Two Psychological Televangelists

Canada has long been an incubator of ‘public intellectuals’ achieving international acclaim, from Marshall McLuhan to Malcolm Gladwell. Lately, two academic psychologists have cast nearly all rivals for public attention into the shade: Steven Pinker, evolutionary psychologist, language theorist, and popularizer of science-based humanism, and Jordan Peterson, psychoanalytical analyst of of individual abnormality and political pathology.

Both have Montreal connections. Pinker was born here (1954), and studied at Dawson College and McGill, before parting for several American Ivy League appointments and settling into a Harvard professorship, Peterson, eight years younger, after growing up and beginning his college life in Alberta, took his Ph.D. at McGill, He spent some years of his own at Harvard, but returned to Canada to teach at the U. of Toronto. Both show some stigmata of their age cohort. Pinker is a baby boomer from the classic boomer years, those entering late adolescence in the great upheaval decade of 1965-75, while Peterson is from the tail end of the boom, he and others in this age group entering their university years as the radical fevers of the late 1960s, while still burning, were being accompanied by second thoughts and multiple disillusions.

Ever since the 1920s, psychologists and psychoanalysts have made a great noise in the U.S. as a secular or quasi-secular new clergy. Most of the older generation were e’migre’ Europeans, Freudian or near-Freudian. Throughout the century, bookstores, newsstand magazines, and even mass circulation newspapers featured regular pontifications from Erich Fromm, Abraham Maslow, Bruno Bettelheim, Viktor Frankl, and Erik Erikson, all born around 1900. Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ invaded business courses in marketing; Bettekheim and Frankl drew on personal experience in Nazi concentration camps in theorizing about victims and their victimizers.  Erikson entranced some readers and exasperated others by providing ingenious but highly speculative interpretations of Martin Luther and Gandhi. Pinker and Peterson have probably outdone them all in at least immediate impact, however, able to reach a much wider audience through far more TV appearances and YouTube videos, Peterson having become an astonishing phenomenon on the latter.

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Trudeau Underestimates the Power of Ideas

The New York Times recently posted a 2016 podcast interview of a returning Canadian ISIS fighter, known as Abu Huzaifa, who confessed to committing an execution-style murder while in Syria, which he now unconvincingly denies. He is believed to be living in Toronto and he is apparently known to the authorities. The Conservative opposition is in an uproar over these revelations, as they would have preferred that re-entry be denied to such individuals in the first place, as is the case in the UK.

One may reasonably conclude that in spite of the permitted re-entry of ISIS fighters, our national security forces are on top of it, and that Huzaifa, and those like him, will simply have to face justice here at home. The trouble, however, is that such an outcome is highly unlikely. Building a case on events that occurred a few years ago in a foreign war-torn country is extremely difficult, something the Trudeau government undoubtedly realizes.

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Tesla Technophilia and Little Miss Marker’s View

Tesla, Inc. is suddenly in deep trouble, with both its cars and its stock market valuation. Elon Musk has expanded far beyond the original Tesla Motors, created by two talented electrical engineers in the 1990s. They were eventually shoved aside by Musk, although they were responsible for putting Tesla on the map with the pretty ‘Roadster’ sports car, its design and construction drawing partly on the small but expert English Lotus company, while the Americans provided the electric motor and  associated components. But Musk, their largest investor, soon began to build a far larger operation, not just making cars, but working on steadily improving lithium batteries and other high tech products, growing in the last four years to over 37,000 employees (see the fascinating account, ‘The Making of Tesla; Invention, Betrayal, and the Birth of the Roadster’, Drake Baer, Business Insider, 11.11.14). But the firm, facing many technical and financial problems throughout its history, has been hit hard since the fatal and fiery crash of one of its cars testing the self-driving ‘autopilot’ last May, and Musk is now dealing with other failures, including a giant recall.

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How Ideology Perverts the Teaching of Law

In 1990, the year my book The Trouble With Canada was published and, to my surprise, became a best seller, I was invited by the Queen’s University Grad Students’ Law Society to participate in a public debate with Professor Sheila MacIntyre, then a prominent radical feminist law professor.

Whether or not Professor MacIntyre is “teaching” at Queen’s is an open question; because you cannot say someone is really teaching if she advances only her own preferences and biases in the readings and lectures she provides to her students.

