Sunday, 18 November 2018

The revolution in the Catholic Church

Cardinal Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, talking about Pope Francis’ silence on Archbishop Vigano’s charge of disregarding credible accusations of paedophlia by prelates:
“The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things—of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
The Archbishop of Washington D.C., Cardinal Wuerl, who has since resigned:
“I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis.”
Those predictions did not age well, to use a cliché.

I recommend this thought-provoking article by R. R. Reno, the editor of First Things, headlined The Populist Wave Hits the Catholic Church: How Pope Francis Triggered a Rebellion, though I think the headline is misleading. 

The article is not about rebellion, but about the Pope's teaching, and it seems to me that it is the Pope who is a populist, if a populist is someone who says things to appeal to the crowds and win popularity. 

Bloody, Cosmopolitan Sarajevo

After the two terrible world wars in which ninety or even a hundred million died, huge and very painful movements of people took place in Europe to try to straighten out Central and Eastern Europe's ethnic tangle, in order to prevent further wars. Nowadays, the people in charge in Western Europe (academics, journalists, clergypersons, civil servants, NGOs, politicians) have drawn the lesson that creating and enlarging new ethnic minorities is a way to eschew atavism and racism and prevent a repetition of the horrors of the recent past.

This conclusion is perverse, I think, and so does Will Collins, writing in an article in The American Conservative about Bloody, Cosmopolitan Sarajevo
. He says

NATO, the European Union, the memories of two devastating wars, and the Soviet threat have been variously credited for the decades of peace Europe has enjoyed since the end of the Second World War. The uncomfortable reality is that this enduring peace is also the result of the often violent resettlement of ethnic groups within coherent national borders. The cultural, linguistic, and religious fault lines that exploded into violence during the first half of the 20th century have been largely erased from the map, replaced by a series of uniform national blocs.
It’s no accident that the one place in Europe that wasn’t completely reorganized along these lines is still a tinder box. The Balkans erupted in the 1990s because Yugoslavia temporarily defied this pan-European trend of state building, thanks largely to Marshal Tito’s charismatic authoritarianism.

'The Brexit Deal Is Just Too Good for Europe'

I thought Leonid Bershidsky wrote an interesting article for Bloomberg. He thinks that by playing poker brilliantly there's a chance that Michel Barnier may have agreed a deal so bad for the British that the British Parliament will not accept it.
The problem, of course, with the documents being so good for Europe is that they’re so bad for the Brits. Guenter Verheugen, who served as a European Commissioner for more than a decade, wrote on Friday that playing to win every point in the Brexit negotiations wasn’t necessarily the best strategy. “Anyone who presses the British into an EU corset that is too tight today will lose any chance of their coming back voluntarily,” he wrote.

So tight is the corset that there’s an extremely high chance of May’s deal being shot down by U.K. lawmakers. Yet her deal would be nigh on impossible to renegotiate for any other British prime minister, given the EU’s position. As such, there’s still a real danger of no deal at all (unless the advocates of a second referendum score an unlikely victory). In a no-deal scenario, losses for European businesses would be immediate and brutal.

Life rushes by

I'm reminded of this line from the movie The Red Shoes: "Life rushes by, time rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on dancing forever." All of that applies to me, except for the red shoes part. Everything seems to be rushing by, and I'm floating above it all, reaching my hand out to life, but not quite grasping it, like waving your hand for a taxi that is clearly occupied. 

Jonathan Ames

Tradition and bigotry

What harm can it do saying that women don’t have penises? Quite a lot, actually, if my experience is anything to go on. After sharing a statement with that message on Twitter, along with a screenshot from a Spectator article, the backlash was swift. Less than a month after sending that tweet, I had lost my position as president-elect of Humanist Students as well as my role as assistant editor of Durham University’s philosophy society’s undergraduate journal, Critique. I was also given the boot as co-editor-in-chief of Durham University’s online student magazine, the Bubble.
Angelos Sofocleous

It is rather a curious coincidence that in every controversy in which I have been hitherto, I have always been entirely right.
G. K. Chesterton‏

  1. To liberalism, tradition, which Chesterton called "the democracy of the dead," is nothing but bigotry, and may be safely ignored. Liberals want to be open-minded about everything — except the past. They seem to think our ancestors got everything wrong.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Kerry: Europe is already crushed under transformation due to immigration

Former Democrat presidential candidate and Secretary of State John Kerry discussed climate change on Thursday, at a meeting sponsored by the Guardian at Central Hall in London: 
“We are heading for catastrophe unless we respond to some life-threatening challenges very rapidly. We have a climate-denying president that pulls us out of the the Paris climate change agreement at a time when literally every day matters. Europe is already crushed under this transformation that is taking place due to migration. In Germany Angela Merkel is weakened. Italian politics is significantly impacted."

