Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blue Scarf Movement.

The French are rightly fed up with the Muslim scum people who are rampaging unchecked across the nation, and on Jan. 26 they will don blue scarves in silent protest against the government's complete neglect of the law and the peace in favor of appeasing the feral beasts of Islam who make the lives of all people, including law-abiding Muslims, a matter of major insecurity. Who do the French politicians think they're fooling? They're fooling themselves. The rest of the nation, and the world at large, is fed up, and they won't take it anymore. Good.

What can we do to show our support for the French? And for the Danes? For the Swedes and Norwegians and English and Dutch and everyone else dumped on by the p.c. sentimentalists who refuse to secure the peace in our lands?

We can go to the nearest McDonald's diner, and on Jan. 26 from 7-9:00 pm we can sit wearing a blue scarf, and there perhaps meet other like-minded people and there talk and admit that we don't like the religion of peace and all the violence it entails by virtue of being the eternal word of a criminal maniac and his murdering followers. Go for coffee at McDonald's on Jan. 26. Wear a blue scarf. If you feel that it's too dangerous to do so, then we have lost this struggle and we are doomed. I think not. I'll see you there.

Sentimentality and Inevitable Famine

The Western world is unlike that of the rest. The Western world is only a recent invention, less than 500 years old, and in that short span of time we have invented a world so radically different from anything done before, from anything imagined before, that we are akin to a new species of being. We are Homo Modernicus. We are so completely different from our fellows that we are unrecognizable to them as people they have anything in common with. They hate us, and they want to kill us. Those who do not share our Modernity are farm animals, beasts who are not like us at all. They are enraged, they are frenzied. They are suicidal. And we are revolutionaries leaving them further and further behind as we march into freedom of the mind, freedom of the life of privacy as independent Men and Women. Many of our own are enraged by our Modernity too. Many of our own hate us for our revolutionary steps into Modernity. They are, frankly, our enemies. We must recognise our positions, know that we are revolutionaries, understand that we are unlike those of generations past in our own lands, and that we are unlike those of the world's masses today in the farm-animal world of Islam and neo-feudalist fascism. We are different, and we are superior. Our enemies hate us. They kill us when they are able. We must destroy them. We must do so enthusiastically. If we are to win out over the reactionaries of Left dhimmi fascism and fascist Islam, we have to get to like smashing our enemies. We have to see our Modernity as so far superior to the animal life of the Muslim world that we see ourselves as brilliant, as saviours, as supermen, if you will.

The old world of Man as farm animal is still with us, and it is the norm, the whole of history for the past 5,000 years of agricultural settlement. And so what? Such time was gestation for our Modernity. Now it's time to continue our Modern Revolution till it is universal or to give up and abandon our struggle, to return to the fold of farm animals, to the life of slavery of the mind. There is no middle ground. The frantic losers of the race between primitive civilizations and the winners of Modernity is showing such a gap that one will soon need to stand atop Mount Olympus to see both at once. Caveman and spaceman.

The gap between the lives of the West and the lives of Muslims is wide and widening, and there is no return without a violent wrenching that will destroy one side or the other. Let's be honest, even if that pains us. The Muslim world is increasingly insane, not simply by the standards of the casual observer who sees raging mobs glorifying murder and suicide and atrocities but by any objective standard. Primitive people who cannot feed themselves with the resources they have to hand, primitive people who breed without regard for the resources required to sustain the bodies they produce, who wage war against those who provide them with the means and quantity of food they need to survive, people who glorify the deaths of their children, people who exult in the death of others when there is no possible gain in any sense, those people are objectively insane. An example? Look at Pakistanis. The CIA reports of their population figures show that over half of the population is under the age of 18. The average age of a Norwegian is 39 years. The one is raging and enraged by psychotic religiousity, a sentimentalist form of religious fervour, and the other is old and aging. The former is myopic and ignorant and violent, and the latter is passive and self-indulgent and apathetic and moralistic, a sentimentalist form of morality. The latter, though, are armed with not only weapons so vastly superior to the Muslims of Pakistan that the Muslims have no hope of survival in an armed struggle against the Norwegians, the Norwegians have the advantage of rationality. The Norwegians can feed themselves and the Pakistanis both. What if the Norwegians decide they will no longer play the charity game? What if the Norwegians become hyper rational? What if they cut off their aid to the Muslims, starving them to death by simply doing nothing other than allowing nature to correct the mistakes the Pakistanis have made? As Norwegians become more and more affluent and the Pakistanis swell in their numbers even further to the point of absolute immiseration, the inability of anyone to feed them, then who is to blame for the demise of millions in the three weeks it would take the Pakistanis to starve to death? The one is as insane as the other. The gap grows, the Muslims become increasingly violent and frustrated, and the West remains in its sentimental mode, pretending the troubles will pass if only we do a little bit more a little bit faster. And the Islamic bubble expands before our disbelieving eyes. Daily we leave the primitives further behind, and yet we continue to throw scraps over our shoulders to keep away the end at least for just one more day.

The Western world is unlike that of any other. We can feed ourselves. So long as our paternalistic indulgence lasts we can probably feed the rest of the world. But food is not at the heart of the issue. For the Muslim world the issue is not life itself. For all of us in our different ways, the issue is the meaning of life and the purpose of life. It is there that the gap is unbridgeable. The gap between the primitives and the Moderns is greater than any gap between peoples has ever before been. We are rich and they are poor. We are few and they are many. We are old and complacent and they are young and violent. They are feral and we are sentimental. All of us are psychotic. We, though, are rationally psychotic: we choose our delusion; and we can choose to abandon it. We are carrying a bloated and violent aggressive parasite that expands as we feed it, and there is one end only.

Whether we throw off the parasite of the Muslim world and allow them to starve to death in their millions or whether we carry them until we die of exhaustion, the Muslim world will eventually die because they are parasitic on the world of Modernity that they do not have the mental equipment to sustain. There cannot be an Islamic Modernity, and without Modernity there is no hope of feeding the ummah. Meanwhile, we weep salty tears about the Third World Peoples and their terrible sufferings as if we really give a damn. In truth, if we were to admit it to ourselves, we do not and cannot care about them because they are parasitic and violent and repulsive and aggressive. The majority of the Muslim world must die as nature demands of any parasite without sustenance, the question is whether we will die in the West as well.
It is a crime against Humanity to continue to indlulge in our collective phantasy of sentimentality. The longer we allow the insanity of the Muslim world to grow the more victims there will be when we cease our stupidity. When the gap is strained to the breaking point who will survive? Will the Muslim world, incapable now of feeding itself and its continuously expanding populations, starve en bloc? Will we lose our footing on our march to further Modernity and rejoin the world of primitives to die with them?