When I was teaching at York University in the 1970s, some of the courses I taught included segments on ideological topics such as Marxism, Existentialism, Psychology, and so on. I always tried to present all sides of each question. But some of the students would protest, and on whatever the issue of the day may have been, would ask plaintively: “But Sir … What do you think?”

I always answered: “I am not telling you until after the course has ended. It’s my job to explain all sides as best I can. It is your job to think deeply about these things and then make up your own mind as to the best answer(s) to these questions.” This response always upset them a little. But by the end of the course, they could see why it was the best for their own intellectual development.

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Killing Christ: An Easter Reflection

Christ was regarded as an agitator by many of the religious and political leaders of his time. The religious order, in particular, was threatened by him due to his growing influence. Consequently, its leaders conspired to have him killed.

With the help of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed him, they successfully manoeuvered to have Jesus arrested, tortured, and then executed by crucifixion. It was a brutally violent and bloody affair, complete with betrayal and abandonment. And as I reflect on this horrible scene of the Easter story, I repeatedly arrive at the same conclusion. I did it; I killed Christ.

According to the gospels, this carpenter from Nazareth claimed to be the long awaited messiah, Son of the living God. The gospels claim that he was the perfect man, the only one untainted by sin, and that as a result, death could not hold him. They claim that his perfection is what made him the only suitable substitute for sinners, those who have transgressed against divine law, and that he voluntarily took the punishment they deserve for their iniquity.

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On The Radicalism of The Humanist Manifesto

Below, Discourse Online contributor, William Gairdner, provides a Summary of The Humanist Manifesto (Parts I 1933, and II, 1973), with some brief comments of his own in square brackets.

Everyone concerned about the perceived decline of the West, should know what this Manifesto preached – and preaches still.

Although it is a highly self-contradictory document and of low intellectual value, The Humanist Manifesto clearly sums up the entire philosophy of “secular humanism” that is today so much in the air. It has been signed by hundreds of influential intellectual and political figures such as John Dewey, Issac Asimov, Sir Herman Bondi, Sidney Hook, Sir Alfred Ayer, B.F. Skinner, and Sir Julian Huxley; by feminists such as Betty Friedan, by economists such as Gunnar Myrdal, architect of the Swedish Welfare State, and of course by the Sex-Ed Mafia, Professor Lester Kirkendall, Alan Guttmacher, and Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler, past President of the Humanist Association of Canada.

I used the word “preaches”, because the signatories refer to themselves as “religious humanists” –  founders of a new “vital, frank, and fearless religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions” to the world. The essence of this “religion,” which denies any supernatural reality – is the worship of man himself – the God-man.

What follows is an abbreviated list of their founding beliefs in their own words. Reflect upon them; even though very few teachers have ever heard of this manifesto, many of these values and beliefs are today being transmitted to children in most of the public schools of the land, as matters of fact, through the process of infusion. And of course, they are spread by media and entertainment folk of all sorts. They are especially powerfully communicated via the highly-charged medium of Sex-Ed, if not by intent, then by consensus.

Recall that as early as 1925 there were over 1,000 U.S. schools actively involved in “progressive education”, much of it steered by people in complete sympathy with the views listed below. The thousands of teachers in these schools, and the Teacher’s Colleges that trained them, constituted a vast unofficial network for the promotion of so-called “humanist” values, via the media, the bureaucracy, and the law – even though the vast majority of humans in the Western world have never abandoned their strongly held Judeo-Christian values – ones utterly in conflict with this so-called religious-humanism.

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The Year of the Pot: A Fantasia

On the eve of 2018, Senior Discourse Contributor, Neil Cameron pens his annual piece of satirical doggerel for friends and colleagues. This one can be song to the tune of the Mamas and Papas’ 1966 hit, “California Dreamin”.

Old taboos are down, and state gays are gay;

Pardoned by the Crown, Justin’s sunny way.

Natives cease to frown, star in P.M.’s play;

Marijuana’s coming, so provinces make hay.

 

It was Justin’s vision, in his bold campaign,

But did not envision, how he would attain;

So he drew young voters, he dare not disappoint;

Or they’ll turn to floaters, ceasing to anoint.

 

Quebec is still resisting, legal reefers’ lure;

Government insisting, for us no high bonjour;

Still would like a big tax, should demand increase;

Growers in their pot shacks, will greet new Pot Police.

