You Might Be a Feminist If…

“The word property, once one of the most highly regarded words in the English language, has come in recent years to have a bad connotation because of the deliberate assault on the concept by socialists..Now..even those who most defend property wince at its broader usage, the inclusion of people. Thus, most women would bridle at being described as property.  But the word property should be regarded instead as a very highly possessive and affectionate term rather than a cold one.” ~ Rushdoony, “Institutes” pg. 175

1.  If you react negatively to the above quote.

2.  If you think women should have the right to vote.

3.  If you sympathize with Lady Macbeth.

4.  If you think you only need to submit to your husband (at certain ceremonial times) and God help any other man who tries telling you anything.

5.  You think your husband doesn’t have the right to hit you every now and then if you deserve it, because striking women is one of the worst possible sins.

6.  If you tend to publicly correct men, because they’re wrong so often.

7.  If you think the women who wear head coverings to church (as symbolic gestures of submission to male authority), are out of their minds.

8.  If you tend to justify taking over family affairs because your husband showed some temporary weakness. “Welp, he had his chance and didn’t do it…” 

9.  If you’ve ever been offended because a man held a door open for you.

10.  If you think it’s cute, or if you’re otherwise driven to compete with a man in traditionally male activities like hunting, handling firearms, smoking cigars, or if you seriously try to compete with him in sports like football or martial arts.

….this list could go on, but I think there’s enough for now.  For the women who are concerned they might be feminists, I applaud you for recognizing how distasteful that would be and I encourage you not to worry if one or maybe two of these apply in your case.  None of us are perfect, after all.

I look forward to the lovely comments I’m sure to receive…

Decline of the ISI

I haven’t mentioned this to the blogging world, but I returned to CPAC this year.  Last year, I made national news when I asked a few sacrilegious questions during a breakout session on race and the Republican party.  Every left-wing blogger, it seemed, was throwing my name around; even Chris “the tingler” Matthews called me a “dumb redneck” among other snide remarks…(I’ll see him in Hell).  The Republicans (including Glenn Beck) were quick to distance themselves from me, and I was thrown under every bus on the highway.

So you all can imagine how I felt as I strolled up into the conference center this year.  Head high, and making eye contact with everyone I passed, I eagerly hoped one of the throngs of pretentious brown nosers would see me, remember, and recoil with horror.

My fame, though, didn’t seem to have lasted, and, not getting any horrified looks, I decided to walk through the display area.  Every conservative organization in the country had a booth set up, so it seemed.

I saw the ISI booth and thought “…at last!  An organization that gets it!”  I made my way to them and browsed their book display.  It wasn’t long before one of their representatives came hovering over to harass me.  I told him how excited I was about ISI’s material; most of my favorite non-fiction books have been published by ISI.

The “Intercollegiate Studies Institute” publishes works by the great Richard Weaver, by conservative legend Russel Kirk, Robert Nisbet, Niel Postman, and not to mention, Alan Carlson (a modern “agrarian” whose work I’ve enjoyed).  And if you go on their website, ISI has hundreds of lectures from conservatives.  You’ll find lectures on everything from Austrian economics to literary criticism and the 12 Southerners.

When I began talking about “agrarianism” the intern (who was struggling desperately to get my mailing address), didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.  “Ok,” I thought, “…maybe he hasn’t read as many ISI publications as I have?”  I left the conference disillusioned with organized “conservatism”.

Despite my regard for ISI’s material, I knew they’ve been in a downward spiral for quite some time.  Possibly one of the best things they’ve ever published (in my opinion), is their book “Critics of the Enlightenment”, which declares, in stark terms, that the French Revolution was the end of the old European, Christian world order.  The book features a series of anti-Enlightenment French writers who resisted the Revolutionary spirit in their country.  Because the Revolution was on their doorsteps they were far more radical in their rejection of it than even Edmund Burke.

But ISI decided this might be too strong of a position, so in the forward they had Philipe Beneton add a few quick words about how wonderful the new Enlightenment liberalism really is.

