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Weekend File: Jan. 22, 2016

  1. Noticed   Monogamy and Sex Attacks Our English Editor Jackson Doughart checks in with two pieces that caught his attention this week: In the National Post, PAH Governor Barbara Kay reviews the recently-published Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human. Kay’s apologia is full-throated: she fully endorses the author’s claim that monogamy as a societal norm is superior to its rival of polygamy for its own sake, but that this ethic is instrumental in achieving a stable political order. Polygamous cultures inevitably produce a mating advantage to high-status, alpha males; this leaves a class of low-status males who are unable to mate and flourish, and therefore become a destabilizing force within the society itself, and with its adjacent ones. As Kay writes, “Tucker brings a persuasive body of biological, evolutionary, and anthropological scholarship to bear on a recurrent theme, that the besetting weakness of polygamous societies is the inability to get on with neighbours. If she is right in her judgment, Tucker’s book may become a seminal work. In Taki Mag, Paul Wood explains why the Cologne mass sex attack on New Year’s Eve, 2015 could become “of lasting and huge significance to European history.” The upshot, he argues, is that the government and media conspiracy to prevent the public from learning the truth — that this attack was committed by young Arab Muslim migrants, whose native culture does not discourage such sexual assault and harassment. It is possible, therefore, that the German public will be inoculated against the platitudes of its pro-immigration elite and demand change. If true, then the Cologne attack could indeed be the impetus for a sudden and massive reversal of policy direction, and a central event in this history of the present migrant crisis. Energy East (vs. West?) An interesting political situation… Read More

Last Days of a Sorcerer’s Apprentice

As a sceptical 1950s student hangover, I was still around university campuses and undergraduate life during the upheavals of 1965-75, but saw them very differently from most students around me. I was most interested in surprising ideas and developments that did not fit the instant mythology being created. A major cause of these surprises was that, when university departments, flush with cash in those days, sought to raise their prestige by inviting a "Distinguished Visiting Professor" from afar to join them for a year or two, they sometimes got different distinctions from the ones they expected. In 1966-68, I was at Sir George Williams University. My Queen's mathematics degree already in hand, I was taking two years to qualify in honours history. before moving on to graduate studies at McGill. During those two years, the Sir George history and economics departments had jointly obtained Rudolf Schlesinger as a visiting professor. Schlesinger was the retiring head of "Soviet Studies" at the University of Glasgow, and the editor of two academic journals, one on the USSR, one on "world co-existence." He was also a walking piece of history. Coming to Britain as an Austrian emigre in the late 1930s, he had been an important Communist Party activist for two previous decades, in Berlin, Prague, and Moscow. Despite having been expelled from the USSR CP in 1936 in a purge, he had remained a lifelong Marxist-Leninist. The then largely youthful and leftist history department revered him as a scholarly Marxist, who would add the weight of his historical experience. In some ways, he did as expected. He was certainly not one of the countless eventually disillusioned Marxists of his generation, symbolized by Arthur Koestler's 1940 novel, Darkness at Noon. For him, Communism was still not the god that failed. “Koestler? A mere courier!”… Read More

No tears for Germany

At the close of the 2100s, when the 16 centuries of conflict between Christian and Islamic civilizations in Europe culminates in the latter’s ultimate victory, one wonders how the commentators of the time will sum it up. I doubt that I’ll be alive then, but like most of you I’ll doubtless have lived through much of the coming transformation: a product of slow suicide for Europe, comprised in a forfeiture of its own values along with the societal ethic of low birthrates. For a religion that has gone toe to toe with the more confident systems of Hinduism and Confucianism, Christian Europe will be easy pickings. What’s more, the seeds have been sown by the Europeans themselves, as institutions of integration like the European Union will continue to perform the role of a catalyst for defeat, rather than a celebrated fortification of continental peace. But while those commentators may look back with sorrow at the loss of great European cultures, I hope that they won’t shed too many tears for Germany. It is, after all, largely Germany’s fault that things have already gotten so bad. The economic stability of the continent has been jeopardized by the fantastical EU and Eurozone projects, always cheered along by Germany as a means of furthering its national ambitions without having to acknowledge them as such. And as much of the rest of the continent — certainly the poor and irrecoverably-indebted parts — now have to play by Germany’s rules for monetary policy, they now have to play by its directives on migrants as well, which have initiated a full-blown crisis with no seeable end. If some of its fellow Union countries are less able to cope with the present surge of immigrants and refugees — not only from Syria, of course, but also Central… Read More

Can entrepreneurs be politicians?

