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The theme of The Great Divide is that the populations of the democratic world, from Boston to Berlin, Vancouver to Venice, are becoming increasingly divided from within, due to a growing ideological incompatibility between modern liberalism and conservatism. This is partly due to a complex mutation in the concept of liberal democracy itself, and the resulting divide is now so wide that those holding to either philosophy on a whole range of topics: on democracy, on reason, on abortion, on human nature, on homosexuality and gay marriage, on freedom, on the role of courts … and much more, can barely speak with each other without outrage (the favorite emotional response from all sides). Clearly, civil conversation at the surface has been failing -- and that could mean democracy is failing.

This book is an effort to deepen the conversation. It is written for the non-specialist, and aims to reveal the less obvious underlying ideological forces and misconceptions that cause the conflict and outrage at the surface -- not with any expectation the clash of values will evaporate, but rather that a deeper understanding will generate a more intelligent and civil conversation.

As an aid to understanding, the book contains a handful of Tables directly comparing modern liberal and conservative views across a range of fundamental moral and political “issues” so that curious readers can answer the book’s main question: “Where Do You Stand?” An interesting result in testing this exercise has been the number of people who find they “think” one way, but “live” another.    

 

Good Reading
Essays (37)
Thursday
Apr142016

What Does It Mean To Be A Conservative?

 

This is a slightly-edited transcript of a brief speech I gave to the Conservative Party of Canada, in Oshawa Ontario, January 31, 2016.

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              People often ask me:  "What it has felt like to be a conservative thinker and writer, for the past thirty years?"

               I reply: "I feel like a man who has been standing on a rock, in a leftward drifting sea.

               In the misty distance, there is a ship drifting to the left. And the voices on the deck are saying:

             'Look! Look! - there's a man out there ... drifting to the right!' "

               That image should resonate with everyone in this room, because you all know very well that any individual or group styling themselves "conservative" today is facing the same problem when it comes to voting: what should I do about moral and political drift? Do I change my principles, or change my party?

                It was the fine conservative thinker Russell Kirk, who wrote: “The conservative…will not surrender to the contagion of mass-opinion or the temptations of…power… [I]f he hopes to conserve anything at all, he must make his stand unflinchingly.”

               Which means each of you - and your party as a whole - must decide whether you want to be on the rock, or on the ship.

                This morning, I want to talk a little about how the true conservative differs; fundamentally; heart and soul; from all the other political species on offer - especially from the modern liberal, who must be distinguished from the classical liberal, as follows.

               The classical liberal was an anti-statist, who had a heartfelt desire to get all citizens to the same starting line. That is mostly why so many of them came to Canada and America. But the modern liberal has given up on that, and is now mostly concerned to get everyone to the same finish line. And he is willing to use massive tax-funded state power to do it.

                 My recently published book, The Great Divide: Why Conservatives and Liberals Will Never, Ever Agree, is a full treatment of this topic, of which I can only offer a brief sample this morning. If you are really and truly interested in where you stand - as compared to a modern liberal - on any of the 14 topics covered, such as: Freedom; Democracy; Morality; Reason; Equality; Religion - and on the three main moral questions of our time - abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia - you will find 14 Tables in the book allowing you to evaluate your personal level of conservatism, or modern liberalism. In a sense, the book is my attempt to explain what most of us don't see.

           Imagine a man walking along a road on a nice quiet day. Suddenly, he feels a tremor. Then he sees a huge ugly gash open in the road, right before his eyes, and he watches, terrified, as the rubble starts falling from the buildings. Immediately, he thinks: "it's an earthquake!"

            But, of course, what he sees is not the earthquake. It's the consequences of the earthquake. The real earthquake is invisible, in the grinding, tectonic forces way beneath the ground. Seismologists can "see" them with their instruments. But we can't.  My point is that  the ideological, moral, and political forces that drive policies on the surface of our life, are hard to see. My book is one citizen's attempt to give you an instrument that makes them visible.

             So today I want to speak a little about just a few of those forces, because in the end, they are the underlying forces that steer the policies and the parties at the surface: which is to say - that drive them together, or drive them apart. In the case of conservatism - of conserving what is good in society - they separate the  conservatives who want to stay on the conservative rock, from those who would rather jump onto the drifting ship.

            Let me speak a little now about freedom, human nature, the role of the state, the true nature of civil society, and finally, about those three watershed moral issues.

                                                             ~

            Historically, the most enduring topic dividing conservatives and liberals, is the question of individual freedom (or, what Americans often call liberty). There are hundreds of essays and discussion topics on my website. And one of them is called "Six Kinds of Freedom" - which I have edited and reproduced in the book. It surprises me to see that of the many thousands of downloads from this site every year - whether from the Phillipines, France, Australia, China, or ... Canada - about half are of this one single essay. It seems that people everywhere are interested in the meaning of freedom.

         I argue that for the modern liberal, freedom is perceived as some kind of innate quality that is inherent in all human beings as a right, and the operative word that currently signals the emotional invocation of this right, is: "choice." In our time, this has become a near-talismanic word, assumed to have the power to displace all social and moral custom, manners, traditions, and even to change or trash time-honoured laws the people have held dear for centuries. Indeed, the word "moral", and the word "choice",  are now conflated in the public mind, and we are close to believing that whatever someone freely chooses (such as what gender they want to be), makes their choice morally acceptable. Through this hyper-individualist process of exerting one's Will, morality is no longer conceived as a public good, but a private one.

          But the conservative, who loves freedom too, sees it not as an inherent right, but as a qualified, legally-limited, and hard-won historical and political achievement of the ages, that must of course be defended for the good it may do - but also guarded against for the damage it may do to the social and moral fabric of the people. The great Edmund Burke said something very important about freedom that supplies the entire conservative warning.

          He said: "Liberty, when men act in groups, is power." He meant that a simple peek into history will immediately show that people tend to hold the flag of liberty high, even when - especially when - perpetrating their atrocities. So for the conservative, freedom is always a qualified good; it is an instrument, like a shovel. You can dig a useful hole with it; or beat a man to death with it. So beware when liberals (and libertarians) begin their rant about individual freedom to justify whatever change, or perversion, elimination of the good they may be seeking. The conservative - the fellow standing on the rock - if he is really a conservative, will insist that the freedom of the people as a whole: the sum of all their human relations, institutions, enduring customs, traditions, and manners, must have priority over individual freedom. Or else ... where is the common good? Where is our democracy of the whole people? The pie produces the slices, the slices do not produce the pie.

