Wednesday, August 14, 2019

REVIEW OF 'REVOLUTIONS'




Having lampooned Margaret Atwood and her under-qualified cronies awhile ago, I was happy to hear that a man called Alex Good had done Canadians a service by lambasting the same clique in his own way. It was odd to hear about his Revolutions on Radio Canada. It may be that ‘classified’ information gets shared more often on the French side than on the English station; the French are likely aware that no one is listening. 

Rarely do I read criticism of contemporary novels; it is easy enough to judge these bagatelles while I listen to interviews and readings over the radio. But since a critic had been mentioned who dared to cross the line instead of toe it, I made an exception. Wanting to see Canadian literary fiction subjected to truth-telling rather than talking-point flattery, I ordered the book right after the broadcast ended. By page 13, I realized that literary criticism of the respectable sort this was not. Writers of the sewer-set do not deserve to be noticed, much less read; least of all do they deserve to be reviewed. But for the sake of the subject about which I wanted to learn, I made another exception. But first comes my puritanical lecture. If eloquent composition be eye-candy, potty-talk is eye-rot. There is a lot to rot the apple of one’s eye in here. For the record, according to my red Pilot Fineliner, the following pages are in a state of moral decomposition (pp. 13, 30, 57, 64, 68, 77-79, 90, 99, 100, 119, 122, 136, 168, 177, 178, 180, 184-186, 188, 199, 213, 214, 234, 261.) Every writer should have in view the fact that he writes within a narrow span of history which is soon to give way to another. Should we look down the centuries’ corridors, what would we see for books that have lasted for any length of time? We would see more classy books than tawdry; more decent books than bawdy; more virtuous than naughty. If Alex Good had soiled his pages only by excerpts from books being assessed, it had been a fault nonetheless. A diligent writer can make known what a book contains without quoting word for word. Indeed—or should I say ‘forsooth’ since this is an old-school scolding—what a writer should do is review no farther than the first dirty page, having determined, in the interest of chastity and good example, to not read beyond the first blotch. I could have treated Revolutions in this manner. But as I said, I made an exception; and take note: the exception proves the rule, and we don’t legislate for exceptions. If writers have to believe, as Mr. Good says, “that so long as this (my immortal sonnet) lives, it will give life to me” (p. 259), then shouldn’t he imitate the civil quill through which the English sonnets were composed? The written word has so multiplied both off line and on, that it seems utterly disposable (pp. 252-258.) To ensure that a work will be a survivor among the millions of books being published each year (p. 253) is impossible. But to guarantee its transience by ribald speech is defeatist. Because of speech like that, Good’s book is destined to be among those that are purchased “by the bale, but that nobody wants to have on their bookshelf at home” (p. 252.) Literary etiquette is an outdated attribute to multitudes of readers. Even among such readers, however, their reflex is to dispose of books containing racy talk. Each raunchy word testifies against the worth of the whole; dozens of verdicts doom that kind of book to a fleeting lifespan.       

The burden of Good’s ephemeral effort is stated to be the decreasing interest in reading (p. 11.) The essays that make up the book are supposed to have revolution for a cohesive theme (p. 43.) I suppose that this means a revolution against the literary establishment in Canada, whose chiefs are Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje (pp. 71, 152.) Whether that is the meaning or not, I encountered no revolution in Revolutions. This is a collection of essays, much of which matter consists of book reviews. The closest thing to a subject or theme is twofold: What is the matter with Canadian fiction today? Why is it like that? 

It is common nowadays for writers and reviewers to not read the books that they write about (pp. 19, 20, 30, 233-235.) Alex Good assures us that he has read the books that he subjects to ‘psycholiterary therapy’ (pp. 35, 159, 207.) I see no reason to doubt that he has; citing the extracts by page numbers would have assured me even more. It seems obvious from what he quotes that many of today’s editors of Canadian fiction cannot distinguish acceptable prose from tacky, are too bashful or scared to point out the distinction, or do not even read the books that they are paid to scrutinize for assessment. It may be that some of these editors depend largely, if not solely, on the computer’s ability to spot faults (pp. 22, 23.) Certain editors, though, may be under orders to skim through and give this or that author a pass (my inference, not Good’s, pp. 126, 154.) Making money through ‘manufactured’ authors (pp. 53, 55, 56) trumps the requirement of quality. And so Mr. Good has done well to present the fruits of his own scrutiny.  

Many excerpts of shoddy prose are singled out and set down for shame by Alex Good; these include passages from works that have won, or have been nominated for, major prizes. For example, Ego Ondaatje (my nickname, not Good’s) has a leaf praising Anil’s dancing by the following sentence fragment: “Its click of applause.” Then the “music continues furious like blood moving for a few more minutes in a dead man” (p. 68.) For this simile to make a pleasing impression, the reader would have to have some knowledge of what blood moving in a dead man sounds like, which is not likely. Good calls this kind of fault ‘an exaggerated emphasis on style’ (p. 69.) I would rather say that it is failed poetry dropped into a novel as prose, or Ondaatje pulling a mental muscle in his effort to write something comparable to what he imagines the literary masters of the past must have written. It is not an ‘exaggerated emphasis on style,’ but a miscarriage that ought to have been aborted—a monster that should never have been allowed to come to term. In another novel, the same failed stylist has ‘insects carelessly yelling’—during a love scene (p. 135.) This kind of writing is precisely what a writer would fashion for a parody. In a book called The Orenda by Joseph Bowden, snow tickles a face like prayers (p. 164.) Who knew that prayers could tickle? Mine never have. In Minister Without Portfolio, Michael Winter has his character pulling herself up by her lip to kiss her lover (p. 200.) Having read many anthologies full of short stories by modern authors who have written similarly off the mark, I do not doubt that Alex Good found it an easy task to collect samples of style slippage to put on display. If all available samples could be collected from ‘great’ novels of recent creation, and spread out for all to gawk at, we would be staring at the ‘wasteland’ that is the establishment’s ‘legacy’ (p. 88.) 

Patches of poor prose put people off reading. ‘Half of all Canadians’ are unable to name a Canadian author (p. 36.) If prose like the extracts above is the best that Canadians are capable of, this fact is perhaps more encouraging than discouraging. Ondaatje’s Divisadero, says Good, may be a novel without a story (p. 131.) Who should like to be able to name the author of something like that? In Canada we publish novels that teachers would rather not teach (p. 36), that readers would rather not begin (p. 143), and that many find pleasure in determining never to pick up (p. 34.) As such, Canadian novels are a hard sell (p. 10.) When a book is stated as selling 5,000 percent more than before making a shortlist, the rise was likely from ‘a baseline of next-to-none’ (pp. 173, 174.) I know it for a fact that this is how they always tell it on the CBC; they always speak in percentages in order to deceive. The CBC is part of the establishment that Alex Good rakes over the coals, though Canada’s fake news broadcaster somehow passes his notice. Only a few novelists make a lot of money, and it may take more than one novel to do so, which makes the crowning of new novelists undesirable. Witness the recurring names in the running for the Giller Prize, outlined on page 151. Witness the conflicts of interest on page 126. Awarding a prize to a man who had dedicated a book to the judge? These authors write blurbs for each other’s books (though not well, p. 196); have the same publishers; and hobnob within a network among other favored authors. Evangelical authors act likewise, by the way, and to greater shame. One of the most shocking facts is that a book was granted the National Book Award by a judge who didn’t even read it. (pp. 23, 207.) In Burton Rascoe’s Titans of Literature, the chapter on Flaubert tells the story of the manufactured literary career of Mme. Colet. About the scandal, Anatole France remarked that the judges do not read the literary works of the authors they award prizes to. The French Academy survived corruption like that. Canada’s worthless academy will carry on as well. Given very little time, though, Atwood’s books will be as popular as are the writings of Louise Colet.  

Occasional patches of pretty prose may be chanced upon in novels made by pseudo-masters of fiction. The one excerpted from Craig Davidson’s Cataract City describes well the feeling of being trapped in the city that one has grown up in (pp. 170, 171.) Not far away from each pretty patch, however, is tangled speech, the botched metaphor, and words that the highbrow set used to scorn to see written down. 

The literary establishment that Alex Good reproaches is made up of novelists, along with their handlers, agents, academics, and others—a ‘literary ecosystem’ that feeds off a common product (pp. 50, 51.) Atwood, for instance, has three agents and four editors (p. 65.) It is not in the establishment’s interest to risk an author’s cooked up reputation by fairly critiquing the author’s product. Giving praise to poorly written books is damaging to standards in the long run (p. 70.) Until then, never mind what the product is made of, so long as it generates income (p. 51.) The author’s primary role may be his or her known name. Sometimes the author is not even the main contributor of the composition (pp. 52-55.) Now it becomes clear why so many persons are listed in the acknowledgement page of these books, and so lavishly thanked. Again, we may arraign the evangelicals more than others on that point, I think. Tony Campolo and Philip Yancey come to mind. The acknowledged persons may be more responsible than the author—even for the writing that is found in the product. ‘CanLit’ corruption and privilege is well summed up on page 154. Not only the CBC, but the newspapers are in on it too. They expose their collusion by describing Michael Winter’s style in the same way, for instance. After the word went out that he writes like Hemingway, that factoid became the talking point to share (pp. 204, 205.) Alex Good convincingly persuades that Winter’s style is not, in fact, ‘Hemingwayesque.’ History furnishes a precedent for farcical author-making like that. After Marcel Proust groveled before Madame de Caillavet in order to have his drivel noticed, she wrote a preface for one of his books and submitted the preface as being written by Anatole France. France, unacquainted though he was with the book, added a phrase of his own to the preface, comparing Proust to Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and Pretonius—and voila, another author was launched by machinations instead of merit. That story is told in the chapter on Proust in Rascoe’s Titans of Literature. Why do readers only pretend to read Proust? Or why are his books always on the bucket list, but never on the lap? Is it not because his books are unreadable? Are they not unreadable because they are boring? Proust was made, not self-made and merit-made. Synthetic authors are like modern art. One is not drawn to them, but driven to them through peer pressure and deception. Once made to stand before their work, one pretends to like the sight or one sanely walks away. Few men enjoy staring at shapeless, colorless plastic.               

