Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Rise and Fall of Christianity

There’s little question that Christianity is a religion in retreat. Even in the United States practising Christians are today a minority, and a steadily dwindling minority.

While I am not myself a Christian I feel that the decline of Christianity is, on balance, a bad thing.

But how did it happen? It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because something has happened it must have been inevitable. I don’t buy that. There is no particular reason why religion cannot survive and even thrive in a modern society. As recently as thirty years ago Christianity was still in a fairly healthy state, in terms of numbers at least, in the US.

I do not think Christianity has died a natural death, nor do I think it has been murdered. I do not believe that the vicious attacks of bigoted atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins could ever have done any serious harm to Christianity. I think Christianity has to a large extent committed suicide.

There has always been a potential weakness in Christianity. The emphasis on turning the other cheek has always carried with it the danger that Christianity could become an excessively passive religion. Combined with an excessive zeal for the weak and downtrodden it could, to put it crudely, become a religion for losers. Until fairly recent times this danger has been kept in check.

Compassion has been a strength for Christianity but it is important to understand that there  are different types of compassion. One type of compassion can lift people up while the other kind can keep people in misery. Compassion can lead us to show people how they can turn their lives around, or it can encourage them to continue in the behaviours that got them into trouble in the first place. Compassion for sinners is fine but it’s supposed to go hand in glove with encouragement to change their ways. Jesus didn’t tell the woman taken in adultery to go on merrily committing adultery - he told her to “go, and sin no more.”

In the past century Christianity has tended more and more to favour the negative kind of compassion.

And while it’s all well and good to reach out to those in need it would be nice if occasionally Christian churches reached out to those people who are doing the right thing, who are making a success of their lives and are living by their faith. It would also be nice if the churches occasionally reached out to white people, other than homosexuals, drug users and criminals.

The strength of Islam is that it rewards those who play by the rules and live according to their faith, whereas those who live by Christian principles have been increasingly marginalised by modern Christianity. Not surprisingly Islam thrives today while Christianity is a dying religion.

There’s also little doubt that the Anglican and Catholic churches have been to a disturbing extent infiltrated by homosexuals. As Christianity has seemed to have less and less to offer to healthy heterosexual men the ranks of the priesthood were increasingly filled with homosexuals and assorted sexual misfits, with tragic but predictable results.

It was not always this way. In the 19th century, the era of so-called “muscular Christianity,” healthy heterosexual men were highly likely to be devout Christians.

The Anglican and Catholic churches in particular have been feminised to a degree that leaves them with little appeal for heterosexual men.

Christianity has become wishy-washy mealy-mouthed do-gooder socialism with a very thin spiritual veneer. Sometimes without even the spiritual veneer. As such it has no future. Time is running out for the churches to change direction and to make Christianity once again a religion that appeals to decent ordinary people.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

the politics of self-disgust

An interesting comment to an interesting post at Vanishing American.

The commenter mentions that Gertrude Stein was quoted as saying, about 75 years ago, by Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast: "The main thing is that the act male homosexuals commit is ugly and repugnant and afterwards they are disgusted with themselves. They drink and take drugs, to palliate this, but they are disgusted with the act and they are always changing partners and cannot be really happy.”

I think this self-disgust explains much of the anger and defensiveness of the militant gay lobby. They demand acceptance from others for the simple reason that they cannot accept  themselves.

It also explains why, no matter how much tolerance and acceptance they gain, they remain  miserable and self-loathing. Their lifestyle will always be unhealthy.

And it also helps to explain the shrillness with which politically correct heterosexuals support the LGBT lobby. Most of us, if we were honest, would have to admit to being disgusted by the thought of sodomy. If you're fanatically politically correct the only way to deal with this is to over-compensate, to become pro-homosexual to an extreme degree. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

keeping one's sanity as a conservative

Being a conservative in today’s world can be at times a very stressful and draining, not to say depressing, experience. The greatest danger is burn-out. One has to find ways to stay sane without compromising one’s beliefs.

I find that the best way to do this is to have other, essentially non-political, interests.

In my case there are three main interests that help to keep me sane and help  to keep me going. They are my interests in old movies, in the genre literature of the past, and the art of the 19th century.

The one thing that all these interests have in common is that they are focused on the past. Deliberately so. I consciously avoid having anything to do with either the pop culture or the high culture of today. That’s another of my strategies for staying sane. Modern culture is so deeply permeated with political correctness that it’s simply not worth bothering with. And since there are so many wonderful movies from the past, so many terrific books from the past, and so much great art from the past that I need never worry that I’m missing out.

My interest in old movies is more or less self-explanatory. My interest in the fiction of the past focuses mainly on genre fiction, everything from detective stories to spy stories, science fiction and horror. I have an especial enthusiasm for pulp fiction from the 1920s and 1930s and for novels and stories of adventure and of the supernatural from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As far as art is concerned I confine myself to pre-modernist art. I’m particularly find of Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist art, and the much despised academic art of the 19th century. It’s despised by the politically motivated drones of the modern art establishment although it’s slowly but surely gaining more and more of a  following among people who believe that art can concern itself with truth and beauty. In other words it’s popular with people who actually love art rather than those who see art as political propaganda.

I blog about all these things. If I confined myself to political blogging then there’s a danger that blogging would become something of an ordeal, that it would be something that was always emotionally draining. Blogging about other things means that blogging remains fun.

On my non-political blogs I mostly avoid overt political content although I do slip in political points from time to time.

For those who might be interested my old movies blog is Classic Movie Ramblings, my book blog is Vintage Pop Fictions and my art blog is Strange Tears.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

death of a terrorist

While world leaders seek to outdo each other in expressing admiration for Nelson Mandela it’s worth asking the question - what kind of legacy has he really left?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described the African National Congress government in South Africa as being "worse than the apartheid government."
The African National Congress were of course Marxist terrorists and they have not changed. Margaret Thatcher expressed the view that anyone who thought the ANC could govern South Africa was "living in cloud-cuckoo land.” As usual she was right. It is depressing that no conservative leader of today would have the courage to express such a view.

The ANC were terrorists, albeit incompetent ones. Mandela was a terrorist and a doctrinaire Marxist. He has left a legacy of hatred and violence. He was not a great man. He was not even a flawed great man. He was simply a terrorist.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

US foreign policy disasters - a great tradition

The Democrat-controlled Congress’s betrayal of South Vietnam, mentioned in my previous post, was of course only the latest in a long line of US foreign policy disasters. Curiously enough these disasters always seemed to occur when the Democrats controlled the White House, or at least the Congress.

The first and most spectacular of these catastrophes took place at Yalta in February 1945. The Second World War had been fought over the issue of the invasion of Poland by a brutal totalitarian dictatorship so naturally Roosevelt thought it would be a fabulous idea to had Poland over to a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. The rest of eastern Europe would soon follow.

Roosevelt’s Democrat successor Harry Truman continued the good work by handing China over to the Communists.

Truman did his best to lose South Korea as well, removing Douglas MacArthur from command when it became frighteningly apparent that MacArthur might actually win the war.

Jimmy Carter was to prove himself as a fine example of the grand tradition of Democrat Presidents. Iran had a strong stable pro-western government. Obviously that situation could not be allowed to continue. Thanks to Carter Iran got a new government. A fanatically anti-western government of mad mullahs. Most of the US’s subsequent problems in the Middle East can be laid at the door of Jimmy Carter. The fact that the word now faces the threat of a nuclear Iran controlled by mad mullahs is not the least of Carter’s legacies. Harry Truman would have been proud of him.

John F. Kennedy was something of an aberration, being a Democrat president who was actually a sincere anti-communist. Unfortunately he was also a weak president and allowed the opportunity of ridding the world of Fidel Castro to slip through his fingers by failing to provide air support to the Cuban rebels in the Bay of Pigs invasion attempt. Kennedy’s weakness would provide a major encouragement to the expansionist aims of the Soviet Union.

In fact it’s difficult to to see how communism could have achieved the success it did achieve from the 1940s to the 1970s without the assistance of the Democrats.

That would of course all change once Ronald Reagan, the only conservative president in living memory, came to power.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Better War - US success and failure in Vietnam

Most books on the Vietnam War concentrate on the early years of United States involvement in the conflict. They see the Tet Offensive in 1968 as the climax of the war and take little interest in subsequent events. As Lewis Sorley points out in his 1999 book  A Better War: the Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam such a focus is dangerously misleading. It concentrates attention on the largely unsuccessful early years of 1965 to 1968 whilst ignoring the extraordinary successes of the period from 1969 to 1972.

