The Paris Statement

Archbishop Cranmer brings us tidings of a new statement, ‘The Paris Statement’ they call it. One of the writers is no less than Professor Sir Roger Scruton. That makes it worth paying attention to. So does the content. Here is some of his description.

In May 2017, a group of conservative scholars and intellectuals met in Paris…

No, don’t yawn.

They say they were “brought together by their common concern about the current state of European politics, culture, society and, above all, the state of the European mind and imagination. Through delusion and self-deception and ideological distortion, Europe is dissipating her great civilizational inheritance.”

Well, that’s true, isn’t it?

Unless your name is Nick Clegg, AC Grayling, or you happen to be a bishop in the Church of England (not Shrewsbury).

These fine conservative minds, which included our very own Professor Sir Roger Scruton, produced ‘The Paris Statement’, which kind of makes sense as a title because they were in Paris when they issued their tome, which might indeed be viewed as a statement because their words were issued quasi-authoritatively, as conservative scholars and intellectuals are wont to do. And ‘Paris’ gives the statement an aura of continental enlightenment in ways which, say, ‘The Slough Statement’ or ‘The Lewisham Statement’ probably never could.

The preamble continues:

Instead of simply wringing their hands in fruitless anxiety, or adding yet another tome to the ample literature that diagnoses “the decline of the West”, the Paris participants believed it was important to make an affirmation, and to do so publicly. They expressed their attachment to “the true Europe,” and did so with reasons that can be recognized by all. In doing so, it was first necessary to give an account of this true Europe, which lies hidden beneath the fashionable abstractions of our age.

The result is, “A Europe We Can Believe In.” This Paris Statement is a ringing call for a renewed understanding of, and appreciation for, Europe’s true genius. It is an invitation to the peoples of Europe to actively recover what is best in our tradition, and to build a peaceful, hopeful, and noble future together.

The Paris Statement is good, very good, contrasting, as it does, the false Europe of teleological superstition and utopian tyranny with the true Europe of nation-state cooperation based on Christian solidarity and civic loyalty. Consider:

Europe, in all its richness and greatness, is threatened by a false understanding of itself. This false Europe imagines itself as a fulfilment of our civilization, but in truth it will confiscate our home. It appeals to exaggerations and distortions of Europe’s authentic virtues while remaining blind to its own vices. Complacently trading in one-sided caricatures of our history, this false Europe is invincibly prejudiced against the past. Its proponents are orphans by choice, and they presume that to be an orphan—to be homeless—is a noble achievement. In this way, the false Europe praises itself as the forerunner of a universal community that is neither universal nor a community.

Good, that.

Well, you know what? I just read their statement, and aside from a few quibbles, much the same ones as His Grace mentioned in his article it is very good. So good on them. It’s also very good to see that there are conservatives in western Europe, we’re all aware of Sir Roger, but from the rest, it’s a rare (and most welcome) spark of conservatism. The Statement is here, and well worth a read.

I very much fear that Europe is a lost cause, but then again so was the American Revolution, so I wish them luck and Godspeed in their mission. For most of us, Europe is our ultimate homeland, and watching it go down without a fight is disheartening at best. It is time for Europa to again tame the bull, I think.

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Really, Ireland?

Hard to understand just what the Republic of Ireland is thinking. A few months ago they installed a picture of Che Guevara as somebody of Irish descent who had made a difference in South America. Well, I suppose one could say that if one allows that murdering thousands of innocent fellow citizens is making a difference. In that case, the Cuban population of Miami was enraged and soon it was gone. And the Irish government apologized. Good.

But I wonder if they mostly apologized for getting caught, it seems so, if nothing else, these fools are persistent. Irelands Post Office has issued a €1 stamp commemorating this murderous thug. Who as Jay Nordlinger reminds us.

The fog of time and the strength of anti-anti-Communism have obscured the real Che. Who was he? He was an Argentinian revolutionary who served as Castro’s primary thug. He was especially infamous for presiding over summary executions at La Cabana, the fortress that was his abattoir. He liked to administer the coup de grace, the bullet to the back of the neck. And he loved to parade people past El Paredon, the reddened wall against which so many innocents were killed. Furthermore, he established the labor-camp system in which countless citizens–dissidents, democrats, artists, homosexuals–would suffer and die. This is the Cuban gulag. A Cuban-American writer, Humberto Fontova, described Guevara as “a combination of Beria and Himmler.” Anthony Daniels once quipped, “The difference between [Guevara] and Pol Pot was that [the former] never studied in Paris.”

