3.39 angels and revolutions, cont. (73)

Tue, 16 May 89 21:07:06 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 39. Tuesday, 16 May 1989.

(1) Date: Tue, 16 May 89 15:58:56 EDT (6 lines)
From: lois atwood <LDA@BROWNVM.bitnet>
Subject: angels

(2) Date: Tue, 16 May 89 18:01:40 EDT (47 lines)
From: Brian Whittaker <BRIANW@YORKVM2>
Subject: Re: 3.30 revolutions and angels, cont. (73)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 16 May 89 15:58:56 EDT
From: lois atwood <LDA@BROWNVM.bitnet>
Subject: angels

Didn't St. Anselm talk about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin,
in Cur Deus Homo?
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------54----
Date: Tue, 16 May 89 18:01:40 EDT
From: Brian Whittaker <BRIANW@YORKVM2>
Subject: Re: 3.30 revolutions and angels, cont. (73)

Pursuing the topic of an essentially conservative Canada canonizing
old revolutionaries:

Some of the revolutionaries mentioned might be seen as operating within that
conservative tradition of protecting society rather than the eccentric

Louis Riel was the democratically elected head of a provisional government
in what is now Manitoba. This government was formed after the free-booting
Hudson's Bay Company sold the Northwest Territory to the government of Canada;
the Hudson's Bay Company pulled out its private law enforcement system and
the federal government was not yet ready to supply a replacement. Thus Riel's
goverment was not at all revolutionary, but simply an attempt to maintain
order in the temporary lapse of authority. The action that prompted
Ottawa to charge Riel with treason and to send in the troops, as well as
prompting the Ontario government to put a bounty on his head, was the
execution of a rowdy individual, a murderer with a record of drinking
and brawling... in short, a kind of wild west figure. Thus Riel would
fall into the category of the defenders of the security of society, and
the convicted murderer whom he executed would be the individual run amok.

The second "rebellion" with which Riel's name is associated was in part a
separatist movement reacting against a distant federal government that
was both unresponsive to and largely unaware of what was needed to
maintain the security of the prairie society. The issue is complicated
in this instance by Riel's own complex character. By this time his
diaries indicate that not only was he hearing voices, but they were telling
him that God had named him Pope of North America. I don't think the modern
"canonization" of Riel has picked up on this issue... Winipeg: the new Avignon.

I have already suggested that, in Durham's eyes at least, the Papineau uprising
was a conservative rebellion against the anglo whig merchants of Montreal and
Quebec City (a group that had moved in from New England).

Norman Bethune's rebellious gestures of establishing mobile field hospitals,
first for the socialists in Spain and later for Mao's Communists in China,
like his criticism of poor health care in North America for the poor (death
from tuberculosis as a poor person's death, for example) reflect a total
rejection of liberalism's laissez faire combined with a feeling that
conservatism and corporatism protected some sectors of society better than
others. Socialism in Canada has generally been closer to conservatism than to
liberalism, whether in the Regina Manifesto or more recently in the influence
of the consrvative philosopher George Grant on the NDP.