THE COLUMN: The Gods of the Copybook Headings Strike Back

Michael Walsh17 Oct, 2023 7 Min Read
What are you rebelling against? Whaddaya got?

The attack on Israel by the forces of the Muslim terrorist organization, Hamas, have once again summoned up the oldest gods in the universe; neither the Hebrew, Christian, nor Muslim gods, but the eternal Gods of the Copybook Headings, as limned by the British poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling in his eponymous poem. Antedating Yahweh, God the Father, and Allah, they are the gods of the eternal verities of human existence whose tenets no amount of liberalism or progressivism or wokism can gainsay. They go something like this:

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

The luxury of ignorance, the danger of naïveté, the doom of tolerance.

And what are some these everlasting truths of human existence? Kipling lists three:

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Washington, D.C., Oct. 14, 2023.

You get the idea. In the long civilizational struggle -- especially in the West -- between the "progressive" forces of "Why not?" and the protective "Why?" of conservatives, the victory of the former always signals the death not only of the latter but of both parties. Like the scorpion stinging the rescuing frog to death in the middle of the pond, thus dooming them both, they simply cannot help themselves. It's in their nature to tear down, ransack, and destroy, even at the cost of their own existence. This weakness-from-within is how civilizations fall (Gibbon, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, speaks of it as "effeminacy") and it's repeated itself so many times over the course of the past two thousand-plus years you'd think we'd learn by now. But you would be wrong. As I wrote in my 2015 bestseller, The Devil's Pleasure Palace:

And so the United States, as the twenty-first century gets fully under way, finds itself in the position of the two combatants in Robert Graves’s vivid Great War image—the two bayoneteers locked in mutual death and rigor mortis, literally transfixed by each other, united eternally in the comradeship of hatred. Only one camp, however, has the additional elements of duty, honor, and country on its side. Only one side defends its women and children. Only one side fights to preserve instead of destroy, to honor instead of mock, to improve instead of tear down—to maintain the fence between civilization and barbarism, and to ask “Why?” instead of “Why not?”

The lesson currently being relearned by Israel is that the leopard never changes his spots, and no amount of wishful  thinking will make it so. One of the lessons of "Never Again" is that if your avowed enemy says he's not going to rest until you are dead, believe him. And then do unto him as he would do unto you, but first. And not "proportionately" either, but with as much finality as necessary. And even then, as the saying goes: eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. 

Another lesson western Europe and the U.S. are both learning is that -- by definition -- "diversity" destroys the nation-state and "tolerance" kills it dead. In mechanical terms, "tolerance" is the point at which a system can no longer maintain structural integrity, and simply comes apart. As I wrote in this space back in April of 2022: 

Let's start with "tolerance," one of the most culturally dangerous words in the Left's vocabulary. It's often combined with such other expanded weasel words as "diversity" and employed as a Critical Theory cudgel against the larger culture in order to "push boundaries" and "break barriers." The object, of course, being the destruction of historic norms and the ushering in of a new age of moral anarchy in the name of "righting wrongs." 

Recall that the Latin root for our word "tolerance" is tolerantiaits gender, by the way, is feminine—which means "endurance, the ability to bear pain or adversity; patience, fortitude." In no way does it signify indifference to a given person, place, thing, or situation or, worse, approval. A "tolerant" society is one that is under mortal attack; and, with the perversion of the definition, is effectively prevented from fighting back. A "tolerant" society is a defenseless society and thus a doomed society. 

Old gods, new gods, same fight.

Israel is under attack for many reasons, none of which have anything to do with the "rights" of the "Palestinians" but all of which have to do with its essence. Anti-semitism (the neologism referring to specifically anti-Jewish prejudice, did not come into popular use until 1879) is one reason. But another, and very potent one, is lingering Arab/Muslim resentment over the loss of the Holy Land to the Christian crusaders in 1099, when Jerusalem fell to Godfrey and the Franks; Israel, which occupies the territory of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and parts of the County of Tripoli, symbolizes for them the bitterness of that resounding defeat, the first major rollback of Islam -- an occurrence its votaries had been assured was theologically impossible, and thus in many ways accounts for their continuing rage today. 