Maybe it’s because Pol Pot didn’t have ancestors from Galway. A bit more from that article of Jay’s…

And yet, he is celebrated by “liberals,” this most illiberal of men. As Paul Berman summed up recently in Slate, “Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a freethinker and a rebel.” Those who know, or care about, the truth concerning Guevara are often tempted to despair. The website of our own National Institutes of Health describes him this way: an “Argentine physician and freedom fighter.” Guevara was a physician roughly like Mrs. Ceausescu was a chemist. As for freedom fighter … again, the temptation to despair is great.

I don’t know, maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I’m appalled and sickened at this hero worship of a man who murdered thousands of his fellow citizens, often for no reason at all. You go right ahead Ireland, there’s plenty of other places to visit, and it will be quite easy that day in March, to drink Norfolk whisky instead of Jameson, and I already have an Orange shirt.

Simply deplorable. Bad enough if they don’t know enough history to know what this man was, worse if they do, and still idolize him.

Catalonia

I often go to sleep with something on the computer (the one I use as a radio/television. I did so last night, with it tuned to Sky News. Why do I mention this? Because I was rudely awakened in the middle of the night, as the Catalan election did/didn’t get underway in Spain. I was awakened by gunfire.

That gunfire was directed by the Guardia Civil on citizens of Catalonia (the area around Barcelona) who wanted to vote on what Spain says is an illegal referendum on secession from Spain. I have no idea who is right or wrong here. I can see both sides sympathetically. The right of self-determination opposed to the right of Spain to rule its territory. I don’t know, and frankly, it is none of my business. But it is all our business when the state opens fire on its citizens. And here, other than the fact of the referendum itself, the people seem far more peaceful than the state. In fact, it rather reminds me of Chicago in 1968, albeit with less cause, when the police staged a riot and invited the protestors to attend.

In any case, here’s some about it from the BBC.

The Spanish government has given the regional government in Catalonia 48 hours to abandon “illegal” referendum plans or lose budgetary powers.

Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro said a mechanism had been approved for the state to take control of the autonomous region’s finances.

Madrid is seeking to stop the Catalan government spending public money on its planned independence referendum.

The Catalans are defying a court order to suspend the 1 October vote.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont launched his campaign for a “Yes” vote on Thursday night in the town of Tarragona, telling a rally at a former bullring: “Vote, and in so doing bring light to darkness that has lasted for too many years.”

The crowd shouted back, “Independence”, “We will vote” and “We’re not afraid”, AFP news agency reports.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was taking the unionist cause directly to Barcelona on Friday, addressing a meeting of his Popular Party in the Catalan capital.

‘Unprecedented repression’

If the deadline is not met, the central government will take over the funding of most essential public services in the region, Mr Montoro said.

“These measures are to guarantee that not one euro will go toward financing illegal acts,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency after a cabinet meeting in Madrid.

The takeover would last as long as the “situation”, he explained.

Public finances are a particularly sore point for Catalans who for years have contributed more to the state budget than they get back in spending on public services.

Secessionists in the wealthy region in north-eastern Spain pushed ahead with their referendum project after winning control of the region’s parliament in 2015, buoyed by a wave of discontent with rule from Madrid.

The Spanish government refuses to countenance a referendum on self-determination for the region of 7.5 million people, insisting the country is indivisible.

More than 700 Catalan mayors who have agreed to help stage the referendum now face criminal investigation and police have been ordered by Spanish prosecutors to seize ballot boxes, election flyers and any other item that could be used in the referendum.

Like I said, I have no idea who (if anyone) is right or wrong here. I do however think that the Spanish authorities are overreacting and that far more Catalonians will be in favor of secession at the end of today than were this morning. Attacking the people in the streets often has that effect.

