About Me

My Photo
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Benjamin Franklin

Monday, 21 July 2014

Bill Maher gets rational over Israel and Hamas.

Surprisingly, Bill Maher, normally an apologist for the progressive narrative gets real on the Israel - Hamas conflict.

And in the comments section following this video, Chris Jones observes:

“One thing I don’t understand is why our society seems to tolerate rioters throwing rocks by calling guys like this a “protester”, while he is plainly not protesting but rather fighting and attacking. Chucking a big rock into a crowd could literally kill somebody so it should be treated as a very serious assault or attempted murder. If Western leaders don’t want our societies to degenerate into so many Gaza Strips they need to start doing their jobs and putting guys like this away for some good long prison stretches. Someone has to tell these vicious monkeys that civilized people don’t settle their differences by throwing rocks and screaming like animals…”

To his point that we don’t want our societies to become Gaza Strips, that surely is ultimately in the hands of our politicians, specifically our respective Ministers of Immigration.  Here in New Zealand we have exported our fair share of Muslim jihadists overseas with ‘who knows’ how many still here at home, but thankfully we still have a way to go to compete with Britain and Europe on that score.

That said, winning the world cup for the production of ‘homegrown’ jihadists must never become our nations aspirational goal, yet we like France appear to have plenty of immigrants willing to engage in street protests against Israel.  Thankfully, unlike France, none of our Synagogues have been attacked by street mobs, yet.

Here is a link to the article from Charles Krauthammer that is referred to in the video. It brings crystal clarity to the discusson.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Assisted killing is on a roll.

Another guest article from Bruce Logan, a New Zealand author and social commentator presently living in France.

The ‘right to die’ is gobbledygook. Death is inevitable. Under what appeal to reason or sensibility could dying possibly be a human right?  It is not a right even if you add the misleading euphemism ‘with dignity’. On the other hand one has a right not to be killed or harmed. Pour all the linguistic stickiness you like around euthanasia, it is about the legal right to kill.  It’s a kind of ‘medicalised’ 007 activity.

Assisted killing is on a roll. The Lords are debating it in the UK.  Well known South African clergyman, Desmond Tutu, supports it. A retired Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, supports it. The Anglican Church in England is ‘rethinking’ its position. Recent polls in several European countries support it. Some countries already have it. Polls in New Zealand support it although, one imagines, the response depends on how the question is put.

What is remarkable about what the churchmen are saying is that they have left their theology at the door. Their arguments for assisted killing have become the same as everybody else; they are utilitarian. (Something is right because it apparently works.) Lord Carey’s claim that to oppose assisted killing is ‘to promote anguish and pain’ is simplistic. Has seems to have forgotten the theology of suffering taught by his own church. To give up and assist a loved one to kill himself or herself must be the denial of Christian hope.

The churchman’s own faith says definitively, that life is a gift from God and it is not ours to decide when we should end either our own or somebody else’s. The same churchmen should also know that all human action has outcomes beyond our comprehension.

To endure the death of someone you love is as bad as it gets; emotions of pity, anguish, anger and resignation ebb and surge. At these times, personal decision making is not at its sharpest. Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s recent flirtation with Dignitas in the UK and subsequent rejection is an excellent example of that ebb and surge.

It might seem that the compassionate thing to do is to get rid of suffering as quickly as possible.  However, in daily life, compassion is easily confused with pity; simply feeling sorry for someone.

Compassion is essentially what the word suggests; one suffers alongside another. Compassion, to be itself, needs to be informed by a theology of the eternal reality of the human being. It is difficult to find a coherent foundation for compassion in a world confined to the material.

There is no apology here for ‘theology’. We all have one implicit or declared. The issue is simply, which god does one build on?

Pain, especially physical pain, is the greatest of utilitarian evils. And from that point of view if somebody is suffering a painful terminal illness the kindest thing to do is to end that suffering. The point and purpose of life is over.

Having assumed a materialistic philosophy of life utilitarianism insists on the primacy of choice. Assisted killing in the hands of relatives, doctors or one’s enemies has nothing to do with dignity. Living or dying becomes the choice of another. That death is never dignified. At best it is poignant.