Our sentimentality is a conscious decision to pretend that our enemies are like us but poorer. In fact, they are nothing at all like us, and we are unlike them and unlike any other people in history: we are Modernists, revolutionaries, progressive, and sentimental. If we abandon our sentimentality and strike at the Muslim world we might save many of them from themselves and our eventual wrath. We might save some of the primitives till they can become Modernists like we are. Or we might fall under their boots, and all of us will return to the ages of darkness it's taken most all of Human history to emerge from. We must think it through carefully and unemotionally. This is no time for sentimentality. This is the time to decide who will live and who will die.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Blue Scarf Orgainisers' Meeting, Jan. 26.

On Jan. 26 we will meet the willing at McDonalds diners to begin the face to face meetings we need to begin the tasks of organising against Islam in the world. Details at the end of this post.

Free speech and the right to assemble to express it, those are rights we must actively pursue to make them meaningful, for otherwise we do not actually have them. An unused right is nothing. An abstraction, if one loses it, is no loss. The rights we have to assemble and express ourselves freely are rights we don't have if we refuse to use them. If we neglect our rights we have no rights and no right to complain if we actually lose the legal protection to use them. If from laziness or lack of concern we find ourselves not able to speak freely in public among our peers, then we desrve our loss. Others will take our rights and replace them with their obligations, and we, if we don't compete in the marketplace of ideas, will find ourselves poor and dispossesed. Such is the practicallity of life. Use it or lose it.

Our rights to speak freely and assemble freely in public are under attack by Muslims and their dhimmi supporters. They push constantly for more Islam and more appeasement of the Islamic cause. We have a right, even an obligation, to push back. If we refuse to do so, if we find ourselves pushed into the sea of Islam against our wishes, it will only be due to our lack of concern for our own lives and the lives of our communities. There is no legitimate complaint from those who lose their rights due to neglect.

If Western Modernity dies and Islam triumphs it will not be due to Islamic superiourity but due to Western apathy, due to Western stupidity and cowardice and suicidal narcissism. If, as gloating Muslims chant all across Europe, our grandchildren will be Muslims, there is no one to blame but us. If Modernity collapses and the world reverts to ignorance, violence, slavery of the mind, and Islam, then it will be our fault for allowing it to have happened. It need not be but it most certainly will be that the West crumbles and dies because we did nothing to save it from the savages of Islam. What if they gave a war and we rolled over and waited to die?

Muslims are a police matter. There is nothing the private citizen in legitimate nations can do about them as a whole. But Islam is a matter of legitimate concern for each and every citizen of the world. Islam is a matter of personal interest and also a personal threat. Islam is a matter of individual concern, and if individuals do nothing to confront it and stop it from spreading and push it back and push it out from the Modernist world, then the West will die. Individuals will suffer, and so what? Those who refuse to defend themselves deserve what their masters do to them. The police will attend to police matters in service of those who rule, and if those who rule are Muslims, then the end of the West will be legitimate and legal. It will be final. It will be deserved.

What is to be done? There are some in the West who demand resistence, even victory over the threat of Islam. Not all Westerners are passive and timid. Some of us refuse to accept the seemingly inevitable triumph of barbarism in the West. Some of us still exercise our rights, and still speak freely in public-- the consequences be damned. Few though we are, two though we are, we demand action. We act alone.

Our actions are small and pale. Nothing in the West compares to the strength of the world-wide Muslim campaign to destroy our Western Modernity and to replace it with 7th century shari'a. Two of us, only two, demand the end of Islamic in the West. Our course of action is to meet our fellows in public venues to coordinate our programmes. We have picked the secular equivlent of the Islamic mosque: We will meet at McDonald's diners, sit in public, stand against Islam as free men and women and let the world know who and what we are. We will exercise our rights to free speech and free assembly. Two of us. No, not two Americans, not two British, not two Danes or two Spaniards or two Dutch or two Russian or two Indians. Two of us will stand up and publicly face down Islam by sitting in McDonald's diners, one in Australia and another in Canada. You will know us. We will wear blue scarves. Two of us. We will exercise our rights in the hope of saving your rights. Both of us will do that. Two of us.

I will be at Main and Terminal sts. in Vancouver, Canada, not at the train station but at the one the other side of the road. There are so many we could empty the lands of the West and still have room at every counter for your fries with that.

Voltaire will be at a Sydney, Australia McDonalds which is opposite the George St Cinemas, and right next to Planet Hollywood, and which is called Plaza Court. It's at 600 George St, just down from Town Hall. I'll be there between 7.00 and 9.00 pm in the evening.

Where will you be?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tech Central Station posted two complementary pieces today, though I doubt the editor warned the writers they'd be supporting each other. The first deals with economics; and I've cut it to shreds to retain the basic idea that ideas start from original thinkers, and that original ideas are then used by pracitical innovators until such time as the unthinking mass has absorbed them by osmosis. The second piece deals with socail contracts; and again, I hurry to discourage this as a legitimate basis for anything other than the most banal of social transactions between sane adults under armed supervision.

Max Borders writes in our second piece below that men are agreeable and rational in pursuit of their own interests, and they will give a little to get a little, so he opts for Occam's razor in the discussion of why we need a metaphysic of morals, an add-on that he seems to argue isn't necessary. Arnold Kling writes about economics, from which I extrapolate that he writes that an idea is usable and practical when such ideas come about and change according to the marketplace of ideas working on them regardless of the intentions of the original author. Whether an idea is good is debatable, and whether it is better to write it clearly in the hope one will be attended to is less than certain. An interesting idea in itself.

Our position here is that consinsus is not a valid way of determining anything because it has no legitimate authority. It is contingent, and it is relativistic. We leave it to the reader for now.

Why do we need metaphysics when we can have rights by agreement?

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil"
-- John Maynard Keynes

...My claim is that great thinkers have an impact when they affect popular beliefs, and the process by which this occurs is indirect and haphazard.

Folk Beliefs vs. Scholarly Beliefs

Ordinary people and scholars may treat the same ideas differently. In terms of influence, it is the folk beliefs of ordinary people that matter, not the beliefs of scholars.


Folk beliefs tend to be much more settled than scholarly beliefs. [....] "What Keynes really meant" is a hot topic for dispute. Moreover, when scholars can agree on what he said, they disagree on whether or not he was right.


