Wednesday, March 21, 2018

When there is something there

In an earlier post I noted that right liberalism creates a picture of reality in which there is nothing existing above the level of the individual to defend:
...for right liberals there are only self-creating individuals who have escaped the older identities.

It's important to remember this when you wonder why older generations of Western men did not do more to defend the existence of the West. If you assume that you live in a society that only exists as a collection of self-creating individuals with no distinct ties to each other, then what is there really at the larger level to defend? A person with this mindset will think that everything is OK, as long as the economy is healthy enough for individuals to pursue careers.

It made me wonder if this is another example of philosophical nominalism, i.e. the idea that there are only particular instances of things.

Anyway, there was a good example recently of what happens when a politician does believe in the existence of an entity existing above the level of the individual. I'm referring to the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who said of his own people that,
It truly is a mystery how after so many defeats we have always risen up again. And how could it be that we are still here after one thousand years? Perhaps because we have always known that our existence has a meaning beyond ourselves. We have always known that here there is a culture, a soul and a spirit which over the centuries has lifted hearts, consoled people and sustained us. We have a uniting and unifying notion: we have national self-respect.

Hungarians exist as individuals but also as part of a larger entity, a people, with a kind of collective soul or spirit, that lives on and that is a source of meaning for those who are part of it. It is felt to be a unique good, to the point that individuals will be motivated to contribute to it and to defend its existence.

It is an enriching aspect of life to belong to such a tradition. It connects you more closely as an individual to a particular culture; to the land and therefore to nature; to language and literature; to history; and to family, ancestry and lineage. It is a grievous loss, a severe narrowing in how life is experienced, when the individual is deprived of this and is left only with himself and his own wants.

If we really wish the good for others, then we will hope for the defeat of the globalising forces that are trying to destroy national traditions, as in Hungary. The Hungarians are blessed to have a leader like Viktor Orban who is willing to resist these forces. I am looking forward to the victory of Viktor Orban in the upcoming Hungarian elections.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Viktor's great speech

Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, is fast becoming one of the great European statesmen. He gave a speech in front of a massive crowd this week in which he clearly laid out the situation facing Hungary. Here are some highlights:
Together we have fought many great fights and memorable battles. But the greatest thing that we could realise in our lives, the greatest battle that we could fight together is still ahead of us. And every indication is that it is immediately ahead of us now. The situation, Dear Friends, is that there are those who want to take our country from us. Not with the stroke of a pen, as happened one hundred years ago at Trianon; now they want us to voluntarily hand our country over to others, over a period of a few decades. They want us to hand it over to foreigners coming from other continents, who do not speak our language, and who do not respect our culture, our laws or our way of life: people who want to replace what is ours with what is theirs. What they want is that henceforward it will increasingly not be we and our descendants who live here, but others. There is no exaggeration in what I have just said. Day by day we see the great European countries and nations losing their countries: little by little, from district to district and from city to city. The situation is that those who do not halt immigration at their borders are lost: slowly but surely they are consumed. External forces and international powers want to force all this upon us, with the help of their allies here in our country.

...Dear Friends, we not only want to win an election, but our future. Europe – and within it we Hungarians – has arrived at a turning point in world history. National and globalist forces have never squared up to each other so openly. We, the millions with national feelings, are on one side; the elite “citizens of the world” are on the other side. We who believe in nation states, the defence of borders, the family and the value of work are on one side. And opposing us are those who want open society, a world without borders or nations, new forms of family, devalued work and cheap workers – all ruled over by an army of shadowy and unaccountable bureaucrats. On one side, national and democratic forces; and on the other side, supranational and anti-democratic forces.

...Europe and Hungary stand at the epicentre of a civilisational struggle. We are confronted with a mass population movement which is an imminent danger to the order and way of life that we have known throughout our lives up until now. So at one and the same time we must defend our achievements so far, and enter battle to ensure that there will even be any point in continuing. Unless we protect our way of life, the meaning of everything we have achieved will be lost. If in the future the country is not Hungarian, what is the point of progress? Let’s not distract ourselves: we do not need to fight the anaemic little opposition parties, but an international network which is organised into an empire. We are up against media outlets maintained by foreign concerns and domestic oligarchs, professional hired activists, troublemaking protest organisers, and a chain of NGOs financed by an international speculator, summed up by and embodied in the name “George Soros”. This is the world we must fight with in order to defend that which is ours. The good soldier does not fight because he hates that which is facing him, but because he loves that which is behind him. He loves Hungary and Hungarians.