The best evidence supporting the present pervasiveness of the utilitarian ethic comes to us from Holland, which has had legal euthanasia since 2001. The consequences are not encouraging. According to Theo Boer, an experienced ethics professor at Groningen University, euthanasia now looks like the ‘default mode’ of death for cancer patients in The Netherlands.

Since 2008 reported numbers have increased by 15% each year, from 1882 in 2002 to approximately 6000 in 2013. The response of The Dutch Right to Die Society (NVVE) is to lobby for a lethal pill being made available to anyone over 70 who ‘wants to die’. The irony in the choice of ‘three score and ten’ has probably eluded this august body.

The slippery slope has two faces. It ensures increasing numbers being killed by legal assisted killing and it desensitizes everyone involved by further encouraging a confusion between pity and compassion. In thirteen years that is exactly what has happened in The Netherlands.

Pity, which has become a counterfeit for compassion, has the power to make the liberal mind believe it is virtuous. Compassion is painful because you become intimately linked to the one who suffers. That union has its own hope and consummation. Euthanasia advocates seem unable to understand that the poisoned root of assisted killing slowly saps the life from compassion.

It is this confusion that lies at the heart of the popular acceptance of assisted killing. That acceptance, incidentally, is not the same as the ideological demand for it from the NVVE, for example.

Watching someone you love die, is bad enough; watching someone you love suffering ‘unto death’ is terrible. We want, above all else, the suffering to stop. If assisted killing becomes legal we would suddenly have a tool to stop that pain. Don’t fool yourself, you will use it, if not to stop the pain of the one you love, you will use it to stop your own. Frequently it is impossible to distinguish between the two.

It is inevitable that legal assisted killing will eventually corrupt the human heart and ultimately the culture. It has to silence the conscience otherwise we could not bear the guilt. We must not discover we have substituted pity for compassion; exchanged a pound for a penny.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Appeasing Islam still trumps gay rights.

It’s difficult to imagine a punishment more cruel, than be forced to listen to endless speeches from Joe Biden, Vice President of the world’s largest super power. This is especially true when it comes to commentary on American foreign policy, a conflicted and contradictory political construct at the best of times.

Vice President Joe Biden says protecting gay rights is a defining mark of a civilized nation and must trump national cultures and social traditions.

We get the message Joe, gay rights trump Biblical morality.  Diversity is to be celebrated so long as there is universal conformity to the LBGT agenda. 

Recently JP Morgan ran an employee survey with one question asking their staff:

            “Are you an LGBT ally?”

This was not an anonymous survey, so what happens to your career at JP Morgan if you skip that question, or answer it ‘incorrectly’? There were no questions asking ‘Are you a Christian ally’, or a Jew, or a Mormon, or a Muslim or an Obama ally?

Biden told a gathering of US and international gay rights advocates that President Barack Obama has directed that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women around the world.

Ah yes, US diplomacy and foreign assistance.

Here is a list of countries receiving foreign assistance from the USA by annual value.  I note that the Muslim country of Pakistan, not especially known for its LGBT friendly policies, receives over $3.5 Billion dollars of foreign assistance from the USA annually.  Likewise other LGBT hostile nations receive the following: Nigeria $1.7 B, Iraq $1.9B, Somalia $1.0B, Sudan 1.0B… you get the idea.

So while Biden is clear, LGBT rights trump national cultures and (religious) traditions, his government continues to channel billions of dollars of US foreign assistance to LGBT hostile Islamic nations.

For Joe Biden and the Obama administration, despite the rhetoric, appeasing Islam trumps gay rights all day long. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

David Cameron spends £1.1 billion to defend against Islam. More NZ Muslim passports cancelled.

Some of you may have seen the interview on TVNZ’s ‘Sunday’ program with Muslim convert “Haroon” a former Maori gang member, whose passport has been canceled as he attempted to travel to the Middle East for education in “Sharea Law”.

I am unable to imbedded the video in this blog post but is available at the above link.  The video speaks for itself and contains interviews with his Imam and those at the Mosque that has recently been closed down in Auckland because of internal controversy including accusations of intimidation and violence.

Below is a 2010 Interview with Sam Solomon, a former high ranking Imam and Islamic scholar who speaks frankly about the nature and ambitions of Islam.  Thanks to vladtapesblog.com

In the video he describes the function of Mosques around the world, and how Muslims view them.  He also talks frankly about the ‘religion’ of Islam and its social political nature. 

