At the beginning of the year, Thomas Bertonneau lamented contemporary American students’ unwillingness and inability to read, learn, and understand: “Post-Literacy and the Refusal to Read.” Bertonneau followed the Orthosphere essay with a note on the widespread misologism of American youth in “Post-Literacy Continued.” Dr. Bertonneau’s assessment of today’s students matches my own observation. It is sad to watch a civilization die.
Decadence is not without its peculiar pleasures, though. A month earlier, Bertonneau shared some examination answers by a colleague’s literacy challenged students in “Supersizing the Whopper: Higher Ed in the Trenches.” They are a hoot (by Athena’s owl, naturally). A selection:
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Athene helps Telemachus and Odysseus to be reunited and restore order to Troy. This all took place around 450 B.C. but it was not written down until 800 B.C.” . . .
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Based on my opinion Homer in the Odyssey would be a man from my opinion that believed the things worth dying for were better to kill for based on his work of the Odyssey.” . . .
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Telemicus could never really become a man because he was always being run over by the suitors.”
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Odysseus, the main character, though having the hand of Venus (Venus-Isis) right on his side, is faced with much despair when he has to leave his wife and son’s behind before he goes on many ‘adventures’ and encounters things. He defeats the Cycalopse after barely being eaten and meets Nausicaa while naked then stumbling over Calypso who holds him prisoner and gives him all of the winds.”
On Homer’s Odyssey: “The ending of ‘The Odessey’ was alot like homecoming week ending with Odyssues and Athenus killing all of the suitors.”
On Homer’s Odyssey:: “Even more important than eating Odysseus’s men, the Cyclops didn’t have any ships or laws.”
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Some people probably would not have done anything so killing the suitors was more than just Odysseus saying, whatever.”
On Virgil’s Aeneid: “A large wooden horse is brought by Aeneas from Troy, which Queen Dido thinks is a sign of appreciation. When the wooden horse is opened up and a number of Greek soldiers jump out, Dido is in shock. Thankfully, Aeneas and his men show up and promise to restore her disorder.”
On Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid: “Homer’s stance on the Trojan war is different from Vergil’s but just about the same.”
On Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid: “The biggest difference between the Odissy and the Aeneus is that one is a story but the other one is more like a poem.” . . .
On the Crusades: “The Crusades was a war fought over in the holy land by the Romans, Catholics and Protestants.”
On the Renaissance: “About the same time as this there was a renizance in Italy with Greeks, and depth prespective and also numerous changes in moors and the types of thought that was allowed. There costumes were very colorful about this time. One of them, I forgot his name had a telescope.”
O tempora! O mores!
The Winter Olympics are over, and there is one last week before Lent. I’ll reflect upon the games later, but enjoy Cheesefare Week!
Recently, Kristor wrote an interesting post on the Orthosphere about the significance of theism to every other thought and to thinking as such: “The Scandal of Theism.” Controversy ensued, wherein a few readers struggled to grasp Kristor’s point. Coincidentally (or not), Maverick Philosopher has a remarkably complementary piece from last week about how God, as the source of being, differs from beings (God is not another being among beings). Therefore, a philosophical investigation of God is not like searching for a celestial teapot (or a flying spaghetti monster): “Russell’s Leaky Teapot Revisited.” I highly recommend the posts.
Alan Roebuck has posted a fine essay by Robert Locke on why Americans should support a continuation of the “war on drugs”: “Robert Locke on the War on Drugs” (Front Page Magazine original). Locke’s essay is thirteen years old but remains quite timely, given recent legislative changes at the state level. It is the best argument that I have heard against drug legalization. I have often leant toward drug liberalization because the “war” seems to cause more harm than the social ills that it seeks to remedy. (Full disclosure: I do not plead for myself. I mistrust introducing novel chemicals into my body and come pretty close to the Christian Scientists’ employment of medicine. The extent of my drug use since I was a high school freshman is required vaccines for school and two doses of ibuprofen—one for a broken bone and the other for a mysterious leg infection that I got in Costa Rica. Of course, I never sought medical treatment for either.) Moreover, the social surveys about lifetime and recent drug use are pretty shocking. I do not agree that we should legalize activities that “people will do anyway,” obviously—such would lead to anarchy, as there will always be criminals. However, I am sympathetic to those folks who argue that legalizing marijuana, for instance, would allow the state to regulate a drug that many Americans use regardless of the law. Besides, I have known many people who use marijuana recreationally and who seem to be quite functional and cause no issues for their neighbors or friends. Marijuana may harm their productivity, but so do television and video games. If we allow cigarettes and liquor (or Facebook or Twitter), why not cannabis?