The US commander in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968 was General William C. Westmoreland. Westmoreland believed the key to victory was to use the superior mobility and firepower of US forces to win a war of attrition. His aim was to inflict losses on the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese at a rate that would be unsustainable for the communists. Unfortunately he failed to take into account the total indifference of the communist leadership to losses, and the fact that the communists maintained discipline in their forces through a mixture of fear and relentless indoctrination. They would keep fighting regardless of losses because they had no choice. The war could not be won by attrition but Westmoreland was unwilling to accept this and change his strategy. Westmoreland continued to put his faith in large-scale search and destroy operations that failed to pay dividends commensurate with their costs.

General Creighton Abrams had been slated to take over the command in Vietnam in 1967 but President Johnson had painted himself into a political corner and felt he had to leave Westmoreland in command for another year. This was to be a costly mistake.

Abrams knew how the war should be fought and he knew how it could be won. Unfortunately by the time he took over the command in June 1968 the political climate was changing. Abrams would be forced to conduct the war with ever-diminishing numbers of US troops and ever-diminishing resources. In spite of this Abrams achieved extraordinary successes. Abrams felt the key to victory was to deny the villages of South Vietnam to the communists. Such popular support as the communists enjoyed in the South was entirely due to fear and intimidation. Without access to the villages that popular support dried up completely.

By 1969 the Viet Cong was effectively destroyed. The war would from this point on be largely a conventional war against the North Vietnamese invaders.

Once Nixon came to power Abrams found himself having to implement the policy of Vietnamization. The South Vietnamese would gradually have to take over the ground war, supported by US airpower. This was a policy that Abrams was in complete agreement with. He knew that the only long-term hope for South Vietnam was for their military to be strengthened and improved to the point where US ground forces would not be needed. The policy succeeded beyond Abrams’ expectations. By 1972 the South Vietnamese army was strong enough to smash the North’s biggest offensive to date.

By 1972 the war was in fact won. South Vietnam was prosperous and largely peaceful. The South Vietnamese army was tough and efficient. The Thieu regime was popular. There was no longer any need whatsoever for US ground forces. All that was needed was the political will in Washington to continue to give South Vietnam two things - sufficient financial support to maintain their armed forces, and the promise of US airpower if North Vietnam violated the terms of the cease-fire.

Tragically that political will was not there. Had Nixon remained in power things may have been different. As it turned out the US Congress achieved what the communists could never have achieved on their own - the destruction  of South Vietnam. Estimates of the number of people subsequently killed by the victorious communists range from 400,000 to 2.5 million. Every single one of those deaths can be laid at the door of the US Congress (and the anti-war activists who helped to create the political climate of cowardice and treachery. It was one of the great betrayals of history, and one of the mist shameful moments in US history. 58,000 American servicemen lost their lives to win a victory that was simply thrown away.

The British counter-insurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson (who spent a good deal of time in Vietnam and who greatly admired Abrams’ achievements) remarked, “perhaps the major lesson of the Vietnam war is: do not rely on the United States as an ally.”

Lewis Sorley’s superb book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand one of the greatest tragedies of US foreign policy in the nation’s history.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

big business and the Cultural Left

This cover of Bloomberg Businessweek with its farrago of nonsense about global warming is a prime example of possibly the most frightening development of recent years, the way in which the business sector has caved in completely to the environmentalists and to the Cultural Left in general. Not only have they caved in, big business openly colludes with these leftist nutters in their efforts to trash our civilisation.

Big business has convinced itself that its best chance of survival is to surrender totally to the Cultural Marxists. This is a spectacular and tragic mistake. The Left has changed its tactics but its ultimate objective remains the same - absolute and unlimited state power. Free markets cannot survive long once the Left achieves this objective.

This error has also been made by neo-conservatives in general who believe they can allow the Cultural Left to win every battle in the Culture Wars. They believe, wrongly, that the Culture wars don’t matter. They fail to perceive that the Culture Wars were only even intended by the Left as the first step with the ultimate goal being socialism.

The business sector will learn the hard way that the Left never compromises. Every surrender to their demands is simply the prelude to further demands.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lou Reed, the 60s and growing up

Lou Reed is dead. That means a lot to many people and I suppose it should mean something to me. And it does, although not what it would have meant a few years ago.

Lou Reed wasn’t just a musician. He was a cultural icon, and I’m very very suspicious indeed of cultural icons. He was also very much representative of a certain element of the Sixties. It's an element that now seems rather embarrassing, but then most things about that era now seem pretty embarrassing to say the least.

I no longer care about Reed as a cultural icon and I certainly no longer care about the Sixties thing he represented. There was a time when he seemed to me to represent something terribly significant but I’ve moved on. Eventually you have to. You have to grow up. Seeing some of the reactions to his death gives me the depressing feeling that there are an awful lot of people who never are going to grow up.

I very much doubt if he would have wanted to be remembered as a writer and performer of pop songs but that’s what I remember him for.

I was never able to summon up any enthusiasm for his solo work although I have to admit that the <em>Berlin</em> album had a vibe that it’s doubtful that anyone else would have dared to aim for. It was pretty close to being a career-destroying album and there’s something perversely fascinating in seeing someone take that sort of risk.

The Velvet Underground stuff still holds up though. For a brief period he had an extraordinary ability for writing strange, disturbing, quirky and offbeat pop songs that had no right to work as pop songs, but they did work. And they were certainly different. It’s hard to imagine anyone else writing songs quite like <em>All Tomorrow’s Parties, There She Goes Again, White Light/White Heat, Sweet Jane</em> or <em>Femme Fatale</em>. His more experimental songs, songs like Heroin, could also be oddly compelling whilst also being oddly distasteful. He also had a surprising knack for writing ballads that could get under your skin, songs like <em>Sunday Morning</em> and <em>I’ll Be Your Mirror</em>, and of course <em>Pale Blue Eyes</em>.

I don’t think he was truly a major talent, but he was a remarkably influential second-rank talent. He blazed a trail for some of the more interesting musical artists of the Seventies, artists who sometimes turned out to be far more significant than he was (Bowie being the obvious example).

His influence continues to a certain extent, although whether that’s a positive thing is perhaps debatable.

Perhaps I’m being a little too dismissive. There are a handful of his songs that still move me, and <em>Nico and the Velvet Underground</em> is an album I can still listen to all the way through. There aren’t many albums from the Sixties that I can say that about.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

film noir and cultural marxism

Whether film noir is a genre or a style has been endlessly debated but either way it is extraordinarily popular among film school types. It’s easy to see why. Film noir is all about victimhood. The film noir protagonist is always doomed. In our modern age, an age that sees victimhood as the highest achievement to which anyone can aspire, this is clearly going to be a very popular film form. And since academics have been to a large extent responsible for creating the cult of the victim their enthusiasm for film noir is hardly surprising.

Of course true victimhood requires that the victim should have no responsibility for his own fate. Ideally society, or capitalism, or the patriarchy, should be responsible. This creates a minor problem since many film noir victims are clearly victim of their own personal inadequacies or poor judgment. Film academics however are not going to let such trifles bother them and they have been able to produce interpretations of most of the films of this type that satisfy their political agendas.

That’s one of the reasons that there’s such an immense amount of writing on the subject of film noir. Without guidance there’s a danger that viewers might fail to interpret these movies correctly. Academics are only too willing to offer that guidance. One of their favourite methods of dealing with film noir (and with many other Hollywood movies as well) was to see such movies as explorations of the dark side of the American Dream. It goes without saying that to a modern film academic the American Dream only had one side and that was the dark side.

In fact quite a few movies in this genre were written or directed by people who were blacklisted. This increases the appeal of film noir enormously. The left-wing political slant doesn’t always have to be added by the film academics; in many cases it’s there already. By the time American film noir began to emerge in the early 1940s whining was already well and truly established as a favourite liberal pastime. Most of the writers or directors who were blacklisted really were communists or communist sympathisers and they did their best to give their movies a left-wing slant. The communist domination of Hollywood uncovered by the HUAC investigations was no figment of the conservative imagination.

Most film noir however was more than just political propaganda and many of these movies were not inherently left-wing at all. Some of the finest examples of the form such as <em>Out of the Past</em> (1947) and <em>Double Indemnity</em> (1944) deal with people who are clearly doomed by their own weaknesses and their own poor choices. Film academics nonetheless manage to twist all movies of this genre into the correct political shape.