In his book, Alex Good supplies a considerable amount of data on Canada’s literary establishment. This data should have been marshaled for the purpose of explaining, in an extra chapter, the breadth and depth of this establishment in order to pass judgment on it. In other words, the grievance that loosely and lightly permeates this book should have been drawn out at the close for a condemning finale. I will do that a bit in the rest of this review. The literary establishment is a branch of the broader media-political culture that has been diseased by neo-Marxism: a modern form of Marxism whose goal is to make the citizenry into an obedient mass of individuals who march to the orders of an increasingly resource-hungry, tyrannical state. Those who push for this collective utopia believe that freedoms will be curtailed only among the white males who are the descendants of a largely imagined oppressive patriarchy. But a state that chooses favorites eats up the freedoms of all: the freedom to rent to persons by the criterion of virtue; the freedom to hire on the basis of merit; the freedom to pay on the basis of a compact; the freedom to exclude on the basis of belief; the freedom to debate in the public square without an expectation of abuse. When a society plays favorites, the group that is discriminated against becomes frustrated, and is tempted to lie, to cheat, and to lash out. This is inevitable when multitudes of conscientious citizens are choked by intolerant laws that are dreamed up to please the special interest groups. Due to the shifting hierarchy of identities, those who trample, given time, will be trampled in turn. White males have, since decades ago, been trodden down by libertines, immigrants, Indians, feminists, gays; or, in a word: by everyone. But now everyone is being relegated to a lower place—below Muslims. It may be that Alex Good is too much infected with the virus of this nouveau Marxism (which includes relativism and multiculturalism) to do more than give a list of symptoms, which lay scattered throughout his nine essays. What but an afflicted mind would go out of its way to assign the hypothetical foreigner the pronoun ‘she’? (p. 152.) It is an unnatural thing to do—something that is done in order to please the peer-pressure crowd. I think that Good is a man who has been infected from birth but never enlightened, though coercion might have something to do with his timidity. For sure, he suffers from something that he needs to be cured of, for he ends his book with a lamentation about how ‘public funding for the arts’ is not a ‘priority at any level of government’ (p. 262.) Mr. Good has been reviewing books for twenty years (p. 10.) Many of those have been written with taxpayer dollars, and then advertised on the CBC with more taxpayer dollars. Back in 2007, funds to the Canada Council for the Arts already amounted to over $180,000,000 per year. So an author (only a socialist one need apply) can write on the backs of taxpayers through the CBC, or on the basis of a tax-funded grant from the council, or with the assistance of a tax-funded Canada Periodical Fund, or through some tax funded program that taxpayers don’t even know exists, and then he can receive free advertising through the broadcaster. What books does the CBC advertise through its interviews and readings? I have been listening to the CBC for as long as Mr. Good has been reviewing. I know that they promote rubbish instead of literature. The CBC does not promote Class A literature like the stories of R. L. Stevenson or the best of Jack London; the books that they advance for consideration are as bawdy poems beside Shakespearean sonnets. Mr. Good should know, then, that the problem with the arts in Canada is that the government has made funding for the arts a priority, largely through the more than billion dollars per year that taxpayers are made to pay to the CBC—the very platform that is part of the establishment which Mr. Good justifiably censures. It is through the public fund that the CBC sets up the faux literature that Mr. Good reasonably ridicules. If the private sector is ‘less innovative and creative’ and more ‘insular’ than the public sector is (p. 206), may it not be on account of the private citizens knowing they have an uphill battle competing with ‘artists’ who are artificially made through taxpayer dollars? Are they not more insular because the government (including the CBC) is so biased and discriminatory? Who doesn’t want to live on an in-group-preference island when all the government’s national appendages are so prejudiced, belittling, and even threatening? What other option, but to be ‘insular,’ do they have who are shut out? If the government prioritized properly—by limiting its business to the necessities of society: punishing obvious crimes and ensuring the liberty of law-abiding citizens—quality in the arts would show itself to be above the level that the establishment, with other people’s money, has reached. The promotion of novels that demonize traditions and that foster subcultures has made the publishing of honorable material unacceptable in this country; it has done so at the expense of the very people who do not believe in funding arts programs through taxes. Too many persons are willing to create whatever the government (through its many programs and the CBC) wants them to create. Maybe if we had never propped up fake literature via taxes, the so-called Golden Age (pp. 27, 48, 72) of Canadian literature would have brought forth precious metals instead of fool’s gold, Canada would have a solid platform to spring from, and we would not be looking like imbeciles for pretending that Margaret Atwood is the second coming of the Renaissance, or as vital to Canada as Chaucer was to the Western world. Part of Good’s thesis is to talk about ‘the misdirection of Canadian literature’ (p. 12.) Government interference in the arts is a, maybe the, chief cause of this misdirection in Canada. Such interference, which is the misdirection that Mr. Good is on a quest to discover, is the very thing that he wants more of! He who wants even more social programs than we presently have cannot have a high opinion of merit-based success via capitalism. When he brings capitalism up, he does not defend it (pp. 49, 50.)   

Tony Morrison is a black woman. A journalist called Tom Bissell said, in writing, that he had her book assigned to him ‘six times in college’ (p. 29.) Tony Morrison is a multi-millionaire novelist whose bee in her afro is the myth that blacks are being whipped by the descendants of slave-owners in 21st century America. Leftist ideologues up here in Canada, of course, are just as ‘progressive’ in their own backwardness. The Orenda (p. 164), a Canadian novel by an Indian is recognized and honored only because it is about the scabby past (probably misrepresented) that is used as a tomahawk to threaten more money from the colonial-cowboy-whiteys. What’s worse is that Boyden’s claim to being of Indian descent has blown up in his face. He doesn’t look any more Indian than Elizabeth Warren (aka Pocahontas) does. Regardless of Boyden’s birthright and motive, it pays to pretend to be something other than a white man in Canada. The field is competitive even among writers who are willing to be so narrow as to write within the bounds of identity politics and politically correct sentiments. But a writer has more of a shot at being granted a hearing by restricting himself to the dictates of despotism than if he wrote a novel to rival The Scarlet Letter or Moby Dick. If the few writers who are brave enough to march outside the border of Canada’s Marxist parade square may be labeled ‘insular’ or ‘hidebound’ in some sense (p. 206), how much more are they insular and hidebound who dare not cross the perimeter into the domain of free thoughts that the establishment has proscribed? In Canada it is still true that the best chance for a writer to be noticed and acclaimed is through the medium of the public broadcaster—“the media still being the only objective measure of any wider public interest” (p. 227.) The CBC is the chief spokesman of socialism; along with other mainstream media, it hastens Canada down the current of moral declension as fast it can, no matter how many conservative voters there are and no matter what party is first in Ottawa. Their daily decree is for everyone to speak and write as though each unit of the multi-culture is honorable except the one that looks like John A. Macdonald and that eschews perversions, which unit happens to be the largest block of Canadian voters. 

