Monday, December 28, 2015


In one of his novels, Solzhenitsyn has a character who believes that the meaning of existence is to:
preserve unspoiled, undisturbed and undistorted the image of eternity with which each person is born

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What makes a woman?

Most readers will be aware that there has been a scuffle on the left between some of the older radical feminists and the transsexual movement - with the transsexuals winning hands down.

Elinor Burkett recently wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times defending the older feminist position. It's interesting how closely she follows typical liberal ideas in her argument.

The basic liberal idea is that society should be based on a principle of "equal freedom," meaning that the individual is to be equally free to choose for themselves who they are and what they do. This means that unchosen, predetermined qualities, such as our biological sex or our race, are thought of in negative terms as oppressive restrictions from which the individual is to be liberated.

This explains Elinor Burkett's first argument. She observes that when a transsexual man says that he has a female brain that many on the left applaud him, even though this suggests that there are real, hardwired differences between men and women that aren't self-determined:
Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.

That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries.

...By defining womanhood the way he did to Ms. Sawyer, Mr. Jenner and the many advocates for transgender rights who take a similar tack...undermine almost a century of hard-fought arguments that the very definition of female is a social construct that has subordinated us.

Elinor Burkett fears that if our biological sex - the fact of being male or female - is found to matter in some way, that there will be a limitation on how we as individuals chart our own individual destiny. It might mean, for instance, that a woman might not become a combat fighter in the army, because she was born a woman and not a man - something she cannot determine for herself.

It is difficult, though, to live by the liberal principle consistently. Our sex is important to our identity: it's not easy to see yourself as an "it". And it is clearly the case that being a woman does still matter for Elinor Burkett, no matter how feminist she is. And so her second argument is that transsexual men are undermining female identity.

She makes a good argument that this is so, and I will quote her on this shortly. But the point to be made here is that it is this very fact, that transsexualism undermines female identity, which makes it such a radically liberal force and which explains why it has so much traction in a liberal society. So this may not have been the best argument for Elinor Burkett to focus on if she wishes to win support from a liberal establishment.

How does transsexualism undermine a female identity? Well, if a man in his fifties is suddenly considered to be a woman, then all the things that women uniquely experience in life don't matter so much when it comes to what it means to be a woman:
People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.

Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails...

Elinor Burkett is running a fine line argument here. She is arguing that it is bad for women to be defined by hard-wired biological characteristics, such as differences between the male and female brain, but good for women to be defined collectively by shared life experiences, both negative and positive (on the positive side she writes that she has "relished certain courtesies" that she has received due to her sex). Again, I can't see this as being persuasive within a liberal framework when the liberal goal is to sever the connection between our biological sex and what happens in our life.

Elinor Burkett then lists a series of very strange outcomes of supporting transsexualism. They are strange to me and perhaps to older feminists, but no doubt they seem radically chic to younger liberals and will become part of the liberal mainstream over time.

For instance, if men can be considered women, then it becomes non-inclusive to link womanhood to having a vagina. Therefore, this:
In January 2014, the actress Martha Plimpton, an abortion-rights advocate, sent out a tweet about a benefit for Texas abortion funding called “A Night of a Thousand Vaginas.” Suddenly, she was swamped by criticism for using the word “vagina.” “Given the constant genital policing, you can’t expect trans folks to feel included by an event title focused on a policed, binary genital,” responded @DrJaneChi.

WHEN Ms. Plimpton explained that she would continue to say “vagina” — and why shouldn’t she, given that without a vagina, there is no pregnancy or abortion? — her feed overflowed anew with indignation, Michelle Goldberg reported in The Nation. “So you’re really committed to doubling down on using a term that you’ve been told many times is exclusionary & harmful?” asked one blogger. Ms. Plimpton became, to use the new trans insult, a terf, which stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.”

In January, Project: Theatre at Mount Holyoke College, a self-described liberal arts college for women, canceled a performance of Eve Ensler’s iconic feminist play “The Vagina Monologues” because it offered an “extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” explained Erin Murphy, the student group’s chairwoman.

Let me get this right: The word “vagina” is exclusionary and offers an extremely narrow perspective on womanhood, so the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas, along with the trans people who want them, should describe ours with the politically correct terminology trans activists are pushing on us: “front hole” or “internal genitalia”?

Similarly, there are transsexual women who identify as men but who still have functioning female genitalia. Therefore, to be inclusive means that abortion and contraceptive services can't be marketed to women alone:
Even the word “woman” has come under assault by some of the very people who claim the right to be considered women. The hashtags #StandWithTexasWomen, popularized after Wendy Davis, then a state senator, attempted to filibuster the Texas Legislature to prevent passage of a draconian anti-abortion law, and #WeTrustWomen, are also under attack since they, too, are exclusionary.

“Abortion rights and reproductive justice is not a women’s issue,” wrote Emmett Stoffer, one of many self-described transgender persons to blog on the topic. It is “a uterus owner’s issue.” Mr. Stoffer was referring to the possibility that a woman who is taking hormones or undergoing surgery to become a man, or who does not identify as a woman, can still have a uterus, become pregnant and need an abortion.

Accordingly, abortion rights groups are under pressure to modify their mission statements to omit the word woman, as Katha Pollitt recently reported in The Nation. Those who have given in, like the New York Abortion Access Fund, now offer their services to “people” and to “callers.” Fund Texas Women, which covers the travel and hotel expenses of abortion seekers with no nearby clinic, recently changed its name to Fund Texas Choice. “With a name like Fund Texas Women, we were publicly excluding trans people who needed to get an abortion but were not women,” the group explains on its website.

And what about those who are legally women but who consider themselves men? They can use female services but they don't want to be referred to as women:
Women’s colleges are contorting themselves into knots to accommodate female students who consider themselves men, but usually not men who are living as women. Now these institutions, whose core mission is to cultivate female leaders, have student government and dormitory presidents who identify as males.

As Ruth Padawer reported in The New York Times Magazine last fall, Wellesley students are increasingly replacing the word “sisterhood” with “siblinghood,” and faculty members are confronted with complaints from trans students about their universal use of the pronoun she — although Wellesley rightly brags about its long history as the “world’s pre-eminent college for women.”

Elinor Burkett shares the same underlying liberal theory as the transsexuals, but she is facing some unexpected loss of control in how the theory is played out. She liked the old way in which she got to be part of a movement in which women were defined as an oppressed group smashing apart oppressive social constructs to live liberated lives, in which women like herself could keep older privileges of womanhood but also have access to things they wanted in a more androgynous social setting.

But the theory has now reached a more radical moment, so that there is no longer a comfortable "women's movement," not when the notion of womanhood itself is in such flux. What now does it mean to be a woman? In our liberal society a woman's body doesn't make a woman, nor her distinct life experiences. Transsexuals reach back to traditional markers of femininity to make their womanhood distinct, but this isn't acceptable to feminists. Can you have a women's movement when there is confusion about what actually makes a woman?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

De Mella

This is an important part of the traditionalist response to liberal modernity (hat tip: Traditional Britain Group):

Liberals imagine that they are liberating individuals by making them self-defining. But this diminishes the individual by removing important parts of our identity, our belonging, and our sense of connection to people and place; to culture and heritage; and to a continuity between the generations.

The individual comes into his own when he is richly encultured, not when he is stripped down and abstracted to allow for self-definition

College dissenters

I've written a few pieces on the protests by left-wing students at various campuses in the U.S. The general pattern was that a group of these students claimed that they were so harmed by a "microaggression" that they could no longer function in life; they then demonstrated rowdily attacking anyone who did not actively join in; before successfully getting college administrators to resign and demanding that everyone on campus undertake various re-education courses.