We cannot afford to be asleep to this threat to our way of life.  David Cameron has just announced a £1.1 billion cash injection for defense "to help keep our country safe and stop terrorism at source".

This is nothing less than a ‘terrorism tax’ that all British citizens are now required to pay as the price of Islamic immigration to their country.

Furthermore, Emergency laws will be brought in next week to force phone and internet companies in Britain to hold records of customers’ calls, texts and visits to websites.

“The fast-track measures are necessary to defend national security against the terrorist threat from Iraq and Syria”, David Cameron said.

“The consequences of not acting are grave”, the Prime Minister said.

Not only are terrorism taxes now in place, but further restrictions on the privacy and freedoms of British citizens.  Internet and phone companies will incur additional costs in complying with these legislative changes, and once again, it will be the consumer that pays.

At what point does David Cameron admit they are at war with Islam?  When they have to tip in another £1.1 billion defense cash injection, or £5.1 billion to defend the nation against its Muslim citizens?

Politically he can never admit this, so he continues with the ‘Islamism is not Islam’ charade while their schools, their culture and ultimately their nation quietly submit to Islam. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Lord Scott: Converting to Islam creates harmony.

I have on occasions been critical of British politicians failure to either understand or address the problem of large scale Islamic immigration.  It is not just the bloodshed and terrorism you understand, the British are used to this from the IRA.  No, it’s the demise of the pork sausage from butchers and supermarkets around the country, the loss of bacon from over 200 Subway franchises and the banning of pork products from children’s school lunches.

Ok, I was being silly, but not as completely daft as Peer of the realm Lord Scott of Foscote.  When speaking in the house of Lords in a debate on improving relations between Muslims and other ‘faith groups’ in British society had this to say:

Lord Scott of Foscote (CB): My Lords, I have an interest on this Question because one of my two sons has become a Muslim and one of my two daughters has become a Muslim. I have 12 lovely grandchildren, seven of whom are little Muslims—or not that little now, because one of them is 21. And, of course, I have a Muslim son-in-law and a Muslim daughter-in-law. Family relationships since those events took place have been as happily familial, as close and as good as any parent or grandparent could wish. If an improvement is needed in relationships between faith groups, one way of promoting that might be to encourage interfaith marriages.

What Lord Scott apparently failed to observe is that in order for this harmony to break out between his children and their Muslim spouses, his children had to convert to Islam.  If this had not happened, no marriage would have taken place.

Harmony between Islam and other ‘faith communities’ is indeed possible, and able to be achieved once those belonging to ‘other’ faith communities convert to Islam. At this point, you don’t have an ‘interfaith’ marriage, you have a Muslim marriage.

With political and familial leadership like this Britain can look forward to complete harmony within a generation. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

President Obama, Islam, and the Nobel Committee all have something in common.

Is President Obama a Christian or a Muslim? Does it even matter? It is clear that the Muslim Brotherhood has enjoyed considerable favour from the Whitehouse since Obama’s election.  American military and economic influence in the Middle East, specifically in Libya and Egypt was intended to promote the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood, and was largely successful.

That was until the Egyptian Army tired of Obama’s agenda and tossed out the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president, much to the chagrin of the Whitehouse.   Oh, and Libya turned into an ungovernable tribal Islamic hellhole, murdering the American Ambassador at Benghazi.

Obama has stated in the UN Assembly that ‘the future does not belong to those who insult the prophet of Islam’.  Yes it is true that he followed this with a similar statement regarding Christianity, but if his actions reveal a bias towards Islam, then we know what was intended and what was mere window dressing.

And so on 4 July, Independence Day in the USA, Obama decides to visit a church and celebrate with the descendents of the Pilgrim Fathers, the nations founders and authors of the American constitution.  Well, not quite.  Obama’s press secretary announced just prior to 4 July: “President Obama will be visiting a Washington D.C. area Mosque on the morning of July 4th as a goodwill gesture to Muslim Americans.  The name and location of the Mosque are currently being withheld for security reasons.

According to his press secretary, following his visit to the Mosque, the President will host the traditional White House July 4th cookout.  Several influential Muslim leaders have been invited to attend the cookout, as a further gesture of goodwill.

