New book by former St. Georges writer traces the origins of today’s societal ills

REVIEW – Set to Self-Destruct: The Self- Inflicted Pathogen Threatening Western Civilization

By Don Norman

It’s been more than seven years since Charles Norman left his home in St. Georges for the greener (and warmer) pastures of the West Coast. Norman worked at the Pine Falls paper mill until his retirement in 1996 but many will remember him for his opinions in the pages of the Pine Falls Voice and the Winnipeg River Echo. Charles was a draftsman by trade but always had a penchant for politics and a love of writing. Given those interests, it is not surprising to learn that he has written a book. The surprising thing is that it took him this long!

It’s no secret but I should point out that Charles Norman is my father.

The self-published paperback is titled, “Set to Self Destruct: the Self Inflicted Pathogen that Threatens Western Civilization.” But despite the disease-related title, the book makes no mention of the COVID-19 epidemic. The pathogen he describes is a metaphor for persistent attacks on the Judeo-Christian value system that he calls the foundation of Western Civilization. He even gives the pathogen a name, “Self-Inflicted Intellectual Development Disorder,” or “SIID”.

He traces the origins of the pathogen to the human habit of attempting to impose an imagined order on an otherwise chaotic system. He cites the French Revolution as the time when the pathogen became virulent. “After getting rid of the aristocracy and church leaders – and God Himself,” he writes, “they began to execute other revolutionaries that they disagreed with. It was very difficult to know what side to be on. What was perfectly acceptable yesterday could be treason tomorrow.” The problem, he says, was that their guiding principles contained a “three way oxymoron” evidenced in their slogan, “Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood.” He argues that freedom can’t exist in a society that mandates equality. And likewise, you can’t have brotherhood without a unifying value system.

He cites numerous historical examples of the mounting body count of these enforced utopias, from Nazism to Russian and Chinese Communism. But it’s not just the big bad wolves that he calls out as contributors to this condition. For instance, he suggests modern feminism, in attempting to take down the patriarchy (an obstacle in the way of their version of utopia), has damaged what he calls one of the main pillars of our civilization – the nuclear family.

He doesn’t use the terms “left wing” or “right wing” in his book, but the book is a decidedly conservative take on history and modern politics. Those who are familiar with Norman’s editorials from the Echo will recall his views on the issues of the day. His opinions haven’t strayed much. He is not trying to win over converts to his way of thinking. Those who echo the tenets of modern politically-correct dogma are not the intended audience of this book. Indeed, they are the ones he suggests are infected with SIID. But for those who think diminished free speech, cancel culture and the erosion of family values are the source of today’s societal ills, Norman makes a good case for how things got to this point.

Set to Self Destruct is available at the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum or it can be ordered by emailing Charles directly at

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