The books that are reviewed in Revolutions have been marked ‘approved’ by the Canadian literary establishment. What are they about? They’re about Canada (p. 158)—I guess because being ‘insular’ is a requirement. They’re about blasting those pesky ‘prejudices’ and ‘stereotypes’ (pp. 169, 219)—the ones, no doubt, that involve judging and generalizing according to common sense and a sense of decency. They’re about Indians, immigrants, racial minorities, women, and lesbians (pp. 220-224.) They’re about feminism—about despising men (pp. 179, 191.) In Atwood’s Blind Assassin, Iris is ‘privileged, bitter, abrasive, and self-pitying’ (p. 65.) That is the spirit of Atwood, of minority victimhood, and of every feminist in every story that is written by a feminist (my opinion, not Good’s.) “To be white and male is, for the most part, to have no ‘identity’” (p. 222); in other words, white male writers are systematically shunned. As for white male characters—conservative ones in particular—they must be presented as cruel patriarchs, which is one reason (my opinion, not necessarily Good’s) why Atwood’s fantasies are ‘off-target’ (p. 85.) Take her Handmaid’s Tale for example, and let a student speak (from an Amazon review) who was made to read it: “I read The Handmaid’s Tale as a school project. I found it to be poorly written and incredibly boring. The book doesn’t have much of a plot…The author seems to say, ‘This is what will happen if we let those…Republicans in office!!’” Without having to check, I know that the evil 1984-ish society in this novel is not on the left, even though despotic societies are almost always on the left, including Hitler’s socialist party and the KKK. Students don’t know this though. Why not make the Saracens the villains? That would be both historical and prophetic. In the giant Petri dish that is the 21st century school system, students have little more literal knowledge of history than they get at home or online; some of them will believe, then, if made to read the propaganda that is an Atwood novel, that whenever white men have had the chance, they have oppressed women to a worse degree than what is done in the most oppressive countries in the Islamic world. Obviously, when anthologies of Canadian literature are put together for students to be taught by, identity politics is a prime consideration. “Merit, as we’ve seen, isn’t up for debate” (pp. 216, 240, 241.) This anti-white, anti-male pattern is identity prejudice, and it is as widespread as the CBC and the rest of the literary establishment can make it. Is this not one reason why the jury (of which Atwood was a member) for the Giller Prize could state that the thirteen books on the longlist told stories ‘in remarkable familiar ways’? (pp. 155, 156.) Identity politics narratives are not realistic. Here is an example from what I gathered out of one of Good’s reviews. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud is about a dejected middle-aged woman who is swept off her feet by a pretty young lesbian whose name is ‘Sirena Shahid’ (a Muslim, obviously.) The woman to whom Mr. Good suggested the book, said that she didn’t like it. Why didn’t she like it? “You see, she knew schoolteachers and none of the schoolteachers that she knew were like Nora” (p. 194.) That which is not plausible is not compelling; no wonder that the Canadian multitudes won’t go near Canadian literary fiction. They are not like Nora either. They cannot identify with identity politics fantasies. When exceptions are made the rule for the purpose of legislating for exceptions, normal Canadians would rather opt out.    

What happens when implausible fiction is forced to the top, to be then forced down upon the public? Let one more Amazon reviewer speak—again, about Atwood’s out-of-touch book: “This is one of those annoying books you are forced to read at school…Well, I hated it the first time, finding it dull, repetitive and vague. After having to read it three times…I can honestly say I shiver at the sight of it and my copy was put to its best use last summer...as something to burn on the barbecue. That really is the only place for it.” There are positive reviews of the book. But that a nefarious motive is at work is obvious from the fact that a student could be assigned an ‘off-target’ book three times during the course of his or her way through school. This is nothing less than Communist-style brainwashing. 

Counterfeit novels that are passed off as legitimate successors to classics ought to be rejected. Being negative about pseudo-literature that has been crowned by the establishment is something that is not tolerated by the hypocritical tolerance preachers in Communist Canada (my term, not Good’s.) “At the university it seems that the only duty is to ‘toe the line’ or be fired” (p. 231.) An anthology editor faces the same threat (p. 230.) It is the same again for the column-writer (p. p. 232.) Isn’t Canada broad and free? Academics and publishers mutually pledge to not ‘rock the boat’ (p. 236.) A university professor comes under fire because he teaches no texts by women writers in his course (p. 179.) He has nerve added to nerve, for he teaches ‘not much on the Canadian front’ (p. 180.) He is an exception surely. “Many of our best-known newspapers and literary journals have explicit, and public, strictures against ‘going negative’” (p. 37.) Anyone who has participated on social media has felt the pressure to self-censure. Self-censuring is so common that when non-progressives refuse to do it, the new Communists are shocked, and become threatening. The institutions that generate and empower the hysterical fury have been controlling what we read and publish in Canada for as long as anyone alive can remember. A good rule of thumb (mine, not Good’s, manifestly) is to decline each book on the basis of the first dirty word or impure innuendo that is found in it. In light of the smut that is pushed in our schools, students ought to rely on reviews or Cole’s Notes. It seems common for students to not read their course books, anyway (p. 16.) It isn’t difficult to find a scholar in a major university arguing that it is better to read nothing at all. This strategy is called ‘distant reading’ (Ibid.) 

When ‘value judgments’ are disallowed (pp. 39, 239), no one’s opinion about a book is valid or invalid (p. 34.) Therefore, why read? Or, when a book is unsatisfactory—in this case Ondaatje’s Divisadero, a reader (Sandra Martin) might just say that part of a writer’s genius is to not give you what you want (p. 146.) When value judgments are no longer acceptable, a judge (Sandra Martin) of books comes up with something like this for a criterion: “I want to be taken to a place I can believe in” (Ibid.) Her other two criteria are similarly vague. To judge on the basis of eloquence, figures of speech, cohesion, thematic weight—is out. It has to be out if a person has been programmed to praise books that are inartistically written and make no sense. Near the end of 1984, this is “to make articulate speech to issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centers at all.” The one fact along the history of degeneration in literature (especially noticeable in the history of pedagogy in France) is the progressive repudiation of established knowledge. In exchange for this repudiation, God bestows the ‘reprobate mind’ (Romans 1.28.) Romans 1 is singularly apropos, for it is the divine verdict upon the identity experiment that we are undergoing. 

Revolutions tells a depressing tale—a true story of present-day literary dystopia. On one pessimistic note, though, Mr. Good certainly errs—if he agrees (he seems to) with the statement that he quotes on page 254 that there are only ‘10,000 serious readers in the U.S.’ That figure is hard to believe since Mark Levin sold over one million copies of Liberty and Tyranny in just a few years’ time. It may be that, like Philip Roth, most readers have wizened up (p. 22), having exchanged fiction for non-fiction. It is in regards to the quality, not popularity, of contemporary literary fiction, that Alex Good’s judgment errs the most and most often. Even after being shocked at the sight of what was nominated for the 2013 Giller Prize, he says that “2013 was a great year for Canadian fiction” (p. 207.) This opinion occurs more than once, and concerns the Giller (p. 155.) In his own irritating word, or should I say, paragraph:

‘Huh?’

Ondaatje is a good poet (p. 66.)

‘Huh?’

Both he and Atwood have ‘made significant contributions to Canadian literature’ (p. 72.)

‘Huh?’

There is an example on page 195 of what Alex Good thinks is great prose. All that is going on there is a long sentence that is well punctuated so that it may be readily understood. Great prose is more than that—more than lucidity through able punctuation. Good’s reaction to one of the books that was nominated for the Giller in 2013 manifests his valuation more distinctly. Lisa Moore’s Caught sometimes has, he says, three or four ‘wonderful’ sentences ‘on a single page,’ but three or four awful ones ‘on the same page’ (p. 190.) He calls this level of craft ‘decent,’ by which word he likely means ‘good’ or even ‘great,’ for her book was part of 2013’s ‘great’ Giller year. Yes, that’s a great year for fiction! What a great year when a book with three or four ‘awful’ (slipshod) sentences can be found on a single page! More discriminating readers would call that just another rotten year—if more discriminating readers even bothered to read Giller-level books past page 10 or so, that is.      
   
Alex Good’s prose is especially irksome when it is disrespectful: “And as for Terry Pratchett, he dead” (p. 34.) That statement takes up a whole paragraph, by the way, adding irritation to irksomeness. The following sentence could have been written by Michael Ondaatje: “Superfluous lagged the veterans on the stage” (p. 72.) That said, he concludes his chapters effectively (pp. 88, 148.) His best moment is when he compares ‘aging literary lions’ to “…punch-drunk…pot-bellied boxers coming out of retirement…clobbered around the ring and into dementia….” (p. 61.) 

Based on the exposure that current prose is put to in this book, no reader should clobber himself by reading literary fiction that is newer than one hundred years old. Current highfalutin literature is ineptly written, routinely indecent, and purposely wanting a distinct storyline. For the reader, it is best to stick with the classics (p. 243.) By classics, Mr. Good might mean Atwood’s and Ondaatje’s early work; but by classic, I mean novels like Vanity Fair by Thackeray in the mid-1800s and The History of Rasselas by Samuel Johnson in 1759. Genuine classics are books that ‘educate, elevate, delight, and even change life’ (Jean-Christophe Valtat, p. 260.) Rather than write what is most likely to be accepted by base publishers and immoral media corporations, it is best for a writer to try to write a classic—if the writer can think of doing nothing else with his talent and time. More immediately, there is a need for competent, honest critics. When professional critics have shirked their duty, volunteers need to step into that gap (p. 235), just as volunteers must do the work that pastors haven’t the dedication to do. To write against the establishment’s narrative, sets a writer up for obscurity. On the one hand, that kind of writer is not welcomed by mainstream publishers and the mainstream media; on the other hand, online media is commonly censored and mom-and-pop publishers are afraid of being sued for publishing anything that is not commended by those who have the power, to a large degree, to decide what Canadians will write and read. There is something especially satisfying about writing out of love for truth, beauty, and goodness more than for sales and fame, even if no one will ever read what one has written. Self-improvement by writing is a noble work. A concern for the worth of what one writes ought to eclipse the anxiety to have one’s writings read.        

In case this review ends up on Amazon and in case Mr. Good wants to know why I gave him two stars out of five: he loses one star for his lack of penetration; he loses another for his foul language; and he loses yet another for quoting pornographic expressions. Yes, folks, novels containing pornographic subject matter are in the running for major literary prizes in Canada. That’s how ‘progressive’ we are. Good’s book is an indecent exposure of Canada’s foul literary scene; there is nothing remotely approaching to genius in the book; and the crass tone does not suit a literary critic. 