Dominating the Charts

If folk beliefs were popular music, then one of the biggest rock stars of the 1950's and 1960's was Sigmund Freud, who had died in 1939. Freud dominated the charts, with hits like "Oedipus complex," "sibling rivalry," "phallic symbol," and many others. What strikes me about Freud is both how spectacularly pervasive his ideas became in a relatively short period of time -- and how quickly many of them have faded. The idea of unconscious desires has survived, and with it the term "Freudian slip." Overall, however, the prevalence of Freudian concepts in popular discussion among people born after 1980 is far lower than among people born before 1960. The scholarly impact of Freud may persist, but in the decades to come Freud may turn out to have no more cultural significance than Herman's Hermits.


The process by which an idea becomes a hit is somewhat mysterious. Many people adopted Freudian folk beliefs without ever reading any of Freud's work. With folk beliefs, this is the norm, rather than the exception. Somehow, major ideas seep into the popular culture, promoted by disciples and spreading by word of mouth. Perhaps even more mysterious is the process by which ideas seep out of the culture, as many folk Freudian beliefs evidently have done.

Folk Christian beliefs were shaped by Christ's disciples. It was the disciples who ultimately defined what it means to be a Christian. This, too, is common in the process of the dissemination of ideas. A great thinker's impact depends on how his or her ideas are expounded by others.

One question that this raises is whether or not folk beliefs reflect the true ideas of the original thinker. However, the issue of whether disciples are true to their master is relevant only to scholars. Folk beliefs have a life of their own. By the time that Karl Marx reportedly said "I am not a Marxist," he had become just another scholarly commentator, no longer able to affect the folk beliefs that bear his name.

To Be or Not to Be Clear

In the arena of political economy, beliefs have consequences. An important thinker can influence institutional arrangements by affecting folk beliefs. However, the process of spreading beliefs from an individual to the larger population requires disciples. This creates an opportunity for slippage between the intent of the original thinker and the folk beliefs that ultimately result.

A cynic might suggest that poorly-articulated ideas help attract disciples. Disciples have more opportunity to contribute if your ideas are difficult for ordinary people to grasp. If there is nothing left to explain, then there is no reason to become an explainer. The trade-off is that poorly-articulated ideas are more likely to be misconstrued by the time that they become folk beliefs.

Is it better to be a clear thinker or not? Perhaps the answer is not as clear as one might think.

Arnold Kling is author of Learning Economics .

In "The Metaphysics of Conservatism" Ed Feser presents an annotated history of Western philosophy with the hope of guiding us to the idea of Natural Rights . He doesn't say that outright, but it's clear that Feser is concerned about the loss of certain principles summoned from "natural law." Such principles might tell us that:

[E]very single living human body… counts as the body of a person and as a being having all the rights of a person...

Thus, we can summarize Feser's conclusions rather crudely as follows: In the absence of realist metaphysics, Natural Rights would be impossible. And in the absence of Natural Rights, humanity would be lost in the void.

But is this the case? Do we really need Feser's ancient metaphysics to have rights?

Enter great thinkers like James Buchanan, David Gauthier and Jan Narveson who allow you to eat your cake and have it to. They let us socially construct our reality by inviting each of us to play off of one another's individual interests.

Consider the anti-Platonic tradition of Hobbes that started, perhaps, with the character of Glaucon in Plato's Republic who said:

They say that to do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice, evil; but that the evil is greater than the good. And so when men have both done and suffered injustice and have had experience of both, not being able to avoid the one and obtain the other, they think that they had better agree among themselves to have neither; hence there arise laws and mutual covenants; and that which is ordained by law is termed by them lawful and just. This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice; it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation; and justice, being at a middle point between the two, is tolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil, and honored by reason of the inability of men to do injustice.

In Glaucon's account, justice (rights) doesn't have to exist for us to have them, rather they are the product of agreement.

An analogy can help illustrate this. How is it that something that one piece of fibrous paper and another of the exact same shape, size and ink content can be worth $100 and $1 -- respectively? Well, currency is a good example of socially constructed reality. Of course, in the days of the gold standard, we might be able to go into a bank and get gold in exchange for our bank notes. But then again gold is subjectively valuable due to its rarity, beauty, or its relative preciousness in the eyes of those who want it. In any case, those subjective forces balance against one another creating what we call a market price in gold. So whether or not currency is ersatz gold, nothing detracts from the primary point: Things are valuable in as much as people agree that they are.

When we leverage the subjective interests of others against our own, some very interesting things start to happen. With luck, we come to a kind of concord. In the case of money, we agree that this piece of paper is worth $100 and this one is worth $1. And we move mountains. No metaphysics necessary.

So in the case of rights, they do exist in the sense that money exists. But they aren't mysterious essences that, a la Feser, inhere in physical human bodies (any more than the souls that supposedly animate them). Rights are the convenient and rational human artifices that are contrived from mutual agreement among people willing -- collectively -- to lay down their "absolute right" to harm others in exchange for not being harmed. More or less this is the way social contract thought works -- and a whole discipline of Rational Choice was born out of it.

As Buchanan might have put it, we can assume a costly predatorial/defensive posture, or we can cooperate. And cooperative strategies tend to benefit any given individual over time, more than the unilateral strategies of a predator, cheater, or thief (i.e. one who defects from the contract) -- especially when we add the disincentives of enforcement and punishment. Gauthier argues very well for a social contract along similar lines and adds that, in the context of human community over time, it never really makes sense to be a defector. And Narveson might round out this overview both by dispelling any idea that a social contract is utilitarian and adding that -- where appropriate -- we can be very libertarian in our interpretation of social contract theory.

The foregoing is self-evidently why we don't, and shouldn't, give as many rights to criminals, enemies, or terrorists. When we do, we risk disrupting the very edifice that makes up our own socially constructed reality of rights. That is to say, we risk breaking our own social contract by allowing those who would do us harm to free-ride on our rights agreement -- thus nullifying it.

This doesn't mean we ever have a positive duty to "boil people alive" (or replace with your favorite blog-baiting form of torture); rather it means that the moral status of those outside of our political "rights compact," is sort of up for grabs. Notions of rights outside of our political regime become a fabrication of foreign policy expedience or PR-speak -- and are often necessary and useful ones as in the case of human rights.

But why shouldn't we believe in Natural Rights? After all, it's one thing to argue that we don't need rights to be part of our ontology in order to have them. But it's quite another to deny their existence to begin with.

My argument is that neither souls nor rights exist in the same way tables, atoms, matter and energy exist. And while there are a number of philosophical debates about whether or not you can truly know the existence of tables, atoms, and energy, science does a pretty good job of providing the pragmatic, instrumental and commonsensical reasons for believing they do. But souls and rights are a different matter (no pun). On these, science is silent. And for good reason: there are no such things as rights or souls.