Some of the most interesting examples of film noir were directed by German expatriate Fritz Lang. If you read interpretations of Lang’s movies by academics you’d be likely to conclude that Lang regarded the United States with loathing. Actually Lang liked the United States very much. You’d also be forgiven for concluding that Lang was first and foremost a political film-maker. In fact Lang was a Catholic and his religious faith was the major influence on his work. Lang is often described as a fatalist whereas he described himself as a fervent believer in free will. <em>You Only Live Once</em> (1937) is the most obviously Catholic of his American pictures but his Catholic beliefs are present in all his movies. One of the most frequently misinterpreted of Lang’s film noir efforts is <em>The Big Heat</em> (1953). The accepted critical view is that the cop is the bad guy and that the movie is an indictment of the corruption and violence of American society. In fact Lang made it quite clear that the movie was about the devastating effects of crime on the individual. The cop is the hero, which is in fact quite clear to anyone who watches the movie without a political bias.

There’s a great deal to enjoy in film noir. These were some of the most stylish American movies ever made. Like most important art the best of them deal with universal and eternal themes. Some have irritating political elements but most are far more complex than mere political screeds. There’s no reason to let academics prevent us from enjoying them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

witch hunts then and now

If you use the term witch hunt today most people will immediately think not of actual witches but of the McCarthyite “witch hunts” against communism in the late 40s and early 50s. It’s a subject that liberals get terribly excited about. To hear them talk you’d imagine this was a persecution on a scale hitherto unprecedented in western civilisation.

There are several ironies about this. The most obvious of course is that having gained real large-scale political power liberals are now far more enthusiastic, and zealous, witch hunters than Joseph McCarthy.

The other irony is that modern liberal-sponsored witch hunts are actually far more deserving of the term than the activities of McCarthy and his allies. Both McCarthy’s Senate committee and the House Committee on Un-American Activities were investigating  something real and tangible. There really were communists in Hollywood, in the US military and in the State Department. Many of the communists in the State Department were actual Soviet spies. They really did undermine US foreign policy, playing a significant role in ensuring that the US took no effective action to prevent the takeover of China by the  communists. Both HUAC and McCarthy’s committee were looking for actual evidence.

The witch hunts in the 16th and 17th centuries were very different. The witch hunters of that era were unconcerned with anything resembling hard evidence. If you were accused of witchcraft you quickly came to realise that the onus was on you to prove your innocence.

Modern liberal witch hunts against racism, sexism and all the other sins that obsess the political Left are equally unconcerned with actual evidence. If an accusation is made against you you will soon discover that it is very foolish indeed to believe that any presumption of innocence will help you. Even worse you are likely to find that the government or quasi-government agency conducting the investigations does not function like a court of law with any of the protections offered by such a court. More disturbingly you will find that even if you are brought before a court the protections that have been taken for granted have been whittled away. You cannot even rely on the most fundamental of all protections against government persecution of the individual, the concept of double jeopardy.

Hate crimes legislation is undermining all our most important rights, and this is happening throughout the Anglophone world. If you want something to be afraid of this is it. This is the big one.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

gay couples not good at child-rearing

A Canadian study finds that children raised by gay couples don't do as well as children raised by heterosexual parents. Which of course is not the slightest bit surprising but it is nice to find the facts supporting what we already know from plain old commonsense.

Not that facts are of the slightest interest to proponents of homosexual marriage.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

reading for misery

One of the most depressing things about the rise of political correctness is that it takes the pleasure out of everything. Including reading. Especially reading. It’s obvious that anyone today who has been exposed to the poison of political correctness finds it very difficult to read for pleasure. The main purpose of reading today is to search a book for examples of thought crime. Every page has to be obsessively combed through for any hidden sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia. etc. The reader’s task is to look for things to get angry about, things to get offended by. Everything has to be deconstructed to the point of destruction.

This is incredibly sad. I’d have thought that the purpose of reading was to find things to be uplifted by. To find things of beauty. Or things we can learn from. Whether you’re reading great literature or lightweight beach reading the ultimate aim is enjoyment. Great literature offers more complex enjoyments but the principle is the same. There’s no point in reading if it offers nothing but misery.

Great literature might, and in fact probably should, encourage us to think as well, but increasing our understanding is pleasurable. If a book offers us spiritual truths then that is something that will makes our lives better and richer.

Literary criticism in the past was focused on finding the good stuff in books, not the bad stuff.

The same argument applies to watching movies, looking at paintings, listening to music, any kind of cultural pursuit.

I’m constantly saddened by people I encounter on the internet who are no longer capable of getting enjoyment out of anything. Recently I came across an internet post by a woman who was going through agonies over her favourite television show. Everything about the show seemed perfect. It had non-white people. It had gays. In fact it had wall-to-wall gays. But there was no transexual character! This woman was torturing herself with the thought that maybe this was indicative of some deeply hidden transphobic agenda. Which of course meant she’d have to stop watching the show! Even modern American television with its mind-numbing monolithic political correctness was still not politically correct enough for her. She is a person doomed to perpetual anger and misery because she will never be able to stop searching for hidden non-PC meanings and subtexts.

That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons conservatives are happier and better adjusted than leftists. We still allow ourselves to get some enjoyment out of life!


Friday, October 4, 2013

failure through success - the story of cultural marxism

The last hundred years has seen a profound change in the outlook of the Left. A hundred years ago it was undeniable that the Left stood for something. What it stood for was misguided and deeply wrong, but nonetheless it has to be admitted that the Left represented a very strong belief in something.

And it was a belief in a positive something. It was always going to lead to disaster but the intentions were at least positive and even rational. Looking at the Left today it is extremely difficult to discern anything positive and it is completely impossible to find even a vestige of rationality. Leftist beliefs today are so self-evidently irrational and contradictory that Leftist thought can be more accurately characterised as a psychiatric disorder rather than a coherent political doctrine.

How did this happen? It happened because cultural marxism gradually became the predominant strand in Leftist thought. Cultural marxism has been spectacularly successful and that very success has been fatal. Cultural marxism was supposed to be a means to an end but it has become an end in itself.

One hundred years ago socialists were among the most optimistic inhabitants of our planet. They were absolutely certain that their success was guaranteed. Marx had told them that capitalism leads to communism with the inevitability of a law of nature. And Marx could not possibly be wrong about anything. The evolution was just around the corner.

The First World War seemed like a godsend. While socialists morally disapproved of the war (it is a bizarre but true fact that socialists were once very moral people) it seemed certain that the stress of war would hasten the downfall of capitalism. The working class of one country would never fight the working class of another country. They would refuse to fight a capitalist war and would rise up and destroy the capitalist system. It was a sure thing. You could put money on it.

Of course in fact the working classes did fight the war. And they conspicuously failed to rise up and destroy the capitalist system. Even more perplexingly the one revolution that did eventuate eventuated in the wrong place. If capitalism inevitably leads to its downfall then logically the revolution should come somewhere where capitalism had reached a very advanced stage. Somewhere like Britain, France, Germany or the United States. When the war started going badly for the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary, they become the most promising sites for the revolution. Germany being more advanced industrially than he Austro-Hungarian Empire Germany became the red hot favourite.

The failure of the working classes to rise up at the beginning of the war had been bitterly disappointing but now everything was going to work out satisfactorily. Except that it didn’t happen. But it did happen in Russia, and any good marxist could have told you that Russia was nowhere near advanced enough along the capitalist road to be a possible candidate for a successful revolution.

All this was going to requite some careful consideration. One thing was certain. The working classes could not be trusted. And Leftists ever since have regarded the working classes with a mixture of contempt and fear. The revolution would have to be brought about by the middle classes. Yes, if the proletariat was going to refuse to murder the bourgeoisie then the bourgeoisie would have to be persuaded to commit suicide.

And the revolution was certainly not going to be the joyous bloodbath that socialists had been looking forward to. There would be revolutionary bloodbaths aplenty but they have all taken place in backward countries. Such an eventuality seemed disappointingly unlikely in the advanced capitalist nations of western Europe and North America. A different method would have to be found. Thus was cultural marxism born. The long march through the institutions would be the road to revolution.

Cultural marxism has, in many ways, been successful beyond the wildest hopes of its inventors in the 1920s. But there have been a few problems. The idea of cultural marxism was to demoralise and undermine the entire superstructure of western civilisation. The resulting chaos would then lead inevitably to the glorious socialist revolution that socialists craved so badly.

The first problem is that social chaos is more likely to lead to more social chaos rather than to the socialist utopia. The second and bigger problem is in the very nature of cultural marxism. In order to achieve social chaos cultural marxism would need to be destructive. It would need to create a climate of hatred. In order to do that it would be necessary to create a climate of violent self-hatred within the middle classes. Ugliness, misery, blind destructiveness, jealousy, viciousness, selfishness, mistrust and self-loathing, always more and more self-loathing, these are the qualities that cultural marxists have encouraged and nurtured. With immense success.