There will not be customs inspections at the Irish border in any event

A Dutch official explains what a number of customs experts have explained, that even in the unlikely case of the hardest possible Brexit there would be no need for customs inspections at the Irish border. Not even of the cursory kind that I underwent on the train to Northern Ireland from Dublin in 1982.

Brexit tweets

  1.  I accept responsibility for many things, but not the outcome of the Brexit negotiation. It seems extraordinary that a group of Remainers could screw it up so comprehensively and then point at Brexiters and say, “See! We told you it would be impossible to get a good deal.”ore


“The idea of an integrated Europe is historically looking backward. We never belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, and we never belonged to the reactionary organisation after 1815. We have always looked outward, out to the New World, and to Asia and Africa.”

Clement Attlee, 1962

Brexit: things seem slightly less hopeless today

The mistake was putting a Remainer, someone whom David Cameron described as more Europhile than him or George Osborne, in charge of Brexit. 

For this mistake I blame Michael Gove, the only Leave candidate who could have led the country out of the EU when Cameron resigned. Instead he originally chose not to stand for the leadership but to back Boris Johnson, before deciding that Johnson was not up to the job and stabbing him in the front by standing. He did this to save the country from Johnson rather than in the hope of winning and he looked disloyal, Machiavellian and untrustworthy.

Theresa May did not get to where she is by brains. Nor by eloquence, charisma, likeability or intuition. She got where she is by luck, as most Prime Ministers do (Brown, Eden and Chamberlain were the exceptions in modern times), but mostly by persistence. 

I remember the pornographer David Sullivan saying in an interview that intelligence was

Friday, 16 November 2018

British crisis

Laughable that all these Labour MPs are saying should step down because of today’s resignations. MPs passed a vote of no confidence in by 172-40 and he didn’t go anywhere.

Time to go ‘Cold Turkey’! Whilst I support a deal it is now time to go to WTO rules & negotiate one from that position as most other countries do

If I had been a Brexiteer, low chance but still, I would never have triggered A50, and instead used UK veto and other internal measures to disrupt EU functioning until it conceded Brexit by treaty as an alternative to its gangplank. A50 was their great mistake.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Theresa May now thinks a bad deal is better than no deal

She always did, which is why no money was spent on preparing for no deal till far too late in the day. This told the EU that for her no deal was not an option. When preparations for no deal did start they were, in part, intended to scare the public and diminish support for no deal. 

You cannot win a negotiation unless you are prepared to walk away.

What an awful day this has been and what an appalling performance by the worst British Prime Minister since Lord North. 

That's a terrible cliche that has been used to describe a lot of Prime Ministers, including Sir Anthony Eden, Harold Wilson, David Cameron and should certainly have been used to describe Tony Blair. This time it is the sorry truth. This woman is even worse than Mr. Blair. Much worse than Lord North, for that matter.

This terrible deal, which means Britain has to accept the rules of the EU without any say in making them, is not the only possible deal apart from no deal or giving up on Brexit altogether. 

From David Fromkin's 'A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East' (1989)

It's a wonderful book that I recommend highly and, like John Buchan's Greenmantle, it's been very topical since September 2001.

“It has been estimated that the total of military and civilian casualties in all of Europe’s domestic and international conflicts in the 100 years between 1815 and 1915 was no greater than a single day’s combat losses in any of the great battles of 1916.”

"As soon as they began to plan their annexation of the Middle East, Allied leaders recognized that Islam’s hold on the region was the main feature of the political landscape with which they would have to contend. Lord Kitchener, it

Moment of decision at last: Brexit deal agreed by officials will be put to the British cabinet today

An old friend of Michel Barnier says Europe’s chief negotiator can’t believe his luck. He’s kept 27 EU countries united while the U.K. falls apart.

Theresa May is asking her Cabinet to make what might be the most fateful decision in UK history on the basis of a 500 page document they only get a couple of hours to read & that they have no chance to obtain independent analysis, scrutiny & commentary upon. They should say no.