Monday, March 18, 2019

A REVELATION OF COLLUSION BETWEEN THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE MSM IN CANADA



I had this friend once, a professing Christian-Communist—odd, I know. He would emphasize that his Communist profession should be written with a small c, as in, and to denote, communism of the ‘commune’ sort. But his political beliefs are of the large-scale Communist kind; therefore it is blameless, if not polite, to capitalize his profession of faith. He likes to dip into this blog sometimes in order to hate my articles that are, he is convinced: ‘full of hate.’ This article about the SNC-Lavalin scandal is especially for him, but should interest anyone who is concerned about whether or not a political party should direct how newspaper articles are framed. Newspapers are for divulging news, not for advancing pre-approved political narratives. Op-eds are for communicating editorial opinions, not for providing cover for political parties. An Op-ed that is steered and overseen by a political party is not an editorial opinion. Since this erstwhile friend is a Karl Marx lookalike, I am nearly tempted to say: both inside and out, I thought it seemly to include a photo. The picture above this article is neither of him nor of Marx, though, but one that I found (and distorted for respectful purposes) which resembles enough the countenance of both, notwithstanding the disparity of poundage between the drawn face of this former friend and the fat face of Marx. The picture, moreover, looks a bit like the face of Bernie Sanders, if Sanders wore a beard, whose radical politics my one-time friend must be close to venerating. I will return to this old friend after giving the context of the revelation that my title promises to enlarge on.   

Anyone who follows Canadian politics even sparingly has heard something of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony on February 27th regarding the political interference that she faced from her own party. The government is not supposed to interfere with official decisions that are made by the Attorney General, even if the Attorney General is also the Justice Minister in the governing party, which was the case here. SNC-Lavalin, an engineering firm, did not meet the criteria for a DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement); she, therefore, as Attorney General, decided to not overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions’ refusal to grant one. A DPA, by the way, is a piece of legislation that the government uses to protect its favorite corporations from the law, which statute was slipped in by the Trudeau government in an omnibus bill after SNC-Lavalin had lobbied for it. A DPA, say its believers, is a tool to protect a corporation from a trial in the interest of shareholders and jobs. In reality, economic interests are not supposed to be considered at all. On the surface, a DPA is made out to be a measure by which to halt crime that a corporation is guilty of, and to help set it on a right path through fines. The truth, however, is that a DPA, or remediation agreement, is a path around the law for crooked corporations that support the government financially. About this financial connection: on May 17th, 2018, Global News reported that SNC-Lavalin was caught by ‘Canada’s election watchdog’ for making illegal donations to political parties, almost all of which went to the Liberals. It is interesting that the DPA legislation came in during Trudeau’s tenure and that it was another piece of legislation (the PPSC, or Public Service Prosecution of Canada) put in by Prime Minister Harper that caught the current PMO trying to force the Attorney General to go against both her conscience and the law, at the risk of both her reputation and peace of mind.   

After it became clear that Canada’s Attorney General did not want to join members of the PMO in their zeal to help SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution for its crimes of fraud and bribery in Libya, the PMO cranked up the pressure. With the increased pressure, a safety valve was promised to calm whatever fears the Attorney General might have for granting an unlawful DPA—unlawful because SNC-Lavalin, given its criminal history, did not qualify for it. The Attorney General’s testimony has informed us that Katie Telford, Chief of Staff to PM Trudeau, communicated the following to the Attorney General’s Chief of Staff: “We don’t want to debate legalities anymore.” In other words, the PMO was tired of hearing that they should follow the law! And then Katie Telford said this: “If Jody is nervous, we would of course line up all kinds of people to write Op-eds [opinion editorials] saying that what she is doing is proper.” This is the revelation of collusion between the Liberal government and Canada’s mainstream media. 

Since the mainstream media is such a powerful force, and has $595 million taxpayer dollars coming to it from Trudeau, the immoral support of Op-eds that was offered by the PMO to the Attorney General should wake up all readers of mainstream newspapers to the fact that so much of what they read is written to make inappropriate and illegal behavior by the Liberal party seem acceptable. Jody Wilson Raybould’s testimony should not be doubted for many reasons: she stood to lose her job, and did lose it, by resisting unlawful intervention by the PMO; her body language (watch her testimony, and see) is a manifestation of sincerity and honesty; her meticulous plain-spoken testimony is so rare in politics that we instantly recognize it for the truth that it is, just as we would know a unicorn straightway if we saw ever one. But here are the more objective reasons that her testimony should be believed: the Liberals opposed a motion to have Wilson-Raybould testify for a second time; they refused to make the central characters testify under oath; and they voted against making public the communications between Wilson-Raybould and the Liberal officials who, she has alleged, pressured her to comply in favor of SNC-Lavalin. If her testimony is untrue, all the Liberals have to do is make the relevant emails and texts public. They refuse to do so, and we all know why. These communications would confirm Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, and her Liberal oppressors would be even more exposed as crooks than they already are. 

As an aside, it is pitiful to see seasoned pundits on the right get overly excited about witnessing their first moment of fortitude in politics. Regardless of her valiant stand for the rule of law and judicial independence, we must not lose sight of who else Wilson-Raybould is and what else she stands for. Notwithstanding her courage and candor, she is a leftist ideologue who supports the M-103 motion, abortion, euthanasia, open borders, the carbon tax, green schemes, oil phase out, and Indian favoritism. How do I know all of that? I know it (correct me if I’m wrong) because she has never challenged her government’s push for any of these things. If she manages to draw a little more support from the cabinet and caucus, over against Trudeau, she will topple him, and be unbeatable as the next Liberal nominee. She did not go in for the Lavalin scam because she was determined to stand by the law. But she might have resisted for another reason: to preserve her reputation in view of making a political run for the top job one day, which job has been a dream of hers since childhood. That prospect might just have opened up sooner than she’d expected, and by accident. At the very least, she has distinguished herself for whenever a run for the top office opens up. By her stand against corruption in the SNC-Lavalin affair—she, another Liberal, has been anointed to one day rule over us, which is bad news indeed. 

But to return to my bygone friend and this revelation of collusion between the Liberal government and the MSM. Back to what Katie Telford, Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, no doubt said: “If Jody is nervous, we would of course line up all kinds of people to write Op-eds [opinion editorials] saying that what she is doing is proper.” This former Commie-friend of mine, like so many other pseudo-intellectuals, will continue to read his mainstream media articles as if the gospel itself is indited in them. He will continue to think himself wiser each time he lifts his indoctrinated, gullible head from an Op-ed in the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star. Sure, the Globe broke the story about the Liberal government’s political interference. But who knows why the journalists in question decided to fall out of step with the usual Liberal-friendly talking-point narrative? Their good work is the exception that proves the rule, which rule is, Liberal-spin. And Liberal-spin from these papers is what Telford’s comment confirmed as the norm. Only fools judge exceptions as though they form the rule. ‘We could of course line up all kinds of people to write Op-eds’ is matter-of-fact speech that betrays a status quo collusion between mainstream media and the Liberals. ‘We could of course line up all kinds of people to write Op-eds’ is talk that exposes customary, commonplace behavior. It does not smack of exceptional conduct, but standard practice. And yes, some articles are critical of Trudeau lately. But this is an exceptional time. The decision to toss Trudeau is in the air. When the Liberal leader is once again safely secured, whoever it is, the Liberal line will once again be walked by mainstream news outlets, and more straightly than ‘I Walked the Line’ by Johnny Cash. Teamwork between Liberals and editors is a dirty pattern, not a single blot. Soliciting cover from newspapers for obstructing justice is the Liberal way.   

My former Commie-comrade has more than one Bible, it seems. He has his KJV, the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star. His devotion to these newspapers will not diminish, I think, even after a member of the Prime Minister’s Office asserted that she could line up ‘all kinds’ of Op-eds to lend support to a decision to give a scandalous corporation a pass—to help a disgraced corporation avoid the trial and prosecution that it deserves for its rampant, wanton bribery. This former friend will continue, I am sure, to eagerly and religiously unfold his newspapers in spite of the revelation that what he reads in there are sleights of pen more than reports of news. A simple, single denial from a journalist of the collusion between the Liberal party and the Marxist media will cure him of his qualms on the matter, if he ever even had any. The collusion that cannot be found—between Trump and Russia—this he will continue to believe because his papers have convinced him that evidence of illegality is needless as long as it’s the Left that alleges it, while the Right may be deposed in spite of acting lawfully. This Commie-Christian (irreverent-sounding, paradoxical moniker, I know) must persist in his paper-loyalty because Communism is so close to being his gospel that his gospel must, I guess, hang on the very words that are penned by his favorite columnists. The notion that the Globe and the Star might be less than objective and frank on account of their share in the $595 million taxpayer present—this cannot be true in the mind of a man who lusts for the things they peddle: open borders, funding for ‘reproductive health,’ identity politics, and progressive taxes for the rich (which always ends up being progressive taxes for the middle-class.) He is a covetous man, and covetous men will have what they covet, regardless of truth, law, conscience, and the impoverishment and oppression of others. Covetous persons are not content unless their teeth are stained, and regularly, with the red meat they rob from hardworking taxpayers. It is the nature of Socialism or Communism to be unlawful and insatiable because its father is not Lenin or Mao merely, but the unappeasable, unquenchable devil. 