I suspect they are better off in Spain and the EU, materially at least, but material goods are not the only, nor even the most important thing in life. Nobody for us to take sides with, just to watch with compassion and sympathy as they work it out.

In other news, from Second City Cop.

 

 

The Unobama

In writing about the speech at the UN that is what Scott Johnson at PowerLine calls President Trump. I think he’s correct. There is as we all said, much to like in the speech, but other than ‘Rocketman’, there is little new. Most of the themes are classic American policy, and therefore not what Obama was selling. Obama was an aberration, a creation, mostly, I think, of our troubled race history, or rather how our race history is perceived by many, mostly to their benefit.

There is nothing revolutionary, or even unusual about this, for example:

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

That’s simple ground truth, although a lot of politicians likely would wish it otherwise. But its not, it’s who we are and who we have always been. So is this:

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

Or this

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

Or especially this

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

There’s not much in any of that to gladden a Neo-con’s heart. I don’t see him going out into the world looking for a fight. But neither is he going to hide in the basement and wait for the UN. The image we all use so often is correct, “There is a new sheriff in town”. And his job is the restoration of the rule of law, and that is what he was elected to do. America is lucky (although we made that luck, with hard work), we don’t really need the world, we could get on pretty good all by ourselves. That’s not true for almost anybody else in the world, and that too is why America leads.

But in the final analysis (for now), John Wayne, as J.B. Books in The Shootist outlined proper American foreign policy as well as anyone.

I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them

I think President Trump understands that quite well.

Growing out of Suicide

Melanie Phillips had an excellent post yesterday, dealing with the apparent suicide of the west. Most of it is an excerpt of her book, The World Turned Upside Down: the Global Battle over God, Truth and Power. She says, and I agree that it is even more pertinent now. Here are a few excerpts…

Historical statues are being toppled in America; snarling, violent anti-fascists mirror the behaviour they are supposedly against; Britain’s Conservative Government is to enforce hate-speech guidelines which are as contestable as they are subjective. As we watch western societies buckling under the bizarre combination of an apparently extreme concern to protect other people’s feelings with an extreme attempt to suppress other people’s opinions, many of us feel utter bewilderment. How can so many people who are ostensibly devoted to reason and freedom be behaving so irrationally and oppressively? […]

THE DISENCHANTMENT OF REASON

The Enlightenment is consuming its own progeny. In the west, the culture of reason is dying, brought down by a loss of faith in progress and in the rationality that underpinned it. The replacement of objective truth by subjective experience has caused science itself to turn into a branch of unreason, underpinning the loss of rational discourse as evidence is hijacked by ideology.

The age of reason was supposed to end all the ills in the world. Since these were held to derive from the suppression by religion of the defining characteristic of the human race, the intellect, it was assumed that once exposed to the full power of the mind these ills would fade away. But just like every other millenarian fantasy, thisbrave new world failed to materialise. War, bigotry and tyranny did not come to an end. Materialism and science were heavily implicated in the two greatest tyrannies of the 20th century. Modernity lost its shine. Technology created anomie. Progress was a threat to the planet. Mankind was viewed as a pollutant. The Enlightenment project was yet another utopia that had failed.

Yet at the same time, any perspective that was not scientific was regarded as illegitimate. Religion and reason were held to be intrinsically incompatible. But this was a fundamental and fatal error. It was religion which gave the world the concepts of progress and reason in the first place. When Nietzsche declared that God was dead, reason was killed off alongside him as Nietzsche knew only too well. Those who wanted science to destroy religion didn’t realise that destroying religion would in turn destroy science. Thus modernity is in danger of disappearing up its own fundament. […]

She and I acknowledge that Britain tends considerably more moderate than Europe, but

If the Jacobins’ Committee of Public Safety had been organised by Max Weber it would have looked just like the European Commission. The EU project claims higher legitimacy than individual member democracies because it embodies ‘universal’ values which cannot be gainsaid. Christian codes of moral order are illegitimate; the ‘universal’ and unchallengeable moral, social and ideological foundations of the EU include gay rights, feminism and multiculturalism. […]

