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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Conservative Standpoint Part 6: Society, Religion, Conservatism.

This is Part 6 of the Conservative Standpoint a serial post by Cole D. 

Conservatism has always had a tenuous bond with religion. Not because of religious ill's, but rather because of the associated fanaticism and dogmatism that may associate itself with religious fervor. Likewise, the conservatives often find themselves hindered by the anti-intellectualism that is so often the antecedent of religious belief. That is not a declaration of religious stupidity: instead, it is recognition that the individual of faith must go out of their way to ensure self-awareness and intellectual rigour. It is far too easy to lapse into religious platitudes during an argument and the appeal to scripture and holy letters always remains tempting to the religious, and this is part of the confusion that envelopes the conservative thinker.

First to establish clarity on the purposes and scope of this essay as well as the limitations of the author, who addressing a touchy subject must profess modesty, is to state that I first am an atheist—an atheist who—is certain belief has value. Corollary to my profession is that I will not address two contentious aspects of the current religious dialogue: Intelligent design theory, which in my mind has been comfortably, refuted by Darwinian science, which in and of itself does not seem to be the antithesis to theological belief that some make it out to be, and the multitude of faiths. For the purposes of this piece, I speak essentially of the Abrahamic religions in their entirety.

This leads us to the objective of this essay. Why does the conservative care about religion, and why should one care beyond the scope of individual belief? Why should the conservative have a vested interest in the faith of the nation? The assertion to be made is that the conservative perspective on faith is precisely the opposite of the liberal position: conservative society can exist without an explicit metaphysical foundation, but it is bolstered when there is one. Coupled to this is the assertion that to the conservative it matters not whether the individual believes, but rather the conservative is concerned with the spiritual well being of the society as a whole, conservatives must see themselves as the guardians of a faithful society and it is imperative to the conservative to concern themselves with societies religiosity. For the conservative religion is not a private affair, but a public one, a social concern, not a household triviality.

First we must make the assertion that religion is a natural occurrence in all societies and the belief in the supernatural is something innate, and positive because such induction leads naturally to the admission that religion serves as a social utility with reasons for its persistence. Larry Arnhart in his book Darwinian Conservatism asserts that there is no society in human history without some form of spiritual belief, and with such an observation, Arnhart determines that religion or religious understanding is one of his twenty natural desires. Desires that provided benefits to all human beings and furthered our species. Arnhart asserts that religious understanding may have provided benefits in times of hardship and scarcity when it was necessary to provide reasoning for the suffering of the human species.

We find evidence for this innate belief when we observe the declining religious observance in the United States. In the United States of America, Pew has done a number of polls on religious observance and affiliation in the United States. In these polls Pew found that despite the decline in church attendance the number of people who remain spiritual, but not religious is high; as is, the number of people who profess belief in a supernatural deity, or remain religious without observance. Numbers of spiritual, but not religious and those who are religious, despite non-observance is 55%. If we accept belief in the supernatural is consistent with the innate predispositions of humanity we are not surprised to learn that Pew found,” nine-in-ten of the spiritual but not religious say they believe in God (92%).” This finding seems to suggest that belief is both natural, and inevitable, and only a minority will find themselves completely alienated from a transcendent being and order.

Some suggest religion served as a means by which human communities could achieve harmony beyond their own territoriality. If a faith is shared between communities, such as medieval Christendom, or the Muslim Umma, we often see a reduction in the direct conflicts and a sense of continuity and unity among those of a united faith. Robert Buckman states in Can We Be Good Without God? “A few non-theist organizations do offer congregational activities that give a true sense of community, and it is extremely valuable however, most individual non-theists do not have that sense of belonging to a community. Many of them speak of a genuine sense of isolation.”  In this way, faith can be considered social glue that extends the reach or our mammalian social structure and facilitates harmonious relations.  This does not mean I fail to recognize catastrophes such as the Sunni, Shia split, or the Thirty Years War, never mind other miscellaneous heresies such as the Monophysites, it simply means that on a macro scale it can be argued that religion promotes solidity amongst in-groups.

Even famed atheist Richard Dawkins concedes that religion has to have had some evolutionary utility, or at least it is possibility of being helpful to the species. He writes in the God Delusion, community health would likely be enhanced by the emotional well being provided by religion and that it is not beyond the scope of possibility that religious belief may exercise some form of placebo effect on those who believe helping to rid the body of ailments. Still neither Dawkins nor others in his field are convinced that this theory on its own is responsible for the evolution and persistence of religious beliefs. For this ultimate theory or explanation, the best we have is Group Selection theory: a hypothesis stating that the group evolves as much as its singular organism and in-groups favour and foster positive traits to perpetuate the group despite, the concession that some of these very traits may reduce the gene pool or cause harm to individual organisms. Dawkins goes further in suggesting it is not Group Selection that drives religion, but rather the misapplication of evolved impulses. Whatever the case, the answer is illusive, I believe it originates in Group Selection, but that is work for biologists, it can rightly be assumed that the propensity toward religion is both natural and persistent, and will not go anywhere soon.

From the Darwinian position on faith we can deduce that there is strength in the social theory of religion. Edmund Burke recognized this utility, as did Russell Kirk: Kirk stating in his Ten Conservative Principles, That the conservative believes their is permanent and an enduring moral order; Burke recognized that the religious void had to be filled and atheist solutions would not work:

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us, and amongst many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.

Further, in Reflections Burke gives reference to both Cicero and Plato. His endorsement of the polytheism of Greek and Roman philosophers lends credence to the view that religion served as social utility to Burke and though his own perspective was unorthodox, Burke certainly saw the necessity of faith to civil society. But what is this social benefit implicit in religion that both Kirk and Burke referenced? There are a number of propositions that assert the benefits of religion to civil society; first among these moral reinforcement and the prevention of moral relativism; second the facilitation of altruism; third, and finally the reinforcement of non-contractual social bonds and inter-generational bonds.