              Which is only  to say that all true conservative thinkers, past and present, while very supportive of a core of qualified and restrained individual freedoms, are just as concerned about "social freedom." By this term, they do not at all mean any figment of government, or the state - entities rooted in a monopoly on power.

       Rather, what they are referring to is the authority of all the freely-created and inherited traditions, customs, and moral rights and obligations of society itself - (often called "civil society") to restrain, to direct, to coax, to shame - yes, I said it out loud: to shame! - but also to reward, and to encourage all free individuals by its myriad approvals, conscious and unconscious, to behave as free, but also as civil, and responsible human beings. In this brief paragraph I have pointed to one of the core reasons that conservatives are always wary of liberals carrying the banner of reason to make human society conform to their vision of the good. Namely, the plain fact that so much of all human action throughout the ages is not driven by reason, but rather, by emotions, passions, instincts, and unconscious forces of which we are quite often unaware. 

           But let's go back to the central role of civil society. While for the modern liberal, civil society is just the aggregate outcome of a reasoned contract freely-entered (or exited), and either sustained, or revoked, by freely-choosing individuals (the slices of the social pie); this is not so for the conservative. For this person, society is no contract made by self-important individuals claiming rights, who happen to be here today. It is, rather, an historical and organic achievement, a whole compact of all prior ages, that we inherit as a gift from millions of thoughtful predecessors, many of whom died creating it. Most importantly - and this surely reinforces the term "priority" - it is only such a free and thriving civil society that can possibly produce free, thriving, and responsible individuals, and (quite contrary to the liberal view) not the other way around. The pie comes first.

          To employ another image, "civil society", for the conservative, is like a horse pulling the cart of civilization along, stopping frequently to load it up with the free and responsible individuals it creates as it moves through history. The sickness of modern liberalism, is that it separates the cart from the horse - thinking only of the individuals in the cart, not of what makes the whole thing go forward - then shoots the horse!

        If you really think about it, the conservative notion of an organic society - not an aggregate, but a composite that is far more than the sum of its parts, the whole pie rather than just a bunch of isolated slices - is just what we used to call "democracy."  But what happened to it? Well, the letter W, and the Letter M, are the same. You can just flip the first letter upside-down and say that although democracy used to be about We; it is now about Me.  This up-ending of democracy - I call it "hyperdemocracy" - is the notion that democratic legitimacy, or sovereignty, is inherent in individuals, rather than in the whole people. It is an idea that happens to be sharply echoed in the three most important moral issues of our time, which I will get to in a moment. 

                                                   ~

         But first, let me touch briefly on another fundamental ideological divide between the liberal and the conservative over the concept of human nature. As it happens, the modern liberal tends to be unhappy with life as it is, a malcontent, and therefore a social and moral renovator who urgently wants to change human society to please himself. But you can't radically change human society if human nature is essentially unchangeable. So to enable radical change, this person is forced to take the view that human nature is malleable. Otherwise radical change would be impossible. And once he believes this (despite all the lessons of history, and of human evil, to the contrary), he soon believes the best way to change human nature is to perfect human society by perfecting all government, no matter the cost. 

          But the conservative disagrees profoundly. Human nature is more or less fixed, and flawed, and all human beings are obscurely inaccessible to any full and complete understanding by the blunt instrument of mere reason. So they cannot be perfected by any policy on earth, and therefore no government, or state, can ever be perfected. It follows that we should not be using the coercive bully powers of the state to force change according to some fanciful and impossible notion of a perfect society never before seen in all of human history.        

                                                         ~

           Now, let us address briefly the three most important and incendiary social issues of our time - homosexuality, abortion, and euthanasia - all of which hinge on the underlying and opposing liberal vs. conservative notions I have mentioned. These are so incendiary that there is not much hope of rational discussion, because of what the Germans, who should know, call denkverboten, or "the forbidding of thought," which is now, shamefully, like an intellectual sickness that has infected all the democracies. I can only touch on this now, but you will find the full liberal vs. conservative story on these three moral watershed issues, in my book.   

            To begin with the first: over the last thirty years, as some pundit has said, homosexuality has drifted from the love that dare not speak its name, to the love that won't shut up! And many, but not all conservatives, have been cowed by this trend. For the true conservative, however, from Aristotle to our day, "the family" is that eternal triangle of a married mother and father living together with their dependent children. So you can stay on the conservative rock by accepting  homosexuality as a private love, and acknowledge all the standard citizen rights for such people. But no special privileges. For the state simply has no business - none whatsoever - involving itself in love or marriage, or privileging these private passions in any way, except for one thing: the potential of ordinary marriage to produce and nurture future citizens. Any human arrangement that doesn't have this potential, may carry on as it wishes, but it should not be privileged for doing so. So If you have become part of the large wave of public opinion that has been aggressively normalizing homosexuality for children, altering schoolbooks, and editing TV shows to brainwash them to the effect that homosexuality is normal, or if you agree that  fatherless or motherless homes should be legitimized by the state as a matter of policy and applauded, then you have already left the rock and jumped onto the ship.

             Abortion is another watershed issue. For the liberal, it is again a matter of individual freedom and choice for all those slices, and to hell with the pie. The unborn child is considered a woman's private property, a material thing that is not considered a human being until it is born alive, so she may do with it as she freely wishes. But for the conservative, the unborn child is alive from conception; and the logic says that if it is alive, it must be a human life; it cannot be a pelican, or a giraffe. And if that is so, then we all have a duty to conserve it.  In other words, as a matter of social freedom, the right and freedom of society as an organic entity to protect and conserve the lives of its own unborn citizens, must take priority over the choices of individuals concerned only for themselves. That is another conservative rock you can stand on, or jump off.

            Euthanasia is the most recent, and most pressing moral issue now before conservatives. And here, let it be said, no one is advocating suffering, or the artificial prolongation of an agonizing life. However, most people simply have not done the work to understand that while assisted suicide - helping someone to kill themselves - may seem like an act of great sympathy (that is - may seem so, once you have gotten out of the way the money-hungry relatives, the macabre doctors with a Christ complex, the crooked lawyers, and the cash-strapped welfare state hoping to save health dollars) - it is a very different thing from euthanasia. For no matter how you try, you cannot escape the truth that euthanasia does not mean letting someone die, or helping them kill themselves; it means making them die; which is to say, killing them - whether by suffocating them, injecting them, or stuffing deadly pills down their throat that they cannot administer to themselves. And the moment such actions are legalized, we transform ourselves and the entire medical profession, from a civilization rooted in an ethic of life, to one rooted in an ethic of death. In a welfare state such as our own, where all expenses come from the same pot, if  you don't want to someone to kill you when you are old, make sure you check into a private care facility. At least, they have a vested interest in keeping you alive. But even then ... be sure to ask the nurse to drink some of the orange juice first!