The most adult response to this I've read is an editorial from a student newspaper at Claremont McKenna College. Titled "We dissent" it criticises both the student activists and the craven campus administrators. It's worth reading in full, but here are some highlights:
...First, former Dean Mary Spellman...we are disappointed in you as well. We are disappointed that you allowed a group of angry students to bully you into resignation.

Second, President Chodosh. We were disappointed to see you idly stand by and watch students berate, curse at, and attack Dean Spellman for being a “racist.” For someone who preaches about “leadership” and “personal and social responsibility,” your actions are particularly disappointing. You let your colleague, someone who has been helping your administration for the past three years and the college for six years, be publicly mocked and humiliated. Why? Because you were afraid. You were afraid that students would also mock and humiliate you if you defended Dean Spellman, so you let her be thrown under the bus

To our fellow Claremont students, we are disappointed in you as well. We are ashamed of you for trying to end someone’s career over a poorly worded email. This is not a political statement—this is a person’s livelihood that you so carelessly sought to destroy. We are disappointed that you chose to scream and swear at your administrators. That is not how adults solve problems, and your behavior reflects poorly on all of us here in Claremont. This is not who we are and this is not how we conduct ourselves, but this is the image of us that has now reached the national stage.

We are disappointed in your demands. If you want to take a class in “ethnic, racial, and sexuality theory,” feel free to take one, but don’t force such an ideologically driven course on all CMC students. If the dearth of such courses at CMC bothers you, maybe you should have chosen a different school.

We are disappointed in the fact that your movement has successfully managed to convince its members that anyone who dissents does so not for intelligent reasons, but due to moral failure or maliciousness. We are disappointed that you’ve used phrases like “silence is violence” to not only demonize those who oppose you, but all who are not actively supporting you.

We are adults, and we need to be mature enough to take ownership of and responsibility for our feelings, rather than demanding that those around us cater to our individual needs. The hypocrisy of advocating for “safe spaces” while creating an incredibly unsafe space for President Chodosh, former Dean Spellman, the student who was “derailing,” and the news media representatives who were verbally abused unfortunately seemed to soar over many of your heads.

Lastly, we are disappointed in students like ourselves, who were scared into silence. We are not racist for having different opinions. We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement. We are not evil because we don’t want this movement to tear across our campuses completely unchecked.

We are no longer afraid to be voices of dissent.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

These are the dreaded microaggressions?

I've written some posts lately on events at American campuses, where left-wing activists have claimed that they are the victims of "microaggressions" that leave them unable to function, except to angrily band together to get campus administrators fired.

I was curious about what these microaggressions might actually be, so I did a search and came up with a project about microaggressions from Fordham University in New York City. Various students were photographed with little placards explaining the microaggressions that they have personally experienced.

I was gobsmacked by just how petty these microaggressions are. Mostly they just involve students being asked where they are from or what ethnicity they are. If that's a microaggression, then most of us are both victims and perpetrators, as people commonly ask this question, both out of curiosity and as a conversation starter.

So, here is a sample of the microaggression complaints:

A bit precious? I get the exact same question in the classroom, it's an abrupt way of asking for your ancestry.

The only real offense here is the lack of geographical knowledge of her classmates

I can imagine it being tiresome to field a question like this, but she really ought to just suck it up

In other words, people are guessing that she is of Chinese descent. I don't know if she's a bit tired of the assumption because she is American born or because she is of some other East Asian origin. But this stuff happens: Australians in Japan are often called "Amerikajin" because it is assumed that people with Anglo looks are from America. Not the hardest thing in life to deal with.

Someone got his name wrong. He is now a member of a club several billion strong.

Someone thought that a person who looked Chinese might possibly be able to read a kanji that looks like Chinese script. Little did they know they were committing a microaggression.

It's interesting that Asian students are jumping on the microaggression bandwagon. They are, after all, members of the most privileged group in America when it comes to career, education and income. Perhaps they realise instinctively that in a liberal system you become vulnerable if you don't strongly assert your right to be a member of a victim class. Or perhaps it is too tempting, even for intelligent people, to externalise their problems, i.e. to blame external "oppression" for your unhappiness, rather than to try to set things right in your own life.

At any rate, it's difficult to take microaggressions seriously. It seems to be more the case of people searching desperately for reasons to feel put out.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Le Choc! FN triumph in French elections

Good to be able to report some positive developments. On Sunday the French went to the polls to elect their regional governments. The National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, is the one major party campaigning against open borders. It made large gains, being voted in first place in six of the thirteen regions. Two of the FN candidates scored over 40% of the vote. The FN candidates will still have to battle it out in the second round of voting - for more on the situation on France please visit Gallia Watch.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The unfolding of modernity

The following is only a quick sketch and is not meant to capture everything. I hope though that it helps some readers get a handle on the steps by which the liberal worldview unfolds.

In brief, the modern liberal mindset gets to where it is through these steps:

Step 1: A denial that there is a stable, objective, external truth that exists or can be known to us.

Step 2: Therefore, the good in life is the act of choosing for ourselves; this is what generates the value that gives human life its dignity. The core value is a freedom understood to mean a right to determine our own self and being (self-determination and individual autonomy).

(A variant on this: the good is not in a community disciplining itself to a truth that resides eternally outside of itself but in the assertion of its own will or in its collective ability to shape its own reality.)

Step 3: If human dignity rests on a freedom to determine our own self, then the unchosen aspects of self should be made not to matter, including our biological sex, race and sexuality and the social roles flowing from these.

So, although for liberals there is no moral order existing objectively outside the individual, there is a new morality in which we must accept the right of others to self-determine. Therefore, we must be non-discriminatory, open to the other, tolerant, inclusive, accepting of diversity and so on.

Step 4: Therefore, there does exist a kind of moral order generated by liberalism, which does then restrict what the individual may or may not do or believe (despite the starting point of a belief in a freedom to self-determine). Individuals in a liberal order may not have beliefs that would make the unchosen aspects of self (biological sex, race, sexuality) or the social roles flowing from these matter in a public context. An individual may be judged guilty, in thought or deed, of discrimination, intolerance, exclusion, prejudice, sexism and so on.

Step 5: If there is no objective, external layer of reality by which we might come to know moral truths or ideals, then the informal, traditional ordering of societies will appear "opaque," irrational or baseless. Instead, it will seem more efficient and scientific to order society along technical lines, according to what is required by markets (i.e. society is organised around the tangible and measurable criteria of what helps an economy to be profitable) or along bureaucratic lines, in which the individual stands in a direct line to the state, with the goals being again the measurable and tangible ones of health, education, housing, welfare and so on.

Step 6: In practice modern societies are ordered along both market and bureaucratic lines. However, some moderns (right-liberals) prefer the market option (the economy) and others (left-liberals) the bureaucracy (the social option). The concept of liberty for right-liberals will emphasise a deregulated freedom to act in the market; left-liberals will prefer a more interventionist state guaranteeing an equality in those conditions of life which help individuals to act autonomously (i.e. they want to overcome disadvantage, understood to mean access to resources for a self-determining life, particularly disadvantage that correlates to those unchosen qualities that are not meant to matter such as our biological sex or race).

Step 7: Happiness and equality don't arrive as they're supposed to. Why? Some liberal moderns assert that it is because some groups of people have a self-interest in preventing it happening. Some groups of people get together and construct a false identity (e.g. maleness or whiteness) which then allows them an unearned privilege at the expense of other groups who are positioned as "the other" (the non-privileged groups). The whole of society is set up to uphold this unearned privilege, meaning that the privileged groups and the society they inhabit must be deconstructed before the promised society of equality and freedom can finally arrive.