The notion of business people going into politics is as old as politics itself. While our politicians come from all walks of life, the prospect of power tends to draw in business people more than most professions. The candidacy of Donald Trump for the Republican primary race marks likely the most prolific businessperson ever to enter high-level politics. Mr. Trump’s business profile can help to explain both his appeal and his limitations. Here in Canada, Finance Minister Bill Morneau had an extremely successful business career before making the jump to federal politics. On the provincial level, Premier Danny Williams had already made hundreds of millions in business before taking the reigns of Newfoundland and Labrador. However, never before have we seen a business person with the profile of Donald Trump enter a national political race with no prior experience. Furthermore, Trump appears to have made no change to his persona after deciding to become a politician. Prior to this presidential race, Trump had been politically involved, but only as a supporter and donor to both Republican and Democratic causes. Though he has discussed the possibility on a few previous occasions, he has not actually campaigned for any office before now. This explains some of the early appeal of his campaign. He does not speak or act like a politician. While most repeat the same robotic stump speech at each stop, Trump shoots from the hip during his long, entertaining orations. They may be crazy and inaccurate, but they have an appeal in a world where every politician sounds the same. The business angle has helped him in other areas as well. It has garnered him name recognition and celebrity that allows for an immediate leg-up on the competition. Further, Mr. Trump has increasingly taken to pointing out that he is… Read More

The Conservative future, Part 3: The movement

With the right ideas and the right leader in place, Canadian conservatives can start thinking about renewal within the movement - and we're not exactly starting from scratch. As I've noted previously, the Conservative Party of Canada continues to be blessed with a large and motivated membership base, a wealth of politically salient policies, and a very effective Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. While it’s important not to conflate the movement with the party, it’s important to note the movement is a critical engine for political change. What we mean by renewal within the Canadian conservative movement, or political movements more broadly, is the promotion of those activities and actions performed by grassroots conservatives to mobilize support for conservative principles and political goals, all of which ultimately facilitate the election of a conservative government. Big Tents, Small Minds In the weeks after October 19, many self-titled "progressive conservatives" came out of the woodwork to argue for more left-leaning policies within the party. In fact, many have speculated the upcoming leadership race will expose the alleged rifts between the progressive conservatives and the reform conservatives within the party. The strength of the conservative movement in Canada is reliant on unity, otherwise known as "big tent conservatism", where everyone shows a willingness to work together on those issues which matter most to conservatives of all stripes - lower taxes, balanced budgets, and getting government out of the way of success for Canadian families and businesses. While many Conservatives want to get rid of the perception of the movement as bigoted and exclusionary, it would be even more small-minded for certain groups to purge the rich diversity and engagement found under the existing big tent of Canadian conservatism. After all, it was the philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt who noted “freedom and a… Read More

The Weekend File: Jan 16, 2016

1. Noticed Trudeau’s PMO The Globe and Mail’s Adam Radwanski wrote a long piece on the new composition of the Prime Minister’s Office in the early days of the Trudeau regime. Radwanski explains that the Trudeau PMO is an attempt to create a flatter structure with a “free-flowing and casual environment”. This would stand in stark contrast to the regimented, disciplined order of the PMO during the Stephen Harper years. However, Harper was a student of the failures of Paul Martin, whose freewheeling style was regarded as a disaster. The piece also profiles twelve key Trudeau team members. A common theme among these people is their connection to Queens Park and the McGuinty/Wynne Ontario Liberals. Katie Telford, Chief of Staff, and Gerald Butts, Principal Advisor (read: de-facto Prime Minister) both worked at Queens Park during the McGuinty years. Several of the other key players came directly from McGuinty or Wynne’s offices. Conflicts in the Media With a new government inevitably comes a bunch of new staff, new positions, and new roles. I was interested this week to learn that MacLean’s columnist Scott Gilmore is the husband of the new Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna. Besides Gilmore and McKenna, there have been at least two other uncomfortable scenarios with media personalities of late. Bruce Anderson resigned from CBC’s At Issue panel after his daughter Kate Purchase was named Director of Communications to the PM. This is the same daughter whose wedding was officiated by the CBC’s own Peter Mansbridge. Further, Katie Telford is Trudeau’s Chief of Staff. Her husband, Rob Sliver, resigned as a commentator on CBC’s political coverage following the election. There are two ways to look at this. Are these inevitable conflicts that should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis? Or is this the Liberals going back to their… Read More
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