American Muslim Ahmed Mohamed Usman, who will be attending the cookout, had nothing but praise for President Obama’s decision.  In an interview this afternoon on NPR, Usman had the following to say: “America is supposed to be the land of freedom and of tolerance. Finally we are starting to see this. If America has Christian prayer breakfasts, so must it have breakfasts praying to Mecca. If America is to put the 10 Commandments on display, so must she display the Quran. To be welcomed into the highest office of America to celebrate her birth and independence is an honor and is a step for Muslims in America to begin to establish our rights. President Obama is truly opening the door for Muslims in America.”

No wonder Ahmed is delighted.  He views President Obama’s recognition of Islam on American Independence day as placing it on ‘equal footing’ with Christianity in that nation.  I wonder just how much Obama’s sympathies for Islam reflect those of the American people, whose sons and daughters have spent the last 15 years fighting and dying in the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan, against the sons of Islam?

But America is not at war with Islam is it?  It is Islam that’s at war with America.

Apparently President Obama is in line to receive his second Nobel Peace prize. 

The Nobel Committee cited three separate contributing factors which led to their choice of President Obama a second time. The first was his for his leadership in brokering a diplomatic solution to the disarmament of chemical weapons in Syria. The second was for his strong commitment to drawing down the military presence of The United States in foreign countries, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq. The third was for his strong and continuing support of the United Nations and international law.

So Obama presides over the decline America’s global influence including the end of its military hegemony in Europe and the Middle East.  Only a complete re-write of history would have Obama brokering the diplomatic solution for chemical weapons disarmament in Syria, and if you believe that the UN is an instrument for world peace, you could ask why it is so ineffective in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia… you get the picture.

But hey, they have to give it to someone.  Apparently their first preference was to give it to the well-known Palestinian peace campaigner, Yasser Arafat, only to discover that he was long dead.  Like Obama he already has one too.   Perhaps the current leader of Hamas is too busy organizing rocket attacks against Israel to have time to accept the prize posthumously on Arafat's behalf, and so the Committee went for their second choice.

Like President Obama, the Nobel Committee has no credibility. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Teaching ‘British values’ in schools could upset moderate Muslims - Nick Clegg

Lib Democrats leader Nick Clegg is concerned that teaching ‘British values’ in schools could upset moderate Muslims.  He is talking about those new insipid, secular and unsubstantial British values of ‘tolerance and inclusion’.  Not those former robust British values grounded in protestant Christianity centered upon the person of Jesus Christ.

“Mr Clegg is worried that some Muslims are offended because their religion is often singled out when ministers talk about “British values”. He believes that David Cameron and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, may unwittingly anger Muslim community leaders the Government needs to tackle extremism and could fuel Islampohobia among the British public.
His concern echoes the dispute between Mr Gove and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who feared that the hardline approach to extremism favoured by the Education Secretary could brand all Muslims as potential terrorists.”

That would be entirely unfair when we know that according to a 2006 survey only 61% of Muslims in the UK wanted the implementation of Sharia law, and just 36% of British Muslims believe that apostates should be killed.

Mr. Clegg is worried about Muslims being offended?  Now why would that be?  Possibly because when Muslims are offended they have a history of behaving irrationally and violently.  They protest, they riot they kill people.  Remember the Danish Mohammad cartoons?

Britain is beginning to realize that it has an intractable problem.  

It has imported millions of people who embrace a religious ideology that is entirely alien to ‘British values’ past and present.  Alien to democratic pluralism.  Alien to anything that does not submit to Islam.

Mr. Clegg believes he has the answer – do not offend Muslims. Do anything to avoid offence.  Compromise, concede, pander, fawn, apologize, flatter, grovel, negotiate, conciliate, and retreat.

That should do it.

Monday, 7 July 2014

I’ve seen the future brother, it is murder - Leonard Cohen

As the election season approaches, we have cause to ponder on the ‘state of the nation’ and reflect upon the future.  Leonard Cohen, a songwriter not always known for his cheerful disposition says he’s seen the future, and it’s murder. 

We live in a world of so much political spin that it’s difficult to tell if crime is rising or decreasing, so much depends upon how it’s reported.  I do know that we don’t lock people up for stealing apples anymore.

On that note, I took a couple of my granddaughters to the library the other day.  While we were there one of the staff members was excitedly telling another that she had ‘caught the toilet roll thief’. Apparently a teenage lad had been stealing them for some time, and she caught him in the act.