...we shall fight against what the empire of George Soros is doing to Hungary, and what it wants to do to Hungary. This is our homeland, this is our life, and we have no other. Therefore we shall fight for it to the end and we shall never surrender. We know that ultimately in every electoral district they will stand against our candidates. Their task is to win power and implement the grand plan: to break Hungary, which stands in the path of immigrants; and first to settle thousands, then tens upon tens of thousands of immigrants in Hungary within a few years. These numbers are no exaggeration. Europe is now under invasion. If we allow it to happen, in the next one or two decades tens upon tens of millions will set out for Europe from Africa and the Middle East. The western half of Europe looks at all this with its hands raised in surrender. Those who raise their hands have laid down their weapons, and will never again decide their own fate. The history of the defeated will later be written by others. The young of Western Europe will see this when they become minorities in their own countries, and they have lost the only place in the world that could be called home. Forces are appearing, the like of which the world has not seen for a long time. In Africa there will be ten times as many young people as in Europe. If Europe does nothing they will kick down the door on us. Brussels is not defending Europe and it is not halting immigration, but wants to support it and organise it. It wants to dilute the population of Europe and to replace it, to cast aside our culture, our way of life and everything which separates and distinguishes us Europeans from the other peoples of the world. It will be small consolation that the peoples of Europe will not forgive those leaders who completely changed Europe without first asking its people. Let us be proud of the fact that we are the only country in the European Union which has asked people whether or not they want mass immigration.

I know that this battle is difficult for everyone. I understand if some of us are also afraid. This is understandable, because we must fight against an opponent which is different from us. Their faces are not visible, but are hidden from view; they do not fight directly, but by stealth; they are not honourable, but unprincipled; they are not national, but international; they do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs. They are not generous, but vengeful, and always attack the heart – especially if it is red, white and green. But, Dear Friends, we have always known that there is much at stake. Hungarian history has accustomed us to fighting for that which is the natural prerogative of more fortunate peoples. For us a single tremor is enough, a lame duck government is enough, an election result which goes awry is enough, and everything is set adrift – everything that we have spent years of hard work on. This is a corner of the world which is exposed to the elements, and which history tends not to leave in peace – even though we feel that by now that is what we truly deserve. Our ancestors expressed it well: a cowardly people has no homeland. And we summoned up our courage when it was needed. It was never easy.

It truly is a mystery how after so many defeats we have always risen up again. And how could it be that we are still here after one thousand years? Perhaps because we have always known that our existence has a meaning beyond ourselves. We have always known that here there is a culture, a soul and a spirit which over the centuries has lifted hearts, consoled people and sustained us. We have a uniting and unifying notion: we have national self-respect.

Young People,

Perhaps you feel as if the whole world is yours, and as if you could take on all comers. And you are right: a lack of ambition is the definition of mediocrity. And life is good for nothing if you do not do something with it. But in your lives, too, there will come a moment when you realise that one needs a place, a language, a home where one is among one’s own, and where one can live one’s life in safety, surrounded by the goodwill of others. A place where one can return to, and where one can feel that there is a point to life, and that in the end it will not just slide into oblivion. By contrast, it adds to and becomes a part of the majestic thousand-year-old creation which we simply call our homeland: the Hungarian homeland. Young Hungarians, now the homeland needs you. The homeland needs you; come and fight with us, so that when you need it, your homeland will still be there for you.

The good news is that Orban is leading in the polls right now (54% support) with less than three weeks to the elections.

If you would like to read the whole speech it is here, or you could watch the video below.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

It's no alternative

The two main political alternatives today are both unhelpful. The left is pushing an "identity" politics in which white men are held to be privileged oppressors who have to be brought down. But the mainstream right response to this isn't much better. Here is a quote from an interview between Andrew Bolt and Brendan O'Neill, prominent Australian right liberals:

This is just liberalism 101. The idea is that the highest good in life is to be an autonomous, self-determining individual. Therefore, whatever is predetermined in life is a hindrance, a limitation, a box, a prison that the individual has to be liberated from. The biological things are predetermined, therefore we have to escape from our sex, our race, our ethny. All that matters is what we choose for ourselves, or (as per Jordan Peterson) what we achieve for ourselves.

And so Western man doesn't get to identify positively with manhood (as this is a "box" to be escaped from); nor does he get to identify with his own larger communal tradition. There is no coherent basis for defending this tradition, as for right liberals there are only self-creating individuals who have escaped the older identities.

