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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Canada, Tradition, and Government

The wonderful Canadian traditionalist site Northern Dawn has published an essay of mine. This essay entitled Canada, Tradition, and Government was written as part of their Canada 150 Symposium. It aims to contribute to a dialogue around the question of Canada, 'who are we?' It does this by exploring some philosophical elements surrounding the differences between conservative and liberal theories of government, and how those ideas have impacted Canada over the last 150 years. I implore all interested readers to check it out along with all the other wonderful contributions to Canadain traditionalist thought on the site. 

--Cole 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

We Are All Liberals Now

Hi everyone this is a repost from now defunct site TheeWesterner. I thought I had lost the essay, but it happened to still be on my hard drive. I am not sure I agree with the conclusion any longer, but the premises and the insights are still valuable. Either way, it's, here for your pleasure or pain. 


I have been meaning to discuss the topic of the myth of political diversity for some time. In Canada, we have three major parties, the NDP, The Liberal Party, and The Conservative Party. These are the only parties that remain capable of forming government. It has been my personal contention for a great deal of time, that these parties all represent in some ways the liberal currents of our society, in fact, we are all liberals now.

This is a site about political opinion, and I am by no means, an authority at the present time, but having recently completed significant research on political philosophy, I am going to offer a tentative definition, of what exactly defines politics. I hope though personalised my definition is adequate for my own analysis: I contended that politics is the application of ‘ethics’ to the organisation and pursuit of the well being of the community. This is not far off how Aristotle conceived of politics: politics being the communities’ rational pursuit of excellence and the authoritative good, and like Aristotle, I contend that politics is both natural and based on the community as the unit of analysis.

In contrast to the current paradigm, Aristotle conceived of politics in a teleological fashion. Teleology essentially states, that everything in existence has an identifiable Telos or end, which may be discovered through rational inquiry about its nature. For example, an Acorn's Telos is to grow into an Oak. Teleology, which was later adopted by church thinkers, was rejected by the English liberals, particularly Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, and it is these two thinkers which define how we conceive of modern politics. It’s not that Lockean and Hobbesian thinking is the only paradigm that currently exists, but rather that socialism and anarchism, and other political movements derive their frame of reference from the initial premises of the English liberals. By basing our political considerations off the work of the English liberals we all fall victim to the trap of liberalism in a fashion, and this is unsurprising in a democracy, whereby individuals easily succumb to the notion that they are entitled to self-actualization through a conception that places the utmost value on materialism or commodity and autonomy.

In modern politics, the first error, of which all are guilty, is the notion that the individual is the unit of analysis when thinking politically, and our relation to the community is firstly defined and conceptualised as a part of the framework of individualism and autonomy. The individual precedes the community.

In the classical political understanding of the Scholastics, the community precedes the individual and our identity is formed and fostered in such as way as to be inseparable from our obligation and duty as well as natural affiliation to the Commonwealth. The state of nature theorists, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau directly refuted this concept by asserting that we are pre-political and independent, we can and do thrive or fail on an independent basis and engage in politics as an instrumental calculus whereby benefit to the individual and their prosperity is the measure of political value.

Our modern conservative party considers politics this way. It induces us, by virtue of our democracy, through incentives such as more direct representation, reduced taxes, child care subsidies, and greater criminal enforcement (to protect our lives and estates); this is not controversial thinking instead it is thinking based on the minimal amount of individual inconvenience, and the maximum amount of freedom, while avoiding value judgments that might impinge upon the autonomy of the voter. Rarely now do we hear of backbenchers rallying to condemn abortion, prostitution, drug reform, or support marriage reform in any significant sense, not only because these issues are toxic to the mind that considers individual autonomy the predominant political value, but also because they cannot make such claims and have realized the limits of their political philosophy within the modernist framework (more on this later).

Meanwhile, our liberal party needs very little examination. We already know that Canada’s liberal party is and remains hostile to tradition in this country: it abolished the Dominion’s Red Ensign; it continues to liberalize social policy; it brought us closer to the United States at the expense of the British and French connection, and facilitates multiculturalism hostile to the history of this country. The liberal party likewise, will not countenance the restriction of freedom, but rather, through John Kekes’ liberal faith, advocates for the idea that human nature is essentially good, and therefore any behaviour that seems patently evil cannot occur as a result of individual irresponsibility.

The NDP follows the same script. It deviates however due to its economic prescriptivism, the one area, where political value judgments can be made: the sphere of economic inequity. Economic inequity, however, is a concern not of justice in any ethical sense, but rather derives its significance from the emphasis placed on acquisition that found its initial voice in both Hobbes and Locke, who in absence of considerations of virtue, saw property and commodity as the definitive ends of politics.

Finally, and critically for any considerations of legitimate political conservatism, the modern political conception, cannot abide ethical judgments, our politics experiences a paucity of value. This is a direct consequence of both pluralism and relativism, which have their direct antecedents in the rejection of both natural and theological teleology and Platonic considerations of eternity. These prior classical models of politics understood that humanity could, and indeed should, determine what is best for the community. Such judgments now are verboten, at least in any substantive sense.