So those are the basic steps. There are plenty of people who are at least dimly aware that there is something wrong with the liberal modernity that results from this way of thinking about the world. For instance, liberal societies aren't able to maintain borders - they are porous. In liberal societies, men and white people are attacked as oppressors. In liberal societies, politics is reduced to the management of the economy and certain social goods such as education and housing. In liberal societies there is no encouragement toward positive character goals or virtues, there are only the passive goals of tolerating or not discriminating. In liberal societies, important aspects of identity, such as those relating to manhood and womanhood, or to ancestry and ethny, are gradually dissolved.

But people feel overwhelmed by what appears to be a monolith. How can you possibly take on something that seems to have entrenched itself so deeply into Western society?

Those who do try to resist usually choose the wrong step. Last century most social conservatives, for instance, chose step 6. They opposed the left-liberal wing of modernity by supporting the right-liberal one. Predictably, it had little effect.

There have also been alternative forms of modernity which took the more collectivist path as described briefly in step 2 (possibly under the influence of German idealist philosophy). But this did not challenge modernity itself: it was a different face of modernity rather than a rejection of it.

It is possible as well to challenge liberal modernity at step 7 by objecting to the vilification of white people and men. This is a useful thing to do (a matter of self-defence), but it won't stop the juggernaut of modernity as it doesn't challenge it at its source.

Finally, there have also been those who have challenged modernity by asking what led to step 1. Was it the nominalist victory over philosophical realism? The influence of Gnosticism amongst influential intellectuals? This is an interesting and useful discussion but I don't think it's the best entry point for resisting liberal modernity.

My opinion is that an effective challenge will include two things. First, stating as clearly as possible what liberalism is and where it leads (as a means of clearing people's minds of it as thoroughly as possible). Second, reasserting what was lost from step 1 (so that we shunt aside centuries of liberal development in one decisive move).

The second step will require some scaffolding, as it is now difficult for people to readily give voice to pre-liberal thought. We can start a discussion about character and virtue; about ideals of manliness or womanliness; of natural forms of identity and attachment, and of the loves, loyalties and duties associated with them; of what makes for a good life, or of what some of our life purposes might be; of how the human personality comes to fruition or to its higher purposes; of how different sides of the human personality might be harmonised or ordered.

Thursday, December 03, 2015


I'm reading more and more about the crybully student movement in America. The term "crybully" is a good one, as the movement has two very different sides. On the one hand, there is much talk about racial minority students suffering poor mental health to the point that if anything doesn't go their way that they will be crushed and unable to function. On the other hand, the same students then go about in mobs fiercely intimidating those who don't cravenly fall into line, and they seek (usually successfully) to kick people out of their jobs. They cry and then they bully: they are crybullies.

I wrote a bit about this in my last post on events at Yale and the University of Missouri. A reader alerted me to an even more troubling event at the prestigious Dartmouth College, where white students studying in the library were surrounded by a mob and had racial insults screamed at them.

Then there is Claremont McKenna College. The Dean of Students, Mary Spellman, resigned there because she sought to support minority students but used a phrase they didn't like (word crime?). It didn't matter how pro-diversity she was, she was swallowed up by the movement regardless. Oddly, the minority students claim to be "marginalised" but are confidently demanding the right to remake the place according to their own wishes:
Their demands include a permanent resource center; the immediate creation of two diversity positions for student affairs and faculty; and a general education requirement for ethnic, racial, and sexuality theory; along with over a dozen other demands.

“To the administration as a whole, we require greater diversity in our faculty and staff,” stated the protest leader. “The need for such programs to educate the student body is eminent [sic] by the numerous microaggressions felt by students of color.” Students of color called out racially-insensitive professors for making them feel unsafe. “We want mandatory and periodic racial sensitivity trainings for all professors,” one protestor stated. “How are students supposed to learn in the classroom when they don’t even feel safe? When their own professors, someone who is supposed to be a mentor to them, a teacher, doesn’t even respect their identities? We want more diverse course offerings for critical race theory, community engagement, and social justice issues.”

They want white professors sacked and replaced; they want courses (critical race theory) which make white people the oppressors; and they want a kind of Stalinist style "mandatory and periodic racial sensitivity training for all professors".

Such is life in the modern liberal West.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Melbourne Traditionalists meeting

Late notice, but this coming Thursday (3rd December) Mark Moncrieff of Upon Hope and I will be hosting a meeting of the Melbourne Traditionalists. If you're interested in attending please send either one of us an email (mine: swerting(at)

Are student radicals losing mental health?

This is old news now in America but wasn't widely reported on here in Australia. Two events, one at Yale and the other at the University of Missouri, show a disturbing trend amongst radical activists.

Let's start with the prestigious Yale University. The event there began when an email was sent to students asking them to show sensitivity when selecting Halloween costumes. The wife of a college master sent an email of her own lamenting the fact that students were no longer being encouraged to be transgressive but instead were scared to offend. Her husband supported her on more libertarian, free speech grounds, that rather than college authorities ban anything, students themselves should show disapproval of what they found offensive.

Jancey Paz, a student at the college, wrote a letter of complaint about the master: his ten weeks as a leader of the college, Master Christakis has not fostered this sense of community. He seems to lack the ability, quite frankly, to put aside his opinions long enough to listen to the very real hurt that the community feels. He doesn’t get it. And I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.

My dad is a really stubborn man. We debate all the time, and I understand the value of hearing differing opinions. But there have been times when I have come to my father crying, when I was emotionally upset, and he heard me regardless of whether or not he agreed with me. He taught me that there is a time for debate, and there is a time for just hearing and acknowledging someone’s pain.

I have had to watch my friends defend their right to this institution. This email and the subsequent reaction to it have interrupted their lives. I have friends who are not going to class, who are not doing their homework, who are losing sleep, who are skipping meals, and who are having breakdowns. I feel drained. And through it all, Christakis has shown that he does not consider us a priority.

Remember, this is Yale. It is supposed to be a place where the intellectual elite gather. Instead, Jancey Paz portrays it as a place where emotionally fragile young people commune to have their feelings soothed.

Or perhaps we are witnessing a new strategy by student radicals. One in which the matter at hand never even gets to the point of political debate because this would be too upsetting - the only acceptable role for those listening to the student left is one of unqualified support and sympathy.

And if this support isn't fulsome enough? Then the supposedly "fragile" communities will punish you fiercely, as Tim Wolfe, who was until recently President of the University of Missouri, found out.

The student left at Missouri felt that he hadn't created spaces of healing after a police shooting in Ferguson:
“In the following months, our students were left stranded, forced to face an increase in tension and inequality with no systemic support...The academic careers of our students are suffering. The mental health of our campus is under constant attack. Our students are being ignored. We have asked the University to create spaces of healing and it failed to do so.”

He apologised but the left still made two demands. First, that he issue another public apology at a press conference acknowledging his "white male privilege". The second that he be fired. He was fired.

For the moment, the strategy has worked.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Liberalism: making the world a more dangerous place?

The news of the past week was, of course, the Paris terror attacks. I was interested to see what the reaction would be from the general public here in Australia. Many do seem to recognise that we now live in a different world, one which is no longer as safe as it once was. A less attractive world.

You might think that the next step would be for people thinking this way to reconsider the policies causing this decline. The smaller the Muslim population in the West, the easier it is for security services to keep on top of those planning terror attacks. So if you want a safer and more secure society it makes sense to limit Muslim immigration into the West.

But most people have not taken this next logical step. Why? I think perhaps it's because if you have lived in a liberal culture for long enough you are likely to have developed a "liberal reflex" - by which I mean an internalised sense of what you can or can't think (or feel). And, at the moment, the reflex tells people that to cast any kind of insensitivity onto a migrant, including a Muslim migrant, is a worse thing than to live under the ongoing threat of terror attacks.

It is weak-minded, when what is needed is a resolute commitment to the security of the Western populations.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stepping into St Patrick's

I was in the city this morning and decided to see if a mass was being held at the cathedral, St Patrick's. As it happens, I stepped inside just as the homily was being delivered (by, I believe, Archbishop Denis Hart).