Why does a teenage male steal toilet rolls?  Are they popular on the black market or does he just give them to his mum?  I’ve concluded that the answer is simply ‘because he can’.  For this kid and others like him, will it make any difference if Labour is elected and reduces classroom sizes from 26 to 23 students?  With the improved teacher student ratio, will he suddenly repent of his criminal ways, and embrace virtue?

Will his grades even improve?

For this young man I’ve seen the future, and it’s prison.

In Bruce Logan’s guest article he reminded us of John Adams who said ‘We have no government with power capable of contending with human passion unbridled by morality and religion.’ 

And again, ‘our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other’.

Here in New Zealand religion is in decline, and morality is what the Government says it is.  When immersed in a culture that has been animated by a thousand years of Christianity it is easy to believe that you can dispense with the religion and still retain the virtue.  Why wouldn’t the next generation growing up without the pernicious influence of Sunday School continue to embrace the traditional virtues of chastity, self control, love, diligence, patience, kindness and humility?

What are the chances that they would turn feral, and be reduced to flogging rolls of toilet paper from the local library?

National and Labour are promising to spend millions more on reducing the growing problem of domestic violence, an evil that is responsible for half he murders in our country.  They can throw some technology at the problem, but honestly, who amongst us believes that a politician or a civil servant living in Wellington can prevent domestic violence from happening anywhere other than in their own home?

Finally, Leonard Cohen has an excellent grasp on the Green party’s policy to remove abortion from the criminal code in New Zealand.  He concludes his song ‘future’ as follows:

Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby:
it is murder


Sunday, 6 July 2014

The new ‘objectivity’, unmoored from history, embraced culturally, expressed journalistically.

I am delighted to share with you a guest post by friend, author and social commentator Bruce Logan, presently living in France.

‘The truth shall make you free’ The affirmation above, made by Jesus Christ and recorded by the apostle John, must be one of the most misappropriated Biblical claims in recent years. The romantic and the modern liberal love it. Freedom and Truth are such glorious ideas; the very stuff of revolutionary confidence. The conservative has reason to delight in it too, but for very different reasons.

We have a problem. There always is.

Is there anything at all that is permanently true or is truth always changing? In my lifetime both of these views have prevailed at different times. Until I was about forty truth might have had a certain fuzziness about it but it contained, for most of us, a hard kernel of permanence. Like Edmund Burke and many before him, we believed Man is a reasoning animal but not necessarily reasonable. Reason, we knew and some still know, is not powerful enough to control our moral behaviour. Such behaviour is shaped by beliefs that were inherited over a long period of time. They remain, of course, subject to some amendment but not to radical change. In New Zealand, for example, the entire primary and secondary education system was established on that belief.

We are now in the tail end of what some call the post-modern period. By tail end I mean the ideology that gave life to post-modernism has been mislaid in transit. More from habit than conviction we cling to the authority of personal opinion. We assume that such opinion can be sustained by naked reason.  A poetry anthology in schools that declares a poem has as many meanings as readers, fails to raise an eyebrow. We have had a revolution.

With uncomfortable intuition, to paraphrase the Irish poet W. B. Yeats some fear that things might be falling apart. ‘Mere anarchy’ may not be ‘loosed upon’ New Zealand just yet but it does seem the ‘centre cannot hold’. Except for the pantheistic socialists in the Green Party we have left the politics of conviction far behind. Pantheistic socialism is probably the religion of many young Kiwis although it is doubtful if they would understand the genesis of either.

The notion of objectivity (reason informed by humility) was once central to learning and living. The ability to be objective was an essential feature of the educated mind. Theology, history and scientific method reinforced the practical good sense of objectivity, incomplete as it might have been.  Always, somewhere at the back of everyone’s mind, was the belief that the truth was lurking about in the meadow longing to be found out. Like the beautiful girl in the adolescent’s dream; you knew she was there, discernable and desirable, but too allusive to caress.

Objectivity insisted that a certain humility accompany one’s beliefs about the human condition. We had not yet lost sight of the darker realities of human nature; one’s own nature.  The ordinary man or woman was a creature at once responsible and dutiful. Many would have agreed with G. K. Chesterton when asked what was wrong with the world. ‘Dear Sir, I am.’ One possessed a heart and mind which was both the problem and solution.  Sin and salvation had not been consigned to the politically incorrect rubbish bin. We had not yet evolved into creatures who believed the State to be the solution.