It's important to remember this when you wonder why older generations of Western men did not do more to defend the existence of the West. If you assume that you live in a society that only exists as a collection of self-creating individuals with no distinct ties to each other, then what is there really at the larger level to defend? A person with this mindset will think that everything is OK, as long as the economy is healthy enough for individuals to pursue careers.

Andrew Bolt once wrote that he believed in,
The humanist idea that we are all individuals, free to make our own identities

Consider the implications of this. It means that identity doesn't really connect us to anything much. I begin and end with myself. It's the same problem that liberalism always faces. If I am free to make something however I like, then that something loses most of its meaning, as it could be anything at all depending on my own subjective whims. And that is what liberalism is saying about my identity: that it doesn't mean very much, because it could be anything, because it has to be freely chosen in any direction according to my own subjective preferences.

The traditional view of identity was different. A given identity was significant enough to orient me in my sense of self; to connect me to transcendent sources of meaning; to orient me, in part, to my telos (to the ends or purposes for which I was created); to connect me in a significant way to a particular people, place, culture, history and tradition; and to inspire a love for the good within my given identity and within my particular tradition and therefore to inspire a willingness to uphold and contribute to the particular culture, society and way of life that I belonged to. The traditional notion of identity engaged me in a way that the liberal one does not and cannot.

And that is one reason why Western man, if he continues to pursue a right liberal outlook, will fall alone.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The trial backfired

I was reading a newspaper for Australian teachers (The Australian Education Reporter, Term 1 2018) and found a revealing article about sex discrimination in the workplace.

Titled "Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Education" it began by noting that over 75% of Australia's full-time teachers are women. The percentage of male teachers is steadily falling:

Predictably, though, the complaint made in the newspaper article wasn't about the lack of men in the teaching profession. It was that only four out of 16 senior management positions in the state of Western Australia are held by women.

And this is where things got really interesting. It seems that the Commonwealth Government held a trial to see if "sex blind" recruiting would increase the number of women in senior management positions. In other words, candidates for a position had to submit a resume that did not indicate which sex they were.

The results? Here is how the newspaper reported things:
The danger of quick-fix solutions to rectify gender inequity was revealed by the ABC when an attempt at "blind recruitment" in the public sector had to be stopped when the trial backfired against women and ethnic minorities.

The trial, done by several public sector organisations, aimed to remove sexism from selection processes, including female bosses, when gender was removed from applications.

The Commonwealth Government trial was abandoned when it was found that de-identifying candidates reduced the likelihood of women being selected for the shortlist, as adding a woman's name to a CV made the candidate 2.9 times more likely to be selected.

The results were not what was expected. It was revealed that women were not discriminated against by hiring panels, but were strongly favoured. It was men who faced a barrier, not women.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

The solo mindset

How does a woman most fully develop herself? Traditionally it was thought that women (and men for that matter) developed and expressed important parts of themselves through relationships with others, especially through marriage and motherhood (or fatherhood).

But, as I pointed out in my last post, from at least the 1880s onwards, women were encouraged to see the family as a merely passive and mechanical sphere, with self-development occurring instead as a "solo" act outside the family.

I want to discuss the issue of what happens next. What happens when the mindset of a woman shifts to the idea that she will develop independently of relationships with others? That she is "proved" most in her independence, particularly her independence of men?

So let's go back to 1958. The long first wave of feminism had by now ended, and there had been an upturn in family formation. But the outlook of the first wave still existed, at least among certain women. A female psychologist of the time, Marie Robinson, described one of her patients (a female lawyer) as follows:
Her father had died when she was an infant and her mother had been a militant leader of the movement for women’s “rights.” The whole emphasis in her early upbringing had been on achievement in the male world, and in the male sense of the word. She had been taught to be competitive with men, to look upon them as basically inimical to women. Women were portrayed as an exploited and badly put upon minority class. Marriage, childbearing, and love were traps that placed one in the hands of the enemy, man, whose chief desire was to enslave woman. Her mother had profoundly inculcated in her the belief that women were to work in the market place at all cost, to be aggressive, to take love (a la Russe) where they found it, and to be tied down by nothing, no one; no more, as her mother put it, than a man is. Such a definition of the normal had, of course, made her fearful of a real or deep or enduring relationship with a man. For years she sedulously avoided men entirely. Gradually, through her grown-up experiences, she learned of other values, but by the time the right man came along it was too late to have children.