Peter Hitchens, in his book The Rage Against God acutely recognized the human tendency toward rationalization: he saw it first hand in the crimes of the Soviet Union as a correspondent in Moscow, and he likewise experienced it in his own unruly undergraduate years, where he embraced atheism with great enthusiasm. Hitchens realized that without a permanent moral order, every part of our ethical and moral foundations could be eroded through the human capability to rationalize.” Left to themselves, human beings can in the matter of minutes justify the incineration of populated cities, the mass deportation— accompanied by slaughter, disease, and starvation— of inconvenient people, and the mass murder of the unborn.”  Certainly, there were many individuals who could temper themselves against the temptations of faithlessness, but the majority were fallible and like all humans subject to moral failure despite their own wishes to do better. God, Hitchens recognized, served as a form of invisible guardian and positive reinforcement when no other support was available. Hitchens believed that without strict sanction from a deity the only thing left for man to defer to is his own reason, which will lead him inevitably to the easy path. Finally he recognized that in the absence of a divine moral order the good man is free, but in the absence of a divine moral order the evil man is also free, and able, to justify any cause he deems fit.

Buttressing this thesis is the idea that even Charles Darwin believed religion reinforced positive morals, and Friedrich Hayek in his final book, The Fatal Conceit wrote that religion facilitated the social evolution of positive morals, with those that proved harmful to the society dying off, and those that were beneficial maintaining a reserve and sanctuary within religious institutions. Therefore, the conservative, believes that deferring to the metaphysical origin of morals proves the best course to maintain both social stability and principled and just behavior, but this is meaningless if morals are relative, and ultimately in the deterrence of moral relativism religion shows its worth.  

Extending from the conclusion that religion enforces positive morals and limits relativism, is the premise that a religious nature serves as a catalyst for altruism, where it would otherwise be minimal. Arnhart recognized that religious belief might be especially useful in solving prisoner's dilemma situations where selfishness seems to be the only recourse, however with altruism inculcated in the religious and faith in fellow man, the believers may actually be able to resolve such conflicts for the mutual benefit. Hitchens suggests that religious nature, as much as love, can reinforce relationships between spouses after the romantic nature of the relationship is dead, or after one spouse has suffered injury or a severe handicap. It is the temperance against our impulsive nature and the buttressing of both forgiveness and charity that maintain these relationships, when, it would make no evolutionary or logical sense to maintain them.

Much is made of the religious superstructure that acts as the foundation for much of the world's charity. Both charity organizations and individual largesse are stronger amongst the religiously affiliated. Findings suggest that the religious give at up to 20% higher rates than the non-religious do. If we take charity a step further, and extend its benefits to the rest of the individual's life, it is highly likely that these individuals display significantly higher levels of generosity in total. Some like David E. Campbell author of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, disputes whether belief in a deity actually drives the religious to be charitable. Campbell found religious individuals show similar rates of giving across faiths, and across denominations, however the positive effects remain; why should one be concerned about whether or not community drives altruism or belief in the supernatural, both provided identical benefits.

However, there is a singular benefit that religious giving provides, and it is couched in the greater social well being. Religious charities and philanthropic organizations are more likely to facilitate the inculcation of virtue in a derelict population; they are more likely to inoculate those who are worst off against vice. Religious organizations may do this by being independent of state actors and able to establish their own criteria for largesse. Religious philanthropy is especially active in fighting the root causes of both poverty and suffering by facilitating the correction of individual behavior.

With the recognition that religion positively affects altruism, we now turn to the most critical of the religious functions: the fact that religious belief facilitates the non-contractual, transcendent, and inter-generational bonds of a society. Again, Burke recognized that religious institutions in their persistence gave spirit to a community, and likewise, as mentioned by Roger Scruton in The Meaning of Conservatism, aids in fostering continuity in the Burkean social contract. This is because the Burkean believes that life is a compact between, “the living, the dead, and the unborn,” and religion with its belief in reunification in the afterlife is well positioned to magnify this statement. If there is an afterlife, it must be stated that we are beholden to the strictures and the pre-existing structure of our ancestors, and likewise our children shall be beholden to us, after they enter paradise.

Nevertheless, it is not just the past in which those alive today are made aware through religious observance; religion also serves as means to reinforce humanity's acceptance of the state. In our increasingly atheistic world, is it any surprise that the freeman on the land movement has gained some traction in the underbody of the world? If we believe that we are beholden to powers that will never be directly reciprocal, or we believe we are accountable to a bond, in which we may barely articulate, and never choose, well is this not analogous to our initial relationship to the state?  Before anyone can benefit from the state, people are first subject to duties, and are encompassed by state structure immediately after leaving the womb. Only upon the trust of the benefits provided, although these may be quantified, do we accept the state's authority over us. This is what Roger Scruton recognized as the single core benefit if religion to the conservative. . . .

This leads us back to the initial premises of the argument: religion is of social concern to the conservative. It is imperative as a conservative that we believe that a religious society is both moral, and good, because the religious society enforces a moral order. A moral order, which is consistent and builds social utility over time; we accept that religion enhances altruism in man, by either establishing communal sentiment or by encouraging largesse through supernatural sanction; finally, we see that religion benefits us socially because it reinforces the loose bonds between people and communities, both past and present, by enforcing continuity in its structures. Religion with its eternal nature enforces strict respect for the established order, something, which is of immediate concern to the conservative, who by nature seeks to conserve. Although a conservative may recognize that religion is unsuitable, and uncomfortable to the individual. We each as individuals acknowledge it is impossible to live up to the prophetic legacy because of this recognition conservatives still recognize that there is benefit in trying; we are destined to fail at our religious observances, but this is why god forgives: because we are better for trying to live up to the legacy of our scriptural forbearers. The people who truly find observance too frustrating, too difficult, too immoral, let them languish, or bring them into the fold when they are so willing, but to the conservative it matters not, as long as the universal picture remains complete.