I entered at a key point in his address, when he was advising his flock on how to live a good Christian life. As I sat down, he said "And it is important that you do not involve yourself with any isms, such as...."

I'll get back to the two isms he specifically warned against in a moment. First, I want to say how impressed I was by the mass itself. The cathedral is both beautiful and monumental (the largest church building in Australia, it took 81 years to complete). The music was uplifting and also beautiful; I have never heard better sacred music than that sung by the boys choir (which has an unusual history - the Vienna boys choir was touring Australia when WWII broke out and so remained in Melbourne for many years, leading to the formation of the cathedral choir).

The altar, St Patrick's Melbourne

Stained glass window, St Patrick's Melbourne

But back to the isms. The two that came into the archbishop's mind to specifically warn against were conservatism and fundamentalism.

The warning against conservatism made me think of just how much the Catholic church in Melbourne resembles the Anglican church of about 30 years ago - one seeking to comfortably identify with the liberal establishment.

But this is where the church is digging a hole for itself. If you want to be an establishment liberal, then, yes, the worst thing you can do is be "fundamentalist". But the way that liberals define the term fundamentalist nowadays is quite specific.

For a liberal, a fundamentalist is a person who rejects the liberal idea that there is nothing objectively right or wrong, as what is right is the subjective act of defining your own good and being tolerant and non-discriminatory in allowing others to do the same.

The problem is that the Catholic Church necessarily violates this belief. The church does, in fact, assert that some acts are objectively right or wrong (i.e. it judges, it discriminates). Furthermore, the church upholds beliefs about the existence of distinctions between men and women that also restrict the way that people might define their own good (e.g. a woman cannot choose to become a Catholic priest). That, in the liberal definition, is also fundamentalist.

The church cannot remain itself if it attempts to be a liberal institution following liberal concepts.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A different understanding of marriage

In a previous post on marriage a reader left this comment:
The traditional concept of Marriage in Christian (an indeed all major religious) tradition is of a social institution and not a personal relationship. Marriage, like other social institutions, must have a vision and goals which are in line with the common good of the society and families from which the bride and groom originate.

The principle functions of marriage are the procreation and enculturation of children, and the care of the elderly and the sick. Marriage does not, therefore, exist primarily to fulfil personal emotional or sexual gratification needs. Its primary purpose is the preservation and perpetuation of the social order.

The Christian view of Mary and Joseph as the model family requires that the righteous man marries within his own tribe. Husband and wife should, as Mary and Joseph, be of common ancestral descent. Thus the genetic heritage and gifts which God created in each ethnic group be preserved.

I do understand the point being made here. It is a reaction against the current failing understanding of marriage. When people marry now, they still often say the traditional vows, but do not really mean them. For instance, whilst it is undoubtedly true that women at their weddings want their marriages to succeed, what many are really vowing is to stay with their husbands as long as they still have a feeling of love toward them, with love understood as a romantic feeling. If the feeling goes, then the marriage was not "fated" to last, it simply wasn't meant to be, and it is then thought right to move on.

Obviously, this way of doing things means that many marriages will fail. It only takes one bout of marital weariness and it's over (see here).

My reader puts forward a different model, one based on an authoritative assertion of marriage as a social institution, rather than a personal relationship. Would it work? Well, one thing in its favour is that most people do follow whatever moral beliefs are authoritative in their society. So as long as the belief in marriage as a social institution retained moral authority, it would most likely be more successful than the current model.

Even so, I'd like to put forward a different way of framing marriage, one that ties together the personal and the social. First, for a culture of marriage to succeed there needs to be a sense of the "offices" of husband/father and wife/mother. These offices are part of what fulfil our created natures as men and women; they add a sense of meaning and accomplishment to our work in the world; and they bring a sense of fruition to our lives.

These offices are a deep expression of our manhood and womanhood and, as such, tie our personal identity closely to our social roles within the family. They also give us a reason to commit to marriage and family in a stable way over and above the romantic relationship we have with our spouse.

But these offices are no longer as effective as they once were in anchoring our family commitments. One problem is the emphasis in liberalism on "freedom as individual autonomy". If the aim is to be an autonomous, self-determining, self-creating individual, then inherited social roles, particularly those based on our unchosen biological sex, will be thought of negatively as restraints on the individual. So over time marriage will be reconceived as an increasingly personal union alone, minus the social offices.

A second issue is the feminist idea that the offices of wife and mother were constructed for oppressive purposes; i.e. that rather than being part of the fulfilment of a woman, or of a fruitful life, that they are the very opposite, a way of women being subordinated in society. Therefore several generations of women have been raised not necessarily to reject marriage itself, but rather the significance or worth of the role/office of being a wife and mother.

This is especially true of the wifely role which has been widely cast as being old-fashioned or disempowering. In contrast, there do still exist some women (including women with careers) who uphold some of the older culture attached to the motherhood role and this does help to cement their marital commitments. There are some women, in other words, who might not stay in a marriage for the sake of their husbands or societies, but who will do so for the sake of their children.

For a culture of marriage to succeed there also needs to be a certain understanding of love. Emotional feeling is not the only test of love; the love we are called on to cultivate in marriage is one that should be settled in the will and be expressed, in part, as fidelity and service. Nor should we see love as being passively fated, but rather as something that we are actively oriented to, i.e. that we will love the spouse we are with, with all that this entails (e.g. the emotional maturity to forgive).

Finally, our stable commitments to marriage and family can also be reinforced by our perception of the good. Our commitment to community or tribe or nation is drawn partly from the identity and connectedness we draw from them, but partly also from the good that we perceive in them. This good can be understood in a secular way (e.g. the positive role that family plays in the emotional development of the young), but also in a religious way, as a transcendent good, by which I mean a good that exists independently of human agency and which might be experienced as something like "the eternal in the moment of perception".

Romantic love can be experienced as a transcendent good (finding your "soul mate"), although this is not what anchors family commitments. But so too can the life and character of a family - this can be experienced as a unique expression of a transcendent good, something of inestimable value, that you would not then ordinarily choose to dissolve (just as you would not ordinarily choose to dissolve your own tradition if you saw in it a unique expression of a transcendent good).

Sunday, November 08, 2015

What would you say if you became PM?

When Malcolm Turnbull took over from Tony Abbott as PM, he fronted the media and declared:
This has been a very important, sobering experience today. I am very humbled by it. I am very humbled by the great honour and responsibility that has been given to me today. We need to have in this country, and we will have now, an economic vision, a leadership that explains the great challenges and opportunities that we face.

Describes the way in which we can handle those challenges, seize those opportunities and does so in a manner that the Australian people understand so that we are seeking to persuade rather than seeking to lecture.

This will be a thoroughly Liberal Government. It will be a thoroughly Liberal Government committed to freedom, the individual and the market. It will be focussed on ensuring that in the years ahead, as the world becomes more and more competitive, and greater opportunities arise, we are able to take advantage of that. The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative.

This is a vision of the nation as an economy and of our political leaders as economic managers.

This is too small a view of nation and leadership. It is too limited in scope.

This is true also of Turnbull's commitment to "freedom, the individual and the market". This is misconceived. You don't serve the individual by serving the individual alone. You serve the individual by upholding the institutions and traditions which help form his identity, which inspire his loves and attachments, and which anchor his commitments.

Turnbull is a classical liberal (a right-liberal). A few years ago I wrote a post attempting to explain why classical liberalism doesn't work over time, which I think is worth reading: Can classical liberalism get what it needs?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Gosford signs

Australia must be one of the few nations to have a public holiday for a horse race, the Melbourne Cup. It has been called the race that stops the nation which is why one left-wing Anglican minister put up this sign:

It's a criticism of the Australian Government's policy of stopping the boats carrying illegal immigrants before they reach Australia.