 

Albertans don’t worry, lack Quebec’s alarms;

Wildcatters now hurry, to plant their dreaming farms.

Real estate’s declining, oil no longer hot;

To keep on gourmet dining, time to bet on pot.

 

Cash and pot will change hands, on pacific coasts;

Okanagan prime brands, are a special boast.

Speed boats filled with hash bricks, take their slice of pie;

Armed to prevent cash tricks, crews already high.

 

On Atlantic waters, more smuggling may return,

As Newfie antic potters, replace their fish with fern.

Nightly trucks in convoys, transfer leaf to boats;

Bringing bucks for old boys, all in US notes.

 

New taxes hit our lumber, as thump of Trump is heard;

But do not ruin our slumber, as all our loins regurd;

Our US trade may flourish, one export always sold;

We merely need to nourish, our Acapulco Gold.

 

The reefers go back aeons, but always in hot climes;

Brought joy to sweating peons, relief from tiresome times.

But never has the weed smoke, blown over wintry lands;

So pray it’s not a grim joke, a stink bomb in our hands.

 

If a bomb it proves, Justin will lament;

Unsure of his moves, sulking in his tent.

So-lution is found, on an evening wet:

Pot he must impound – it’s a carbon threat.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Neil Cameron, December 2017

Fake News is Real; and it’s Dangerous!

Regardless of what one may think about President Trump, the fact remains that he’s right about one thing: Fake news is a real phenomenon. No doubt he plays this to his advantage in an effort to discredit what may very well be credible allegations against him, but sensationalist journalists keep proving him right. In the process of reporting fake news, not only do they unjustly discredit their many responsible counterparts, and not only do they undermine the value of their profession, but they also sow the seeds of dangerous social unrest.

Last Tuesday, TVA reported that representatives from two mosques in the Côte-des-Neiges district of Montreal, made a formal request to the construction company conducting roadwork on their street, asking them to bar women workers from the site during Friday prayers. The report portrays this as being more of an insistence than a request, claiming that women were chased away (chassées) from the site, and claiming that they had already been penalized by missing work.

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Liberal Nationalism and Demographic Realism

Globe & Mail international affairs journalist Doug Saunders has just published a book intended to influence public policy, Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians is Not Enough (Knopf, 2017). Having already written a not entirely convincing refutation of the Europe-focused alarmism of writers like Mark Steyn about the impact of mass Muslim migration, Saunders this time concentrates on Canada, more on is its reception of new people of all backgrounds than about their composition. It presently looks fairly likely that Canada may slowly acquire several tens of millions of additional population over the coming century, just plugging along with roughly present immigration practices and domestic birth rates, but Saunders wants to see a more rapid and consistent growth policy, moving the country to 100 million as rapidly as possible. He offers empirical and theoretical arguments in support.

Most of the pros and cons of adapting such a course could be made in a few pages, but Saunders expands on the pros with two themes. The first is a selective history of the ‘failing’ quality of government policies from the 19th to the mid-20th century, nearly all years marked by large emigration, sometimes as substantial as the scale of new arrivals, with slow net domestic growth. The second is to portray even the more recent rapidly growing populations of the three or four largest Canadian cities as actually insufficient to provide the internal markets and domestic tax bases to maintain adequate services, thus making it very difficult, for example, for these cities to introduce much of the high-tech rapid public transport found in many large cities elsewhere.

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A Governor General Must be Carefully Chosen

For a great many Canadians the office of Governor General is thought to be little more than a useless and wasteful ceremonial position. The long series of stable governments that Canada has enjoyed has certainly contributed to this belief, much like an expensive insurance policy from which we never make a claim. As a result, Prime Ministers have become somewhat careless in their task of nominating one. Instead of giving it the careful consideration it deserves, PM’s appear to have used it as a means to reward accomplishment and to curry favour from voters by choosing someone with general appeal.

In 2008, this approach proved to be a mistake. In December, a mere two months after a federal election, the Conservative minority government was facing a vote of confidence which would have likely done them in. A proposed coalition between the Liberals and the NDP, with the backing of the Bloc, was in the works. In an attempt to suspend the vote and save his government, Prime Minister Harper asked the Governor General of the time, Michaëlle Jean, to prorogue parliament until January.

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