                                                                ~

               I imagine that throughout your deliberations today there will be many occasions when the rock and the ship will loom before you, and I wish you full and hearty discussion, on all heads.

*****************************

A Speech given to the Conservative Party of Canada, Saturday, January 31, 2016,

by William D. Gairdner

 

Tuesday
Dec222015

Are We Getting the Truth?

             Questions about the veracity of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Report on our Indian Residential Schools, and the meaning of the published death-rates in those schools, first arose when my colleague Rod Clifton, who worked for a year and a half in such a school at Inuvik, and whose wife spent ten years as a student in one, was asked: Was it really that bad? Grabbing little kids off reserves and forcing them into religious schools? Abuses, beatings, cultural genocide? He replied that many of the children "came to us straight off the land, hungry, sick, and poorly clothed, sometimes with mothers who begged us to take them in. But usually, they just straggled in with other children." In some of the southern schools, this was a weekly-boarder situation. The children spent five days a week at the school, and went home on weekends to be with their families (if they had a family to stay with).

            But the most important question of the Report Summary, would seem to be: What is the factual, versus the political truth, about the 3,201 children who were "killed by relentless waves of epidemics" in our residential schools in the 135-year period since the 1880s? The death of a child, any child, is the most mournful death of all, and to be sorely lamented, especially if it could have been prevented by a reasonable duty of care, such as we expect from a school. Mr. Clifton attests that residential school staff often "worked around the clock to protect students from such diseases," and that all Canada's residential schools had good infirmaries. So, is the number of deaths of native children reported by the TRC for 1902 - fully 2.74 per cent of the school population, as compared to 0.43 per cent in the non-native population - really proof of poor care and abuse of those children, as the summary of the Report suggests in morally-judgmental terms? Perhaps not.

        In his fascinating study of life here prior to the arrival of Europeans, entitled 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005), Charles C. Mann informs us that native Americans have always died at unbelievably high rates from infectious diseases compared to those of European stock, and a close reading of his section on "The Genetics of Vulnerability" raises the possibility that our residential schools may actually have protected native children from far worse death-rates than they actually experienced.

        Indian biochemistry, we learn, is doubly compromised. First, their immune systems are "much more restricted than European immune systems," which means they are more vulnerable to disease-driven sickness and death than non-natives. That is simply because the Europeans who came to North America had almost all been exposed to diseases such as smallpox and measles as children, "and those who didn't die, were immune." In short, "smallpox and other European diseases didn't exist in the Americas, and so every Indian was susceptible to them."

              The second reason is that all American Indians, whom it is believed came to North America more than ten thousand years ago from Siberia across the Bering Sea land-bridge, not only lacked a normal immunity to those European diseases, but were also especially vulnerable to genetic diseases, because they all shared (and most continue to share) the same restricted gene pool from a very small group of ancestors. 

             Mann cites the work of Yale University virologist, Professor Francis Black, an expert on specialized molecules called "Human Leukocyte Antigens" (HLAs), which rid most people of what these antigens recognize as cell-garbage, like viruses. Overall, he writes, "Indians have fewer HLA types" than other populations. Most of us have thirty-five main classes of HLAs, "whereas Indian groups have no more than seventeen." As a result, Black argues, "people of the New World are unusually susceptible to diseases of the Old." The only other group Black has found that was just as susceptible to these diseases then, as now,  is their closest genetic relative: Indigenous Siberians.

            Mann then cites the sad 1967 case of how a single case of measles in a two-year-old baby ravaged the Yanomami native population in a remote region of Brazil. The Yanomami have exactly the same limited genetic profile as the Indians of Canada. Scientists rushed ahead of the epidemic wave to preventively vaccinate everyone not yet sick, but without success. After it was over, the mean death-rate of all the villages, was 8.8 per cent: "Almost one out of ten people died from a sickness that in Western societies is just a childhood annoyance." That is four or five times higher than the rate in our residential schools.

            Familiarity with the factual and historical, rather than political "truth" about native people and their restricted immune and genetic history, soon reveals the shocking fact that in the century and a quarter between the arrival of Columbus in 1491, and the American Pilgrims in 1620, fully 95 per cent of all northeast coastal Indians ranging from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia, were wiped out by European diseases, against which they had no immune or genetic defence.         

          There is reason to believe that the cited 1902 death rate of 2.74  per cent, after "relentless waves of epidemics," means our residential schools did a pretty respectable job of handling this crisis. 

Friday
Dec112015

Entrevue avec le Hill Times d'Ottawa, sur The Great Divide

Below is a translation, by Richard Bastien, of my Interview of April 27th with Kate Malloy, of The Hill Times newspper, Ottawa, on April 27th., 2015.

 ****************************************

Dans The Great Divide : Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Never Agree, William Gairdner soutient que les populations des pays démocratiques sont « de plus en plus divisées » et qu’il y a une incompatibilité idéologique grandissante entre le libéralisme moderne et le conservatisme. Et si le dialogue civil est un échec, la démocratie l’est tout autant. 

 

Quel est ce grand fossé et pourquoi libéraux et conservateurs n’arrivent-ils jamais à s’entendre? 

The Great Divide (le grand fossé) n’est pas une opposition de partis politiques. Il s’agit d’un ensemble de divergences et de désaccords fondamentaux d’ordre philosophique et moral opposant les esprits conservateurs et libéraux depuis très longtemps. Au fil des siècles, les partis politiques auxquels on attribue ces qualificatifs (ou d’autres qualificatifs comme républicains et démocrates) ont géré ces désaccords sous-jacents via des compromis politiques et législatifs; en général, on évitait la confrontation directe qui conduit à des positions idéologiques profondément incompatibles.  

 

 

Pourquoi les populations des pays démocratiques sont-elles devenues « irréconciliablement divisées » comme vous le dites? 

Les Canadiens et les Américains sont venus s’établir en Amérique du Nord en tant que colons chrétiens parlant une langue commune, ce qui signifie qu’ils avaient une  même conception du bien commun. Mais, au fil du temps, le matérialisme et le sécularisme ont pris de plus en plus d’ampleur, ce qui a entraîné une érosion de notre patrimoine commun. Nous avons épuisé le capital moral de cette époque, de sorte qu’il ne reste plus que des différences idéologiques.

