Month: July 2014

Articles & Posts to read today

You should check out these articles from the past few days:

Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas? ( As Charles Murray tweeted, a “good account from a hostile witness.”

You’re doing it wrong (, a post from The Hipster Conservative about politicians using internet memes unironically!

What is Ethical Conservatism? ( As if there were any other kind of conservatism.


The New Sins of the ‘Nonjugdmental’ Millennials ( Yikes! Explains how millennials have replaced the old religion with a new one.

And an article from Aeon on the concept of Hell (

Two great but chilling posts from Rod Dreher: the first about “Rooting out Brendan Eichs at JP Morgan Chase” (, and the other about “Those Filth Catholic Nuns” who oppose the contraception mandate in the Obamacare law (

Scott Stinson at the National Post on Premier Wynne’s “activist centre” dreck (

And here’s the Globe and Mail’s Denise Balkissoon on our reaching “Peak Ink” (

Balkissoon concludes:

I’m going to declare that we’ve reached peak ink, and that tattoos are travelling on the downward slope of the 30-year fashion cycle. The mere act of letting a sharp needle pierce and mark your delicate skin is no longer enough to prove your edgy individuality, and formerly badass body art is acquiring a nostalgic, sepia tinge. As the old adage goes, you can buy fashion, but you can’t buy style. When your grandchildren trawl through your old Instagrams, I hope your body ink looks timeless, not dated.

Jeez, I hope not because the conservative cyclist just got this on the weekend:


That’s right – that’s Jesus on a Bike!! And it’s based on a design by Brent at Twin Six:


I don’t like this association one bit

I came across this article in Rolling Stone this morning ( The article explains how Germany’s neo-Nazis are using social media and appropriating popular hipster culture to spread their warped propaganda.

Over the past year, partly because of leaders like Schroeder and partly because of the unstoppable globalization of youth culture, the hipsterification of the German neo-Nazi scene has begun to gain steam. This winter, the German media came up with a new term, “nipster,” to describe the trend of people dressing like Brooklyn hipsters at Nazi events. Experts have noted that the German neo-Nazi presence on Tumblr and other social networking sites has become sleeker and more sophisticated. Neo-Nazi clothing has become more stylish and difficult to recognize. There’s even a vegan Nazi cooking show. “If the definition of the nipster is someone who can live in the mainstream,” Schroeder explains, “then I see it as the future of the movement.”

And then I came across this:

And now another American export has arrived: In 2012, the daily Welt heralded the “hipster” as Germany’s “new object of hate” and just this February, the country’s biggest tabloid, Bild, offered a guide to “hipster types” for its readers. (Example: “The fixed-gear fanatic never goes anywhere without his bike.”)

So in Germany, riding a fixed-gear bike is akin to being a neo-Nazi. Jeesh, I don’t think so.

The association of conservatives with fascism and Naziism is extremely irksome. It’s absolutely false but has been used by leftists to smear us for years. Luckily, the “conservative=fascist, Nazi” lie has been put to rest. In his book Liberal Fascism (, Jonah Goldberg explains why. Here’s an excerpt from the book description:

Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism.

Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.

Do these striking parallels mean that today’s liberals are genocidal maniacs, intent on conquering the world and imposing a new racial order? Not at all. Yet it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots. We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler’s Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.

Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal racist nationalism. In America, it took a “friendlier,” more liberal form. The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.


James Delingpole reviewed the book for The Spectator in 2009 (

Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism is a conservative’s wet dream. No, it’s better than that. The moment you read it — presuming you’re right-wing, that is — you will experience not only a rush of ecstasy, but also a surge of revolutionary fervour and evangelical zeal. You’ll want to email all your friends and tell them the wonderful news: ‘I’m not an evil bastard, after all!’

What Goldberg very effectively does is to remove from the charge sheet the one possible reason any thinking person could have for not wanting to be right-wing: viz, that being on the right automatically makes you a closet fascist/Nazi scumbag. By accumulating a mass of historical evidence so extensive it borders on the wearisome, Goldberg comprehensively demonstrates that both Nazism and fascism were phenomena of the Left, not of the Right.

The book, a New York Times No. 1 bestseller has, needless to say, enraged lefties (‘liberals’ as they’re more usually known in the States) everywhere. ‘In the first week I had half a dozen emails from total strangers saying, “How dare you accuse us caring liberals of being fascists!” and then going on to say what a shame it was that my family hadn’t been sorted out once and for all a few years back in the concentration camps,’ he says.

