Emails and articles of interest are posted here by John Ray to make them more widely available
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3
My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.
I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.
Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.
America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course
The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"
Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts
Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left
The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.
Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.
Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.
The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here
Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies
The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.
Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt
I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful
The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel
"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises
The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.
Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses
Among well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists hate success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.
A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.
Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.
Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.
Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.
“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser
"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus
THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU
"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.
Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.
Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance
Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.
MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.
Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).
The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.
Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.
Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.
IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.
If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!
And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!
The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned
"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.
Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel
Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.
Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.
Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists
The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.
Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable
A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.
"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama
The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges
The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.
The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload
A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here
Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16
People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average black adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.
Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.
Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."
R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason
Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?
The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.
Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?
Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable
I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.
As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.
Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)
First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean
It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.
I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.
The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"
UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.
Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide
I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.
I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.
I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address
Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.
"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit
I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.
It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.
If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.
COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.
My academic background
My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here
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There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here
Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
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MONOGRAPH ON LEFTISM
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Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
What are Leftists
Psychology of Left
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism
Pyszczynski et al.
Cautionary blogs about big Australian companies:
St. George bank
Bank of Qld.
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Saturday, August 19, 2006
Finally, a man worth killing
A movie review of "King Arthur" -- reviewed by Jon N. Hall
For some time now I've been boycotting Hollywood and therefore must wait for films to come to cable. So it is only recently that I have seen what might be the ultimate in Freedom films: 2004's King Arthur. I didn't think I'd like it as much as I do, but there's so much to commend it. First off, it's a very pretty film. Some of the shots remind me of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Hans Zimmer has delivered a fine orchestral score, sort of a new-agey Brucknerian thing with Celtic overtones. And there's a haunting song sung by Maire Brennan, the lead singer in the Celtic band Clannad and older sister of singer Enya. There's one helluva great battle scene on a frozen lake that surely must be inspired by Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky (1938). The special effects in this scene are tip-top. The acting is fine throughout; Ray Winstone's Bors stands out. Screenwriter David Franzoni (Gladiator) has written a great script, with goodly dollops of humor. Interestingly, the director is an African-American, Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun).
But the most creative and original thing about this particular King Arthur, and what jazzes me most about it, is the very concept of the film. This is a de-mythologizing of the story. You find none of the mysticism and magic found in Camelot, Excalibur and other renderings. It's an attempt to make it real, to set it down in history.
Arthur is a 5th century Roman commander policing Britannia. His knights are from Sarmatia, the steppes of present-day Ukraine. Arthur is Christian and his knights-Lancelot, Galahad, Gawain, Dagonet, Tristan, and Bors-are pagan. The story begins in 452 A.D. (Incidentally, this so happens to be one year after the great Battle of Chƒlons-sur-Marne, one of the most important battles in history, where Romans allied with Visigoths beat back the Huns. It was the last major battle of the Western Roman Empire, which fell in 476 A.D., ushering in the Dark Ages.) Romans have gone to the defeated Sarmatia to conscript Lancelot, still just a lad, for military service in Britannia. The action then jumps forward 15 years, and it is here that the continuing theme of Freedom asserts itself. For it is the eve of Arthur and his knight's discharge from their 15-year military service-they are about to become free men. Arthur plans to go to Rome, which he idealizes, and his Sarmatian knights plan to go home to Sarmatia, although Bors is considering staying in Britannia.
But Freedom is to be postponed, as Rome has one last mission for the knights before granting them their discharge papers, and it is more dangerous than any other. A mighty Saxon army is invading to the north. (This is historically accurate inasmuch as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes did invade the island in the 5th century). Rome is withdrawing from "indefensible outposts" like Britannia, and needs the knights to rescue an important Roman family whose estate lies between them and the invading Saxons. Trouble is: the estate is north of Hadrian's Wall, the land of the fierce Woads (native Britons, so named for the blue pigment they apply to their skin). Since Rome is abandoning Britannia to the invading Saxons, the knights feel they've been fighting for nothing. But to gain their Freedom they must obey this final order and rescue the family.
