of control, all unne res With government spending poration disclose their expenditu nm ent department and crown cor be cut. Ensure that every Gover privatize those we can like the CBC. through a clear and tra nsparent accounting system, and ians choice in care system and to allow Canad We urge the gover nment to reform our ailing health their healthcare. line with MP pension plan , bringing it in There should be an im mediate end to the gold- plated the private sector. ent must t protected by law. This governm It is unacceptable that Ca nadians’ property rights are no Freedoms. The government can ined in the Charter of Rights and ensure property rights are enshr ting choice in selling their crops by ending the now nally give We stern Canadian farmers marke Wheat Board monopoly. dollar quickly to eliminate the billion With a majority, we exp ect the Conservatives to move Long-Gun Registry. and a mockery of our justice system Human Rights Commission s should be abolished. They are llars. an appalling waste of our tax do ced to join a union work. No one should ever be for The gover nment must protect the right to hold a job. and pay union dues in order to sidies for political bold action to end welfare sub The new major ity government must also take cted Senate. out an equal, e ective and ele pa rties and persevere to bring ab money, ing your government for more ry day there will be groups ask g We realize that eve ns Coalition will be there, holdin higher taxes and more ba il outs, but The National Citize ing Canadians. g the best interests of hard-work the governm ent accountable and protectin lly for Canada” in which we carefu We hope you will take the op portunity to read our “Agenda of Canadians. address the needs and concerns izens Coalition, s who support the National Cit On behalf of the thousands of loyal Canadian Peter C oleman President and CEO Canadian ns Coalition 60 National CitizeObserver Spring nationalcitizens.ca No. 1 w. 2011 Vol. 1. ww w.nationa hope! So there are only two op- Justin Press tions: Destroy the competing reli- gion or scrap faith. A new independent Canadian Catholic publishing house. My response: Dear friend, OUR LATEST TITLES As regards your basic contention that love of God is the root of all evil, I can only note that you pro- vide no evidence to support it and that, indeed, there is considerable evidence to the contrary. But let’s leave that aside for the moment and focus rather on your sugges- tion that Christians really ought to convert to secular humanism. Using strictly utilitarian consid- erations, your proposal seems rath- er unattractive. Secular humanism A collection of four stories Eleven Canadians who Ian Hunter is our best is on the wane. It’s been taken over from the many worlds converted to Catholicism observer in the legal and by postmodernism – the exaltation of Michael O’Brien’s tell their amazing stories quasi-legal dimensions of imagination. The fault line in their words. Includes Canada’s descent into ‘the of the will and the rejection of both of good and evil runs not former media baron tyranny of the fatuous.’ He faith and reason. only through the tales but Conrad Black, First has a memorable prose Denis Diderot, one of the great through the hearts of the Things founder Father voice, and a sharp poetical mind. His commentaries figures of the Enlightenment and a O’Brien’s characters. Richard Neuhaus and embody the best qualities to father of secular humanism, once Includes four of his columnist David which the ‘politically correct’ haunting paintings. $9.95 Warren. $19.95 said that “the philosopher thinks of are allergic. $24.95 posterity as the believer thinks of the other world.” Yet, less than 250 years later, posterity does not look 613-729-2247 www.justinpress.ca promising at all for secular human- ism – secular humanists aren’t re- Around 1770, the French began to is for the birds! producing themselves and are fast limit births and this is one of the The response of religious believ- heading toward extinction. major reasons why English is the ers to atheism is equally simple: As for believers, whether Ortho- dominant language in the world Without transcendence, there is dox Jews, Orthodox Christians or today. no life! Muslims, they have relatively high Why do secular humanists have The latter view is both philo- birth rates and are bound to inherit so few children and religious be- sophical and scientific, i.e. it’s the earth when the secular human- lievers so many? I suspect that it’s borne out by demographic trends. ists are extinct. Outside the West, because believers are convinced Conclusion: Scientific evidence the Christian faith is thriving, that life is good in itself. It is an suggests I’m on the winning team particularly in China and Africa. absolute good, not only for the liv- and you on the losing team. So why should I become a secular ing, but also for those who are not This being said, one should humanist when secular human- yet among the living. This means never forget that, in this game, it’s ism itself is going to the dogs and high birth rates are based on some never too late to join the winning the Christian faith continues to kind of metaphysical anchoring. team. 3 spread? I know the response of new Richard Bastien is editor of Cana- Birth rates are important. atheism to all this: Transcendence dian Observer. Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. No. 1 61 A Man’s Place is Home – David Beresford I was once asked by a poll- stead of a living room; so in my into a crying room for you, and ster whether I believed that a house I have just that, and carve serve you right for being fruitful woman’s place was the home. duck decoys in my living room. and multiplying. “Of course!”, I answered, and In a socialist house I could not do At the end of the 19th century, waited for the next question to that; in a condominium I could Pope Leo 13th published a defense come, whether I believed a man’s not do that; but in my own home of private property in his encyclical place is the home. It was never I can. letter Rerum Novarum. He wrote: “If a workman’s wages be suffi- asked. I do not know why. cient to enable him comfortably to Most people believe a man’s support himself, his wife, and his place is home whether they admit it children, he will find it easy, if he or not. Home is often slandered as be a sensible man, to practice thrift, being a dull place where we watch and … thus secure a modest source 100’s of channels on the television of income…Men always work and play computer games. In spite harder and more readily when they of this, we know instinctively that work on that which belongs to a man’s place is home. The proof? them…The right to possess private In death, our best men, our sol- property is derived from nature, diers, are brought home. This is what distinguishes con- not from man…The State would The writer G. K. Chesterton ar- servatives from Puritans. We can therefore be unjust and cruel if un- gued that the adventure of life is define a Puritan as one who thinks der the name of taxation it were to that any enjoyment we experience deprive the private owner of more most evident in the freedom that in life is bad. There are many Pu- than is fair.” exists in our homes, a freedom ritans in our midst: Puritans who It is important to recognize that that approaches anarchy. You may insist that having a cigar on Christ- this, the foundation document of earn some money, and then you mas day is bad, or having a glass modern Catholic teaching on so- can purchase whatever house you of beer at an outdoor picnic, or cial justice, begins with this first want. In so doing you are free to children, or a tomato garden in the principle of ownership and private eat breakfast at midnight, or even front yard instead of a lawn – the property, tantamount to a defense keep a chicken in your toolshed if list of Puritan don’ts is endless. of conservative first principles. the neighbors do not find out. But Do not let the fact that many To deny private property, to tax you cannot have all the houses. modern Puritans claim to be athe- away the chance of a job stops Ca- Socialists want to be able to live in ists fool you. Their belief that en- nadians from having the chance of all the houses and pay for none of joying life is bad gives them away earning their own homes. To do them: the avaricious want to own for what they are. In an earlier age, this, to replace the opportunity of all the houses, and so have no time our recycling zealots would have ownership with paternal govern- to live in any. condemned exchanging presents ment subsidies is to force families We are free to choose one house, on Christmas Day. Did you drink to live without freedom or even the one wife or husband, and then a pop? Then you must pay for your hope of freedom. This is unjust. break whatever conventions we pleasure, sort your garbage and This is a sacrilege. please so long as it is not a crime. I find the right coloured bin. Enjoy David Beresford is a writer and car- have never understood why I could the blessings of a new baby? Then toonist living in Barry’s Bay, On- not have a woodworking shop in- tario. 62 Canadian Observer Spring 2011 Vol. 1. 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