Contractarian beliefs can be grounded in a meta-ethical form of skepticism that goes something like this:

  • If things we call rights (much like "good" and "bad") exist in the world, they must be something like tables, chairs, quarks, neutrinos, electricity -- i.e. something that we can discover through our usual methods of discovering that which exists. For me, like Quine, it's science. It's certainly not religious faith. This is not a slam against faith; it is simply noting a tautology. Faith, by my definition, is belief despite the complete absence of evidence (where evidence can be a combination of observations, causal footprints, or at least inference-systems linked into something observational).
  • Rights don't reveal themselves in our observations, nor exert themselves causally, nor show up even inferentially -- like radiation, quarks, or some other things do. And it's difficult to see how they would if they could. In fact, if rights were actually things-that-existed, they would -- as J. L. Mackie once said -- be things of a very "queer" sort.

Feser, like many libertarians and conservatives, is committed to the existence (in the strictest ontological sense) of rights. Of course, if we go looking for his kind of rights in the world, we will end up casting ourselves back into the void. If you don't believe me, try getting an NSF grant to discover Natural Rights. Feser's rights -- not to mention his souls -- are metaphysically queer entities. They, like the ghost of Christmas past, are sometimes useful fictions, but fictions nevertheless.

Feser and others might reply a la Kant, that Natural Rights are an animal more like logical proofs or mathematical entities such as triangles. Feser has already suggested that an anti-realist would look to evolutionary explanations for such phenomena. In my case, he would be right. Suffice it to say that debates about the ontological status of triangles can become baroque and technical to the point of absurdity. So in this context, I'll simply lean on the handle-side of Ockham's Razor and slice those entities away. Then I'd ask my reader to return to the coda: why do we need metaphysics when we can have rights by agreement?

Most conservatives and libertarians alike believe in some sort of Natural Rights, or the vaguer, less intellectually edifying "human rights." John Locke gave us the theological justification for rights, which most Conservatives buy. This justification is similar enough to arguments for creation in that it relies to some extent on the will of God. Of course, we'd better hold off on that discussion, because it might require that we settle the debate on whether God exists. And that's an argument for another day.

Max Borders is Managing Editor of TCS Daily.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hysteria, Sentimentalism, and Cynicism

If we are sentimentally in favor of X, then if we feel negatively toward its opposite we feel-- hysteria. Good Lord. What's the middle ground? Cynicism.

Those who abandon Reason as their organising principle for understanding reality, those who are Irrationalist, can turn toward Romantic "feeling." Those who are Irrationalist and non-religious, they can't help but turn to feeling as the way of knowing the universe. The average person in the West, the land of Modernity, is now so saturated in Irrationality that it has become the overarching approach to knowing the world. Sentiment is our public ethos today. Not pathos, let's name it bathos. Our general public is mired in false feeling and false representation of reality as a matter of culture and habit. This bathetic public life is so ingrained in our time that we are committing suicide as a civilization from fear of honesty, from fear that we are incapable of facing up to the hardships of real life, that as atheists there is no point in being who and what we are.

Thus: the average person lives a life of intellectual dishonesty in relation to his world and culture; in relation to his society and community; in relation to his friends and his family; and in relation to himself and life as it is. If a man is not bathetic, then he will have to look directly at himself as he is, and that, I suggest, is too terrifying for the average man only because to do so would reveal a nothingness in the place of the worth of life. If the average man examines his life he will find it not worth living. He will reveal himself to himself as a fool whose life is wasted on trivia and stupidities. To escape that confrontation with reality, the man revels in bathos, in laughably stupid false emotion, in postmodernist ironies, and in fascist gestures of fake emotionality. The modern atheist is emotionally stuck in a Chinese finger puzzle he cannot get out of. And because he cannot escape, he fetishises the trap, makes it ironic, and whithers. More and more stuff of less and less value at a greater and greater cost all for the sake of time lost that could be spent on something real-- or not.

Real? There cannot be a real in the world of sentimentalism. Taken at face value, one must agree with Theodore Adorno who writes in Minima Moralia: "A wrong life cannot be lived rightly." The sentimentalist, finding nothing in life of value flees into deeper meaninglessness in pursuit of the fulfillment he cannot acquire. And knowing he cannot succeed in acquiring meaning he turns to irony and bathos.At a standstill, he is a cynic, a pretending despiser. When enthusiasms strike him he is sentimental; when he is depressed or at odd he turns to hysteria. For the Irrationalist there cannot be other. There is no authority for any approach other than the extremes of falsity.

Philobarbarism, the sentimentalisation of Muslim terrorists, for example, is Irrationalist, based on zero authority, amoral at best. To the Irrationalsit cut off from even ideology there is nothing but his feelings, his personal feelings, and they are groundless and futile. His philobarbarism is empty of value and meaning. Therefore he must have more of it to fill the space left. And if one were to challenge his emptiness the result is an outpouring of hysteria, as empty of meaning and value as is his sentimentality based on nothing at all. Then, being nothing but noise, but sound and fury signifying nothing, he must make more of it to impress himself and others with the volume. It's all for show. And those who attack his pose are not simply misinformed but are, let's think a second, a microsecond: racists, sexists, homophobics, islamophobics, right wing religious bigots, hate-mongers.... Anything hysterical and silly will do. Nothing is either good or bad, right or wrong. All must be shouted and screamed and wrenched from the throat and hurled. Because there is neither real feeling nor authority nor reason involved, only ones person empty and valueless feelings based on oneself, and empty and worthless idiot. Bush is not a tiny man with no imagination. Bush is Hitler. The war in Iraq is not a fool's errand, it is the end of the world. Islam is not a miserable tribal tradition spreading inexorably across a world population of ignorant and future-shocked peasants, it is the Religion of Peace. The Israelis are not a group of tormented people living in a huddle in the desert, they are evil incarnate, the new Nazis, the worst thing that could have ever happened to the Palestinian Peoples who can do no more than wage war with their poor little innocent bodies. It's a garbage life of the garbage mind we face in our fellow men these days. Yes? They know it.

If we can grasp the sentimentalisation of our cultures in the modern West, then we might be able to show our neighbours the flaw, and we might be able to bring some honesty back into the debate about our future course. As things stand now any critique of our societies rests on either frightened libertarianism or Left dhimmi fascism. The edifices of politically correct postmodernism are so shakey that a blast of cold realism will shatter the whole lie. But until that realism comes we are still stuck with a lie as society and culture. We must shatter this lie. We cannot be silent. Wwe must tell the truth. If we don't, the lie will continue, and we will die.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lies: Sentimentalisation of the West (4)

Who among us would be surprised to read in the headline of today's newspaper that three teenagers dead in a car accident last day is an "ABSOLUTE TRAGEDY."

