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A Lost Hour And Lost Cause

Nearly every meaningful decision made in the last generation has been for the worse. Nobody has time for another one.

I am a great supporter of lost causes, though emphatically not what in the American context is generally referred to as the Lost Cause. I live in a small Michigan town with streets named for Grant, Sherman, Lincoln, and Douglas; my house was built in 1832 by the father of the man who led our local volunteer regiment and died for the Union at Missionary Ridge. The Civil War monument down the road once stood in the middle of the Victorian downtown, and I would that it were restored to its proper place, “traffic”-related considerations be damned.

I attend Mass exclusively in the Roman Rite as it was prior to the liturgical devolution of 1970. Like A.J.P. Taylor, Russell Kirk, and Stephen L. Carter, I believe that the universalization of the automobile was a disaster for the human race. I would gladly see the Supreme Court overturn its ruling in Griswold. I believe, with varying degrees of conviction, that each of the successive amendments to the Constitution after the 16th should be repealed. I would gladly repeal NAFTA and its Trump-era successor. I disagree with every change to NFL and college football rules made in my lifetime and would welcome a return to the violent game of Jack Tatum and Lawrence Taylor. I find bicycle helmets risible. I would like to restore most of the vanished corporate logos of my youth (especially the Lions logo of blessed memory). I was, until the platform disappeared, a member of the quasi-secret Yahoo! Group theoretically devoted to the restoration of the Jacobite line to the English throne. I hate the Carter-era and Reagan-era economic “reforms” of airlines and other industries. If the internet were to recede from public view and become a background technology meant to facilitate commerce and military operations more or less invisibly, I would be supremely happy.

The above—hardly exhaustive of the dead-end positions to which I have found myself more or less effortlessly committed—will strike most observers as a pretty full portfolio, even for the most diehard reactionary. I am inclined to agree, and (more to the point) so is my loving wife.

Which is why I was distressed to learn on Tuesday that the Senate has voted unanimously to make so-called Daylight Saving Time “permanent.” After years of pointless complaint, it now appears that I have no choice but to become the chronological equivalent of a sedevacantist.

The most common response to this ludicrous decision is that at least it means we will never have to set back our clocks again. This of course entirely misses the point, which is that we ought never to have changed them in the first place. Now we will be doing so irrevocably, and an hour of history will be lost forever. Nothing of its kind has taken place since Britain adopted the Julian calendar in 1752, an act that at least tacitly affirmed the superior wisdom (if not the universal spiritual jurisdiction) of the papacy.

The history of Daylight Saving Time cannot be rehearsed in the space of a short column. In the English-speaking world, we can trace the mania to an old buffer who insisted that everyone else should be made to rise as early as he was wont to do and to an enthusiastic insect collector. Like so many other evils, its ultimate origins lie in the cult of efficiency and managerialism that took hold of much of the Western world a hundred or so years ago. More so than any of the great totalitarian ideologies of the last century, it is the legacy of this false religion that is the source of so many persistent modern evils.

Any number of questions now present themselves. Should I performatively wear my watch an hour behind? If so, for how long? Should I become a dues-paying, perhaps occasionally conference-going member of the inevitable society dedicated to the restoration of real time, when God was God, noon was noon, and people who wished for more sunlight were welcome to adjust their sleeping habits? Should I invite the doyen or grandmaster of anti-DST activism, Peter Hitchens, to edit and introduce a collection of essays (featuring contributions on subjects ranging from the active disdain in which DST is held by most actual farmers to the rather vast Nazi literature on the policy’s merits)?

Nearly every meaningful decision made in my lifetime has been for the worse. Most of these are now practically speaking irrevocable. Being “right” is not, it turns out, much in the way of consolation.

But this does not mean that I must not once again register a feeble protest. Sub specie aeternitatis, it is still 4:18 p.m. E.S.T. when I am filing this.



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