Gottfried cites the Italian historian Augusto del Noce, who in 1977 detected totalitarianism in the ‘scientific’ management of society, the discrediting of traditional authority and the progress of a secular managerialism which attempted to re-code human nature itself. Behind this lay a ‘war against all forms of knowing that are not deemed as scientific’. That, however negated science and reason by turning them into the instruments of ideology. Science was thereby reduced to superstition or a ‘certification wrapped in a mystery’ and attached to a group of privileged power-bearers. The natural course in mass democracy, he wrote, was ‘a process that begins with the loss of the Greek discovery of morality and ends with the negation of philosophic reason and the persecution of dissidents’. […]

Not only is the west loosening its own grip on reason and modernity, but it is also failing to hold the line against those who are waging an explicit war against them from without. Instead of fighting off the encroachment of Islamic obscurantism — part of the Islamist onslaught aimed at conquering the free world for Islam — the west is embracing it as if it has a cultural death wish.

In part, this is the misguided realpolitik of appeasement; but more deeply, it is once again the complete loss of moral and cultural bearings through multiculturalism and ‘victim culture’, along with the acting out of collective western guilt as an act of expiation to bring about peace on earth – as a result of which truth and justice are turned on their heads.

I agree with all that, and yet a few weeks ago I wrote about that Londoner who charged barehanded at three knife wielding terrorists, shouting, “F*ck you, I’m Millwall“. None of that fits him. Nor does much of it fit me, or many others in our generation. My friend, Mister Mac, wrote about how he grew into it, and it flooded me with memories, not of the Navy, but of a boy trying to do a man’s job. A bit:

When you are seventeen and the whole world is just outside of you front door, you can be a little anxious to get started. Some kids will go off to college, some will go to work in a factory or mill, and some kids find themselves drawn to something more adventurous. In my case, that was the military and more specifically, the Navy.

I convinced my parents to sign the permission slip and without much real thought on my part (other than the foreign ports I would hopefully see) I raised my right hand and said a bunch of words. At seventeen, I honestly had very little idea what the words meant or what I was obligating myself for. As we were lining up to say them at the Navy office, I seem to remember a serious feeling coming over the whole proceeding. Up until that moment, the kids that were in the room with me had been typical kids just kind of joking and being “brave”. Then we all said the words together…

“I… (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the Officers appointed over me according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Yep. Seventeen years old and I just took an oath to support and defend a document I had barely read in school and understood even less. I was supposed to defend it against all enemies both foreign and domestic (whatever that meant) and I was going to obey the orders of a guy I have never met in person and a bunch of men and women who I had not yet met.

What was I thinking? I was only seventeen. I had only shot a gun a few times before and certainly had never shot at another human being. And orders? Holy cow, my Dad and I used to fight like two prize fighters over the stupidest stuff. Now I had to willingly follow the orders of some guy I hardly knew?

But I grew into it. […]

I just pray as I look around the country now that enough young people will still be willing to raise their right hands and give themselves and the country a chance to grow into an even better place than when my generation were in charge. This modern Antifa movement is kind of frightening to me. Many of these kids are seventeen too and maybe aren’t sure what it means to attack your own country. There is a word for that: Treason

I do the same, and as I look around from Mt Greybeard, I wonder if Mac isn’t on to something. He, and I, and most of those of our generation got our butts shoved out (actually, we couldn’t wait) to succeed or fail (often) on our own. We were raised to take responsibility, and many of our teachers had taken responsibility for putting Hitler and Tojo in the ground. Hard to have more responsibility than that when you’re 20 odd years old. But I wonder if because we wanted our kids to have it easier than we did, we didn’t shirk that duty, and let them continue on as spoiled fourth graders, instead of forcing them to grow, and take responsibility for themselves. I wonder how the world would be different if the parents of those (probably somewhat apocryphal) 30-year-old kids, living in their mother’s basement got tossed out to sink or swim.

I don’t know, maybe it’s too late, but I bet it would make quite a difference. Maybe there is still time for them to “Grow into it”.

 

Not “Would You Die for That?” but “Would You Live for It?”