I was curious to learn more about the Gosford Anglicans and their minister, Father Rod Bower. The first thing I found out is that there are many more such signs:

You might think that a flamboyant Christian minister might be a little more cautious in supporting the Islamification of Australia. After all, recent event in the Middle East include the wiping out of ancient Christian communities that once numbered millions and the formation of a caliphate which has imposed brutal executions for homosexuals.

Father Bower has considered this issue, at least briefly. It seems that the flooding of hundreds of thousands of immigrants into Europe this year has given him pause for thought. He does not believe, though, that extremism will ever happen in Australia for two reasons.

We live in a world of extremes. We must not, however, fall into he trap of believing that all these extremes are easily transportable to Australia. We do not have the porous borders of Europe and no matter what the scaremongers say it not possible for people to enter without notice or permission.

Australia is in the unique position of being able to intentionally and systematically receive refugees and to enable them to contribute their own unique gifts to our ever-evolving culture.

This argument seems contradictory. We are reassured by Father Bower that we have nothing to fear because Australia does not have porous borders and can "systematically receive refugees"; at the same time, though, he believes fiercely that Australia should make its borders more porous and our immigration policy less systematic by allowing people to be smuggled into the country.

Here's another contradiction. Father Bower was very critical of Tony Abbot's speech in England, in which Abbott urged Europe to adopt the Australian system of detaining illegal arrivals. But if, as Father Bower states, Europe is in danger of extremism because of its porous borders, then surely the Europeans ought to follow Abbott's advice, or something like it.

This aside, Father Bower might like to consider that it has often been the children of the first arrivals who have committed acts of terrorism, so even screening on arrival does not rule out future problems.

Father Bower also believes that we are in no danger from Islamification because:
We are a rational people who reject extremism of all types whether it is religious or political. As Archbishop William Temple said “we are not moderately passionate, we are passionately moderate." In this exceptional land we have a unique opportunity to build a harmonious, diverse and life-giving society.

Interesting how this is massaged a certain way. Father Bower's liberal moderns do not just reject religious extremism, they mostly reject religion as a whole. In Gosford, Anglicans are outnumbered by atheists by 25% to 18%. Father Bower, as a minister of the cloth, might perhaps think twice before identifying too closely with a mainstream liberal culture.

I note too that Archbishop William Temple himself may not have been as keen on Islamifying Australia as Father Bower is. He wrote in his work Church and Nation (preface xi):
We all know about Turkey; it is the essentially Mohammedan power and Mohammedanism is the religion of oppression; it believes in imposing its faith by means of the sword.

Also, it is not so much a question of whether "we" are a rational and moderate people, but whether the future waves will be equally so.

And, finally, it's difficult to see recent social developments as being "passionately moderate". Is it "passionately moderate" to use migration to dissolve the distinct Western peoples? Or to reimagine nations as being something like large-scale business ventures? Or to dissolve the culture and the social supports that once supported a stable family life?

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Cakes vs alcohol

Two recent legal decisions in the US:
A Colorado appeals court on Thursday ruled that a Denver-area baker cannot refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple based on his religious belief.

Followed shortly thereafter by this:
A JURY has awarded US$240,000 to two Muslim men who say they were fired from an Illinois trucking company after refusing to deliver alcohol.

A judge found Morton-based Star Transport Inc. violated the religious beliefs of Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdikarim Hassan Bulshale.

Perhaps there are differences between the two cases that justify the different outcomes. At first sight, though, it seems as if Muslims are allowed to appeal to religious beliefs in not providing a professional service but Christians aren't.

The anti-discrimination laws appear to be being applied in a discriminatory way.

The trucking company, as it happens, went out of business.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Marriage & a traditionalist counterculture

I thought Suzanne Venker made a good point in a discussion on why modern marriage is failing:
If women no longer expect or even want men to “take care of” them — since women can do everything men can do and better, thank you very much, feminism — perhaps the flipside is the assumption that women don’t need to take care of husbands, either. And if no one’s taking care of anyone, why the hell marry?

Her argument makes sense. It means that if we want to restore a culture of marriage we need to think through ways in which men and women can return to complementary gender roles (if we set up society so that men and women don't need each other, then sexual relations are likely to deteriorate.)

However, I don't think her argument explains everything. There are women out there who do want men to take care of them but who still carry the assumption that they don't need to take care of their husbands in return. How do we explain this phenomenon?

It possibly has to do with a misunderstanding of love itself. If you were to ask young women today what love is I expect that many would think of the physical or emotional sensations evoked by a passionate feeling of romantic love (butterflies in the stomach, not wanting to be apart etc.). What's missing is the understanding that genuine love instils a settled commitment in the will toward both fidelity and a desire to "do well toward", i.e. to serve and uphold.

This latter understanding of love has bit by bit leached out of Western culture. It was once applied not only to conjugal love (marriage); but to our wider families; to people and place; to our culture and tradition. It survived longest within a culture of family life, where love and commitment remained twin concepts at least for my parent's generation.

I think what survives now amongst the more responsible educated women is the idea that they should stay married out of a commitment to their children, i.e. that their children would be hurt if they abandoned their marriages. It's the last bit of culture that still supports marriage (at least within certain socio-economic groups) - and if that goes, then perhaps the whole thing collapses.

So how might a traditionalist counterculture push things back in the right direction? First, marriage can't be seen in isolation. If it is good to love, and if love is connected to loyalty, commitment and service, then that is true as well of our love for our own people and culture. A counterculture would need to promote as part of an ideal of personhood this understanding of love and of the higher nature of men and women.

Second, a counterculture would need to reassert standards. In liberal theory there is no morality per se, nothing inherently right or wrong, or higher or lower. What is moral in liberal theory is the act of defining your own good. This does then generate a kind of morality, in which it is thought wrong to oppose the "define your own good" ideal, so that the worst things are to discriminate, to be judgemental, intolerant, fundamentalist and so on.

A counterculture would need to erase this whole way of thinking about morality and instead reassert as a standard or ideal what is higher within human nature. How can you ask people to act to uphold the good, if there is no good, except for the act of choosing and not discriminating when it comes to the choices of others?

Finally, if there is to be change, it is likely to be carried through by a cultural elite - elite not in terms of money or political correctness, but in level of culture and character. To create such an elite will most likely require select entry schools and then some kind of supporting institutions.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Barrister speaks out against bias

Michael Challinger, a Melbourne barrister, has seen the family court system abused many times. He gives the following example:
My client Tom was at work when the police turned up. They served him with an intervention order, took him home and told him to pack a suitcase. If he returned home, or contacted his wife or children, he'd be facing two years' jail. He'd had no inkling this was coming.

The order was an interim one, granted ex parte. That means the court issued it in his absence, having heard only his wife's side of the story.

In theory, Tom could go to court and argue his case, but a hearing date was months away. With his wife now in sole possession of the family home, her lawyers came on heavy about a divorce and a property settlement. They hinted that if he played ball, he could start seeing his kids again.

It is difficult for men to contest the allegations:
Most men simply can't afford to keep paying out indefinitely for lawyers. They can't keep taking days off work. They can't stand not seeing their children for months on end, so they come to terms with the applicants. They consent to orders without admitting the allegations and then try to negotiate some child access.

Those who dig their heels in and contest the applications don't fare much better. Often, the paperwork doesn't even particularise the case they have to meet. Tom's application claimed he was "abusive and controlling". How? When? In what way? He'd find that out in court.

In any event, the act defines family violence so widely, it includes the sort of friction that occurs occasionally in even the happiest family: heated argument, raised voices, the silent treatment. I've seen an application succeed where the husband criticised his wife's cooking and (on a separate occasion) slammed a door. You can always find something a man's done wrong.