The conservative then must facilitate the establishment of both religious institutions and religious people within the society, the question becomes, how do we do this? For an answer to this question I turn to William F Buckley Jr’s 1951 opus God and Man at Yale  for the central thesis and this is essentially that our Alma Mater: the public school systems in general,  has failed in its mission to embed religion in our society. We have one means of mass assimilation in our society and that is the public school system. The ideal tool, that is not to dismiss scientific teachings, or to fail in presenting a well-rounded education. It is simply an admission that we must bring religion back into our education across the western world, a theological understanding as well as ritual and prayer, which serve as an affirmation of the religious beliefs of a society. Additional to this, the conservative should wish to affirm the religious beliefs native to their culture and history, in Canada this would lead to the government providing funding and support, as well as curricular devotion to both the Anglican and Catholic Churches which made up such deep part of both or English and French National Characters. The conservative understands faith is important to society and education as a whole serves as both the most efficient and natural means by, which to improve religious understanding and instill and institutionalize religious order. We have seen that the majority in most societies remain religious even if outside the orthodoxy of established institutions. It is contingent on the state to re-establish the sanctity, authority, and popularity of such institutions by the most efficient means, before nihilism becomes endemic.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Conservative Standpoint Part 5: The Conservative on Military Affairs

This is Part 5 of the Conservative Standpoint a serial post by Cole D. 

This essay is going to cover the topics of the nature of the armed forces, Canadian military readiness and our prime minister, as well as foreign policy under the paradigm of both traditional conservatism and neoconservatism, and try to expunge the wrongs of the neoconservative foreign policy from the minds of otherwise reasonable conservatives.

The reason these topics will be covered in such broad strokes is to indict the neoconservative proliferation among the Canadian conservatives of the Conservative Party of Canada/Reform/Alliance Party (which subsumed its adversary the Progressive Conservative Party). In addition, I will make an effort to provide a conservative doctrine of foreign policy, which is both realistic, practical, and efficacious; this policy should from a theoretical standpoint sublimate all the major conservative principles and apply their epistemological foundations to the nations beyond the subject nation state. To do so we will turn the axioms of conservative thought and use their application—in sweeping analysis— to criticize the proselytization of the American order by the neoconservative heterodoxy. My goal is not to slander neoconservatives; in fact, I take great joy in the reading the followers of both Leo Strauss and Irving Kristol, however their principle of American exceptionalism is far from pragmatic, and far from conservative, and it is my goal to explain why. Therefore, this analysis will be limited to the Neoconservative and Traditionalist positions, and the goal of showing the Neoconservative positions as both antiquated and specific to the tribulations of the Cold War; we will not extend our scope much beyond for the term of this positional essay.

I will also diverge in order to convey the fatuous positions of those who would advocate the pacifist’s position. What I mean specifically is that a conservative who is principled will not accept a universal pacifism and a limitation of military action to the frontier of the national interest. The true conservative will be emboldened by his compassion toward mankind and his ability to see threats to his civilizational frontier and react to such threats as they become existential. This is not to say that a haphazard application of force becomes the norm, but rather that judicious multilateral exercises of force may be of necessity if the global order and well being may be preserved and a conservative should not shy away from such obligations.

Edmund Burke was first among analysts to posit that obligations are what define liberty and that our emancipation is contingent upon a network of mutual duties, both to family, society, church, nation, and man in general. He was able to posit this because he saw man as inherently unique, crafted both in god's image and with a unique capacity to reason: therefore, the Burkean understands that a call to arms may be necessary to ensure the protection of a man's many fellows. This statement is of great difficulty to the pacifists who are really cowards who shirk their obligations when challenges arise, and see only the sustenance of liberty as inherent and unquestionable arising from the natural world and not from the fixtures of mankind. This as we will see is specious, but for now, we continue onward.    

Neoconservatism has infested Canadian politics under the Harper regime. The leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, newly formed in 2003, was contingent upon the expansion of the Canadian armed forces and the modernization of our military equipment. The party, when in opposition, was boisterous in its rhetoric about engagement in the Iraq War and remains so as it proposes extensive interventions. The CPC is notorious for its bellicose posturing and yet, despite promises to the contrary Canadian military capabilities remain impotent.

Canada has a total population of approximately 35 million. How do Canadian capabilities compare to a nation of similar population and (economic) development? For this comparison I will turn to Poland, first to display the disparity and secondly to indicate why this is so. Despite the rhetorical flourish of Canada's war party we remain, a feeble and bootless power among many second rate nations of the world: such a status is dangerous.
Poland has a population very close to that of Canada’s: 38 million. Theoretically, Canada should have a force reasonably close to parity with this other NATO power assuming both nations would intend to spend at least 1% of GDP, the NATO minimum, on their respective militaries. However, we know this to be inaccurate. Canada at present spends approximately 1% of GDP according to the World Bank and Poland approximately 1.8% however a comparison between the Polish and Canadian armed forces unveils a startling deficit. Canadian active military personnel measure about 92,000, Polish 150,000, a ratio of 391:1 for Canada and 253:1 for Poland an almost 50% difference on a man to man basis. Meanwhile total numbers of aircraft are similar according to Global Firepower; however, Canada has no attack helicopters and Poland fields 29. Canada fields only 64 fighter aircraft to Poland's 99. Poland also fields ten times more tanks that Canada. This may to some seem like an unfair comparison after all Poland is on the frontier of Europe and much of the Polish hardware is likely as dated as Canadian equipment, but even this nearly landlocked country fields a much larger Fleet than Canada. A nation, which has the largest coastline in the world, and at the closing of the second world war ranked in the top five navies of the world with over 400 commissioned vessels . If we were to compare Canada to nations with similar oceanic boundaries, again we see deficiencies:  Denmark, Russia, and Indonesia. All heavily outweigh Canada in naval terms on the Global Firepower Index. This should not be surprising as Canada currently operates a single Iroquois class destroyer and twelve Halifax frigates as a two ocean, blue water navy, although we know it is far from the truth.