“The founding fathers of liberalism promised civil peace, liberty, and comfort for all.  In the main, these promises have been kept.  Political and social reason is not as powerless as the counter-revolutionaries claimed.  It has, for instance, produced these fruits.  Political power has been domesticated.  In the West, politics continues to divide men but their disputes are kept peaceful and no one risks his life or his liberty should he displease the reigning power.  Conventions that artificially separate men have been destroyed or attenuated: the aristocratic conventions of the Ancien Regime, prejudices founded upon race, nationality, religion.  Man’s recognition of his common humanity has progressed.”

Yeah…rotten fruit.

When an ISI publication gets too close to the truth, they throw in a disclaimer like the one above.  “We realize liberalism overthrew the old medieval world order, but we love it anyway!”

A few days ago, I read an article on VDARE by Paul Gottfried (one of the decent jews).  He’s been a historian associated with ISI for years, but was recently given the boot for daring to be a racial realist.  I met Gottfried and his wife at last year’s H.L. Mencken Club conference.  A great couple; unfortunately I haven’t had time to delve into his material.

That the man was given the boot from ISI simply proves there are no mainstream “conservative” institutions left in America.

Another quick update…

I’ve just decided to move my Kinist material *and* my “Defending Dixie” material off-site.

Two brand new blogs in the blogging world!  One devoted specifically to “Defending Dixie” , and one devoted specifically to “Kinism”.

On Defending Dixie:

Most of the debates about the old South center on historical interpretation:  “Things was this way!  Nuh Uh…they was that way!”  History isn’t my strongest subject and there are better blogs for that sort of debate (like SNN and Occidental Dissent).  So I’ve stuck mostly with philosophical or poetic defenses of the people and culture of the old South, engaging with people on philosophical grounds and the like.  While this may not be very interesting or productive, it’s something I’m compelled to do.  Also, it’s not an approach many Southern apologists take … I’ll be filling a needed gap.

On Kinism:

Unfortunately, yet another bastion of Kinist orthodoxy has recently fallen into silence (Kinism.net)…leaving only one of the Kinist trifecta still active, Mr. Cambria … and he’s not really a self-identifying “Kinist”.  I’ve always been more of a disciple of Mr. Cambria than a disciple of Kinism anyway, but owing to my strong roots in Presbyterianism, I’ve tried playing the “rationalizing” game, and have tried confronting anti-whites on their own ground of “reason”.  I’ve seen varying levels of success with this, but I’m about convinced (as anyone who reads CWNY for long will be), that isn’t the right way to proceed.

Still – I haven’t worked it all out yet.  In the mean-time, I’ll build a blog-site specifically devoted to the topic of Kinism, and move most of my material there.

This way, I can focus the scope of “Shotgun Barrel Straight” and improve the quality…(that’s the plan, anyway).

Thank you dear readers for being patient.

Some Changes ‘Round Here…

I’ll be tidying up this blog over the next few days.  I’ll be removing a lot of old material.  No one reads it and it’s only interesting to me; reading my old material, from back when I was a naive fundamentalist, is like looking back in time.  I’ve changed so much my old material almost seems embarrassing. I’ll be archiving all of it.

Additionally – I’ll be trimming the superfluous items and narrowing the scope of the blog “categories”.   And don’t be surprised if I play around with theme changes as well … the present look of the blog was never supposed to be permanent, but the “clean” and “nature-like” feel of the aesthetic was pleasing.  Still, I think I can do better.

I promise all of you something, though … the quality of the content and production will continue to improve.  Little by little.

Thanks for bearing with me…

Confederate Ladies

Dear ladies who drape Confederate battle flags around yourselves…

Yes – you’re attractive, but not because you’re naked under a flag or because you’re wearing skimpy, whoreish attire. You’re attractive because you’re trying to add your feminine spirit to the cause of old Dixie, and for that, I’m forever thankful.

But you can get the same “wow” factor from me (a typical Southern guy) without making a public spectacle of yourself, or being immodest in front of all the internet world.

A woman saying a positive word about Dixie, or letting drop a few factoids to correct her liberal professor, is just as stunning…

More so, actually.