With so much success that there has been no room left for any positive emotions. It is therefore not surprising that modern Leftist thought is entirely negative. It is entirely focused on strategies for destroying society. The family must be destroyed. Religious belief must be destroyed. Moral standards must be ridiculed and overthrown. All traditional values must be mocked and ultimately swept away. Respect for law and order must go out the window and when crime then starts to thrive that’s no problem since it is yet another useful tool for destruction.

The nation state and all sense of meaningful community must be erased. Mass immigration is one of the most effective ways to do this and if the immigrants happen to be people who loathe and detest western civilisation and glory in barbarism then that’s another bonus. More social chaos will result.

Since Leftism as it now exists in the West is almost pure cultural marxism it’s hardly surprising that Leftism is now pure nihilism. Leftists have forgotten how to believe in anything that isn’t destructive. There is no room for any positive beliefs.

It is no surprise that this kind of political philosophy (or this brand of madness as it would be more accurate to call it) not only corrupts its own adherents, it also attracts those who are motivated by their own psychological weaknesses and personal inadequacies. Those who started out as political idealists become self-hating nihilists while they are joined by countless others who have never ben motivated by anything other than hatred.

The more that cultural marxism succeeds, the more it fails.

Monday, September 30, 2013

misery, popular culture and crime fiction

During the 1920s and 1930s the idea started to take hold that serious art should have one of two objectives. It should either make us feel bad about ourselves and bad about our society, or it should deliver a political message. Preferably it should do both. By the end of the 30s this dogma was fairly well established. In the 60s this attitude started to infect popular culture. Serious films should be exercises in misery and/or political indoctrination. In the world of letters the idea spread into genres such as horror and crime, and even started to gain a foothold in science fiction, a genre once characterised by a generally positive attitude towards our civilisation and its future.

This approach to art and literature is bogus and adolescent even when applied to areas like “literary” fiction. There is no valid reason why paintings should not exalt beauty and truth rather than ugliness and horror. There is no valid reason why books should not celebrate our culture and focus on the positive sides of human nature rather than on the negative. Wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing are activities that teenagers find very attractive. Part of the process of growing up is growing out of such adolescent self-indulgence. Teenagers tend to assume that they know what is wrong with society and they could fix it if only they were given the power to do so. Grown-ups realise that life is more complicated and that happiness and contentment come from adapting to reality rather than complaining about it. Grown-ups realise that cynicism is a fancy word for arrested psychological development.

The misery and politics approach started to gain a significant following among crime writers in the 1960s although it had already exerted its baleful influence on the American hardboiled school of the interwar years. This was also an era in which crime writers started to dislike being described as writers of detective stories. That just didn’t sound serious-minded enough. They started to prefer to call themselves crime writers.

From its beginnings with Poe’s stories in the 1840s through to the golden age of the 20s and 30s detective fiction had been generally optimistic. There was nothing naïve or simple-minded about this. Detective stories acknowledged the existence of evil and the existence of vicious dangerous people. On the other hand detective stories operated on the assumption that crime was an evil that could be combated. Criminals posed a threat to society and to the individual. The task of the detective was to identify the criminal so that he could be brought to justice.

Very few of the detective fiction writers of the century between Poe and the Second World War were gullible enough to think that fighting crime was easy. It was an activity that demanded constant vigilance but through a combination of courage, determination and intelligence crime was a problem that could be contained to a sufficient extent to allow people to get on with their lives without having to live in constant fear.

From the 1960s onwards a change occurred. The new very serious-minded crime writers treated crime as a problem that not only could not be effectively fought, crime was also a symptom of the wickedness of society, the worthlessness of western civilisation and the depravity of human nature. Everything was hopeless and justice was an illusion. And it was all our fault for allowing injustice to flourish. The criminal was not a deviant who needed to be dealt with; he was a victim and deserved pity.

These changes were symptomatic of the rise of the culture of self-loathing and self-pity, what Australian art critic memorably described as the Culture of Complaint.

Having understood this it’s easy to see why so many modern crime writers and commentators disparage the detective stories of the past. How can writers like Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie be taken seriously. Their stories are not overtly political and they are not miserable and sordid. Therefore they are not serious literature. Even worse, their stories are entertaining, a fault that automatically disqualifies them from serious consideration.

In the past few decades another factor was entered the equation. Art and literature must now conform to a very narrow, very restrictive and very oppressive range of politically correct doctrine. How can the detective writers of the past be taken seriously when they fail to address issues of gender, race, class and sexuality? Or even worse, when they include characters who on occasions utter sentiments that are outside the narrow confines of political correctness?

These faults can of course be corrected in television adaptations. The necessary quota of lesbians, persons of colour and other approved victim groups can be added and the stories and the characters can be twisted in order to make them acceptably PC.

Personally I do not care for the modern approach at all. I do not care for crime stories that wallow in the gutter and seek to demoralise the reader with graphic violence and an unrelentingly negative view of our culture. I happen to be rather fond of western civilisation. The only solution I have found, from a strictly personal viewpoint, is to avoid modern popular culture altogether. Luckily this is rather easy to do. The popular culture of the past still exists. The literature of the past is in fact very easily accessible.

These days I confine myself entirely to reading books that were published prior to 1960, and I confine myself almost entirely to movies made no later than the early 60s although I am happy to indulge myself with some of the very enjoyable genre movies made as late as the 70s. As far as television is concerned my cut-off point is, with few exceptions, the late 70s. Since I made the decision to reject the modern world of popular culture and all its works I have been a considerably happier and more contented person. We do have a choice. We can say no to the literature of self-pity and self-hatred and squalidness. I do not feel that I am missing anything at all since I made my decision. I do not find the literature of the past to be simplistic or naïve. In fact I find it to be sophisticated, well-crafted, intelligent and complex. It works for me.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

a prescription for happiness

Perhaps it’s true that human beings have always had a tendency to prefer delusions to reality. It seems to be more true today than ever. One of the saddest of modern delusions is the idea that happiness can be obtained by taking a pill.

It does of course fit in quite well with the modern obsession with entitlement. Nothing has to be paid for and no-one ever has to face the consequences of their actions. If someone is unhappy than that is intrinsically unfair; it’s a violation of their human rights. They can’t possibly be unhappy because they’ve made bad life choices or because their only belief systems are a confused tangle of hedonism and nihilism. No, it can’t be anything like that. It must be a malfunction of the brain. They must be sick. And if you’re sick you go to a doctor.

So unhappy people no longer try to work out what they may have done wrong with their lives. They no longer examine their belief systems to find out if they are actually viable or not. They simply go to their doctor, announce that they are unhappy, and wait patiently while the doctor writes them a prescription for happiness.

Of course we don’t call it unhappiness any longer. We call it depression, which sounds more like an illness. An illness can’t possibly be the fault of the individual. We don’t blame a person for coming into contact with a virus that gives them a cold. Depression works the same way. Somehow or other we catch this illness, possibly from sharing a crowded train with someone who has the illness and is breathing the virus into the air. Then we go to the doctor to get it cured.

Aldous Huxley predicted all this in Brave New World back in 1931 (except that he called it soma and we call it Prozac), and he also predicted the social consequences. It’s one of the many ways in which Huxley turned out to be far more accurate in his predictions than Orwell. Huxley understood that the totalitarianism you have to fear is not the hard totalitarianism of Stalin, Hitler and Mao but the soft totalitarianism in which the state becomes a warm caring mother substitute. It’s not Big Brother we have to fear but Nanny who will make everything safe for us as long as we’re good children. It was one of Huxley’s most brilliant insights that social control is exercised much more effectively when a population is infantilised rather than terrorised. And a pill that makes us happy is one of the most potent tools to bring about the infantilisation of the population.

Happiness pills have not been a government conspiracy. They are a result of the medical profession’s desire to extend its empire into every aspect of our lives. For the Left this has been a happy accident. When everything from unhappiness to gambling is an illness then no-one has to take any responsibility for anything. Which inevitably means that the government steps in and takes the responsibility for us. Nanny has no need to rule us with terror because everyone understands that Nanny knows best and that everything Nanny does is for our own good.

If we still feel that there is something wrong somewhere we just need to take another soma tablet.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Election 2013 - will anything significant actually change?

Australia's new PM Tony Abbott - will he be up to the challenge?
While the defeat of the catastrophic Rudd government is certainly very good news indeed it remains to be seen whether anything significant will actually change. Will new PM Tony Abbott have the guts to follow his own instincts (which are unquestionably conservative) or will he be forced to back down to the sniveling lily-livered cowards in his party who are terrified of being seen as even slightly conservative?

Will Abbott have the intestinal fortitude to scrap outrageous wastes of money like the Department of Climate Change? Will he stand up to the hand-wringing prophets of doom who will tell him the sky is falling and it’s all our fault for putting carbon into the atmosphere? Will he stand up to the greenie thugs who want to destroy our country?