Certainly, conservatives still maintain that we have, and may continue to have a sense of right and wrong, but how do we make such a case in the political sphere? Locke’s materialism worked, according to Irving Kristol, because it was built upon a foundation of Republican Virtue derived from scripture. Scripture in much of the early modern era still remained a potent moral guide and authority in the lives of westerners. But without this broad adherence to the same value structure, individuals cannot agree to the constitution of the good in a political community. Only a natural teleology can inform us of how to direct ourselves in political life with any authority, but this is an antiquated idea.

What does that leave for conservatives then? It leaves tradition, but this creates a considerable issue because traditions are both localised, subject to evolution, and necessarily interpretive. Conservatives are beholden to a shifting anchor. They must strategize about what traditions to advocate for, but this historical traditionalism is rootless and subject to generational change. Those who reject this, or long for a specific era, are simply not conservatives, but reactionaries. Therefore, if politics is not reactionary or classical it is liberal. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

What Liberals Won't Tell You About Divorce

Does that graph above you indicate anything funny to you?

I'll tell you what it says just in case; the common liberal refrain is that 'divorce has been falling since the 1980's.' What the bigger picture above tells you is that divorce has actually been on an extreme ascent since 1968 in Canada.

Really since the 1980s divorce has been on a decline because marriage, the red line on the line chart, has been on the decline. There has been no precipitous drop in the divorce rate. It is still hundreds of percentage points higher then it was before defacto no fault divorce came in during the late 1960s with the Canada Divorce act

Divorce was under 1% of all marriages in 1926. The year between 1968 to 1969 divorces rose 230% think about the level of social change that entails and you begin to see why marriage reform is necessary in this country. The decline in marriage and the growing divorce rate is the most catastrophic social change that has ever occurred in the western world. It correlates with huge increases, in poverty, crime, family dysfunction, mental health problems, and even worse through entitlement programs a reliance and dependence upon the state. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

A Valuable Person



Recently, I read Jacques Maritain's article. 'The Person and the Common Good.' 
Maritain tries to make a case for the political value of the person beyond the individual loosely considered via the Liberal paradigm and the collectivist egalitarian vision. 

One of the compelling principles behind his argument is that person-hood is beyond the individual as a collection of rights and idiosyncrasies. 

Maritain writes, in his classically Thomistic way: 

'Here, in contrast to the expression of Pascal that "the self is detestable," the words of St. Thomas come to mind; "the person is that which is most noble and most perfect in all of nature." Whereas Pascal teaches that "the self is detestable," St. Thomas teaches whosoever loves God must love himself for the sake of God, must love his own soul and body with a love of charity. . . .

What do these contradictions mean? They mean that the human being is caught between two poles; a material pole, which does not concern the true person but rather the shadow of what, in the strict sense, is called individuality, and a spiritual pole which does concern true personality.


It is to the material pole, the individual become the centre of all, that the expression of Pascal refers. St. Thomas' exerpt on contrary refers to the spiritual pole, the person, the source of liberty and bountifulness. Thus, we are confronted with the distinction between individuality and personality.'


What is important to notice about this, is that via Aristotle and his descendants a critical principle made known to us is that the individual person as a valuable and unique entity in a relational sense. This relational sense may arise from social and political relations as Aristotle informs or out of the unique capacity for relations between the individual, community, and God as Aquinas informs. This can be expanded through a broader concept of the individual as the full instantiation of the community in the shape of history, tradition, family, prejudice, faith, and culture more broadly. These are the things worth preserving to conservatives. Because these varied and diverse elements and traditions infuse us with a shared culture and person-hood intelligible to people from a specific time and place. 

These are the elements worth preserving because they create the type of person we would like to see as the bedrock of our societies and politics, and they ask us to consider and think about more than what exclusively pertains to us our values or judgments or our opinions. They ask us to think of how our actions affect others and our political community. Individualism does not see this. It sees the individual as the absolute entity at the expense of all others and in turn undermines the above components of his own personality. The collectivist vision fails because it does not produce a humane community or individual that allows both to mutually benefit one another and produce a viable political community. 

A bit of a hybird article, perhaps a little confused. Still, some thoughts for you. Does conservatism better relfect an undestanding of person-hood that individualism does not? 

--Cole

Friday, 16 June 2017

Truth Doesn't Dress in Drag




Apologies in advance to readers, but I cannot figure out how to re-post the horrific video on which I am speaking. I’ll link it here: Drag Queens Lead Story Time at Edmonton Public Library.

The video focuses on a public reading of various novels to be about 150 children in the public library by drag queens dressed in clown makeup. Keep in mind the whole event took place at a public library. A library that acts on behalf of a municipal government and recieves public funding. Publlic funding that is directed toward propogandizing to your children. One of the Drag Queens states, ‘TJB said it's important to broaden childrens' horizons in a way that lets them know they should be themselves.’ What is wrong with this statement? Its not just about acceptance, but grossly ignorant about the development of children and gender fluidity.