Go West Young Man…

…unfortunately, there is no “west” anymore to flee to.

So where can we go instead?  Barring easy transportation to Mars, it looks like we’re stuck on Earth for awhile.  And as America, and all other formerly-Christian nations, are becoming increasingly intolerable, I decided to take a poll of my Facebook friends to see in which locale they’d prefer living as an alternative to America.

But first, an order of business:

My Facebook friends are honorable guys; a few strongly objected to the idea of leaving America, especially the South.  “We’re going to stay and fight!  We don’t want to abandon or retreat from the foe!”  I suspect, on top of these cavalier sentiments, the relative calm of every day life has lulled many into complacency.  After all, those stories of tyranny happen far away and in big cities, right?

There’s a recent outrage – an Oregon man is going to prison for collecting rainwater.  Granted, he didn’t hop the proper bureaucratic hurdles, but we “patriots” know there shouldn’t have been bureaucratic hurdles to begin with!  And that’s way out in Oregon anyway.  So, it’s not “close to home”.

Then there’s the baby maimed by a SWAT team who invaded a house looking for someone who wasn’t even on the premises.  But that wouldn’t ever happen ’round here…

How about the brown faucet down south, opened wide, and muddying our demographics?  Or how about the government school indoctrination centers?  Or how about the trillions spent on daily propaganda disseminated through our pop-culture and government-service-announcements and / or countless other delivery mechanisms?  What about the constant targeting of white conservatives and our growing status as moral pariahs?  How about the increasing slaughter and rapine of our *elderly* citizens by marauding gangs of blacks?!

How much of this can be ignored?  We may never have a SWAT raid near our house, but they are happening more and more.  From about 3,000 raids in 1980 to 80,000 today?!  My point:  this is all “close to home” and could happen to any one of us at any moment.

So – let us do as the Apostle Paul suggests, and make the most of every opportunity and not to get drunk on wine but rather on the Spirit, because the days are evil.

Still – my friends want to stay and fight.

Which brings me to the second order of business:

Fight who?

- We can’t indiscriminately kill every post-Enlightenment modernist.  Even if we won that sort of evil battle, we’d still be alone; we’d be worse off than had we faded away to an isolated part of the world.  Worse off physically (we’d expend a lot of resources in that war) and worse off morally (how could we sleep with ourselves)?

- So maybe we narrow the scope of our attack and focus only on those self-conscious satanists at the reigns?  But who put them at the reigns?  In an evil time, when man has turned away from God, evil men will be at the reigns regardless – shoot them all day, countless others are in line waiting to hop into their place.  If society was healthy, these same evil men would never get close to the reigns – they’d lurk in the shadows where they belong.  Adding onto this point, the greatest dissidents became legends because they had the populace on their side – to hide them, protect them, fund them, and cheer them on.  But what if the populace itself is the tyrant?

- Well, (some of my friends might reply) – this means that it’s not a physical war then, but an ideological battle.  We’ll change the hearts and minds of everyone!  Only … arguments never change people’s minds.  I’ve had to learn that the hard way:  “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

There are other options and a few strategies a brave man might try[1], but at this point in the conversation, I think it’s safe we at least consider the third order of business.

The third order of business:

Finding a place to live where we can be relatively free of harassment, and avoid the Orwellian oppression of modern Western nations.  This is the least violent and least costly option, even though it doesn’t appeal as strongly to the “stay and fight” crowd.

It’s an option I’ve often considered.  Granted – I might be fond of it because I have a romantic sense of adventure and my time in the military hasn’t squashed my desire to travel.  I spend a lot of time on Google maps, sliding around remote parts of the world, finding interesting places and reading about the inhabitants.  What they’re like, what language they speak, and how much the land costs.  I’ve recently found a small island off the coast of Panama with ample natural resources and only a hundred (or so) third-worlders living on it, sustaining themselves on whatever they grow in their little gardens.  (With my tenacity, I could own that little island in a year … imagine what ten of us might do with it?!)