As Michael Polanyi has pointed out in his seminal text ‘Personal Knowledge’ we were well aware that objectivity was not an absolute, even in the application of scientific method.  It was nevertheless a consequence of truth’s existence and a necessary tool to understand its nature. Subjectivity remained, we understood that it was always a factor to take into account in all personal observation. The truth, we believed, was really there to be discovered.

Sometime during the second half of my life we exchanged a belief in a permanent truth for a belief in an imprecise kind of relativism. The reasons for this change have been documented elsewhere ad nauseam. They do not concern us here but what does concern us is how that change has caused us to consider and examine events and the nature of government and law.

For the journalist the change is critical for at least two reasons. We all want to know what really happened.  In a society submitted to moral and cultural relativism the journalist becomes more pervasive and increasingly powerful. For many people the media has become the sole source of information about events and ideas.

Society is shaped by its opinion makers rather than by its traditions.

The ‘Fourth Estate’, a term incidentally, according to Thomas Carlyle, was first used by Edmund Burke, is a revealing one. Journalists, particularly in a relativist society, increasingly fuse information with opinion. While it would be excessive to suggest they are like Old Testament prophets they are a bit like that in a superficial way. Maybe we have superficial prophets for a superficial culture.

If truth is relative the task of the journalist changes. Objectivity becomes irrelevant but somehow he or she has to appear ‘neutral’. The irony is delicious. Having lost the basis necessary for objectivity a working counterfeit replacement has to be found. However, with the loss of any pervasive hypothesis of permanent or transcendent truth, conflicting ‘truths’ in a ‘neutral milieu become politicized and locked in a struggle for power. The issue becomes not what is said but who says it. Authority once derived from a belief in God slides into the most persuasive and powerful priesthood of the State.

In short, truth is now a political creation.

And don’t think it is not about God because it most certainly is. The battle has always been here. The present, popular and pervasive version of the conflict goes back to Neitczhe’s condemnation of John Stuart Mill, George Eliot and others. They assumed that belief in God could be dispensed with and traditional ethics still be maintained. God was a gloss to a reasonable ethic.  Neitczhe knew better. Mill, Eliot and the rest were ‘English Flatheads’. Kill God and the morality disappears too; anything becomes possible and it has. Every man and woman becomes his or her own authority. It is hard not to quote from the Book of Judges, ‘and everyone did what was right in his own eyes’.

An omnipresent myth has been created; a view of the world untrammeled by religion, and in New Zealand that means the Christian faith, is a neutral world. The secular view of life is reasonable; the religious view is based on faith and therefore is not neutral. I’m not suggesting here that all religions are equal; they are most certainly not. Some are mutually exclusive, Christianity, Islam and Judaism for example.

The assumption of secular neutrality leads to a range of working and prevailing ideologies to attend to problems as they arise. The doctrine of multiculturalism, for example, is a utilitarian attempt to attend to difference by blending it with tolerance, a post-modern replacement for humility. The primary virtue of the Christian is replaced by a State directed ethic that tells us how we must think of others. The reason of the secularist, one imagines, presides over social order like a disinterested judge. Religion, because it is perceived to be anti-reason, is not permitted into the public square at all.

Such an eventuality is not entirely new. A version of it was argued over by Plato and Aristotle although neither denied the existence of the transcendent. They were more interested in the nature of state power and in Aristotle’s case, the role of the family, particularly the father.

What we have now is a twist on the continuing argument between the radical and the conservative that reached its height in the eighteenth century. Cultural relativism then was not an issue. Both sides assumed truth existed. The argument was about method and authority.

In 1790 Edmund Burke published ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’. He had met and talked with Voltaire and Diderot but was not convinced by their revolutionary claims for the need to ‘wipe the slate clean’. Of course chance will come about as circumstances change. There is, however, ‘the collected reason of ages’ that will help manage the transition. The French Revolutionaries, Burke said, wanted to dispose of ‘the decent drapery of life…which cover the defects of our naked, shivering nature.’ He was happy with cultural evolution but not revolution. Freedom and its laws are inherited. They are not snatched out of the air. ‘Inbred sentiments are the monitors of our duty.’