These drag queens like to assert that this demonstration gives children a chance to accept and identify with alternative lifestyles (which are accepted as positive without challenge). But it also has a more insidious nature. Note the following statement.

"Edmonton's still a very conservative climate and so again, for young impressionable children who may not be fitting into the binary boxes in the world, it's very important for them to have examples of people and places they can grow into that are inclusive," TJB said. 

The goal isn’t just for children to have a positive role model, but rather to undermine the insidious binary conservatism of Edmonton and Alberta. Yet, these queens do not take the time to ask why or if the conservatism, which itself is muted and weak in Edmonton, exists for a good reason or not. Rather, it is an implicit negative that must be undermined and whether or not liberals acknowledge it or not, they need to target the children.

Never mind the fact that children tend to grow into heteronormative gender roles over time. Children who question their identity overwhelmingly conform to their biological sex over time because sex and gender are explicitly and immutably linked and to say so is a falsehood. To say so is to undermine truth itself. This comes at the expense of children.

According to an important report published by Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh in The New Atlantis, “There is also little evidence that gender identity issues have a high rate of persistence in children.” In fact, about 80 percent of children who experience transgender feelings completely resolve their difficulties without any intervention after they reach puberty. To say that transgender identities are fixed and unchanging is simply inaccurate.

They learn that a lifestyle even when treated surgically leads to gross unhappiness, depression, and epidemic suicide rates. They are literally teaching children to normalize their own pathological condition and adopt it themselves.

Why?

Because children are impressionable and people push back against the horrible assertions that things like gender, biology, socially defined norms, and normative ends for human beings ought not to exist despite the fact that they are self-evident and beneficial. The argument for radical acceptance of everything under the sun that belongs to a sole individual as a right and normal undermines the reality that people who live this lifestyle are in a tiny minority.

I suggest that the tiny percentages of people who adhere to this grotesque alternative lifestyle are not normal, ought not to be normalized, and though they are entitled to life and liberty, they are doing a devastating thing in annihilating the inchoate sense of self these children are beginning to develop all for political ends which seek to transform public opinion and destroy the idea of truth itself.

This whole event, strangely enough, is more for the drag queens than the children. They are up there, consciously or not, seeking validation. Observing 150 smiling children glowing with approval of their horrible lifestyle might be the only time these freaks feel good about themselves. It gives them a bubble outside of society that says innocent minds cannot comprehend my depravity so it must be okay. 



Friday, 9 June 2017

Slaying the Serpent and Disavowing Video Games

My House: Two TV's Two Console's One Problem

This may be considered a little bit of a short puffy piece, but I promise you it is substantial. I am writing today to tell you that I have been attempting to cold turkey my way out of the grasp of video games. 

I have spent most my life playing on these delightful programs and grew up with the old Sega Genesis before graduating to Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, (a little PC master race on the side as well: those Paradox strategy games, oh boy!) and I determined that my growing brain fog, lethargy, and flagging motivation to do anything productive necessitated I quit the horrible things. 

The real catalyst was my reluctance to write, the failure of my creativity, and the fact that I had virtually quit reading any significant quantity of books outside of the mandatory. I used to be both a prolific writer and reader (and loved every second of it) and I had a growing fear that video games were degrading this precious hunger. 

This quitting was more difficult because it had a significant social element. I grew up playing with friends constantly, as well as my father (who introduced me to the things in the first place and remains an avid competitive gamer of sorts), and with this level of ingratiation any rejection of these devices became something more. 

A good bye to memories. 
A good bye to nostalgia. 
A good bye to escape and immersion.

And I guess this quitting has come here because to put it mildly, its taxing. I have hidden the cables to the Xbox's (yes plural I own 2 Xbox One's) and they call at me all the time demanding to be played and loved.  

The urgency to quit games was compounded by the writings of the University of Chicago Economist Erik Hurst. Hurst who has spent much of his recent time studying the effect of video games on the flagging productivity of young men tells us 'Between 2000 and 2015, the employment rate for lower-skilled men and women between the ages of 21 and 55 fell by 7.5 percentage points,' and that generally young people don't mind. He attributes this change to the growth of cheap and immersive leisure the most readily available and appealing to young men being video games. Why compete aggressively in the world or focus on real achievement when you can level up your character or unlock one more gun in Battlefield or Call of Duty? 

Stephen King in his memoir and writing manual On Writing tells an aspiring author to 'read a lot and write a lot' if you want to succeed in the business, but why write something that you feel is important when you can just play Gears of War with your buddy on the couch? Its not that I think, or Hurst it seems, thinks video games are too toxic its simply that their opportunity cost is much too high. Young men including myself are just too dizzy in a techno haze. I don't want to be a statistic I want publishing credits, a public voice, ambition, a career, and a family. Video games do nothing but impede those goals.  