So – I’m continuing my education in greenhouse science, industrial-sized aquacultures, and other relevant fields (like alternative energy).  But I’d also like to narrow in on a location so I can tailor my efforts to that specific environment.  Learn the local language, study the fish and plant life there, etc.

Back to my Facebook poll. 

I’m going to offer the same poll here, modified slightly to reflect the Facebook results.  Surprisingly, “Switzerland” got the most votes on Facebook (7), so I’m listing it as the first option.  Iceland, Norway, and Uruguay all tied for second with three votes apiece.  Russia came in third with two votes.  Romania, Mexico, and the Netherlands tied for third with one vote apiece.

I’m making my own poll here as well.  We’ll see what the blogosphere crowd has to say on the matter.

—————————————————————

1.  These involve a little courage and a lot of stupidity – I have both, and in that proportion.  Grandstanding on a national level, with narrative manipulation in mind, might convince the Spirit to move through the populace again and end this time of judgment.  Still – it’s best to be a dual citizen and have a robust “escape” plan, especially for women and children.  Get them safe in an isolated place first then worry about “fighting” (via propaganda stunts) later….which still brings us back to the third order of business discussed above…

On Heroes and Betrayals

garden of evil

On this day of American hero-worship, I have a few thoughts of my own for consideration:

Years ago, I happened to see a documentary showcasing an organization called the “Army of God”.  Later, they covered Paul Hill, the man who shot and killed an abortion doctor back in 1994.

I wasn’t well read back then and was only a nominal Christian, but I remember getting very excited by that documentary.  As Christians, we were telling everyone that abortion was evil because it constituted the murder of an unborn person.  But this man, Paul Hill, had taken the truth to heart.  Indeed – if we really believed innocent persons were dying, then violence is the only reasonable Christian response, right?

Years later, after becoming a Calvinist and a Presbyterian and learning about Dr. Greg Bahnsen and Gary North, I realized that Paul Hill had once felt (about these men) as I felt.  In prison, Paul Hill wrote to Gary North, presumably pleading for sympathy, or at the very least, looking for a friend.  Such was not to be found … Hill’s church excommunicated him, and when North finally got around to responding, he damned him to Hell.

Well, I don’t think Hill is in Hell.  I think he’s in Heaven, surrounded by the loving ministrations of countless slaughtered unborn.  And ever since discovering his letter, I’ve been unable to think the same way about Gary North.  He betrayed Paul Hill and he betrayed Christendom; he’ll answer for it in the afterlife.

But this episode shows that the sanctity of Christendom is broken and those of us with regenerated hearts have been relegated to the dark forests; we’re the “underground men” now.

And it’s hard to be an underground man … it’s terribly lonely for one, but secondly, it’s an incredible internal struggle.  Consider:  I was born in 1982 and all my heroes (all the characters who shaped my childhood dreams) were Christless post-Christians.

The first was He-Man … the impossibly strong barbarian from a fictional universe.  He taught me to appreciate violence.

The second most influential was Indiana Jones.  He had aristocratic flare, good looks and the dogged determinism that made him an idol of worship for young boys like me.

Later, there was Rambo, but his movies were rated R and I was only able to watch them when visiting friends for sleepovers; friends whose parents weren’t as puritanical as mine.  Still – we found ourselves wearing camouflage and playing “war” in the woods.

As I got older and began reading, I discovered Clive Cussler’s “Dirk Pitt” and routinely tried to imitate his mannerisms.

———————————

All of these characters have one thing in common:  they’re post-Christian, liberals.

There was hardly any “air” of old Europe inherent in these men or their adventures.  I only learned of old Europe through the faint hints given from my Grandparents – a tone of voice here, a look there, or through all the old late-night stories about the past…

So, it’s a great personal struggle.  I consider myself someone of mid-level intelligence, and I’ve been self-consciously trying for the past few years to garner the old mind-set and re-ignite (in myself) the heroic “cowboy” or Knightly chivalraic attitude.   I’ve been having to rely solely on the books and movie recommendations from “Cambria Will Not Yield” … and even with all that, it’s very difficult.  Difficult to overcome the heroes of youth, who have now become, at best, old-circle friends who are trying to drag me back down the wrong path after having left them for greener pastures.