Who would be surprised to find that the schools where these people attended will be swarmed by "Grief Counsellors." That's not a question either. That's a fact of daily living. The government, in its infinite wisdom, hires grief counsellors to -- I don't know what they do. They emote. They play out some sickening sham of sentimentality. They degrade and dehumanise life. They walk home with a pocket full of cash, too. They're trained professionals. The government has radio commercials promoting them. Are you depressed? The government wants to know. They want to help you. If anything disturbs you it's an AN ABSOLUTE TRAGEDY. Seek counselling.

If it's not quite as deep a problem as the death of a few kids in the suburbs, if it's a matter of a head cold, then listen to the angry woman on the radio who is in obvious pain, speaking through gritted teeth, saying "If you think a cold is going to stop me from running even though I have a head cold, then you don't know me. You don't know Advil." Lady, you are a nasty bitch, and I don't want to know you or anyone like you. If you're so self-obsessed that running in a rainstorm is interesting to you even if you should be in bed resting rather than spreading your discomforts to the rest of us, then stay far away from me and my narcissism. And keep you cold remedies too. You are both creepy.

Such is the level of Humanity today in the modern West that if a couple of kids die in a car wreck, in fact, drowned, the city goes into mourning and seeks counselling; but a paragon of self-sufficiency and determination to beat all obstacles is a bitchy woman jogger on cold pills.

Below we have a further review of Faking it. Following that an obituary.

Sentimentality, the New Totalitarianism
Ruben Alvarado

Digby Anderson & Peter Mullen,
Faking It: The sentimentalisation of modern society (London: The Social Affairs Unit, 1998), pp. viii, 217.

I have spent many a moment in recent years pondering one simple question: Whatever happened to the English? You know, stiff upper lip, stoic reserve, laughing in the face of danger, and the like. It seems that lately nothing could be worse than the emulation of such virtues. While Scotland and Wales pursue the development of a national identity, the English seem to be doing everything they can to lose one. This national complex has found expression in particular in a rather interesting psychological phenomenon that foursquare opposes the received English tradition: I speak of sentimentality, what Jane Austen referred to as "sensibility". One saw it in the trial a few years back of the nanny Louise Woodward in the United States, where the question of guilt or innocence took a distinctly secondary place to the question of whether mean-spirited Americans should stand in judgment of a nice teenage English girl. One saw it as well with the otherwise tragic death of Diana, where it seemed that everyone tried to outdo each other in expressing, and this is the key, outwardly, publicly expressing emotion, perhaps with the thought that "what I am doing is just what Diana would have done in my place". Such an un-English spectacle, but that was the whole point. It was as if everyone was saying "We reject our past, our heritage, our image in the history books, and we demand to be seen as a people that can express themselves even if what we express is fathomless triviality."

To my mind this same attitude came to expression in the 1997 parliamentary elections. Labour campaigned on little else than let's change our attitude to Europe, to Britain, to the past; let's be cool Britannica, put on sunglasses and throw that self restraint stuff in the Thames. Actual policy differences were few and far between, with the exception of "Europe," which in a nutshell expressed the difference in attitude. For if there is one thing that separates the English from the continent, it is attitude. At bottom, it is an attitude of self-reliance vs. reliance on government. It is an age-old distinction with deep historical roots, which is why the shift in favor of the continental attitude is so striking. It finds its parallel across the Atlantic in the United States, where the Democratic Party is carrying out a similar transfiguration of the national psyche.

Yes, it is the age of feel-good leadership, and Messrs Blair and Clinton are its most gifted exemplars. Substance is irrelevant, in fact ludicrous. Nothing matters but image and appearance. It is this trend that Faking It so mercilessly exposes. And if the repetition of phrases like sentimentality, fake, sham becomes somewhat monotonous, the inevitable result of the book's comprising a series of separate articles that repetition also signals the pervasiveness of the problem. This is anything but an innocent phenomenon. It is the sign of what Johan Huizinga observed way back in the 1930s, with the rise of fascism (and what parallels can be drawn between the contemporary period and that one!), in what he described as the weakening of the capacity to judge. It seems as if people no longer have a mind of their own, that they allow their minds to be taken over by some collective spirit that moves everyone in the same direction and plants the same thoughts in everyone's heads. One then no longer exercises a critical judgment but allows oneself to be subsumed, and thus intellectually annihilated. Is this the contemporary version of religious ecstasy? Perhaps.

The heart of the book and the heart of the problem finds expression in Nicholas Capaldi's article "Evading personal responsibility: the sentimentalisation of social policy." Capaldi makes the crucial observation that fake behavior has its roots in the Pelagian worldview and that the stoic tradition of self restraint in fact has its roots in the Augustinian alternative. "Sentimentality is a perversion of Christianity." Specifically, sentimentality is Pelagian. Pelagius was a fifth-century British monk who both denied the doctrine of Original Sin and affirmed that our free will was sufficient to allow us to save ourselves.... The denial of the doctrine of Original Sin is of fundamental importance. The constant tension in Western civilisation has been between those who think that salvation is possible in this life (utopianism) and those who deny it. Sentimentality is an inevitable by-product of the former. Sentimentality is simply a veneer over uncontrolled, irrational, appetite-oriented behavior, in which people, selfishly seeking their own interest, cloak that pursuit in emotion which is designed to eliminate accountability and disengage the critical faculty. If one accepts the Pelagian's tenet that human beings are intrinsically good, then one gladly accepts this subterfuge because the alternative that these people actually really are what one deep down suspects is too horrible to contemplate. Such a conclusion would validate the Augustinian notion of inherent human evil.

But the real danger lies in accepting Pelagianism as a sort of civil religion. For in that case this subterfuge takes on public, national, even totalitarian dimensions. It becomes an exercise in group-think where everyone repeats the party line even though privately everyone knows it is a lie. This is what politics in the United States at least has come to. And this Clinton Phenomenon can be carried, who knows how far? It was precisely this kind of emotivism that Hitler used to smooth his way to power. The way it is used by the Clintonistas to paper over untold depths of corruption, and the way such-like misbehavior is not only tolerated but applauded, speaks volumes about the intellectual and spiritual level of the electorate. We know from the Scriptures that the anti-Christ when he comes will take a similar line : "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

If Capaldi's article exposes the spiritual core of sentimentality, Mark Steyn's article "All Venusians Now" comprehensively summarizes the cultural and political upshot. I can do no better than to string together some direct quotes: "These days almost every subject has been taken out of politics and appropriated to the realm of feeling: health, education, the environment, gun control, drugs policy... There's no point trying to think about these issues; feeling is all." "The presiding genius of the age is John Gray, author of the psychobabble best-seller, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.... Life is from Mars, the media is from Venus -- and when the latter runs up against the former, it inevitably ends up adapting life to the teary plot structures it understands." "For most people, news is something that crops up in between sitcoms, soap operas and commercials, and it is not surprising that, over the years, it should have absorbed the same techniques as its colleagues." "When pop culture congratulates itself on its boldness in 'examining' homosexuality or racism or abortion, what it usually means is that it has bestowed an approved status on certain groups; you can 'examine' these subjects, but only in a narrow way -- and heaven help anyone so unenlightened as to beg to differ." "That's the distinguishing feature of media sentimentality: its intolerance of any dissenting views, and the ferocity with which it squashes them. There is a kind of sentimental fascism abroad."