The question then is not why Canada is so deficient in its military capacity and readiness, but why as a NATO member and a warden of a massive coastline is it capable of being so? Why is it that the most interventionist Prime Minister in living memory, who promised to open deepwater ports and revitalize the nation's military has failed to do so?  My assertion is that we can attribute the ineptitude of the Canadian government in military matters to the explosion of Neoconservative rhetoric and leadership in the United States. The United States has seen an unbroken lineage of activist conservative leadership since the Reagan ascendancy, and even when the democrats held the executive, pressures from Republican congressmen newly revitalized by an ethos of American moralizing and custodianship successfully pressured the presidency into unilateral action.  Instead of asserting real pressure on the NATO countries to build local defenses and adopt ownership of the European frontier America has carried the burden. This stance had been guaranteed up until recently, and the close alliance between Prime Minister Harper and George W. Bush is evidence. It is only with the Obama administration that we begin to see a concern for the foreign policy in Canada. The Neoconservative ethos lives on in Canada however, waiting for the likely return of a Republican administration to authenticate our Prime Minister's paper tiger: only with an assertive America does Canada have teeth.  

This reality seems to signify that the western nations of the world are becoming not only weak in autonomy but malleable toward war aims beyond their own interest. This is because not only is there defence contingent upon American activism, but also subject to American needs and given the vacillation of American administration it is difficult to establish a long term national security plan for any individual nation. Without a dependable American hegemony, we put ourselves at risk, but the Neoconservatives were responsible for propagating this ethos and therefore are culpable for the risks of the world. Furthermore, the Neoconservative doctrine of Wilsonian intervention, and the belief that most people are crying out for American democracy and liberalization is specious at best and subjects the conservative to numerous entanglements that are otherwise avoidable.
What our modern day Neoconservatives’ fail to realize is that the ethic that drives them was founded in a specific time and place, something the traditionalist recognizes. 

Neoconservativism was born out of the existential struggle between the communist nations of the world and their associated revolutionary doctrine, and the liberal, Judaeo-Christian, democratic civilization, that had finally vanquished the totalitarian regimes of Europe and Asia only to find an even greater threat emboldened by its own wartime success. The Trotskyites who found themselves ‘mugged by reality,’ as Irving Kristol phrased it found themselves on the frontline of the battle against communism. The Neoconservatives knew that the evils of communism could not be understated, because they themselves had been immersed in its thought, and this drove the competitive and dogmatic ethos of opposition to undemocratic regimes; these Neoconservative fathers though, could not anticipate the same application of reasoning to the Islamic world, or the Russian Federation among many current examples. The mutagenic nature of the Neoconservative ideology in modern foreign policy is evident in the missions to bring democracy, the supposed panacea of Neoconservatism, yet democracy is only capable of mollifying the interventionist impulse of these politicians if the democratic outcome is one desirable to the west: Chavez, Putin, and Hamas, though all vile. Are examples of when democracy favours outcomes that befuddle and startle the hawks of the American right. These examples make up the fundamental framework  by which we as conservatives can ascertain that this interventionism is far from conservative. The conservative recognizes that electoral outcomes, governance, culture, democracy, civilization in all of its nuances, are unique to time place and people, and though we may disparage the actions of specific regimes we recognize our limited capacity to dictate the nature of a society and tradition in which we have not been a part.

 Conservatives realize we are subject to an alien view, therefore we must be critical of our own assessments, and from our distant vantage cannot determine what best constitutes civil society for those people who have their own histories and institutions.

The conservative knows change originates in an organic need from within a society; the Neoconservative in the foreign policy realm does not. He makes the fundamental error of utopian thinking. He sees democracy as the good regardless of the conditions, which brought its genesis; in fact the Neoconservative would rather manufacturer the genesis and import its institutions whole cloth in order to expedite the process.

The respect for the individual nation however, brings the conservative closer to a secondary danger nearly as reckless as the Neoconservative position: to a conservative who respects civilizational differences it is simple to lapse into isolationism and pacifistic thinking. Patrick Buchanan serves as a key example of this superficial rationale. By engaging in pacifist thinking, we are bypassing our obligations to the human brotherhood. Immense ignorance is implied in the abandonment of military action because again it lapses into the utopianism that is always of great danger. First, it ignores reciprocity. Second, it takes a view that human nature is good; in fact, it is so good, to the pacifist, that atrocity cannot or need not happen unless driven by circumstance and that it must necessarily resolve itself. T.E Hulme recognized such dangers in his Essays on War where he spoke of the danger posed by the pacifists during the Great War. He recognized the specious belief that liberty could not be endangered through military means because democracy and liberty are part of a linear civilizational path and not something precious within its historical context. Hulme recognized that liberty required stability and unique conditions to flourish and that occupation and strife would put liberty at risk. Again, the conservative disposition must stand as the enemy of optimism, utopianism, and idealism, and check the premises underlying the assumptions for faulty reasoning. Moreover, how can a popular democratic order not be precious when it disappeared from classical Athens only to resurface and stabilize in the 17th century? 