——————-

Enter Gary Cooper …

Last night I watched “Garden of Evil” and couldn’t take my eyes off the screen…it was refreshing in ways I can’t describe.  It was like I was seeing the best of my grandfather on the television.

Of course, there’s also Sir Walter Scott – I’ve read a number of his novels, but none stand out like Quentin Durward for me.  I sometimes catch myself asking “what would Durward do here…” … a better guide than Dirk Pitt, certainly.

———————-

The question will inevitably arise, though… what *would* these men, these old European heroes, do if they woke up in contemporary America?

I go back to thinking of Gary North and Paul Hill…

I can’t believe the old European heroes would want to indiscriminately slaughter all those around us.  There would be no honor in that.  If we are ever called on to kill a man, it must be with honor:  “Turn around and defend yourself!!”

No… I can only see two possibilities for the awakened hero…

One, is to leave this place and find a new home, perhaps in the wilds of South America or in some uninhabited parts of Africa?  Maybe, if he’s lucky, he might find one of the old hero women to accompany him into this new “west” (if he’s incredibly blessed he’ll find a Susan Hayward, heh).

But then there’s the second option … I’m calling this the “Robin Hood Contingency.”  This is where the hero stays in the midst of the evil and fights them from the inside, living a life of constant danger as an outlaw; a dissident.

Whatever part of me hasn’t succumbed to complete cynicism, jumps at option 2, only, there will be no beautiful Maid Marian here – there will be no clever puns and good-timing forest companions.  There will only be a lonely, demon-harassed hero, in the dark, constantly pursued, with no more hope for victory than whatever little comes with hope for miracles.

It’s a bleak choice for any man.

What would Durward do?  What would the Virginian do?  What would Gary Cooper do?

Orthodoxy’s Attitude Towards Ethnic Diversity

(While listening through an “Ancient Faith Today” podcast, I stumbled upon a discussion between Orthodox defender Kevin Allen and Orthodox deacon Michael Hyatt.  A caller asks about Orthodox attitudes towards ethnic diversity.  This is a topic which interests many of my Orthodox racialist friends, and so I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the relevant portion of the podcast.  I’ll offer brief critical comments, from a Protestant perspective, below the transcript.  Enjoy):

———————————–

Allen:  I do have a call from Gary from Tustin California.  Gary, you’re on Ancient Faith Today.

Gary:  Hello.  It’s good to talk to you guys.  Mine is more of a practical question.  I find that, for myself, before I became Orthodox, and for many of my friends who are Evangelical, our question was:  Orthodoxy looks theologically good, but ethnically, it’s … it’s so ethnic!  (laughs).   How could this be the true Faith?!  How do you deal with the issue of ethnicity that seems to be so strong in each of these different traditions, whether it’s Russian, Greek, Syrian; no matter which group it is, they all have their explicit ethnic aspects to them, and yet that seems to be what’s so hard for many Evangelicals to get past …it’s such a cultural shock.  How do you deal with that?

Michael:  Yeah, that’s a tough one too, because that is a reality and I think we have to acknowledge the fact that we have a lot of churches here (Orthodox churches) that are made up of immigrants where they brought with them, in addition to their Faith, their ethos.  Their culture from wherever they originated.  But the truth is, is that American Orthodox churches, like – I’m from a *very* American Orthodox church where probably 95% of the people who attend St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin are converts to the Orthodox church from Evangelicalism… we also are very ethnic.  We’re ethnic Americans.  So, somebody who comes in who is Russian or Greek thinks that *we* feel a little bit weird.

And I think that we have to acknowledge that ethnicity is not the problem.  Ethnicity is inescapable.  What we hope is that, with time, our ethnicity, will more and more in this country reflect the best parts of our culture and we’d have an authentic American expression of Orthodox Christianity.  But behind that, or above it, is the one Holy Catholic Apostolic Faith, that whether you’re worshiping in Greece or in Russia or Bulgaria or Tennessee, it’s the same Faith, even though it’s expressed in a diverse number of ways.

