Patrick Keeney

Preserving Personal Autonomy
Most of us have heard it said that a lot of science and engineering went into bringing you the automobile gleaming beneath your gaze in the showroom. A lot goes into the act of driving as well. And while many people no doubt find driving banal or worse, Patrick Keeney believes there’s also a lot at stake. To drive, he writes, is to exercise our skill at being free, to display our competence, to accelerate for the sheer joy of it, and to negate the technocrats who strive to make our lives idiot-proof and safe. To steer our very lives, as it were. To Keeney and the author of the book he reviews in this essay, few places are better than behind the wheel, breathing the heady air of freedom.
Post-Covid philosophy
Covid-19 poses a grave threat to many things: nursing homes, music festivals and café culture among them. But what of its broader implications? The coronavirus cares nothing for identity, imaginative individual rights or past grievances. It is severely undermining globalist fantasies. And recovering from its ravages seems likely to reward countries that focus on conservative values of pragmatism, frugality, duty, markets and tradition. Patrick Keeney charts the likely fortunes of conservative and liberal convictions once the pandemic recedes.
Canadians have been hectored into essentially hunkering down in their homes. Nearly all of us at least have a home. But what if you found yourself halfway around the world, with nowhere to live, the situation changing almost hourly, and lacking even the legal rights of a local citizen? Patrick Keeney not only maintained his equanimity but found time on the fly to explain how one man adapted to the life of an expatriate vagabond. Keeney shares his observations about the pandemic’s impact on a vulnerable culture and shows us all how, amidst the many exigencies, it’s possible to continuing finding joy.
Disasters – natural or otherwise – have a way of bringing out extremes in human behaviour and emotions. And so it was with the Easter Week fire at Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Paris: from the Catholic priest who risked his life to save irreplaceable relics and artwork, to French businessmen pledging grandiose sums for rebuilding, to the almost psychotic architecture some proposed for the restoration. For Patrick Keeney, the near-catastrophe triggered deep reflection on our era’s tense relationship between science and spirituality.
Book Reviews
A tour of Southeast Asia brought Patrick Keeney to the city of Yangon in Myanmar and its clutch of used bookstores on Pansodan Street. He writes of the joy of his literary discoveries there, in language echoing Orwell’s beautiful prose in Burmese Days.
God knows why Christians still go into politics. For every good, honest, ethical one there’s a holier-than-thou hypocrite like Roy Moore, the Donald Trump acolyte who deservedly lost one of the safest Republican Senate seats in the U.S. So, not only do they have to endure the vicious smears of the secular left, but also guilt-by-association with fallen Christian pols. In Canada, Preston Manning achieved remarkable success as an explicitly Christian politician despite all these liabilities. In a new book, reviewed for C2C Journal by Patrick Keeney, Manning summons the faithful to redeem politics by running on platforms of public service and sacrifice.
Most mainstream conservative commentators in Canada and the United States were hostile toward Donald Trump when he was running for the presidency, and still are. Almost alone among the right-wing commentariat, Conrad Black backed him early, and often, and still does. But contrarian is the way it’s always been with Black, writes Patrick Keeney in a review of a new collection of Black columns; he never fails to challenge, inform, entertain – and surprise.
Patrick Keeney is as smartphone-enslaved as the rest of us, but he’s more worried about it than most. Not for himself, but for civil society and democracy. Keeney sees modern digital communications technologies as exacerbating many of the most pernicious social trends of our time: mistrust of elites, rejection of family and community, and “hyper-individualism”. The messages conveyed by new digital mediums are mostly post-modern and progressive, which is not how anyone would describe New England Patriots’ coach and Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick. So it gave Keeney hope when he heard Belichick growl: “I’m not on SnapFace.”
Pushback against oppressive political correctness on university campuses is erupting all over the western world. A new collection of essays by authors from both sides of the Atlantic is yet another indication that social justice warriors have gone too far and provoked a broad, determined and eloquent opposition to rise up in defence of academic freedom, the cornerstone of intellectual inquiry and democratic debate in a free society. Patrick Keeney reviews Unsafe Space: The Crisis of Free Speech on Campus
Two pre-humans are shivering in a cave. On hearing a nearby lightning strike, one rushes outside to fetch a flaming faggot of wood ignited by the lightning. The other, fearing an existential threat to life, rushes to extinguish the fire. It was the first argument over global warming. People have been fretting over many such real and imagined threats to the planet ever since. Climate change, Y2K, flu pandemics, Clinton/Obama foreign policy. You name it, it’s an apocalyptic menace. Patrick Keeney is tired of it, and has concluded that news of Armageddon is greatly exaggerated.

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