This is the nature of the conservative disposition on military affairs, we must both be a steward of our democratic heritage and simultaneously aware of the error of carrying such a heritage beyond our borders by force.

Finally, I propose three principles, which shall govern the conservative in future interventions overseas.

First among the three is self-defense. However, this implies a realistic definition, should a nation canvas the world with military alliances of mutual protection then it is putting itself at risk from the outset. A nation however strong can only act in self-defense when a reasonable case may be made for the endangerment of the state itself not solely its allies, but critical interests: the interests that sustain its peoples. If a nation in our ever globalized world cannot satisfy the life needs of its population without access to certain markets, then intervention may be a proposition worth consideration, however not before due diligence is applied in ascertaining future partners to alleviate any material deficit. In our modern age, most nations should be amenable to trade and able to facilitate the procurement of foodstuffs and essentials to life and therefore under this criteria intervention in foreign conflicts should be highly infrequent.

Second among the principles is the humanitarian obligation. In peacetime, the majority of military activity serves to ensure peace and provide disaster relief. Such a function should be extended beyond our borders to encompass humanitarian relief, which may only be provided by soldiery. I implore the leaders of the civilized world not to neglect the suffering of those who lie beyond our borders, but rather to provide the intervention necessary to guarantee stability.

For example, I would advocate foreign intervention in Darfur, Somalia, Iraq, and The Gaza strip. However unpalatable the idea of putting soldiers on the ground overseas this reluctance must be tempered by the capacity to do good. If we are acting in prevention of genocidal circumstances, the purposes can only be just. Nevertheless, to ensure legitimacy a network of multilateral action is a requirement for such action, specifically a large body of local, regional, and indigenous forces, which would prove critical to liaison with the peoples in question. The African Union and NATO have begun to fill these roles, but remain, in many cases, content to let suffering abide.

In essence, the U.N has removed the burden of humanitarian conduct with its peacekeeping forces and a deep bureaucracy and the Security Council have handicapped this force despite its merits: Rwanda, and Bosnia both attest to this. There must be an effort to establish an alternative autonomous body accountable to a collection of nations but no to the U.N establishment, one that is activist and not solely a defense force unwilling to engage. If not then a heavily restructured United Nations Peacekeeping force is necessary. Nevertheless, in recognizing and treasuring, the peoples of the world the conservative cannot reasonable justify an isolationist stance that neglects the stability overseas, because not only is such instability contagious, but it is also a vice to let it go unchallenged. However, with this affirmation of the need for humanitarian intervention, we must be cautious for this definition may easily be extended to circumstances where intervention is not merited. We must insure that human catastrophe and or genocide is the only means by which intervention becomes mandated lest we rupture the stability of foreign nations or spur tumorous growths of violent insurrections in an already suffering land.  Likewise, to ameliorate the ailments of foreign peoples we must cultivate a willingness to stay and to stay a long time. If forces abandon such places before their native institutions can be reconstituted and the people have received sufficient succor, we only facilitate future crisis.

The final principle, and the most difficult to endorse is a conservative obligation under select circumstances to do its best to repel an aggressor and restore the status quo ante. This is elusive, because it is in our nature to seek revenge, every major war, even when the defensive power is the victor, leaves the borders changed. The conservative should take an interest in preventing the revanchism that comes with such remapping by ensuring that both in negotiations and in military engagement we are careful not to enforce unjust terms on the capitulant. Only in the direst circumstances must we engage to enforce the status quo, but in doing so we must allot evidence that gives credence to the certainty that by ensuring a resolution amenable to combatants we ensure the reduction of future bloodshed.

In conclusion, of these statements I wish to point out that the fundamentals of conservative thinking in foreign policy should be governed by a moral instinct toward our fellow man, and a natural criticism of any Universalist, optimistic, utopian, or idealist creeds. We have seen how the American ascendancy and Neoconservative order has jeopardized world security by facilitating the abandonment of local solutions to sovereign defence, and we outlined the principles, which govern a conservative military policy. These terms are mutable and always will be, military, foreign policy is an area where oracles fail, and complexity reigns. And in this sphere the best the conservative can hope for is a convention of what I call Moral Realism. Moral Realism recognizes the realist stance of foreign policy, while simultaneously providing for a virtuous exercise of power for the defense of mankind. This I believe is the lens that should govern the conservative perspective on war making.  

Friday, 12 June 2015

A Brief Goodbye to Sir Christopher Lee

Author Matt N. 

I’d like to take a moment to give my respects to Sir Christopher Lee who recently passed away at the age of 93. Born May 27, 1922, Lee had lived an incredible life, with quite a military record followed by a 70 year acting career.  His military service began when he volunteered in 1939 during the Winter War, and he eventually worked his way up to officer in the Royal Air Force. His station was primarily within the African Campaign and joined the RAF Intelligence while he visited the Mazowe Dam. As the war ended, Lee was tasked with tracking down Nazi war criminals. During this mission, Lee saw first hand the concentration camps, some of which had not been completely abandoned yet.

His acting career started after his cousin Nicolo Carandini suggested that he become an actor while having lunch.  His film debut was in 1947 as an extra in Terence Young’s Corridor of Mirrors. He took part in over 200 movies; countless TV shows and recorded 4 heavy metal albums. That was not a typo, seriously look them up. They are epic (Charlemagne: By the sword and the Cross). Personal highlights of his career are his role in The Man with the Golden Gun as Francisco Scaramanga, Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode III and of course Saruman in The Lord of The Rings Trilogy.