Imagine being an EU official tonight. You must barely be able to believe your luck in finding a U.K. administration willing to sign up to being an indefinite rule taker, agree to let you run their trade policy, and give you £47 billion for the privilege


"Ordinary conservatives – and many people fall into this category – are constantly told that their ideas and sentiments are reactionary, prejudiced, sexist or racist. Just by being the thing they are they offend against the new norms of inclusiveness and non-discrimination."

Sir Roger Scruton

“While it may have been chauvinist of British officials in the 1920s and 1930s to say that Arab countries were not ready for self-government—which is to say, liberal democratic constitutional regimes with rule of law—evidence as of our own late date does not seem to prove them wrong. The Economist (April 3, 2004, page 47) is on record as saying that “The Arab League’s 22 states remain the most uniformly oligarchic slice of the world. Not a single Arab leader has ever been peacefully ousted at the ballot box.”

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The restaurants argument

Monday, 12 November 2018

Brexit and Trump

Funny hearing Brexit blamed by companies who say they can’t find staff. What they mean is can’t find staff at the old, low salary levels. Adjusting to our new economic circumstances means paying people more. Painful, perhaps, but long overdue.

Wall St. Journal editorial today:
'If the American and European establishments had understood the importance of nationalism to the coherence of their own societies as well as the architecture of world order, Mr. Trump might still be producing television shows..'

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Camille Paglia: It’s Time for a New Map of the Gender World

This interview by Claire Lehmann of Camille Paglia is worth reading. Miss Lehmann is a liberal but a centrist, humane and reasonable one. Professor Paglia is on the left, but an older, unpuritanical form of being on the left. 

Professor Paglia says, marvellously, that she found 
'the blanket credulity given to women accusers during the recent U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh positively unnerving: it was the first time since college that I truly understood the sexist design of Aeschylus’s Oresteia, whose mob of vengeful Furies is superseded by formal courts of law, where evidence is weighed.'
She also talks very interestingly about the non-discrimination pseudo-religion and has the same views that I have reached.
Do you believe that politics and in particular social justice (i.e., anti-racism and feminism) are becoming cults or pseudo-religions? Is politics filling the void left by the receding influence of organized religion?
Paglia: This has certainly been my view for many years now. I said in the introduction to my art book, Glittering Images (2012), that secular humanism has failed. As an atheist, I have argued that if religion is erased, something must be put in its place.
Belief systems are intrinsic to human intelligence and survival. They “frame” the flux of primary experience, which would otherwise flood the mind.

100 years after the war to end all war and the peace to end all peace

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Kierkegaard

I feel guilty about not making the long journey to the British (Commonwealth) war graves at Tâncăbești to mark one hundred years since the end of the Great War. Instead I write this.

The First World War almost destroyed Western civilization, which has never fully recovered from that war. You only have to walk around the cities of the former Austria Hungary, their historic centres exuding 19th century serene confidence, scattered now among numerous impoverished countries, think how the Nazis and Communists ruled over the former Hapsburg and Czarist empires or look at the modern Middle East to see the harm that the 1914-1918 war did. 

To say nothing of the huge left-wing, collectivist and nihilistic shift it created in culture and thinking, connected to the Bolshevik revolution.  

With the benefit of hindsight it would clearly have been better, as Bertrand Russell said, had Germany and the Central Powers won (as they might easily have done, despite being much smaller and poorer than the Allies). Why? Not because they were not to blame for starting the war - they were completely to blame. Not because they were benign - they invaded countries without any justification and committed numerous war crimes. Simply because, in this way, the world would almost certainly have escaped Lenin, Hitler, Communism and Nazism.

But this sort of thinking is not very useful. Events that happened long ago were once things in the future and therefore unknowable.

Saturday, 10 November 2018


If there is a class war—and there is—it is important that it should be handled with subtlety and skill. ... it is not freedom that Conservatives want; what they want is the sort of freedom that will maintain existing inequalities or restore lost ones.
Maurice Cowling, "The Present Position," "Conservative Essays" (1978)

Today’s university students have little time for religion and no time at all for exclusive groups. They are particularly insistent that distinctions associated with their inherited culture — between sexes, classes and races, between genders and orientations, between religions and lifestyles — should be rejected, in the interests of an all-comprehending equality that leaves each person to be who she or he really is. “Non-discrimination” is the orthodoxy of our day. Yet this seeming open-mindedness is just as determined to silence

The American soft and hard left have been dangerous for 100 years

This article by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic is very interesting. 