On the bright side I feel its working otherwise, I wouldn't be struggling to begin a new novel or writing on this blog! So for those who are wrestling those same demons kick them! hide the consoles, smash the PC delete your Steam account! and tell me how you did it! 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Comparative Exegesis of John Locke and Thomas Aquinas

The Laws of Nature and the Purpose of Politics in John Locke and Thomas Aquinas

John Locke
St. Thomas Aquinas

This post is composed of a brief undergrad essay I composed a number of months ago. Despite its antiquity, I feel that it neatly expresses some of the differences between the modern understanding of politics and the classical understanding of politics; this bifurcation in this instance is centred on two canonical authors in the history of political thought Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. A few brief points will aptly summarize the text for those who want a little background. 

Firstly, the focus is on the difference between the law of nature as understood by John Locke in his 'Second Treatise on Government' and Thomas Aquinas's various writings on the natural law. Despite the semantic similarities these concepts are significantly different, and often misunderstood. 

Secondly, the principle argument here is that John Locke's understanding of politics is necessarily hallow when placed in relation to the classical understanding of politics as an outgrowth of nature itself that serves as the measure of the political community and is necessarily normative. This natural law or normative law expressed through nature, the position of Thomas Aquinas, produces the individual through the emergence of politics. Meanwhile, Locke limits politics to the protection of man and his property or perhaps more properly phrased his liberties and natural rights a novel and modern concept that had no meaning to the classical thinkers. This is one of the great articulations of instrumental politics or politics at the service of the pre-political individual who contracts into society as opposed to holistically originating within it. 

Thirdly, as may not be totally clear as the essay is rather objective, I support the Thomistic position in general. My personal biases should not, however, prevent any reader from deriving their own conclusion. 