How to reform the situation? First, the definition of domestic violence needs to be tightened. It needs to be something more than a heated argument or the silent treatment. It should involve physical violence, or the real threat of violence. Second, men who do have an ex parte decision made against them should be guaranteed a court hearing within a specified period of time (a month?). Third, the paperwork should detail the specific accusations made against the men. Fourth, if a woman is found to have fabricated an accusation it should be considered negatively when parenting orders are finally made.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Beauty & empowerment

Amy Molloy is 31 and is about to be married. In her youth she dressed in a sexually provocative way:
In the past I have followed a 'less is more' rule when it comes to dressing. Like most teenage girls I went out in as little as my parents would allow and, for a while during my early twenties, my favourite clubbing outfit was a lace leotard with nothing underneath it.

But now she is trying to justify to herself dressing a bit more conservatively. She has told the Daily Mail a somewhat unlikely story about how she was at a farmers market in North Sydney and was warned by a man that her revealing gym clothes were putting her in danger and that she should clear out. She thanked the man and left.

One thing that stood out to me is that Amy Molloy sees only the options of dressing prudishly or sexually provocatively. She leaves out the option of dressing in a beautiful/sexually appealing way. And the question is why?

One possible answer is that she belongs to a generation of women who have been encouraged to reject modesty. By modesty I mean a sense of reserve that aims for love, for family and for one man rather than an indiscriminate, public display of sexuality. Modesty stands in the way of the modern girl ethos which is not oriented to family commitments or even to a stable commitment to a man, but instead to autonomy, independence, career and self-actualisation (understood as the assertion of the solo ego in the world). It is these qualities which are thought to make a young woman empowered, and so young feminist women naturally assume that it is empowering to be immodest and to assert themselves in an overtly sexual way, i.e. sluttily. Young feminists associate the slutwalks with power.

But is sluttiness empowering? Consider what Amy Molloy was doing just before the incident in North Sydney:
For the past 30 minutes, I had been talking loudly on the phone to a girlfriend about why a guy she'd met on Tinder hadn't stayed the night after having sex with her.

Who is the empowered one in this exchange? The man who gets the easy one night stand or the woman who wonders why he doesn't hang around after?

And there's another sense in which women are disempowered through immodesty. When women are dressed for beauty, they have the power to deeply impress and therefore positively influence men. This is a higher power because it is something that affects the inner spirit of men - it doesn't have to be dragged out of men through the force of law or the threat of punishment or through indoctrination. It is sincere and voluntary.

There is a second reason why Anne Molloy might have disregarded the appeal of beauty as an option for women. Beauty is something that we all know and experience in our lives. Nonetheless, moderns find it difficult to acknowledge the reality of a good like beauty. Moderns are inclined to think in terms of an immediate physical reality with nothing embedded in it, which means that beauty doesn't register as a higher truth for them the way that it did in more traditional cultures.

That's one reason why writers like Anne Molloy discuss the issue of feminine attire either in terms of gender politics or health and safety. These are considered "real" in a way that beauty isn't. Anne Molloy is about to marry; she clearly feels that she should tone down her public display of sexuality; but to justify this she turns to the idea that there is a personal health and safety benefit in doing so - hence the story of the man who warned her that the drug dealers at a North Sydney farmers market might rob or attack her because of her lycra gym pants.

I find it interesting that postmoderns do like to experience beauty (the clothes shops in trendy Fitzroy are full of classic 50s dresses), but only allow themselves to do so "ironically". They want us to know that they don't really believe in the particular good whilst still wanting to enjoy it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Annie Teriba

Annie Teriba is a lesbian student activist of Nigerian descent at Oxford. She has spoken out passionately against rape, but publicly apologised recently for having had non-consensual sex with another woman:
Miss Teriba had been a darling of the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) — a separate body to the Union debating society — which oversees student issues for the university.

She spoke for OUSU with considerable vigour as Oxford’s ‘lesbian, gay, bi and transsexual women’s representative’ at a countrywide level during meetings of the National Union of Students.

One of the issues she spoke most passionately about was the problem of sexual aggression against women. Indeed, she had unflinchingly asserted the wildly controversial (and utterly unproven) statistic that ‘one woman in four’ at Oxford can expect to be raped.

The interesting thing about this is that lesbian feminists usually claim that rape is caused by the patriarchal desire of men to control women through violence. If that is so, then there would be no reason for Annie Teriba to rape another woman as she has no investment in the patriarchy but claims to be an opponent of it. In other words, Annie Teriba is helping to disprove her own theory.

Another interesting thing: Annie Teriba is yet another radical feminist who feels abandoned by her father. She is in the company here of feminist luminaries such as Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Jill Johnston, Eva Cox and Rebecca West.

Annie Teriba has written a poem about her feelings of paternal abandonment, a poem in which she blames white men for her black father not being there for her. It is titled "Interring. Or, White Boy, What Have You Done With My Father's Bones" and includes he lines "no, this is how do black fathers mistake home for shackle; and wade?" and "Black men have always been sacrifice to their paperface gods" and "who will teach me to love myself when my father is a village in ruins?".

The poem does, it seems to me, show some talent, but the content of it gives away not only an offensive racial politics (the politics of white blame), but also points to personal psychological issues as a driving force in Annie Teriba's politics ("how I can be empty and yet so full of grief").

In radical leftist student politics there is an element of personal psychological disorder. You can see this in an incident from earlier this year in which organisers of a student feminist conference asked people not to clap in case it triggered anxieties amongst those attending but to instead use jazz hands to show each other support.

Monteverdi - Lamento della Ninfa - Kirkby

I hadn't heard this piece until recently. Best to start at about 1:35.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Song of Sebastien Jallamion

Tiberge at Gallia Watch has posted an item which shows how crazy things are getting in France. A policeman named Sebastien Jallamion has been punished by a court for political commentary he made on an anonymous Facebook page. He has also been suspended from his job. During his police disciplinary hearing he was rebuked for having criticised the leader of ISIS following the beheading of a Frenchman. A member of the committee said to him "Are you not ashamed of stigmatizing an imam in this way?"

It led me to compose this little response written from the viewpoint of that committee member:

Song of Sebastien

Are you not ashamed Sebastien?
You have spoken against evil
You have defended your countrymen
You have acted with courage as a free man.

And here I sit in a committee room
risen within a servile state
where truth and character is as small
as the statutes I bring to condemn you.

Are you not ashamed Sebastien?
If you were not here but had stayed unseen
I would not be discomfited by thoughts
of the greater man I should have been.

PS I notice there is a petition in support of Sebastien Jallamion here.

Horrible Bosses - of the EU

Fjordman has a good post up at Gates of Vienna. It has some recent quotes from EU leaders, spelling out what they believe ideologically. As you might guess, the beliefs are disastrous.

He begins with Federica Mogherini, who is, in a sense, the EU’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. She rejects the very possibility of culture clashes, or of Islamisation, or even the existence of different power blocs in the world, as being incompatible with the new EU identity which is based on plurality and openness.

It's similar to what I wrote in the comments to a reader recently: Western liberals don't necessarily want to be dominated, but they have adopted a set of moral beliefs and a way of creating meaning in life which then commits them to the hope that the world exists in a certain way. In other words, they are not starting with reality, they are starting with ideological commitments, and they then act in the hope and belief that the world exists in a way that fits into these commitments.

For Federica Mogherini this means hoping that there will be no power blocs in the world, no clash of civilisations, and no serious point of conflict between Islam and Western liberalism. This is what she finds herself committed to ideologically.