This is what is so chilling about this development. Sentimentality is the absolute opposite of what it pretends to be. It exudes compassion, but in fact it is a cloak for the most debased and vile forms of corruption and decadence. Take the instance of abortion:
With 'reproductive rights', say, all you need to know is one cold, impersonal statistic: between 25 and 30 per cent of all pregnancies in the US now end in abortion. That couldn't make it plainer: abortion is typically not an 'agonising personal decision', only a routine form of contraception. But the distraught aborter agonising publicly over her agonising personal decision sits so much better between the soaps and talk shows. Without a culture of sentimentality, it would not be possible for a civilised society to tolerate abortion. We would understand all too well what it really is.

Sentimentality serves as a cloak to hide the truth, and the one who dares ask for the truth is then branded an unfeeling scoundrel. It is the world turned upside down.

As Steyn notes, it is the current crop of politicians who are most adept at channelling this predilection for tears to their own ends. Vice president and presidential candidate Al Gore is a master at this. The reader will have to pardon me, for I am again going to quote Mr Steyn at length. My excuse is that, in an election year like this one (in the US) such things cannot be repeated enough. The message exposing the cant and hypocrisy simply must get through.

Al Gore's brazenness knows no bounds. He pioneered the fashion for touting stricken relatives as the basis for public policy: in 1992, it was his son, who was nearly killed in a car crash; in 1996, it was his sister, who died of lung cancer. Gore "loved her more than life itself", he told America in a hushed voice on live television. Then he paused. "Tomorrow morning, a 13-year-old girl will start smoking. I love her, too." By this time, the gaps between words were big enough to smoke half a pack of cigarettes during. " And that is why", he continued, "until I draw my last breath I will pour my heart and soul into the cause of protecting our children from the dangers of smoking."

No network news anchor covering the speech saw fit to mention a speech Gore made in 1988, four years after his sister's death: "Throughout most of my life, I've raised tobacco", he proudly told a North Carolina audience. "I've hoed it, I've chopped it, I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn, stripped it, and sold it." No television correspondent pointed out that in 1990, six years after his sister's death, Gore was still taking campaign contributions from the tobacco industry. And why would the networks mock Gore as a fake? He speaks their language.

When a print journalist belatedly caught up with Gore and asked him why, if he was that devastated, he'd remained a tobacco farmer, the Vice-President's answer was ingenious: "I felt the numbness that prevented me from integrating into all aspects of my life the implications of what that tragedy really meant. We are in the midst of a profound shift in the way we approach issues. I really do believe that in our politics and in our personal lives, we are seeing an effort to integrate our emotional lives in a more balanced fashion." Nobody has mastered the feminisation of political discourse more thoroughly than Gore. Even his habit of speaking. Very. Slowly. Seems to play well with the "soccer moms", reminding them of a concerned grade-school teacher taking the time to explain to little Johnny why eating too much candy is bad for you. Of Bob Dole's economic plan, Gore said: "It's unconscionable. That means it's wrong, and it shouldn't happen." Thanks, Mr Vice-President. For tomorrow's Word-of-the-day, Al Gore defines "patronising". In contrast to Clinton, who declares that every American child should have the right to go to college, Gore seems determined to keep the entire electorate in kindergarten.

I could go on quoting from this book endlessly. Anthony O'Hear's article "Diana, queen of hearts" nicely summarizes the kind of impressions I expressed above on the transformation of modern England. Diana was and is the battering ram for replacing old English virtue with new English drivel. "Because of her life and even more because of her death, what it is to be British has changed, irrevocably.... What [Diana] stood for was the elevation of feeling, image and spontaneity over reason, reality and restraint. The Britain of our fathers and grandfathers, the Britain of World War II has been replaced by the New Britain in which the mother of the future King publicly weeps at the funeral of a vulgar and self-publicising Italian dress designer." (Oh, there I go quoting again.)

Faking It's other articles similarly punch holes in received wisdom and provide food for thought for famished minds in a range of subject areas: medicine, education, environmentalism, literature, music, even eating. The authors have done a bang-up job. The final article offers a fine exposition of the origins of sentimentality in Christianity. Sentimentality has filled a vacuum left by the departure of Christianity from the public square. It is this knowledge which underlies the feeling one gets while reading this book, a feeling of despair. Because one sees that the only antidote to Pelagianism is full-blown Christianity; the only antidote to works religion, which summarizes all of our misguided contemporary political and cultural efforts, is salvation by grace through faith. And that seems to be the one solution the public cannot accept. "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:7). God is still restraining the full outbreak of lawlessness. The ultimate question is, how long will He continue to do so? How long will He suffer those who have deliberately turned away from Him? And the Antichrist, when he comes, will he bite his lip and choke back the tears as he champions lawlessness and persecutes the righteous? It is looking increasingly likely.



Close readers of the old Alberta Report magazine will probably remember the byline of Terry Johnson, the magazine's agriculture reporter and senior editor of many years. When I was starting out as an AR freelancer I lived with Terry and other magazine inmates for two or three years in the Flophouse, a charming but poorly tended old fleabag on Edmonton's south side. It was a place through which many of the magazine's bylines had passed en route to marriage or a proper gig. Terry was its unkempt, narcoleptic, Maoist chef de mission, grinning eternally from the couch at the know-nothing right-wing twentysomethings who came and went ceaselessly. Word went round the e-mail grapevine on Wednesday that Terry died of a heroin overdose March 29 on Vancouver's East Side. He was 44.

All things considered, he did well to make it so far. Terry was so defenceless against the basic demands of life that he never, to anyone's knowledge, owned a winter coat during the time he lived in Edmonton. A fellow housemate made an annual ritual of frogmarching him to the barber to get his Karl Marx beard and his spirit-of-'68 hair hacked at. No piece of furniture in the common area of the house lacked for holes made by his cigarettes. He had the barest acquaintance with bathing and probably none, in his adulthood, of dentistry. He made do, defiantly. Somehow he acquired a whole wardrobe of other people's clothing; one got the distinct impression he didn't get it from Goodwill or Value Village, but that he just somehow gravitated home from the pub wearing a bowling shirt with "Larry" on the breast pocket.