This is at the more radical end of "be solo". Logically, it entails casual sexual relationships rather than marriage; a focus on work in the market place; and an assumption that men are not only after the same thing as the modern woman (not being tied down) but have an unfair privilege in being so.

To make this clearer, imagine you are a woman who holds to the more traditional view. Your very unfolding as a woman (your completion) depends on your relationship with a man and with the quality of the family life you create together with him. You are more likely to preserve your sexuality for this significant relationship; you are less likely to see your future spouse as belonging to an enemy class; you will be less likely to delay a commitment to marriage and family; and you will be more likely to retain some of the emotional openness and receptivity to men (and to children) that a woman's family relationships are built on.

But Anglo culture is lurching into the "go solo" zone. The primary commitment now is often to the workplace, even to the point that women's willingness to have children is compromised. There is a muteness when it comes to family values: it is not thought right to include fidelity as part of ethics. Political women nearly always assume that men are a class enemy; there is a solidarity among these women built on this assumption that comes across at times as a female chauvinism.

This might all sound negative, but there is a positive aspect to it. It provides at least part of the path back to a healthier situation. What needs to happen is for the liberal concept of the good (as maximum individual autonomy) to be rejected; for the natural instincts of young people to find fulfilment in pair bonding and family relationships to be nurtured; and for traditionalists to regain sufficient influence over the culture, at least in their own communities, so that culture is no longer set against the natural inclination of people to develop within relationships rather than solo.

In other words, I don't think it is just a matter of tweaking the law, or of a financial incentives policy - even though these might help. It's important to look at how people have been raised to understand their life purposes, and what the flow on effects of such a life understanding are. The current understanding has the strong support of culture & ideology, less so of nature (which is not to say that holding people to a culture of marriage can be done via natural instinct alone, but I do believe that it is stronger within our natures to have the instinct to develop within relationships rather than alone - this is what can most easily be restored).

Without competing for the culture, we will most likely continue to witness and to experience distorted or disordered relationships between the sexes.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It goes back some way

I watched about one minute of Q&A last night. It's a TV show here in Australia in which "luvvie" left-liberals discuss political issues with insufferable moral smugness.

Anyway, a British Labour Party feminist, Harriet Harman, was speaking. There is something icy in her personality, but to draw a laugh from the audience she noted mockingly that a generation ago many young women would leave school and have as their highest aspiration finding a husband and starting a family. On cue there were chortles of laughter from the audience at the thought.

The underlying message is that the highest ambition for everyone, male or female, is to participate in the market as a unit of labour. Although their reasons might be different, left liberals and right liberals end up in agreement on this. Careers come before family.

And the message has seeped through society. I had one of those moments of mutual incomprehension with a group of my students the other day. The topic was career advice, some of the students were disengaged, so I urged them on with the comment that choosing a career and choosing a spouse were the two most important life decisions.

The girls (aged about sixteen) looked at me with astonishment. They said they agreed that choosing a career was important, but they didn't think that choosing a spouse mattered as much. They couldn't believe that anyone would think it was that important, especially compared to a career.

If you want to blame modern day feminism for this you would be mistaken. The problem goes back to the first wave of feminism in the nineteenth century. In 1869 a college for women, Girton College, was established at Cambridge. What was the outlook impressed on the young women at Girton? One Girton girl put it this way in 1889:
We are no longer mere parts - excrescences, so to speak, of a family ... One may develop as an individual and independent unit.
That is a highly significant, and radical, change in life outlook. Think of it this way. The traditional view is that we do not develop, ideally, solo. If, for instance, you are a 25-year-old man, then ideally you will look to develop who you are as a person by seeking to become a husband and a father. As a husband you can develop your masculine personality by fulfilling your drives to provide for and protect a wife, by fulfilling your desire to form a loving union with someone of the opposite sex; and by fulfilling the innate instinct to reproduce yourself biologically, to reproduce your own family lineage and to reproduce your own larger ethnic tradition.

There are also, of course, aspects of a young man's development, such as the cultivation of virtues like fortitude, which could be done solo, but much would be left out if it were left at this. And even a man who never marries is likely to develop aspects of who he is in relationship with others, such as his parents and siblings, or (if a priest) in relationship with a church and parish.

But look at what the Girton girl is saying. She is radically diminishing the importance of family in her self-development. In fact, she has been educated, by first wave feminists, to utterly dismiss the role of family in self-development. The language she uses suggests that being a member of a family is a merely mechanical, static, impersonal thing. She speaks of being a "mere part - excrescence" of a family.