 

Pouvez-vous expliquer de manière plus approfondie les causes de cette opposition idéologique entre le libéralisme moderne et le conservatisme et préciser où elle se manifeste?

Au cours des années 1990, Francis Fukuyama a publié un livre où il prétendait que la démocratie libérale constituait « la fin de l’histoire ». C’était un titre accrocheur. Mais, bien entendu, il ne peut y avoir de fin de l’histoire tant qu’il y a des êtres humains. Ma thèse est un peu différente. Je soutiens que toutes les soi-disant démocraties libérales de l’Occident ont renoncé progressivement au vrai libéralisme en substituant à leur fondement initial, qui était la liberté pour tous, un nouveau fondement, qui est une égalité de nature purement législative et qui n’a rien à voir, comme je le démontre clairement, avec le concept d’équité. Par suite de ce changement, toutes les démocraties se retrouvent aux prises avec une contradiction fondamentale d’ordre moral et politique : comment une société politique intellectuellement honnête peut-elle reposée à la fois sur la liberté et sur une égalité forcée, étant entendu que la vraie liberté encourage les différences naturelles tandis que la vraie égalité (au sens d’uniformité) exige le recours généralisé au pouvoir de réglementation de l’État? Comment une démocratie peut-elle être tout à la fois plus ou moins libertaire et plus ou moins étatiste ou socialiste?

 

Pouvez-vous donner des exemples? 

Je soutiens que les démocraties occidentales ont surmonté cette contradiction en divisant le corps politique en deux. Partout on observe un corps politique égalitaire public lourdement taxé et réglementé sur l’autel duquel ont été sacrifiées à divers degrés bon nombre de nos libertés traditionnelles de nature politique, économique et juridique. 

Mais on observe aussi, à côté de ce corps public, un corps politique libertaire privé jouissant d’une liberté sexuelle et corporelle comme on n’en a jamais vu dans le passé. Nous bénéficions d’une liberté quasi-illimitée concernant l’accès à l’avortement (au Canada, financé par l’État), le style de vie homosexuel, le mariage des personnes de même sexe,  la transsexualité, la pornographie et combien d’autres vérités autrefois interdites. 

C’est pourquoi je dis que nous sommes tous maintenant des « socialistes-libertaires ». On pourrait parler à juste titre d’un marché faustien : le sexe (et les autres droits corporels) a remplacé la religion comme opium du peuple. Cette nouvelle réalité n’est peut-être pas la fin de l’histoire, mais elle ne changera pas de sitôt.

Le fond de l’affaire, c’est que les démocraties occidentales sont devenues ou sont sur le point de devenir des « États tripartites », c’est-à-dire des sociétés politiques où un tiers de la population active crée des emplois et de la richesse, un autre tiers travaille au sein du secteur public (municipal, provincial ou fédéral) ou est tributaire de contrats avec une administration publique (ce qui revient au même), et le troisième tiers reçoit des prestations publiques importantes en espèces ou en nature. Et on voit bien que, lorsque vient le moment de voter, les deux derniers tiers se liguent contre le premier, comme deux loups et une brebis qui votent sur ce qui figurera au menu du prochain repas.

 

Et comment ce fossé influe-t-il sur les débats concernant la démocratie, la raison, l’avortement, la nature humaine, l’homosexualité, le mariage gai, la liberté et le rôle des tribunaux? 

Comme je l’ai mentionné, nous partagions une même conception du monde et un même langage moral, mais l’une et l’autre se sont érodés, de sorte que chacun de nous, dans sa solitude intérieure, se heurte à l’âpreté de forces idéologiques sous-jacentes et opposées dans tous les domaines que j’analyse dans mon livre. Par exemple, l’interprétation libérale typique de la démocratie est qu’elle a pour objet d’exprimer la volonté actuelle de la population. Mais, tout comme Edmund Burke, le conservateur dit : attention! La démocratie concerne la volonté et la sagesse de ceux qui nous ont précédés (et dont plusieurs sont morts pour nous donner ce que nous avons), ainsi que nos devoirs et obligations à l’égard des personnes vivantes, de même qu’à l’égard de ceux et celles qui ne sont pas encore nés.

Les libéraux mettent l’accent sur la volonté présente, les conservateurs sur les devoirs et obligations passés, présents et futurs. 

Il y a un autre fossé concernant le sens du mot « raison ». Le libéral dit que toute politique doit satisfaire au test de la raison, sans nécessairement tenir compte de la religion, de la coutume, de la tradition ou de l’expérience passée. Le conservateur dit : soyons prudents! Ce que la raison peut créer, elle peut tout aussi bien le détruire. Tous les régimes totalitaires de l’histoire ont été justifiés par la raison.  

Ceci nous amène à la question de la nature humaine. Le libéral déclare que la nature humaine est malléable. Elle peut donc être modifiée au moyen de politiques et de lois, ce qui signifie qu’elle est perfectible (si elle est confiée aux soins d’un État perfectionné). 

Le conservateur soutiendra que la nature humaine n’est pas malléable, qu’elle possède des caractéristiques fondamentales qui sont fixes et universelles et qu’elle est plus faillible que perfectible. Le conservateur affirme donc qu’il ne peut y avoir de société parfaite ou d’État parfait et recommande la méfiance à l’égard des politiciens qui prêchent le contraire (avec leurs mains bien enfoncées dans vos poches).   

À la fin de mon livre, j’aborde les trois grandes questions sociales et morales les plus controversées, à savoir l’avortement, le mariage gai et l’euthanasie. Je ne peux pas traiter de ces sujets ici. Mais ce que mettent en évidence ces trois questions, c’est un conflit entre la thèse libérale selon laquelle il faut respecter la volonté des individus (correspondant à un « choix »), cette volonté étant considérée comme le plus grand bien, et la thèse conservatrice selon laquelle il faut respecter ce qui est biologiquement naturel et ce qui favorise naturellement le bien commun, celui-ci étant considéré comme le plus grand bien. Il s’agit d’une reprise, avec une terminologie nouvelle, des conflits moraux qui ont suscité des débats passionnés entre les partisans de Thomas Paine et ceux d’Edmund Burke au début du XIXe siècle. 

Pour ce qui est de l’homosexualité et du mariage gai, tant les libéraux que les conservateurs sont portés à utiliser un argument fondé sur la notion de nature. Les libéraux disent que l’homosexualité est naturelle, ce qui lui donnerait des droits; les conservateurs disent qu’elle est contre nature et qu’il faut donc y résister pour le bien de tous. Concernant la question de l’avortement, les libéraux affirment ici encore qu’il s’agit d’un choix que toute femme a le droit d’exercer. Les conservateurs rétorquent que la liberté de choix n’est pas nécessairement liée au bien commun, qui est un objectif plus élevé que le bien individuel.