To Thomas Aquinas and John Locke, politics as they understood it, was deeply rooted in nature, both human and earthly: one sought to align human life with nature, the other sought to escape its inconveniences.[i] To Thomas Aquinas, politics could not succeed without an antecedent natural law that informed the laws of the political community, and human life in general. Alternatively, to John Locke, the law of nature, was a proscriptive fact, one that informed human beings of their natural right and placed limits upon their actions.
Accordingly, Thomas Aquinas integrated human law into the natural law and in so doing made it not just the measure of politics, but a prescriptive authority in all human life.[ii] The natural law, to Aquinas, became both a ‘rule and measure’ to inform human law and the principles of justice, and because these principles of justice existed not just to protect the polity from discord but to assist the soul in the fulfilment of the virtues the natural law then became inextricably linked to political nature.[iii] Alternatively, to John Locke, the law of nature existed to inform us of our rights, and facilitate human cooperation via reason, and in so doing provided the necessary adhesive for political communities as well as the solvent to dissolve them.[iv] This potential to dissolve the political union, and thus the potential threat to politics arose out of man's right to himself and by extension the products of his body.[v] However, the potential dissolution of the government by recourse to natural right, and the state of nature, to Locke, did not dissolve society, only government.[vi] By conceptualizing Locke’s theory of government in this way it is possible to see the law of nature as threatening to politics if the politics of Locke are measured not by his own standards but those of Aquinas in accord with his understanding of natural law.
To reach the origin of politics and establish these two different accounts it is necessary to examine the qualities of nature as understood by both Aquinas and Locke. Nature, as understood by Aquinas proceeded society, and coexists with it, or as Aquinas stated ‘regarding human affairs . . .  things are just because they are right according to the rule of reason [which] is the natural law, . . . . Every human law has as much the nature of law as it is derived from the natural law.’[vii] Society arises out of nature as it takes the precepts of natural law and uses reason, which is the unique and natural quality of man, to determine the common good:[viii] in the case of man, this is the exercise of reason amongst a community of human beings.[ix] He could establish this end because to Aquinas nature is teleological, in that things are constituted for their ends, which are understood through the natural power of reason.[x] This was the purpose of political society for Aquinas. In addition, it should be noted that Aquinas did not conceive of governments as separate from nature or society. The government is a natural outgrowth of the order of human society, originating in the rule of the household, that is itself mirrored in divine order, for both the ruler and God relate to their subjects in the form of craftsmen who impose an orderly plan.[xi]
Locke offered a radically different conception of nature, however. To Locke, nature was a state which men occupy when they share no common superior amongst them.[xii] However, to their advantage, they are perfectly free and equal, subject only to the law of nature which is reason.[xiii] This entitles individuals to a natural right in their own bodies and by extension through the mixing of their labour with the earth all associated property, which Locke defined as ‘lives, liberties, and estates’ to be disposed of as they wish.[xiv] However, this state came with numerous inconveniences three in particular which made living in nature precarious: the vulnerability of an individual person and property; the partiality of personal judgment, and associated tendency toward inequitable execution of the law of nature; and the challenge of executing the law of nature in the state of nature. The former were all consequences of absolute equality and placed the natural state of freedom in jeopardy. Meaning that though ‘in the state of nature he hath such a right, . . . the enjoyment of it is very uncertain.’[xv] Without, hopefully, lapsing too deeply into anachronism one finds a definition of state in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary as ‘The particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time.’[xvi] Therefore, it is important to recognize that this distinction is fundamental to understanding nature and its law as interpreted by Locke. For nature is a condition, one that is defined by its temporality and its potential for withdrawal not from the law of nature but from the state of nature. Alternatively, nature, as perceived by Aquinas, is a keystone to a constant ontological whole of which the political world is a part.
These interpretations of nature in turn directed man and politics toward divergent ends. Each philosopher interpreted the limits of politics in a different fashion due to their different origins. To Aquinas, politics had its end in the common good, which mankind understood through rational principles derived from natural law in accord with the eternal law.[xvii] Natural law then served as a guide. A guide that permitted the extension of politics to the ends of man himself, and consequently, the polity had few boundaries regarding the coercive authority it could apply in the name of habituation of individuals toward living in concord with the common good.[xviii] This meant that politics embraced vice and virtue with the punishment of one and the cultivation of the other inextricable from the ends of the whole community of which the individual is subordinate. This account not only governed the multitude in a political body but the rulers as well, for ‘the best institution of rulers belongs to a city or kingdom in which one person is chosen by reason of his virtue,’ because virtue and reason were paramount to their ability to understand and direct the common good.[xix] The ruler, in fact, was defined by his relation and proximity to the will of God through a superior capacity to utilize reason to interpret and direct the community toward the common good. This was necessary because the individual emerged from the community and partook in it and only in the polity did such possibilities emerge.[xx]
Meanwhile, to Locke, the compact between peoples, created a society, and the designation of a legislature was the act whereby people enter into a political state by forming a government. This alleviated the inconveniences of nature, which were defined by the individual’s inability to protect persons and property.[xxi] Therefore, to Locke government was defined by its enforcement of the law of nature and limited by the natural right of persons. Therefore, government had a single end ‘the preservation of their property.’[xxii] Government to Locke, did not only disregard virtuous action in the traditional sense it did not even consider the character of the ruler or ruling body if such qualities are measured by those proposed by Aquinas. A good ruler, James I served as an exemplary measured by his adherence to the laws of consent and his ability to maintain the ‘wealth and property of his people’[xxiii] In this way, politics was subordinate to the individual in Locke’s political community, something that would seem unreasonable to Aquinas.
This subordination of politics to the individual in Locke’s writings can best be understood by reflecting upon the principle that brings man into the social contract and allows him to likewise leave it: consent.[xxiv] Consent was what defined the relationship between the individual and the political society. Consent existed principally in two ways, tacit and explicit, and the explicit consent of the individual is what brought him into the society; tacit consent kept both the individual and his successors within it.[xxv] Meanwhile, the society itself expressed its consent when it chose to designate a legislature or ruling body over it to execute the law of nature on its collective behalf.[xxvi] Then consenting is meaningful in that it is by definition an action and politics by extension is an activity of the individual who consented to his amalgamation within it. 
As a consequence of the limits of Locke’s political society, it sows within itself its own seeds of dissolution if its success is regarded in terms familiar to Aquinas. For politics as Locke understood it, must necessarily fail, for it did not concern itself with the ends of community and persons but rather left them indeterminate. To Locke, the state of nature was still ruled by reason, and this made it a state that remained viable to individuals, on account of their natural right, which remained their own within and outside of the political community.[xxvii] In addition, all that remained of the problem of government or politics for Locke is for the society to establish for itself a new legislature. Society could establish this new legislature by revoking the consent that it initially provided to the government. Consent, however, is binding insofar as the contract between ruler and ruled had not been violated by the ruler who placed himself in a state of war with the society when he intentionally, continually, and significantly violated the natural right to person and property afforded to each individual.[xxviii] If the ruler or ruling body acted in this fashion the constituent elements of the community had the capacity to return to the state of nature and the ability to appeal to heaven understood as violent revolution.[xxix]
Politics then, to Locke, is an instrument to man and may be reconstructed in a way that meets the criteria of rule. The law of nature then is not a threat to politics to Locke, but its measure, in that it determines the validity of the polity as constituted. This natural right did not exist to Aquinas, and therefore it was inconceivable to abandon the political state for a state with no superior authority. For human laws as Aquinas understood them do not govern all elements of life, as they did not govern conscience; however, collectively and in accord with the eternal and divine laws, they constrained man and guided his actions in a way implausible to Locke.[xxx] Likewise, Aquinas made it clear that though men were to participate in the polity, they were not able to reconstitute their government or expel unsuitable kings. He noted. ‘The division of the kingdom . . . was inflicted on the people as punishment for their many rebellions.’[xxxi]
Political society then, as Aquinas and Locke understood it was completely different. One was a part of an organic whole originating in a natural hierarchy intelligible and governed by divine will; the other was a human compact entered by individuals for the protection of their natural right to their body and the property stemming from it. Both conceptions originated in different interpretations of the essence of the natural law, one as a rational intimation of the divine will that is integral to all human beings and normative, in that it designates qualitative ends, and another which describes nature and man's relation to it through the exercise of reason. The latter then informed man of his natural right. This natural right served not as a guide to politics as Aquinas understood natural law, but rather a law of nature that persisted both before and after the institution of political society and delineated the limits of the constitution of government. In this way, by relation to a reasonable state of nature, man to Locke had recourse to that state if the authority failed to adhere to the duty of protecting those rights; in returning to the state of nature government could then be reconstituted to serve its instrumental purpose, which is the protection of property. To Aquinas, Locke’s political theory would be insubstantial, and if politics, as understood by Aquinas as a unifying and transcendent phenomenon participating in the divine, used Locke’s law of nature as its measurement it would necessarily lacking, and in this way, is not only the greatest threat to politics, but arguably not fully political at all. 