In short, he seems now to have been an addict in training. When I lived with him I knew him to possess no vices more severe than beer, in modest bachelor quantities, and pot, in quite massive ones. Actually, he had one that was arguably more harmful, at least to his ability to meet deadlines: video games, particularly Sid Meier's Civilization. No one ever burned a deadline with more determination than Terry Johnson . The rest of us copy-breeders began to get nervous around Friday sundown, with the magazine going off to the printer on Sunday, but Terry would carry on Minesweeping until Saturday afternoon and not give it an apparent second thought. He would vanish from home and office for 48 hours at a time when he was supposed to be quizzing farmers about genetically modified seed or fuel prices.

It may seem surprising that someone to Lenin's left could find a home for so long at a right-wing magazine, but Terry had a Marxist's ingrained feeling for the rudiments of classical economics. He might, indeed, have known Adam Smith and David Ricardo better than any other writer to pass through the Report's doors. This is only a suspicion: I didn't talk politics with him often, and in argument he was unpleasantly quick to fall back on an astonished, dismissive snigger and not much else. His occasional talk of The Revolution was never anything but ironic. He could see the facts of post-1989 life clearly enough, and at least once I heard him lament the stopped flow of Soviet gold into the veins of Canada's labour movement.

Around about 1998, after he completely missed an ironclad deadline on a year-in-review issue, Terry was let go from the magazine. (He had been at home in a stupor from which I'd tried without success to awaken him. That day, in retrospect, was a warning that he'd moved into the substance-abuse big leagues.) The cause for dismissal was not reported to the authorities, as an omissive act of valedictory kindness, so he wheeled round and shrewdly filed an Employment Insurance claim for constructive dismissal on the grounds that the magazine was becoming increasingly bigoted and irrational. He won, and must have bankrolled a couple years' worth of Vancouver adventures on the lump-sum proceeds. Upon receiving his congé he disclosed to his housemates that he hadn't paid rent or utilities for nearly four months and skipped town, heading back to his beloved West Coast. When last heard from, he was telemarketing, and trying, in his quixotic way, to organize a labour union. His byline appeared at least once in the Vancouver Courier, but this was, I think, his last appearance in print.

There was something about Terry that resisted the normal sort of semi-intimate friendship; he almost seemed to lack a coherent self you could latch onto. Everyone is agreed in describing him as "gentle", and that is right; it was, and I don't mean this unkindly, a sort of attractive animal gentleness. Like the cats he adored,Terry seemed to mostly want a warm place to sleep and an occasional meal. Much of his own life seemed to be an utter blur to him. People would tell him stories of his own bizarre conduct, and he would just nod along, going "Yeah... yeah..." and laughing through his nose. Only in pensive moments would he strike you as a person capable of deep feeling. At those times, as the cigarette smoke curled around him, he would generate an impenetrable nebula of sadness. Over what, I couldn't say. I doubt anyone else can.

The last time I thought of Terry was on April 2. Oddly enough, he came to mind when I read the San Jose Mercury-News story about an editor who died in his office and was thought to be asleep for at least 24 hours. Anybody who worked with Terry would have thought of him, lying supine on the floor in the oddest positions with only steno sheets full of his own shorthand for a blanket.Terry was, by consensus, the most gifted writer amongst AR's reporters during my time there. His style was neat and lucid, with just the right amount of artistry; he imparted dignity to the sometimes-oddball subjects of his Albertans column and was never defeated by a difficult topic. He was forgiven a great deal in the way of eccentricity and tardiness because he delivered copy that the editors barely needed to nod at. He was an outstanding journalist who probably never should have gone anywhere near the profession.

I think it is wrong to judge people for wasting their talent; it's theirs to waste. I also think it's wrong to subject them to a dehumanizing sentimentality, even after they can make no possible objection: Terry was kind and, in a particular sense, innocent, but far from wholly good. To ask what else might have been done to save him from himself would be plain foolishness. I'm not even sure it's quite right to say I miss him, and my honest best guess is that he was content on Skid Row, a milieu he didn't need to transform into an anarchy or tailor his conduct to in the slightest respect. But my days living with him were happy, in part because of him.

You don't likely know of Pelegius. You don't know the radio jogger bitch. You don't know Advil. You don't know Terry.

The question is, do you know yourself? If not, that is an absolute tragedy.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lies: Sentimentalisation of the West (3)

One of the beauties of a democratic country is the right of its residents to find out they are mistaken in their opinions and beliefs; and they have the right to seek out new information, new ideas, new ways of considering anything at all if they so choose.

Dictatorships are dictatorships of the mind to the degree they can be. Infgormation is guarded and secreted away, doled out according to the needs of the elite, changed for the convenience of the elite, made up and made to go away according to whims of the privilged.

We in the West live in ostensible democracies. We have almost unlimited access to information. That's to the good because the elite would lie to us as they do and we would not have the option of disproving them almost instantly if we so choose. With the Internet we can challenge the intelligentsia's versions of the truth and show that they lie to us. But it's not enough to show the negative. We must come up with the positive to make this miracle worth the paper it's printed on.

We can start our postive quest for metaphors by casting out the daemons of anti-Modernity, of our idiocies of sentimantalism, our lies that we pretend are values. We can begin by ceasing the lies that our intelligentsia perpetrate daily in the media, in the schools, in the laws, in the schools and universities, in the cafes and on subways and on the sidewalks. We are living in a self-created dictatorship of bullshit. We can save ourselves from grief if we start to think clearly and think for ourselves honestly. We can communicate plainly.

"Doing violence to the language" is metaphorical. Butchering the language, and so on, none of that is real in any meaningful sense; and yet it is essential that we understand that though language is metaphor itself it is also how we communicate our higher ideas, and that if we do so in mangled and violently assaulted metaphors we will suffer for it. We will physically suffer in real detail. Sentimentalist language leads us to evil deeds. We will continue here to post pieces on my latest favorite book, Faking It: The Sentimentalisation of Modern Society. I'm going to continue also to comment on the texts themselves. And as part of this series on sentimentalisation of the West I'll post often on Orwell's Politics and the English Language and 1984. It's time to take back the language from the weasels. It's time to write plainly for intelligent people all the time regardless of who we are and what our public images might require of us. Otherwise we are doomed to Islam and dhimmitude if we don't weep ourselves to death first.