Locke’s essay is a powerful “snap out of it” rejoinder, and he is right. Locke argues:
If drugs were legalized, they would rapidly become socially acceptable. The vast majority of people in this country still take law seriously, and disapprove of drugs (and refuse to tolerate drug use in their friends, children, or employees) in the final analysis because they are illegal. The fact that drug use is illegal is the only thing, in our let-it-all-hang-out society, that makes it socially possible for people to be openly intolerant of them. If everyone worked in offices where some of their coworkers were snorting cocaine at their lunch hour, it would not be socially possible to be adamant about [opposing] drug use because they would have to get along with the drug users. Given the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws that already exist to protect lawful activities, they will eventually be forced to do so. Thus because of the social dynamic of people needing to get along with others, what is permitted in practice will inevitably drag people’s beliefs along with it. And when the social stigma goes, the least coercive and least governmental factor containing drug use will be gone.
Indeed! Ann Coulter has often argued against drug liberalization with libertarians by stating that we can legalize pot once we no longer have a welfare state that charges sober workers the inevitable social costs of accepted (and increased) drug use. Locke’s point is more profound; in our liberal society, vices are not simply tolerated but celebrated and subsidized. It is quite likely that his predictions would come true if (when?) libertarians succeed in decriminalization. On the other hand, such has not been the case with tobacco—a product that excites near prohibitionist feelings among the managerial class. Then, again, tobacco is an old, Southern grown product without any taint of marginalization to make it seem cool with the ever oppressed set. As far as I know, it has never been illegal in the Anglosphere and therefore lacks the thrilling subversive image that drugs and even alcohol have acquired. I would further argue that antipathy toward tobacco use has risen with increased awareness of its health risks and that, contra Locke, we should expect the same with dangerous drugs, but this same dynamic gets complicated in our screwy society and cannot be trusted to predict Americans’ attitudes and behavior with other harmful practices (see “Ad Bestialitatem” and “The Bloomberg Fallacy” for more inconsistencies among the public health totalitarians). What a messy toke!
Today, I received the following article from Zenit about the latest social engineering fad in Europe: “The Fight against Gender Stereotypes and Parental Rights.” It features a recent address by Grégor Puppinck to an audience in Rome:
French parents who wish to pass on certain values to their children will clash in the coming months over the Republic’s education system, which the current Government wishes to reform, particularly in relation to the complementary nature of men and women, of human sexuality and of morality.
The Taubira marriage law reform proposal should be considered in conjunction with another fundamental project of the current Government: the “reform of the education system of the Republic,” presently being discussed by the National Assembly. This law project on the “reform of the education system of the Republic” pledges, among other provisions, to introduce an obligatory new secular morality and civic education, in order to fight against gender stereotypes from the youngest age possible. In the press and before the Assembly, the Minister of Education, Vincent Peillon, has specified that “the goal of the secular morality is to remove all family, ethnic, social and intellectual determinisms from the pupil” to “allow each pupil to be liberated,” because “the goal of the Republican education system has always been to produce a free individual”. In the same way, the Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira has declared to the Assembly that “in our values, education aims to relieve pupils of social and religious determinisms and make them free citizens”.
One of these determinisms would be gender identity; the removal of gender stereotypes is seen as a way of liberating children. The project of the “reform of the education system of the Republic” provides at present that “education on gender equality” will become the mission of primary schools, from the age of 6, “in order to substitute categories such as sex (…) for the concept of gender which (…) shows that the differences between men and women are not founded by nature, but are historically constructed and socially reproduced”. This idea is also articulated in the recent report of the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs which recommends that schools engage in the “fight against gender stereotypes” “from the youngest age,” that it dismantles “the ideology of the complementary nature” of men and women to “move towards an [equal] society.” To this end, the report notably suggests that teachers replace the descriptors “boys” and “girls” with the neutral terms “friends” or “children,” to tell stories in which the children have two fathers or two mothers, etc. This is, according to the report, to prevent “sexual differentiation” and the children internalising their sexual identity. In addition to these aspects which relate to the theory of gender, the secular morality promoted by the project of the “reform of the education system of the Republic” is also a source of concern. This law project envisages societal reform through education; it is complementary to the Taubira proposal which “reforms” family through marriage. As Mr Peillon has indicated, “the Government is pressing young people to change their attitudes, notably by means of an education which respects the diversity of sexual orientation”.