Consider for a minute the absolute pacifism that the Covetous-Communist espouses: stand by the idea of socialism, even while the current iron-fisted socialist power in Ottawa aims to disarm the people by policemen with guns in order for the government to gain full control over everything and everyone. In Communism, the ruling party tolerates no opposition, even in speech, concerning its crimes of corporate welfare, mass abortion, and income appropriation to fund whatever the autocratic state deems proper to forward. Has this quondam friend said anything in his ‘evangelism’ against any of this? Or against Sharia Law coming in to oppress us through M-103? Or the perverted sex-ed curriculum? Or transgender ‘rights’? Or radical feminism? This is doubtful. But if he has, be sure that it was couched in such a way (in placid philosophical verbiage) as to render his message entirely inoffensive and ineffectual. Cutting sinners to the heart, as done by Jesus, his apostles, and their successors—that is not for him; he can’t stomach it. The cutting work of the Holy Spirit is done through men who actually preach; this he has no part in and no heart for. “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”—this must be hate speech to him, I suppose. But this saying cannot be hate speech, can it? Even if it were, would an evangelist not be obliged to model himself after it? For a Communist-Christian, the kingdom of socialism is at hand, not the kingdom of God. His eye is on a kingdom on the horizon, not from heaven, and this kingdom is akin to Russia under Lenin, China under Mao, Venezuela starving, North Korea as it is, or 1984 as it is written. He will deny it. But that is the bleak world of death that his precious newspapers entice him, through lined up Op-eds, to look forward to with fondness. He cannot see the darkness at the end of his newspaper tunnel because he has not been awakened to it; it may even be that the light of the evangelical gospel has not yet shed light into his mind. What re-born soul could have read his New Testament in earnest, only to have gained the impression that complete bondage to a secular government is the Christian’s divinely appointed aim? What passage of Scripture teaches that bondage to a secular state will lead to a mosaic of happy people in an earthly paradise? Isn’t Jesus the only one who can bring comprehensive peace and prosperity to pass? Oh well, what is that to a nearsighted socialist? Until the kingdom of God comes, he looks for a secular-socialist utopia, and to that end has his lined up Op-eds to peruse, to believe in, and to glory over. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

REVIEW OF 'BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED'



“The survival of democracy depends on the ability of large numbers of people to make realistic choices in the light of adequate information. A dictatorship, on the other hand, maintains itself by censoring or distorting the facts, and by appealing, not to reason, not to enlightened self-interest, but to passion and prejudice, to the powerful ‘hidden forces’, as Hitler called them, present in the unconscious depths of the human mind” (p. 311.) This dictatorship is the society of Brave New World. This society is what Huxley comments on and warns about in Brave New World Revisited. Both books are disclosures of socialism; the non-fiction sequel is more sobering than its harbinger, and unaffected by immature characteristics. 

Roughly speaking, the totalitarian worlds of Huxley and Orwell are distinguished by the following marks. Brave New World is gaudy; 1984 is barren. Characters in Brave New World are sated and bored; characters in 1984 are deprived and stressed. Brave New World is regulated by peer pressure; 1984 is regulated by an iron fist. Brave New World is laboratorial; 1984 is inquisitorial. The gaudy world full of ennui and satiety, controlled by peer pressure and pills—this is Western democracy on a runaway downgrade. The austere world wherein people suffer privation and stress—the world controlled by iron rule and the fear of inquisition—this is North Korea. A failed exercise to achieve utopia is dystopia. Roughly speaking, though, Brave New World is a monstrous form of utopia; while 1984 is a functional dystopia. Both are joyless worlds occupied by persons who have had their liberties outlawed and their individualities effaced. 

Huxley makes his own comparisons. He says, perhaps not surprisingly but not necessarily prejudicially, that in light of ‘recent developments’ (just prior to 1958), Brave New World is more plausible an outcome than 1984 (pp. 252, 253.) He observed the prophecies that he made in 1931 swiftly coming to pass in his lifetime, like ‘man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions,’ for example (pp. 252, 295, 318.) It is no doubt truer in our day than in his, that even religion is a distraction (p. 296.) Go to virtually any church, and you will be struck, not by a sense of sin as doctrine convicts you from the pulpit, but a theatrical atmosphere and storytelling. In Huxley’s opinion, a 1984 scenario would give way to a Brave New World (p. 291.) The reverse is happening. Either way, socialist absolutism has leavened much of the world; its influence is hardening. 

What must we take note of as including the Socialist Left in the world in 2018? This ideology dominates in North Korea, Russia, China, and Cuba, to name the most obvious countries. North Korea is more like the world of 1984 than any other country on earth; it is a country made up of people who are the nearest to fully believing the indoctrinated lie that tyranny is liberty and that poverty is prosperity. The other three countries named are allowed some degree of Brave New World pleasure as they cautiously negotiate their 1984 walk between the narrow boundaries that they dare not cross. Those who live in the Socialist Left of the Brave New World include the citizens of North America and Europe. This is so whether they are governed by democrats or republicans in the USA, any of the three major parties in Canada, and even the parties that are presently opposing open borders in Europe. Nearly the whole globe, then, even before including South America and Australia, is Leftist-Socialist. North America and Europe are in a Brave New World marching toward some version of the more ominous world of 1984. President Trump is a capitalist standing in the way of the fetters that seem will inevitably bind his country. The Muslim invasion, for its part, if it succeeds, will bring its captured nations into the forced obeisance that the people of Iran and Saudi Arabia endure. Tentatively, I would label that world the extreme right, though even there bloated socialist programs may be counted on both hands. The true center would be capitalism on the basis of a Christian ethic, the closest approximation thereto being 19th century Britain and America. To imagine the industrial and digital progress that has been made since the 19th century—along with certain reforms like more sensible limitations on capital punishment—sitting on top of Victorian rectitude, is to imagine a widespread happiness and wholesome influence that the world has yet to experience and probably never will. 
                    
Sixty years after Brave New World Revisited was published, and eighty years after Hitler annexed Austria, conservatives are being called Nazis as if it’s not the Left, and only the Left, that imitates Hitler’s socialist program. Most people don’t realize that Hitler’s party was a socialist one. He who doubts that can look up the name of his party and survey his political acts. What are high taxes, gun confiscation, and national health care but socialist policies? One of the reasons the Nazis failed, Huxley contends, is because their brainwashing was not broad enough to include ‘their lower leadership’ (p. 300.) Hitler had not the time to do that; at least he had not the time to do it effectually. Even in his day—back in 1958—Huxley could say that children were not taught how to distinguish between meaningful and meaningless statements or how to sort truth from falsehood (p. 385.) If multitudes of university students in 2018 cannot decide what gender they are or even how many genders exist, shall we not insist that education has worsened in some basic respects since sixty years ago? Huxley had lived in California twenty years by the time he published Brave New World Revisited. Therefore it would be wrong to assume that his criticism of education was limited to the state of pedagogy in the UK where he was born and grew up.

Unlike the situation in Hitler’s Germany, our ‘lower leadership’—our teachers, are brainwashed, and thoroughly. We may include most pastors too, along with media personnel from coast to coast, celebrities, and regional politicians of every stripe, with comparatively few exceptions. Needless to say, our students are brainwashed by their brainwashed teachers and the entertainment industries. Children are easily emotionalized, and driven to conclude what reason and experience would guard them from deducing (p. 319.) They spontaneously react to ‘trigger words’ (p. 320.) Who is using and abusing children today to advance political objectives in the USA through emotion and trigger words? As I write this, the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida is a couple of weeks old. Socialist media giants have been rallying the children to the cause of ‘gun control’ on the heels of this bloody event. Gun control is a euphemism; it is the antithesis of the right to bear arms. Laws that were already in place, if they had been enforced, could have and would have prevented the young murderer from gunning down the schoolmates and teachers of the students that are now being used to agitate for more stringent gun control. Even though there had been between twenty and forty instances of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office being notified of the danger the young shooter posed—even though he was known to have bought a rifle—even though he had made threats and shot animals—even though he had openly declared his purpose to become a ‘professional school shooter,’ which fact was reported to the FBI—even though the shooter’s educators and the police knew all of this and more—he was not picked up, not interrogated, not confined, and neither was his firearm confiscated. And yet the cry for more gun control—which means more laws to curtail the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, is what is being called for. More laws are called for that will limit the freedom of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones from people like the murderer who should have been locked up but wasn’t. So brainwashed are the students (not all but enough to make the desired impact) that in spite of these facts, their response is to cry out the trigger words that have been planted in their adolescent minds by their leftist users and abusers. “Such is the proneness of the human mind to go astray,” says Calvin in the chapter on free will in his Institutes, “that it will more quickly draw error from one little word, than truth from a lengthened discourse.” How much more is this proneness the case in impressionable teenage minds? Manipulative adults know this. And so they goad the kids into crying ‘gun control! gun control!’; consequently, embarrassed by the optics of arguing with, and opposing, traumatized kids, many politicians who know better are coerced into submission, and the leftists achieve another victory toward the abolition of the American right to bear arms. The reasons why the educators and the police did not intervene to prevent the massacre should matter. But to most it matters not at all, leaving the way open for more slaughters. As pointed out by Bill Cunningham, the Obama administration wanted to make the education system look less derelict than it was by obstructing the pipeline through which students went from school to prison. Therefore problem students, along with their threats and crimes, have been lightly treated for years, which is what cleared the way for the shooter to commit mass murder at the school in Parkland. More gun control, though, is closing in on those who would never execute anybody and who would save someone if they could and had the right to do so. This is the kind of Nazi-like madness that a book like Huxley’s was written to circumvent. It is a cold cruel fact that politicians—like those that make up what Ted Cruz labeled the ‘Washington Cartel’—like those labeled ‘the Swamp’ by President Trump—take advantage of crises in order to exercise control over a populace (p. 263.) It is in their selfish interest to ignore steps that could be taken to save lives. They would rather use an excuse to diminish a right—like the right to bear arms—than remedy the wrongs that permitted a mass shooting to take place. To this end, susceptible students are duped into rallying to the cause of increased gun restriction, as if restricting the rights of good citizens to bear arms is the way to stop psychos who decide to shoot up schools. A gun in the hand of a good man is the only way to stop a bad man wielding a gun. More gun restriction is the avenue to more bloodshed because while obedient citizens are subjected to restrictions, fiends will always find means to procure guns. Not only are these kids susceptible to ‘easy fix’ lies to complex problems, they are especially receptive to media attention, for what kid does not want his moment of fame? It is tempting to use kids to achieve a goal. Who does this more than those who lean democrat? Democrat politicians are notorious for putting kids in front of them when introducing socialist bills that restrict freedom. Who does that but unscrupulous, unethical persons? Palestinian Muslims put kids between themselves and incoming bombs; socialist democrats put kids between themselves and the bills they want to pass.            