 

Comment le grand fossé influe-t-il sur la politique fédérale canadienne? 

Le dialogue civil est de plus en plus superficiel et acerbe, à tel point que les divergences idéologiques les plus profondes ne sont tout simplement pas discutées. Les deux côtés semblent mal équipés intellectuellement et moralement pour aborder ces questions. J’ai écrit The Great Divide dans l’espoir qu’il élèvera le débat national dans plusieurs domaines. En ce sens, le livre vise à permettre aux Canadiens de mieux se connaître. 

 

Vous dites que le dialogue civil a échoué et qu’il pourrait en résulter un échec de la démocratie. Pourquoi?

Non seulement le dialogue civil a-t-il échoué, mais, au niveau le plus profond, il n’y a plus de dialogue. Je soutiens, que d’un point de vue moral, nous sommes revenus à notre état colonial antérieur. Lorsque nous étions une colonie, toutes les grandes décisions morales concernant le Canada étaient prises par des juges en Angleterre. Au fil du temps, nous avons obtenu la responsabilité ministérielle et nous avons entrepris de débattre de ces questions et de légiférer nous-mêmes à leur sujet. Mais depuis l’adoption de la Charte en 1982, les législatures se montrent de plus en plus réticentes à s’attaquer aux questions morales litigieuses. Elles les laissent de plus en plus à la discrétion des juges. C’est ce qui se passait à l’époque coloniale, sauf que les juges sont maintenant ici au Canada plutôt qu’en Angleterre. La réalité nous a infantilisés comme peuple.

 

Qu’est-ce qu’un libéral moderne?

Une société libérale classique s’enracinait dans ce que David Hume appelait  liberty under the law, c’est-à-dire « la liberté encadrée par la loi ». Dans la première partie de The Great Divide, je décris les quatre étapes en vertu desquelles le Canada et les États-Unis sont passés du « libéralisme fondé sur la vertu » au « libéralisme classique », puis au « libéralisme égalitaire » et, enfin, (par suite d’une tentative réussie de résoudre la contradiction décrite ci-dessus) à notre actuel « socialisme libertaire ». Il se peut qu’il n’y ait pas d’autre étape. Nous sommes enlisés dans le socialisme libertaire parce qu’il semble nous plaire. 

 

Votre livre comporte des tableaux permettant au lecteur de déterminer s’il est un libéral moderne ou un conservateur. Vous dites que certaines personnes découvrent qu’elles pensent d’une manière et vivent d’une autre. Pourquoi importe-t-il de savoir cela? 

L’ignorance généralisée et déplorable est sans doute la seule réalité sur laquelle tous les politologues s’entendent, quelle que soit leur orientation politique. On s’est rendu compte de la chose par suite de la parution d’un article célèbre du politologue américain Philip Converse paru en 1964 et intitulé The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics. Les 14 tableaux figurant dans mon livre ont pour objet de permettre aux gens de voir, de comprendre et de formuler leur système de croyances et, du même coup, de s’élever au-dessus de l’ignorance publique.    

 

Pourquoi ce livre est-il important et qui devrait le lire?

Tous devraient le lire. Il invite les lecteurs à s’armer intellectuellement et moralement pour défendre les idées et les idéaux qui méritent d’être défendus (et qu’ils découvriront en lisant le livre). Ils pourront ainsi participer sans crainte au dialogue civil. 

 

The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree, par  William Gairdner, Encounter Books, 264 pp., $32.50. 

 

Wednesday
Nov252015

Thoughts on Islamism and Paris

Time to write a little on this topic. Visitors to this site may recall the piece posted here, "It's a War of the Gods," after the Charlie Hebdo murders last winter.  

You could just substitute names and places from the recent Paris terror event, and insert them in that article, and get an overview of the ideological tensions we need to understand.  

I don't believe we're ever going to come to grips with the clash between Islamism and the West, until we "get" where they are coming from in the ideological sense. I define an "ideology" as: "an autonomous system of interdependent ideas." You have to get the ideas and ideals sorted out, first, and then ask how they are interconnected and bolster each other as an entire system of thought and feeling.  

For those who haven't seen it before, here is a dot-connecting excerpt from Chapter 13, "Multiculturalsim, Immigration, and Terrorism, from The Trouble With Canada ... Still! (2010) that focuses on hard-core Islamism (as distinct from run of the mill, mushy, nominal Islam). 

**************

"[Jihadists] say that they are committed to the destruction of the entire secular world because they believe this is a necessary first step to create an Islamic utopia on earth."

~  Professor Mary Habeck, School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, from Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror[1]   

            An Environics poll of February 2007 gave this result: about 80% of Canada’s Muslims said they were satisfied with their new life in Canada, and 73% of them thought the 9/11 terrorist attacks were completely unjustified. But more sinister responses in the poll were buried. Namely, the fact that an alarming 12% of Canadian Muslims questioned in this poll thought the planned attacks for which “the Toronto 18” were arrested, were justified  (Licia Corbella, Calgary Sun, February 18, 2007).[2] In other words, by extrapolation, we may have anywhere from 50,000 to 85,000 Canadian Muslims who believe that blowing up our Parliament buildings (presumably with all MPs inside) and beheading the Canadian prime minister, is a great idea. They have lots of European company. Immediately after the 9/11 attack there was much Muslim dancing and cheering in Belgium and England. In Holland Contrast magazine found that 50 percent of Dutch Muslims were “in complete sympathy” with the attacks.[3] On the second “anniversary” of the 9/11 attack, radical British Muslims put up posters honouring the terrorists as “the Magnificent 19.” Who are these people? Why was there no public outcry? 

Why Are We the Enemy?

          The brand of Islam we ought to fear most, the one that is at the root of modern Islamic terrorism, is called Wahhabism. It is at the root of modern jihadism (a term that originally referred to personal spiritual struggle, but which for radicals now also means struggle against all non-believers: us). Wahhabism is the spiritual foundation of Al Qaeda [and now, of ISIS].

          Its main radical theorists, ancient and modern, have been three. Ibn Taymiyah (1263-1328), who told his followers, “prescribed to you is fighting;” Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989), who advocated “Jihad and the rifle alone. No negotiations, no conferences, and no dialogue;” and Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the most cited, and most influential, who declared “It is the duty of Islam to annihilate all other systems.” Like Azzam, Qutb advocated global domination by Islam. All these theorist are united in the singular view that the decline of Islam is not due to the internal weaknesses of the faith, but “is the deliberate policy of an external religious enemy whom jihadis can –and do – blame for all the evils suffered by Muslims around the world.”[4] Hence, the term “blame culture.”