And will he be prepared to grasp the nettle and reform the ABC? Public broadcasters like the ABC are dinosaurs, relics of an era when governments thought they were necessary to bring culture to the huddled masses. Today the ABC is entirely irrelevant and has been hijacked by the far left to the extent that it is little more than the propaganda arm of the loony left. There is only way to reform the ABC. Defund it. If it then dies, so be it. The real world is a tough place and if the ABC can’t survive in the commercial marketplace then the sooner it dies the better. It has long since ceased to live up to its charter. It is a national disgrace and doing something about this truly cancerous travesty of a broadcaster should be a priority.

And will Abbott accept the reality that countries that are running a budget deficit have no business giving money to other countries in the form of “foreign aid” - money that does nothing in any case other than to encourage a culture of dependence in the recipient countries?

And most important of all will the Abbott government stop wasting money funding lavish lifestyles for bogus refugees who are in reality merely illegal immigrants, which by definition makes them criminals?

Last not least, will the Abbott government accept that governments should not be funding the extravagant lifestyles of the “arts community” - writers who write books than no-one wants to read, artists who create paintings no-one wants to buy, theatre companies that stage productions no-one wants to attend and other assorted worthless bludgers? Government funding of the arts is not only a waste of taxpayers’ money, it is positively unhealthy for the arts.

All of these vitally necessary reforms would reduce the budget deficit in addition to being very good things in themselves.

Maybe the Abbott government will have the guts to do these things, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

crime fiction and cultural marxism

One of my chief interests is the impact of political correctness and cultural marxism in general on popular culture. Most people think that popular culture reflects the society from which it springs, which of course it does. But popular culture also influences society. There’s a reason the cultural marxists have laboured so hard to bring popular culture under their control.

One of my passions is the detective story and it provides some useful examples.

The essence of the detective story is that a threat to society arises and the detective must remove that threat. If crime goes unpunished then eventually the system of law and order will decay. When that happens society will become unstable, and chaos will follow. When chaos reigns it’s the weak who suffer, not the strong. Civilisation exists as the only alternative to the law of the jungle.

It follows from this that the detective story can only thrive if people consider civilisation to be worth saving. It’s fair to say that most of the great writers of detective fiction up until the 1920s believed that it was worth saving.

The rise of the hard-boiled school in the US changed all that. This was a school of writing that attracted a great many people who did not consider civilisation to be worth saving. Of course not all the hard-boiled writers fell into this category but the cynicism that became a hallmark of the style nevertheless has a corrosive effect upon society.

It’s instructive to compare the two most famous practitioners of the hard-boiled style, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Hammett’s heroes believe in nothing except getting ahead. Even when they happen to be private detectives, like his two best-known characters, the Continental Op and Sam Spade, they have no real belief in law and order. For Sam Spade being a private detective provides opportunities to enrich himself by semi-illegal or morally dubious means, and to get away with it.

Chandler’s best-known character, Philip Marlowe, is very different. Marlowe is cynical, frequently disillusioned and angered by the corruption that he sees about him. The difference is that all this simply serves to increase Marlowe’s determination to see justice done. Marlowe would unquestionably like to see many aspects of American society reformed, but he certainly does not want to see that society destroyed. Marlowe understands only too well that social breakdown hurts the weak, and Marlowe’s sympathies are always with the weak.

It’s reasonably safe to assume that Chandler’s own views were not dissimilar to Marlowe’s. It’s also safe to assume that Hammett’s views were very different. Hammett would have been delighted to see American society destroyed. Both Hammett and his lover, the unspeakable and poisonous Lillian Hellman, were communists. If civilisation could be undermined sufficiently it would collapse, thus hastening the glorious socialist revolution. Everyone would then live happily ever after under the wise and benevolent rule of the party, just like they were now doing in Hellman’s beloved Soviet Union.

From the 1940s onwards the detective story started to be transformed in other ways. The intellectual puzzle variety that had flourished in the 1920s and 1930s during the so-called golden age of defective fiction fell out of favour. Psychological crime novels became the new vogue. That might not seem too alarming but increasingly authors became more interested in the psychology of the criminal rather than that of the detective. That naturally had the effect of encouraging the reader to see things from the criminal’s point of view. The result was, inevitably, crime fiction that was even more cynical and nihilistic.

Even when crime fiction did take the perspective of the detective it was more and more likely to do so in a negative fashion, emphasising corruption and brutality. There was also a very much increased tendency for crime fiction to show the criminal getting away with crime, or (perhaps even worse) to tempt the reader into hoping that he will.

Yet another development in crime fiction, one that started in the 1950s but really got into its stride in later decades, is the inclusion of more and more sex and (to an even greater extent) more and more graphic violence. The serial killer has become the favourite criminal, allowing authors to demoralise us with sickening sexual violence. Wallowing in the gutter has become the norm for crime writers, as it has become the norm for the rest of the arts.

Crime movies and television shows have followed the same trajectory.

In all these cases the end result is crime fiction that undermines society, and that undermines belief in the law. This is of course very welcome to the cultural marxists, that being precisely the type of crime fiction they like to see. 

There are still writers of crime fiction who produce work somewhat in the style of the writers of the golden age (the writers of so-called cozy mysteries). These writers are usually ignored by critics who prefer to heap praise on crime novels set in the natural environment of the modern “creative artist” - the gutter.

These developments show no sign of slackening, yet another ominous sign for our beleaguered civilisation.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

evolution, progress and change

Since Darwin’s day the word evolution has become perhaps the most consistently overused and misused word in the language. It’s a word that has been applied to just about every subject under the sun, in most cases misleadingly.

Evolution has also frequently been confused with the concept of progress, or used in a woolly-minded fashion in conjunction with that word.

It is doubtful if the concept of progress can be applied even to biological evolution. When referring to the early stages of life on this planet it does have some applicability. Life evolved from very simple organisms to very complex organisms and that process can be seen as progress. Once complex life forms appeared the concept becomes more and more dubious. And yet we will still on occasions have certain species described as primitive and others as modern. In fact of course the life forms of a hundred million years ago were just as well adapted to their environment as present-day species are to theirs. Animals don’t become extinct because a new improved model comes along. They become extinct when conditions change, usually as a result of changes in climate. A brontosaurus was as well adapted to its environment as a zebra is to its. Change is a constant in nature, but change is not progress. Change is just change.

Both evolution and progress are often applied to a very wide range of human activities. In fact these concepts really only apply to a very small number of human activities. Progress certainly can be applied to science (and to medicine which is just a sub-branch of science) and technology because science consists to a large extent of the accumulation of data. The more data you  have the better in science so it is fair to talk of scientific progress.

It’s difficult to think of any other human activity that can be viewed accurately in terms of evolution and/or progress. And yet many people still do so.

Art and literature do change over time and the process by which the achievements of various artists of the past are combined and recombined can be very vaguely seen as a kind of evolution. Sort of. But there is certainly no such thing as progress in art and literature. Tastes change, but change is not progress.

There are some works of art that may not be appreciated as much in some eras as in others. Many modern readers will find it easier to relate to the latest Booker Prize-winner than to Milton’s Paradise Lost. Many people will find Andy Warhol easier to appreciate than Michelango’s The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. That is due to changes in taste and in society, not to progress.

Legal systems undergo continuous change, sometimes gradual and sometimes dramatic. It is however difficult to think of any legal system that provides more effective protection to individual rights than the many centuries-old English common law. The common law has been extensively modified by stature law but it is very debatable indeed whether this can be viewed as progress. Can anybody remember the last time a government passed a law to increase or strengthen individual rights? Governments pass prodigious numbers of laws but the number of laws that do harm is most likely equal to, and may well exceed, the number of laws that do good.

Political systems change, but again it is dubious to regard this as progress. Some changes made in some countries at particular times may be regarded as improvements but for every such case it is easy to find another case in which the changes have been very much for the worse. The First Amendment to the US Constitution dates to 1791 but nobody since has come up with a better way of protecting individual freedom.

The terms evolution and progress are often used in relation to social change. There is no question that social change is a never-ending process but it mostly represents changes in fashion. Seeing social change as a process of continuous progress is about as valid as seeing changes in fashion as progress. Hemlines have gone up and they have come down again but that can hardly be regarded as progress.

Every age has its own fashions and tastes in music, clothes, food, morality and social attitudes. Every age thinks that its own tastes in these areas are superior to those of every other age. Every age is wrong about this. The tastes of one era are different from the tastes of other eras. That is all one can say.

Leftists tend to assume that social change is always good. Conservatives understand that social change is merely change. Society can change in positive or negative ways. If a social institution works as it is then change is most likely to be change for the worse.