 Lee was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to drama and was also knighted by Prince Charles in 2009 for his service to drama and charity.

 His impact on pop culture will withstand the tests of time, creating some of the greatest characters to ever grace the silver screen. As Dracula, he hissed his way into a generations nightmares. He was the man who held the only gun more iconic than James Bonds PPK. He assembled the confederation forces, maimed Anakin Skywalker and nearly overthrew the entire Republic.  He fought Gandalf, sent his armies to Helms Deep and brought down the mountains. So as the curtain falls for the final time in the long, incredible life and career of Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, let us all strive to follow his example and live a life that leaves no stone unturned.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

A Must Read

I would just like to post this article by Michel Lind. It is called "Why Intellectual Conservatism Died." I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to understand the nature of the pundit driven, tabloid based, lazy and thoughtless modern American right. It is a brief read, but says a great deal about precautions that are necessary to maintain academic rigour and integrity as a conservative.

The Conservative Standpoint Part 4: The Prostitution Poison

This is Part 4 of the Conservative Standpoint a serial post by Cole D. 

Our journey thus far brings us finally, to the topic of prostitution and the conservatives’ relationship to such an action and institution, primarily the question of whether or not legalization is an enlightened decision, as the left would have one believe, or a folly.  Conservatives, and I exclude libertarians from this definition, as I believe the libertarian impulse is simply the re-emergence of classical liberalism under a new guise after the term liberal was co-opted by leftists in the mid 20th century, have almost a universal disposition that guides them toward opposition to the sex trade. The question then becomes why is it that conservatives oppose the sex trade? which, will require a reasonable dissection of arguments against, and what reasonable critique can we offer to those who would advocate increasing liberalization of this most heinous of transactions.
The sex trade is of unique interest to the conservative not only because its permanence, but also because it has managed to construct an unlikely allegiance between the most vociferous of leftist agitators, the (modern) feminist lobby and the modern conservative movement. Though the feminists have little difficulty in advocating the prohibition of prostitution under the auspices of women’s victimization, the problem remains that the conservative disposition as always, is uniquely difficult to articulate as ideological arguments remain unsound one must transition to empirical observation where statistics and literature become drastically more opaque or hostile to the conservative viewpoint.
However, one advantage remains for those who oppose the sex trade, and that is that those who advocate for legalization so frequently couch their arguments in the anecdote, where one can easily remove obfuscation by bypassing such emotional appeals in favor of averages and a totality of circumstances.
Firstly, let us begin with a dialogue, which will if successful disprove or at least cast doubt upon the left and liberal advocacy that “sex work”, as it is so often referred is simply a trade like any other, and that with an absence of moral certainty there can be reason to oppose such durable institution.
The left hinges the totality of its argument on one single premise above all others. It is a premise it has adopted ingeniously and manipulated from its original connotations of virtue into something altogether malevolent: this is the concept of individual autonomy. The determination that the individual becomes the sum of all rational decision making and that, no one or social group, may dictate behavior to such individual for the individual right is the ultimate virtue. Indeed, the left has made itself strange bedfellows with Ayn Rand in this regard. Nevertheless, his premise is only viable with a secondary argument, and that is that there is no universal human nature, and no moral absolutes can be drawn from the human being and society, instead we must adopt the relativist’s position that society breeds social oppression and false norms, and that moral and universal truths are lacking in validity.  
What rebuttal can the conservative offer to the prior propositions? A rebuttal must be short and direct one, which can stand against the argument without lapsing into generality about the moral nature of human beings; therefore most direct moral response is that the commoditisation of sex is a wrong because in order to sell sex one must sell the human being. This proposition is couched in Kant’s famous categorical imperative, which he elucidates in the statement from the Philosophy of Law: “Sexual love makes of the loved person an Object of appetite: as soon as that appetite has been stilled, the person is cast aside as one casts aside a lemon which has been sucked dry.” The conservative recognizes Kant was correct in this observation because it is a specific example of the act of using a human being as a means to an end, regardless of the individual's consent they are still engaging in self-commoditisation and therefore a moral and heretical act. Why heretical? because it ignores the sacred nature of the human being, one created in the image of god, and designed to perpetuate itself through the act of marriage and procreation. Instead, such behavior reduces the human being to its base nature, where it ruts like the animal, and worse yet, ignores the co-relation between sex and procreation. In sanctioning such behavior, the society gives assent to a redefinition of the meaning of the sexual relationship and imposes a great danger on the people of a society, who will both lapse into indulgence and cast off the permanent bonds of both love and affection.
In furtherance of this argument, the left would counter that the very persistence of prostitution means that we should no longer fight such an institution but rather come to heel and admit our base natures have dominance over our impulse toward the civilization. They counter that conservative's support the first things.  The institutions, and ideas that remain timeless in a certain social sphere, but then conservatives, by opposing the sex trade, are advocating hypocrisy: this is because the liberals perceive that something being ancient must therefore, to the conservative, be good without recognizing that conservatives are by no means lacking nuance. The conservative will instead realize that such an institution rather than being laudable is in fact evidence of the fallen nature of man. I use the fallen nature, in the secular sense: that man is fallible, man has a nature and it is not always a good one. We are not subject only of external forces, but rather prostitution is evidence of the disruptive nature male sexuality since time immemorial.