She goes on immediately to speak positively of solo development. She conceives the alternative as developing "as an individual and independent unit".

For some generations, men have been encouraged to develop, as before, in relationship with others, but young women have been encouraged to see this as oppressive and to develop solo. It's possible that this explains, in part, the reluctance of many women to see their husbands as making sacrifices on their behalf - perhaps women assume that men have the same outlook, of solo development, that they themselves have been brought up to believe in, or perhaps they even think it wrong for a person to develop in relationship with others rather than as a solo act (so they mentally refuse the idea that it is a good thing for their husband to make sacrifices for them).

This is one aspect of life in which a traditionalist community could very readily distinguish itself. We could return to the older, fuller understanding of human development for both men and women.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The future is....?

What happens if you believe, as liberals do, that our sex should be made not to matter? You get a "rising star" in the Liberal Party, Senator Linda Reynolds, calling for elite sports like AFL and rugby league to be "desegregated," so that women play alongside men.

There is a certain kind of wishfulness or hopefulness in this kind of thinking. It reminds me of the Russian Bolshevik, Alexandra Kollontai, who gave public lectures in which she longed,
for the female body itself to become less soft and curvy and more muscular ... She argues that prehistoric women were physiologically less distinct from men ... Accordingly, sexual dimorphism may (and should) again become less visible in a communist society.

The idea that our inborn sex should not define us has led to an odd situation. The assumption is that women are now being "empowered" to enter masculine spaces. And so you get "go girl" slogans like the one I spotted on a shoe shop window at a local shopping centre:

But, at the very same time, the emphasis on unisexism is dissolving the notion of the female. Just as Kollontai, a century ago, hoped that the female body would change into something more like a male one, the modernist expectation is that women will be raised to be more like men. In their social function, men and women are expected by liberals, ideally, to be indistinguishable or interchangeable.

That's partly why the slogan "the future is female" is incoherent. In the unlikely event that the liberal West survives, the future is women in pantsuits doing much the same thing that men do.

It won't be difficult for a traditionalist community to set itself apart. Imagine how different it would be in a community in which men and women were encouraged to cultivate masculine and feminine virtues; in which men and women connected distinct and complementary roles to the fulfilment of their created natures and to the good of family and community; and in which our higher nature was felt, profoundly, to be connected to the expression of our manhood and womanhood.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Harvard letter

One of the flaws of liberalism is what you might call the "autonomy contradiction". There is a problem in making autonomy - a freedom to choose according to my subjective wants - the highest good. What if my want is a non-autonomous good? Liberalism then either has to accept the fact that I choose other than autonomy or it has to limit my autonomy and prevent me from choosing this good. In the end, liberalism is likely to reach a point at which it says "you can choose anything you want, as long as you choose liberal autonomy" - which is not very "autonomous" at all.

There was an example of this last year when Harvard University acted to restrict students from joining single sex fraternities and sororities. These organisations are not even university groups, but are off campus private associations. Even so, the Harvard authorities decided to punish students who are members of these groups by limiting their leadership and scholarship opportunities.

The fact that Harvard liberals dislike single sex groups is not surprising. If what matters is that we are autonomously self-determined, then liberals have to make our sex not matter, as that is something that is predetermined. If sex is something that is not allowed to matter, then it will be thought wrong to discriminate on the basis of sex (in the literal sense of the word "discriminate" - the ideal will be a situation in which people won't make distinctions between men and women, particularly in a social context). There will be a fear that if there is any discrimination, such as the existence of single sex clubs, that it might lead to a discrepancy in life paths or life outcomes ("inequality").

And so the Harvard authorities found themselves facing the autonomy contradiction. They want to get rid of single sex clubs as part of the larger liberal ideal of abolishing sex distinctions. On the other hand, they preach a mantra of autonomous choice, by which students should be allowed to choose according to their own subjective preferences.

How did Harvard deal with the contradiction? In a number of ways. First, the authorities have given the single sex clubs time to change into unisex groups. According to Harvard, this means that students have been given "choice and agency" in leading the changes:
at least as an initial step, we should proceed in such a way as to give students both choice and agency in bringing about changes to the campus culture.

The choice to belong to a fraternity is being taken away, but students get to be involved in the process of choice being taken away and this is supposed to uphold their "choice and agency".