Friday, July 12, 2013

the Republicans' lack of an effective opposition

It strikes me that the biggest single weakness of the US political system, as compared with the situation in Australia, is that there is no US equivalent to the Leader of Opposition.

In Australia the leader of the party that loses the election automatically becomes the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. He is in effect an alternative prime minister-in-waiting. The Opposition Leader serves as the focus for those who did not vote for the government. It is a recognised and important position and the Opposition Leader gets almost as much attention from the media as the prime minister.

The Opposition Leader appoints a “shadow cabinet” with each member having a responsibility to act as spokesman in that area of government. If the Attorney-General does something outrageous the Shadow Attorney-General will call him out for it. If the Minister for Trade has proved to be a failure the Shadow Minister for Trade will put him under pressure.

The Opposition does not wait until election year to decide on its policies. Any Opposition that did this would be doomed to defeat. The Opposition has its own policies which are constantly being presented to the people as an alternative to the current government’s policies. After an election loss they have three years to present themselves as an alternative government.

In the US by contrast there is no single figure from the losing side to serve as a focus of opposition to the governing Administration. This proves to be a dangerous weakness when you have a bad president like Obama. A president like Obama can ride roughshod over the Constitution and the people and there is no organised political resistance. No-one has any idea who will be the losing party’s candidate next time around until shortly before the election. Then the candidate has a very brief period in which to try to convince the voters of his credentials as an alternative president. And until shortly before the election the voters have no idea of the actual policies that candidate will be presenting to them at the election.

All this is a gift to an unscrupulous political schemer like Obama.

It also strikes me when reading conservative blogs from the US that the almost exclusive focus of those blogs is on the failings of Obama. This indicates the extent to which the incumbent president controls the political agenda. In Australia conservatives are able to focus on presenting a coherent alternative political strategy rather than merely criticising the present government. It allows opposition to the government to be much more positive.

We know that Tony Abbott will become prime minister if the government loses the election this year. We’ve known this for the past three years, and for the past three years we’ve known exactly what he stands for and exactly what his policies will be if elected. He’s had three years to prove himself as a competent and viable alternative prime minister. As a result there’s a good chance that the disastrous socialist Labor Party government will be thrown out on its ear later this year. Whereas in the US the Republicans seem destined to drift helplessly without leadership or direction until 2016 when they will most likely face yet another presidential election defeat.

Monday, July 8, 2013

modernism and diseased minds

I just can’t project myself into the minds of modernist architects who design universities that look like prisons, churches that look like fast-food outlets and hospitals that look like mortuaries. I can’t get into the minds of modernist artists who produce paintings that look like they should be found on the walls of a public lavatory. I can’t imagine the minds of writers who think they’re producing literature when in fact they’re writing the sorts of books that dirty-minded schoolboys would have hidden under their mattresses.

There is of course horror and ugliness in the real world but I don’t understand artists who want to celebrate such things. Oscar Wilde said that we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. I don’t understand artists who would prefer to paint the gutter rather than the stars. I don’t understand a world in which artists who paint the gutter are celebrated while artists who paint the stars are ignored.

It’s difficult not to think that such artists must have minds that are filled with hate and anger. If a child made the sorts of paintings that you’ll find hanging in places like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney that child would be rushed off to a child psychologist.

If you focus too much on the gutter it will do bad things to your head. If you focus on misery and ugliness the danger is that you’ll end up with a brain that cannot recognise the existence of anything else. And that’s what is happening to our society. People focus too much on the negative to the extent that they no longer see the positive. A society that suffers from this kind of cultural sickness cannot survive. It will lose the will to survive.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

not dead yet

I know it's been quiet here but this blog is not dead. I've been busy and I've been ill so I haven't been posting regularly but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

the futility of war?

If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to find yourself in conversation with a peacenik you will have encountered the futility of war argument. You will have been assured that war is futile and wasteful and settles nothing. In fact this argument, thanks to the tireless activities of the cultural marxists, is virtually a core belief on the intellectual class.

But is war actually futile?

The Greek and Persian Wars certainly weren’t futile. The Greek victories in those wars ensured the survival of classical civilisation, a civilisation that remains to a large extent the basis of modern western civilisation.

The Second Punic War wasn’t futile. The survival of the Roman Republic was at stake. Had the Romans lost Rome would never have become the dominant power in Europe and the entire heritage of Graeco-Roman civilisation would have been lost.

The Battle of Tours in 732 AD was hardly futile. Had Charles Martel lost that battle Islam would almost certainly have conquered the whole of western Europe. The survival of Christianity would have been in very serious doubt.

I doubt whether any American would consider the War of American Independence to be futile. Had the Americans and their French allies been defeated the United States would not exist.

I’m sure the Dutch didn’t think the Eighty Years’ War was futile either. And if the French had given up fighting the Hundred Years’ War after a succession of defeats France would not exist as a nation. On that occasion it took a seventeen-year-old girl to shame the French monarch into continuing the fight.

Even the dynastic wars of the eighteenth century were far from futile. Very large issues were at stake. A French victory in the War of the Spanish Succession would have allowed Louis XIV to unite the thrones of France and Spain, creating a Bourbon super-state that would have dominated Europe. It would also have established the Bourbon state as a naval power that might seriously have challenged British sea power, with momentous consequences for the history of all the English-speaking nations.

The First World War is a favourite of the “war is futile” brigade. They see it as the prime example of a useless war. But was it? Had the Central Powers been victorious it is all but inevitable that the German Empire would have dominated the whole of Europe. The German Empire was autocratic and hostile to democracy. The survival of democracy in Europe might well have been in doubt. The Russian Revolution was made possible by the First World War. Whether the world today would be a better place or a worse place without the war can certainly be debated, but there’s no question it would be a very different world. Communism might have been throttled at birth, which would obviously have been a very good thing, but we might instead have had a rather unpleasant form of authoritarianism. The point is that it is nonsense to say the First World War settled nothing - it changed the course of world history in a very profound way.

I don’t think any modern South Korean would consider the Korean War to have been a waste of time. That was achieved more than the salvation of South Korea. North Korea is troublesome enough today. Had the Communists overrun the whole of Korea we would be facing a much more powerful and far more dangerous enemy today.

The avoidance of war also has consequences, not all of them favourable. Ask Neville Chamberlain. It often appears what whenever they’re faced with a crisis our modern “statesmen” ask themselves, “What would Neville Chamberlain have done?”

I’m not suggesting that war is a good thing, but sometimes it cannot be avoided, and sometimes it is a deadly mistake to do so. And if a war becomes inevitable you’d better make damned sure that your side wins.

Monday, May 13, 2013

conservative parties chasing the wrong voters

The most disheartening thing about modern politics is the sight of supposedly conservative political leaders desperately chasing votes they will never get. We’ve seen a fine example of this recently in Australia with Tony Abbott’s silly comments about diversity.

The reality is that global warming true believers, gay marriage proponents and multi-culti enthusiasts are not going to vote for a conservative party. A conservative party is not going to win the votes of bicycle-riding vegetarian lesbians, or inner-city layabouts subsisting on government arts grants, or fanatical environmentalist doom-mongers, or illegal immigrants, or bleeding hearts do-gooders. So why bother pandering to them? Trying to chase their votes is silly and futile.

And why bother pandering to the left-wing media when they’re never going to support a conservative political party?

Surely the sensible option is to chase the votes of people who actually might conceivably vote for you? It’s an option that increasingly doesn’t seem to occur to conservative political parties. Politicians are surrounded by so many spin-doctors that they’re constantly running scared of people who would never support them anyway.

what I love about warmist true believers

What I really love about debating anthropogenic climate change with the warmist true believers is that you know that at some stage they’re going to spit the dummy and storm off in a huff. It’s just a matter of time. Like all leftists they cannot deal with the idea that you might disagree with them. If you disagree with them it must mean that you’re stupid or wicked or probably both.

You cannot debate with leftists. Whenever a leftist tells you they are willing to engage in a sensible debate you can be certain that a few minutes later they’ll be throwing a tantrum and taking their toys and going home. It’s amusing but rather depressing at the same time. They’re so insecure about their beliefs that any disagreement frightens and enrages them.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

historical fiction and thoughtcrime

I had an interesting discussion recently with someone on LiveJournal (yes LiveJournal still exists) on the subject of historical fiction. She’s a writer and she was advised by a  publisher that if she tried her hand at historical fiction she should be sure to make all her characters modern characters. The advice was that any attempt to make the characters of their time was a definite no-go. The beliefs, attitudes and speech of the characters must be 21st century regardless of the historical setting.

This to me defeats the entire purpose of historical fiction. If there’s no attempt to make the characters think and behave as they actually would have thought and behaved at the time, then why bother?