Seemingly, the advocates of legalization take a simplistic view of the conservative as someone who views all things old as worthy of merit; however, we know this not to be the case. The leftist, who says that we cannot fight prostitution as we cannot fight drugs, ignores the many different vices, which were curtailed or expired under collective enforcement. Some such examples include, homicide, which despite outward appearances plunged dramatically as states expanded, and the slave trade, which though no less permanent that prostitution was severely restricted and removed from the official sanction by the actions of the Royal Navy during the 19th century.  Although liberals may be critical of such actions on account of enforcement expenses the conservative establishes himself as the proponent of the viewpoint that such actions provide a moral service to the collective psyche: by enforcing such prohibitions, the conservative states, we are taking active action to ameliorate the vices of society. Through enforcement, we establish a prohibitionary stance, which lends credence to individual virtue. The man who is tempted toward solicitation of a prostitute now finds society arrayed against it and finds support amongst his peers who view such behavior as criminal.
Now that the moral argument has been established, what are liberals advocating in order to determine that legalization is feasible? The left then states: that the only way to keep prostitutes from harm is to ensure that their trade is legal and recognized. Nonetheless, as one shall see this solution is fatuous and leaves much to be desired. The conservative can refute such assertions by looking at various examples, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands first among jurisdictions in which prostitution is legal. The conservative will be perceptive enough to provide observations that legalization does not provide safety, and if it does, it is marginal, but rather drives demand for a second parallel market for sexual services while at the same time providing a sanctuary for the organized criminal element. The nations of the Anglo-Sphere, New Zealand and Australia, provide the closest categorical comparison to the United States and Canada. The Australian Territory of New South Wales was the first in the nation liberalize its prostitution laws in 1979. After 1979, the response toward legalization has differed in Australia, but Queensland and Victoria both legalized in the decades afterward. Following the Australian example New Zealand passed its own prostitution reform acts in 2003, after a close vote in the legislature 60/59 in favour, but how have these experiments turned out? Are the results conclusive? The law as stated aims to “create a framework to safeguard the human rights of sex workers and protect them from exploitation; promote the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers; contribute to public health; and prohibit the use in prostitution of persons under 18 years of age.”  Has this new act managed to do any of the following?
Quantitative evidence on the New Zealand experience is limited, however a number of observations have been made. The Maxim Institute for example has observed that opportunities to leave the trade are limited and the law leaves little opportunity for enforcement and prevention of solicitation of minors. Or as the institute observes, because the acts take place behind closed doors, and with legal protections and minors carry no identification, the perpetrators of such acts must essentially, be “caught in the act,” in order to be arrested and charged with a sex crime.  This conclusion is supported by The National Council of Women of New Zealand, which originally supported the initiative only to recall support after seeing the outcomes of legalization.  Equality Now, in a report about the outcomes of legalized prostitution also noted that the risk of violence had not changed among prostitutes in New Zealand and that they felt that they still suffered coercion and had limited access to both police and health services.  New Zealand, as one can see has experienced a rather unanticipated outcome of due to liberalization. Though much of the evidence is anecdotal and drawn from interviews, other quantitative evidence generated in nations with legalization can provide context to New Zealand's experience.
Australia on the other hand provides a degree of evidence beyond that of New Zealand due to its more extensive history of legalization. First among observations is that the underground industry has not disappeared in Australia, rather, and predictably a parallel market has expanded to sponge demand from the legal sector: In Victoria it is estimated that illegal brothels outnumber legal establishments by a ratio of 4:1.  Bolstering this assertion is a report by the University of Queensland in 2009 that estimated that 90% of the sex trade in Australia occurred illegally. Meanwhile the Australian police have struggled to confront organized crime in a systematic manner since private establishments now provid a haven for criminals, which police forces now required warrants to investigate. Police in Australia have acknowledged that some establishments have not had a police visit in years: hardly a picture of effective regulation and enhanced safety.  
In continuance of this examination, we move across the globe and settle on Germany, where full legalization finally passed in the legislature in 2002. Again, we see the results of poor regulation and increased demand through reports with opaque or critical results. Germans hoped that demand for foreign prostitutes would decline and safety would increase if regulation remained minimal,however, it only served to drive human trafficking to Europe’s largest economy,which became a hub for sex tourism. The FIFA world cup in 2006 verified this claim when an estimated 40,000 individuals were trafficked into the country to serve illegally in brothels and on the street. A detour across the border reveals an identical problem in Denmark, where it is estimated that human trafficking has increased ten times since the legalization of prostitution.
A second problem has developed in Germany, where the legitimization of the sex trade was intended to lead to its destigmatization; this however is not the case. In Germany, the goal is the have prostitutes consent to regular STD checks as well as sign on to an employment contract. Prostitutes however, have shown little interest in such contracts because signing such an employment contract would lead to a loss of anonymity and the requirement that the prostitute pay taxes. Since the prostitutes did not sign on for formal employment, few receive any of the benefits of the bounteous German welfare state and instead remained— voluntarily— without legal protection.
The same issues extend to the panacea of liberalism: Holland, where contradictions abound. The Dutch are now doing their best to circumscribe the explosion of trafficking and organized crime that has descended upon the nation since complete liberalization in 2000. Now, much of the trafficking and crime materialized due to the European Union policy of free movement, which allowed non-Europeans and residents of the former Warsaw Pact nations to pass unchecked across porous borders. However, the flood of migrants would not have been compelled to settle in the Netherlands if the nation were free of sex tourism.
A number of observations surfaced from the Dutch experience. Among them that a government report in 2007 found that the mental well being of prostitutes was lower than before liberalization and that sedative use had increased. The Prince Arthur Herald in a polemical piece written about legalization of the sex trade found that police raided a third of the legal brothels in the Netherlands for organized crime and human trafficking offenses and that the nation is now moving toward reducing the size and scope of its sex industry. Even the much applauded Dutch prostitute registry, designed to track the business and protect brothel workers, only had an estimated 4% of the prostitutes in the Netherlands catalogued in the registry. Again, this is likely due to two factors, firstly that many of the workers are trafficked due to the relentless demand for sexual services, and secondly that those individuals who work legally do not wish to associate themselves with such a profession and would rather live a double life without potential for recognition.