Another response to the contradiction is this:
Ultimately, students have the freedom to decide which is more important to them: membership in a gender-discriminatory organization or access to those privileges and resources. The process of making those types of judgments, the struggle of defining oneself, one’s identity, and one’s responsibilities to a broader community, is a valuable part of the personal growth and self-exploration we seek for our undergraduates.

The Harvard authorities are claiming that autonomy still exists because students get to choose between fraternities or sanctions, and that in being placed in this dilemma students have to define who they are. Someone went to a lot of trouble to think this up, which shows how keen the authorities are to try to retain a belief that they are not trashing their liberal ideal of autonomy in seeking to ban private association.

The final response to the contradiction is to admit that there is a contradiction:
Preserving choice and agency also honors the thoughtful concerns we have heard expressed about the need to balance competing interests wherever possible. The tensions between freedom and equality, between the rights of the individual and the welfare of the community have long challenged American society and have been the focus of much of the USGSO debate. As a professor of history noted in last October’s Faculty meeting, “the freedom of association enjoyed by some of our students comes at the cost of excluding the majority of our students from those associations.”

The last line is an eye opener. I would have thought that freedom of association necessarily involves "excluding the majority". Harvard University itself necessarily excludes the majority. So does an association of artists in Bavaria. Or an association of Dalmation owners. Or a Mormon mothers' club. Do we really begrudge the existence of associations that we ourselves can't be included in? To get to the point of inclusiveness desired by the professor of history, you would have to considerably erase the distinctions between people. Liberalism in this sense requires less, rather than more, diversity.

I'll leave the Harvard authorities there, struggling to reconcile the principle of autonomy which simultaneously requires them to ban single sex clubs and uphold choice and self-determination.

The traditionalist stance on this issue is relatively straightforward. If you do not start out with the same assumptions that liberals do, you will not have the goal of making our sex not matter. If you are not intent on erasing the distinctions between men and women, you will then be relaxed about the natural inclinations that men and women have to enjoy masculine or feminine social environments.

Traditionalists see the unfolding of our masculinity and femininity as significant aspects of our identity and of our life purposes. It therefore makes sense to create masculine and feminine spaces, as a means of cultivating this aspect of who we are and of encouraging our self-development.

Fraternities in particular are potentially valuable in creating a space in which the masculine virtues can be cultivated (though there needs to be a certain focus to such groups for this to happen). It is within a male group, particularly one that is dedicated to a significant aim, that qualities like loyalty, courage and honour tend to take hold.

So for traditionalists the general aim is to have more, rather than fewer, single sex social spaces.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Identitarians reach Britain

A video from the new British section of the Identitarian movement:

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Lauren Rose: defining the nation

The short video below is well worth watching. Lauren Rose does an excellent job in clarifying what nationalism is and is not:

Lauren makes clear that the term "civic nationalism" does not really make sense. It would be more accurate to call it something like "civicism" or "civic statism" or "the civic values state". However, for the time being I will still use it at times in order to draw a distinction with "ethnic nationalism", which, as Lauren points out, is a redundant term, as the nation and the ethny are the same thing.

One final point. I would love one day to be able to invite intelligent trads like Lauren Rose to tour Australia. Although we have a solid group here in Melbourne, we still need to grow a little to make this a reality. So I encourage interested Melbourne readers to consider supporting the Melbourne Traditionalists - you can visit out website for more information here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Estonia & the Blue Awakening

A reader sent me a link to a story about the expulsion of an Estonian youth group, Blue Awakening, from the European Young Conservatives.

In brief, the story runs as follows. The European Young Conservatives (EYC) is a group of 26 political youth groups drawn from the centre-right in Europe. One of these was Blue Awakening, the youth group of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).

Blue Awakening sent a letter to the EYC critical of its direction and was expelled, with the EYC explaining its decision as follows:
"You may have gotten the wrong impression regarding our views," the EYC told Blue Awakening. "We are the youth organization of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, which means that our primary goal is to propagate the free market and classical liberal values in Europe. Some of our members have the right to maintain conservative views, but we are not a nationalist organization and we do not aim to preserve Europe's ethnic identity."
So there you have it. An alliance of "conservatives" sees its primary goal as promoting "the free market and classical liberal values." The founder of Blue Awakening rightly replied that, "True something completely different from classical liberalism."

If you go by the letter, the EYC is "conservative" only in the sense that it wants to conserve the classical liberal tradition, rather than the distinct peoples of Europe.