The problem of course is that the way people used to think and behave is now unacceptable. It doesn’t conform to our official religion of political correctness. So political correctness must now be imposed on the past. It’s all very Orwellian.

And not only do we now get politically correct historical fiction, we also get fiction written in the past censored to remove the more politically incorrect bits. Yes, this is happening, although most people are not aware of it. I recently bought the Wordsworth Editions paperback release of some of the Bulldog Drummond thrillers written by H. C. McNeile (under the pseudonym Sapper) and in the introduction the editor proudly tells us that he’s censored it in the interests of cultural sensitivity.

Never underestimate the obsessive thoroughness with which the Thought Police approach their task. Even dead writers can be convicted of thoughtcrime.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

why most conservatives just don’t get it

It has been obvious for quite some time that the Left is winning the culture war. This is due, to a very degree, because of a lack of any kind of organised opposition from the Right. Many conservatives, and this unfortunately includes most of the leadership of conservative parties, just don’t believe that the culture wars matter. In fact many conservative leaders are only too happy to join in the work of destruction in the tragically deluded belief that they can thereby purchase cheap popularity.

What these kinds of conservatives (and this applies especially to neocons and libertarians) fail to understand is that the culture wars do matter very much. In fact they are the decisive battlefield on which the struggle between the state and individual freedom will be played out.

The reason for this is simple. The objective of cultural marxism is to destroy the twin pillars on which western civilisation has always stood, the church and the family. In the west we have always looked to the church and the family for moral guidance, and for support when we are in trouble.

Once these two institutions are either destroyed or hopelessly enfeebled then a vacuum is left which the state must then fill. That process is already well underway. Without a strong church and a strong family unit the process will continue until the state controls everything.  You cannot have small government if the church and the family are no longer there to fulfill their traditional roles. Bigger and bigger government and more and more interference in our lives are the inevitable results. The kind of utopian small government vision so dear to the hearts of neo-cons and libertarians is simply an impossibility.

Issues like gay marriage do matter, or at least they should matter, to all conservatives. It is another step in the destruction of the family. It makes marriage merely a matter of sexual convenience rather than the basis for family life.

The failure of neo-cons and libertarians to understand these basic facts has caused them to stand on the sidelines during the culture wars, and even to aid and abet the enemy. They thus bring about a situation in which their own defeat becomes a certainty.

Part of the problem is that many conservatives just don’t understand the workings of the bureaucratic mind. They’re used to the idea that success is measured by profits because that’s the way it works in business. But a bureaucrat cannot measure his or her success in that way. There is only one way by which a bureaucrat cannot measure his success, and that is by expanding his bureaucratic empire. If a particular government department employs 40,000 people and five years later it has grown to employ 60,000 people than the bureaucrats running that department are successes. The fact that even when it employed 40,000 people that department served no useful purpose is entirely irrelevant. It has grown, therefore it is a success.

So, inevitably, whenever the government becomes involved in any sphere of life the tendency is for the government’s involvement in that area to increase and to go on increasing. If you allow the government to become involved in education then eventually the government will control the whole education system. That is in the nature of bureaucratic empire-building.

In the private sector the entrepreneurial spirit looks for new fields in which profits can be made. In the public sector the same kind of spirit looks for new spheres of life in which the government can interfere and this provide a brand new field for bureaucratic empire-building.

Over the past half-century or so the bureaucratic spirit has discovered an exciting new field of opportunity in international organisations such as the UN. Such organisations are even more congenial to the bureaucrat mind than national goverments since international organisations are in practice answerable and accountable to no-one. There is simply no way for anything to get in the way of bureaucratic empire-building.

Once this process starts it can only end in one way, with an all-powerful state which will be either a hard totalitarianism in the style of Soviet Russia or a soft totalitarianism in the modern European mould. It makes no effective difference since either way you end up with zero personal freedom. Socialism always leads to fascism. The two are inseparable.

By refusing to take sides in the culture wars neo-cons and libertarians have not only cut their own throats, they have doomed all of us to a totalitarian future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kumbaya Christianity

Atheism is a failed belief system. It fails because it is ultimately unsatisfying. It provides no hope, no inspiration and no moral foundation for society. At both the personal and social levels it is a failure.

Unfortunately if you happen to live anywhere outside the United States that doesn’t leave you with much of a choice. I have always despised the practice of borrowing the spirituality of other cultures. That is equally unsatisfying.

That only leaves Christianity. But in Australia, as in most of the West, the dominant strand of Christianity today is a wishy-washy Kumbaya Christianity. The mainstream churches, without exception, have made so many compromises with secularism that they are no longer recognisably Christian. What they have to offer is Christianity watered down to make it acceptable to non-Christians. Even worse, it is Christianity watered down to make it acceptable to anti-Christians. It is a Christianity that has embraced political correctness and that has adopted all of the assumptions that underlie the dominant belief system of today, secular socialism. It is warm and fuzzy and non-threatening, but it is not Christianity.

Part of the problem is that modern church leaders seem to be embarrassed by the Old Testament. The Old Testament cannot be made politically correct, so they simply ignore it. The danger of ignoring the Old Testament is that you end up with a religion that is unbalanced. The New Testament is too easily interpreted as a vaguely spiritual form of socialism. That is not the message that Christ delivered, but by cherry-picking the New Testament you can come up with an interpretation that politically correct Marxists will accept, and that is what has been done.

Modern church leaders feed us platitudes about tolerance and diversity, the same platitudes we get from our politicians. This is not Christianity. Christianity is uncompromising in the duties it enjoins upon believers, duties that are not compatible with today’s secular society. Christianity does not say it’s OK to be gay. In fact it says the opposite. Christianity does not say that adultery is OK. Jesus may have offered forgiveness to the woman taken in adultery, but he also told her to go and sin no more. He did not tell her it was acceptable to continue in her sin.

Sin is another big problem for modern churches. It makes them very uncomfortable. The very idea of sin implies that there are moral rules, and that upsets anyone who is committed to moral relativism, diversity and modern notions of tolerance.

Kumbaya Christianity is doomed to failure. It is doomed to go on compromising with the Left until it becomes entirely indistinguishable from secular socialism.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Romanticism, Shelley and the rise of the teenager

The Romantic movement in art and literature arose in Europe in the late 18th century and would to a considerable degree dominate those fields until the mid-19th century. While the Romantic movement would produce some notable artistic achievements there’s no question that on the whole its influence was as disastrous as it has been far-reaching.

Romanticism has left three catastrophic legacies that have contributed towards the decline of western civilisation - the cult of Nature, the cult of self-pity and the cult of feeling.

The Romantics had a remarkably silly view of Nature - sentimental and hopelessly idealised. Nature was seen as a kind of atheistic Garden of Eden in which cute little furry animals frolicked happily and people lived as noble savages until civilisation arose. The Romantics were the first Europeans to indulge themselves in self-hatred and hatred of their own civilisation. If only Nature had been let alone! The fact that animals in a state of Nature live lives of constant fear and misery never occurred to the Romantics. They simply ignored unpleasant things like reality.

The self-pity, which has now become the outstanding characteristic of our culture, can be seen quite clearly in the sordid lives of Byron and Shelley. Shelley took things even further than Byron. His whole life was a flight from responsibility and an indulgence in selfish pleasure. But of course being a Romantic he still managed to be miserable. He championed free love, and treated the women in his life appallingly, leading at least two to take their own lives. Shelley was in many ways the first teenager, and he remained a teenager until his death. He displayed the combination of self-pity and arrogance and of selfishness and starry-eyed idealism that have become such characteristic features of the modern teenager.

The third dismal legacy of Romanticism is the cult of feeling. The Romantics were suspicious of reason. Thinking can be hard work! They decided that it was unnecessary to think - all one had to do was to feel. We’ve seen what that has done to our society.

Shelley again provides a telling example. He cultivated the image of the sensitive poet who courageously denounced injustice. His political ideas were naïve and adolescent but that didn’t matter. They were based on feelings, and that’s what counts.

Shelley was one of the first examples of the arty champagne socialist, a type that is all too familiar to us today.

The various isms that have blighted our civilisation since the 19th century - socialism, atheism, feminism and environmentalism - were all part of the baggage left behind by the Romantics. Again Shelley provides a fine example - his second wife Mary was the daughter of the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Shelley was an atheist, a socialist and a vegetarian. He managed to be equally irritating on all these subjects.