This is how she herself puts it:
“The very idea of a clash of civilisations is at odds with the most basic values of our European Union — let alone with reality. Throughout our European history, many have tried to unify our continent by imposing their own power, their own ideology, their own identity against the identity of someone else. With the European project, after World War II, not only we accepted diversity: we expressed a desire for diversity to be a core feature of our Union. We defined our civilisation through openness and plurality: a mind-set based on blocs does not belong to us. Some people are now trying to convince us that a Muslim cannot be a good European citizen, that more Muslims in Europe will be the end of Europe. These people are not just mistaken about Muslims: these people are mistaken about Europe — that is my core message — they have no clue what Europe and the European identity are. This is our common fight: to make this concept accepted both in Europe and beyond Europe. For Europe and Islam face some common challenges in today’s world. The so-called Islamic State is putting forward an unprecedented attempt to pervert Islam for justifying a wicked political and strategic project.”

It's worth noting, too, the "identity" that Europeans are now supposed to adopt, which is a suicidal non-identity. Europeans are now supposed to believe that their identity is based around having no particular identity, only an openness to the other.

An equally horrible EU boss is Frans Timmermans. He also manages to define away the existence of Europe as a place with particular cultures and peoples. He sees it instead as a kind of stage for the expression of liberal politics: the EU is being imagined as liberal theatre. According to Timmermans:
The rise of islamophobia is the one of the biggest challenges in Europe. It is a challenge to our vital values, to the core of who we are. Never has our societies’ capacity for openness, for tolerance, for inclusion been more tested than it is today. Diversity is now in some parts of Europe seen as a threat. Diversity comes with challenges. But diversity is humanity’s destiny.

Timmermans is not saying that tolerance, inclusion and openness can be virtues in certain circumstances. He is making the radical claim that they are vital values which constitute the core of what a European is. He believes that diversity - by which he means the loss of communal cultures - is humanity's destiny.

Finally, there is Vera Jourova who wants to curb freedom of expression on the internet to limit criticism of what bosses like herself are doing (Fjordman has the details of this).

So what is to be done? At a higher level, the liberal ideology itself needs to come under sustained attack. We should be writing books and pamphlets which systematically criticise it (as James Kalb has done).

There is also the option of reasserting our own particular identities in defiance of the elite's efforts to promote a universal liberal identity.

Punishing the elites politically is also a worthy aim, although it means supporting genuinely non-liberal groups, rather than giving unthinking support to the mainstream right.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sydney Trads Symposium - Frank Salter

The Sydney Trads have come up with a great idea, which is to run a symposium discussing the place of conservatism in Australian politics following the replacement of Tony Abbott as PM.

I haven't read all of the contributions yet, but have just read Frank Salter's. It is generally very good. I won't give too much away, but his starting point is to reject the idea that the Abbott Government was a consistently conservative one. His way forward is for conservatives to build social movements, which he describes (briefly) as "a networked infrastructure of researchers and writers, magazines, websites, forums, seminars, news and documentaries."

Open border activist stabbed by...

In the German city of Dresden a young man who campaigned for open borders has been stabbed in a random attack by a group of North African immigrants:
Twenty-nine year old ‘Julius G.’ involved himself in political activism while reading his degree in industrial engineering Technical University of Dresden. Now he may have fallen victim to his own politics, as the refugee advocate was attacked while waiting for friends in Dresden’s Neustadt, known as the city’s ‘left wing’, or ‘alternative’ quarter.

Germany’s Bild-Zeitung reports police were called to Pizza 5 on Alaunstraße on Saturday after a group of six to eight men jumped the student in the early hours and stabbed him twice in the back, leaving him in a serious condition. A police spokesman said: “Several police vans searched the surrounding area, unfortunately without success. According to witnesses, the attackers were said to be North Africans”.

West-German ‘Julius G.’ who has been a student in Dresden for five years told Bild: “I don’t know why I was attacked.

“I waited opposite the pizzeria for two friends who were buying something to eat after we had left the pub and were on our way home”.

The student didn’t think the motivation was robbery, as nothing was taken after the stabbing. Explaining he campaigned for the rights of refugees, he explained: “it makes me very sad that I was attacked by precisely this group”.

It is also being claimed (not confirmed) that a "no borders" activist was raped by a group of Sudanese men in Italy.

There is probably low value in reporting these stories, as they are unlikely to influence official policy. The issue ought to be contested at the level of principle. The stories do bring out, though, a certain kind of naïve thinking by the open borders activists.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Bendigo protests

Overseas readers might be particularly interested to learn about events yesterday in Bendigo, a regional city here in Victoria with about 100,000 residents.

One of the unusual things about Bendigo is that despite being largely Anglo-Celtic in demographics, it is being fought over by the world's religions. It has a magnificent Catholic Cathedral; a great Buddhist Stupa is being built there; and the council recently approved a proposal to build a mega mosque. Why Bendigo? It's difficult to fathom, given the small number of Buddhists and Muslims in the area (there are supposed to be about 35 Muslims in Bendigo). Presumably both groups envision that they will one day expand in a major way into the area.

The local residents did not object to the Great Stupa but there has been a campaign to stop the mega mosque. Yesterday a protest rally of about 1000 faced off against a counter-protest of about 500, with almost 500 police separating the two groups:

Here is a picture of some of the pro-mosque supporters:

You can see that there is something of a class divide here. The three women above look like well-heeled, middle-class types. I don't think, though, that they are deep thinkers. The woman in the middle is holding a placard saying "Church, Stupa, Mosque - What's the difference really?" which is an extraordinarily blase approach to a serious issue.

After all, there are two possible outcomes. One is that the Muslims who come to the mosque will gradually be influenced by liberalism and adopt liberal values. The other is that they won't and that middle-class Australian liberals will find themselves submitting to Islam instead. I'm guessing that the three women have never really considered the second option.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What are the risks?

I read a piece in the Daily Mail about a talented young woman who took her own life despite the best efforts of her family to help her. A very sad story which I wouldn't normally comment on here, except that the statistics at the end caught my attention, namely that in Australia over 2500 people commit suicide each year and over 60,000 make an attempt.

This reminded me of my recent post on domestic violence in which a mother of daughters claimed that "I worry about the most lethal and emotionally devastating threat to each of my girls — being in a relationship."

The mother was claiming that being in a relationship would expose her daughters to the lethal threat of domestic violence. She used the oft repeated, but false, claim that "Recent statistics show domestic family violence claims more Australian women’s lives and causes more ill health than all other well-known preventable risks."

Obviously this isn't the case. About 100 women a year in Australia are killed by their intimate partners (i.e. via domestic violence). Of these about 90% occur amongst an unemployed underclass.

In Australia women are 1 in every 3 of those who commit suicide. That means that about 830 women will commit suicide in Australia each year. Women are 60% of those who attempt suicide, which means that 36,000 women will attempt suicide.

So what is the greatest risk to women? It is not harm by a male partner, but self-harm. Women are 8 times more likely to be killed by self-harm than by domestic violence and 360 times more likely to attempt self-harm than to be killed by an intimate partner.

Of course it is a worthy aim nonetheless to try to reduce the number of deaths by domestic violence. It is a pity, though, that the issue should be framed as one of men oppressing women. The statistics are that 50% of those assaulted in domestic violence cases are male; 30% of those injured are male; and 25% of those killed are male. In 2010 28 men were killed in Australia by female partners.

So women are the majority of victims but men make up a substantial minority. So why focus on women alone as victims?

The answer is that it fits into a certain ideology. According to patriarchy theory, men use violence against women in a systematic way in order to uphold a gender supremacy. The theory claims that masculinity itself was created on the basis of this violent suppression of women. Logically, if you believe the ideology, you will think that the solution to domestic violence lies with all men changing their attitudes toward women and abandoning masculinity and privilege.

We should be encouraging those participating in domestic violence campaigns to drop the ideological approach in favour of a more practical outlook. And a test of this is whether the campaigners are willing to see domestic violence in general as a problem, and not reduce it to a male oppressor/female victim scenario.