As expected, while riding north Arthur and his knights are attacked by the Woads. But just as they are about to be massacred Merlin, the leader of the Woads, calls it off and lets them live. Old Merlin has other plans for Arthur. So they make it to the estate, and there they are shocked to see the wretched condition of the Woad slaves. They're malnourished and are being overworked and abused by the Romans. Arthur informs everyone that a vast and terrible army that will show no mercy is fast approaching, and he prepares to evacuate everyone immediately, including the slaves and serfs. Tristan returns from his reconnoitering and informs Arthur that they have no time; the Saxons are very near. It is beginning to snow, and they hear the Saxon war drums reverberating through the hills.
Right as they are about to evacuate Arthur eyes a suspicious-looking building. Though time is of the essence, they break down the door and find a dungeon where Woads are being punished for their heresies. They rescue the 2 Woads who haven't succumbed, a boy and one Guinevere, whom Arthur himself carries out. They then set out on their escape. (The scenes at the estate and of the subsequent snowy journey back to safety are the most beautiful in the movie. These are the Pre-Raphaelite scenes. And on the journey Zimmer's score blazes forth in its Brucknerian mode.)
At the Roman estate north of Hadrian's Wall
During the trek we learn that Arthur is only half Roman, his mother was a Briton. One night during their journey back to safety Guinevere walks away from their encampment, trying to lure Arthur to follow her, which he does. And out of the snowy mists appears Merlin, Arthur's mortal enemy. Merlin knows the Romans are withdrawing from the island and that the fearsome Saxons are on the march. Though the Woads have fought Arthur for years, they respect his military prowess and believe he can do anything. And inasmuch as Arthur is half Briton, Merlin entreats him not to go with the Romans to Rome, but stay and lead them against the Saxons. They need a "master of war".
They make it back, and receive their discharge papers, making them free men. Guinevere picks up where Merlin left off and tells Arthur, "These are your people." Soon the Saxons arrive. Arthur goes to the battlements and sees the campfires of the Saxons glowing in the night. At that moment he decides. He realizes he cannot abandon his mother's people, his people, the native Britons, to the Saxons. He tells his men, "Knights, my journey with you must end here. May God go with you."
The next day the Romans and knights head for the sea to flee the island, while Arthur stays to fight the Saxons with the Woads. But the knights can't bring themselves to abandon Arthur and come back to fight with their great leader. And they prevail. And the knights decide to stay in Britain. And Arthur and Guinevere get married. And the Woads make Arthur their king. And there you have it. The End.
That's the skeleton of the story. I could go on and on; there are so many wonderful scenes and details I've omitted, but I leave them for you to discover. The liberties taken with the story might rankle history sticklers and Arthurian purists. But I'll have none of it; screenwriter Franzoni is after much bigger game than just another retelling. This is one big hymn to Freedom, references to Freedom echo throughout the movie.
Caveat: I must conclude that the version of the film I've seen is the PG-13 theatrical release, not the Director's Cut, which is about 14 minutes longer. So I cannot vouch for the extended version and my comments are confined to the PG-13 version. Although there's much action in this shorter version, there's no gore. No severed arteries spurting, no entrails falling onto the battlefield. The PG-13 version works so well for me that I'm a bit averse to screening the Director's Cut, which is unrated. The PG-13 version is available at Amazon.com. Christians may take exception to how the Church comes off. But this is misguided. The one sex scene in the short version, which is not nude, is about as tasteful as any you're likely to see in cinema since the `50s.
In my book, character is everything. So let's look at some.
Franzoni's knights are not your dandified goody-two-shoes affairs you find in other Arthurian narratives. They're tough customers, hardened by years of fighting. They're life-takers and heart-breakers; the kind of guys who eat their own guts for breakfast and ask for seconds. But they're not stamped out of cookie cutters; each is unique from the others. Dagonet is the strong selfless silent type. Bors is loud and lewd but dotes on his kids. Lancelot and Galahad just want to survive and go home to Sarmatia. Tristan is an uncanny shot and has a taste for fighting. Gawain seems rather jaded and tired. And Guinevere is no dainty flower, either. She enters the climactic battle along with the men and kicks Saxon butt. And the cast fleshes out these characters superbly. Stellan Skarsgard's Saxon heavy is delicious. The cast contains a Swede, a Dane, a German, an Italian, some Irish, and lots of English blokes, but nary an American that I'm aware of.