I had a quick look at EKRE, the Estonian party that Blue Awakening is affiliated with. Its policies and philosophy seem to be aligned with traditionalism. At its founding in 2012, the party declared:
No political party in the parliament represents the Estonian people, our national interest or traditional values. The government acts on right- and left liberal, also socialist ideas that our countrymen are simply statistical units or taxpayers, consumers at best. It is not far right or far left, just ultra-liberalism. The Conservative People's Party gives a solution to the voters who are sick of forced choice between Ansip and Savisaar, East and West, left and right.

That's very well put. EKRE has grown to have seven seats in parliament - I will watch its future development with much interest.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Camberwell vs Fitzroy: who wins?

This is an unusual post for me: more social observation than anything else.

I recently visited two very different suburbs of Melbourne, Fitzroy and Camberwell. Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, is the heartland of the liberal left in Melbourne. It is an inner suburban area that generally votes Green.

Walking along Fitzroy Street at night, I was struck by a number of things. As expected, there were leftist political slogans around me, in particular, radical "Invasion Day" posters (this was in the lead up to Australia Day). But there were some surprising things too. Although there were plenty of multicultural restaurants, the area was a lot more Anglo than other areas of Melbourne, and predominantly young Anglo. There were a lot of young Anglo couples promenading in the street.

Most surprising of all, given I was in a leftist heartland, I have never before seen women dressed in such a feminine style, not even in photos I've seen of the 1950s. The women were leaning romantically into their boyfriends as they walked along, arms entwined.

And the area itself, despite housing commission high-rises nearby, has a very traditional flavour. It's like walking into a beautiful slice of the 1880s. There are hardly any modernist intrusions.

Lawrence Auster often used to write about liberals having to resort to "unprincipled exceptions" because living strictly according to liberal principles would be unworkable. But what I observed in Brunswick Street was more than an unprincipled exception, it was a divorce between politics and lifestyle.

These are leftists who call themselves "Green" but who live in the inner city; who believe that there are 159 sexes and that femininity is an oppressive construct, but whose women clearly aim to be feminine and attractive; who support multiculturalism and oppose whiteness, but who live in an Anglo enclave; and who support modernism in all its forms, but who live surrounded by traditional architectural beauty.

And it seems to be working for them. There was an atmosphere of cultural confidence - a way of life in full swing.

You would think that there would be a great deal of cognitive dissonance, i.e. that they would struggle to reconcile the differences between their political ideals and their way of life. Apparently, though, they are happy to play a game, where it is understood that it is progressive to hold to a certain set of beliefs whilst holding things together by embracing aspects of traditionalism more fully than traditionalists manage to do.

So I don't think we can write off the Anglo left just yet. The lifestyle is still alive, even at a time when white leftists are being instructed by their fellow leftists to "sit down, shut up and listen" and when white males are increasingly targeted on the left as privileged oppressors.

My impression of Camberwell was very different. This is part of the heartland of  right liberalism in Melbourne, part of a belt of suburbs from which Liberal Party prime ministers and ministers were often drawn.

I had more of a sense of a way of life being extinguished. The demographics have changed, particularly amongst the under 50s. Curiously the young Anglo men, who in theory have everything going for them (well educated, good career prospects, handsome etc.) seem to have rejected Anglo women en masse. And, although you wouldn't expect the area to be humming on a Sunday at midday compared to an inner city precinct at night, people seemed subdued - more drawn into themselves.

I'm looking in from the outside, so I might be wrong, but there seems to be more disruption or dislocation among young Anglos in the right liberal areas compared to the left liberal ones (when I had expected the opposite to be true).

Fitzroy seems to be winning.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jeanine's story

This video really brings home the plight of the white farmers of South Africa.

Tucker Carlson: America is not an idea

It doesn't get much better than this in the mainstream media. Tucker Carlson, on his Fox News show, took Senator Lindsey Graham to task for claiming that "America is an idea...not defined by its people but by its ideals."

Carlson rightly focused on the logic of this statement: that it means that the existing population does not constitute America, not by its efforts, talents or history, but that it can be swapped or replaced with little effect on what America is thought to be - a demoralising concept of nationhood.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why did Birzer get borders wrong?

I'd like to return to the topic of Bradley Birzer. If you recall from my recent post, he is the American conservative who called, in the most stringent terms, for open borders:
Even the most cursory examination of the issue reveals that the best of western thinkers have considered political borders a form of selfish insanity and a violation of the dignity of the human person. The free movement of peoples has not only been seen as a natural right throughout much of the western tradition, but it has also been seen as a sacred one.