          Wahhabi Muslims (same for the West’s Reformation Christians) have been encouraged “to think for themselves,” and to reject the accumulated wisdom of Islam handed down by their clerics, and to favour instead a jihadist interpretation of Islamic teachings (the hadith) and of the Qur’an, and to disregard those parts that preach tolerance and peace, and ignore the peaceful Islamic mystics.[5] Their underlying conviction is that true human liberation comes from serving God alone, and that all man-made institutions rooted in beliefs such as democratic sovereignty and materialism are false beliefs that entrap and enslave us. Men must be slaves to God, but never to each other, or to false beliefs. For this reason, “jihadis today have made a critique of democracy the centerpiece of their ideology.”[6] Democracy is false because it teaches that we can arrive at truth by voting, whereas only God knows the truth. So we must strive to know and obey only God’s will. Democratic voting enslaves us to false human truth by majority rule and through a secularizing process of spiritual disarmament. Hence, all secular regimes must be either converted, or ended.  “Islamism,” a term created by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s, describes the belief that Islam is “the complete, obligatory, and virtually non-negotiable guide to human existence,”[7] the foundation for which is Shari’a law. For radical Islamists, this means ending even Islamic regimes that are not truly Islamic: estimates are that 100,000 moderate Muslims have been slain by militant Islamists aiming for control of Algeria. It is a pattern repeated in many Muslim nations oppressed by their own radicals. Less than purely Islamic regimes are considered despicable “jahiliyya” – places of darkness and ignorance. They complain of modern Christians and Jews that once they secularized, they banished religion from public life and in so doing “destroyed the only source of ethics and morality, and therefore have no aim in life except to seek benefit and enjoyment.”[8]  So for true believers, the United States and the West (yes, Canada too) are regimes of darkness, modern jahiliyya. To see this belief in action in Canada, go to the website of The Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, which has an important office in Toronto, and which “publicly supports armed struggle against the unbelievers.”[9] Follow the threads. Although Wahhabist radical thinking has not found deep support in the world’s wider Muslim movements, it nevertheless exists as a powerful force devoted to the use of terrorism both within and against the West to achieve its utopia. After 9/11, Swiss police raided the Lugano, Switzerland home of a key Muslim Brotherhood organizer, Youseff Nada, and found a 14-page manifesto entitled “The Project,” written in Arabic in 1982 by Wahhabi luminaries. It outlines a twelve-point strategy to “establish an Islamic government on earth.”   

                      ********************************************  

                                                         Snapshot

           Islamic Terrorism In Canada, Against Canada, and Against “The West”                     

 *  Fact: Canada is the only country left on Osama Bin-Laden’s seven-country hit list, still to be bombed.

* The bomb that killed or injured more than 1,400 people in Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, in 1996 was paid for from a Canadian bank account (Source: Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion)

 * At a Terrorism Conference in May, 2004 the US Attorney General and the FBI revealed that Abderraouf  Jdey, found with a martyrdom video, and Amer El-Maati, a licenced pilot who wanted to crash a plane into a US building … were both Canadians.

* US Intelligence awoke to the fact that Canada nurtures and exports terrorism in 1997 when one Gazi Mezer crossed our border into the USA to blow up the Atlantic Avenue Subway in Brooklyn.

* One of Osama Bin-Laden’s confidants is nicknamed “El Kanadi” – the Canadian.

* The Mississauga-based Al Fauz Institute has featured Azzam Tamimi as a faculty member who has proclaimed: “I don’t believe in democracy anymore,” explicitly praises suicide bombers, and says he is willing to blow himself up in Israel.

* In March 2009 Canadian Momin Khawaja was sentenced for financing and building explosive detonators for use in terrorist attacks.

* In a 2009 Quebec case, Sid Namouth was pronounced guilty of planning terrorist attacks.

* Zakaria Amara, leader of the Toronto 18, who pleaded guilty on October 8, 2009, confessed that his plan for U-Haul trucks loaded with explosives (and metal chips to cause more civilian casualties) were meant “to cripple Canada” and to be detonated mid-November at the Toronto Stock Exchange, at the CSIS office, and at a military base between Toronto and Kingston. In January 2010 Amara was sentenced to life in prison.

* In February 2010, Said Namouth, a Moroccan man living in Canada since 2003 who spread hatred from his Montreal apartment, was sentenced to life in prison. On his blog he wrote: “Terrorism is in our blood, and with it we will drown the unjust.” 

* The ritual Islamic prayer, says Tarek Fatah (former head of the Muslim Canadian Congress, an anti-extremist Muslim group), “asking for the defeat of Christians and Jews, and the Victory of Islam, is not unique;” it is uttered by many Imams across Canada, and is “spreading hate instead of harmony.”

* In May of 2009 Canada’s CBC quoted an anonymous source who claimed that Al-Shabab, a Somali Taliban-style terrorist organization has recruited 20 to 30 young Canadian men.

* On March 8, 2010 Canada added Al-Shabab to its list of banned terrorist organizations.

* On January 3, 2009, Al Qaeda called on Muslims “to kill every Western diplomat on the Arabian Peninsula.” There are Canadian diplomats there.

* In December 2001 the National Post listed 16 Islamic terrorists who had been living in Canada, most of whom had been convicted of terrorism by other countries. They were never charged in Canada.

* Among defendants in the $1 Trillion dollar lawsuit against 9/11 attackers are Muslim groups such as The Benevolence International Fund, Islamic Relief Organization, Muslim World league, Int’l Islamic Relief Organization, and the SAAR Foundation – all of which have a presence in Canada, several with offices in Ottawa.

* As of 2006 Canada, acting on a British tip, laid its first charge of terrorism - against Mohammad Khawaja – for involvement in a London bombing plot.

* On his Saudi-based web-portal Islam Q & A, Muslim cleric Al-Munajjid, who has a large Canadian following has (quoting the supposed words of Muhammad) “urged Muslim youth not to live among the non-Muslims, unless the objective of living in the West was to convert the non-Muslim to Islam” (National Post, November 9, 2009).

* On Christmas Day 2009, Umar Abdulmutallab was prevented by passengers on a flight from Europe to Detroit from igniting explosives hidden in his underwear. In a speech reported in March 2009, warning the USA to think more pro-actively about terrorist possibilities, Israeli Agent Juval Aviv said he was now just “waiting for some suicidal maniac to pour liquid explosives on his underwear.” Prophetic, what?  