Ioan Gruffudd (Lancelot), Keira Knightley (Guinevere),
Clive Owen (Arthur, a.k.a Artorius Castus)
But the title character is the one that most intrigues. This Arthur is an interesting combination of Boy Scout and Dirty Harry. In defending Rome he has spilled blood and taken lives for years, yet he talks to God. He prays to Him to spare his men on their last perilous mission so that they may attain their Freedom, and offers up his own life in the bargain. Clive Owen's Arthur has a natural nobility, dignity, and grace, and his understated performance grows on you. (Why isn't this guy in the first rank of matinee idols? Maybe he's just too manly, today's women preferring the more easily manipulated metro-sexual androgyne.)
One wonderful detail of this Arthur is that he's a disciple of Pelagius. (Pelagius is an historical figure, a 5th century British monk whose doctrines were considered heretical.) Though Arthur loves Rome, he does not accept the Roman idea that "some men are born to be slaves", and has embraced Pelagius' philosophy of Freedom. Pelagius is a father figure for Arthur. When the young Alecto informs Arthur that back in Rome Pelagius has been excommunicated and killed, Arthur is stricken. Alecto continues, "the Rome you talk of doesn't exist, except in your dreams." (Hats off to Franzoni. Putting Pelagius in the story is marvelously inventive, and helps to make the story real.)
Franzoni's wonderful script teems with great dialog. I could supply a hyperlink to a website of it, but I'm not gonna do it-see the movie first. But here's a taste. Just before the climatic battle scene the Saxons wave the white flag and Arthur, sword in hand, rides out alone to parley with the Saxon leader, also alone:
Saxon leader: Arthur. Wherever I go on this wretched island I hear your name. Always half-whispered, as if you were a . . . god. All I see is flesh, blood. No more god than the creature you're sitting on.
Arthur: Speak your terms, Saxon.
Saxon leader: The Romans have left you. Who are you fighting for?
Arthur: I fight for a cause beyond Rome's or your understanding.
Saxon leader: Ah. You come to beg a truce. You should be on your knees.
[Arthur thrusts his sword to within a foot of the Saxon's head.]
Arthur: I came to see your face, so that I alone may find you on the battlefield. And it would be good for you to mark my face, Saxon, for the next time you see it, it will be the last thing you see on this earth.
[Arthur rides off for battle.]
Saxon leader: Ah, finally, a man worth killing
Some may contend that there are other more-deserving nominees for the title of "Ultimate Freedom Film of All Time". Such films as Braveheart, Spartacus, and The Return of the King, are obvious contenders. But I'm sticking with Franzoni's King Arthur. And probably because it took place in the 5th century, when Western Civilization was threatened big-time. Rather like today.
I have no idea what screenwriter Franzoni's political persuasion is, but his is a film conservatives can love. Indeed, it is must-see cinema for conservatives. It celebrates so many of the values and virtues conservatives hold dear: Duty, Honor, Courage, Loyalty, Sacrifice, Homeland, Faith, Family, and, of course, Freedom.
Now that the Saxon is subdued, converted, and assimilated, we see new threats to civilization. We need new "masters of war"-new Arthurs. Where these new Arthurs are to come from, or who they may be, I do not know. But I do know that we have our new champion of Freedom-our new Pelagius, if you will-in the person of David Horowitz. And that is why it is so absolutely fitting that the Center now bears his name. Perhaps as never before, Freedom needs her defenders, institutions like The David Horowitz Freedom Center. And for spiritual sustenance, we can always use another Freedom film.
Jon Hall lives in the Kansas City area. In his youth he would amuse himself by telling folks he was a Pelagian.