Finally, there is the new animosity toward "colonialism," by which the radical Left does not mean colonialism at all -- the United States at least used to be a shining example of how well British colonialism worked -- but is a new, catch-all animus masquerading as a grievance against Anglo-European cultural hegemony, a crude form of resentful racism. The word of the day is now "decolonization." As Christopher Rufo notes in an essay for City Journal about the current madness at Harvard: 

What might [this term] mean? To answer that question, we can turn to a Harvard-funded program called “Decolonize Harvard.” In 2021, Harvard’s Derek Bok Center hired Marcelo Garzo Montalvo, a visiting assistant professor of Latinx Studies who uses “he/they” pseudo-pronouns, to lead an initiative about “decolonizing” the university. The premise was simple: administrators, faculty, and students, Montalvo said in his recorded lectures, must “understand and frame Harvard as a settler-colonial, genocidal, and Eurocentric institution” built on the “foundational violence” of white Europeans.

As we have seen this week, the outcome of “decolonization” is barbarism. For Hamas, it means murdering women, children, and the elderly, executing innocent people on the street, and mutilating infants in their homes. For the radical academics, the process is less brutal but barbaric all the same: it means destroying our best institutions, obliterating academic standards, and elevating witchcraft, voodoo, and pseudo-science into positions of prestige. 

A modest proposal: shut down all the Ivies for eight years, intellectually fumigate the places, then re-open them gradually, one year at a time, under new management. No "progressives" need apply, as they have shown themselves to be the enemies of the people, the state, the nation, the West, and human civilization. 

Now (of course) we hear cries to admit millions of "refugees" from Gaza. The theory being the Yiddish definition of chutzpah: having killed their parents, the "Palestinians" have thrown themselves on the mercy of the court of world opinion because they are now orphans. The Israelis can't take them (not if Israel means to remain a Jewish state), the Arabs don't want them, and neither the Americans nor the Europeans should have anything to do with them. Actions have consequences.

When superannuated Henry Kissinger (age 100) says publicly that Germany under the wretched Mutti Merkel took in far too many "immigrants," you know the worm has turned: a "grave mistake," he called it: "It was a grave mistake to let in so many people of totally different culture and religion and concepts, because it creates a pressure group inside each country that does that." Easy to say that now, with Arabs celebrating the deaths of Jews in the country that gave the world the Holocaust, But some of us said it at the time. 

Now what happens? Let Kipling and the Gods have the last word, which means the last laugh:

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Perhaps they're not in your neighborhood yet, but they soon enough will be. The gods are not amused, and it's time to take decisive action or wait for the butcher's bill to come round for collection. 

Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints, and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and its sequel, The Fiery Angel. Last Stands, a study of military history from the Greeks to the present, was published by St. Martin's Press in December 2019. He is also the editor of Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, published on Oct. 18, 2022. Follow him on Twitter: @theAmanuensis


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8 comments on “THE COLUMN: The Gods of the Copybook Headings Strike Back”

  1. How do you vet and keep out liars who say they are anti-Hamas, but are Muslim. Since Mohammedans are commanded to lie in speech, in word and deed? To lie in hiding until the call for Jihad is out.

  2. Tolerance is the gateway drug to evil. Whatever you tolerant or subsidize, you get more off.
    Anyone who has been the parent of toddlers knows this well.

  3. Eight years does not even begin to cover what is necessary. The Ivy's hate freedom, western culture, and science as much as the world of Islam. They need to be shut down permanently and replaced with schools that are on our side in the world and culture wars in progress. And those who have been graduated from them in the last 10 years are at risk of having been brainwashed into being our enemies. Employers should do a detailed check of their college life and membership in anti-Western, anti-American organizations. If they can purge us, we can purge them since we are no longer under either the rule of law or the American Social Contract.
    Subotai Bahadur

  4. Excellent choice of Kipling to highlight current events. I read it every time I see it quoted or referenced, each time with more awe.

  5. It is a religious war. If you're a Kaffir, a non Muslim, the Koran tells them to murder us. It is not about anything else.

  6. It's not just leftists that want Palestinian "refuges" here.
    "Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley on Sunday said that about half of the residents of Gaza during her tenure as US ambassador to the United Nations despised Hamas and wanted to be free from its “terrorist rule.”
    Since the GOP donor class seems to be turning to her due to the underperformance of Ron!, on assumes she is reading the room on this issue. It is yet another great divide between the donor class and the base.

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