* Conversion from Islam to Christianity (or any other religion) is punishable by beheading.

* As of 2008, “Muslim countries or groups are either at war or in a hostile truce with every civilization that Islam abuts, from Nigeria too Xinjiang [China]” (Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, p. 163)

**********************************************************

                                          What Is To Be Done?

 

Multiculturalism

 Stop Funding “multiculturalism”  

      Ethnic groups lobbying for money from the State are like any other lobby group. They use the money to circumvent the political process. The government must stop funding all of them—left, right, business, radical, ethnic, all of them. Let them fight for what they want through their democratically elected representatives, or through privately funded groups. Canada’s government should reconstitute, publicize, and require schools to inculcate, the key symbols of Canada’s deep culture before they are totally forgotten

 

Require Instruction in Canada’s Deep Culture.  

      Immigrants to Canada should be instructed in the core heritage and culture of this nation, which is Judeo-Christian, Graeco-Roman, and Anglo-European. And they should be expected to assimilate to that culture. This does not mean losing their own, which they are free to promote and protect, using their own resources, if they so desire. But it does mean their own culture is secondary.

 End the Contradictions and Unrest of Multicultural Policy

      The government must recognize that its “multicultural” policy is self-contradictory and that it is currently funding long-term social unrest by rewarding the development of cultural differences within Canada. Unity cannot be derived from “diversity.”  Just as deep cultural differences lead to strife between nations, they lead, and have led, to strife between the “nations-within-Canada.”

 Immigration

 The People Must Set the Immigration Agenda

      Government must consult the people through a democratic referendum on immigration to find out what they want their country to become. That should set the government’s immigration agenda. During the period of the referendum discussion—say two years—all immigration should be halted: visitors’ permits only. If the country belongs to Canadians, then let them decide on their own future.

 Stimulate Home-Grown Population

        If there is concern over zero growth, Canada should aggressively examine ways to stimulate growth in the Canadian family before resorting to costly and culturally-dislocating immigration.

 Make Immigrants Sign a Vow of Citizenship

     All immigrants should be required to sign a Vow of Citizenship that among many other things would include a signed statement to the effect that in the case of a conflict or war with their country of origin, they would unhesitatingly defend and fight for Canada if required. This is expected of all citizens born here, and it ought to be explicitly required of all immigrants. 

 End Dual Citizenship

         Dual Citizenship should be banned. If you want the rights and freedoms of Canadian citizenship, you must surrender those of all other nationalities. No cherry-picking. You cannot defend or fight for Canada if in terms of patriotism you live in a divided house. Split national loyalties and “citizens of convenience” are not wanted in Canada.   

 Conclusion

        A government that imposes a multicultural policy and non-traditional immigration on any nation in a calculated attempt to neutralize its deep culture is guilty of subverting the ethos of the nation. Such programs are a veneer disguising cynical vote-grabbing. They have had the effect of transforming Canada, in the space of two decades, into a nation that is eradicating its own historical deep culture. Unless we learn the lessons of history, this can end, at best, in long-term erosion of our civilizational greatness, and at worst in intra-ethnic strife and militancy on our own soil (such as we have seen already, and will likely see again, in Québec).

 


[1] Mary Habeck, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror (New Haven, Conn,: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 7

[2] As reported in Daniel Stoffman, “Truths and Myths About Immigration,” in Immigration Policy and the Terrorist Threat (Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 2008), p.14. The papers in this volume were gathered from a conference on Terrorism held in Toronto, June 2007.

[3] Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (New York: Doubleday, 2009), p.256.

[4] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, p.12. Habeck explains that all Jihadists share five understandings: Islam is the one true faith that will dominate the world; Muslim rulers must govern by the Shari’a alone; that their Holy Books contain the whole truth for living a righteous life; that there can be no separation between religion and life; and … that all true Muslims are in a State of conflict with unbelievers (p.17). 

[5] On this note, a man I assume was my forbear, William Henry Temple Gairdner (1873-1928) a former British Anglican Canon of Cairo (referred to by his followers as “Temple Gairdner of Cairo” – which is also the title of the moving biography of his life by his secretary, Constance Padwick), published a then very successful book The Reproach of Islam (London: Church Missionary Society, 1909). That book sold over 20,000 copies, and was devoted to describing the contrast between Christianity and Islam. Gairdner’s main thesis was that Christianity had failed to do its job, and so Islam arose to fill the spiritual vacuum. He was also the founder of a very long-lived journal, “Occident and Orient,” which attempted to bring the two worlds together.

[6] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, p.72.

[7] Andrew McCarthy, “Islam and the Left,” in The New Criterion, January, 2010, p.18.

[8] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, p. 72

[9] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, note 31, p.193.

 

Thursday
Nov122015

TVO Interview on The Great Divide

Just over a week ago, TVO ran my interview with Steve Paikin, on The Great Divide

It is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1V9E7wNoaY

      Steve is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, with whom I have interviewed many times over the past 25 years. When he called me for what I assumed would be a one-on-one interview on The War Against the Family, in 1993, I got a surprise. I walked into his studio, and there were about twenty people lined up in chairs just waiting to take shots at me. That was a bit of a surprise, to say the least. But I enjoyed it, nonetheless. They were all leftists from various political groups. The only "conservatives" he had there were two in number. A Christian evangelist, and a very old lady from the local seniors home!

       Steve often seems to avoid the underlying ideological forces being examined in serious writing; or, perhaps he just isn't interested in them. In this interview, I found it a little frustrating that he didn't really accept the challenge of the book, which was to leave ordinary surface political views aside, and drill down to the foundational ideological differences between liberals and conservatives in the moral and politcal life of the western democracies. Too often, like most media folks, I guess, he looks for emotional shock value, and if he can't find it in the material at hand, he will manfacture it. Like: "Why have you always been on the losing side?", when he knew very well the entire book strives to contrast the two sides as fully a possible. 

Nevertheless, despite his liberal blinkers, he is a gentleman. I just wish there was a media format for really digging into these kinds of topics, in depth, instead of having to speak defensively throughout.

      But I guess that's what books are for!