Leaders with despotic tendencies use ‘non-rational’ propaganda that appeals to ‘passions, blind impulses, unconscious cravings and fears’ (p. 291.) They suppress facts while they put out ‘catchwords’ to be repeated (p. 296.) Who does this but the democrats? What are the catchwords they use to dodge facts and debate? Racist, homophobe, Islamophobe, sexist, misogynist, Nazi, fascist—these are some of them. ‘Male chauvinist pig’ got worn out decades ago. Here are two examples of how catchwords are used to evade facts and disallow debate. If you’re not okay with open borders, through which illegal migrants come in to sponge resources, and in some instances to harass, rape, steal, or murder, then you must be ‘xenophobic.’ If you want to stop importing immigrants from countries that are infamous for exporting terrorism, then you must be ‘racist.’ Who adopts these catchwords for use but citizens who are ‘incapable of abstract thinking’? (p. 302.) Who uses them but democrat supporters? Ignorant citizens who will not, or cannot, think past catchwords to reason things out, they are the same kind of people that Hitler used (Ibid.) The democrats and the unprincipled wing of the republican party depend on uninformed simpletons to make their agenda unacceptable to oppose. 

Sister (how sexist to say ‘sister’ and not ‘brother’) to the catchword is the slogan, or ‘stereotyped formula’; this too is often used for evil purposes; it is a tool that the Fuhrer used (p. 305.) Who has used slogans lately that have since proven to be lies? Remember ‘hope and change’ and ‘fair share.’ It would be hard to find one single thing that was fair and hopeful in any of the changes that Obama brought about. “Simple-minded people tend to equate the symbol with what it stands for” (p. 314.) Remember “you can keep your doctor; you can keep your plan.” Those who had a little wisdom knew this to be a lie even before the promise was broken; the simple-minded swallowed the lie in a single gulp. Is ‘Make America Great Again’ of the same character as these slogans? ‘Make America Great Again’ is a promise that is happening; it would happen to a much greater extent and degree if not for the fact that Donald Trump faces more opposition than any American president before him has faced. Companies and industries that Obama said would never return, they are returning; America isn’t funding Iran’s nuclear program anymore; and Isis is almost entirely wiped out. Indeed, Isis has lost ninety percent of the territory that was supposed to be the beginning of its worldwide caliphate. Isis is dispossessed and nearly destroyed. Many more terrorist attacks would have happened if Clinton had won the election instead of Trump. But we seldom think of benefits like that, do we? US citizens are living right now who would be dead if not for a capitalist having won the White House instead of a socialist. Democrats are purist socialists now; the brave new world that they started is suffering a setback.  

Hitler, or the ‘demagogic propagandist,’ is so inflexible as to not admit that his opponent is even partially right. No matter what, he shouts the opponent down (p. 306.) Is that not the stance of democrats vis-a-vis Donald Trump? They haven’t thanked him for crushing Isis; they do not praise him for all the jobs coming back; they opposed his travel ban regarding terror-prone states; they may not accept his generous concessions on immigration reform and gun control. Their only aim is to impeach and depose by whatever trumped up charge that can be used for the purpose. If a coup of sorts will not work, the opponent must be ‘liquidated’ (p. Ibid.) How many death threats did Obama face while he was in office? It may be that a threat or two against him were not hoaxes; but he is a liar who denies that Trump has received tenfold more threats than Obama did. How many times has the life of President Trump been threatened? His life has been threatened by celebrities, activists, rioters, bloggers, and trolls, with mainstream reporters and pundits winking at each threat, hoping that someone—anyone—would be motivated to act on the basis of all this hatred. When a man rushed upon Trump while he was speaking on stage, the mainstream media showed no concern at all because their wish was for Trump to be ‘liquidated,’ which temper, as Huxley warningly reminds us, is a Nazi turn of mind. No one ever rushed Obama. No American would have dared because black dignitaries—indeed, blacks in general—have privilege in America. If Obama had ever been rushed, we would still be hearing about the infamy on a daily basis years after. Because America is not racist against blacks, and because conservatives, when beaten, do not lash out, Obama—that wicked demagogue—was probably the safest man to occupy the White House in American history. Who is Nazi-like? Is it President Trump and his supporters who turn the other cheek? Or is it the party or side that wants to kill because their socialist cause was interrupted by the election of a capitalist? Is it the middle class from Mid-America who are willing to work in mines and on factory floors? Or is it the big city snobs of New York City and LA with their domestic terror groups? The non-rational propagandist associates his product with persons that the masses look up to (p. 353.) Remember Hillary Clinton trying to sell the failed ideas of Obama by posing with celebrities. I can think of no celebrity of note posing with Donald Trump to help him get elected. Trump is a straight-talking businessman, not a politically correct empty suit. Celebrities can’t identify with that. Their life is an act; his life is what movies are made of. Trump stood with the common man of no repute—the hard-working folks that shoulder the taxes. This is why we call him the blue-collar billionaire.                      

Hitler also relied on what Huxley calls ‘herd-poison’—‘crowd intoxicated’ mania produced by exploitative oratory (p. 304.) Who is a master at exploiting ‘hidden forces’ to produce angry crowds more than Obama? Much of the vandalism, looting, and violence that Black Lives Matter and Antifa committed were generated by Obama’s oratory. It could be convincingly argued that these terrorist forces would not exist except for Obama. Is it not interesting that Barack Hussein Obama comes to mind more often in the chapter called Propaganda Under a Dictatorship than in the chapter called Propaganda in a Democratic Society?                   

A social arrangement between laissez-faire and total control is closest to the ideal (p. 278.) The over-organization that ‘suffocates the creative spirit’—what is that but a micromanaging government that regulates everything that it can get its hands on? President Trump’s rule is to roll back two regulations for each one that is introduced. He has cut regulations on gun control, the coal industry, and internet use, to name a few. By rescinding one regulation in particular, he gave states the choice to opt out of funding Planned Parenthood, with moneys received from the federal government. An option to not give money to an organization that kills babies is antithetical to a Brave New World and 1984 if anything is. An attempt to create a ‘social organism’ results in ‘totalitarian despotism’ (p. 280.) Such an attempt is like trying to make man conform to the marching orders of an ant colony (p. 279.) Do we not see this happening in our universities and on social media? Speakers who refuse to blindly accept what professors tell them to believe, are shouted down, shamed, and sometimes assaulted. This is going on at Berkeley and at other universities. This is 1984-style enforcement.  Speakers who refuse to repeat talking points on issues like globalism, global warming, open borders, and Islam have their YouTube channels demonetized, sometimes blocked, and maybe wiped out. This is going on right now. This is 1984-style enforcement. In such a world—a synthetic social organism—one has to ‘de-individualize’ (Ibid) or else. But ‘regimentation’ is ‘a great misfortune’ (p. 376.) One reason for a soft-on-crime approach, jumped out at me on that page. Criminals (with their guilt) have been absorbed by the sham social organism—the collective. This social chimera is also why the plays of Shakespeare are no longer attributed to Shakespeare by certain philosophers. In the social organism sense, he never existed. Who’s to say which ant, for example, is responsible for the anthill? Remember Obama’s statement about small business owners: “You didn’t build that; somebody else—made that happen.” This social evil is also why heroes and patriotism are discountenanced. Individual initiative goes against the current of conformity; patriotism is at odds with an en masse acceptance of globalism. The truth however, is, “Everything that is done within a society is done by individuals” (p. 379.) This is perhaps the most important page of the book, by the way; it is a worthy speech in defense of that obvious fact. It is ironic that in their quest to create a social organism, our leaders never tire of emphasizing diversity as our strength. Of course, they don’t believe their talking point. Then, overlooking the diversity in each individual, like ‘temperamental diversity’ (p. 380), the imported individuals that they hope will be digested to swell the collective, clash with it instead. If you think about it, a ‘truly social species’ has no need of individual liberty (p. 381.) That explains the socialist zeal for unqualified conformity. The socialist is himself a victim of ‘mind-manipulation’ (p. 392.) He is a ‘psychological captive’ who ‘believes himself to be free’ (Ibid.) I will add here, though, that in both Brave New World and 1984, those at the top, if I rightly recall, are allowed freedoms that the rest of the populace is disallowed. It is the same with those who jet to summits on global warming. They use all the fuel they want at taxpayers’ expense to go play it up at the most posh places on the planet, and while there they lecture those who pay the tab about how they must reduce their carbon footprint and take measures to use less power in their homes. 