Allen:  (Allen goes on to tell a story of his aunt who had an old Roman Catholic parish bulletin from the Bronx written in Italian.  He talks about how, just a short time ago, there were uniquely Italian parishes, uniquely Irish, and even uniquely Korean and Vietnamese parishes, but that they’re coming together.  Then he cites Peter Gillquist of “Blessed Memory” who says – it’ll “..take time to work all this out.”)

——————————————————————————-

Earlier in the show, this topic was skirted around when Michael and Allen discussed church unity.  Allen asks:

“How can the Orthodox church be the one true, visible church?  How do you rationalize that?”

Michael responds by noting Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17, and suggests that we can take it in one of three ways:  1.  Either Christ’s prayer was ineffectual (and all Christians would reject that); 2. Perhaps Christ meant a mystical otherworldly sort of unity (but this is rejected as well, because the unity Christ prays for is meant to be a testimony to the world and thus, must be observable by them); or 3.  Christ meant some form of institutional unity – which the Orthodox church has supposedly maintained for all these years.

But then, a few minutes later, Allen asks Michael about 20 separate independent National Orthodox churches represented in the U.S. alone, and yet, Orthodoxy claims to be the ONE holy church.  In reply Michael distinguishes between different sorts of “unity”.

There is “doctrinal” unity.

There is “sacramental” unity.

There is “liturgical” unity. (Even those who observe the so-called “Western Right”, are still liturgically united with other Orthodox churches.)

then, there’s: “Administrative” unity.

On that last note, the Orthodox church is wanting, which, according to Michael, is “frankly, annoying”.

But apparently, this administrative unity does *not* disrupt the Unity of the church.  He says administrative unity is desirable but not essential.

—————————-

So, apparently, when Christ prayed for unity in John 17, He was NOT praying for administrative unity, rather, He was praying for doctrinal, sacramental, and liturgical unity?

This smells of ad-hoc reasoning; not to mention, Michael’s different types of “unity” seem arbitrarily drawn for polemical purposes.  We might say that “doctrinal” unity, by definition, encompasses “sacraments” and “liturgy”, but then Orthodoxy would have only 1 out of 2, instead of three out of 4, and that doesn’t sound as good, does it?  (On a related critical note:  I could argue that all of us Orthodox Presbyterians have both doctrinal *and* administrative unity, so, does that make us the one true church Christ prayed about?!  Presumably, we’d have to add something about historical succession, but then we Presbys could reply with our doctrine of Presbyterial succession…and down the rabbit hole we will go…)

But it’s not my intent to critique Catholic theology here.

Instead, I want to briefly examine how this plays into the Gillquistian notion of “ethnic” homogenization.

We have two propositions:

1. When Orthodox adherents contrast themselves with Roman Catholics, they are quick to note that their view of the church is that it’s decentralized among various Patriarchates, while the West was / is centralized under the Roman see (an unfortunate fact of history from the Orthodox perspective).

and

2. Orthodox adherents also claim they’re the “one Holy Apostolic church“.  Fine.  Let’s give them that for a moment.

To maintain 2, they have to argue for a special meaning of “unity” that only applies to their church.  To maintain 1, they have to allow for a Godly diversity among the Patriarchates.  (So far, so good).  But to be Gillquistian in their advocacy of ethnic homogenization, they must argue for some form of centralization that seems to violate the “diversity among the patriarchates”.

So, on the final analysis, if an Orthodox adherent wants to hold to some notion of Gillquistian homogenization, they must either give up proposition 1. or proposition 2.

Which will it be Gillquistians?

(Someone might argue that the Gillquistians can take a third route to avoid the horns of this dilemma.  They might hold to some form of propositional ethnicity.  But if they make this move there doesn’t seem to be anything left to proposition 1.  Patriarchates become arbitrarily drawn human conventions and might as well be governed, “in time” as Gillquist is quoted as saying in this podcast, by a central religious government and the Orthodox would be forced to admit that Rome had the right model after all.)

