Arts &
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Vol. 16, No.1, 2017
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
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David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Louis René Beres
Lynda Renée
Nick Catalano
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Jordan Adler
Howard Richler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
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Richard Rodriguez
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Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
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Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward




David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist (Random Walks) and author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity and Hear, O Israel! (Mantua Books). His editorials appear regularly in PJ Media. His monograph, Global Warning: The Trials of an Unsettled Science (Freedom Press Canada) was launched at the National Archives in Ottawa in September, 2012. His debut album, Blood Guitar, is now available, as is his latest book, Reflections on Music, Poetry and Politics.

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Shelley (Ozymandias)


I am not a believing man – or certainly not in the traditional sense of attending religious services, observing the holy days, studying theological texts (except for research purposes – I have a decent knowledge of the Bible, the Talmud, and the Koran), saying grace at table, or praying before bed. When it comes to a divinely ordained plan for the human drama, I recall Nobel physicist Richard Feynman's remark that the stage is too big for the play. The human presence on the planet strikes me as an evolutionary hiccup.

Nonetheless, when I regard the condition of the American Republic, it is hard not to believe that something like divine retribution, a force of cosmic or spiritual justice, has been slowly at work throughout its history, or at the very least since the middle of the last century. This is Jonathan Cahn's argument in his troubling volume treating the nature of the Shemitah, or sabbatical judgment (which I considered at length in a 2015 article for PJ Media).

A nation whose leaders, whose cultural elite, and a moiety of whose people have given themselves over to every conceivable form of corruption has been demonstrably faltering, its greatness, Ozymandias-like, a thing of the past. It is a nation that slaughters its unborn in an orgy of indifferent cruelty; that mercilessly extorts the living substance from those of its citizens who still struggle toward decency and the values of community; that sets bread and circuses over justice; that has invested its energies in raising a Tower of Babel rather than a Temple of Gratefulness; and that pays no heed to the noble intentions of its Founding Fathers. In his aptly titled book Coming Apart, Charles Murray concludes that "the American project is disintegrating." The four domains of happiness he identifies – family, vocation, community, and faith – "have all been enfeebled."

Is this plunge into the abyss merely a function of historical inevitability – all things human, great and small, must eventually decline? Or are Jonathan Cahn and those who share his thesis right? Is a devastating punishment being levied on a nation that has sold its soul, that has lost its way, that refuses to recognize an authority superior to itself and has sunk into a morass of pervasive immorality? What reasonable person cannot be troubled by the spectacle of shallowness, self-aggrandizement, utter ignorance, and sanctioned immorality that confronts and embraces us? These sound like quant notions that can appeal only to the naïve and the zealots. And yet what conscientious person can say with absolute assurance that such is not the case?

Broadly speaking, these two explanations for cultural, national, and civilizational decline – the evolutionary-historical and the moral-theological – are similar in the effects they postulate, but they differ insofar as the latter allows for the tempering of justice with mercy – that is, for the mollification of a vengeful deity. The reversal of decline, a stay of execution, remains possible, assuming a people rethinks itself at the eleventh hour, repudiating its penchant for pandemic depravity, and seeks to restore a lost courage, honour, humility, and fundamental decency. The downward path is effortless, a law of cultural gravity; the upward path is arduous and against the national grain but theoretically possible. In secular terms, following the upward path is called wisdom or prudence; in religious terms, it is known as grace or salvation, the gift of divine concern. True, Abraham may have lost his bargain, but God was willing to listen. And perhaps still is.

It is always tempting for those of a certain cast of mind to discern the hand of God operating in human affairs. "There's a divinity that shapes our ends / Rough-hew them how we will," says Hamlet. If an eminent thinker like Adam Smith can propose an "invisible hand" operating in the economic realm, can we not say the same of the improbable ascent and unique political character of the American republic in the history of the world? Perhaps the two domains of the empirical and the spiritual are not as distinct as we have been led to believe. May not the election of Donald Trump, coupled with the defeat of the most corrupt and vindictive political figure in the country, represent the intervention of the numinous in the life of a once-great nation that can be made great again? Who can say?

The questions we now face are crucial. Has America truly changed course at the pivotal moment, whether by sheer accident or transcendent guidance? Will it last? The Edomites are still swarming, and the rift between a part of the nation committed to the values of work, family, and creative expenditure and a part of the nation mired in ignorance, pride, and destructive sentimentality – in effect, between heartland and coast, rural and urban, conservative and left-liberal – is permanent. The attempt to heal the chasm, however laudable, is doomed to fail.

The hope is that the best part of the nation can survive the burden of its parasites and drones and still manage to prosper. Yuval Levin in The Fractured Republic sees America as essentially a "creedal nation" animated by "a love of the ideal that we have always held out before ourselves as the American possibility . . . put forward in the Declaration of Independence," a nation "built up out of communities." Similarly, James Piereson in Shattered Consensus, though agreeing with Charles Murray that America is in "a process of unravelling," remains hopeful of a future trajectory opening the way "for a new chapter in the unfolding history of the American idea."

Considering the totally implausible result of the recent election, and assuming that the worrisome events mentioned above fail to materialize, may we not suggest that there were a sufficient number of the just and deserving, a saving remnant, for a "new chapter" to be opened in the history of the republic, or to put it another way, for the Abrahamic bargain to be won? Is there more to this election than meets the skeptical eye?

Mere speculation, of course.

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By David Solway:
The Scandal of Human Rights
Reconsidering the Feminine Franchise
A Melancholy Calculation
Canada: A Tragically Hip Nation
The Ideal of Perfection in Faith and Politics
The Mystery of Melody
The Necessity of Trump
Dining out with Terrorists
What About Our Sons
Identity Games
The Hour Is Later Than We Think
Caveat Internettor
Why I Like Country Music
We Have Met the Enemy
The Obama Bomb
Don't Apologize Dude
Winners and Losers
Why I Write
Praying by the Rules
Age of Contradiction
Snob Factor Among Conservatives
Islam's Infidels
David Suzuki Down
Infirmative Action
The Education Mess We're In
The Intelligence Potential Factor
Gnostics of Our Time
Decline of Literate Thought
Galloping Agraphia
Socialist Transfer of Wealth
Deconstructing the State
Delectable Lie (Multiculturalism)
The Weakness of the West
When a Civilization Goes Mad
Deconstructing Chomsky
The Multiculti Tango
Utopiah: Good Place or No Place
Palin for President?
The Madness of Reactive Politics
Liberty or Tyranny
Shunning Our Friends
A Culture of Losers
Political Correctness and the Sunset of American Power
Talking Back to Talkbackers
Letting Iran Go Nuclear
Robespierre & Co.
The Reign of Mediacracy
Into the Heart of the United Nations
The Big Lie
As You Like It
Confronting Islam
Unveiling the Terrorist Mind



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