One of our most important aspects of life is that of the metaphor of meaning, the moral of the story, as it were. That moral comes to us from religion, for the most part, and to argue that most Westerners are today aheists is simply inaccurate, they being not atheists but confused and demoralized by the bullshit moral of the establishment churches. Religion is seen as a sham, a bullshit narrative that does nothing but rewrite the moral in new and stupider ways, less poetically, less vibrantly, in fact, in a style more suitable for an income tax form. Religion becomes just one more lie among many. We enslave ourselves by allowing the bullshit to run freely over us. We lose when we allow the sentimentalisation of society to rot the meaning of our lives. People don't so much disbelieve in God as they distrust the bullshit version of God as it is in our establishment churches. Rightly so. Our establishment churches and our normative religions are urned to crap before our eyes, and it's too disgusting to swallow. Many people are sick of faking it. Life in the modern West sucks. That, not the suffering of the Palestinian people, is our fault. Let's see what it's about so we can address the problem like adults for a change.

Below is a third review of this, our favorite book.

Faking It — The Sentimentalisation of Modern Society
Digby Anderson and Peter Mullen (Editors)
The Social Affairs Unit 1998

"Faking It" claims to chart what it calls "the march of the fraudulent through modern society": government policies " obsessed with spin, image and gesture rather than substance", "sentimental environmental obsessions", "narcissistic, Godless religion", "a school system with no education in it, a welfare system which actually promoted dependency not welfare...elevation of fake feeling in novels and music"

The book gained notoriety for its reference to Princess Diana's funeral "in which sentimentality — mob grief — was personified and canonised and feeling exalted above reason, reality and restraint".

The Study sees the "woes of society — crime, broken families, failing school standards, confusion about morality and manners" as less attributable to "bad ideas or perverted interests" but through the rise of sentimentality in modern society.

People are living in "denial" eg. of man's natural capacity for evil, of the awesome reality of God, ageing, suffering, death, the need for discipline, the achievements of the modern world, self-denial...

The book is prophetic even if over-stated. It is a shot across the bows of a self-indulgent society. It's political premise is rather unsympathetic to community eg. the need to care for the underprivileged. The attack on environmentalists serves then interest of big business.

However there are many powerful challenges, not least to the Church:

"The new emphasis (in worship) is all on the needs of the gathered community of worshippers, and so the traditional proclamation of an encounter with a transcendent and terrifying God has been played religious observances we want the cosy experiences of togetherness and cuddling up to the kindly God, but without any of the old disciplines crucial to traditional faith, Bethlehem without Calvary"

Peter Mullen writes with less than objectivity of "The New Deformation" by which "two fashionable tendencies: the liberal theology of demythologising and the so-called "happy-clappy" revivalism of the Charismatic Movement" have squeezed traditional belief and practice almost into suffocation. "This is right" has become "This feels right" under the influence of sentimentalisation.

On the Peace: "All the body-language is over-inflected in a style which would seem insincere even on the theatrical stage."

On Charismatic worship: "Nothing is being communicated except a sentimental-paranoiac proclamation of the superior, privileged status of the Charismatic in-group. Bonding ceremonies for the like-minded."

On language in worship "There is no such thing as a noble truth communicated in ignoble words" (C.H. Sisson),

On changes to the Prayer Book: "Traditional Christianity is robust and unsentimental. It has no illusions about human depravity The glory of it all is that God loves us, bad as we are. The new sentimentality in religion glosses over our dark side, and therefore it is not only a doctrinal failure; it is psychologically inaccurate and finally incoherent".

"Faith has been replaced...not by a tough all round scepticism, but by a sentimental credulity. Lots of seemingly sensible people, for example, now believe in ideas like the innate goodness of children, a notion our grandparents would have thought absurd."

The book tries to temper the pessimism of environmentalists with the late Dixy Lee Ray's description of the "natural" world of her childhood in the early 1900's:

"The world in which I spent my early years was a very smelly place. The prevailing odours were of horse manure, human sweat, and unwashed bodies. A daily shower was unknown; at most there was the Saturday night bath.

"Indoors the air was generally musty and permeated by the sweetly acrid stench of kerosene lamps and coal fires. It was the era of the horse and buggy, the outhouse and dirt. Depending upon the weather, it was either dirty or muddy."

She goes on to say that through progress in food production and medicine human life is no longer dependent on the whims of uncaring nature. "We have been privileged to live through the most extraordinary five decades of expanding knowledge and its use for bettering life that the world has ever known. Little wonder that some people cannot cope" (D.L.Ray Trashing the Planet 1990).

The current sentimentalisation is said to ignore the drawbacks and inconveniences of the past.

'Faking It' waxes strong on how sentimentalisation has blinded us to the enormity of crime. We are told that a re-telling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is going the rounds with two social workers taking the place of the priest and Levite. They observe the man "who fell among thieves" lying by the roadside, and ads they pass on one says to the other, "The person who did that certainly needs help."

The 19th Century Christian response to the Romantics was to stress duty as an imperative beyond feeling, a response such that sentimentality was scorned for the first half of this century.

Is a new Christian response beginning?

A very thought provoking book, overstated but near the mark in a number of aspects. 'Faking It', for all its right wing polemic, touches on some deep errors around in British society today.

Is the reviewer above an emotional cripple? His constant harping on "overstatement" leads me to believe he is incapable of a real understanding of the seriousness of our situation. Right wing polemic? One must chortle. Chuckle. Guffaw. The West is facing the destruction of many of its centuries old public institutions, and the reviewer above is concerned about overstating the problem in a book of essays. He should be taken out and beaten.

The Anglican Church is on the verge of disappearance from history. It is so irrelevant and disgusting to its own members that they are leaving it to die within a generation. Overstatement? "Since 1961, Canadian Anglicans have fallen from 1.3 million to 642,000.... [I]n the race to the finish line, Anglican are well in the lead.... Canadian Anglicans are in a free fall. "We're losing 12,836 Anglicans a year. That's 2% a year.'" So writes Ian Hunter, professor emeritus in the Faculty of Law at Western University, National Post, "Will the last Anglicans please turn out the lights?" Jan 13, 2006; p. A13. How can one overstate the end of one of the Western world's most important institutions? And if one is not an Anglican, then what about the more middle of the road Presbyterian Church? From the same article we read: "The Presbyterians are down by 39%." And if one is more liberal, consider this: "The United Church in the same period has lost nearly half its members (from 1.04 million to 638,000.)" Is this of interest only to Christians? No, it is not. And why not?

We'll return to this topic in our next post. We will because we have blogs, and we can tell the truth if we so choose to.