We all know the solution to this dilemma is to do what my Orthodox racialist friends have been advocating:  give up the Gillquistian notion of ethnic homogenization all together and instead of recoiling in horror at diversity, celebrate it as Godly and beautiful.

To My Regular Readers

I apologize for the odd posts lately; I’ve been experimenting with driving internet traffic and didn’t feel like creating a new blog for the purposes. I dumped them here instead.

I despise the notion of monetizing blogs (this blog in particular) and have no intention of cluttering up things with commercial links and the like. I’ll be deleting the experimental posts in a few days and all will be back to normal.

On a similar note – I’ve just passed my 6th year blogging anniversary. My life has changed so much in that time. When I started, I was a love-struck neo-conservative, hell-bent on becoming a Navy SEAL then marrying the girl of my dreams (who was an ex-cheerleader, fundamentalist Evangelical, Republican out in Tulsa).

Since then, I became a Calvinist, discovered how to intellectually defend my racialist ideals, and despise Republicans. And … don’t ask what happened with Ms. Tulsa; it’s a sad story, worthy of a country song. (In hindsight, if I had acted as passionately as I felt, my dreams might have come true).

What’s in store for the future? I don’t know – maybe a knightly vow, more defenses of Kinism, and I have to vindicate myself for that terrible short-story I wrote a few months back. I’ll have to re-write it eventually, so look forward to that.

…until next time…

The Moral Aspects of British Imperialism

When speaking colloquially, words like “good”, “bad”, “useful”, “unhelpful”, “detrimental”, and “beneficial” (among many others) are often understood in simplistic ways which, upon analysis, are less clear than initially thought.[1] While the jargon may be fine for every day conversations, when attempting to form conclusions about historical events, or when trying to offer serious analysis of a given state of affairs, determining what, if anything, is meant by these terms, becomes vitally important.

The subject this paper attempts to briefly address must, itself, be exposed to such meta-ethical considerations. I wish to discuss “Imperialism”; more specifically: imperialism as an historical phenomenon, and I wish to determine (to the extent possible in this short essay), if it was “beneficial” or “detrimental” in a general sense.[2] To do so, I’ll briefly discuss aesthetic theory, and construct an off-the-cuff rubric of determining what is to be counted as “beneficial” and what is to be counted as “detrimental”.

This may be to start with a handicap however, as the debate over the meaning of such terms hinges, in large part, on the bias of the debaters. The confusion can be quickly illustrated by thinking of a child; what the parent considers “beneficial” may not be, at all, what the child thinks. The two have different standards of what the word means. This same is true for adults in conflict with each other. What the Muslims think is beneficial for France, may not be what Charles Martel thinks is beneficial for France, and thus the two collide.[3]

It would be helpful at this point to consider that the most well-known form of “Imperialism” in history, and also what I’ll be discussing in this paper, was that practiced by the British Empire. As such, we might be able to look at the word “beneficial” from their perspective, and determine if, at least as far as they were concerned, their practices were beneficial or detrimental.

In his book “The Industrial Revolution and British Imperialism” J.R. Ward says the following:

In 1750 Great Britain stood alongside Spain, Portugal, the Dutch Republic, and France, just as one of the five European colonial powers. By 1850 the British overseas empire was quite unrivaled. Over the same period Britain achieved a temporary pre-eminence as ‘the workshop of the world’. To what extent was its imperial expansion a consequence of its industrial revolution, perhaps through the need for enlarged markets and raw material supplies?

And so, it might be expected that the moral and religious climate of the time, would motivate intellectuals in the society to rationalize their need for resources by appealing to popular sentiments and prejudice.[4] This, however, would be to analyze these justifications from outside the perspective of those offering them, and often overlooks the complexity of the individual’s thinking and emotional involvement.