Despite these observations, the left still assumes that if we stop enforcing the prostitution laws we will save money and provide a more humanitarian solution to our problems. However, they fail to recognize that the expected tax revenues do not appear when the work remains chronically illicit, instead it drives associated criminal activity like drug dealing and human trafficking.  Rather than suppress the industry that originated in the street the excess demand caused street based prostitution to proliferate at rates beyond what was possible prior to the establishment of the permissive society. In an effort to lend support to the ideology driven arguments in favour of sexual liberalization and licentious behavior the liberals ignore what really reduces costs associated with prostitution: avoidance of incarceration, which is the only sure means to reduce costs related to the criminal element. The conservative is wise to note that the more people we jail, the fewer contribute to the economy or have a chance at rehabilitation, which may prevent their exploitation of the state's resources. However, this mindset is changing thanks to the successes of the Scandinavian model, which recognizes the nature of prostitutes as victims and seeks to provide them with an effective means of escaping exploitation rather than continuing it under the auspices of harmless hedonism for those who feel entitled to sexual services.
The left remains odious when it engages in debates about prostitution; its contradictory nature shows most blatantly in the way in which it is quick to accept spurious comments on behalf of disgraceful apologists like Terri-Jean Bedford at face value. When it comes to the sex trade the left is quick to accept the remarks of sex trade advocates as affirmations of individual autonomy and empowerment denying any socially constructed outcome or predisposition. Despite its facetious and myopic view of the issues the left continues to insist that if we just lifted the stigmatic veil from the industry all would be well and safe. However, data from across the world smothers this notion. In Canada, it does not matter if the average age for recruitment into prostitution is 14 or that mortality rates are 40 times greater than the national average, nor that the majority of prostitutes are impoverished aboriginal women. It does not matter to liberals and leftists in Canada, that 87% of prostitutes in England, where prostitution operates in a legal grey zone, experienced violence in the last 12 months. These correlations to the willfully blind can never be part of the nature of the industry, but rather must simply originate in society's condemnation and criminalization of such actions.
The perennial mistake is made when the realities diverge from the leftist narrative and create a criminal element. When such an instance appears then the individual becomes a poor victim subject to a society that drives them toward a life of crime; dispossessed by social forces beyond their power the individual must succumb, but when the issue is one of liberalized and leftist orthodoxy, than individual autonomy and rational decision making are the order of the day. Instead of a sweeping canvas in, which they draw observations, the liberalizers pull anecdotes from the entitled and enriched exceptions and marginalize the most degraded in our society because it fits the narrative.
The demand for prostitution will never end, it is simple biology that men are predisposed toward sexual novelty and mate variety, when given the opportunity for unlimited sexual conquests, men despite better natures often indulge. Once a man has passed this emotional hurdle and lost his buyers virginity, well then there is little to stop him from the continuance of such behavior, especially if he has peer assent. This is best embodied in the Coolidge Effect where mammals will copulate with novel females until near death if given the opportunity. This is an example of hyper-inelastic demand and belongs in the same category as those who fuel demand for drugs. The apologists make the error of assuming that this evolutionary backwardness happens to be advantageous and requires indulgence. They insist that men must have such sexual hunger as to be meek and helpless needful of release lest they be handicapped by their sexual urges; this mindset is what has driven the specious conclusion that there is such a thing as entitlement to sex. Today one may witness England's town councils funding visits between the physically infirm and prostitutes. This is egregious for a multitude of reasons: the notion insists men are slaves to the sexual urge and that they cannot live free from a need for sex. Though, I am sure, many catholic bishops and nuns would attest to the contrary; it also drives the reasoning that an individual is entitled to sex, and that sex is a need equivalent to food or water, but this is dangerous. Food and water do not involve the manipulation of another human being purchasing sex does. Finally, it puts society on the hook for such expenditures despite their immoral nature and disjunction from the demeanor of the resident population.
To digress slightly, I would like to direct the conservative gaze toward the Swedish/Nordic/Scandinavian Model and highlight its successes. I am doing this because I believe most prohibitions like the prohibition on prostitution, for better or worse are dying. Nevertheless this offers a unique opportunity to increase punitive measures on those who exploit helpless in society, while at the same time offering redemption to those who have found themselves suffering at the hands of execrable flesh-peddlers. The Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that Sweden reduced street prostitution by half and found no evidence that the trade had been driven indoors or underground. Coupled to these findings is another remarkable observation, one that shows that demand side enforcement works: The Swedish Institute found in 2010 that between 1996 and 2008 the number of male sex buyers declined from 13.6-7.9% a remarkable change in such a short period. What these figures tell the conservative is that the battle is worth fighting and we now have the system to do so. I implore anyone who wishes to curb the sex trade to look into these findings and advocate for bill C-36 (Canada’s adapted version of the Swedish law) going forward.

Finally, to conclude, I must offer apologies for being tangential and lacking concision in this article. However, these posts are primarily about exploration and therefore not intended to be terse. I would like to make a point that has been recurrent throughout my writings on a variety of topics including this one. Our laws exist not just to keep people safe, but also rather to construct the form of society we wish to live in; the law provides a template congruent with what constitutes a good society in alignment with our modern interpretation of biblical and classical moral values. At least that should be the direction of our contemporary legislation: for a valueless, immoral society, is one, which cannot self govern.