A comment on the Delingpole article by Kevin is also insightful:

One thing that unites Marxists, Nazis and Liberals is their belief in historical progress. The Marxists put their faith in a predicted worldwide proletarian revolution. What happened instead was a great war infused with the spirit of patriotism. The Nazis picked up on that and put their faith in the nation. When they lost, the Liberals put their faith in opposing the nation. Now that they are losing the jihad, the next stage for the Left is to put its faith in Allah.

Another thing that unites Marxists, Nazis and Liberals is that they hate Catholicism.

 So, if you are a conservative and  someone calls you a fascist or a Nazi, just direct them to for a history lesson.

The great Leszek Kolakowski and the great Anastasio Mouratides

In a post this morning, Rod Dreher draws our attention to an essay by Leszek Kolakowski, the Polish philosopher and historian who is best know for his critical analysis of Marxism.

Dreher writes (emphases are mine):

A Kolakowskian Conservative

A reader sends in this excerpt from an essay by the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski [1], titled “How To Be A Conservative-Liberal-Socialist.” Kolakowski says this about what conservatives believe:

1. That in human life there never have been and never will be improvements that are not paid for with deteriorations and evils; thus, in considering each project of reform and amelioration, its price has to be assessed. Put another way, innumerable evils are compatible (i.e. we can suffer them comprehensively and simultaneously); but many goods limit or cancel each other, and therefore we will never enjoy them fully at the same time. A society in which there is no equality and no liberty of any kind is perfectly possible, yet a social order combining total equality and freedom is not. The same applies to the compatibility of planning and the principle of autonomy, to security and technical progress. Put yet another way, there is no happy ending in human history.

2. That we do not know the extent to which various traditional forms of social life–families, rituals, nations, religious communities–are indispensable if life in a society is to be tolerable or even possible. There are no grounds for believing that when we destroy these forms, or brand them as irrational, we increase the chance of happiness, peace, security, or freedom. We have no certain knowledge of what might occur if, for example, the monogamous family was abrogated, or if the time-honored custom of burying the dead were to give way to the rational recycling of corpses for industrial purposes. But we would do well to expect the worst.

3. That the idee fixe of the Enlightenment–that envy, vanity, greed, and aggression are all caused by the deficiencies of social institutions and that they will be swept away once these institutions are reformed– is not only utterly incredible and contrary to all experience, but is highly dangerous. How on earth did all these institutions arise if they were so contrary to the true nature of man? To hope that we can institutionalize brotherhood, love, and altruism is already to have a reliable blueprint for despotism.”

Read Kolakowski’s short essay here:


I was very fortunate to have been exposed to the thought and writing of Leszek Kolakowski. In the late 1980s, before the fall of the USSR and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, many university professors and public intellectuals were keen defenders of Marxism and Communism. The Soviet Union and other communist countries were to be admired and emulated. They criticized Western foreign policy and loathed Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. I was in graduate school at the time, attempting to complete a Master’s Degree in History. The university had just hired a crop of new history professors who were all Marxist – or New Left, as they would say. These were respected scholars. But boy were they dumb. I am not exaggerating. We were told that Western civilization was decadent, capitalism and democracy were evil and communism was a utopia. One prof consistently used Albania as a model society to be emulated for its equality and income distribution. Of course, all this happened at a time when in reality the Soviet Union and communism were on the verge of collapse. In class we learned one thing but on television we watched news of the Solidarity movement in Poland and breadlines in Moscow. We thought of ourselves as good socialists, “standing up to the man”, but something didn’t seem right.

I remember asking one professor in early 1989 whether or not he thought the Soviet Union may collapse and the Berlin Wall come down. He said the Wall would never come down because the US (that’s right, the US) had an interest in keeping it up!! I never, ever took anything he said seriously after that, and of course the Wall came down in November 1989.


Anyway, a group of grad students including me started to ask the tough questions. We felt we were being forced to think a certain way despite the realities of Marxism and communism we were witnessing. Naturally we rebelled. And we had a sympathetic professor on our side, an older scholar of Greece and Byzantium, who agreed to teach a grad course in Marxism. Of course, some of the younger profs said we were being foolish and undermining our education.

The great Dr. Anastasios Mouratides agreed to teach the class and, as I recall, about five of us dared to enroll. And our textbook was Kolakowski’s masterpiece of analysis titled Main Currents in Marxism. The younger profs did not take Kolakowski seriously.