The great historian Thomas Macaulay is an excellent example of this sort of complexity. In 1835, while considering how best to improve the living conditions of the native Indians under British rule, the question was raised as to how best to educate them, which naturally lead to a discussion of the limits of native language. Still, if their native language wasn’t conducive to education, then what language would they be better learning? Macaulay, in his essay “The Intrinsic Superiority of Western Literature” argues in an off-the-cuff manner, that “everyone” would concede that a European library (and by extension, the European languages) is superior to anything in Sanskrit. He says the following:

“…I certainly never met with any orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanskrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable.”

While these sorts of statements may come across as harsh and unjustified to modernist ears, there may be subtleties involved in Macaulay’s position that aren’t readily apparent at first. Far from being a whipping-boy “hate-filled-bigot” type of caricature for left-wing hipsters, Macaulay, at other times, showed a deep care for the native Indians, and, indeed, spent much of his life trying to better their position.

In March of 1838, when opposing a bill that would benefit the white aristocracy in India, biographer Sir George Otto Trevelyan presents Macaulay’s account of his opposition’s opinion:

The firmness with which the Government withstood the idle outcry of two or three hundred people, about a matter with which they had nothing to do, was designated as insolent defiance of public opinion. We were enemies of freedom, because we would not suffer a small white aristocracy to domineer over millions. How utterly at variance these principles are with reason, with justice, with the honour of the British Government, and with the dearest interests of the Indian people, it is unnecessary for me to point out.

And so we have Macaulay both assertion European superiority, while also accepting that native self-rule would, in the end, be better, or more “beneficial”. This implies that Macaulay’s view of “superiority” is only coherent within some ideological structure.

Think of it this way. To say apples are superior to oranges, is incoherent, until one asks… “Superior in what way?” Or, “superior how?” Ones an objective rubric is provided, such comparisons become possible. We might say apples are superior at being red, while oranges are superior at being orange. Or, someone might say apples are superior at being nutritious, while oranges have the superior flavor.   Thus, Macaulay can presuppose an objective literary standard, and determine (according to his rubric) which literature and / or language, is “superior” to the other – while still, presumably, granting the native culture the dignity required by upstanding Christian propriety.[5]

On this view, there is an objective rubric for determining when something is or isn’t beneficial – in Macaulay’s case, specifically as it concerns education, something is beneficial when it provides ample utility for learning, as (he argued) the English language would.

Macaulay’s view is echoed by Rudyard Kipling, and so, to some extent, might be seen as representative of British Imperialism in general. If there is a God, then He has created a world in which objective analysis is possible, and, as Kipling says in his poem “The White Man’s Burden”, the benefit of adhering to His standards will be seen by the natives over whom they are imposed.

To conclude with Kipling:

By all ye cry or whisper,

By all ye leave or do,

The silent, sullen peoples,

Shall weigh your Gods and you.

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[1] A quick survey of the vast amount of philosophical material devoted to meta-ethics proves that, on the scholarly level at least, there is little agreement about what such words really mean. Many, like philosopher J.L. Mackie have concluded that the words may have no objective meaning at all! See the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s discussion of “Moral Nihilism”.

[2] While it’s hard to say any historical event was totally “beneficial” or totally “detrimental”, I’ll be aiming at a general assessment and evaluating the data with an eye for trends one way or the other.

[3] The Muslims might argue that their invasion of France would be beneficial, because wiping out the erroneous Christian religion and replacing it with the truth of Islam would ensure that far more people make it to Heaven than had the invasion not occurred.

Martel, on the other hand, may consider it more beneficial for his people to express themselves organically, without having a foreign culture imposed on them. Thus – the two different worldviews lead to two different understandings of what would be beneficial to France.

[4] As a brief editorial note: the negative portrayal of British interests is so constant in American pop-culture, that there’s little wonder many people are quick to think the worst without, at times, considering the complexities involved in their situation. General Robert E. Lee made an ironic remark about these sorts of people – saying that the South’s only mistake was putting all its worst generals on the battlefield, and leaving all its best to write newspaper editorials…

[5] Macaulay, early on, joined the abolitionist movement as well; additionally, in his memoirs, he praises the introduction of Christianity into the Indian continent. See chapter 1 of Trevelyan’s biography, alluded to above.