I don't want to focus on rebutting his specific claims as I did this in my last post, and others have done the same thing admirably well. What needs to be addressed is why Birzer would come to adopt this stance. Rather than being a stock standard right or left liberal, Birzer is a professional Burkean/Kirkean conservative:
Bradley J. Birzer is the president of the American Ideas Institute, which publishes The American Conservative. He holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and is Professor of History at Hillsdale College. He served as the second Visiting Scholar of Conservative Thought and Policy at Colorado University–Boulder and is the author or editor of seven books, including Russell Kirk: American Conservative and J.R.R Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth. He has written and taught extensively on the American experience, focusing mostly on the period from the American Revolution through Reconstruction. Birzer is also editor at large and co-founder of The Imaginative Conservative.

In spite of a lifetime's service to Burkean conservatism, he has endorsed a policy that is more radically dissolving of society than the political positions held by a fair proportion of liberals. It is such an extraordinary outcome that we need to ask seriously what might have pushed things the wrong way.

I can think of several reasons, though I suspect the last in the list is the real culprit.

1. Burkean conservatism

Burke wanted to defend the existing culture and institutions of his time from modernist ideologies, particularly those associated with the French Revolution. And so he stressed the idea of accepting accumulated wisdom rather than following specific philosophies.

The late Lawrence Auster argued that the influence of Burkean conservatism was a flaw in American conservatism, as it only worked when the inherited tradition was a non-liberal one. Once liberalism starts to predominate in a culture, then Burkean conservatives will begin to defend that as the accumulated tradition:
As I’ve said many times, that’s the problem with Burke, as well as with Kirk, who was a Burkean. Burkean conservatism only works in a society that has an intact tradition to appeal to; in a society that has already been radicalized, Burkeanism merely accommodates conservatives to radicalism. This is why a conservatism is needed that doesn’t just appeal to “the way things are” (which may already be radicalized) but to “the way things ought to be”—to principles and values that may be lost at present and need to be brought back.

A traditionalist conservatism, it is true, can't be grounded on a simplistic ideology, but that doesn't mean that an alternative anthropology cannot be given voice to. After all, we are trying to give order to truths about man and reality: if we do not articulate these, because we think they will emerge by themselves over time within a community, then we fail to give any direction or coherence to conservatism - it become more difficult to hold to consistent political principles.

2. Anti-statism

Birzer appears to be part of a political stream that emphasises localism as opposed to centralism. I'm sympathetic to this outlook, not least because it gives the average man a polis in which to exercise his commitments to community (and in doing so more fully complete his nature).

I'm speculating, but it is possible that someone who conceives of politics too much as localism against centralism might not then give high regard to the role of a central state in upholding borders.

3. Christian theo-ideology

If I had to guess, I would say that this is the real reason for Birzer's hostility to borders. There are many Christians now who take one aspect of their religion (universal love) and apply the logic of this in a simplistic and abstracted way, so that Christian theology comes to resemble the workings of a secular ideology (hence the term "theo-ideology").

It's not that they are wholly wrong in what they claim. They argue that we are all made in God's image and therefore, for the sake of God, we should have a regard for others, even for the stranger.

But what happens next is crucial. You can either assert or deny that this then dissolves all particular loyalties, loves, duties, identities and attachments.

There are Christians who do assert this, often using a passage from Paul to support their case.

But if what they argued was true, then the particular loves and duties we have to spouse and children would no longer hold: those for the stranger would be equal or greater in significance. But this is both unworkable and un-Biblical.

The Catholic Church, until recent times at least, affirmed the particular loves and duties. From the duty of a Christian knight to defend his homeland; to the "ordo caritatis" which gave precedence in our duties to spouse and children; to the calls of the medieval Popes for crusades; and to the edicts of popes affirming the good of patriotism.

If, on the other hand, you believe that caritas means dissolving particular loves and loyalties, and no longer making distinctions between people, then Christianity itself won't survive as a mainstream religion. It will lead Christian nations to have open borders, so that the demographics shift to other religions. You can see how Christianity has rapidly declined in parts of the Middle East over the past century to get a sense of how a religion can be displaced from areas it was once deeply embedded in.

If readers have other explanations for why Birzer, with his impeccable Burkean credentials, might have adopted such a radical stance on immigration, I'd be interested to hear them.