The 5th of July It would have been rude, perhaps even obtuse & insensitive, to deliver myself of another Loyalist

rant on the 4th of July. And besides, after 237 years, it would be arcane to argue the Declaration of Independence point by point. The document landed in London without much of a thud; it was more noticed by the progressive factions there, than by the authorities it proposed to defy. But in due course, a few Tory hacks took note of Jefferson’s wild effusion, & pulled it apart, fact tact & premiss. Someone should reprint it all today (perhaps someone has): the full, contemporary Tory response, or rather, the full response — for rebuttals to the Declaration came mostly from self-described Old Whigs. Some, even among those sympathetic to the political aspirations of the American “Patriots,” were nevertheless embarrassed by such an over-the-top chargesheet. In the meantime we fall back on our beloved Doctor Johnson, for a summary of the reactive, contrary position: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” In America, there could be little debate, for the British offer to concede American independence by a peaceful settlement under the Crown had been ignored, & the matter was now being settled by arms. My own people were on the losing side of that exchange, which is perhaps why I still harbour some mild annoyance in the matter. I think of men like my maternal great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Stetson Holmes of Massachusetts, who actually fought on the side of the Continental Army, but was so disgusted with the treatment of his old Loyalist neighbours in the wake of their defeat, that he followed them into exile. There were many, many stories like this, that don’t fit any “official narrative.” Ditto, for symmetry, the plight of so many Loyalists, smugly abandoned to the convenience of British negotiators after the war, who switched sides to the Patriots, though at less personal cost. That war was far more complicated & messy than is taught in the myths of national chauvinism, whether from my traditional Canadian, or the traditional American side. As, too, our respective versions of the invasion of Canada in 1812, which even where they can agree on fact, diametrically oppose on principle. Each side supplies facts to the other, in a somewhat selective manner; each finds the other side strangely deaf. Though equality in error does not follow from this, it may well follow that the discussion is pointless. Yet, get me started, & I’ll be glad to resume it, easily provoked by the simplistic & disingenuous account long provided, to the young & impressionable in the Republic to our south. As I was saying just yesterday to some provocateur from Texas, pushing that account too aggressively into my face: “You really must dirty your brain with a little historical reading, for it appears to have been too thoroughly washed by your State education system.” Not everything taught in State schools (both sides of every border) is a lie, of course. But when formative national myths are expounded, no teacher is quite under oath. I long defended the need for such propaganda, in holding a nation together, or a religious sect. With age, it now seems that lies are just lies, & that a key objection to the whole project of Modernity — from Reformation through Enlightenment & forward, with every nationalist revolution along the way — is its foundation upon a few big lies, with a lot of little ones cemented into the buttressing. Had the lies been all on one side, however, the edifice might have toppled by now. For the whole Baroque scheme of opposition to Modernity, splendid as it may first appear, rests itself upon the same loose gravel. (Put not your faith in men!) And in a mysterious way, lies from one side buttress lies from the other. They perpetuate each other in fulfilment of the prophecy I attribute to Christ in his mysterious instruction: “Resist ye not evil.” It is hard to see, in the heat of conflict, that rather than push back against an evil with equal & opposite force, we should not resist, even flee the temptation when necessary, & let it collapse under its own weight & thrust. For somewhere in the divine advice is an ingenious earthly strategy: to recognize our own contribution to an intractable problem, & see what happens when we take it away. Call this, as I will, “Christian idleness.” It consists of considering everything from all sides, & then doing nothing — not because that is the easiest thing to do, for it is usually the hardest. Rather, because it is the right thing to do. That “the perfect is the enemy of the good” may be sworn against this. That the moral order for human persons is irrelevant to States, we may also allow. In which case, let it be observed, that States can make no legitimate claim to virtue — being inhuman, after all. Leviathan should not be mistaken for a man. It is therefore wrong to attribute moral virtues to this Leviathan of State; for only (human) statesmen can be wise. Which is why, in sound mediaeval political thought, the focus is on the statesman & not on the question of how the statesman is elected. (This is important; there will be a test.) We cannot consider virtue in politics until we have put the politics in human terms, & exited the wonderland of leviathanic abstraction.