Shelley was the James Dean of the early 19th century. He was the first whining obnoxious teenage rebel. Romanticism did not encourage one to grow up. It instead encouraged a self-indulgent wallowing in phony emotion. In this respect it has been the most influential of all movements in art and literature, and its influence is today stronger than ever.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Fountainhead (1949)

I’ve just watched the 1949 movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, directed by King Vidor.  When Warner Brothers employed Rand to write the screenplay for the film they rather naïvely gave her complete creative control. Her contract stated that not one line of her dialogue could be altered. Perhaps they assumed that she would not make an issue of it if changes had to be made. If they thought that they were very mistaken indeed. Rand held them to the letter of her contract. As a result the movie is extraordinarily faithful to the spirit of the book. It presents Rand’s ideas in a very uncompromising manner.

I had read the book not that long before seeing the film. It’s the only book of hers that I’ve read so I can only judge her on the basis of that one book. The problem with Rand is that almost everybody (even those who have never read her) have incredibly strong feelings about her philosophy, either for or against. I don’t actually want to talk about her philosophy. I want to consider her purely as a social critic, and I happen to think that in that role she was remarkably perceptive and prescient.

For those who haven’t read the book it’s the story of two architects. Peter Keating is a third-rate architect but his great strength is that he has no opinions of his own. As he himself admits, he’s never had an original thought in his life. He simply copies whatever happens to be popular and fashionable. As a result he becomes very successful indeed.

Howard Roark (the hero of the book) is a very different sort of man. He stubbornly insists on going his own way, refusing to compromise his vision in any way. If nobody wants to employ him as an architect, if nobody wants to build the buildings he designs, it makes no difference to him. He will not alter a design to please a client. He thinks for himself and he has no interest in what other people think. As a result he has virtually no clients and is forced to take a job as a labourer in a quarry.

Rand understood very clearly that the odds are heavily stacked in favour of the Peter Keatings of this world. It is very much easier to be a Peter Keating than it is to be a Howard Roark. Being a Peter Keating means you’re guaranteed of safety and security, and of social approval. Rand also understood that not only are most people terrified of the idea of thinking for themselves; they hate and fear anyone who does think for himself.

The other key character in both book and film is Ellsworth Toohey, a columnist on a popular newspaper, The New York Banner. Toohey is a type that has become very familiar to us. He’s a textbook cultural Marxist. He espouses equality, and he believes that the best way to achieve equality is to grind down anyone who is exceptional in any way. But as is the case with all cultural Marxists, what Toohey really believes in is power. Toohey has spent years creating a power base for himself within the Banner, slowly and surreptitiously infiltrating the paper with his own supporters. No-one, least of all the paper’s owner Gail Wynant, has noticed this happening. Now it’s Toohey who is in control.

This is a remarkable prediction of the methods of cultural Marxism, of their “long march through the culture.” And Rand seems to have recognised the danger this represented before anyone else did.

The sad history of the past few decades - the triumph of cultural Marxism, the fact that most people would happily embrace politically correct group-think, would not have surprised Rand at all. Nor would she have been surprised by the craven and grovelling manner in which big business has caved in to every demand by the Cultural Left - she predicted this as well in The Fountainhead, in the fearful acquiescing to “public opinion” of the various boards of directors who reject Howard Roark’s designs.

I’m not a follower of Rand, but there’s no question she was farsighted and provocative. The Fountainhead is worth reading, and the movie is worth seeing.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

why people won't watch old movies

I’m a big fan of the movies of Hollywood’s golden age and I belong to several online movie communities. From time to time the question gets raised - why do modern audiences have such an enormous resistance to the idea of watching old movies?

The answer that was duly wheeled out was that modern viewers are alienated by the trappings of the past. The cars look different. The furniture looks like the furniture in their grandparents’ house. The clothes are different. Everything is old-fashioned, so to modern movie-goers watching an old black-and-white movie is like visiting a museum.

I wonder if that's what is really going on? I have my doubts. Modern audiences will cheerfully watch movies and TV series set in the past. The success of movies like LA Confidential and TV series like Mad Men proves that. In fact the popularity of the BBC’s endless Jane Austen adaptations shows that modern viewers are quite happy to watch a TV series set two hundred years in the past. So why should a 1940s movie present any problems?

It obviously isn’t the clothes or the furniture or the cars. In fact if anything those elements are probably a plus to viewers of today, if we are to judge by the popularity of retro blogs. Retro fashion and retro style are big.

So what is the answer?

I think it's the values represented by old movies that confuse and frighten modern audiences. They can't comprehend a romantic comedy where a man and a woman go out to dinner and don't end up in bed together. They can't understand characters in movies who take their marriages seriously. They are dumbfounded by the idea that people used to put duty before selfishness. Their blood runs cold when they see characters who sacrifice themselves for others. They are mystified when characters in a movie volunteer to serve their country by joining the army. And they are reduced to abject terror by the fact that these people in these old movies had high moral standards even though they didn't mouth the proper politically correct platitudes.

All of these things raise the terrifying prospect that maybe the values of today aren't eternal. Even worse, the values of today might be wrong. Maybe we’ve got everything wrong today?

People today know they are unhappy and dissatisfied by their lives. They know that people in the past didn’t feel that way. In the mid-twentieth century people went off to work every day, they got married and they had kids. And they were happy. What if those people in the past knew something that we don’t know? Old movies are a disturbing reminder that people used to live by different values, and were apparently happy and content.

So modern audiences run back to the comfort of modern movies where people have the morals of alley cats but never say anything politically incorrect. That way they won’t have any upsetting thoughts.

Monday, March 11, 2013

the upcoming Australian election - no chance to choose

The upcoming Australian election is a perfect example of the Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum politics I was talking about in my last post. The election will be fought on personalities. The only actual issue at stake will be the endemic corruption within the Labor Party, but there will be zero genuine debate on policies.

No matter which party wins we will continue to have mass immigration and our cultural identity will be further eroded.

No matter which party wins we will continue to have a doctrinaire commitment to globalisation and free trade.

No matter which party wins we will continue to have uncontrolled bureaucracy and big government.

No matter which party wins the personal freedoms we have lost over the past few decades will not be restored to us.

The Australian people have never been given a chance to make a decision on these crucial areas of government policy. They will not be given that opportunity this September either.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum politics

The most frightening development in politics since the 1970s has been the disappearance of any real difference between the major parties on most of the issues that really matter to ordinary people.

Recent discussions I’ve had elsewhere on the internet make it clear that in both the US and Australia there is an enormous amount of grass-roots anger about this. Voters no longer believe it makes any difference which party they vote for, either way they will get the same policies - a commitment to mass immigration, multi-culturalism, the destruction of our cultural identity, the erosion of our personal freedoms, big government, the trashing of what little is left of our manufacturing sectors and globalisation.

Both sides of politics are committed to extremist neocon economic policies of free trade, and creeping socialism in every other aspect of government.

Elections are merely a charade - we get to choose which leader will lead us to Hell. There is no genuine debate on any important policy. Debate has been effectively closed down. 
 
The “conservative” parties are no longer conservative in any meaningful sense. They may take us to Hell by a marginally longer route than the socialists but the destination will be the same either way. Being able to choose between Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum does not equate to democracy. It merely leads to increasing alienation and increasing apathy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

phobias and the Leftist agenda

One of the many things that irritates me about the modern world is the misuse of the word phobia by the Left. Anyone who disagrees with the Left’s agenda is branded as being phobic.

The object of course is to imply that anyone who questions the Leftist agenda is irrational and suffering from some kind of mental disorder.

A phobia is an irrational fear. There is nothing irrational about a fear of Islam. In fact anyone who isn’t afraid of Islam is irrational. A belief that homosexuality is an unfortunate and unhealthy sexual perversion is not irrational. A belief that the whole transexual fad is a horrible and tragic mistake that will destroy the lives of thousands of sad confused people is not a phobia. It’s an opinion, and a perfectly respectable and reasonable opinion.

But of course Leftists cannot and will not tolerate any dissent. Therefore it’s not enough for them to disagree with anyone who doesn’t share their views. Anyone who questions them must be totally discredited and silenced, and ultimately destroyed if they can’t be brought into line.

Leftists do not want debate. They simply want obedience. If you won’t obey you must be destroyed.

The problem, as so often, is that conservative opposition to these tactics has been so feeble and ineffective. We have allowed Leftists to get away with using the idea of phobias as a means of discrediting us. Conservatives have allowed Leftists to set the agenda and we have allowed them to take control of the language. The consequences of this are terrifying to contemplate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

foreign aid and pity

There's an interesting article on charities which can be found, of all places, on the BBC's website. The most interesting point is one made by Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo. "Moyo argues that aid harms the countries it tries to help and should be replaced by business investment."

The article is  a welcome attack on the kind of charities driven by guilt and pity. Nobody has ever been helped by guilt and pity. We need to learn to feel less, and think more. That way we might actually do some good.