July 14th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY By-elections a trial run for next federal election

SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook bans reflect a lack of impartiality

CANBERRA OBSERVED The gloves are on for by-election proxy bouts

FEDERAL POLITICS Federal ALP platform reads like a radical on a soapbox

ENVIRONMENT 'Climate change' news is fake news

BRITISH HISTORY Abolition of the Corn Laws paved the way for cheap food

LIFE ISSUES A world of competing sorrows: Ireland's abortion referendum

CULTURE The wee folk and their cousins, up and down the scale

WESTERN CIVILISATION Three great anniversaries of the West

FICTION Autumn Alexei's Story

MUSIC ABBA; Unstoppable, ubiquitous

CINEMA Jurassic World: Fallen kingdom

BOOK REVIEW Vision for the future, if we want to claim it

BOOK REVIEW Taking to task failed privilege

BOOK REVIEW Where Tolkien and St Thomas agree


FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes 'boo', Qantas gets in a flap

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Opposition mounts to legalisation of cannabis

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Three great anniversaries of the West

by Hal G.P. Colebatch

News Weekly, July 14, 2018

This is not only the time of year of the Australian National University’s culturally treacherous refusal to allow the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to be established on its campus. It is also the anniversary of three great events when, in very different ways, the flame of Western Civilisation burned proudly and brightly.

June 17 was the 65th anniversary of the East German Volksaufstand (People’s Uprising) when people in East German towns and cities marched against the Communist government and the Soviet occupation. Over a million marched under banners demanding freedom.

The demonstrators were armed with nothing but stones and a few Molotov cocktails. The Russians and East German security forces crushed the uprising with tanks, though it was not the walk­over they might have expected. About 40 Russians and 125 Germans died and the demonstrations dragged on for weeks.

It cannot be compared with the blood-soaked and heroic uprising in Hungary a few years later, with thousands of dead on both sides, and which signalled the first great crack in the edifice of the Soviet Empire, but it did demonstrate beyond doubt that the Soviet Union held down Eastern Europe by force alone.

It appears to have been completely spontaneous and its leaders are unknown. East German poet Bertolt Brecht penned a satirical poem to the effect that the government should dismiss the people and appoint a new one.

The communist international “peace” fronts discredited themselves beyond what they had already achieved by remaining silent and refusing to condemn the Soviet action, as they were to remain silent over Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. Brief and foredoomed as it was, the Volksaufstand showed the world with unmistakable clarity the two sides of the Cold War, and that those two sides were not morally interchangeable: one political system was based on consent, the other on force and oppression. A trickle of defections from Communist parties around the world began.

The second great anniversary is that of Winston Churchill’s great speech in 1940, when Nazi Germany had destroyed the French Army in a month (French youth, Colm Brogan said, had been taught by their school system with “a mature and tolerant wisdom which left them believing in nothing in particular”).

The British Army had been extricated with difficulty from Dunkirk, leaving all its equipment behind. Some in the British War Cabinet were leaning towards the idea of a negotiated peace, seeing the struggle as hopeless. Not Churchill.

He said in a great broadcast to the nation and the world: “What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.

“Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war.

“If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.”

The third great anniversary about this time was another triumph for the West – the United States’ landing on the Moon after a long series of defeats in the space race at the hands of the Soviet Union.

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins
and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin

This achievement showed, undeniably, that Western scientific and technological civilisation, despite all the onslaughts against it, still led the world. Not only that: the U.S. at that time, before the cultural destruction of the Clinton and Obama years, and also what Churchill had specifically chosen to call “Christian civilisation”, was still mighty even in purely scientific terms.

The French, communist and Nazi revolutions and attacks on the West – except for military technology – had all in their ways been opposed to science as well as Christianity.

Edmund Burke had predicted that in revolutionary France, “learning will be cast into the mire and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude”. The revolutionaries, though ultimately claiming “reason” as the justification of everything they did, beheaded Antoine Lavoisier, the greatest chemist of the age and arguably the founder of modern chemistry, in 1794. The judge reputedly interrupting a plea for mercy with a comment, anticipating the traditions of Pol Pot and Co, that: “The Revolution does not need scientists or chemists.” (The remark has also been attributed to Robespierre.)

The heirs of that tradition now grace the ANU and innumerable other universities worldwide. Sheer cowardice prevented the University of Western Australia establishing a centre for – possibly skeptical – environmental inquiry following student protests. With stupefying hypocrisy the University’s Great Court still displays a larger-than-life bust of Socrates, who died for the sake of Truth.

Lavoisier was murdered despite the fact that he had been working on improved gunpowder for the French Army. Great Italian scientist and mathematician Joseph Lagrange, whom King Louis XVI had invited to France and whom Lavoisier had tried to shield from the revolutionary terror, commented: “It took them only an instant to cut off that head, but France may not produce another like it in a century.”

It is ironic that the one great martyr of science popularly known is Galileo, who was not tortured or prevented from continuing his studies by the Church (his persecution arose from the fact that he had insulted the Pope, and also because he had unscientifically published theories as fact), but not Lavoisier, beheaded by the atheist heirs of the Enlightenment.

Many Soviet scientists, such as the great botanist and geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov (1887–1943), died in the Stalinist Gulag, often as a result of disagreeing with the crackpot Trofim Lysenko, another child of the Enlightenment.

As for the Nazis, the name of Albert Einstein and their campaign against “Jewish nuclear physics” is enough.

G.K. Chesterton, as usual, summed it up: “Are you surprised that the civilisation which knew of the Trinity also discovered steam?”

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