Yea. At Mass we recall Saint Antonio Maria Zaccaria (d. For better & for worse — indeed. is that the United States can no longer be prevented. in a really amateur way. It was a superb poster. As a first step. arguably. It will probably remain for a few years yet. & recovering a few elementary truths? I should think any effort in this line would yield abundant public dividends. may grasp that where perfection is unobtainable. we still cannot be happy. I think rather of the 5th of July. It depicted a rag doll being fed through a wringer. Indeed: we usually do. … We start from where we are. And like this insubstantiall Pageant faded. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. The Iron Law of Paradox tells us that only by “living in the past” — by some conscious intellectual effort to overcome the anachronism in all propaganda history — can we even begin to understand the botch at which we have most recently arrived. as the day after the 4th. when the Battle of Wagram was fought (& darn that Napoleon. an approach to it might still be worth a try. as in life more generally. & the truth will make you free. to inserting oneself in the stretch of the narrative. & down into a Hell in which. The Clowd-capt Towres. into thin Ayre: And like the baselesse fabricke of this vision. how can we go about deconstructing the lies. we start thinking again — the way they’re still not doing in Egypt. The solemne Temples. we must start from where we are. when Newton’s Principia was published (1687). is the error that has dragged us through centuries of spiritual misery.” Is this not so? And does wisdom not begin at this beginning? And does every aspiration to worldly renown. We ask of the world what the world cannot provide.1539). consecrated not to God but to our own genius. nor Tom Paine & the rest of them. not return to the dust with us? Prospero put this nicely. “That you will know the truth. & America has had her share. It is the day in history when Constantine’s great bridge over the Danube was opened (anno 338). in light of all that our ancestors achieved to make the world the mess we have inherited. as we do up here in the High Doganate. Those who don’t read history are not doomed to repeat it. 1809). The 5th of July is a day on which. not from where we’d like to be. * . They are doomed to keep trying to repeat it. & every satisfaction of revenge.” My mama used to have a poster with this caption. In politics. largely for the better — it has been a fact of life ever since. Notwithstanding all these important events.Wise statesmen. but the journey of a thousand loads begins with a single laundry cycle. all which it inherit. even when we have every material comfort. Not. but must recall the irony in all our proud aspiration to make some national or material order that can outlive Time. feeding our appetites more than our bellies. a larger figure in history than is commonly acknowledged. Leave not a racke behind. * There are reasons to celebrate the 5th of July. & the contemplative use of a little force. applied in timely way. the highest truth. The case is worse than that. This. might be the next best thing to perfect hebetude. through iTunes). & we are right to accommodate it in our general scheme of current realities. “Less is more. when the Auld Alliance was declared between Scotland & France (1295). And the curious thing is that some history is required to understand the botch. on the wall by her washing machine. whose dozen surviving letters are absolutely extraordinary. shall dissolve. not assuredly.” or can be. to get any purchase. We make the best of a botch. to immortality in fame or in works. & unto dust shalt thou return. One could do worse today than listen to any one of those letters (available free from the Barnabite Fathers. illustrating a formative truth. … for dust thou art. to my mind. the great Globe it selfe. at just the right places. the gorgeous Pallaces. The reason we don’t bother to argue with Tom Jefferson any more. in its secular aspect. by a deep cost-cutting: the determined writing-off of so many poor investments. till thou return unto the ground. about “these our actors”: … melted into Ayre.

Let us be ridiculous. in every public or political decision that must be made. 2013 . Don’t think about the sorrows of the world. or impose. The possibility of rising is implicit not only in every personal deliberation. Don’t think about the sorrows of the world. & many others who were capable of a little chastity. or impede. but also. You’ll be stifled with dust. Most. for public is as public does. You will only make yourself dusty. strange to say. It starts with not desecrating ourselves. for all we have to do is rise. to conceive of this world in quite another way. It is a view that seems unrecoverable. I would say. July 3. scattered here & there. Don’t escort the big chariot. with their warning of hubris. I might even tag this. & were better unmade than taken any farther — but even there.) Where the answers are negative: Why are we doing this. Don’t think about the sorrows of the world. that we can ask of ourselves before every public decision. as well or better than we ever did. This has remained the intention of remnants. without looking for a fork in the road. For he included in his Book of Songs.It was the wisdom of Christendom. & call this the “public choice theory” in “the economy of salvation. the very great political philosopher. before the Western Schism. Confucius. every act that impinges upon the fate of others — as much in business as in government. to the post-modern ear. & the pagan Greeks. conveyed this peculiarly well — this gentlemanly striving not to play along. or help to mire us all in the earthly? (And let it be said that neither the American nor the Canadian “founding fathers” were impervious to such questions. when we could equally well be doing something else. or nothing? Why are we rolling ourselves in the dust? And compelling others to roll with us? By what divine right to we appropriate the power to modify the divine plan? I’m sure that sounds oppressively Christian.” I think it may be formulated in guiding questions. no. not quite. the man entrusted to decide cannot honestly deny that he is choosing on behalf of others. need never have been made. under the Eye of Heaven. “Christian libertarianism”: Does the proposed measure aid. And yet it can be recovered in a moment. not to ride with fashion & falsity & fuss in the foolish Procession of the State. Don’t escort the big chariot. not to mire ourselves in matters that go far beyond our business. among the ancient lamentations (Waley’s translation. And whether with or without a vote. You won’t be able to see for dust. You will only load yourself with care. the Chinese understood it. the salvation of our fellow men? Does it lift. Or you will never escape from your despair. & continues with not desecrating others. Yet oddly enough. in the light of our politics & traffic today. the truth is that someone must decide. 286): Don’t escort the big chariot. to build everywhere in view of the Hereafter. even a little fear. You will only make yourself wretched. a burden upon them? Does it make each more free to pursue his salvation.

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