There does exist a group attempting to influence the debate called One in Three. I especially like their page dealing with misleading statistics.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The insurrection of the mind

Tiberge at GalliaWatch has an interesting post up about Philippe de Villiers (his wonderfully Gallic full name is Philippe Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon).

Villiers is a leader of the Movement for France Party; a member of the European Parliament (though a Eurosceptic); and he was a minister for culture in the Chirac administration. He also established a popular history theme park called Puy du Fou, intended to promote patriotic feeling (it gets 2 million visitors a year).

He has written a book about his political career. In an interview about the book he made comments that most readers of this site are likely to sympathise with:
Politicians refuse to find solutions because they are sold to globalism that necessitates the destruction of all vital attachments.

Behind the lies I saw high treason. This unheard-of conjunction between the interests of some and the ideology of others. On the one hand the search for a planetary market, and on the other the ideology of a nomad, rootless, de-sexed, atomized.

Ever since May '68, the "no borders" of the liberals joined with the "no limits" of the libertarians to unseal all cornerstones.

The globalist elites that I am denouncing knocked down all the sustaining walls of France.

I'd like to highlight the following as well as it so directly contradicts the liberal ideology that currently rules the West:
The drama France is experiencing is twofold: they have attacked the family, and the family of families that is the nation. The latter is a heritage. It must be restated: the nation is received, it is not chosen!

We must confront the globalist elite who have not ceased to destroy the real people, the national community, the long memory, the family, and finally France.

I have bolded the most relevant part. Liberals believe in the autonomous individual, in which freedom is thought to mean having the liberty to self-create, self-define or self-determine. But a traditional communal identity is not self-defined; it is something we are born into. Therefore liberals have set themselves against traditional identities. Villiers is challenging the reigning ideology head on when he insists that we should accept the nation as something received rather than as something chosen individually.

Villiers suggestions of what to do next are worth considering:
They want to fabricate urban manipulable atoms, it is up to us ... to work towards the insurrection of the mind!

We must increase the number of isolates of resistance, create non-government schools that develop straight thinking and ensure transmission, re-affiliation, and rooting.

We must defend the sacred nature of life, and filiation as a mark of identity, the nation as heritage, the borders as anchors and the French dream as a window on the world.

We have returned to the days of the catacombs and each of us must guard his little spark, so that the flame does not ever go out. Those who no longer have hope are those who no longer have a solution.

If we could get just a little bit more organised we could perhaps do more to promote and publish the ideas of men like Villiers. It is fortunate that Tiberge runs her site or else English speakers would have little chance at all of accessing thinkers like Villiers.

(There is more at the original post by Tiberge which I encourage readers to visit.)

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Imagine that

John Lennon's song Imagine was voted in 1999 as having Britain's favourite lyrics. Which is a sad thing as the lyrics are so awful.

We are invited in the song to imagine that there is no heaven; that people live only for today; that there are no countries; no religion; no possessions; and one global culture.

It is an anthem for a denatured individualism. So I was interested to read that a new book by Dominic Sandbrook has concluded that Lennon was not a peace-loving visionary but selfishly individualistic and a hypocrite.

According to Sandbrook Lennon's "driving thought was only ever: 'Me, me, me'" and that his career was marked by an "astonishing degree of self-absorption." Sandbrook notes that "Even his most admiring biographers struggle to justify his cruel streak."

And the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Lennon dreamed of a world without possessions. Yet he chose to indulge in a millionaire lifestyle on a magnificent country estate in England. When living in New York, his partner Yoko Ono had a refrigerated room built in their luxury apartment to store her collection of fur coats. This inspired Elton John to send Lennon the following ditty:

'Imagine six apartments / It isn't hard to do / One is full of fur coats / The other's full of shoes.'

He seems to have been one of those men whom the poet Sir Walter Scott criticised as being "concentrated all in self".

We do have shootings in Australia

We had a shooting yesterday as it happens. A 15-year-old "radicalised youth" from Iran visited the Parramatta mosque before attacking the Parramatta police HQ and shooting dead a civilian IT worker there.

Sydney has also seen the rise of drive by shootings; there were three in one night some weeks ago. Update: It's been confirmed that the shooting was an act of terrorism, although the latest report says that the gunman was from Iraq.

Oregon shooting

Very sad to see news of the shooting in Oregon. There is only patchy information about the gunman so far, but it appears that he graduated from a special high school (Switzer Learning Academy) that caters for students whose emotional issues prevent them attending a regular school. In other words, it is likely that he had longstanding mental health issues. Disturbingly he appears to have singled out Christian students during his attack.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

You have to choose your freedoms

There's a report in today's Herald Sun that the Government is planning to make all religious clerics take out an annual licence. They would face a state registration/training system similar to that applied to school teachers.

Under the plan the state would effectively set the norms (the educational/professional development standards) under which religions would operate.

Here's the thing. It is obvious that the Government is keen to do this to try to rein in the more radical Islamic imams. In the process, though, all churches are being brought further under the sway of the state.

One political point to draw from this is that classical/right liberalism has again failed in its approach. The "freedom" of open borders has led, in practice, to a more intrusive state. In other words, there is a contradiction between the right liberal policy of open borders and the (supposed) right liberal policy of a small and non-intrusive state. You can't have both - you have to choose between them.

My prediction is that right-liberals will choose to become statists.

Monday, September 28, 2015

When worlds collide

200 anarchists attacked a hipster cereal café in London this week. The demo was not exactly sedate:
It was like a witch hunt. There were people with pitchforks, pig heads and fire torches. It was like something from the Middle Ages.

In a way the anarchists are confronting the new world that they themselves helped to create. The hipsters fit into the modern world. The main goods in the modern world are expressive lifestyle ones. Identity does not connect the individual to a higher truth, but is personal and can therefore be expressed playfully and ironically. Hence the hipster male:

The anarchists claim to be opposed to hipsters, but are really just clearing the way for them. If you look at the anarchist slogans they are the predicable ones of opposing nation, family, religion, class and so on. But if you take away the settled identities and loyalties of a group of people, then what is left to them? There is not much there to generate larger values and commitments. People are left to find value in everyday lifestyle pleasures, perhaps in some new food or travel experience.

Predictably this does not stimulate a great interest in politics amongst the masses. The anarchists have noticed this and complain about people being zombies. But the logic of modern society favours the hipsters not the anarchists, particularly whilst economic conditions remain stable.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Good art

I'm determined to post at least two positive pieces for each negative one. So here's something positive. I recently saw some ceramic art by Stephen Bowers and was impressed by how beautiful it was - so unusual for modern artwork. The pictures below don't really do justice to seeing the ceramics in real life. The vases are large - roughly hip height (you can click on them for a better view):

So the question is why Stephen Bowers should be producing such fine art, going against modern trends. Well, the short answer is that he doesn't think the role of the artist is to shock the public, nor is it to break down artistic forms and traditions. He doesn't see artistic traditions as static, but he does draw inspiration from them:
The artist states that a central part of his practice consists of “reaffirming the position, role and presence of painting within the ceramic tradition.” A parallel interest in period illustration, particularly 18th and 19th century copper plate book illustration, continues to provide inspiration.
There is also a local identity at work in his ceramics:
...the regular appearance of motifs (such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge) that are not only unmistakably Australian but also reference a sense of independent cultural identity in a globalised world. As one writer has suggested, “Bowers is an instigator of a new consciousness in Australian pottery, thrusting our native flora and fauna into the limelight as a legitimate form of decoration. He skirts the edge of kitschness while investing authenticity into the use of Australian symbols in the hope of developing our native visual language.”
I think he succeeds in doing this. It's unusual as an Australian to see fine ceramic art decorated with Australian motifs. He has contributed in an original way to an existing tradition - built on it or added to it rather than seeking to entirely deconstruct its forms. The result is something that strikes you as being of enduring worth.