Friday
Oct302015

Trudeau: Like Father, Like Son

       Well, I have finally got up off the floor after the election, and many readers have asked me to write a little something about what happened. And I will. Soon.
        But first, I want to review just a little of what happened to us as a nation in the decades prior to the Harper regime, and so, what I think he went into politics attempting to reverse, with partial success. 
        At my age - 75 two weeks ago! - re-writing a story already told is not so appealing. So I am re-publising here the Preface to The Trouble With Canada ... Still! (2010), because I can't say it any better now. It is about what Father Trudeau did to our country (or, to be more truthful, what we did to ourselves by failing to recognize what was happening, and stopping him). Forgive me for italicizing some of the key passages. I don't like to shout, but I am frustrated enough to want to raise my voice!.
In the coming days I will add comment on what Son Trudeau is up to. 
*************
      
The First Warnings: When I Voted for Trudeau
        My first sense there was trouble with Canada began during the Trudeau era
(1968–1984) when I saw this fine country falling into the clutches of what I was
quite certain were sweet-sounding but inherently destructive political, economic,
and social policies. Until then, I was a completely non-political person who
had actually voted once for the bright-sounding man with the rose in his lapel. I
always admired Trudeau’s strength of character, political savvy, passion, and
decisiveness. In retrospect, I still do. But my instinct told me he was instigating a
one-man regime change for the worse in the country I knew and loved. In all the
most important political, economic, social, and legal aspects of Canadian life he
was turning the country upside down. And by what right? Political and legislative
change of the ordinary sort is one thing; that can be reversed by a free people.
But changes to the fundamental moral, legal, economic, and even linguistic foundations
and understandings of an entire people ought to require more than a
slim majority in Parliament.
         So, entirely new feelings began to arise, along with a pervasive sense of
helplessness. For how do you fight back when the political parties among which
we must choose are so identical in their thinking? No party back then was complaining—
or has since complained—about the sudden transformation of
Canada from a free, common law–based constitutional democracy in which the
will of the people as voiced in Parliament was “supreme,” into a new, constitutionally
mandated welfare state far too often directed by the rule of unelected
judges who cannot be removed by any power in the land. Trudeau plopped his
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on top of us in 1982, and it states
(sec. 52) that to the extent that any (existing or future) law of Canada is “inconsistent”
with the Charter, it is “of no force or effect.”
        As I saw it, with the stroke of his pen, the will of the Canadian people was subjected forevermore to an alien form of entrenched, judge-dictated Statism. The Trouble With Canada ... Still! is one man’s best
effort to lay bare the details of this regime change and to suggest ways to reverse
it and regain our true freedoms and rights.
         It is not a book about Trudeau. But I am very critical of Trudeau and his
socialist fellow-travellers of that time, for I saw him then, and still do, rather as
Tolstoy saw Napoleon. The dictator, he said, was an actor in the tide of time, a
man riding inside the carriage of history, holding ribbons that he thought were
the reins. In the same vein, and with lots of personal flourish, Trudeau was a
kind of flamboyant actor on the stage of Canadian history, reading his lines and
cues from a script written mostly by influential French social planners of the
seventeenth century and forward. So although Trudeau often comes under
attack in this book, its main thrust is not personal. Rather, it is a critique of an
entire style of continental rationalism of which his whole life (his lifelong
motto was “Reason before Passion”) was an expression. I argue that even
though this style of rational social planning gave rise to a politics alien to our
founding ideals and to our roots in British liberty, he nevertheless almost singlehandedly
managed to impose it on an entire nation, and for that we continue
to pay the price detailed in this book.
       In the twenty years since 1990, in many unexpected ways, Canada and the
world have changed a lot. As if in an impossible dream, we witnessed the astonishingly
rapid demise of international communism and the Soviet bloc, the
crumbling of the Berlin Wall, the end of “the Evil Empire.” Many of us hoped
this would be a final and definitive lesson to the West that socialism doesn’t
work, except in heaven where you don’t need it, and in hell where you already
have it. But we can see now that the Evil Empire served a beneficial purpose,
too. It was America’s—and the West’s—definitive ideological enemy, and by
dint of sheer opposition it provoked us to hang on to the fragments and tatters
of our founding belief in liberty. But there has not been a totalitarian “enemy
on the Left” for some time now against which to contrast and defend those
beliefs. And with the ascension of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency—an
office that a tyranny-fearing American founder, in a wonderfully memorable
expression, condemned as “the fetus of Monarchy”—we are at this very moment
watching our once freedom-loving neighbours charge full steam into the
arms of the State.
          This still feels rather strange to anyone who recalls that in the aftermath of
World War II, to call someone “a socialist”—let alone “a Red,” or “a communist,”
or “a pinko”—was tantamount to the worst of insults, both in Canada and the
United States. After all, people such as my godfather, who died at twenty-two
when his Bomber was shot down south of Paris with a 500-pound bomb on
board, were convinced they were fighting to prevent the spread of Statism,
whether national socialist (Nazism), or international socialist (communism).
But now the word “socialist” has come into common parlance as a normal and
acceptable descriptive term for . . . what we have become. I am certain if my godfather
could return to see what we have done with the freedoms for which he gave
his life, he would say he died in vain. [Note: in my latest book, The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree (2015), I describe how this growth in public Statism, taxation, and control of so many aspects of life has been enabled by a parallel seduction of the people through a private and historically unprecedented sexual and bodily freedom].
        It was pretty clear that by 1990, a lot of citizens had fundamental objections to,
and felt tremendous frustration over, Canada’s regime change, primarily
because until the now-defunct Reform Party arose there was not a single
political party to which they could turn in protest. All were embracing some
form of Statism. The whole country seemed to have undergone a kind of historical
amnesia, forgetting our root beliefs in limited government, our many
safeguards—constitutional, legal, and cultural—against political tyranny, our
long, bloodied, and halting history from Magna Carta forward in defence of
British liberty. In the end, a single vote seemed useless as a protest. But might
the country be brought to its senses by a book explaining the trouble with
Canada?
      The story I wanted to tell was, and still is, aimed at all concerned citizens
searching for answers to our troubles. Once empowered with a little knowledge
of the political and moral contradictions and paradoxes of the turn we had just
taken, would we, could we, reverse our course? In this respect I depart from the general
view that we are a calm, compromising, pragmatic people. I have always felt that this notion is a self-congratulation that to our national detriment might very well camouflage a spiritual dullness and a certain lack of intellectual and moral vigour. Perhaps a tell-it-like-it-is book—a cavalry charge
from an unexpected quarter—would stir us from our slumber?
      I remain convinced that any whole truth sincerely expressed will eventually
find its readers, despite how severely that truth is initially suppressed or
discouraged by those whom it makes uncomfortable. We still live in a free country.
But it is mostly books that keep it free.