[i] Thomas Aquinas, St., Aquinas Treatise on Law, trans. Richard J. Regan (Indianapolis, IL: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), 39, 46-47; John Locke, "The Second Treatise of Government," in John Locke Political Writings, ed. David Wootton (Indianapolis, IL: Hackett Publishing Company, 2003), §4, §6.
[ii] Aquinas, Aquinas Treatise on Law, 9,37, 55-56.
[iii] Ibid., 1-2, 72.
[iv] Locke, "The Second Treatise of Government," §6-§8,
[v] Ibid., §27-§30, §199.
[vi] Ibid., §211, §221-§222.
[vii] Aquinas, Aquinas Treatise on Law, 47.
[viii] Ibid., 6, 35, 47.
[ix] Ibid., 36.
[x] Ibid., 36.
[xi] Ibid., 5, 22-23.
[xii] Locke, "The Second Treatise of Government," §7.
[xiii] Ibid., §6.
[xiv] Ibid., §4, §27, §123.
[xv] Ibid., §123-§126.
[xvi] Katherine Barber, ed., Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 1521.
[xvii] Aquinas, Aquinas Treatise on Law, 3, 6,
[xviii] Ibid., 5, 48-49, 54-56.
[xix] Ibid., 89.
[xx] Ibid., 3, 91.
[xxi] Locke, "The Second Treatise of Government,” §95, §123.
[xxii] Ibid., §124.
[xxiii] Ibid., 200.
[xxiv] Ibid., §119.
[xxv] Ibid., §119, §121.
[xxvi] Ibid., §134, §141.
[xxvii] Ibid., §88-§89.
[xxviii] Ibid., §207.
[xxix] Ibid., §241-243.
[xxx] Aquinas, Aquinas Treatise on Law, 48-49,  
[xxxi] Ibid., 59, 91.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Islam: And Why I Could Never Convert


Why Think on it?

So, I know it has been briefly mentioned before, but I wish to bring it up again more specifically. Lately, I have been pondering the hypothetical religious conversion that I think that I will one day likely undergo. This is because I consider myself a theist with some caveats. I am highly sympathetic to religion and feel much greater solidarity with the religious than irreligious people. I am a theist insofar as I believe in the God of Abraham, the Christian ideas of original sin and redemption through Jesus Christ, the oneness of God, and more. However, I am relatively theologically uninformed and this largely comes from being born into an atheist/anti-theist (at times) household. This has made any contact with the religious world infrequent and often frightening or confusing, and later frustrating at many points between childhood and adulthood. Regardless, I still seek to one day experience or enter into a meaningful relationship with God.

My question today, is given that I am in love with a woman who grew up in a Muslim household, and though she does not practice at the moment in any meaningful sense she does wish to embrace her religion more fully (and this is a religion I have criticized on many occasions), it caused me to reflect. The normal procedure in Islamic marriage is that men may marry people of the book without concern, but for women, out of nominal concern that their children grow up Muslims, man only marry a Muslim man. Thus, for an interfaith marriage to occur between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man it is customary for him to convert. Given that I love my girlfriend more than I can articulate and do not see potential for giving her up anytime soon, or at all I hope, then if she were to become obstinate about her faith, or family were to ask, it would be wise to know why I would not embrace that faith with her.  

Now, I do not want to tie any of this to the violence of the Muslim world or disparage Muslims. God knows I have met plenty of great Muslim people in my life. Therefore, out of deliberate choice, I will avoid talking about the terrorism infecting Europe and to a lesser extent the whole world. I won’t talk about demographic concerns or the lack of tolerance many Muslims espouse; nor will I bring up the abhorrent treatment of women in many Islamic societies more broadly. I think I can articulate other reasons why I would not convert that are personal and personal to my relationship.  

