Saturday, 23 June 2018

Gideon Rachman wants a world government

Nothing is more old fashioned than a future that has failed.

Gideon Rachman, who writes for the Financial Times, is an intelligent man who nowadays still thinks Brexit can be prevented. 

I stumbled by chance across this article from 2008 by him, arguing for world government.

He quotes Geoffrey Blainey, an eminent Australian historian, has written:

“For the first time in human history, world government of some sort is now possible”
and Jacques Attali, who founded EBRD and advised President Sarkozy:

Mary McAleese: infant baptism breaches fundamental human rights

How much Southern Ireland has changed. Former Irish president Mary McAleese now says that infant baptism breaches fundamental human rights.

The second biggest social change since the 1980s in Europe (after single sex marriage) is that comparative religion, before the 1980s something only studied at post-graduate level, is now taught to children as young as five.

Friday, 22 June 2018

The fall of the Ottoman Empire explains most of our ills

Someone else agrees with me that the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire, which the Romanian historian and interwar Prime Minister Nicolae Iorga called 'Byzantium after Byzantium', is the cause of so many of the world's problems.

Paul T Horgan writes, in the consistently excellent online magazine Conservative Woman, that
The decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire is a global event that has occupied all of the Great Powers except China for about 300 years. 

Nil nisi bono - not necessarily

I do not like to speak ill of the dead, unless it is someone like Edward Kennedy, but I do not share the widespread admiration for American journalist Charles Krauthammer, who died recently. 

I have to say that he was on the important things disastrously wrong, not a conservative at all, but like many in the post-1952 Republican Party a right-wing liberal internationalist.

In a 2005 speech he called neoconservatism

"a governing ideology whose time has come."

Thursday, 21 June 2018


"I do not support the Irish ban [on abortion], and it is easily evaded by taking the ferry to England but, if and when it collapses, Ireland as a country with a distinct moral culture of its own is finished; Ireland will have become a mere off-shore island." Christie Davies, 'The Strange Death of Moral Britain" (2004)
"Feminism is poison." Margaret Thatcher


When all the objectives of government include the achievement of equality - other than equality before the law - that government poses a threat to liberty. Margaret Thatcher

No-one can build the bridge on which you, and only you, can cross the river of life. 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

What the papers say - I have found four plums

In his upcoming book on US immigration, my brilliant friend Reihan Salam — himself the son of Bangladeshi immigrants — makes a bold argument: America must either restrict immigration or risk civil war as rising inequality and racial tension combine.
I hope Salam is right that the American melting pot can somehow be salvaged. But I have no such hope for Europe. No one who has spent any time in Germany

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Happy pride month in Canada!

CBC, the Canadian state-owned broadcasting company, has broadcast this clip 
which repays watching and posted it on the net under the rubric:
Happy pride month! Jessi Cruickshank talks with kids about gay pride and being gay allies
The children look about seven or eight and are ardent believers in sexual diversity.
Jessi Cruickshank asks the little innocents
I'm not gay but I'm a gay ally. Are you gay allies?

Friday, 15 June 2018


"In this world you either have an empire or you have to be part of somebody else's." Peter Hitchens, who says the EU is Germany's empire.

"Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action." Benjamin Disraeli

Bucarest, mon amour

“There's not a city in the former Soviet Union [she meant Bloc] which hasn't been christened The New Prague (apart from Bucharest, and if you've been there you'll know why).”
Guardian travel article by Joanne O'Connor

I remember the 1989 Lonely Planet Guide to Eastern Europe (individual countries didn't merit their own guides) included Bucharest in its list of ten things to avoid in Eastern Europe. I don't remember what the other nine were but they were things not places.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

You can't generalise

No-one esteems aphorisms any more. Were Wilde around today (and not in gaol for going to bed with underage boys), every quip he made would get the response: Oscar, you can't generalise.

Or rather it was so until Twitter. A very useful achievement of Twitter was to relaunch the aphorism, before they increased the maximum number of characters in a tweet.


"It suffices for an intransigent minority –a certain type of intransigent minorities –to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences. Further, an optical illusion comes with the dominance of the minority: a naive observer would be under the impression that the choices and preferences are those of the majority. If it seems absurd, it is because our scientific intuitions aren’t calibrated for that (fughedabout scientific and academic intuitions and snap judgments; they don’t work and your standard intellectualization fails with complex systems, though not your grandmothers’ wisdom)."
Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

"Society is a shared inheritance for the sake of which we learn to circumscribe our demands, to see our own place in things as part of a continuous chain of giving and receiving, and to recognize that the good things we inherit are not ours to spoil" Sir Roger Scruton, How To Be a Conservative

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Ivano-Frankivsk in balmy summer weather

After Bucacs we went on, through green countryside glowingly fertile, to one of my favourite towns, Ivano-Frankivsk, known till 1962 as Stanislau or Stanisławów. 

It was founded as a Polish fortress in 1663 and was named after the Polish hetman Stanisław "Rewera" Potocki. Like Bucsacs, it became a largely self governing city and was later incorporated into the Austrian empire in the first partition of Poland.

Image may contain: people standing, sky, tree and outdoor
Greek Catholic church, Ivano Frankivsk

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Loss of belief in Man is a consequence of loss of belief in God

It is sad that many people think animal lives are as important as human lives. Worse, they feel that this is a noble sentiment. Loss of belief in Man is a consequence of lack of faith in God.

Love of animals is beautiful but often strongly felt by misanthropes, sentimentalists and extremists. Goering wept whenever one of his dogs died, despite all the indications that he was a psychopath.

I spoke to a friend who is Green Party member who thinks animals as important as humans. He much prefers to put it this way, rather than the other way around. He is not alone in thinking this in the Green Party, a party that attracts many very worrying people and is much the most extreme and frightening mainstream-ish party in European countries, whether Germany, England or elsewhere. 

It is not benign at all, but people think it is.

Saturday, 2 June 2018


I blogged about Buczacz last year and Professor Omer Bartov's excellent and searing book about the murder of the town's Jews. I have now visited the pretty little town. In warm weather on the first day of June it brought to mind Sherlock Holmes' remark about the vilest alleys not hiding as much sin as the smiling and beautiful face of the countryside

Buczacz was founded in the seventeenth century by Polish nobles in what was effectively the Wild East. The  nobles who started towns encouraged the settlement of Jews, desirable immigrants because of their commercial expertise. The Jews came east tired of constant friction with Poles. The Jews lived in their own community and were largely preoccupied by their own religion until the nineteenth century. In the 1920s 60% of the townspeople were Jewish.

Back in Cernauti/Chernivtsi (no longer the USSR) again

I just paid my fifth visit to Cernăuți. This is what I wrote after my third visit, two years ago. The Hotel Bukovyna is as good as ever, a four star hotel with a pool and good restaurant it costs EUR 30 bed and breakfast.

An unmistakable sense of freedom as soon as we arrive in Ukraine. A sense of normal people who think like human beings. A civilised place where people believe in God and love their country. Romania is like that too but is becoming EU-ised.

It took eleven hours to drive from Bucharest to Cernăuți instead of the eight we'd planned on. As happens every summer in Romania there were floods, a road was closed. At the border we waited over an hour. An argument for the European Union. All Romanian borders took half an hour to cross before she joined the EU.