Since education is now under almost complete control of federal governments that do not permit the teaching of history and logic except in diluted and twisted forms, the solution proffered by Huxley to educate against the danger of tyranny (p. 383), can only be accomplished at home or online. But the majority of children do not belong to households that are able or willing to enforce this; indeed, most parents or guardians have become willing slaves to the state. It is plainly more the case in our day than in the 1930s that even pastors do not want men to think critically (pp. 385, 386) since most of them are selling temporal hope in health and wealth instead of preaching hell for sin and heaven through faith. Francis Schaeffer observed that most people will not put up a fuss as long as they enjoy ‘personal peace and affluence.’ This is comparable to Huxley’s ‘bread and circuses’ (p. 400.) The situation must become so dire that ‘grounded dodos will clamour again for their wings’ (pp. 400, 401.) 

If wings of freedom are regained, it will be by that which ‘science and technology’ supply and that ‘powerful rulers’ have little control over (p. 401.) This comment is astonishingly prescient in light of the present information war going on between celebrities, academics, politicians, media giants, and internet platform controllers on the one side; and earnest, self-taught individualists on the other side who do not want their souls to be smothered and their selves to be stamped with the image of an impersonal state. Welfare moms and public broadcasters are satisfied with a state stamp for an identity; independent thinkers prefer the stamp of their own personhood.    

Christians like me must bring up the fact that the liberty that tyranny is taking away was established by Christian influence and that the only sure way back to liberty unbound is through this means. Until Christian influence rolls through our societies in unstoppable waves, the deadening air of socialism will hang over our heads to threaten our mobility. If we win the information war, but obtain no life-giving infusion, our stems will not rise very high and our garden will never be pretty, broad, and lasting. The first little storm will blow the petals off our flowers, and we will be back to raking, cultivating, and planting from scratch our tiny seeds. In short, history and logic are not enough; while philosophy—even Christian philosophy, is much less than we need. It is regeneration en masse by the Holy Ghost—revival—that is needed. This is the basis of the influence that Western societies are built on; Christianity is why so much good has been done through them; Christian-based societies are durable. If the reader assumes that I am talking about revivals of less than over a century ago, he has yet to learn that a revival is not what he thought it was. Billy Graham has just died; where is the influence of this overrated man? Roman Catholicism did provide a measure of stability in the Middle-Ages; but it was the Protestant Reformation that caused the moral progress that we have taken for granted so much as to squander and misuse. If Graham had really felt the truth of that, he would never have rendered himself inert by his collusion with Rome. This might not be saying enough, for inertia is not a negative, and Graham might have done more harm than good by making multitudes of hypocrites by tricky techniques and coerced confessions of faith. But I cannot afford the space to digress any further on that.  

When Huxley touches on religion, I do not expect a lot of insight. John Wesley may have had to contend with fanaticism in the midst of the revival that he was part of, but it is ignorant to say that his success was on account of being a fanatic himself. He did not succeed in converting multitudes by emotional manipulation—what Huxley terms ‘an intuitive understanding of the central nervous system’ (p. 329.) He did not bring people under tyranny through brainwashing; he, through preaching the gospel, caused sinners to be mentally renewed and loosed from the bonds of sin. Huxley admits that through Wesley’s preaching, thousands of converts had “new and generally better behaviour patterns ineradicably implanted in their minds and nervous systems” (p. 330.) This is the expansive Christian influence that I referred to and that we need for our societies. It is the peaceful force that can sweep away our species of totalitarianism. Persons from any class or station may be affected in a revival; that cannot but usher in ‘hope and change’ that is dynamic instead of deviously politic. 

In spite of being spare on solutions, Brave New World Revisited was written decades before its predictions came to pass, which fact makes Huxley a man to look back on thankfully and admiringly. The object of predicting a social disease is to help societies abide. But the Western world did not heed the doctor’s warning; now it is undergoing a social pandemic. Huxley predicted the ‘social engineering’ that our degenerated democracies are forcing on us (p. 283.) He did not specify all the forms that social engineering is now taking. But it is a marvel that he hit upon some of them and that he even hit upon the general principle. By social engineering we may include hiring quotas, gender redefinition, racial favoritism, feminist supremacy, and other issues that are politically incorrect to speak ill of. Political correctness is the engineering of speech; the engineering of thoughts and feelings are its natural concomitants. If you are shouted down for stating ordinary, obvious, innocent things, like the wage gap that feminists complain about being largely due to the fewer hours that women work than men—it is certain that some women are so weak in thought and feeling that you might be targeted by one of them just for not making her happy. For example, if a date did not go the way a woman wanted it to go, she can now get a man fired by alleging (to the whole world on social media) that she was sexually harassed or raped by the man that she dated. The unproven allegation can end the man’s career and reputation before he has time to defend himself. You cannot outrun the voice of a condemning mob when digital media exist. A segment of society has been brainwashed to persecute non-conforming individualists. Whoever is favored in our brave new world can falsely accuse whoever is not favored, social media will then act as the jury, and the mainstream media will team up with the politicians to execute the sentence. If this process fails, an actual courtroom is nearby to ruin the accused (usually a white man) financially. 

Huxley predicted that social conditioning from the time of infancy would be accomplished by the state (pp. 285, 334.) Some students at Portland State University stormed out of a lecture room recently because a person on a panel stated that women and men are physiologically different. Conditioning from cradle to adulthood is likely the cause of such hysteria. Huxley predicted the surge in prescription drug use by which people are made sedate and controllable (pp. 285, 339, 340, 343, 346.) In a Brave New World, Soma is the people’s religion (p. 338.) This is a pity, for “there are certain occasions when we ought to be tense” (p. 344.) Yes, we ought to be tense when our leaders are populating our nations with uneducated, dangerous immigrants from failed states in order to retain power by their votes. We ought to be doubly tense when we are forced to subsidize these clans to secure the tyranny.

Huxley in 1958: “For what is now merely science fiction will have become everyday political fact” (p. 357.) For the most part and for now in 2018, we are living in what Huxley termed the ‘non-violent totalitarianism’ that manipulators run as they wish (p. 394.)

We must take note of what parties and which people are exercising Brave New World tyranny; then we need to join those who are hard at work trying to take society back to an equable state wherein liberty and peace of mind are more non-fiction than fantasy. We must learn to apply the books that we read.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

TRUMP THE STATESMAN (A SONNET FOR THE MAN OF 2017)




Once in awhile—no, more rarely than that,
A time or two, or ‘once upon a time,’
A man steps forward, endorses a pact,
Then starts to enforce it, line upon line.
Who dares to rail when finally a statesman
Discharges duty with all of his might?
What kind of pest, that kind of citizen?
‘Crapweasel,’ says Malkin, or parasite.
Who are they, really, who in Washington?
McCain, McConnell…so many are red, 
Every democrat, House Speaker Ryan,
‘The Cartel in DC,’ thanks good ole Ted!
Man’s worst enemies are those of his house,
Even a daughter! if not his dear spouse. 



For those who are not up on the political facts, some of the words and phrases in my simple sonnet need to be explained. ‘Crapweasel’ is an epithet that appears in the subtitle of Michelle Malkin’s latest book. Those who are ‘red’ are republican. Trump’s daughter Ivanka is a deluded leftist. His wife I do not know about; therefore, ‘if not his dear spouse.’ And Ted Cruz labeled politicians in Washington who collude in the interest of themselves at the expense of the American people, ‘the Washington Cartel.’ 

Arguably against more opposition than any president has ever faced, President Trump has done wonders to resolve domestic problems and foreign predicaments. To name only two of his significant feats: the American economy has picked up substantially, and North and South Korea are engaging each other in conversation. The friendly talk going on in Korea may be nothing but the accidental result of Trump’s foreign policy. Even the fallout from how he acts is often salutary; such is the wisdom of this man’s mature approach. I would not be shocked if North Korea began to noticeably westernize during Trump’s administration on account of his powerful sway. Would it not be wonderful if it ceased to be a dictatorship, or at least one as strict and insular as it presently is? President Trump has already accomplished more than I expected he would, though it may be that, under pressure, he will bend on immigration, and thus, fatally diminish his basic support system. The man deserves, nevertheless, to be honored for all the good that he has done in 2017. Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize even before he began to manifestly tear down and destroy; Trump faces a possible coup for building his country up and for standing up for it while abroad. Obama was celebrated in spite of exposing his citizens to mortal danger; Trump is derided for doing his utmost to protect all Americans, even the ones who call for his assassination.    