Necessarily Political

The first reason I give for my unwillingness to embrace the Islamic faith would be concerns over its necessarily political nature. What I mean by this is since Mohammed travelled to Medina he governed, and Islam as consequent needed a scripture that addressed government. This is a large part of the origin of Sharia and Fiqh (which is the interpretation of Islamic law based upon the scripture). Now, this is problematic not only because Islam has always been concerned with how to rule, but it also governs in the same body of laws basic concepts like how to approach prayer, and how to conduct one’s daily routine that does not exist in the same systematic form in other religions.

The Christian tradition and the scriptures are famous for emphasizing obedience to the secular law. Notably in, Rom 13: 1-7, where it is noted the authorities ought to be obeyed because of their appointment by God, and to Christians, one is to obey the law of the land in all but the most extreme circumstances. This teaching is found also in Peter 2:13-17 Figures like Martin Luther took this further. Where someone like Thomas Aquinas allowed for the expulsion of rulers who transgressed against the common good as understood by natural law (Aquinas, Baumgarth, & Regan On Law, Morality, and Politics 2002 185, 206). To Martin Luther the fall was so catastrophic that humanity could not be sure that poor political rule was not placed over them by God, and thus providentially; nor could a Christian rightly judge the intent of the ruler well enough to know whether he was evil of heart (Luther & Porter Luther: Selected Political Writings "Temporal Authority" 2003 51). This is a consequence of what historian Susan Schreiner called the fall of the mind. 

This same trend is visible in one of the foundational texts of Christianity by one of the greatest saints. St. Augustine. The City of God where much of the text concerns itself with the relationship between the consubstantial relationship between the earthly world and citizens of the holy city or the Civitas Dei. The citizens of the holy city reside with God and belong to him, but on account of humanity and the punishment of sin first, exist in the earthly world. They are pilgrims travelling through the world, and need not govern it. In fact, to Augustine government turned us away from God more often than not and led to sin. Instead, like Augustine, many Christian political theorists made room for two ends for human king one secular and one temporal. This can be seen in works like De Monarchia by Dante Alighieri, Defender of the Peace, by Marsilius of Padua, and Temporal Authority by Martin Luther among countless other examples. Christians are in direct transgression of biblical teaching when they attempt to legal mandate precepts of the faith. As Christ informs “my kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).” Now, this interpretation may differ particularly regarding the pope, but the ideal is very different in either case. This is a result of Christ living and dying under the command of the Roman law. This gives a mandate to the law of the world because God himself lived and died under secular authority.

Apostasy

A second problem I have is that Islam is a one-way door. You do not generally get freedom of religion in Islam. This is because apostasy, and I understand interpretations differ, is generally considered a crime punishable by death. Even if it does not lead to death or criminal punishment it can far too often lead to shunning by communities and complete rejection by one’s society and family. This is something despicable and toxic in the religion and I cannot put a good spin or rationalization on it. Just to show that I am not making arbitrary or unfounded obligations it should be noted that 23 Muslim-majority countries maintain laws against apostasy in their criminal codes,  and many more unofficial killings particularly under the guise of honour killings occur routinely.


Finally, there is no concept of original sin in Islam in the way in which Christians think about it. Keep in mind I am not unaware that original sin is itself disputed in the Christian doctrine and not absolutely accepted, especially in the early church, and some associate it with the pernicious influence of St. Augustine of Hippo. My girlfriend and I have talked about as much. She notes that Adam repented and prayed hard and was forgiven and his original sin did not pass on through the generations. In Christianity, this scarring of our nature is permanent and constant. St. Augustine notes as much in Book I of his Confessions when he speaks of his infant greed and envy. Augustine taught that our will was broken and weak, but extant and could be strengthened by God; I would go further: I believe that the only capacity to truly be good comes from Gods irruption of grace and salvation through Christ there is in no way that Islam can rectify that, and in its own way it is rather pelagian thinking in that we can feel enough contrition to be absolved and forgiven on our own. This is a position that I reject entirely.

Conclusion


Well, I don’t really have that much more to say in brief blog post. But these are the essential reasons why I view conversion to Islam is impossible, and unwise. These are theological positions which, given my feeling of affinity toward Christian theology, cannot embrace. I hope even though I was rather obscure and superficial someone finds this post interesting and finds something to think about. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Left and Right Discuss Politics #2 Drug Legalization and HealthCare

In this video, my good Friend Zach and I discuss the potential hazards of drug legalization, what conservatives ought to do, and how this will affect Canada in the future. We also briefly discuss the fentanyl crisis and the burden on healthcare and some ways to deal with those associated problems from within and outside the healthcare system. 

Finally, I briefly talk about the horrible book Robert Greene's Mastery, which I thought was a horrible disappointment. 




Monday, 10 April 2017

Left and Right Discuss Politics #1

My talk with friend Zach on the state of the world. We discuss Islamic theology, the populist movements in Europe and North America, outrage culture, the traditional family and more! I hope to do many more videos with Zach. We had an especially productive and interesting conversation about Islamic theology and its relationship to terrorism.