Much has been written this week about the Miracle at Dunkirk, where the fate of the British Expeditionary Force was placed in the hands of the civilian boatmen of mostly southeastern England, back in 1940 after the debacle of the Battle of France. In not much of a spoiler, with heroic support from Royal Navy light forces, and the Royal Air Force, they saved 300,000 + men to fight another day. As most will know, many of the soldiers and many of the rescuers died, heroically, their face to the enemy. They stood for something, in the face of death, and that is why we celebrate them. My Scandinavian forebearers, who knew a bit about small boats in the open ocean would have called them Sagamen, men who were worth immortalizing, as an example of what we want to be. And so they were.

But for so many of us, this movie is so worth celebrating because it marks a return to what we grew up with, not completely, perhaps. [I haven’t seen it, just can’t convince myself to drive 300 miles one way to see a movie, but I will see it.] But it is again about those men, and in this case, they were men, and white British men at that, dying heroically for something beyond themselves. We don’t celebrate that enough anymore. After millennia as the foundation of our civilization, living for something, let alone dying for it, beyond our individual wants has become passé, or so our elites say.

As he often does, our own Fr Robert, in comments on the other day’s article about Sweden, asked this.

Just more material about the whole moral and spiritual loss in Europe, and now in unlikely places! Sad, very sad! Once again the word Apostasy comes to mind! Just where is the moral and spiritual force of European and historical, biblical Christianity?

I didn’t then, and don’t now, have the answer for him. But I wish I did. Anna Mussmann writing in The Federalist begins to define the problem.

Dutch politicians are considering changing euthanasia laws so that healthy people can die whenever they want. In an interview, the leader of the political party that introduced the bill said, “You didn’t ask to be brought into the world,” and explained that his party’s goal is to make euthanasia freely available to all.

The idea that death is a human right is gaining traction in the U.S., too. In fact, arguments that we should kill terminally ill infants are respectable enough for the New York Times. […]

Sadly enough, it is true. That leaves me with the question, “If you die for little or no reason, does that mean your life as well was of little import?” I fear the answer for many is, “Yes.”

After speaking of Scott and Amundsen’s race for the pole in 1911, she asks why we lionized Scott, who failed, and died, even beyond Amundsen, who succeeded.

After all, generations of British and American schoolchildren were reared on stories of the Spartans at Thermopylae, Joan of Arc, Nathaniel Hale, and, later, Martin Luther King Jr. Children were expected to learn virtue by seeing that courage transcends death, and that material prosperity is a poor fig in comparison to patriotism, faith, and self-sacrifice.

Yes, those educators of the nineteenth and early twentiety centuries sometimes demonstrated a weakness for sappy moralism. [And often rather purple prose!] At the same time, however, they understood that the way we view death shapes the way we view life. […]

The moral imperative to guide our own fate means that, most of all, we must never continue to experience suffering we cannot control. Ultimately, life is worthwhile only within the narrow parameters of our own happiness and success. This sad way to look at the world is also an opportunity.

We can talk to our neighbors about the differences between taking life and giving it up. Admiration of suicide and murder is unnatural. It isn’t entirely new—plenty of decadent cultures in the past also developed cultures of death—but it is still an aberration against natural law. In contrast, the sacrifice of martyrdom is something that tends to speak to even the most hardened soul. Even the bloodthirsty mobs of ancient Rome found their views of Christianity influenced by the sight of Christian martyrs in the arena.

The thing is, a willingness to give up life in all its sweetness is about far more than death. It is a witness that life is defined by something much bigger than ourselves or our circumstances. It is a witness to hope in eternal life. It is something our neighbors need to hear about.

Here’s a truth for you.

Some things are assuredly worth dying for: Faith, some of our countries, our families, there are some that you may believe that are different than those I do. They are also worth living for, even if your life is not optimal. But no rational creature, ever, anywhere, thought that because he thought somewhat differently about sex than his neighbors, he should kill himself. If anything that is a natural working out of Darwin’s Law, and the culling of the weak. Not that it isn’t real as Hell, itself. Back in the day, I had a few rounds of depression, and if I hadn’t had some really good friends…well, only God knows. But I didn’t really care, either way.

Strikes me that we’ve hit right into the midst of what used to be clichés, and for a reason. Starting with, If you are willing to die for something, are you also willing to live for it? And continuing on through to the one that I repeat so often –

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

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