His magnum opus was the three-volume “Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution”, published in the 1970s. It calmly and expertly demolished the pillars of Marxist thought: the labour theory of value, the idea of class struggle, historical materialism and the like. He also pointed out, again without unnecessary polemics, the practical shortcomings of communist systems. Stalinism was not an aberration, he argued, but the inevitable consequence of pursuing a communist utopia. For that, powerful left-wing voices such as the historian E.P. Thompson berated him as a traitor to the noble socialist ideals that he once espoused. (The Economist, July 30, 2009)

Honestly, I don’t remember too much of the course –  there was lots of debate inside and outside the classroom which spilled over to our other courses, and my major essay was a study of Marx’s concept of nature.

Anyway, what I do remember is that my outlook on life changed during that course and I never again flirted with socialism. And I am forever grateful to Professor Anastasio Mouratides.

Read more about Leszek Kolakowski here:

More on epistemic closure…and the last on epistemic closure

One of my favourite bloggers is Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. He’s a fantastic writer and a prolific blogger who writes on everything from politics and religion to art and sports.  He’s fair minded and will criticize and praise conservatives and Republicans as much as he criticizes and praises progressives and Democrats. And he doesn’t seem to share the general anti-Israel sentiment common at The American Conservative. Rod doesn’t write about Canada but that’s expected: he lives in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

His most recent book is titled The Little Way of Ruthie Leming which is the story of his Louisiana childhood and his sister’s battle with cancer. I’m reading Crunchy Cons right now which is his 2006 book. The subtitle says it all: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or At Least the Republican Party)”.

A conservative counterculture! I love it, except for the Birkenstocks of course. Anyway, I may write more about Crunchy Cons in a later post.


The reason I mention Rod here is that he, quite coincidentally, also wrote a commentary on Pascal-Emanuel Gobry’s latest article about “epistemic closure”. Of course, his commentary is better written than mine is and he takes a different direction.  It’s worth reading the entire commentary which can be found here at The American Conservative website:

Two key highlights for me:

“PEG [Pascal-Emanuel Gobry] gives examples, so you’ll want to read the whole thing. His broader point is that people on the left (it’s pretty clear he’s talking about media and academic elites) are so deep in their own bubble that they think their own way of seeing the world is obviously true, and they cannot imagine that there is another honest (if mistaken) way to interpret the world.

Are there conservatives who think this way too? Of course, and being someone who doesn’t enjoy tedium or ranting, I do my best to avoid getting into political or philosophical conversations with them, and I don’t read, watch or listen to their media. But with the exception of talk radio loudmouths, these conservatives have little or no voice, and therefore little influence over the broader culture. More particular to PEG’s point, the thing that we relative few number of mainstream media conservatives always notice (and talk about when we get together) is how uniform (and uniformly liberal) opinion is within our newsrooms, and how utterly unaware our liberal colleagues are of their own biases.”


“Which brings us back to Reader Bobby’s comment [alluding to the comment at the beginning of the post] about elites only rubbing shoulders with other elites, a social habit that misleads them into thinking that everybody sees the world as they do. We are all guilty of this, more or less. But we ought to work harder at trying to imagine the world as it might look to people very different from ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we are wrong in the conclusions we’ve arrived at, or in the convictions that we hold. It does mean, however, that we should be more humble about what we know, and more understanding of others when confronted by the true difficulties of knowing anything for certain.

Much has been made over the past few years about how folks getting to know gay people personally has converted them to the gay-rights cause. There’s a lot to that. It’s harder to hold stereotypical views of someone in a particular class if you know them personally. Yet I wonder: does it ever occur to liberals that they ought to try to get to know, say, a conservative Evangelical [or a conservative cyclist for that matter]? If not, why not?

I know exactly what he is talking about. I’ve worked in government and academia and I can tell you there are very few conservatives working in either environments. And people speak to each other as if there is only one position. They don’t think to ask themselves if someone else may think differently. And these are the same people who preach about diversity……but only if you think the way they do.


Share the Road

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation provides some good advice in this news release from yesterday:—-same-rules-same-rights.html

My quibble would be with why we need a government ministry to tell us this. It’s mostly common sense. How much did it cost to release this on a national holiday?

Anyway the key point is: “Bicycles are considered vehicles, just like cars or trucks, which means they must obey all applicable traffic laws under the Highway Traffic Act.” Attention drivers: that means cyclists are allowed on the road and can occupy a lane. Get used to it. Attention cyclists: you have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road. Don’t run lights or stop signs or ride on the sidewalk. And signal for pity’s sake.

On my commute this morning, I had a driver beep and shake her head at me because I dared to stray from the bike path on Bloor-Danforth to pass another cyclist despite my signalling and staying as tight to the bike lane as possible. She was impatient which I find bizarre because traffic was fairly heavy and I ended up passing her anyway. And of course I could have taken the whole lane if I wanted to.