Zach is an Edmonton musician and close friend you can find his band at https://thedabsband.bandcamp.com/ support them and their new album they are amazing. I hope he will be a collaborative partner for the foreseeable future. It's nice to reach concord despite problematic differences in ideology and understanding, however, productive dialogue with others in the political spectrum is a key element in the maintenance of a free society. 


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Coffee With Conservative #4 Trump, Syria, Women Hate, Graduate School



I am not going to give a long disclaimer for this video.  I mostly discuss the state of conservative parties in Alberta and at the federal level.  Secondly, I spend some time talking about the Syria strike and Donald Trump. Finally, a  personal chat about whether to attend grad school. Hope you enjoy. 

My Personal Relationship With the Syrian Conflict and Other Thoughts



 Thoughts on Syria

Since day one I have had mixed opinions about President Trump. Part of me hailed the death blow for the progressive narrative, and the notion that history is a linear and ever liberalizing process, the other half of me was more confused than angry. I wasn't sure if the uncouth and demagogic nationalist that I saw on the television was as daft as he was inarticulate, but if that was the case I worried. 

Disclaimer aside,  POTUS Trump fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at  Shayrat air base in western Syria April 7, 2017. This was on the assumption that the Assad regime had again used chemical weapons to attack Khan Sheikhoun north of Homs. Though the attacks origin is disputed, some saying the rebels again like the gassing in Ghouta ( a suburb of Damascus) had chemical weapons in deployed when mishandled or damaged by explosives;, the fact is we don't know.  Either way these weapons, by the regime or the opposition were deployed, and the United States has made a shockingly antagonistic move in the eastern Mediterranean.

Cut Out the Perfidious and Immoral Allies

 After this attack it seems as though the anti-Assad rhetoric is in full swing, again, I am not sure this is wise nor useful. Nations of the west have aligned themselves with horrible regimes now and in the past. Everyone knows the United States, has been in the past and strange bedfellows with the disturbing Saudi Regime, the Duvaliers in Haiti, or Hussien's Iraq. 

Yet, when it comes to foreign dictators they seem free to condemn those whom do not ally themselves with the United States or receive support from the bugbear that is the Russian Federation; one of the only countries that does not toe the good globalist line.  

My point is it seems awful conspicuous and disgusting to assault the regime in Syria the one bulwark against the disgusting Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State, simply because they are the flavour of the week in terms of being a head of state that is not appreciated by the sitting president.

Cut your support from the despicable Arab dictatorships, all of them, POTUS Trump and then we will talk about throwing missiles in the direction of whom ever you want.

Shocking

Furthermore, this act of aggression by the United States hit a little closer to home than usual. My girlfriend who I love very very deeply is a Canadian raised in Syria/Lebanon, (she spent most her life moving between the two) much of her family including her father live in the area around Damascus, and despite the fact that I don't particularly like her father, knowing that her family is in danger, never mind caught in the middle of a potential super-power entanglement, makes me deeply uncomfortable. 

Its more trying when she hasn't seen the news and you inform her in a casual phone call that the United States just fired missiles on the place you grew up. Once she knew it wasn't on a population centre there was some relief however.

Happy Syrians

I wouldn't say I was initially surprised although, I may have been slightly confused when I saw on twitter a number of Syrians in Syria and in Europe about their gratitude for the missile strike. I hesitate to call them naive, but I do think they underestimate the potential complications of such an incident. particularly the fact that opposition forces might find themselves emboldened by such a move. 

Russian Tensions

Russia, is justifiably outraged at the President Trump's conduct. Its a shame that bilateral moves to form a peace agreement in Syria are likely to stall, but otherwise I am not sure I see how this could be horribly consequential for the United States. Russia simply does not have the international clout or the military to truly threaten the United States or stop it from acting unilaterally. I think they may have alienated a country that could have been a strong ally in the future, if a smart president had merely worked to reconcile the two nations and forgive the childish disputes between the EU and Russia instead recognizing its sphere of influence in the east, but now that option seems like a thing of the past. The United States should be no means expect to have free reign in the region however, as Russia leases the critical Tartus naval base in Syria. It is one of Russia's only warm water ports, and it sits beyond the Bosporus and Crimea, and is therefore critical. Russia will not abandon the region no matter what the future holds for the Assad regime. 
 
Confusion

Finally, I wonder if this is really in any way effective. Sure the Tomahawk strike was intimidating and shocking to western media. But it didn't cause significant damage to Syria's capacity to wage war. Instead, it seems like such a move will only push Assad to continue his killing with conventional weaponry, which if you are a civilian is inconsequential shrapnel or gas you are just as dead. The Shayrat Airbase is already running again, surprise, and Donald Trump is being questioned by his base while recieveing support from the hawk lobby in the Congress. It is a strange time. Finally, and President Trump should know this, unless he has miraculously detailed intellegence which tells him something no one else knows, is that if Syria falls, the United States tries to change the regime or cripples it, or anything else truly debilitating happens to the Assad regime then the extremists likely the Islamic State will take over. Is that the future we want even for those of us who do not live in Syria?