So, if the Taubira law on “marriage” is adopted, public education should not only “dismantle gender stereotypes” in the minds of children, but furthermore teach them that it is normal to have two mothers (and an unknown father), or two fathers (and a carrier mother). These “parental arrangements” will be taught as if they are objective facts (and not choices) and will therefore be insusceptible to any moral judgement.
Parents who wish to pass on natural morality to their children will be trapped: they should tell their children not to believe what they are taught at school, but to remain silent so they will avoid getting into trouble. This will be an evident violation of the parents’ natural rights. The projects and declarations of Ms Taubira and Mr Peillon also unambiguously show their intention not to respect the rights of parents, but to extract the children (from their parents’ views) to liberate them. These parental rights have been reaffirmed in the great declarations of human rights after the Second World War, in response to Nazi, Fascist and Communist totalitarianism. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State” (Article 16(3)) and that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” (Article 26(3)). In ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the contracting States have engaged “to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions” (Article 18(4)). In an even more explicit fashion, the European Convention on Human Rights makes clear that “in the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions” (First Additional Protocol, Article 2).
Currently, the rights of the family are under attack once again in the name of a project for society; no longer founded on family, but on the notions of tolerance, non-discrimination and pluralism, and which considers any man as a purely abstract individual. The power of the State has found itself newly extended, as the objective of putting a “project for society” into action firstly requires the power to define it and the right to impose it.
I knew that such witches’ brews had been stewing for some time in Scandinavian cauldrons, but I was surprised to see the latest news from France. Hollande and his minions aren’t wasting any time in trying to destroy Gaul. Maybe, the Socialists’ return to power and their inability to follow the patient Fabian path in realizing their radical agenda will shock the dying nation from its coma and incite a reaction. I do not agree with the Le Pens on everything, but it would delight me to see le Front national pull a Pinochet for the eldest daughter of the Church. For there is no political reasoning, no compromise with an enemy who wishes for your destruction, and the Left certainly wants to destroy any remnant of traditional Western civilization. They have declared war on the West, and the nations of the West should respond in kind rather than treating these agents of nihilism as fellow citizens with claims upon the polity. The only way to defeat them is to recognize them for what they are—and to fight back accordingly.
How unfortunate it is that only (mostly) secular reactionaries seem to understand this, which explains why they have had the most success in the last century in thwarting leftist degeneracy, even if for a period. I say unfortunate because secular reactionaries carry many of the same modern diseases as the Left. Bruce Charlton recently wrote about the fascist nature of secular reactionaries in “Is it correct to state that Neo-Reactionaries of the ‘Dark Enlightenment’ are ‘Neo-fascists’?” I recommend it—typically charltonesque and insightful. Charlton ends with the following:
A few years ago I predicted that the Left would call any secular Right movement fascist, and that in doing so they would be broadly correct.
I also predicted that so long as the secular Right denied the fascist label they would be powerless, but if they ever felt strong enough to accept the fascist label openly and explicitly and were able to survive the backlash… then that would be the time to worry about them.
Therefore, when mainstream Leftist journalists call the Dark Enlightenment Neo-fascist, they are testing it; testing whether the movement is likely to be dangerous.
If Neo-Reactionaries fight the fascist label - then that is fine: they are revealed as lacking clarity and self-awareness, as craving acceptance, as having insignificant commitment, motivation and power.
To reject the fascist label demonstrates to the ruling Leftist elites that Neo-Reactionaries can easily be controlled by some mixture of mockery and demonization, and subversion by recognition, and buying-out (and this latter may be a motivation for some of the leading N-Rs of the DE - they are covertly hoping to sell-out and be co-opted by the mainstream!).
But if, when tested, the fascist label was accepted; then the response would be serious suppression by the usual Leftist means. This would be hard/ impossible for the Dark Enlightenment to survive - but if the Neo-Reactionaries did become explicitly fascist AND also survived the consequent suppression; then it would be a case of Be Afraid: Be Very Afraid for the Leftist elites.
I look forward to the day when the Rome of effeminate, decadent nihilists burns. It will be ugly and catastrophic, but my thumotic tendency longs to see the heathen idols destroyed. What justice it would be for the revolution to begin in France—the epidemiological origin of the current plague. Then, perhaps, such would lead to a domino effect across Europe. The time for revolt is certainly overdue.
Ut sit magna, tamen certe lenta ira deorum est.