being at home in
WE HAVE ENTERED A LOOKING-GLASS WORLD
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 latest
book is Notes
from a Derelict Culture. A CD of his original
songs, Partial to Cain, appeared in 2019.
live in an age characterized by belief -- that is, belief in
things that do not exist, belief in complete figments of unanchored
imagination, abstractions that have no contact with or bearing
on reality. Call it the age of irrealism, of pervasive virtuality,
of estrangement from the objective world.
several popular notions or beliefs, memes as they are sometimes
called, which operate as delusions erroneously confirmed as
There are more than two sexes, biology notwithstanding. Indeed,
there are “57 Varieties” of gender. Also, in contradiction,
gender is a “social construct.”
-- Islam is a “religion of peace.”
-- The university campus is aswarm with female victims of rape
and sexual assault.
-- The planet is entering a carboniferous period as temperatures
rise to unsustainable levels.
-- There is an organized and historical campaign in the Judeo-Christian
West of men against women known as the “Patriarchy.”
-- There is a vast movement of White Supremacists ruthlessly
oppressing those of other races and creeds.
-- America is bedeviled by institutional racism.
-- There is no such thing as truth.
-- Looting, vandalism and physical violence are legitimate forms
of civil protest.
-- The value of people derives from their membership in a group
rather than from their status as unique individuals.
have entered the looking-glass world. None of these beliefs
correspond to reality, as every sensible person knows. They
are to a significant extent forms of what Angelo Codevilla calls
“subrational submission,” or conformity to the political
diktats of a leftist ruling class, but they transcend politics
insofar as they are signs of a spreading cultural malady --
the inability to think. Years of bad education, political indoctrination,
and welfare dependency have much to do with a demonstrable decline
in intelligence and basic knowledge -- a veritable contagion
of cultural illiteracy, to quote E.D. Hirsch.
spent more than ten years writing books and articles examining
and refuting each one of these credos or presumptions with documented
evidence. But common sense and a little attention to the world
should be more than enough to show how such convictions are
merely politically correct hallucinations -- fantasies and fallacies
that Sir Francis Bacon in the Novum Organum termed
“Idols of the Theater,” sophistries propounded by
influential authorities and unquestioningly accepted by the
masses. The facts confute the memes.
Biology has determined
that in the non-cellular world there are only males and females
and that survival of the species depends on procreation. Every
sane person knows this.
is a violent and imperialistic religion and has been so since
the early 7th Century. Every informed person knows this.
university campus is one of the safest spaces in the country
and sexual assault is rare. Every rational person knows this.
There is no AGW
(Anthropogenic Global Warming), but there is climate change
for the simple reason that climate is change, driven mainly
by solar cycles. Moreover, carbon is an element absolutely
essential for plant and crop growth. Every attentive person
There is no organized
conspiracy in the Western world called the “Patriarchy”
any more than there is something called the Protocols of the
Elders of Zion. There are only men doing what they are supposed
to do, including building a rich and inventive civilization
from which everyone profits. Every honest person knows this.
There is no such beast as a widespread
White Supremacy movement. Rather, apart from a fringe”
of “Aryan” persuasion which is of little to no
importance, there is a social group of “Caucasian”
origin, emanating from Persia, the Middle East, Greece, Rome
and Europe, that has created the most advanced civilization
so far known to history. Every educated person knows this.
America has become
one of the most racially tolerant nations in the world. A
country in which blacks are materially represented in the
national community as entertainers, sports figures, journalists,
broadcasters, police chiefs, surgeons, notable scholars, university
presidents, corporate executives, municipal mayors, state
governors, members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices,
including a black President and two black Attorneys General,
is not a racist country. Every unbiased person knows this.
say that there is no such thing as truth, as postmodernists
claim, is a statement intended to be true, belied by its own
inherent paradox. Consequently, there is such a thing as truth.
Every sentient person knows this.
Civil mayhem and
the destruction of property -- the sacking of people’s
homes, shops and livelihoods -- do not constitute acts of
protest but acts of insurrection and de facto domestic terrorism.
Every decent person knows this.
human being feels, loves, suffers and dies as an individual,
not as a social integer or member of an identity group. Every
thinking person knows this.
is hard to understand how a vast stratum of a population, whether
classified as elites or as marginals, arrives at a condition
of virtuality. Is it a function of perpetual dissatisfaction
with things as they are, a tendency inherent in the very nature
of humanity? Is it the decision to profit, whether financially
or in terms of status and power, by redefining the reality of
things -- a decision which gains cultural momentum until it
becomes a communal principle?
mass derangement, as Melanie Phillips (among many others) argues
in The World Turned Upside Down, the product of the
rejection of Judeo-Christianity which underpinned both Western
reason and its moral code? “Concepts such as truth and
justice,” she writes, “have been stood on their
heads, with the result that irrationality and perversity are
now conspicuous in public life.” Thus, “objectivity
has been replaced in large measure by ideology.”
is the descent into civic dotage a function of the adage: “those
whom the gods would destroy they first make mad,” as Longfellow
in The Masque of Pandora readapted the famous verses
from Sophocles’ Antigone.[i] In other words,
have we in the privileged West become so pampered and complacent
and arrogant and weak that the gods -- or the force of history
-- are driving us to our own eclipse?
is where the ancient doctrine of anacyclosis comes in. Historians
as various as Polybius, Cicero, Vico, Gibbon, Spengler and Toynbee
hold that civilizations are labile and tend to traverse the
natural span of birth, youth, maturity, senescence and dissolution,
like human beings writ large. According to this doctrine, we
would now be in the stage of senescence, if not senility, incapable
of recognizing what stands before us and contracting with phantoms
and projections rather than with objective facts and verifiable
data. Is the translation of a subjective fiction into a counterfeit
of objective reality a symptom of a culture in the last throes
of its historical trajectory?
question is moot. How long can a post-truth culture be expected
to survive, a culture in which language has been so debased
that the valid nature of things cannot be named? As Venezuelan
poet and author Fernando Baez writes in A Universal History
of the Destruction of Books, “our souls persist only
through language.” But when language is systematically
used to be factually incorrect -- Bacon’s “Idols
of the Marketplace” -- when words bear false significance
and, deployed as substitutes for true ideas, are cemented in
public and institutional discourse, our souls wither, as do
the culture and the nation.
the explanation may be, we have created a kind of Erewhon
(an anagram for “nowhere”) where everything is backwards
and common usages are turned inside-out -- in effect, a social,
cultural, political and scientific mirage that has become all-encompassing,
a virtual reality, an ersatz world that must, as every reasonable
person knows, eventually collapse. We believe that, and act
as if, things that are, are not; things that are not, are. We
have become denizens of Wonderland; as Alice says, “If
I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing
would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't.
And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't
be, it would. You see?” We now live the lie -- or at any
rate, far too many of us have been recruited by the political
left, the legacy media, the Internet platforms, the feminist
cabal and the nation’s professoriate into a gossamer world
of intricate duplicities.
reality always has the last word. Those who believe in the rhapsody
of dereliction and the pathology of inversion will find themselves
“cancelled” by the revenge that reality always inflicts
upon illusion. People who kneel before a deception may find
they cannot get up again. Those who live in a virtual world
must one day succumb of oxygen deficiency. Those who believe
that gravity does not exist, or that “gravity” is
a word signifying stasis, will hurtle to their deaths, however
lengthy the fall. One thinks of the old joke about the man who
falls from a fifty story building and, as he passes the tenth
floor, says: So far, so good.
real question is whether a plummeting culture, nation or civilization
can right itself and correct course before it is too late. The
verdict of history is not encouraging. It may happen, but it
would take a miracle.