This sonnet appears on my modest blog before it appears anywhere else because I am the one who wrote it. Though my sonnet is less remarkable than those composed by Shakespeare, it is nonetheless Shakespearean in form.

Monday, November 20, 2017

CONSERVATIVE RADIO PRIDE


I keep up with politics through radio broadcasts. The radio host who best informs me along that line—one of my best discoveries for figuring politics out, is Mark Levin. I listen to his broadcast regularly, at least some of it, and I have gained much understanding through him. No one speaks the truth about Washington DC with as much passion as he does while maintaining as much hatred of corruption as he does. One cannot love one’s country without hating what destroys its goodness and greatness. Mark Levin is a man that the founding fathers would not be ashamed of, which is about the best definition of a patriot that one could come up with. 

There is no sensationalism on the Mark Levin program. Nor does he promise coverage on a story that he saves until the last minute, like certain hosts on Fox do in order to hold listeners hostage. He does participate in commercials, which I hate. He has developed a manner of slipping seamlessly into his pitch in order to trick listeners into hearing these commercials. But I can put up with this because he seems to actually use the products that he endorses, and because I’m usually speedy enough to mute the radio before the pitch has a chance to take off. 

I have been listening to Mark Levin for several years now. During this time, I have noticed something creep into his disposition—something that is beginning to dull the luster of his passion. Mark Levin is not a theologian; I do not expect him to know the Bible very well. But he does remark on religion sometimes. I gather from some of his statements that his view is that any religion is fine as long as it includes a level of morality that does not undermine the certificates that the republic was founded on. That he seems to hold this view of religion does not surprise me; most conservative radio hosts believe exactly that. This view of religion will prove, in the end, to have been less than adequate. It is a religion of works, not grace. It is a religion of mere morality. We should not expect Christian virtue in persons who are not Christian; that said, the words ‘conservative’ and ‘pride’ should not be found together. 

Like other radio hosts that have become popular, Mark has enveloped himself in a protective bubble that only his favorites know how to penetrate. It is triste when persons become remote on account of their celebrity status. To some extent, their inaccessibility is unavoidable because of the volume of mail that comes their way. They can’t pay attention to, much less consider, every concern. Any warnings that they might have listened to for their own good are never heard; and therefore they continue hazarding themselves. Proverbs 16.18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” This verse is one of the most frequently quoted, surely, in the whole history of Bible dissemination. Rightly so, for pride is one of the sins that men are most often guilty of, and in peril because of. I agree with Mark that we should not be cheerleaders; we should criticize as well as praise, whenever we perceive that someone on our side deserves it. We both disagree with Reagan on that point. A person who does not want his listeners to be mere cheerleaders should welcome, then, reproof from a friend. Proverbs 27.6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” 

Mark Levin is not my personal friend. I have never seen him. I am not even on the outer edge of his inner circle. Nevertheless, we are on the same side politically. So, in that sense, the man is my friend. His political views are essentially the same as mine: Judeo-Christian/Capitalist. If we are wise to pay attention when political foes accuse us of pride, it must be foolish to dismiss a warning that comes from a friend. That pride goes before a fall, only a fool will deny; that it bodes well to heed the warning of a friend is obvious. 

Mark Levin has become proud—sort of puffed up about himself. He yells a lot; but that’s righteous indignation. He calls people names; but that’s because he’s furious. He does impressions; but those are funny, if not called for. He can be rude; but that’s because he’s impatient. His intro waves him in as ‘the great one’; but this preamble is part of his old pride, not the growing pride that I am referring to. So what is it? What do I mean when I say that he has become, or is becoming, proud? Here are a few examples. (1) The man frequently refers to his ratings, even while he prefaces the reference with something like, “Now I could sit here and talk about my ratings….” It is pride that makes him talk about his ratings in spite of his promise not to do so. (2) He is proud of other radio hosts repeating what he has to say, even while he denounces them for sharing the information. He is in the vanguard, you see; they are just ‘backbenchers,’ which is precisely what he calls them. I agree that they are, in fact, backbenchers, but it is far from humble of Levin to state the fact. He should leave it to others to do so. Proverbs 27.2: “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Mark is Jewish; he should know the Old Testament just a bit. (3) He gets upset when others use the word ‘Statist’ to identify the political strain that Obama wielded in Washington, as if no one else has ever used the term. That’s pride again. (4) When he is mentioned in the news, he reaches for a pretext to bring that into discussion. This is prideful behavior. (5) Sometimes he asks his call screener to clear the board to make way for a new question that he has, which means that the callers who have been waiting for an hour or more to speak to ‘the great one’ are dismissed. It all comes down to this: he thinks he is greater than he is. This is especially noticeable when he slips into his affected lisp. Let’s make the lisp point number six. (6) “People ask me,” he says, “how can you write such scholarship?” Has anyone ever asked him that? Is he that much of a scholar? It is far from difficult to find fault with his ‘scholarship.’ He points out, reading from one of his books, that tyrants have ‘infinite ideas.’ Is that great writing? To say that tyrants have an infinite number of ideas would still be incorrect, but at least it would be closer to the truth than to say they have ‘infinite ideas,’ for ideas are not infinite, are they? After reading from the stock of his ‘intellectual property,’ as he terms it, he says, with an affected lisp, “I should send them my books.” This affectation is revolting to listen to. When speakers become proud, they try to sound important. But in trying to sound important, they expose their pride. They get so big in their own eyes that they must add something extra to the sound they make. The lisp is the weight that so many of them think will convey their importance. The fake lisp is a common fault, frequently found among prominent ministers. The tone he uses when he says the word ‘substantive’ is not as irritating as the lisp, but it’s full of pomposity as well. I could have made that into point number seven. But I’m trying to go easy on him.   

In 2015, Levin had an amateur author on his program. He was trying to help promote her book. After calling her book something like ‘substantive’ and ‘fulsome’ (which words he uses to characterize practically every book he likes), he nevertheless stated that her book was not a book of ‘political philosophy’ or anything like that—just before he added, “leave that to me.” Yes, yes, pat pat on the head, little startup author, nice going, but leave the hard stuff for me to write. That kind of communication oozes with the slick oil of perilous pride.      
    
It is all the more prideful when we consider that he does not write political philosophy. He thinks he does; he says he does; but, in fact, he doesn’t. He has not written volumes of political philosophy, as he regularly boasts, unless his Liberty Amendments qualify, which I doubt. Let’s consider the two books of his that I have read and that he thinks are volumes of political philosophy: Liberty and Tyranny and Ameritopia. Can these books be called volumes of political philosophy? No, they are summaries of political philosophy, which difference is as huge as the disparity that exists between a limerick and a poem or between a book and the CliffsNotes on said book. It is one thing to summarize the thoughts of a political theory; it is altogether another world to hatch the theory itself. It is the difference between taking notes from a sermon, and constructing the sermon that the notes derive from. And yet Mr. Levin has the bad habit of tiring his audience with the story of how he writes books more ‘substantively’ than other authors do! He labors at his research, you see, while they just thoughtlessly scribble! Mr. Levin ought to take note of this: writing political philosophy is labor; taking notes on political philosophy is light duty. I have given both his books high ratings on Amazon, but not on the false notion that they are books of political philosophy! Take a peek at the chapter titles for each book; the proof of what I say will jump right out at you. In Liberty and Tyranny we have chapter titles like this: ‘On Faith and Founding’; ‘On the Constitution’; ‘On Federalism’: summary, summary, summary, and (I’m being generous because I’m going easy on him) commentary, commentary, commentary. If he had written a book that federalism could be founded on, that would have been political philosophy. In Ameritopia we have chapter headings like the following: ‘Plato’s Republic and the Perfect Society’; ‘Thomas More’s Utopia’; ‘Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and the All-Powerful State.’ Again, summary, summary, summary, with (I’m being generous again) commentary, commentary, commentary. The author of the Republic wrote political philosophy; the author of Utopia wrote political philosophy; the author of Leviathan wrote political philosophy; Mark Levin did not write anything but summaries of, with commentaries on, political philosophy. That is all he did in Liberty and Tyranny and Ameritopia. They are New York Times bestsellers; but they are summaries of, and commentaries on, political philosophy, not actual exhibits of the science. His books becoming bestsellers has a lot to do, I think, with the increase of his pride.  

This demeanor, people, is worrisome to the point of deserving a warning. This prideful manner is what it is like to have a head that is just about fat enough to offset one’s balance. Then comes the fall, and there are many ways that that can happen. So my advice to Mr. Levin is that he set some time aside for reading and meditating on the Proverbs of God. Proverbs is a great headshrinker; it is the place where even the fattest head can be shrunk back to its normal size. Many kernels of the gospel may be consumed there, moreover, which content is nothing less than the Bread of Heaven in Old Testament form, and which is, without a doubt, the way  of salvation from sin and hell that each person needs, no matter how pure and decent his politics may be. I would not recommend that book of his dad’s on Proverbs, either, but the actual Proverbs. “Pride goeth before a fall.”