Burke was a believer in the essential corruptibility of the human spirit. ‘We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason because we suspect that this stock in each man is small.’  The British tradition, now almost lost in spite of David Cameron’s search for contemporary British values, was largely informed by Protestant Christianity. Its understanding of freedom was posited on the belief that Man was the creation of Almighty God. Although Burke did not use the jargon of sociology he assumed, like his peers, that culture was religiously informed. The French Revolution, by forbidding religion a place in the public square will bring about a society, ‘in which, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.’

A few months later the journalist Thomas Paine responded forcefully to Burke with a best seller ‘The Rights of Man’ dedicated to George Washington. A year later he followed with Part Two. Paine says a great deal very well, but there is one theme that is pervasive. ‘Government is for the living, and not the dead, it is only the living that has any right in it...for a nation to be free…it is sufficient that she wills it’.

The nature of his argument is obvious and the prevailing contemporary one in New Zealand. Revolution is necessary if we are to progress. It is the present generation that matters. Reason alone is the method. Like many of the French revolutionaries who were his friends, Paine was convinced that ‘The Age of Reason’ had come. The human mind was at last to be liberated from superstition and priest craft. Following Rousseau he believed the political problem was the consequence of the system and not the human heart.

In spite of Paine’s profound error of judgment on the French Revolution, journalists, in the main, follow Paine and Rousseau rather than Burke. And Paine too was wrong about the American Revolution, probably the most successful revolution ever. Unlike the French who abolished religion from the public square the Americans protected its freedom. They understood that freedom of religious expression underpinned all other freedoms particularly freedom of speech.

But now the solution to inequality and injustice will be solved by the right kind of new laws. Progress is a matter of the secular and neutral state creating more just legislation. We are told, in the silence of politically correct censorship, that human rights will be better secured by the state taking increasing control of our lives. Indeed that has been the message of much social legislation in New Zealand in the last thirty years.

One wonders how many journalists in New Zealand are mindful of the distinction between Burke and Paine. How many would even be aware of the longstanding argument they echo in support of certain kinds of taxation and welfare, euthanasia, positive human rights rather than negative human rights, laws relating to marriage and state power.

‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’, has a context. Christ is talking about himself. He is the truth. The truth is personal not a political abstraction. When John Adams in a letter to the ‘Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massacusetts’ said, ‘our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other’ he was not waffling. He also said ‘We have no government with power capable of contending with human passion unbridled by morality and religion.’

Adams, and many of his peers, understood that good government was the consequence of the kind of conscience citizens held closest to their hearts. Truth is both something we believe about the world and a conviction that shapes the human heart. It is the nature of that conviction that makes democracy possible. Democracy demands a particular kind of citizen. Those who share a personal and common vision of truth which by necessity must be greater than the State.

The myth of neutrality undermines democracy because it encourages an increasing dependency on the state. Law becomes the architect of morality and in the process, more lovely irony, tries to invent its own civil religion; something like Elton John’s concept of Tolerance when he recently stated: ‘Jesus would have approved of gay marriage because he was a Christian’.  We gain in practice a tyranny whose civil religion is equality and tolerance.

It will work for a short while only.

What are journalists to make of all this?  Not much because most of them are uncritically involved in the tyranny. They are without any kind of rationale or power to resist the prevailing zeitgeist of tolerance. Having given up on tradition and religion they have no weapons left to fight the new, and for a while, benign tyranny. To protest is to be ostracized.

Many journalists are really the disciples of the prevailing error. The secular view of life is by its nature neutral because it is based on reasonable observation. If something appears to work it must be true. Apparent and immediate utility is what matters. They have forgotten, if they ever knew, that if something is true it will either work now or many years into the future. It is truth that creates utility. Utility does not create truth.

The grand political disaster here is that democracy is destroyed because it is captured by various groups fighting for their share of power in the ideological swamp of ‘identity politics’.  A politics that deals in abstractions and generalisations and not in the dignity of an individual man or woman given to us by God. Identity politics reinforces the need of the state to define what it means to be a human being. That is exactly what happens in all revolutions.

Commentators it would seem, with the vision of Burke or journalists with the balls of Paine, are scarce on the ground. One hopes there are some left in the newsroom.