This is the third time in a hundred years that left-wingers have sought to capture the Democrats and the U.S.A. The two previous times involved threats of disorder and transformed America, pushing Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F.Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson a long way to the left. Backlashes then followed.

'American exceptionalism' is a Marxist phrase, referring to the fact that the USA has never had a large socialist party, but it is a mistake to overlook how influential both the soft socialist left (think Bernie Saunders) and the hard left (Marxists and Marxist-Leninists) in America have been.  In fact, Communists and the hard left have had a large amount of influence on American politics from 1933 to the start of the Cold War and from the 1960s until the present day. Had FDR died in 1944 and been succeeded by Vice-President Henry Wallace their influence would have been much greater. 

American history tends nowadays to be written by leftists and liberals, which is part of the reason why the anti-Communist reaction in the 1950s is vilified. In fact the Communists were a big internal danger and the far left, in academia especially, still are.


Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, was recently acquitted of blasphemy, a capital offence, after spending eight years in a Pakistani gaol. Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, told Huffington Post, a left-wing site:
“I’ve been lead to believe that the UK government had concerns that her moving to the UK would cause security concerns and unrest among certain sections of the community and would also be a security threat to British embassies abroad which might be targeted by Islamist terrorists. Asia and her family have now decided to take up one of the offers for asylum from a western country.”
Hard to care about the technical details of Brexit or the economics of the next 5 years. The Asia Bibi case says far more about what our long-term future is going to be like.

Juliet Samuel lists Mrs May's many and grave Brexit mistakes in 1 minute.

The Lancet: 91 out of 195 countries now have fertility rates below replacement level

The authoritative British medical journal The Lancet reported yesterday that 91 out of 195 countries have fertility rates below replacement level.

The reasons are less infant mortality and access to contraception.

In the West a subsidiary reason is the idea that having overpopulation is bad for the planet. This idea was current in the 1960s and 1970s, never wholly went away and has now been revived linked to worries about climate change. 

More generally, a falling birth rate may indicate a lack of a civilisation's confidence in itself and its future.

Very important are the 104 countries which have fertility rate at or above the replacement rate, including Niger where the average woman has 7 children. By 2070 an additional 2.4 billion people are projected by the U.N.: 1.3 billion in Africa, 0.9 billion in Asia and 0.2 billion in the rest of the world. Africa's population was forecast in 2013 to double by 2050.

Subsidies are corrupting

A Financial Times article explains how the Italian mafia make huge money out of EU agricultural subsidies.

Friday, 9 November 2018

The sacred freedom to burn in effigy whomever you choose, in your own back garden

People in Great Britain burn guys on Guy Fawkes Night, 5th November. It's an old, anti-Catholic tradition.  By its very nature the tradition is politically incorrect.

More than 80 people died in a fire in a public housing tower in London, called the Grenfell Tower, a while ago.

A bunch of people in a back garden somewhere on November 5th burnt a cardboard effigy of the Grenfell Tower, complete with paper figures at the windows, and recorded it. 

The Metropolitan Police then investigated the matter and arrested the people involved, before releasing them. 

Burning the effigy was intended as an exercise in bad taste, a sick joke of the sort that were popular in the 1980s. Dreadful, no doubt. But the action of the police is a much sicker joke.

Thank God journalists, and I presume the public, decided that the police went too far. I suppose the police did too. The men concerned were arrested under the Public Order Act 1986, a very authoritarian and un-English law, conceived by the appalling Law Commission and brought in by Margaret Thatcher's government, that makes 'insulting behaviour' an offence - but fortunately only an offence if committed in public. Not in a back garden.

Tweets today

My order of preference on Brexit outcomes: 1. Swiss-style partnership 2. EEA 3. Minimal trade deal 4. No deal 5. Staying in 6. Customs union and EU standards as non-members - the current proposal

Journalist to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “You always said your heart beated for the Left, how can you ally with people like Salvini and Trump?” “The Left and Right dichotomies are ideologies that were created during the 20th century, I believe they have now been surpassed.”

The US Question: Can the GOP turn white Dem voters into GOP voters faster than the Dems can import new Dem voters?