Back in 2010 Glenn Beck almost single-handedly revived the popularity of Rudyard Kipling's poem The Gods of the Copybook Headings. A long-time reader has just brought to my attention a Bill Whittle commentary where he "translates" the poem into modern American English. With no disrespect to Mr Whittle, it sounds better in the original, though I understand the purpose of the attempt.
It seems that, at least among some segments of the American Right, Kipling is fashionable again. A poem that derides fashionable thinking is itself again en vogue. This blog has proudly carried the name of Kipling's legendary poem for over eight years. We were into the Gods before it was cool. We'll still be with the Gods long after the headlines fade.
Let's, however, hope the spotlight doesn't fade either on the poem or on Kipling.
The objectivist writer Robert Tracinski has described the modern era as "the great re-learning." During the twentieth century the West forgot about Kipling's copybooks. The wisdom and understanding that was once so common place that it found itself into children's school penmanship exercises, was dispensed with in favour of newer gods. Freud's bizarre sexual fantasies. Keynes' something for nothing economics. John Dewey's collectivist educational theories. A cultural of moral relativism and nihilism.
Beck and Whittle are just scratching the surface. They remind me of the early thinkers of the Renaissance searching eagerly through remote monasteries for moldy copies of forgotten works of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Kipling is just the beginning. There are the poems of Tennyson. The writings of Macaulay. Gibbon. Dr Johnson. Burke. Acton. Even a glance through the Britannica Encyclopedia of 1911 might bring revelations for many modern readers. We haven't even gotten into Horace, Cicero, Herodotus or Aristotle.
What the western world needs now is a good old fashioned classical education. Reacquainting ourselves with the best that has been thought and said, in Matthew Arnold's famous phrasing. Those who want to help restore the West need to understand just how deep the well goes. It is the only way they can acquire the intellectual ammunition needed to wage this fight. Kipling is a very good start but he is only a start in this process.